Title: Deadly Secrets Author: Angel Sefer ASIN: B00K6PQW9M Published: 13th May 2014 Pages: 226
Genre: Romance and intrigue
Oh, to be young and in love!
I must confess that although I’ve been reading more romantic books of recent (partly in my role as reviewer) it is not a genre I’m an expert in. I’ve probably watched more movies that fall under that label than read books, but it is rare to find books, movies and TV series, whatever the subject, where there isn’t a hint of a romance, even if that’s not the main driving force of the plot.
Deadly Secrets is the first book in The Greek Isles Series that I read, so I cannot compare it to the first one in the series (Spellbound in His Arms), that I’m aware has proven very popular and it is a favourite with many romance readers. This is a romance were the setting plays a very important part in the story. I’d say it’s a secondary character. Helena, the protagonist, is a girl whose father was Greek and she spent her early childhood in Mikonos. When her father disappeared under mysterious circumstances, her mother took her to the UK with her and her links with Greece and the island were severed. But she’d always felt the pull of her birthplace and had wished to go back. Helena, who is young and impulsive, when her mother dies, makes the decision to go back to the island, despite her mother’s warning.
Helena is presented as a passionate girl, a woman of strong intuition (not always right) and a particular sensibility. She is quick to like or dislike people and her judgement is not always the best. This is a case of a story where you want to grab the protagonists by the neck and shake them. Can’t you see what’s going on? Both her and Dimitris (there’s a story about them that goes many years back, although she is not aware of it. Poor Helena has been kept in the dark about many things) are blinded by their emotions and keep making the wrong assumptions and judgements. Yes, if this were a TV show, you’d be shouting at them.
There are mysteries that are eventually resolved, likeable and very dislikeable characters, confusion and misunderstandings, danger, and magic. Although there is a touch of the paranormal, when I refer to magic I’m talking about the islands. You feel as if you were there and it’s difficult not to go straight and book a ticket when you finish reading the book.
As in many romantic stories, the characters and their life-story and circumstances were completely alien to me and I can’t say I identified with anybody (although some of the self-doubts and hesitations are easily recognisable) but that is precisely the beauty of it. It allows us to escape into a life that’s completely different and live other adventures vicariously. It’s an easy read perfect for a holiday, or for a very cold and cloudy day.
Ratings: Realistic Characterization: 3/5 Made Me Think: 3.5/5 Overall enjoyment: 4/5 Readability: 4.5/5 Recommended: 4/5 Overall Rating: 4/5
Buy it at: Format & Pricing: Paperback: $11.71 Kindle: $4.08
That’s a question I have seen a few times around the author blogs. Having recently, okay, not too recently signed up for BookBub.com I have been getting a lot of Free Ebooks. But then again I’ve passed on a lot as well—a whole lot. I subscribe to a broad range of genres, from kids to adults, from romance to even horror.
Why do I pass on getting a Free book?
First thing is the cover just doesn’t work for me. Yep, the visual hits me first.
But, I can move past that if the title works. But then the Title doesn’t work.
Then the blurb doesn’t work.
Then there is the pen name of the author. The name chosen doesn’t work because it’s an obvious cheese attempt to grab attention. It grabs attention but for the wrong reasons.
I think we all want to believe we can do it all ourselves and for free. Perhaps you are a great book cover artist, creative book blurb writer, and you already have a great name for an author. But for the rest of us I think we need to come to terms that if we want to stand out from the crowd and catch an eye we need to be willing to either put in the effort to really learn how to do everything professionally, which does mean some money and a lot of time, thus meaning a longer time to get that book out there, or we pay professionals to do things for us.
Really, it all depends on what our idea of success is.
Do we want to be a million-seller?
Do we want to sell enough to do okay living?
Do we want to simply have people read and enjoy our work?
Do we want the sense of accomplishment that we wrote a book?
If you want to test out what you’ve done, you could put a selection of book covers on your site, without author names and titles, and see which ones work. Use books already out there and mix yours in. That doesn’t mean to actually use their book cover as your own if people like it better. Then do book titles. Then go for book blurbs. Test out what people like. Look at Amazon and see what those top selling people, that aren’t perhaps big names, doing. Big names can almost put out a blank cover with their name on it and people will buy it knowing what to expect inside. Test, test, test.
I was planning on posting the new TOC how to using Calibre this week, but I’m afraid that I haven’t been able to get to my computer to get the screenshots together this week – so next week it will be – promise. Getting back here today though, it seems that the whole writing world is up in arms about Amazon’s announcement that authors will earn by the page read, rather than by the percentage of a book read when a book is borrowed with Kindle Unlimited. Having vivid memories of starting out as a newbie to self-publishing of how easy it was to get totally confused and thrown off course by announcements from some established authors, I’m really glad that this didn’t happen back then.
It’s a fact that any Indie author out there right now with one, or maybe two books published, is not going to be laughing all the way to the bank. It’s also a fact that readers buy from sources other than Amazon, especially in places like Canada where Kobo is popular, so if your book is Amazon exclusive those would be readers who wouldn’t have the opportunity to buy it. Then again, even if your book is available at all of these other outlets, that doesn’t mean that anyone will buy them there. Two of my books were on all of those sites for quite some time, and I have to risk being shot down in flames here, and truthfully say that since they’ve been taken down from them a very short while ago, they’ve earned more from KU downloads than they ever did there.
I’m not being an Amazon groupie here – I’m well aware that there are authors who truly hate them. I don’t hate them. I just think that we, as self-published writers, need to get things a little more in perspective. We aren’t obliged to put our books on KDP Select. All it means if we don’t is that we don’t have any Amazon free days and a couple of other perks. We can still make our books free regardless by putting a free price on them at Smashwords, and asking Amazon to match the price – this is how we get to having permafree books. Before, when a reader downloaded a book using KU, all that was required for the author of a twelve page book to get the same payout as an author of a two hundred page book, was for the reader to read ten percent of the book. Now authors will be paid for pages read. I don’t see what all the fuss is about – page for page sounds fair to me. As writers I would have thought that we’d be more concerned about readers reading our entire books because they love them, rather than getting cross with Amazon for evening out the playing field.
When I’ve been asked, I’ve always advised newbies publishing their first book to start out the gates with three months on KDP Select, and I stand by that. The authors feeling this particular crunch in their pockets are authors who are already earning minimum four digit monthly incomes from their books, mainly because of loss of actual sales. When it comes to the newly published author, would you rather get a share of the KU pot for a borrow of your book, and the potential of new readers who might not otherwise have been prepared to actually pay for it, or dig your heels in on principle and sell none at all? If Amazon were to close its doors to Indie publishers tomorrow, how well would we all be doing sales-wise? The angry comments about Amazon giving better promotion to Select books also confuse me a little. On the one hand there are the questions of what the benefits are to being Amazon exclusive, while at the same time complaining that those who are Amazon exclusive are getting preferential treatment. That question seems to answer itself right there.
UPDATE: I’m moving this very helpful information up from the comments section. It’s from bestselling author and self-publishing expert Chris Mc Mullen. Click on his name here to go to go and read a great related article on the difference between borrowing and lending on Amazon.
“ I don’t think Amazon specifically favors Select books. However, every KU and Prime borrow helps the sales rank, even if not read to 10%, and there are many borrows not read to 10% that don’t show in the sales reports. That means Select has a larger impact on sales rank than the shown borrows + sales would suggest. That sales rank boost really helps visibility.
But that’s not the only thing. Select books will earn over $100M in royalties in 2015; that’s a huge market. Which lessens the market outside of Select. But that huge KU customer base clicks on the Kindle Unlimited filter in search results, which eliminates all the books that aren’t in Select. Obviously, that helps Select books with visibility, too.
Amazon doesn’t need to do anything special to favor Select books. The reward is built-in. ”
Amazon is what it is – the biggest and best way for self-published writers to have the opportunity to sell our wares, with the added possibility of eventually earning enough from our writing to quit our day jobs – with quite a bit of hard work to come and more books, I hasten to add. Most of us aren’t anywhere near that point yet, so yelling about this and taking our books off KU because of this honestly sounds counterproductive to me. So to any brand new Indies out there about to boycott Amazon because of this, please think twice before you do, and consider what is best for your own book right now, rather than any cash you could potentially be losing if you’re currently making less than fifty dollars or so a month. KDP Select isn’t a life plus seventy year contract holding you down – it’s three months – test it for yourself first.
As you know, for the last few weeks I’ve been bringing you the work of some authors who although well known to Spanish-speaking (and reading) audiences, you might not be very familiar with. And I’ve taken the chance to ask them a few questions so you can know them better. Today I’m pleased to bring you a writer from my home city, but who is a citizen of the world. Fernando Gamboa.
