Tag Archives: Amazon

A Product Review

I signed up to do a review of Sleek Black Sport Stereo Sound Headphones. They gave me a discount to do so, and requested I give them an honest review. I figured “What the hell. Can’t hurt, and it’s a cheap price.”

To be honest, I expected them to be rather pathetic. I mean, look at ’em:

The Headphones
The Headphones

They don’t look like much do they? But… They’re actually pretty damned good. They sit where they’re supposed to, and I forgot I was wearing them. The music volume is superb. I actually had to turn it down on my phone from where my others were set. The sound indicator on my cell goes from 1- 100. Before these, I had the volume set at 87. With these, 23.

I think you should go buy them. I’m going to buy another set, just in case I lose these.

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An Interview with Angela Ackerman

Woot! I have awesome luck. Not too long ago, I managed to score an interview with the awesome Becca Puglisi. I’m happy to announce that now, I have managed to score an interview with her partner, the amazing Angela Ackerman. As you all know, I’ve recieved a ton of help with improving my writing thanks to their Emotion Thesaurus. I’ll go into greater detail about it another day (I can’t believe I’ve not written about it before), but in the meantime, here’s my interview with Angela. Hope you like it.

R.w.Foster: Please introduce yourself to my readers.

Angela Ackerman: Instructions like this always make me feel like I’m attending an A.A. meeting….my name is Angela, I live in Canada, I write books, it has been three weeks since my last confession meeting interview… Angela Ackerman

The “official” stuff is that I am one of the co-authors of The Emotion Thesaurus and a few others, I run Writers Helping Writers with the fabulous Becca Puglisi, who is basically my twin (the better one) and when I do get around to writing fiction, I tend to pen the dark side of middle grade rather than the fluffy, fun side. I also like teaching writing, dreaming up tools that writers need, and then creating them. Oh, and I believe in kindness. Trite I know, but true. My attitude is if you can do some good, then do.

R.w.F: Would you tell us about your latest (or an upcoming) release?

A.A.: Not a book release in the traditional sense, but then I’m not really someone who colors in the lines. Becca, myself and the creator of Scrivener for Windows, Lee Powell are collaborating on something called One Stop For Writers, which is basically a cool online brainstorming library that takes all our work (writing books and online thesaurus content) and puts it together in one place. Beautifully searchable and cross-linked, it provides a wealth of information writers can access as they create, so they write more efficiently and describe more effectively. There are a few other things on the site as well, including new tools we’ve built and a one-of-a-kind generator. One Stop will evolve over time as Becca and I conjure up more useful tools, and Lee works his techno-voodoo to bring it all together in an innovative, intuitive way. One Stop launches on October 7th and we are pretty excited (translation: as excited as preschoolers swimming through a vat of sugar.)

R.w.F: Are you traditionally published, self-published, an independent, or a some combination?

A.A.: I guess a combo best describes me? All three of our books are self-published, but we have traditional translation deals with publishers in Korea, Romania, and we’re waiting for the paperwork for Japan.

R.w.F: What made you chose to go this route with publishing?

A.A.: A few things. First of all, we had an odd project, a book that was, more than anything else, a set of lists. The traditional market (especially in 2012) liked things, well, traditional. We knew it would take a long time to find a publisher willing to take a project like ours on. We were also seeing copycats of our work cropping up and knew if we didn’t get our book out there, someone else would take the idea and run with it. Self-publishing was a terrific option for us, and I am so happy we went this route. We’ve turned down more than a few traditional offers since, simply because publishers as of yet have anything to bring forward that makes fiscal sense. Besides, Becca and I like that we are in control of the end product. It would be hard for us to give that up.

R.w.F: Are you exclusive to one platform?

A.A.: No. We publish across all platforms, print and ebook, and offer PDFs to those who wish using a service called Gumroad.

R.w.F: Do you write by the seat of your pants, outline, or a combination?

 

A.A.: For fiction, I am a “plantser,” meaning I plan some, pants some. For NF, I am a strict planner.

