Two Lies & a Truth with Jessica Bell, Author of White Lady: Enter to Win!

GUESS THE TRUE STATEMENT & WIN JESSICA BELL’S THRILLER, WHITE LADY! (Statement #85)

To celebrate the release of Jessica Bell’s latest novel, WHITE LADY, she is giving away an e-copy (mobi, ePub, or PDF) to the first person to correctly guess the one true statement in the three statements below. To clarify, two statements are lies, and one is true:

The novel starts off with a flash-forward of …
a. the very end.
b. the beginning of the last act.
c. the middle.

What do you think? Which one is true? Write your guess in the comments, along with your email address. Comments will close in 48 hours. If no-one guesses correctly within in 48 hours, comments will stay open until someone does.

Want more chances to win? You have until October 31 to visit all the blogs where Jessica will share a different set of true and false statements on each one. Remember, each blog is open to comments for 48 hours only from the time of posting.

If you win, you will be notified by email with instructions on how to download the book.

Click HERE to see the list of blogs.

ABOUT THE BOOK:


*This novel contains coarse language, violence, and sexual themes.

Sonia yearns for sharp objects and blood. But now that she’s rehabilitating herself as a “normal” mother and mathematics teacher, it’s time to stop dreaming about slicing people’s throats.

While being the wife of Melbourne’s leading drug lord and simultaneously dating his best mate is not ideal, she’s determined to make it work.

It does work. Until Mia, her lover’s daughter, starts exchanging saliva with her son, Mick. They plan to commit a crime behind Sonia’s back. It isn’t long before she finds out and gets involved to protect them.

But is protecting the kids really Sonia’s motive?


Click HERE to view the book trailer.
Click HERE for purchase links.

Jessica Bell, a thirty-something Australian-native contemporary fiction author, poet and singer/songwriter/guitarist, is the Publishing Editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal and the director of the Homeric Writers’ Retreat & Workshop on the Greek island of Ithaca. She makes a living as a writer/editor for English Language Teaching Publishers worldwide, such as Pearson Education, HarperCollins, MacMillan Education, Education First and Cengage Learning.

Connect with Jessica online:

A Giveaway!

A digital copy of The K-Pro* is just one of MANY great books in the massive grand prize of this giveaway being hosted by Christine Rains:

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(And yes, this giveaway is open internationally!)

The prize package includes:
A signed print copy of The 13th Floor Complete Collection by Christine Rains
Diamonds and Dust (ebook) by River Fairchild
An ebook of your choice from Mary Pax
Ocean of Dust (ebook) by Graeme Ing
Ruby’s Fire (ebook) by Catherine Stine
Passing Time and Taking Time (ebooks) by Ellie Garratt
The Vanished Knight (ebook) by Misha Gerrick
Givin’ Up The Ghost and A Guilty Ghost Surprised (ebooks) by Gwen Gardner
Neverlove and They All Fall Down (ebooks) by Angela Brown
Polar Night and The Ghosts of Aquinnah (ebooks) by Julie Flanders
An eARC of Reborn by Cherie Reich
Cloaked in Fur (ebook) by T.F. Walsh
The K-Pro (ebook) by M Pepper Langlinais
The Second Sign and The Second Shadow (ebooks) by Elizabeth Arroyo

3 second-place winners will win a digital copy of The 13th Floor Complete Collection, 13th Floor series swag, and a thank you card mailed to you from Christine.

This will surely give you enough beach reading for the coming summer.

*I am willing to substitute digital copies of St. Peter in Chains and St. Peter at the Gate for readers who would rather have those.

SFWC: E-Book Publishing Success

The last session I attended at the conference was this one, which was run by Mark Coker of Smashwords. He gave “16 Best Practices of Bestsellers.” Coker pointed out that reaching readers is difficult no matter what—whether published in the traditional mode or self-published—but you can find an audience if you think like a publisher and act like a professional.

1. Write a great book. Word of mouth is still the primary way for books and authors to get discovered. Don’t publish your first draft. “Babies are born ugly,” Coker said. So be sure to edit, polish, get feedback, revise. Make your book the best it can be.

2. Have a great cover. They say you shouldn’t judge books by them, but we do. Coker showed a case study in which a romance writer first had a plain cover, then a slightly better one, and then four iterations later hit the jackpot with a great cover that shot her to the top of the lists. The book was the same, but that great cover made all the difference in her sales.

3. Keep creating content. You have to keep writing and publishing to build and maintain a readership.

4. Giveaways. Every now and then make one of your books free, or at least deeply discount one. This particularly works for series. Give away the first one and, assuming it’s great, readers will buy the others.

5. Have patience. It won’t happen overnight, even though it always looks that way. Coker showed various charts of successful books that started with a “slow boil” before hitting a breakout spike. Then they would go back to boil, spike again, up and down.

6. Maximize availability. That is, don’t go exclusive to any one retailer or e-book format. Amazon is, of course, Coker’s chief complaint on this score. It lures authors with its Selects program, and because it holds the corner on sales, many do go exclusively with Amazon. Coker lauded Scribd, but I have to say I’ve had issues with them getting hold of my work and posting it without permission, so I’m not a fan.

