Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Word Witch Wednesday - the same images again and again

Earlier this year, I spent a lot of time looking at images for book covers. When I say a lot, I mean dozens upon dozens of hours. I went to bed those nights with achy eyes.

Being well acquainted with the pictures on a huge stock image site, I have seen them all over. It seems what draws my eyes does the same for the majority of people. Unless it is an original piece of artwork created for a book, most covers I see use the same images.

It stunned me at first. Then it made me panic. The models I picked have been on hundreds of other books! Maybe even thousands. Some have been poorly photoshopped and others have been beautifully done, but it's still the same models. Sometimes it's the same pose too.

I see this particularly in the urban fantasy and paranormal romance genres. (They are the ones I focus on, after all!) There is a little more variety with the female models, but the male models are much fewer and thus seen more frequently on covers. The same beefcakes over and over again. I'm rather tired of them.

Seeing the same male models used so often has made me reconsider what I want to do with the covers of books #4, #5, and #6 in the Totem series. I was going to put the heroes on the covers, but the models I chose are extremely popular. Yes, my covers as a whole are different from everyone else's but not those male models.

I had already been considering keeping the women on the covers before this started to bother me. Now I'm leaning even further in that direction.

I'm curious to know whether you notice the same models on different book covers. Does it bother you to see the same ones used over and over?

Monday, September 26, 2016

An Anthology Contest You Don't Want to Miss!

Eligibility: Any member of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group is encouraged to enter – blogging or Facebook member. The story must be previously unpublished. Entry is free.

Word count: 5000-6000

Genre: Fantasy

Theme: Hero Lost. It could be about a hero turned villain, a villain's redemption, a hero's lack of confidence, a hero's lack of smarts, etc. It can be about any kind of hero including superheroes, mythological heroes, unexpected or unlikely heroes, or a whole new kind of hero. This theme has plenty of scope and we’re open to pretty much anything along these lines. No erotica, R-rated language, or graphic violence.

Deadline: November 1st, 2016

How to enter: Send your polished, previously unpublished story to admin @ before the deadline passes. Please include your contact details and if you are part of the Blogging or Facebook IWSG group.

Judging: The IWSG admins will create a shortlist of the best stories. The shortlist will then be sent to our official judges.

Prizes: The winning stories will be edited and published by Freedom Fox Press next year in the IWSG anthology. Authors will receive royalties on books sold, both print and eBook. The top story will have the honor of giving the anthology its title.

* * *

I'm going to try to think of a short story for this contest, but October is a super busy month for me. There's so much on my mind with the release of the Totem series.

I encourage all members of the IWSG to enter this contest. Publishing short stories is a great way to get your name out there and to give yourself confidence. You can expand on the universe in your own books or experiment with a new genre. It helps hone your craft and give you valuable experience.

Good luck to all who enter!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Word Witch Wednesday - marketing firsts

Twenty-six days until the release of the first book in my Totem series. Writing the books have been amazingly fun, but marketing them, well, I have some new white hairs.

I've been doing a lot of research on book promotion. My first reaction was: AAAH! I've been doing it wrong all along. *falls down and cries* Okay. Maybe that's a little overdramatic, but that's how I felt. In the past, I did cover reveals, blog tours, blitzes, and giveaways, but it was not helping me reach a larger audience.

I had not been taking advantage of two key marketing tools: ads and newsletters. All my research states these two things should be what authors are focusing on.

- You need money to buy ads. So what if you're not selling enough? Look for venues that will shout-out about your book for cheap or free. Or ask for ad money for your birthday like I did.
- Research the ad sites. Some have strict submission requirements. Make sure they will accept your book.
- Plan way ahead. Some venues are booked two months in advance.

I decided to go with The Fussy Librarian. The prices are very affordable, and the site is easy to navigate. Nothing to be intimidated about there. I have an ad scheduled for October 25th for Dark Dawning (Totem #1). And yes, I'll let you know how it goes.

I also have a sale next month for Of Blood and Sorrow. It will be the first time I've put it on sale, and I hope to lure readers to the Totem series with the novel. I submitted it to Ereader News Today. It's more expensive than The Fussy Librarian, but it has a bigger audience. Plus, they only take novels. I could not advertise my Totem books on there. The ad will coincide with the first day of the sale on October 12th.