R.w.F: What does the standard advice of “Write what you know” mean to you?

A.A.: This is “safe” advice that should only be loosely adhered to: write in genres you read voraciously, unless that genre doesn’t exist: then experiment and create your own by blending the genre elements you enjoy best. A better rendition of this advice might be: write what you are passionate about, and care enough to get the details right for your readers.

R.w.F: Now for the more unusual questions. None are X-rated.

R.w.F:  What is your current desktop picture? (would you share it with us?)

Angela's desktop

R.w.F: The last song you listened to?

Radioactive by Imagine Dragons

R.w.F: You can only have one kind of sandwich. Every sandwich ingredient known to humankind is at your disposal. What kind do you make?

A.A.: Easy–toasted peanut butter and bacon. Try it and you’ll know why.

Thanks for these fun questions Rob. As I said, I like people who don’t always color inside the lines. J

Angela

And thank you, Angela for agreeing to do this with me.

An Interview with Becca Puglisi

This one is rather special to me as it features one of the folks who really helped me improve my work. Without this lovely writer, and her co-author, I’d still be struggling with rewrites.

R.w.Foster: Please introduce yourself to my readers.IMG_3114

Becca Puglisi: Hi, there! My name is Becca Puglisi, and I’m one of the authors of The Emotion Thesaurus, The Positive Trait Thesaurus, and The Negative Trait Thesaurus. I also write YA historical fiction and fantasy. I also keep busy running my blog, Writers Helping Writers, which has become something of a hub for descriptive writing.

R.w.Fo: Tell us about your latest or upcoming release, please.

BP: My co-author, Angela Ackerman, and I are really excited about a totally new journey that we’re undertaking. We’ve teamed up with Lee Powell, a talented software designer, to create a software product for writers wanting to elevate their storytelling. One Stop For WritersTM is a website that contains a host of reference materials that can help writers improve. As writers ourselves, the three of us understood the frustration of always having to stop drafting, revising, or arranging our stories to go and research different things: multi-sensory descriptions for a setting, how to effectively convey a character’s emotion, figuring out which events from the past may have helped to mold a hero into who he has become. At One Stop, we’re providing resources like these, along with customizable tools and worksheets, craft tutorials on difficult areas of writing, idea generators, and more—all in one convenient place. Our hope is that in creating this software, we will also create the one thing writers really need: more time to write.

R.w.F.: Are you traditionally published, self-published, an independent or some combination?

BP: Our books are self-published.

R.w.F: What made you decide to go this route?

BP: Well, self-publishing, wasn’t our first choice. We’d always had the dream of going the traditional route—getting the call from an agent or editor and being accepted by a publisher. We had just started down this road when copycat sites starting popping up around the Internet, where people had lifted our Emotion Thesaurus content and just pasted it onto their sites. We realized that we didn’t have time to find an agent, then an editor, and wait 12-18 months for the book to be published. So we decided to do it ourselves and get it out there as fast as possible.

 

I love telling this story because it’s a great example of how there isn’t one correct path to publishing. Self-publishing made sense for us; we had a large fan base, we were firmly established on social media, and nonfiction books can do well when self-published. I’m also partnered with a marketing genius in Angela Ackerman, which was hugely beneficial. So, even though we had no idea how to do it, we knew it was the right thing to do. And it’s worked out really well for us.

R.w.F: Do you have any advice for those wanting to start writing?

BP: There’s so much information out there about how to succeed as a writer, which can be really overwhelming for new writers, because it’s impossible to do it all. So, in my opinion, there are two must-haves.

 

First, make time to write. Do it in car line, on your lunch break, before the family wakes up or after they go to sleep. Take those moments whenever they come, and just write.

 

Secondly, you grow exponentially when you study the craft. Attend workshops, read books, listen to podcasts, subscribe to the blogs of knowledgeable authors and industry professionals—whatever works for you, do it. I would also strongly advise new writers to get into a critique group or find a critique partner. It’s difficult to grow when you don’t know your problem areas, and we’re often too close to our own writing to see those difficult spots. Having someone else read your work is instrumental in learning what you need to work on; conversely, reading other people’s work opens your eyes to problem areas, different styles of writing, and new techniques that you can then apply to your own writing.

