Get to know the author – Drako

OK, I may be on holiday but I’ve tried to be ultra organised and get a few posts sorted. Last Tuesday I interview Michael Brookes, a video game developer on the UK who has a passion for writing horror novels. This week I took some time out to talk to Dragon Hunter series author, Drako.

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Tell us about yourself? Do you write for a living? If not, what’s your day job?

Writing is my second job. For my day job, I work in call centres. Gives me exposure to a lot of people and gives me a lot of time to develop characters.

Favourite food, place, colour and writing zone, please.

Favourite food is steak. Seriously, this is my first request for birthday presents/dinners. Favourite place is wherever I call home (I move a lot). Favourite colours are blue and black. And I don’t really have a writing zone. I write wherever I can whenever the mood comes over me.

You write in the fantasy/supernatural genre….who’s been your inspiration? Favourite books? Movies? TV Shows?

Anne Rice is my all time favourite author. My eighth grade English teacher got me hooked on her and I have been ever since. I am also a huge fan of Sherilyn Kenyon, Gena Showalter, and JR Ward. All four are a big inspiration to me. Anne Rice because she is such a spirited and open minded woman. Sherilyn Kenyon because she is so kind hearted despite a bit of a dark past of her own. And the other two are just great writers that I don’t see as much of publicly but I can’t get enough of their work.

Who’s your favourite all time fictional character?

This is hard to choose, but I’d have to go with the Vampire Lestat. Lestat is so complex. He’s wonderfully bad and charming, intelligent but makes grievous errors, and he’s just hilarious. If he were real, I’d definitely want to be his friend.

Who’s your favourite character in your own work?

I don’t really have a favourite, but I’m closest to my character Jarel and his brother Zarel. They’re awfully sarcastic and honestly they surprise even me sometimes. All of my characters really write themselves, but these two find ways to make me laugh at points where I should be frustrated with the book. Perhaps it is because they are twins and they’re gods, yet they have traits that some would think are human traits.

Let’s talk superpowers….there’s no denying we’d all love one. What would be your choice, and why?

Telekinesis without question. The ability to manipulate things with my mind would just be awesome. First, because I’d never have to get up to find the remote. Also, I could pull so many practical jokes on people. Man that would be fun. That particular power I gave to one of my characters, Brandon, in the first book and he just ramped it up to a whole different level. His fight scenes are the most fun to write

Inspiration’s a funny thing. Where do you find yours? Is there one particular moment that stands out?

Inspiration hits randomly. Sometimes I just hear something and it hits. Music also helps a lot. Watching an action scene in a movie occasionally motivates me to write on my own books.

Writers have very different approaches to completing our works. Are you a heavy plotter? Jump back and forth between scenes? Sit down, start at the beginning and just write?

Generally, I just sit down and start writing. I sometimes sit down and write out descriptions of the characters just to look back on. Mainly physical and general personality traits. But honestly my characters just take off from the moment I put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.

What’s fresh about your books? Quirky and different? Likely to entice readers and keep them coming back for more?

Well, there is a heavy basis on Greek Mythology, but I add my own twists. I added some additional gods of my own creation, as well as back stories to some favourite paranormal beings such as vampires, werewolves, demons, and angels. I’ve also told I have a more masculine style of writing, somewhat different to those that are used to reading female authors’ works. Each character is different, and there’s more than just the main character of each book’s story to get into. They are family, and they’re far from a normal family, so readers kind of pick their favourites.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on several books. There are two books out in the series now, The Lost Dragon and The Dragon Witch. The third book, Fatal Healing, is in the editing process and should be out before the end of the year. I started the fifth book, entitled Blood Monarch, just a couple weeks ago. There is also another part of the series entitled the Chosen of Hecate of which the first novel Heir of Mjolnir, is also being worked on.

How can readers connect with you?

You can contact me on my website, Facebook, Twitter or my wordpress blog.

If you’d like to find out more about Drako’s work, then feel free to use the following links:

The Lost Dragon: Amazon, B&N

The Dragon Witch: Amazon, B&N

The Dragon Hunter’s Guide: The Dragon Hunter’s Guide, B&N

5 Things NOT to do when promoting your book on Twitter

I love Twitter. I’ve been using it for five or six years on various plaforms, and when I first took to the micro-social networking website, it was largely undiscovered. I’ve learned how to use it over time, and I love connecting with people and being social. I’d even go so far to say that because I’m so hermity in real life, tweeting people throughout the day helps me fulfil some of my social fix (SAD, I know).