- According to several authors, this is the key tool for connecting with readers, and you can create one for free. Well, it's free up to a certain point, and then you'll have to pay. But if you make it to that point, you'll be making enough sales to afford the small cost.
- Newsletters are easy to create once you're familiar with the template.
- Building your newsletter list is difficult. Offering freebies and holding giveaways helps, but in the long run, you're building your list one subscriber at a time. (I offer a digital copy of The 13th Floor Complete Collection to new subscribers.)
- You can grow your list with newsletter swaps. What's this, you ask? I only recently started to take advantage of this myself. You trade book info with another author and each of you feature the other in their newsletter. This works very well for those of us who have a small following when paired with authors who have huge lists.

Last Friday, I asked for authors who have books with shifters in them to do swaps. I'd love to feature them alongside my Totem books over the next few months. Please leave a comment below or email me if you're interested.

Have you tried ads to sell your books? Do you have a newsletter, and if so, how do you go about building your list?

Monday, September 19, 2016

This Gorgeous Cover is Absolutely Timeless in its Beauty!

TIMELESS (#3 Maiden of Time) by Crystal Collier

Book Title: TIMELESS (Maiden of Time #3)
Author: Crystal Collier
Genre: YA Paranormal Historical
Release Date: November 1, 2016


In 1771, Alexia had everything: the man of her dreams, reconciliation with her father, even a child on the way. But she was never meant to stay. It broke her heart, but Alexia heeded destiny and traveled five hundred years back to stop the Soulless from becoming.

In the thirteenth century, the Holy Roman Church has ordered the Knights Templar to exterminate the Passionate, her bloodline. As Alexia fights this new threat—along with an unfathomable evil and her own heart—the Soulless genesis nears. But none of her hard-won battles may matter if she dies in childbirth before completing her mission.

Can Alexia escape her own clock?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Crystal Collier is an eclectic author who pens clean fantasy/sci-fi, historical, and romance stories with the occasional touch of humor, horror, or inspiration. She practices her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, four littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese. You can find her on her Blog, FacebookGoodreads, or follow her on Twitter.

Want the first chapter free? Sign up HERE.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Sale Shout-out & Newsletter Swaps

Happy Friday!

October is set to be a BIG month. Not only am I releasing the first two books of my Totem series, but I'm putting Of Blood and Sorrow on sale for the first time. I'd greatly appreciate it if you could shout-out about the sale for me between October 12th - 16th.

Buy links:

I'm also seeking other authors who have shifters in their stories to do newsletter swaps with. Starting next week, I'll be sending out a newsletter every Monday until Totem #3 is released in November. These newsletters will have exclusive Totem excerpts, tidbits, and giveaways. I would love to feature other shifter books on the theme, "All About the Shifters." Please let me know in the comments or email me if you're interested.

If you haven't subscribed to my newsletter already, just put your email address into the handy dandy widget on the right there. For subscribing, you'll get a free digital copy of The 13th Floor Complete Collection.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Buy Baby Moo's Great Escape and help rescue animals

Baby Moo has a dream. He wants to travel the world and sing on the stage of the Sydney Opera House! While he loves his home at Sunrise Sanctuary, it hasn’t been the same since a piglet named Nathan showed up and stole all the attention away from Moo. Jealous of the new baby, Moo decides now is the time to make his escape and pursue his dream.
But the world outside the sanctuary gates is not quite the fun and exciting place Moo imagined, and he quickly finds himself in big trouble. Moo's friends Missy the dog and Ruthie the cat rush to help him, and land in some trouble of their own.
Lost and frightened, Moo and his friends must rely on each other to find their way back home. Will they ever see Sunrise again?

Julie Flanders will donate $1 to Sunrise Sanctuary, home to Baby Moo and numerous other rescued animals, for each copy sold in September.

Monday, September 12, 2016

What's Hot Now? and What's Coming Up Next? - guest post by Tara Tyler

You can find me over at Story Dam today with a guest post on being a hybrid author. Now let me hand you over to my awesome guest blogger today: Tara Tyler!

Thanks so much for having me, Christine! And thanks to you all for stopping by!

Everyone wants to know what's going to be the latest trend? What genre are agents looking for? What's going to sell? So after some research, I wanted to give you my quick take on...


My research is based on what publishers and ezines are searching for and buying for anthologies and short stories, plus articles I've read from the publishing industry. One article I read at Kirkus Reviews had input from a ton of agents and industry professionals. All these combined, they confirmed most of my findings and predictions, but also had some fresh ideas, which is what we need, right?