Fernando Gamboa (Barcelona, Spain, 1970) has devoted most of his adult life to traveling through Africa, Asia and Latin America. He has lived in several countries and worked as a scuba diver, Spanish teacher, entrepreneur, poker player and adventure guide. In the year 2007 he published his first novel La última cripta (The Last Crypt) and since then he has published five more novels: Ciudad Negra (Black City), La historia de Luz (The Story of Luz), Guinea, Capitán Riley (Captain Riley), and Tierra de nadie (Nobody’s Land) just over a month ago. Thanks to the hundreds of thousands of books he has sold in Amazon, it could be said that he is the independent Spanish author most read in the world.
When and how did you start writing?
I began to write in 2005 as a result of serious back injury that left me practically unable to move for two years and as I had to stop traveling during that time, I had no other option but to travel using my imagination. The Last Crypt was born from that time, and as a consequence, what has become my literary career.
Could you tell us something about your experience as an independent writer?
My first two novels were published by a traditional publishing company but the experience wasn’t a good one, so when Amazon appeared in Spain, I jumped on the train of the self-publishing and I carry on like that, very happy to have taken that step. I strongly believe that self-publishing is the present and will be the future of the literature of the world and I recommend all authors to join that revolution, so beneficial to those of us who want to turn writing into our way of life.
Do you have a moment you remember especially of your experience as writer?
For me the best has always been the affection the readers have shown me. I know it may sound trite but when hundreds of readers write to you to congratulate you personally on a novel and to thank you for making them dream through four hundred pages, it’s very touching.
Do you have a favourite genre (both as a reader and as a writer)?
As a reader, any novel that makes my heart beat faster and fires up the imagination, from sci-fiction to adventure or mystery.
As an author, I’m less worried about the genre than about being able to awaken the same emotions I look for as a reader. I imagine that is part of the trick to “hook” the readers: put yourself in their place and do not write ‘the end’ in a novel until, when you read with the eyes of an anonymous reader, you enjoy it as much as if you were a pig in a pigsty.
What made you get your work translated? And what process did you follow to find a translator?
The big world market of literature is dominated by books in English. According to the figures we are 500 million of people who speak Spanish, but what nobody says is that not many read. Very few people in Spain and even fewer in Latin America, so I think that translating one’s books is the best way to make a living out of writing, on the long term.
My current translator is a friendly woman from the States who lives in Cantabria (Spain) whom I met through the friend, of a friend, of a friend. She has translated two of my books to English (The Last Crypt and Black City, which is still being edited and I hope will be on sale before the end of the year) and the truth is that we have become very good friends.
Tell us something about your book:
The Last Crypt is an adventure novel that has sold over 200000 copies in the world in Spanish, Russian and Italian, as well as being the bestselling book (to date) in Amazon Spain, ahead even of such mega-bestsellers as Fifty Shades of Grey. That made me chose it as the one to get translated to English first, hoping that English readers will also enjoy it.
Any advice to your writer colleagues:
To never give up and to persevere if they want to become professional writers. Tenacity does not guarantee success, but without tenacity it is impossible to achieve it.
MORE THAN 200,000 COPIES SOLD IN EUROPE
– #1 Bestseller in Spanish & Russian
– “Best Action and Adventure novel of 2012 for Kindle” According Amazon Spain
– LAUNCH OFFER -75% OFF
«I could not stop reading it!.»
«I understand why this novel has been so successful.»
«An impressive and surprising ending, which gives you goosebumps.»
«You can´t stop reading. It’s great, spectacular & lots of fun.»
«It is one of the best novels I’ve read in a while.»
«The truth is that I did not imagine this book could make me enjoy as much as it has.»
«A stunning setting, believable characters, a great story and an unexpected ending.»
Diver Ulysses Vidal finds a fourteenth-century bronze bell of Templar origin buried under a reef off the Honduras coast. It turns out it’s been lying there for more than one century, prior to Christopher Columbus’s discovery of America. Driven by curiosity and a sense of adventure, he begins the search for the legendary treasure of the Order of The Temple. Together with a medieval history professor and a daring Mexican archeologist they travel through Spain, the Mali desert, the Caribbean Sea and the Mexican jungle. They face innumerable riddles and dangers, but in the end this search will uncover a much more important mystery. A secret, kept hidden for centuries, which could transform the history of humankind, and the way we understand the universe.
The Last Crypt in Amazon: http://www.relinks.me/1500749303
Thanks so much to Fernando for the interview and for bringing us his book, thanks to all of you for reading, and if you’ve enjoyed it, like, share, comment and CLICK! And I’ll make sure I keep you informed when his next book, Black City become available in English too!
Phil Harvey is an award-winning author, philanthropist and libertarian whose stories won a prize from Antietam Review and were nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His dark fiction and controversial ideas have broadened debate on violent entertainment, relationships and sexuality. At the core of his fiction stand the motives, methods and goals of the characters. Here he talks about his latest novel Show Time and the release of three new collections: Wisdom of Fools: Stories of Extraordinary Lives, Devotional: Erotic Stories for the Sensual Mind, and Across the Water: Tales of the Human Heart.
Q: Your three new books are collections of short stories in which characters touch something important in themselves or in others.
PH: The centerpiece of my fiction is always the individual. I like to put characters in demanding physical/psychological settings that force them to respond. Frankly this saves work and imagination because some responses are fore-ordained. Other ideas come from experience. Fly fishing. Sex. Upbringing. And so on. Some ideas even spring from other books. Really, the stories run the gambit. A few end in death, one in time travel, a few in redemption.
Show Time engages with seven people and their idiosyncrasies, lust, belligerence, and desire to survive. How they are attracted to each other, how they fight with each other, how they sometimes undermine and then strengthen each other. They boil, they confer, they fight, they make love—but overall, they must survive.
For all my characters, life goes on but is changed.
Q: Tell us about Show Time. The novel challenges seven reality show contestants with the possibility of starvation or freezing to death.
PH: My book explores the use of violence and death as entertainment. We already have real-world examples like the potential fatal violence that helps fuel the popularity of car racing. We like violence. It fascinates us. That’s why it leads the news every night. My idea is that policymakers someday will, perhaps without knowing it, encourage certain kinds of violence to keep people satisfied. Presidents like wars—even though they won’t admit it. Wars unify us. We always support the troops. So deliberate steps to encourage controlled violence are not so farfetched.
Q: Your fiction is occasionally threaded with darker impulses. Why delve into the shadow side?
PH: A wise writing instructor once said, “People don’t read nice. It puts them to sleep.”
I write dark-side fiction because that’s the only kind people read. I am not especially interested in venality, violence (which I really do not like), human weakness, etc. but these are essential elements of fiction. Of course we’re all fallible, and some of my fiction reflects this theme.
In Show Time, the producer arranges for a murder to happen on the show because her entire focus in life is on her ratings. Nothing else matters. We humans can get blinkered that way and occasionally take desperate measures to keep things on track. That’s true reality. But overall, I write in this vein because it is artistically satisfying and readers demand it.
Q: In Beena’s Story an Indian woman is disfigured by acid, in Virgin Birth a surrogate mother is attacked, and Show Time explores personal and social violence. How do you address violence without becoming graphic?
PH: Writing that is too graphic turns people off. Different readers (and writers) have different limits; mine are probably about average. Some would say I’m too cautious but bodies run through and guts spilling out simply seem unnecessary and distracting. It comes down to a matter of style. A very clear case is the “cozy.” There’s always a murder but never a body.
Q: These three new books include one that has a more erotic tone yet you don’t shy from sexual activity in stories that aren’t specifically erotic. Is there a line here, too?
PH: As to sex, I think I provided the appropriate amount of detail in Show Time and, very differently, in Vishnu Schist, Swimming Hole, and Devotional. Sex scenes can be sexy, even graphic as in Devotional, but clichés must be avoided like the plague. In Charlie Stuart’s Car got a little close to that, I think. I’ll let readers decide.
Q: How do you align your dark fiction with your Huffington Post article about the world getting better?
PH: The reality is that dark impulses, especially violence, will always be there. The world is getting better in part because we are learning to curb our natural violent instincts. We sublimate by watching violent sports. Boxing. Football. NASCAR. We punish. Murderers and rapists are jailed. And so on.
Backing this up must be the rule of law. People are capable of unspeakable horrors. And that includes nice, civilized people. See the enforcers of the Holocaust. See Uganda. See North Korea. The fact that the government has a monopoly on legal violence (wars, executions, etc.) is a good thing. The great majority of citizens want violence curbed, and only a governmental entity can do that consistently.