 

And now for a few fun questions:

 

R.w.F: What is your favorite soda?

BP: All of them. I’m literally addicted to soda in any form. There’s some kind of psychological issue there that I haven’t figured out; I just know that if I drink it at all, it doesn’t matter what parameters or limits I impose, I will soon be mainlining the stuff all the day long. So I’ve had to cut it out completely. I’m now developing an addiction to Snapple…

 

R.w.F: What is the Last song you listened to?

BP: Blue Collar Man by Styx. This is currently my five-year-old’s favorite song. I hear it a lot.

 

R.w.F: What is your favorite desktop picture?

BP: It’s one of my family. Before my mother-in-law passed away last year, we arranged for an extended family photo shoot. This one was taken of my immediate family, and it accurately captures some of the personality of each of us. Props to the photographer, Jennifer Stonebrink at Yankee-Belle.

 

R.w.F: Cool stuff. Thank you for agreeing to this interview, and the enlightening (for me) stuff.

 

BP: Thank you for having me, Robert!

 

If you want to check out those awesome books mentioned by Becca, you can find them at some of the links below:

Emotion Thesaurus

The Positive Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Attributes

The Negative Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Flaws

An Interview With Susan Kaye Quinn

Today, I get to interview the wonderful Susan Kaye Quinn. She’s someone I get to gush over fun science stuff with – like scientists freeze light – and, I’ve been able to read a couple of her books (I’ll provide links throughout and at the end).Susan Kaye Quinn 300 pix

R.w.Foster: What is your process for getting in the mood to write?

Susan Kaye Quinn: Belting out “Let It Go!” at the top of my lungs, scaring the cats as well as all my fears away.

R.w.F: In my opinion, the greatest enemy of a writer is Procrastination. How do you defeat this dreaded beast?

SKQ: By openly attacking my fears with a steak knife and some creative action; as well as actively immersing myself in my work once I start. These two have greatly cut down on my procrastination activities.

R.w.F: Do you have any advice for those who want to start writing?

SKQ: Write a lot. Write some more. Don’t endlessly fiddle. The dichotomy between writing fast and writing well is a false one – the more you write, the better you’ll get.

R.w.F.: What do you label yourself as?

SKQ: I don’t like labels – for me or anyone else.

R.w.F: What were you doing at midnight last night?

SKQ: Wishing I was asleep.

R.w.F.: Name one movie that made you cry.

SKQ: If it’s well done, almost any movie can make me cry.

R.w.F: If you were a type of tree, what would you be?

SKQ: Weeping Willow

R.w.F.: If you were a color, what one would you be?

SKQ: Polka Dot

R.w.F.: When was the last time you laughed so hard your stomach hurt?

SKQ: I don’t know, but it was certain to be something my kids did.

R.w.F.: Would you rather be immortal, but dependent on blood, or age 1000 times slower than everyone else?

SKQ: I’d rather have nanites in my brain that will enhance my intelligence, make me independent of my wetware, and give me an immortal robotic body. It’s possible I’ve written a story about this.

R.w.F.: Would you tell us about your latest (or an upcoming) release?

SKQ: I’m deep into writing my YA SF Singularity series – about a future where most of the world has ascended into hyper-intelligent human-robot hybrids, except for the Legacy Humans left behind, preserved for their biodiversity like the rainforest. The first novel of the series, The Legacy Human, tells the story of Eli, a Legacy Human boy who wants to be an ascender… until he finds out he’s something altogether different than he thinks. I’m working on the second novel, The Duality Bridge, which should release in August. Along with the novels, I’m writing a series of companion short stories, the Stories of Singularity, that explore all the dark corners of the Singularity universe that I can’t get to with the novels. The first of those is out— Restore, a story about a med bot ruled by unconditional love, rather than the three laws of robotics.