7. Build a platform. There it is again. Connect with readers online. Coker added, “Build a platform that you control” but I’m not sure what he means by that and he didn’t have time to elaborate. I suppose he thinks authors should take charge of the conversation?

8. Architect for virality. Try different things to make your book accessible, discoverable, and widely available. Tweak as needed. Coker listed things like covers, distribution, pricing, proper categorization, and of course good writing as “viral catalysts.” Fix one thing and another until it works.

9. Pricing strategy. The sweet spot seems to be between $2.99 and $4.99. In that price range the average is to sell 4x as many books than if priced more than $7.00. (Does anyone price an e-book at $7.00?) Here is where self-publishing has the advantage; traditional publishers price their books too high. They have to because of manufacturing costs. But the reading public has been trained to expect quality for less money. They balk now at spending even $10 for a book—a physical book. And they want to pay even less for an e-book. So be wise when setting your price.

10. Don’t worry about piracy. According to Coker, if it happens, it’s usually by accident. Someone shares your work with friends and family. That’s actually good for you, since it spreads the word about your books.

11. Leverage pre-orders. Try a 4–6 week pre-order “runway.” Apple’s iBooks and Kobo counts any pre-orders as sales on the day the book launches, which helps shoot your book up the charts that day, thus making it all the more discoverable.

12. Practice partnership & positivity. Develop relationships with other authors. Share your secrets. And if you can’t say something nice . . .

13. Collaborate. Get together with other authors to create anthologies. This allows you to share each others’ fan bases and readers.

14. Think globally. Apple sells its iBooks in 51 countries. That’s another advantage of e-books: no borders. So long as the readers in those countries have an e-reader and can read in English (or you can afford a translator to publish your books in other languages), you can have readers all over the world.

15. Backmatter. Be sure to include your bio, a list of your books, and all your social media contact info in the back of every e-book. Make them links so the reader has easy access. The less work it is for them, the more likely they are to look up your books and Twitter account.

16. Pinch your pennies. Most books aren’t bestsellers. So don’t spend a ton of money on publishing. Don’t mortgage your house or go into debt. Hire an editor, a designer, but be realistic about what you can afford. Learn to do as much of it yourself as you can. Certainly, don’t fall for the “publishers” who sell you on big packages and promise to market your book for you because they won’t. They usually require you to buy a minimum of 100 to 1000 of your own title! So be careful and don’t break the bank.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my coverage of San Francisco Writers Conference 2014. I had a great time and am only too happy to share all I learned with my fellow writers who couldn’t be there!

Running for Cover

I’m down to the final couple cover options for The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller. It has been remarkably difficult to pick one; I’ve loved so many of the designs. But I had to think about what would look good both as a thumbnail on sites like Amazon, what would look intriguing enough that people would click on it (or pick the book up in a store), and what accurately represents the contents without being so generic that the cover would fail to give any sense of the book.

For those who’ve read either St. Peter in Chains and/or St. Peter at the Gate, you know the story is a 60s British spy drama. But this isn’t James Bond. There are no car chases, no big gun fights. It’s part character study and part intellectual cat-and-mouse. The tension is mostly within Peter as he tries to figure out whether his lover Charles is actually an enemy agent.

So here are the final two:

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00028]

cover2

Which one would catch your eye? Which one would interest you enough to make you pick it up or click on it?

The second one comes in another color (or two colors, really):

cover3

I’m partial to the green, though. I don’t want to bias anyone, but I think it’s interesting that my friends with design backgrounds seem to like the retro cover (“Saul Bass” they tell me) while those without that angle seem to gravitate toward the first. And really, they all seemed to like ones with big British flags on them, but I eliminated those because they were somewhat generic. I mean, those covers could have been on any kind of book: history, historical fiction, general dramatic literature . . . They were beautiful but didn’t say anything definite.

And then there were some covers that were very cool but promised more action-spy-thriller than I think my book actually offers. My fear there was that readers would ultimately be disappointed if they chose the book in the hopes it was Tom Clancy in tone. It isn’t.

Finally, there were a few that struck the right tone but were indistinguishable from other book covers in the category. I didn’t want to blend in too much and get lost in the shuffle.

So. That leaves these. Thoughts?

Oh, and Happy New Year!

ETA: The green is now out of the running. Much as I love it, I think the red and blue would stand out more on a bookstore shelf or table and would catch more eyes online. Plus the green one could be a comedy while the red and blue suggests more tension.

‘Tis More Blessed Winners + Screenwriting News

Thanks everyone who entered the ‘Tis More Blessed Rafflecopter giveaway! The winners were Stephen R. (for the Peter Stoller novellas) and Kirsten F. (for the signed copy of The K-Pro). Congrats to the winners; e-mails have been sent to each of you!

In other news, two of my screenplays made Quarterfinals in the Richmond International Film Festival. I’m very excited! Semifinalists are announced next week, so please send up positive thoughts for me and my work!