The hard part is, trends don't last. We writers know it takes about a year to polish a novel. And if we aren't lucky enough to be cooking what's hot while it's heating up, we may miss the pie eating contest!

But don't throw away that manuscript that missed the boat. I also believe trends come and go in cycles. Most genres run their course in popularity, then a new one shows up or a classic returns - remember chick lit and vampires? Well, being a mathematician, I follow patterns and think I can make some sound predictions. But I'm also a believer in the fickle, unpredictable public - which is why I just go with my gut! And you should too!

So here are my assessments and predictions...

What's HOT Now?
  • Fairy Tales Retold - lots of folks asking for spins on traditional fairy tales, but most writers know that most stories are based on ancient tales anyway, so we got this!
  • Not So Super Heroes - alternative lifestyles, weird-not-necessarily-tragic beginnings, hints of deviousness and lots of inner conflict
  • Horror Fantasy/Historical Horror - what's with all the horror? I think people are so jaded these days, it's hard to scare them! Don't hold back with these tainted twists
  • Diversity and Disability - everyone has story and we want to see them through the eyes of different people, not the same old-same old
  • Adult Coloring Books - no, this is NOT X-rated Adult, but therapeutic detailed, coffee and coloring because we don't like being an adult coloring books! (I think this is millennial inspired)
Here's a peek into my crystal ball for Upcoming Trends!
  • Sci Fi/Fantasy - I think it's already started with the current TV shows, but it has so many possibilities mixing technology with paranormal/magical elements (like Star Wars!) - but with great power comes great conflict! With all the gadgets and magic, there have to be huge obstacles, fallibilities, and limitations...
  • Dark Heroes - contrasting a dark heart with a twinge of conscience or an awesome super hero with a serious problem that catches up with her, secrets, deception, playing two sides, not always a happy ending.
  • Alternate POVs - overlooked MCs - the custodian, the checkout person, the garbage man, the ER receptionist - they have stories too, many more stories than a single hero, and these stories affect their lives.
  • Virtual Thrillers - first person POV, really get into their heads, limited information, scare the reader with dire, drastic thoughts, like a virtual reality video game you can't control or escape.
  • Techno Fun - a mix of the latest technology, horror, and suspense. You are being watched, followed, and documented - whether you like it or not! Many stories can be discovered and uncovered, like dead bodies through Pokemon Go - it's just the beginning!
  • dare I say... Chick Lit! - NA (new adult) didn't seem to catch on as a reboot of Chick Lit, but I know there's an audience who loves young love, drama, and humor. These are all Rom Coms or Contemporary Romance! But they need a transformation. Or do they? Maybe just a new title, but definitely more Lit than Chick!
  • more Illustrations - the dwindling attention span needs visual stimulation...
But it always comes down to this - WRITE A GOOD STORY AND WRITE IT WELL. You want to know how a trend starts? By touching a reader's heart. Make readers feel something, feel enough to tell others about the book they just finished and couldn't put down. That's how a trend is born.

What trends are you digging now?
Do you think these are accurate predictions? Working on any right now?
And what kind of story would YOU like to see?

    by Tara Tyler
    Publication Date: December 1, 2016

    Welcome to the forest.
    Gabe and his girlfriend Ona are headed in opposite directions for Spring Break. After finding out humans might be a real part of their history, Ona is determined to dig up evidence of them in the mysterious mountains at Camp Cradle Rock. Being a logical goblin, Gabe tries to talk her out of it, but there's just no reasoning with a stubborn ogress.

    When Ona goes missing, Gabe and his friends fly to Cradle Rock to search for her and discover a village of trouble, igniting an age old war. His physical skills may be lacking, but Gabe won't give up. With the help of his diverse group of friends, he will find a way to save his girl and maybe all beastkind. Humans, bah!

    Add to your Reading List on Goodreads!


    Tara Tyler has had a hand in everything from waitressing to rocket engineering. After moving all over, she now writes and teaches math in Ohio with her three active boys and Coach Husband. Currently she has two series, Pop Travel (techno-thriller detective capers) and Broken Branch Falls (fantasy adventures). To squeeze in writing, she economizes her time aka the Lazy Housewife. Make every day an adventure!

    Talk to me!
    Author Blog ~~ @taratylertalks ~~ Facebook ~~ Housewives Blog

    Wednesday, September 7, 2016

    #IWSG for September 2016

    The Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG) is the brilliant idea of Alex J. Cavanaugh. The purpose of the group is to share doubts and insecurities and to encourage one another. Please visit the other participants and share your support. A kind word goes a long way.