Susan Kaye Quinn is the author of the Singularity Series, the bestselling Mindjack Trilogy, and the Debt Collector serial, as well as other speculative fiction novels and short stories. Her work has appeared in the Synchronic anthology, the Telepath Chronicles, the AI Chronicles, and has been optioned for Virtual Reality by Immersive Entertainment. Former rocket scientist, now she invents mind powers, dabbles in steampunk, and dreams of the Singularity. Mostly she sits around in her PJs in awe that she gets to write full time.

GET A FREE STORY (subscribe):
http://smarturl.it/SKQnewsletter

More about Sue:
http://smarturl.it/SKQwebsite
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Where’s My Into the Realm Updates?

Funny you should ask that. Since I published it on Amazon.com, I also enrolled it in KDP Select. It’s a way for Amazon Prime members to borrow my book for free, and I get royalties based on how many people borrow it. As part of being able to do this, I’m not allowed to sell my book on any other website (or blog), nor am I allowed to post it anywhere, even for free. But, that’s okay. After I pull it from there, I’ll resume posting it here.

In the meantime, taking its place will be Jennifer Steel, Agent of the F.S.I.A. You may remember me posting some excerpts from that a while ago, but I’ve been rewriting, and revamping, it. I hope you guys like it.

It’s Finally Available

My novel, Into the Realm: The Chronicles of Carter Blake is now live on Amazon. For now, it’s only available as an e-book. As soon as I get enough money to get the cover expanded, I’ll be offering print versions, too. Here is where you can order it. When my next post goes live, you’ll be able to order it from one of my side bars. 😀 I hope you guys like it.

cover

My Thoughts on Amazon vs Hatchette

Since I’m scheduling this for Tuesday, this may have ended by then. But, regardless, I’m throwing my two cents out there.

 

As many of you may be aware, internet superstore Amazon.com is embroiled in a feud with publishing conglomerate Hatchette Book Group. This seems to be how Joe & Jane Average seem to be seeing things. You note that only two seem to be neutral? All the others, especially is you search Amazon vs Hatchette seem to call for boycotting of Amazon in favor of Barnes & Noble, and indy bookstores. Yeah, as if that would be a good idea.

 

As a currently unpublished author, I’m going to say this, “Boo-fucking-hoo.” So the multi-million dollar authors aren’t going to get a few pennies more on their tiny royalties. If the authors really cared about the readers, they’d say, “See ya,” to the traditionals, and self-publish. But they don’t care about that, they don’t like the idea of competition, and they don’t want to give up their guaranteed multi-million dollar contracts.

Folks seem to enjoy painting Amazon as the Big Bullies, and Hatchette Book Group as the Heroic Underdog fighting for the little guy. I say those roles are switched around. Amazon isn’t the bullies here, Hatchette is. They are the ones that want to jack up the price of the e-books. They aren’t fighting for their authors that are under contract. Consider: The authors that are with HBG get, at most, 20% royalties on their books once they make a certain amount. Even guys like King, Patterson, & Rowling. Twenty fucking percent. And, when you have guys like them under contract, HBG offers them advances of $100K- $3Million. Those advances are why folks like King are bitching, not the royalties. If they cared about royalties on their books, they’d go with the folks with the highest paying royalties out there, Amazon. Yes, Amazon. They even say it on their pricing page (for authors), “For titles priced between $2.99-$9.99, we pay a royalty of 70% on each sale.”

In the meantime, Hatchette wants a bigger piece of that pricing pie. They think that Amazon is getting too big a piece with their charging 10% for titles that are over $9.99. Go look up Steven King, James Patterson, et al., on any book seller website, and look at what the books are being sold for. Barring a second hand site, you won’t find any of their titles for less than $7.99 for a trade paperback, and less than $25.99 for a hardback. Now, consider this price breakdown: on that $25.99 James patterson, Hatchette takes 70%, the author gets 20%, and Amazon takes 10%. The way Hatchette wants it to be is they get 78%, authors still get 20% (big names, anyway), and Amazon would be left with 1%. How is that fair?