So, yes, humans will always love violence (see video games), and in the societies that function best, violence will be sublimated. Hence my novel Show Time. Hence my short story Hunting Dora.
Q: You support the rule of law but some of your stories demonstrate abuses of power. Should readers beware authority?
PH: No society can exist without rules that prevent people from harming others. But the government can be a poor purveyor of justice. Where’s the justice in the War on Drugs? Where’s the justice in taking (by force) billions from hardworking taxpaying Americans and giving it to rich farmers and agricultural corporations? And on and on.
The government is necessary for some things, and I appreciate that. An army. Rule of law. Enforceable contracts. But it is not such a stretch to depict the government as complicit (behind the scenes!) in a brutal scheme to satisfy Americans’ lust for violence as in Show Time. Readers should worry, because government’s perfidy is backed by government force. The worst perpetrators of violence have been governments. Stalin. Mao. Hitler. Pol Pot. Dystopian fiction is perhaps popular because in the digital age it seems more feasible. Big brother is watching.
On the other hand, people are generally very good about making decisions for their own lives. Over two centuries or so we’ve seen that life can be pretty successful and satisfying in democratic, free market societies. That’s why messy democracy is so terribly important.
Q: What’s the takeaway for readers of your fiction?
PH: I would hope they have journeyed to a place they would not have seen without the novel or one of the stories…that they experienced it and enjoyed being there, became engrossed, and had the pleasure of a good read. I always welcome emails with serious and thoughtful questions. I invite readers of Show Time to think about the complexities of violence. Perhaps this is worth considering: “War unites us. Love divides us.”
Q: It’s interesting that some of your stories revolve around activists. Your own efforts range from philanthropy to utilizing social marketing to distribute birth control, yet some of your characters view “do-gooders” with sharp cynicism.
PH: We compassionate humans so love to think highly of ourselves that we do “good” things without using the brains god gave us. For a decade the U.S. sent huge amounts of grain to India. Result: Indian farmers couldn’t make a living, Indian agriculture stagnated, Indians were generally worse off than they would have been without our “help.”
Doing stuff that feels good instead of stuff that will acutely help is something I really abhor. Feel-good giving is self-indulgent and occasionally cruel. It’s great to feel superior to that panhandler on the corner, so give him a dollar (and assure the future of panhandling) and think how morally superior you are. Whatever you do, don’t think about how you could actually be helpful. Not emotionally satisfying!
So the cynics in my stories are right, only it’s not really cynicism. It’s clarity. It’s intellectual integrity. If you want to help people then empower them to take control of their lives. And don’t expect gratitude. You’re doing your job; they’re doing theirs.
Q: What’s next for you?
My most promising novel is Just In Time, in which a Wall Street trader is deposited back in the Pleistocene era. The other, Indian Summer, follows a Peace Corps volunteer’s transformation fighting famine in India during the 1960s. I plan to write more short stories focused on the transformative powers of sex and alcohol.
As for myself, I will continue enjoying my married life, being a stepfather, and nurturing my very promising grandkids. And, of course, I’ll continue organizing projects that promote civil liberties through the DKT Liberty Project, work to end the War on Drugs, and debunk yahoos who ignore the reason and science behind immunization and the genetically modified crops that can relieve suffering worldwide.
All of his books can be purchased by clicking on his author page link below.
Yes you can. Short books and audiobooks are the in thing right now. Lots of Indies are working with ACX to have their books made into audio to sell with Amazon’s Audible. You can either pay a narrator and keep all your royalties, or you can opt to share the audiobook’s royalties with the narrator, in which case you pay nothing upfront. Unfortunately this service isn’t available to authors anywhere other than the United States and the United Kingdom. I would definitely use this service if it was available to me, and if any of you scribblers haven’t yet explored the possibilities of audio, it looks to be well worth the effort to have a look.
I have seen a few authors who refuse to have any part of Audible, because of their seven year exclusive distribution rights and insistence on the use of DRM though, so not everyone thinks that this is a great opportunity. Either way, the good thing to know when your book is published with Amazon KDP Select, is that while you may only distribute the digital eBook through them, this doesn’t apply to paper books or audiobooks, both of which you can sell and distribute anywhere you like. Only the eBook has to be Amazon exclusive, and even though the audio book is also digital, it’s not part of the deal. So if you can’t use ACX because of where you live, or if you don’t want to for some other reason, you could be losing potential readers – or listeners as the case may be – without having your book available in all possible formats. All is not lost though.
If you’re brave enough, you could narrate your own books. You could use an online service, such as Podiobooks who actually assist you through the whole process for free, as well as offering paid services, or you can go it totally alone, using free software such as Audacity. Another really fabulous freebie in the Indie author’s toolbox. In fact, I suggest downloading it purely for the fun of playing with it. It’s incredibly easy to use, and as with Calibre, there are loads of helpful tutorials available. It is recommended that you buy a decent USB microphone, but to begin with you’re going to need a lot of practice, so using your laptop to record will be good enough until you’re ready to begin reading your actual book.
As well as using it to make audiobooks, it’s perfect for creating your own podcasts. I’ve been preparing a few of my own, ready to share in a few weeks time when I release my next book. So scribblers, download it and see how you like the world of audio, and the possibility of a totally new format for your stories to reach the world. Once it’s installed simply hit the red record button and say something. Play around with it and look at their tutorials and forums. If you have any short stories or flash fiction lurking on your computer, they would be ideal to use to practise, and your readers will get to hear your words in your own gorgeous voice.
My love for poetry grows… Why? The honesty to be found in each pause, the depth of emotion in each word… insight through the spoken and the unspoken. The freedom and space for the reader to imagine a world.
As you know I’ve been bringing you authors who write mostly in Spanish but who’ve been exploring other markets through getting their works translated. They’ve all been special in their own way, and Roberto follows suit, as you’ll see when you read his biography. Here he is, Roberto López-Herrero.
According to Wikipedia: Roberto López-Herrero (born in Madrid in 1970) is a Spanish writer, screenwriter, actor, director and presenter of TV and radio programs.
He has worked in a variety of programs at national and autonomic level amongst the most important Pecado Original (Original Sin), Saturday Night Live, El Método Gonzo (The Gonzo Method), En Antena (On the air), Un paseo por las nubes (A walk in the clouds) and A 3 Bandas (Three Way) on TV. But the piece of work that has brought him public recognition has been the narration of Ninja Warrior, the mythical Japanese programme. He’s working on the new episodes of the programme.
As an actor he has played in some episodes of TV series such as Maneras de Sobrevivir (Ways to survive) or Saturday Night Live.
On the radio he has worked in Te doy mi palabra (I give you my word, Onda Cero), El Jardín de los Bonsais (The garden of the bonsais. Protagonistas – Punto Radio), La Mirada Cítrica (The citric look. En días como hoy – RNE), and he has collaborated in Queremos Hablar (We want to talk, Punto Radio).
In the nineties, Roberto López-Herrero co-founded Ediciones Cronópolis, a publishing company of role games active between 1993 and 1997. Some of the role games published by Ediciones Cronópolis were created by López Herrero himself, for example Superhéroes Inc.1 o Jurasia.
He is the founder of the humor website El Expecial.
He is the author of two humor novels: “Antonio mató a Luis en la cocina con un hacha porque le debía dinero” (Antonio killed Luís in the kitchen with an axe because he owed him money) and “Una conspiración mundial secuestró a mi perro para que yo no contara todo lo que sabía” (A world conspiracy abducted my dog to stop me from telling everything I knew) and of the noir novel “Normal”, but personally, says Roberto, I’m Rober.
When and how did you start writing?
“I’ve always written, in fact in 1993 I created a micro-publishing company with two friends and we published some adventure books, but it was a pre-technological era and it was impossible for us to make it work.
I wrote my first novel, «Antonio mató a Luis en la cocina con un hacha porque le debía dinero» in 2013. How did I start writing? I imagine it came from reading a lot since I was a child and wanting to tell my own stories.
What could you tell us about your experience as an indie writer:
“It has been a fabulous school. I’ve done and learned to do everything: from formatting to marketing, but it is exhausting.
What’s been the best moment (until now) in your experience as a writer?
“When my wife read my first novel and she encouraged me to publish it. Closely followed by the day when I reached number 1 in Amazon.
What are your favourite genres?
“For entertainment, my favourite genre is science-fiction, in its hardest version, the farthest away from the space opera. For my formative reading I choose a bit of everything, from the classics to the latest books as one can learn from everything.”
What made you decide to translate your novel? And how did you go about getting a translator?
“A friend of mine told me that my third novel, Normal was like a film script and Hollywood should become aware of it. That’s how I discovered babelcube.com and I decided to put my books there. The rest just seemed to happen by itself, interested translators started to appear and today they read me in English, Italian, French…”
Tell us something about your book.