Using Twitter to promote and sell eBooks

I’ve had quite a lot of success selling Inside Evil and The Tower of Souls through Twitter. I know that some authors hate the platform, and scorn anyone that promotes using it as a marketing tool. But, from first hand experience, it’s worked for me. It doesn’t sell vast numbers, but it’s sure better than being lost in Amazon’s algorithms.

Twitter won’t work for everyone, but it’s worked, and is still working, in helping me get the word out about my books. You can make friends, RT reader’s compliments to your own followers, connect with other readers – it really is a great tool.

However, over the past few months I’ve noticed that a hell of a lot of authors are just going about it completely wrong. Hell, there are some authors I follow that I seriously need to sit down and have a word with. If they’re driving me crazy when I’m trying to support them, then they must be turning potential readers off left, right and centre.

So, with that said, here are five things not to do when promoting your book on Twitter.

1. DON’T SPAM.

I truly do not care if you’re ‘promoting‘ your book, but tweeting every five minutes, hell, tweeting every 10 minutes about your book is SPAM whether you think it is or not. It fills up the Twitter feed with useless rubbish that IS NOT GOING TO BE READ by readers. Worse than that, it will cause people to unfollow you. Yes. It’s really not a good move to make. In my personal opinion, if you end up in Twitter jail, then you’re tweeting way too much and need to reign it in a bit.

2. DON’T ONLY TWEET LINKS

OK, this isn’t quite as spammy, but tweeting your book link and only your book link is not going to gain the attention you want. If you are going to tweet about your book, at least give your followers some information, as ‘Inside Evil available now at ________‘ simply doesn’t cut it. Give your followers something interesting to read. Provide a hook for your book, use weekly events such as #samplesunday to attract people to your sample chapters, or tell folks that your book’s a bargain if they’re looking for a new read. Fill out those 140 characters so your tweets are read, rather than falling into the virtual slush pile.

3. DON’T MESSAGE FOLLOWERS WITH BOOK LINKS

Oh my, if there’s one thing that infuriates me, it’s when mutual followers send me their book link out of the blue. Not only will I rarely click the link and take a look, but that author immediately gets a black blot on my copy book. You want to be remembered as a fun and interactive Tweeter, not someone who sends unsolicited messages. Of course, if you’ve had a full conversation with someone first and they’ve shown interest in your book, then by all means send them a link with a ‘here’s the link if you want to find out more‘.

4. DON’T RESPOND TO DM’S FROM NEW FOLLOWERS

This is a little bit of advice that I’ve learned myself in the past few months. I’ve always let my past Twitter accounts grow organically, but I’ve been a bit more aggressive in building my professional account. This entails actually going through Twitter, finding readers and following them. It can be highly rewarding if you meet new people, new friends and ultimately manage to get some sales. BUT beware responding to DM’s too quickly. DM’s (Direct Messages) are a great tool once you’ve got to know people and want to have a quick bitch, ahem, chat off-screen. But, returning DM’s from new followers before you’ve sussed them out can lead to some strange and uncomfortable conversations.

5. DON’T EXPECT MIRACLE SALES OVERNIGHT

A lot of people join Twitter to promote their book and think that the 1,000 followers they’ve followed are going to buy their book. This is NEVER going to happen. If you’re lucky 10 or 20 might check your book out. Five or six might buy it. Twitter isn’t an immediate promotional tool; you need to talk to people, engage, make friends. People WILL look at your profile, so put a link to your website in there. People WILL ask you about your book, especially if you tweet about it’s progress, about what you’re writing, about sales, covers, even other books you’re reading.

It’s been a pleasure getting to know readers over the past few months since I started my official author profile. I talk with many about far more than my work, I’ve made friends, and in return these folks have bought my books. If they’ve liked them, they’ve tweeted about them. I’ve RT their tweets.

If you’re using Twitter for book marketing, then please go in with open eyes. Twitter should be used about increasing your branding and exposure, not about sales…these will come later. Go, tweet, make friends, debate, and sales will come from the most unsuspecting places.

Get to know the author – Michael Brookes

I don’t know about you, but I’m quit enjoying these Get to know the author Tuesdays. Last week, L.E. Fitzpatrick gave us an interesting look into her life and the writers who inspire her. This week it’s the turn of Michael Brookes, game developer, avid reader and the writer behind The Cult of Me and An Odd Quartet.

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Tell us about yourself? Do you write for a living? If not, what’s your day job? 

Unfortunately I’m not yet writing for a living, that is the goal for some day in the future. In the meantime I spend my days as a Producer at a video game developer. Games are one of my other passions, besides writing so doing what I love day and night isn’t too bad, but can get a little tiring :-)

Favourite food, place, colour and writing zone, please.