You notice who’s not been mentioned in all of this? The customer. That’s because they’d still pay $25.99. Unless HBG wins, that is. Then it would be $25.99 + shipping & handling. Even with Prime.

Falling Into You Cover Reveal!

My friend, L.T.Kelly, has decided to allow me to assist in revealing the cover for her sequel to Falling to Pieces, her smashing debut novel.

 

Are you ready?

 

Here it is:

 

 

ebook

 

Blurb:

Marc Romano disappeared without a trace into the darkness. His lover became overwhelmed with grief in her loss. But her grief takes on a much more murderous form than most, for Teagan Lewis is a vampire.

Now her heartache is driving her further from the woman she once was, and she realises she must snap out of her monstrous habits and discover the way back to her old self. But how?

Ending their trip around Europe, Teagan and her friend Alex head back to New York. Teagan has the full intention of carrying out a dangerous plan here; not just physically dangerous, but emotionally as well.

How will she be able to resist the irresistible? And what of the new rival, Ivan Lenin? He threatens her life and the lives of everyone she loves. The only people who can help her are her sworn enemy and an ancient stranger. Will they assist her?

How will Teagan Lewis face the demons of her past and try to find happiness? Will she stay and fight or will she run from the things she must face in order to finally be at peace? Mistakes will be made. People will die. The time has come…

Look for it May 2014

 

Go stalk follow L.T. here:

 

Moonflower On Sale Starting Today

Moonflower_ad

After Josephine Woods’ father dies of cancer, her mother up-roots the two of them and moves to the city. Josie hates her city life, but her teenage issues are of little consequence when they have a car accident and she wakes up in a strange land (reminiscent of Victorian Europe) alone. Lost, with her school backpack as the only connection to her world, Josie struggles to find her way home. She is found by Lucius Conrí, the son of a Marquess, who possesses royal blood and the gift to shift into a wolf’s form at will. Can the kind-hearted Lucius help her find her way while winning her love, or will she fall for Donovan Conrí his older, more serious brother and heir to the Conrí wealth?

 It runs from January 30th through February 5th on both Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk as a Kindle Count Down Deal.  It starts January 30th at 12 a.m. for $0.99 (which is an 81% discount off the original price) changes to $1.99 at 12 a.m. on February 3rd and ends at 11 p.m. on Feb. 5th.
 
 securedownload

EDC Johnson grew up in the Midwest, graduating from Michigan State University with her BFA in Art Education and her MA in Art Education from Western Michigan University. She currently lives with her husband and daughter in Palm Harbor, Florida. Her decade of experience as a public school art teacher has inspired her to write fiction novels that will entice young readers. You may see some of her illustrations in Renee Mallet’s: Fairies, Mermaids, and Other Mystical Creatures.

You may find more information about EDC and her book at…

 

Goodreads

Amazon

http://www.edcjohnson.com/

https://www.facebook.com/EDCJohnson

https://twitter.com/EDCJohnson

Find the link to Amazon UK here:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Moonflower-EDC-Johnson-ebook

Author Interview: EDC Johnson

Today, I get to interview the cool, and awesome author, EDC Johnson. You may remember her from last week’s guest post about the love triangle. Her YA novel, Moonflower is available at Amazon and Barnes & Nobel.

RwF: Are you willing to share what the EDC stands for, or is that part of your secret identity?

EDC: My first name is Elizabeth, I’m not trying to keep that a secret, but in an effort to protect what fragment of my identity I can I will keep the rest to myself.

(I did some digging for my fans. The other initials stand for Desire Chaistain. Or was it Donald Charles? No… Oh, yeah: Depak Chopra! No, that would be insulting. That’s right: Deborah Chinning.)

R.w.F: Okay, then. How would you prefer to be addressed by your crazed, stalkery – Wait, I mean, your adoring, polite fans?