“Normal is a police procedural novel where the murderer is absolutely “normal” according to demographics, and the members of the police who are chasing after him are also “normal”, and that makes me think that we don’t really know what being “normal” means.
Any advice for your writer colleagues (especially those starting up)?
Work every day, hard, as if you were working in an office. You must be rigorous with your timetable and at least, produce two thousand words per day. (It isn’t mine, it’s Stephen King’s and I’d say it has served him well.)
I understand that ‘Normal’ should be available in English version shortly, but in the meantime, you can check all his books here:
Personally, I’m fascinated by the title of this one (actually, the dog one too, but this one is a murder in Twitter) so…
Antonio killed Luis in the kitchen with an ax because he owed him money by Roberto López-Herrero (Author), Anca Dora Costa (Translator)
Police officer Pepe Gómez little imagined the troubles he’d get involved in when he was assigned the investigation of Luis`s murder. At first it seemed very simple but as the clever researcher enters the curious world of Twitter to investigate, an international conspiracy comes to light.
Psychopaths with multiple personalities, TV presenters addicted to alternative therapies, beautiful and sexy hackers and a lot of different characters are part of this novel`s author`s universe, Roberto López-Herrero, who, to prove his healthy mental state, made his debut with a plot of intrigue and passion, emulating Agatha Christie herself.
Not long ago I wrote an article called something like Amazon Book Reviewing is Dead. That isn’t actually true. The content was based on information garnered from other posts and from parts of the Amazon Reviewing policy. The posts were based on some fact and some personal experiences of the authors of those posts with the process. Each experience may be different.
As a result of that post there were several comments leading me to decide to remove the post and do more research. So read on and you will find links to the actual Amazon Review Policies, which are actually pretty reasonable. And please, don’t link back to this article if you are going to use it as a way of saying I am claiming Amazon Book Reviewing is Dead or trying to scare people away from it. This article sis about giving everyone the correct information from Amazon.
Make sure to visit the policies for yourself, just so you know what is what. They even have links on the pages to how to write a helpful review.
What did I find?
Amazon allows reviews of free products as long as you clearly note in the review that you received the product free for a review. Or if you received it as a present, note as such. It doesn’t say that last one in their policies but FULL DISCLOSURE would imply you should simply disclose how you received the item. Below you will find links to various pages on Amazon about their policies.
Here is a link to the FAQ page of the Customer Review Guidelines.
It does not mention specifics about not being able to review free copies of books, but as noted in a comment on the aforementioned article, if you do receive a free Kindle copy through Amazon you do get the Verified Purchase distinction. That is not mentioned on the page but I do know this from personal experience.
But in order for your Reviews not to be removed you must have made a true purchase of some type on Amazon.
If a review isn’t marked Amazon Verified Purchase, it doesn’t mean that the reviewer has no experience with the product – just that we couldn’t verify it had been purchased at Amazon.
When you write a new review for an item purchased through Amazon, your review will automatically be marked as an Amazon Verified Purchase.
Customer Review Creation Guidelines can be found on Amazon here.
Here is the Help for General Review Creations Guidelines.
Full disclosure: If you received a free product in exchange for your review, please clearly and conspicuously disclose that that you received the product free of charge. Reviews from the Amazon Vine™ program are already labeled, so additional disclosure is not necessary.
Help and Customer Service–About Customer Reviewsgives reiteration of policies of what is not allowed in a dedicated view. In other words, separate from the longer list of information.
Due to information from several commenters, I have decided until I have been able to dig deeper into this subject the post has been removed. I had gone on information from several other posts I had read and then read the policy myself and they all lined up, but with other authors providing additional information, I felt it irresponsible of me to leave the post up while there was the remotest doubt in my mind.
Many of the points brought up in comments were thoughts I had but was swayed by belief in the arguments of those who protested. Both, in truth, may be correct, depending on the situations.
The information I found supported the opinion but now I am finding myself, through the information provided by those of great trust sending me to dig deeper.
This is not the type of article one expects from me. A great failing in my career of providing information to the Author community.
Please do not confuse any other information from LWI with the content of that article. Until I have conducted enough research to put my mind at ease the article will remain in the trash of my blog.
I will provide an update once I have finished continued research.
I’ve posted about reviews and inserting a table of contents into your eBooks before, but I wanted to discuss them again, with special emphasis on Amazon KDP rules.
First, just a quick word about the table of contents. I’m editing a non-fiction book that I want a proper NCX table of contents for, that shows up in the little Go To menu itself, so I’ve been exploring Amazon’s guidelines. I wasn’t aware before that fiction had to have a logical table of contents, but it is now actually a requirement, and authors are starting to get notices from them to put them in their eBooks if they haven’t already. The HTML table of contents that we did here previously is Strongly Recommended by Amazon as well, but the Logical one is a requirement. This table of contents according to Amazon “Lets the reader easily find parts, sections, and chapters of your book from the Kindle Go To menu. Lets the reader see how far along they are in the book. Especially important for books longer than 20 pages.”
This is not an easy process to find out about. I dug around for weeks finding all sorts of conflicting – and mindblowingly confusing – instructions, that seemed to me only a computer programmer would understand. At the end of all that I found that if you convert your HTML manuscript with HTML table of contents in it to an ePub using Calibre, and then load the ePub on to Amazon, the NCX Logical table of contents appears in the Go To menu. Later, after I’ve finished successfully converting all of my own books, I’ll do a proper post with screenshots of the whole process. In the meantime, it’s something for you to start looking into if you haven’t already got these in your eBooks.
Then the reviews. Amazon is on the warpath right now as far as paid for and dishonest reviews are concerned, and us innocent Indies could get hurt as a result of being uninformed. Whether we agree with them or not, we have to follow the rules of any publisher we use, so getting to know Amazon’s policy on this is important. As authors we are allowed to review books by other authors there, unless we have a personal relationship with them, or had a part in creating their book. So, if you’ve designed a cover for a book or edited it, or had any other part in getting it made, you are not allowed to review it on Amazon. Friends and family are only allowed to chat about your book as part of an editorial review which will have to be vetted via Author Central first, or on the Discussions feature – where it says “Start a Discussion” at the bottom of your book’s landing page. They are not allowed to review it on Amazon. Obviously, no paid for reviews other than paid for editorial reviews, for example from an expert in your book’s genre.
By paid for, Amazon also means that if you receive a gift certificate for a book in exchange for a book review this is a paid for incentive, as is asking for a review as a condition for entry into a competition, among other incentives. Swopping reviews with other authors is also not a fabulous idea. As Indies we want to support each other, and we are so grateful when we do get a wonderful review, that we buy and read the reviewer’s books, and leave our honest reviews for them too, but I think that doing that now would be dangerous – for both of you. Amazon may frown on the author whose book you reviewed as well as you if it looks like a “review for a review”. So, if you really want to review a fellow author’s book if they have already reviewed any of yours, rather do so by posting it on sites other than Amazon, such as Goodreads and your blog. At the end of the day, if we want to carry on publishing with Amazon, we must abide by their rules. Even though we know that we truly are posting one hundred percent honest reviews, there are quite a lot of people who don’t, and getting your books booted off Amazon – which is a possibility here – would be an absolute disaster for any new Indie author out there in today’s publishing environment.
A well-researched novel is a joy to read. I love it when an author seamlessly weaves his or her research into a story. An excellent example of this is Susan Louineau’s The Chapel in the Woods. I enjoyed this book so much, I felt compelled to write a review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/576806766
However, too many facts can get in the way. The research overpowers the fiction. I had to stop reading one political thriller because the author wanted to tell me everything he knew about the workings of the British Parliament from its inception to the present day. I was so lost in the detail that I couldn’t locate the beginning of the actual story.
Equally, a lack of research can also get in the way of telling a good story. If the facts are wrong it undermines the fiction.
These facts include things like the spelling and punctuation of the names of well-known companies, products and people. When proofreading novels I regularly have to remove an extraneous apostrophe from a popular coffee chain, and equally regularly add one to a popular burger chain.
I need the internet to do my job efficiently. Without checking online I wouldn’t know how many ff’s and whether it’s ei or ie for Michelle Pfeiffer.
I often wonder what the internet bods who monitor everyone’s online life must think about me. Driven by the proclivities of the fiction I’ve been proofreading in the last few months, I have recently found myself looking up French fashion designers of the 1950s, automatic pistols and yoga positions. I fondly hope they think I’m a well-dressed, dead-eyed assassin, who can balance on one leg for an hour.