And if you haven’t already, please take a look at the various covers for the upcoming Peter Stoller collection and either vote or leave a comment to let me know which you think is best.

Thanks, All, for your continued support of my work. My readers (hopefully soon to be viewers) mean the world to me!

Don’t Forget!

‘Tis More Blessed continues this Friday, and I’m giving away copies of the two Peter Stoller novellas (together, as Kindle e-books or a PDF, winner’s choice) and one signed paperback copy of The K-Pro. Enter below to win and visit ‘Tis More Blessed host Milo James Fowler’s site for more giveaways!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

‘Tis More Blessed

Fellow author Milo James Fowler has launched the December giveaway ‘Tis More Blessed and I’ve decided to participate. (Click on the link to go see who else is giving away freebie books each Friday in December.)

On Friday, December 27, I’ll be giving away a Kindle copy of both St. Peter in Chains and St. Peter at the Gate. Entries close at midnight on December 26. Think of it as a Boxing Day present, or if you don’t do Boxing Day, a late Christmas or early New Year’s gift.

The small print notes that if you don’t have a Kindle, entrants can opt to receive PDFs via email instead.

You can enter by either following me on Twitter, tweeting about the giveaway, or leaving a comment. Please note that I moderate comments and will disqualify any I see as unfit. Also note that the Peter Stoller stories are about a gay British spy. If you don’t like spies, or if you don’t like gay people, or British people for that matter, I suggest you walk away. To all others: Bon courage!

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Guest Post: Christine Rains Gives Alternate Endings for Her 13th Floor Stories!

So excited to be part of the month-long blog tour celebrating the 13th Floor Collection by Christine Rains. Originally released as individual stories, the entire collection is now available both in e-format and paperback!

Today Christine is giving us a peek at some alternate endings for the stories. Oooh, just like a DVD extra! Take it away, Christine!

ALTERNATE ENDINGS

As a pantser, most of my endings come as a surprise to me. My heroes have goals, but how they achieve them becomes clear only when I’m writing. I heard those gasps. I hope none of the hardcore plotters fainted! I’ve tried plotting, but it doesn’t work for me. My stories grow organically, and I like it that way.

I did not know how any of the stories were going to end in the 13th Floor series. Oh, I had a few ideas about what I wanted, but none of them happened. Here are the endings that I imagined and that thankfully never came to be written.

1301 – THE MARQUIS
Marc traps Vetis with a spell and sends him back to Hell. Not very exciting and a bit too much like what the Winchesters would do on the TV show Supernatural.

1302 – THE ALPHA
Stefanie kills off her old pack one by one, including her sister. Too much death. Now that I know Stefanie, she’s more of a caretaker rather than a killer.

1303 – THE DRAGONSLAYER
Xan and the dragon have a huge battle that rages through the city. A big monster movie type of scene. Skilled as Xan is, how on earth was he going to survive that?13thFlooralternateending

1304 – THE HARBINGER
Meira offers herself up for an eternity of service to Zeus to save her love. OR Meira battles Ares. OR Sam battles Ares. But how could either of them beat the God of War? Sam and Meira might not have ended up together if I went with one of the other routes.

1305 & 1306 – THE ORACLE & THE VAMPIRE
The presence of the denizens of Hell in the city stalls Harriet’s curse and she doesn’t become a banshee. Kiral and Harriet fight together against the demons. Then the power of their kiss at the end breaks her curse. Blah, blah, blah. Way too cheesy.

THE GHOST
I honestly had no idea whatsoever how Chiharo and Jeremy were going to defeat the fiend. I trusted the story to work itself out, and it did!

Have you ever planned an ending, but something different and better happened instead?

I always have an idea of the direction of my stories, but sometimes they surprise me by taking detours I did not expect. Part of the fun of writing is following the characters, the story . . .

If you’d like to read the collection, which includes a bonus story “The Shadow,” links are below.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/13th-Floor-Complete-Collection-ebook/dp/B00FF9QF3W
B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-13th-floor-complete-collection-christine-rains/1116984997?ean=2940148537786
Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/the-13th-floor-complete-collection
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/360987
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18460150-the-13th-floor-complete-collection

About Christine:
Christine Rains is a writer, blogger, and geek mom. She has four degrees which help nothing with motherhood, but make her a great Jeopardy! player. When she’s not writing or reading, she’s having adventures with her son or watching cheesy movies on Syfy. She’s a member of Untethered Realms and S.C.I.F.I. The 13th Floor series is her first self-published series. She has eight novellas and twenty-one short stories published.

Website: http://christinerains.net/
Blog: http://christinerains-writer.blogspot.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorchristinerains
Twitter: https://twitter.com/@CRainsWriter
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4017568.Christine_Rains

St. Peter in Chains Free for Limited Time

My novella St. Peter in Chains is free on Amazon Kindle now through the 16th. If you haven’t had a chance to read it, now is the time to go grab a copy. The screenplay version won Table Read My Screenplay and received a professional table read at Sundance.

And then be sure to read the sequel St. Peter at the Gate, which answers the hanging question of whether Peter can truly trust Charles . . .