EDC: You have to keep your stalker fans in line you know .  I prefer to be addressed as EDC Johnson or Ms. Johnson.  Some times I get asked or teased about having the three initial but in my defense there are quite a number of Johnson’s out there.  (You have no idea how badly I wanted to say “…that’s Dr. Jones, to you toots.”)

R.w.F: <chuckles> Without giving too much away, can you tell us what your book is about?

EDC: Beyond the synopsis I would have to say it is a real coming of age story.  The heroine, Josie Woods, has a lot of personal growth going on through the novel.  It addresses issues that range from coming to terms with death, falling in love and self-awareness.  Josie’s adventure isn’t limited to a journey to a strange world, but the journey of becoming a young adult.

R.w.F: How long did it take you to write this book?

EDC: I was writing the book for about 3 years in my free time. When it was complete I went through the editing process with my writing group and the publishing process for approximately another year on top of that.

R.w.F: What was your inspiration to write this book?
EDC: It may seem cliché, but it came to me in a day-dream. Right before I was about to fall asleep I imagined this scenario and it began to play like a movie in my mind. Then I incorporated my favorite necklace into the idea. It is made of moonstone. This then made me wonder if there was an actual moonflower, and, well, the rest is history.

R.w.F: Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
EDC: Moonflower is a novel that has something for readers of all ages: action, drama, romance and has debuted to positive reviews.

R.w.F: Which of the so-called rules of writing did you hear the most as you wrote?

EDC: When I began writing I had a tendency to use passive voice too often.

R.w.F: What is your opinion of it?

EDC: Passive voice isn’t totally a bad thing but when it is overused in your writing it will weaken your story.   I avoid this problem by trying to use an active voice often so when a passive phrase sneaks in it isn’t so bad.

R.w.F: Are you an outliner, or a seat-of-the-pants writer?

EDC: I am mostly a seat-of-my-pants kind of writer.  I have distinct moments plotted in my mind and I definitely know how I want the book to end. In essence I will start at moment A and the characters play out action toward their goals to reach moment B.  On occasion I will imagine a new plot point that adds action or meaning to the story and I will work that in unexpectedly.

R.w.F: Why pantsing?

EDC: As an artist, creativity tends to be a very kinetic thing.  I understand the use of an outline and can appreciate those that use them but I have never enjoyed them myself.  For some reason I find it to be busy work, yet it can be very useful.  It is simply how I work—to each their own and all that.

R.w.F: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

EDC: Well, it was really a two-part process. It started by reading Twilight with my husband at a friend’s recommendation. If I am completely honest, at the risk of upsetting Twilighters, it became a running joke with my husband how many times Stephenie Meyer used the word “dazzling.” I still enjoyed the book and read the rest of the series, but I came to the conclusion that it was a good entertaining book without Pulitzer Prize winning writing. I thought to myself I can do that!

As the Twilight craze continued I noticed a few of my students were reading the book. During discussion with a group of girls some had admitted that they would wait for the movie rather than read the thick YA novel. Later that week I saw a girl thumbing through a book she was debating to read. She decided to check it out of the library when she saw the illustrations. This made me decide that I wanted to write a book that would be appealing to young readers yet still challenge them as budding readers. As an art teacher my artistic skills would be put to good use in drawing my own chapter header illustrations. It was my hope that young readers would be less intimidated to read novels while growing their vocabulary and ability for sustained reading.

R.w.F: What is your take on the “rule” to write what you know?

EDC: There is a truth in it. Obviously fiction writers are creating their own worlds and scenarios but to bring a character to life a writer must breathe life into him. The best way to make a character is to understand his/her emotions through your own experiences. How can you write love, hate or sadness if you have never felt it yourself?

R.w.F: Good point. Do you have any writing projects you are working on?

EDC: I am working on the sequel to Moonflower of which I’m not willing to give away too many details. I’ll save the title for a future blog reveal, but I want you to relish in the idea that our characters will meet again—with a few new friends.
I have another series I am working on that will shy away from the period era setting and stretch the idea of fantasy. This project is a long way off as I work on the Moonflower series.

This interview will continue on Wednesday.