As well as confirming spellings of the names of Renaissance artists, towns in Madagascar and the odd rare cheese, I sometimes carry out more extensive fact-checking and research online. Not to the level and expertise of an editor, but when proofreading I double-check dates and historical references if they strike me as incorrect. It gives me great joy to spot an anachronism or two. Allow me a little fun:
Debbie put the phone down and dashed to her diary. Turning to 10 January 1983, she wrote: “First date with G!!!!” Finally, finally, the man of her dreams had asked her out. Admittedly watching Pulp Fiction at the local cinema wouldn’t have been her first choice, she would have preferred a romantic meal at the new Italian restaurant in the high street, but a date was a date. And it was with Gary!
Not the ideal first-date movie, I’ll grant you, but that’s not the biggest problem for our young couple. They should be more concerned that that particular film won’t be out for more than a decade.
Living so close to London, I love proofreading books set in the capital. They give me an excuse to double-check all sorts of snippets about its history and geography. The London Underground is my favourite obsession – the three maps on my dining room walls can attest to that.
This is why I was thrilled when a few years ago, author Larry Brill asked me and my husband (an even bigger London buff than I am) to help him with some research for his satire on modern media, set in 1760s London. He’d written the story, but wanted some advice on the authenticity of the dialogue and the accuracy of the depiction of London geography.
Part of the humour of this story is generated by the juxtaposition of modern phrases alongside authentic eighteenth-century London language. However, the reader needs to feel secure that the author is in control and is using modern idiom on purpose, rather than in error. As soon as a reader starts to wonder whether a particular word would really have been used at that time, the suspension of disbelief is broken.
We looked for words that might jolt the reader out of eighteenth-century London and undermine the whole wonderful conceit. We debated long and hard about the use of words such as “moniker” and “conniption” (nineteenth century) “doozy” and “ginormous” (twentieth century).
As well as spending a lot of his time in London pubs, the lead character also wanders the streets of London. So we spent many a happy hour poring over old maps to check that his walks along Fleet Street and The Strand would indeed take him to his intended destinations.
We also double-checked the dates for the construction of the now-familiar bridges across the Thames. We were surprised to learn that there weren’t many options for walking over the Thames in 1760s London: only London and Westminster Bridges existed at that time. We suggested to the author that he remove or amend references to Blackfriars, which didn’t open to the public until 1769, and Waterloo Bridge, which wasn’t ready until 1817.
I would hesitate to put myself forward as a professional researcher, but it was heaps of fun and I hope we played a tiny part in helping the author ensure that the reader fully enjoys the reading experience.
An untrue “fact” or a historical “blooper”, while delighting the sort of person who loves to spot howlers, can spoil the flow for the majority of readers who want to be entertained as well as educated.
Too many facts, however brilliantly researched, can take a good story and turn it into a textbook, or worse – a dreary showing off of the author’s knowledge. A little learning goes a long way.
The internet and the reference library are the author’s/editor’s/proofreader’s friend. Authors/editors/proofreaders, do you have any websites or books you use when you research that you’d like to share?
As you know, recently I’ve been bringing you interviews with some writers who publish mainly in Spanish, but who’ve had some of their books translated to English (and in some cases many other languages) as a way of sharing their journey and their experiences with you. Today I’m very pleased to bring one of the first Spanish authors I came into contact with a few years back. Frank is generous to a fault, always happy to help others, and as you’ll see, modest and very honest about his career and his creative process.
Frank Spoiler (real name: Francisco Javier Sánchez Mira) is a poetry writer born in Badajoz, Spain, in 1961. His parents moved to Catalonia in 1973. His father was a bricklayer and his mother a housewife. He started writing in his teens, thanks to one of his brother’s enthusiasm (he’s a great admirer of poet Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, a romantic poet from Sevilla). He has published ten books so far: “Sucede a diario: micros de terror urbano,” “Puntas de lanza al corazón, poemas directos al alma”, “El Celador de tus Poemas”, “Poesías desde las entrañas,” “Soy un asesino… sin serie,” “Alas rotas, el muchacho que perdió su sonrisa,” “Poemas: Del amor, el dolor y otras pasiones,” “Irrealidades a doble espacio”, Buscando la luz. Poemas al alba, con alma” y “La marca de un iluso de la pluma: antología de relatos”. He has also published a book of fairy tales “Cuentos con sabor a chocolate” (PG) in collaboration with nineteen great writers. All his books have been published in digital and paperback versions. He has also collaborated in a number of anthologies, both of short-stories and poetry. Those include:
I concurso de microrrelatos nocturnos
I Concurso de microrrelatos de terror “Microterrores”
Versos desde el corazón I
I Concurso de microrrelatos épicos “Breves heroicidades”
I Concurso de microrrelatos solidarios diversidad literaria “Asociación Isekin” En ArtGerust
III Concurso de Terror ArtGerust
With the micros: “Almas inocentes”, “una muñeca rota” y “me nace de dentro”
Poemas. Homenaje a Pablo Neruda
agosto 25, 2014
and with Libros Mablaz
“III antología poética de libros Mablaz”, “POEMAS DE AMOR”
II Premio de Relatos, titulado
“Gritos contra la
violencia de género”
And also in Fans de Bad One “Los hijos de Allan Poe”.
All of them in 2014
How and when did you start writing?
I started writing when I was eleven or twelve, mainly poetry, because I saw my brother write. After writing his poems, he would read them to me, and that made me want to try to imitate him and follow his example. I also started reading the classics, like Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, Antonio Machado, Juan Ramón Jiménez, among poets, and also fiction writers like Gabriel García Márquez, Jules Verne or John Le Carré (to give some examples).
Could you describe your experience as an independent writer?
It is both a very gratifying and also a very difficult experience. In my case it’s necessary to understand that my difficulty is multiplied by two or perhaps three, as I don’t have much formal education, and the little I’ve learned has been through hard work and spending many hours in front of a computer screen, making mistakes and learning precisely from those mistakes. It’s true though, that the results are excellent. I’m improving and learning a lot.
What’s the moment that you remember more fondly from your experience (up to now) as a writer?
The moment I saw my first book of poems (“Poemas para componer una vida” [Poems to Compose a Life] was its title) published in Amazon and when a few days later I had it in my hands. That fabulous sensation of finally truly believing in yourself as a writer because you have self-published your first book, it’s something you never forget.
What made you decide to have your work translated? And how did you go about finding a translator?
It was a writer friend of mine, Roberto López Herrero, who sent me a message letting me know that through the platform Babelcube.com he had found a translator for his book. He convinced me and I took his advice, I uploaded (following the instructions) some chapters of my novel “Soy un asesino… sin serie”, I added the data they required, the chosen language for the translation and voilà, six months later I got an offer from Rafael (the translator).
Tell us something about your book
Mi novel is the result of my experience as a carer for an elderly lady suffering from Alzheimer, my mother. I looked after her for three years… It was very hard, her heart-wrenching screams and her crying had me disturbed and anguished, although the doctors insisted it was normal, that patients suffering from Alzheimer sometimes might shout and cry, whilst others might laugh or sing. The fact was that I never got over it… (at night I have nightmares and I feel guilty still, thinking that I should have done more to improve her quality of life those last few years, but that’s another story). The desperation (or frustration) was what made me fantasize about an atypical murderer, a killer…that despite killing many cannot be classed as ‘serial’ because he’s such a ‘weirdo’
Andy advice for you fellow writers?
Oh no, no, never. Each person should try and live according to his or her own experience and learn for the successes and mistakes in his own personal way.
And the book:
I’m (not) a serial killer Frank Spoiler (Author), Rafael E. Martínez (Translator)
A twisted tale of murderous imagination.
Gabriel is a killer, but not the kind you’re familiar with. His story is one of unfathomable cruelty and senseless logic.
The story behind the book, as you’ve read, is fascinating, and Frank shared the book (the Spanish version) in Wattpad, with great success. Gabriel is a great character and the story has a very interesting twist. The book has just been published, so there are no reviews in English yet, but I thought I’d translate one of the five star reviews for you, to give you some idea.
‘I had the pleasure of reading it as it was being created. It is a book that gets you hooked from the beginning: the idea of seeing the events from the point of view of the murderer, that character between conceited and arrogant, the way he narrates, without any regrets, his activities, to the point of causing you revulsion at some points, and the twist at the end, suggesting that the murderer rather than being in control might have been just responding to events that go beyond his imagining…everything makes this a novel that you can’t stop reading once you’ve started, and you’ll read in one go until the end.’
I am excited to introduce you to author, Sarah (S. R.) Mallery who shared with me that she has worn various hats in her life. Sarah also shares that she was, “First, a classical/pop singer/composer, she moved on to the professional world of production art and calligraphy.Next came a long career as an award-winning quilt artist/teacher and an ESL/Reading instructor. Her short stories have been published in descant 2008, Snowy Egret, Transcendent Visions, The Storyteller, and Down in the Dirt.”