    The awesome co-hosts for this month are: C. Lee McKenzie, Rachel Pattison, Elizabeth Seckman, Stephanie Faris, Lori L MacLaughlin, and Elsie Amata!

    This month's IWSG question: How do you find the time to write in your busy day?

    I'm very lucky. When my husband and I decided to have a child, we agreed one of us should stay home with him. Childcare is expensive, after all, and my husband was making enough to support us. Now that our son is in school, we can still pay our bills with me at home.

    During the school year, I have the weekdays to write. I love it. It makes for a very happy mama. I treat it like a full-time job. Some days, I feel there aren't enough hours to get all my work done, but I am my own worst boss!

    In the summer and on breaks, I don't get much time to write. On good nights, we can get our son in bed at a decent hour, and there's nothing on television to distract me. Then I write or promote a little more. I don't like staying on the computer late. I've been very good at settling into bed at a reasonable hour and getting a proper sleep. I read a little before going to sleep too. A good sleep also makes for a productive next day.

    One of my ongoing insecurities is time. While it might seem like I have tons of time to write and promote, sometimes it doesn't feel that way. Real life cuts in. Like a virus sticking around for over a month. (And it gave me pink eye so I can't stare at the screen for very long!) I don't know if I'll ever feel like there's enough time to do what I want, and that's something I'll hopefully learn to accept and not be so harsh on myself about.

    Is time a concern of yours too? 

    Monday, September 5, 2016

    Love in the First Degree review


    Genre: Romance (contemporary and paranormal)

    Cover Artist: The Graphics Shed

    Find Online: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

    Description: Love In The First Degree is a collection of short stories written by seven authors who have come together to help raise money for The Innocence Project. This anthology includes stories by Laura Morgan, Allana Walker, Clare Dugmore, Kyra Lennon and Kirsty-Anne Still.

    Each story speaks of crime, passion, determination, and most importantly, intense romance that will leave you thinking about the characters long after you have finished turning the pages.

    Being wrongfully accused of a crime could happen to anyone, anywhere, and The Innocence Project works hard to overturn wrongful convictions and help innocent people get back to their real lives where they rightfully belong. All proceeds from sales of Love In The First Degree will be donated to The Innocence Project.

    My review: A collection of short stories by five amazing authors. Each tale filled with powerful romance and twists that had me gaping at my Kindle. Every one had their own unique flavor of storytelling too.

    "Ensnared" was the twistiest one of the bunch. I loathed the merciless mobster, and as the story kept getting darker, I could not imagine how it would end.

    "Believe" was a heart breaker. I don't ever want to know how it feels to have no one believe you about something so horrible.

    The supernatural slinks out in "Seeking the Truth." This is just my sort of story! Tough heroine and mysterious magic man. I figured out who the villain was, but it was a fantastic journey. I would love to see more of the heroes.

    Darcy will do anything to prove her best friend's innocence in "Reasonable Doubts." Except the man she thinks is really guilty turns out not to be. Excellent characterization and hold-your-breath suspense.

    How much would you do for the person you love? In "Love Me Not," we find out what two lovers will do, and how far the villain is willing to force them to go. Another nailbiter with a despicable bad man.


    Author: Laura Morgan
    Title: Ensnared
    A hand outstretches amidst the chaos of a brutal attack, offering safety and protection—but only in the arms of a villainous gangster who certainly isn’t going to be good news. Take it and accept the consequences? Or refuse and risk losing it all in the aftermath?
    That’s exactly what happens to Bree Locke the night she meets mobster Alexis Ramon.
    What seems like a good idea at the time ends up being the turning point in her life, but how will things pan out, and will she be able to survive the consequences of her decision?

    Because when you fall from the frying pan into the fire, you’re going to get burned…


    Author: Allana Walker
    Title: Believe

    What happens when the one guy you thought would protect you, doesn't? What happens when your own family and friends turn against you in your time of need? What happens when all you want is someone to believe you? What happens when the one person you least expect does? Find out how one girl’s life turns upside down only to turn back with a few simple words... "I believe you."