Favourite food is a Sunday Roast. Place would have to be Germany, the Schwarzwald if I need to be more specific. My favourite colour is blue – I’ve no idea why. And writing zone is my huge comft leather recliner in my front room.

You write in the fantasy/supernatural genre….who’s been your inspiration? Favourite books? Movies? TV Shows?

In the horror genre Clive Barker has been a big inspiration, along with James Herbert and Stephen King of course. I also draw influences from othergenres like Ian M Banks – probably my favourite author. Movies include The Hitcher (original version) and Hellraiser (Clive Barker again). TV shows is Millenium and Twin Peaks – classic shows that mix the weird and the darkness well.

Who’s your favourite all time fictional character?

That is a tricky question. I focus more on story than character. If I have to pick one then I’ll go for Lucifer/Satan in Paradise Lost.

Who’s your favourite character in your own work?

Friar Francis from The Cult of Me – he is a good mixture of physical, spritual and mental.

Let’s talk superpowers….there’s no denying we’d all love one. What would be your choice, and why?

This might seem an odd choice, but I’d like to be able to speak and comprehend and language.

Inspiration’s a funny thing. Where do you find yours? Is there one particular moment that stands out?

Driving seems provide most of my moments for inspiration. Usually while I’m driving to work. It’s also a good time to unravel plot knots.

Writers have very different approaches to completing our works. Are you a heavy plotter? Jump back and forth between scenes? Sit down, start at the beginning and just write?

I’m very much a planner. I will plan out the chapters in detail before I start writing. Although as any good general knows the plan changes almost immediately – I do try to maintain the plan at least until I have completed the first draft so I can use it as reference.

 What’s fresh about your books? Quirky and different? Likely to entice readers and keep them coming back for more?

I try to bring something new to horror stories, whether that be perspective or the situation. I do enjoy mixing the supernatural with the modern. And I love a twist.

What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on Conversations in the Abyss, the sequel to The Cult of Me.

How can readers connect with you? (Facebook/Twitter etc).

You can follow me on Twitter. I also have a blog.

Michael’s books are available from Amazon, and you can learn more about An Odd Quartet and The Cult of Me by following the hyperlinks.

How to use Squidoo to promote your ebook

When it comes to marketing, I’m a firm believer of promoting in as many places as possible. The internet makes this quite easy as you can sign up to article websites and PR providers all over the place, helping to spread your author name and novel titles. Increased exposure helps to build both branding and awareness, and so getting as many mentions across the Internet is a GOOD thing.

I should say before I continue, that Squidoo is no quick fix or easy way to promote your ebook. Like most other platforms, it requires time and patience, and if you’re looking to only invest a couple of hours on squidoo and reap huge benefits, then you’re probably wasting your time. It’s probably not the best way to market a book, and I’m also fairly new to the website so I’m not a pro either. It’s a huge time sap too, and I’ve been spending hours on there over the past few days when I could have been doing better things. However, I like to take a time out between writing books to formulate plans, and squidoo has been quite fun to use, hence this post. In addition, recent reports listed by the site showed that it was the 64th most visited website in the US, and gained 2 million hits in just one day this year, so there is big potential to attract readers.

BUT, what exactly is Squidoo?

Simply put, squidoo is a website where you create articles (called lenses) about specific topics using the platform’s ready built webpages and modules. Think Ezine Articles, About.com etc. Anyone can join, anyone can build, and the best feature is that anyone can earn money from their Amazon modules. Amazon modules that can point directly to your books.

HOW can it help me promote?

The best way Squidoo can help you promote your books is by building an online encyclopaedia of your work. You can create lenses for your books, link these to lens of your characters, or places, or book themes. Think Wikipedia, but a wiki for your work created by you.

So far I’ve created an Inside Evil lens, The Tower of Souls lens and several others. I’ve linked them together. I’ve added Amazon links, a poll of favourite characters, a simple cast list and a ‘Did you know?‘ section.

 

The more ‘likes’, comments, tweets etc that you get for a page, the higher it’s visibility becomes. And, of course, in the same way that you should be commenting on blogs, responding to tweets, and pasting FB marketing material to promote your book every day, a few updates on your lenses can work wonders. Once you’ve spent the time creating, you can simply check in every day, update, respond to comments and factor the time into your marketing schedule.

EARN points and level up

Whilst Squidoo isn’t a game as such, you do start at level one and earn points as you go. These points are equal to expertise, and each time you level up, you unlock new features for your lenses and additional ways to climb up the community ladder. It’s a fun side to squidoo, and you’ll keep wanting to earn points like mad just to see what’s waiting. You can breathe a sigh of relief when you reach level 85 as that’s the top, but as I’m currently only 22, there’s a fair way to go.