Author S. R. Mallery
I actually met Sarah on Twitter. I was immediately intrigued because she was such an engaging personality, something that you don’t always find on Twitter. In no time at all, I was reading her novel, “Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads.” You can read my review here, and below is the synopsis for this excellent book:
These eleven long short stories range from drug trafficking using Guatemalan hand-woven wallets to an Antebellum U.S. slave using codes in her quilts as a message system to freedom; from an ex-journalist and her Hopi Indian maid solving a cold case together involving Katchina spirits to a couple hiding Christian passports in a comforter in Nazi Germany; from a wedding quilt curse dating back to the Salem Witchcraft Trials to a mystery involving a young seamstress in the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire; from a 1980’s Romeo and Juliet romance between a rising Wall Street financial ‘star’ and an eclectic fiber artist to a Haight-Asbury love affair between a professor and a beautiful macramé artist gone horribly askew, just to name a few.
What was really amazing was that Sarah likes to do interviews! So here you have it. My interview with Sarah (S. R.) Mallery:
Colleen: Sarah, tell me something about yourself. Where do you live? Are you a full-time writer?
I live in Southern California, where the weather is basically so much tamer than the rest of the U.S. and Europe I have survivor guilt! And no, I would say I am only a two-thirds of the time writer. One-third of my time is spent teaching English to people from other countries and I have learned over the years that it is that balance of being inside my head––both creatively and promotion-wise––and helping others is what works best for me.
Colleen: What inspired you to write Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads? Have you written other books?
When my father told me about the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911, I had already been a quilt designer/teacher for over twenty years. So, in doing my research on that horrific event, I was particularly drawn to those hapless immigrant seamstresses who, in spite of their overworked hours and low pay, were often the only ones in their families that could find work in the U.S. I also enjoyed thinking about the sewing aspect, surrounded as I was by so many quilts and fabrics in my studio. I therefore decided to continue writing short stories, connected only by one element of sewing/craft. That actually helped focus me on future stories. In other words, no matter what time period I was reading about, that context kept me asking questions like how would sewing/crafting ‘fit’ into a story that takes place in this time frame? Who would be the likely characters?
Yes, I’ve written two other books: TALES TO COUNT ON (http://amzn.to/1x8QqyD) and UNEXPECTED GIFTS (Currently set to be re-released in late June 2015).
Colleen: What message do you want your readers to get from SEWING CAN BE DANGEROUS?
By interweaving a ‘thread’ of sewing/crafts throughout each of my stories, I wanted to emphasize how in life as well as history, the ‘little things’ are what loom large. In other words, these quilts, necklaces, crafts, etc. stay with us no matter what events revolve around them.
That idea extends to when I do research for my writing. I am always fascinated by some small fact that most people might pass over but for me, pops out from the page. Soon, that fact starts to percolate in my brain until it becomes a major plot device and/or character development.
Colleen: Who is your favorite author and explain what really inspires you about their work.
Although there are several authors I admire, I would have to choose Harper Lee, who taught me that being simple yet lyrical, presenting appealing characters and touching subjects, and ‘showing not telling’ is more powerful than the most flowery, magnificent prose which can after a while, for me at least, go in one ear and out the other.
Colleen: What was the hardest part about writing this particular book?
I would say perhaps looking for a ‘sewing element’ in my research process that I could authentically use in a story. Originally, there were a couple more stories, but I decided to scrap them because their sewing component seemed too manufactured.
Colleen: Do you have any works in progress you will tell us about?
Yes. I am currently working on an historical fiction western and enjoying not only that time period, but also the colorful lingo that was used. Here’s the synopsis:
The Dolan Girls by S. R. Mallery has it all. Set in Nebraska during the 1800s, whorehouse madams, ladies of the night, a schoolmarm, a Pinkerton detective, a Shakespeare-quoting old coot, brutal outlaws, and a horse-wrangler fill out the cast of characters. Add to the mix are colorful descriptions of an 1856 land rush, Buffalo Bill and his Wild West Show, Annie Oakley, bank/train robberies, small town local politics, and of course, romance. It’s not only a taste of America’s past, it’s also about people overcoming insurmountable odds.
Thank you, Sarah, for spending some time with us and sharing about your book, “Sewing Can be Dangerous & Other Small Threads.” I look forward to reading your other books too!
Here is An Excerpt from Sewing Can Be Dangerous & Other Small Threads
From “A Drunkard’s Path”
“…Are you kidding me?” Deborah exploded. “My life is falling apart! C’mon, curses don’t really happen, do they? I mean, what can I do? You tell me now!” She segued into a screech.
“Come over to my place tomorrow and I’ll try to relate it all to you, I promise…”
….”Do you know anything about the Salem Witchcraft trials?” The older woman leaned in toward her niece, as if casting a spell herself.
“No, not much, why?”
“You remember Martha Stinson from my quilt group? Well after the wedding, she showed me a journal written by a relative of hers and frankly, I am very concerned about you. It seems one of the accused witches from the original Salem trials might have actually had a connection with a real witch, an ancestor of Martha’s…”
* * * *
Inside the packed meetinghouse, dust particles from mud-caked boots floated throughout the air, rendering it dense, murky. That year, April had been an unkind month to Salem Village. Rain-drenched meadows produced a sludge that clung to the edges of women’s dresses, creating odors so foul that in such tight quarters, it became difficult to breathe. But people weren’t concerned with such matters on this day. They had gathered for a higher purpose: the Devil was in Salem, and they wished him thwarted at all costs. Even the constant threat of Indian attacks and surviving harsh winters paled in comparison to what was happening now, in that room, swelling with apprehension.
Crammed into high-walled pews, dark wooden benches, or simply shoved up against walls, spectators filled every conceivable space in the meetinghouse. Donning black hats, cloaks, and breeches, the men angled forward, their eyes boring holes into the five men sitting up front, yet it was the women who carried the greatest burden that day; their hooded coats and muffs covering their recently unkempt hair and unwashed fingernails, couldn’t disguise the uncertainty they felt about their community’s loyalty to them and how it would all end.
Sitting at the head of the counsel table, amongst other magistrates in the newly appointed Court of Oyer and Terminer, John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin quietly conferred with each other before beginning their first round of questioning. Arrogant, self-important, the black-robed magistrates assumed their positions on the political totem pole, and having been brought to Salem for such a specific purpose, they dared not disappoint. They were on a mission to deliver souls. Hathorne, displaying the greatest exhibition of self-aggrandizement, seemed the most severe. With no real legal experience, and having only glanced at Sir Mathew Hale’s Trial of Witches, and Joseph Granvill’s Collection of Sundry Trials in England, Ireland the week before, he nonetheless believed he was more than competent to interrogate the accused.
At the front of the room facing the magistrates, sat all the accusers, the “afflicted” girls: Abigail Williams, her cousin Betty Parris, Ann Putnam, Sarah Bibber, Sarah Churchill, Elizabeth Booth, Mercy Lewis, Susanna Sheldon, Jemima Rea, Mary Warren, Mary Walcott and Elizabeth Hubbard. With downcast eyes and folded hands, they appeared demure; inwardly they were experiencing emotions quite different from anything they had ever known. Childhoods stocked with adult repression and fear now served as a springboard to the frenzy of accusations they had created, because on this day, along with their catharsis and even exhilaration, came the most important emotion of all: a sense of empowerment. At last, they were getting adults to listen to them, and it was intoxicating.
John Hathorne commenced with the proceedings. “Bring in the accused, Bridget Bishop….”
Here’s what they’re saying about SEWING CAN BE DANGEROUS And Other Small Threads:
“S. R. Mallery is quite simply a master story-teller.”
“This is a box of bonbons, every story an eye-opening surprise. Eat one and you’ll want to devour the whole box.”
On the subject of selling eBooks from your website, in addition to offering them in PDF format, it’s nice to be able to offer your readers books in the formats of their choice, including Mobi and ePub. Apart from the sales point of view, you might simply want to put a book together for your own pleasure – to send to your friends and family just for fun. The way to do this quickly is with the free Calibre software, so I want to show you how easy it is.
I’ve often mentioned what a great little tool Calibre is for us Indie writers. Together with Amazon’s free Kindle for PC downloadable app, Calibre can be a major help in spotting those typos and grammar gremlins in the editing process. Apart from that though, it’s a library in itself, where you can store any digital books that you like. Like those books you’re sent when you win online Rafflecopter giveaways, or books emailed to you by author friends. It’s useful to have them all in one place so that you don’t lose them in the pile of “stuff” that we scribblers tend to build up on our computers, and commit the sin of forgetting to read something you should.