    Author: Clare Dugmore
    Title: Seeking The Truth
    Erin Reynolds has been on the West Midlands Police force for seven years. She’s seen some strange things in the line of duty, but nothing quite like this.
    On her first day working as a detective Erin witnesses something that makes the whole department question her sanity, and leads to her being sent on a leave of absence.
    Desperate to prove what she saw was real, Erin tracks down the only other witness, Arcane Specialist Morgan Jackson. The occult expert is as infuriating as he is charming. When the killer leaves a disturbing message on her answer phone, Erin is forced to work with Morgan in order to catch the culprit and get her job reinstated.
    The hunt takes them around the West Midlands, visiting a flirty priestess, a druid on the wrong side of the law and a sorcerer from Morgan’s past. As Erin learns more about the supernatural world, she also realizes there’s more to Morgan than just his sarcastic wit and arcane knowledge.
    She's drawn to him almost as deeply as she is to the truth of what she saw. Her feelings for him are bought into sharp when Morgan gets on the wrong side of the murderer and it's up to Erin to rescue him, and stop the occult forces plaguing the area before the darkness takes over.


    Author: Kyra Lennon
    Title: Reasonable Doubts
    Darcy Ryan is a woman on a mission.
    A mission to take down the corrupt cops who ensured her best friend, Matteo Torres, went to jail for a crime he didn’t commit – the murder of his wife, Rebecca.
    Darcy is willing to do just about anything to prove his innocence, including getting up close and personal with the case’s lead detective, Finn Drake.
    She knows she’s playing a dangerous game, but it gets more dangerous then she could have ever imagined when she discovers everything she thought she knew about Rebecca Torres was wrong, and Finn Drake isn’t the man she thought he was either.


    Author: Kirsty-Anne Still
    Title: Love Me Not
    I love him. He loves me. Our love story was that easy. I stuck by that, making sure he knew I was his person, his rock when he was arrested for murder. A murder that I knew he didn’t commit. But here I am, breaking his heart, unravelling our love story. All to save him. I’d break his heart – and mine – a thousand times over if it clears his name. 
    I wasn’t raised to be a good man. I was loved to be one. She was the one constant when my world started falling apart. Until she wasn’t. I was no longer the man I had become. I was a murderer, a criminal, a broken man. She started to see me as the murderer I was branded, but mark my words, this doesn’t end here. When I’m a free man I’ll tear this world apart to get her back.


    About Laura Morgan
    Laura Morgan writes dark and powerful romance novels. She’s a hopeless romantic with a dark side. Be warned, she may give her characters their Happily Ever After, but makes them work hard for it!
    You can join her for more information regarding her books at


    About Allana Walker
    Allana Walker is from Scotland. She began writing in secret then took the big leap into self-publishing in 2015. She doesn't have a specific genre, but she's all about romance and HEA's.
    She loves mafia, MC and dark reads.
    Always in love with the bad guy of books when she should hate them.
    Her other passions, besides reading and writing, are baking, spending time with her family, watching wrestling and going to concerts.


    About Clare Dugmore
    Clare Dugmore is the author of contemporary romance ALL IT TAKES.
    She is a thirty-something, married, mother of two from the West Midlands, of England.
    In her spare time, Clare enjoys binge watching shows with her hubby,
    spending time with her two sons, and playing video games.

    You can connect with Clare via her website at


    About Kyra Lennon
    Kyra Lennon was born on the South coast of England, and to this day, still lives by the sea. Fiction writing has always been her passion, but she also has numerous articles on a variety of topics published on prolific websites.


    About Kirsty-Anne Still
    Kirsty-Anne is a British author who stumbled across her love for writing just as she started university. Over the last couple of years she's found the style of writing that best defines her and her work. Her favourite genres to write are romantic suspense with dark themes, but loves to push her boundaries.
    Find Kirsty on social media Twitter @KirstyAnneStill

    Thursday, September 1, 2016

    Goblins, Dragons, and Humans, Oh My! - Cradle Rock cover reveal

    Release Date: December 1, 2016

    Welcome to the forest.
    Gabe and his girlfriend Ona are headed in opposite directions for Spring Break. After finding out humans might be a real part of their history, Ona is determined to dig up evidence of them in the mysterious mountains at Camp Cradle Rock. Being a logical goblin, Gabe tries to talk her out of it, but there's just no reasoning with a stubborn ogress.

    When Ona goes missing, Gabe and his friends fly to Cradle Rock to search for her and discover a village of trouble, igniting an age old war. His physical skills may be lacking, but Gabe won't give up. With the help of his diverse group of friends, he will find a way to save his girl and maybe all beastkind. Humans, bah!

    And here's the book trailer! With sketches from my super fantastic inside illustrator, Laura Kramer.