BEWARE,  it’s a time suck

Like many social platforms, Squidoo is a total time suck and isn’t for everyone. You need to enjoy the experience of making lenses and taking part in the community if you’re to benefit at all. Looking at it only as a promotional tool probably won’t work. In addition, you’ll probably need to create more lenses than just your book ones, and this means that you need to actually enjoy using the website. I’ve created lenses in Pets,  Entertainment and How To as a way to draw traffic to my profile and build my squidoo presence.

I’m not advocating that squidoo is about to be a ground-breaking new promotional too, but I’ve enjoyed using it over the past couple of days. If it proves successful, I’ll drive traffic towards my books whilst earning commission on their sales (and any other items I add to my Amazon modules). If you have some spare time, then take a look. You can find my profile HERE, and start exploring this world of virtual squids.

Get to know the author – L.E. Fitzpatrick

Last Tuesday I featured Grant Taylor; budding indie author and writer of Heavens Door. This week it’s L.E. Fitzpatrick’s turn, welsh resident and author behind the Dark Waters fantasy series.

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Tell us about yourself? Do you write for a living? If not, what’s your day job?

I’m an independent author, which means I don’t make enough money to buy a pint of milk, never mind paying a mortgage. I supplement my income with a full time job managing an accountancy firm and… wake up it’s not that boring… okay maybe it is, but at least it pays the bills and keeps Ebay in business. I’m also a haphazard mum and owner of many disobedient pets.

Favourite food, place, colour and writing zone, please.

The greatest food in the world is cheese. Without it we would be a poorer species and my life certainly wouldn’t be worth living.

I am very lucky to live in West Wales, where we have green hills, blue seas and lots of rain. So far I haven’t found a better place in the world to spend my time.

Red is my favourite colour, I’m sure there is a psychological reason why, but I’m damned if I know what it is.

When I write, usually I am sat on my tattered leather arm chair, with my laptop perched on a cushion and my fat, toothless cat sat beside me.

You write in the fantasy/supernatural genre….who’s been your inspiration? Favourite books? Movies? TV Shows?

I am a big fan of Scott Lynch, Joe Abercrombie, John Connolly and Neil Gaiman as writers, usually when I’m stuck on a chapter I pick up one of their books to push me along.

Who’s your favourite all time fictional character?

I’m not sure I’d say that he was my favourite character, but certainly the one that has stayed with me all these years is Mr Pudd from John Connolly’s Charlie Parker series. He is the creepiest, scariest character I have ever read and I still have nightmares about him. I can’t even begin to describe him – just read the series.

Who’s your favourite character in your own work?

Certainly in the Dark Waters books, Egan Wey is my favourite character. He’s a lawless lowlife and is such fun to write, especially alongside my more serious characters. There’s something very liberating about putting yourself in a drunken pirate’s boots and smashing up an inn somewhere.

Let’s talk superpowers….there’s no denying we’d all love one. What would be your choice, and why?

Flying – I’ve always wanted to fly, I think this is because I spent a lot of time on public transport and just being able to fly home after a long day at work is really appealing – of course weather resistance would then be another essential power I’d need for it to be at all beneficial

Inspiration’s a funny thing. Where do you find yours? Is there one particular moment that stands out?

The backdrops of my stories are all derived from an interpretation of folklore. I’ve always been very interested in mythology, especially Celtic mythology and this forms the foundation of most of my work. For instance in my Dark Waters series the pirate tribe the Fimorri are inspired by sea demons from Irish mythology. I like to take old concepts and develop a different spin on them.

Writers have very different approaches to completing our works. Are you a heavy plotter? Jump back and forth between scenes? Sit down, start at the beginning and just write?

I always know my ending before I start writing. But I prefer to let my characters work the plot for me. Sometimes this is quite tough, especially writing about a bunch of rebellious pirates, but the result is a much more fluid, credible story. Most of my chapters are re-written at least twice before I am satisfied, some can take a lot longer.

In the Dark Waters series, because I focus on a number of different characters, I wrote each storyline individually, starting with the main characters. Once I have the entire book written I then mercilessly edit and weave it altogether.

What’s fresh about your books? Quirky and different? Likely to entice readers and keep them coming back for more?

My books are fast paced, character driven stories. I am drawn to the darker side of writing, but deliver these themes with my own twisted sense of humour, which is hopefully on the right side of good taste. The Dark Waters world is unique, exciting and totally unpredictable. My characters are bold, usually flawed and more often than not doomed.

What are you working on now?