I won’t go into all the fun stuff you can do with Calibre before we make our little book except to mention one fairly important thing, because the manual is very easy to follow, and the programme is easy to use. The one thing is the ease with which calibre converts book formats if they are DRM free. My preferred reading platform is Mobi, so I generally use Calibre to convert ePub books so I can read them the way I like on my Kindle. Even though I do have an ePub reader, I just don’t like it. But I do know that there are others who go the opposite route. That’s readers for you, so it’s nice to have this option. Simply add and select the book you want to change, and convert it from the input format by selecting your chosen output format.
Once you’ve downloaded and installed your Calibre software, you’re ready to start making your eBook. When you open it, it will look like this – obviously without any books in the library other than the quick start manual, which you should have a quick look at – it’s not long. If you really want to explore all Calibre’s capabilities at a later stage there are loads of tutorials online.
CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.
We’re going to make a Mobi book now, but you’ll see that there are quite a few output book formats for you to choose from. Before you begin, you’ll need your book cover file, the same size and quality that you would use to load on to Amazon, as well as your Manuscript file, also formatted the way we did for Amazon, and saved as a HTML file to use here as well.
Ready? Click on Add Books in the top left hand corner, browse for your manuscript HTML file and load it up. You’ll see the new title in your library now. On the right of the page you’ll see that the current formats are ZIP – this is fine.
Next click on the third button from the left at the top – Convert Books. Here is where you’ll select your output file in the top right hand corner, and browse for and load your cover, as well as fill in Title and Author on the top right hand side.
Next, click on Look and Feel to the left of the page, and decide whether or not you’d like to remove the space between paragraphs, and check or uncheck as you choose. You can play as much as you like with this, generate and delete as many copies as necessary so you end up with an eBook that you’re happy with. You can check out all the other choices with Page Setup and Table of Contents later – this is generally as far as I go because all of my formatting is already in place in my manuscript.
Click the OK button, and you will see a turning circle in the bottom right hand corner of the page. Shortly thereafter, you will see the Mobi format added to ZIP under your book cover image to the right. Click to open, and there you have it! You can open it on your Kindle for PC, or send it to your Kindle, and you have the Mobi file to email to anyone you like.
Play with the various output formats, and with books with images in them. You can publish loads of perfect eBooks straight from your computer, all by yourself.
Grab a cup of coffee or tea, and come on in and get comfortable. I am excited to share that I have Amy M. Reade, the author of, “Secrets of Hallstead House,” here with us this morning. First, let me share a bit about Amy so that you can get to know her. Amy reveals:
“I am an author of women’s fiction with strong elements of suspense and setting. A former lawyer, I now write in New Jersey. I have a husband and three kids, as well as two cats and a great Bouvier des Flandres (that’s a dog, for those of you who may be unfamiliar).
As many of you know, I love looking for free books on Amazon. Not to save money, but instead because many times the author is brand new and undiscovered. I love to read debut novels, and that is exactly how I found Amy Reade, through a free download on BookBub. She volunteered to write a guest post for me a few weeks back and I shared with her that I had just started reading her book. One thing led to another and here you have it, my interview with Amy Reade! Click here to read my book review of, “Secrets of Hallstead House.”
Author, Amy M. Reade
Colleen: Amy, please give us the title and genre of your book and a 30-word or less tagline.
Amy: Secrets of Hallstead House is women’s fiction with a gothic feel to it.
Tagline: After moving to a private island in upstate New York to provide nursing care for an elderly widow, Macy must uncover secrets from her past before they destroy her future.
Colleen: How did you come up with the title of your book?
Amy: The working title was The Leaning Tree, and my editor and I felt the book needed a spookier feel to it. We discussed several options and decided that Secrets of Hallstead House had just the right amount of mystery.
Colleen: Amy, tell us about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?
Amy: The cover art came from the Kensington Art Department. I like it because it contains elements of several of the homes in the Thousand Islands. It also has a darkness to it, and the churning water looks just like the Saint Lawrence River on a stormy day.
Colleen: So, what else have you written?
Amy: The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor, which is also women’s fiction in a gothic style, was released in April, 2015. It is the story of Carleigh Warner, a restoration specialist who moves from Chicago to South Carolina when she is hired to restore an antebellum manor house, the family home of an old friend. The family disagrees over the future of the property and Carleigh is quickly swept into the tensions, which escalate to violence that threatens Carleigh and her young daughter.
I am also in the edits stage of my third novel, which is in the same genre, this time set on the Island of Hawaii (sometimes called the Big Island). Kailani, a sous chef, leaves Washington, D.C., to return to the Big Island, where she grew up. She lands a job working as a personal chef and is soon called on to deal with more than the job description called for, with a family in desperate turmoil and an unexpected and unwanted visitor from her past. Before long the secrets and the tensions in the home begin to build and Kailani must find the courage to stay and follow her heart.
Amy: Readers can find both my books on amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, books.google.com, kensingtonbooks.com, amazon.co.uk, amazon.ca, and kobobooks.com.
Colleen: Please give us an insight into your main character. What does she do that is so special?
Amy: Macy Stoddard, the main character in Secrets of Hallstead House, is quite young when the story begins. She has suffered a personal tragedy that leads her to seek employment away from New York City. She has her own demons to face as she tries to help her patient come to grips with the deaths of her husband and daughter.
Colleen: What are you working on at the minute?
Amy: I’m plotting out a new series right now, and I’m working on the research for that.
Amy, thank you so much for letting us into the workings of your books. I always feel like I get to know an author better after learning more about the motivations behind their work. It has been a pleasure getting to know you.
Don’t forget, I love a good book! Oh yeah, guess what?
For the last few weeks I’ve brought you some writers whose main work is in Spanish but who have had some of their novels translated to English. I thought it would be interesting to get a different perspective on the business of writing, and it would be an opportunity to meet across the borders of language.
Today I bring you a writer whom I’ve also met in a variety of social media platforms and when I got to check his writing, I was impressed by his background and the variety and number of publications, some more directly related to his studies and profession but others not so much.
And without further ado:
Mario Escobar Golderos (Madrid, Spain) has a degree in History, with an advanced studies diploma in Modern History. He has written numerous books and articles about the Inquisition, the Protestant Reformation, and religious sects. He is the executive director of an NGO and directs the magazine Nueva historia para el debate, in addition to being a contributing columnist in various publications. Passionate about history and its mysteries, Escobar has delved into the depths of church history, the different sectarian groups that have struggled therein, and the discovery and colonization of the Americas. He specializes in the lives of unorthodox Spaniards and Americans. Books:
The Circle an Amazon Bestseller Europe in the category of suspense.
When and how did you start writing?
The truth is that I’ve always enjoyed writing. When I was a child I started writing plays for my school and writing fairy tales to submit to competitions. When I was a teenager I carried on writing. For me, becoming a writer was a dream, but I never thought I would manage.
Describe your experience as an independent writer.
The truth is that I consider myself a mixed writer (or hybrid as others call them), as I still publish some of my books with publishing companies such as HarperCollins, Stella Maris or Edelvives. Publishing independently has allowed me to have more control over the process and more economic stability.
What’s the moment that has had more significance for you (up to date) of your career as a writer:
When two of my readers told me they had become writers after reading my books. Such is the magic of writing and books.
What made you think about getting your books translated?
I’ve always liked to play hard and bet big. I prefer to take risks and make mistakes than never try. I found a great translator, my book in English is better than the Spanish version, and I thought I should give it a try.
So far things have been going well, although it is a bit soon to know what the overall result will be.
What was the process like, when trying to find a translator?
The most difficult think is looking for and finding a good translator. We shouldn’t forget that it is a big investment. To look for a good translator is not cheap. I’ve found one of the best ones. And then you must have a lot of faith in your book.
In my case, the same person had translated one of my books ‘Francisco’ (Francis, his book about the new Pope) for the publishing company Harper Collins, and I was so happy with the results that I offered her to translate what would become The Circle.
Could you tell us what your books mean to you?
My books are a gift I love to give to my readers. I enjoy them whilst I’m writing them, but what I wish for the most is that the readers will enjoy them too. Especially those who are away from their family, country or community; I hope my books will keep them company in the hard journey of life.
Any advice for your fellow writers (especially new writers)?
That you have to do a good job, believe in yourself and not pull any punches. The most important thing is to never give up, to be constant and persevere and to keep improving little by little.
Here are a few links so you can find out even more about Mario.
From Amazon’s Top 100 Books sold in the USA, France, Germany, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Mexico and Spain.
Soon to be adapted for the big screen.
A debut psychological thriller that will forever change the way you look at other people’s lives.
“After the hit saga Misión Verne and The Cloud, Mario Escobar sweeps us up in a riveting adventure set against the backdrop of the financial crisis, the dark nooks and crannies of power, and the city of London.”
Comments from readers on Amazon:
“This is an entertaining read, a really interesting story full of intrigue. When I got to the ‘To Be Continued’ spot, I was on the edge of my seat waiting for the second part… Good thing it’s ready now so I can keep reading.”
“This one grabs you from the very beginning. It’s enjoyable and light but captivating. It’s an easy read, and you learn history as you go. I highly recommend it. It really draws you in.”
“It’s got a dynamic, well-constructed plot. I totally recommend it. It’s so current day. It’s a quick read, and you don’t feel the time going by. It draws you in right away.”
“One breathless night to save his family and discover the mystery locked inside his patient”
The plot of the novel The Circle:
Famous psychiatrist Solomon Lewin has left his humanitarian work in India to serve as the chief psychiatrist at the Center for Psychological Illnesses located in London’s Square Mile financial district. Though well paid, the job is monotonous, and Solomon is also going through a rough patch in his marriage with Margaret. He begins scrutinizing the more mysterious cases of the center’s long-term residents hoping to find something worth his time. When he comes across the chart of Maryam Batool, a young broker from London who has lived in the center for seven years, his life will change forever.
Maryam Batool is an orphan from Pakistan who became one of the most promising female employees of the financial institution General Society, but in the summer of 2007, at the start of the financial crisis, the young broker loses her mind and tries to kill herself. Since then she has been stuck, able only to draw circles yet unable to understand their meaning.
A snowstorm looms over the city at the start of the Christmas holidays. Before Christmas Eve dinner, Solomon receives an urgent call from the center to come at once: Maryam has attacked a nurse and seems to be awakening from her long stupor.
Solomon heads downtown in the snow, clueless that this will be the most difficult night of his life. The psychiatrist does not trust his patient, the police are after them, and his family seems to be in danger. The only way to protect himself and those he loves is to discover what “The Circle” is and why everyone seems to want his patient dead. It’s a surprise ending and a mystery you won’t believe.
What is hiding in the City of London? Who is behind the biggest business center in the world? What is the truth behind “The Circle”? Can Solomon save his family?
Here Mario replies to a few questions about the book:
What did writing The Circle mean for you?
It was a delightful surprise. It was my first suspense novel. I’d already written several intrigue novels, and I thought suspense would be even more exciting. In suspense, the readers suffer almost as much as the characters themselves. The Circle has all the marks of a detective story. The reader doesn’t know the truth until right at the end. Why did you set the book in London’s Square Mile?
Tax havens are one protagonist in our current worldwide financial crisis. London is the world’s largest financial center, and it holds a lot of secrets, just like the protagonist of my novel. What should the reader expect from this new book?
An avalanche of suspense. A major dose of intrigue and action but also the inner workings of a family struggling to fit in with their surroundings. A marriage that’s not working. Disdain for boring daily life that, after all, turns out to be the most important thing we’ve got. The personal demons of a world that has no idea where it’s headed. Solomon faces countless moral dilemmas, like judging people too quickly, recognizing he can’t defeat evil by himself, and understanding that Evil with a capital “E” has a name and a face. Why does it take place in the middle of a snowstorm right on Christmas Eve?
The storm is another protagonist in the plot. In some ways it’s a symbol of the internal turmoil of the characters. This is not a novel of good guys vs. bad guys. It reflects the complexity of being human, our contradictions and how we face them. The Circle has reached tens of thousands of readers from Germany to Australia, Latin America to Spain, because, at our core, we’ve all got the same fears and hopes. We’re all part of this big family called Earth.
….Little did Solomon know what he was getting into!
It was the summer of 2007 in London. Maryam Batool, a Muslim orphan, was a very successful stockbroker. All she cared about was money. Upon turning on the TV she heard that three American banks had declared bankruptcy.
Fast forward a few years to the London Center for Psychological Illnesses, located in the Square Mile where we meet Solomon Lewin, the new chief psychiatrist of the center. Having spent ten years in Calcutta, him and his family just moved back five weeks ago. He is not expecting much excitement in the job, having the opinion that the wealthy prove boring. Most of his clients are white males aged 35-45, leading arrogant and almost insufferable empty lives.
In his attempt to free up some beds just five days before Christmas, his eyes catch a report on a patient who has been there the longest. Who is this patient? Maryam Batool! She was committed in August 2007 after several suicide attempts. She no longer communicates except to say one single phrase, “The Circle”. John the previous, now retired, chief psych tells Solomon to leave Maryam alone as there is no solution but Solomon is intrigued.
Frustrated with his home life and rambunctious kids even though he still loves his wife, Margaret, he decides to work from home on Christmas Eve. Totally surprised when he gets a call in the early evening from the center saying that Maryam has attempted suicide again! Apparently there was a visitor claiming to be her sister? This is the second visitor in a week! Returning to the center Solomon starts getting suspicious when the receptionist is not at her desk nor does there appear to be anyone else around. Why won’t the light switch on? What is going on? This is followed by a phone call from his house from someone claiming to be from Scotland Yard’s Fraud Squad?
Hopefully this is enough to whet your appetite. The above is truly only the beginning in this fast paced thriller. It gets a LOT more interesting and dangerous as Solomon tries to figure out the truth of who is telling the truth and who is lying. What does Maryam know/have that she cannot remember? Does she have both Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Post Traumatic Amnesia?
VERY clever story. All I can say about the ending is “Oh my goodness!” I will say if you like books with happy endings then don’t read this one! It is a well-written story and just the right length for the time involved. It keeps you gripped and not wanting to put the book down.
Language – mild
Sexual content – none
Violence – plenty!
I was given a complimentary Kindle copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. That’s what’s above! Thanks, Liz
And Mario informed me that there is a special offer on The Circle available now
In case any of you speak Spanish, I leave you a link to a fascinating podcast where Blanca Miosi, another one of my guests, interviewed Mario Escobar. I leave you both the link and the interview direct. It’s a very interesting series where every week there’s a new author, so if you’re confident with your Spanish, it’s a great way to meet new people.
Genre: Romantic Suspense, Family Drama, Woman’s Fiction
Nurse, Macy Stoddard is desperately looking for a new beginning. Loss has become her sole existence after the deaths of both of her parents. To make matters worse, her fiancé deserts her just when she needs him the most. Now she finds herself totally alone in the world. To turn the corner of tragic life events, Macy decides to take a position on a remote island in upstate New York where Alexandria Hallstead, the elderly mistress of Hallstead House needs the care of a qualified nurse.
Immediately, Macy is enamored with the natural beauty of the island and the uniqueness of the old house. She enjoys caring for Alex Hallstead and the elderly woman values her friendship on the remote island. Not long after Macy’s arrival it becomes apparent that the rest of the family and servants do not want her there. A mystery drifts about Hallstead House encircling Macy, drawing her into the delicate web of family intrigue. Shrouded threats from the housekeeper and other family members begin to escalate into random acts of unexplained violence.
Macy turns to Pete McHale, Hallstead House resident handyman and boat captain, who becomes her ally in solving the mystery that permeates the island. What Macy didn’t bargain for was falling in love, or discovering the deep, dark family secrets that threaten to engulf her forever.
Author, Amy Reade
The descriptions of the Thousand Islands in upstate New York on the Saint Lawrence River were absolutely glorious. I thought Amy Reade’s words painted vivid images of the sea and the haunting beauty of the islands and the river near Hallstead House. She depicts in her writing, grand homes that dotted these islands with rich tales of the occupant’s failures and achievements. To me, this added story telling augmented a realistic twist to the unraveling events in the story.
The Secrets of Hallstead House is Amy Reade’s debut novel. This book is an enjoyable and comfortable read, much like the gothic suspense novels by Victoria Holt I read as a young woman. For me, Macy’s journey about finding herself and solving the mystery was satisfying and all I needed within the confines of the story.
So come on! Grab a cup of tea, settle in your favorite chair, and visit Hallstead House. Oh, and by the way, don’t underestimate the nature of the mystery that lurks within these pages. I never figured out the end of the story beforehand and was pleasantly surprised at the end!
Edited: Previously stated as free until June 5, 2015. The free download offer has ended.
RATINGS Realistic Characterization: 4/5 Made Me Think: 3/5 Overall enjoyment: 4/5 Readability: 4/5 Recommended: 4/5 Overall Rating: 4
Buy it at: Amazon Format & Pricing: Paperback: $15.99 US Kindle: $.00 US “FREE”