I’m currently finishing Part Three of the Dark Waters series; Flames and Blood. Hopefully this will be out by next month. Thereafter I am mulling ideas around for another series, totally different from pirates and zombies, but there’s still another two books after Flames and Blood to get out before Dark Waters is anywhere near finished.

How can readers connect with you?

I’m on facebook, Twitter and I have a personal blog and website, the latter of which has extras and samples to the Dark Waters series.

L.E. Fitzpatrick’s Dark Waters series are available on Amazon, with Harvest, the first in the series, available at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. If you want to pick up both of the books, Traitors Day, book 2, can be found at .com and .co.uk. They’re only 77p ($1.25) each, so give them a go!

Sample Sunday – October 14th

It’s that time of the week again, #SampleSunday. This week the excerpt is taken from Inside Evil, Chapter 11. Roberta and Sam have made their way to the strange woman in the mirror, but Roberta is disheartened to find that there are no clues to further her plight….or she thinks…

A minute later Sam appeared in the doorway again, carrying a silver tray. Upon it was a small plate of biscuits, three china cups and a gleaming silver teapot. He raised an eyebrow at Roberta as he came across to the chairs and set it upon the low coffee table. Behind him, Mrs Peacock hobbled in and made her way across to an ornately carved bookcase. She ran her fingers across the dusty spines of several large volumes before pulling a thick out a thick book with a mottled brown covering. She looked down at it sadly and then made her way to the red armchair, where she rested her stick against the curtains and made herself comfortable on the plush upholstery.

“Pour the tea dear,” she smiled as she softly flicked a small white curl off her forehead.

“We can’t stay,” Roberta replied. “I’m sorry to have disturbed you.” She had trouble hiding the disappointment in her voice.

“Oh no dear, we must have tea and biscuits, it’s cold outside now the first snow has arrived. At least stay and allow a lonely old woman to have company for a few minutes.” She looked towards Roberta with such intensity that it was hard to resist. “Indulge me dear, it’s my finest brew.”

“Well, I for one would love tea,” Sam said, leaning forward, stuffing a biscuit into his mouth and then picking up the silver teapot.

“Pour it yourself would you, in that blue cup dear. I’ll have the chipped one and Roberta can have the other.” Mrs Peacock folded her arms in her lap, before carefully taking the cup as Sam made the correct servings. She had placed the book upon the table, and both Roberta and Sam’s eyes were desperately devouring the cover with a need to look inside.

“May I?” Sam asked.

“Of course, I believe it’s yours now.”

“It’s quite beautiful,” Sam said as he reached forward and lifted the heavy book carefully. “It looks ancient.”

“Oh, it is. Passed down through the family, year after year, I’m told…”

In Roberta’s head, the voices faded away. A strange sense of numbness was taking over her body and whilst she could still see that Mrs Peacock and Sam were talking away, she couldn’t hear a word they said. She blinked rapidly and took another sip of her tea, hoping that she’d be able to clear her mind again and focus on the matter in hand, but as she moved her arm she realised that her limbs were becoming stiff. She tried to turn her head but couldn’t, and she realised that the numbness was continuing to spread through her body and she now couldn’t move her legs. Roberta sat in the chair, completely rigid and unable to move anything but her eyes. Across the room she saw that Mrs Peacock was still chatting with Sam, and Roberta thought that she was hallucinating as she saw a ghostly figure rise out of Mrs Peacock’s body. Mrs Peacock remained completely unaware and carried on talking to Sam who was now leafing through the faded pages of the book. He looked across at Roberta with a look of triumph on his face at the find of the ancient tomb, before placing his attention back on the paper without the slightest realisation as to what was going on.

The figure, Roberta now recognised, was Mrs Peacock. Like a shadow had fallen out of her body, Mrs Peacock stood up and left her other self sitting happily on the armchair, turning to look in Roberta’s direction as she did so. Roberta gasped and put a hand to her mouth, realising that she was free to move again. She drew the hand away from her face and saw that, like Mrs Peacock, it was silvery and translucent. She was amazed to look straight through her fingers and see both of her arms still folded in her lap.

“It’s OK Roberta, it’s just the tea. I said it was my finest.” Mrs Peacock’s form offered a reassuring smile.

“Mrs Peacock?” Roberta said, staring up at the ghostly form.

“Yes, and you are still Roberta.”

“Sam?”

“I was very careful about which cup he had dear, he’ll happily continue talking for as long as we’re gone. This form allows us to leave our earthly bodies and discuss the real reason why you had to find me today.”

“So you do recognise me,” Roberta said, knowing that she hadn’t been wrong.

“Of course my dear, but one has to be careful when the Ammokra is in flow. I’d have never lived this long if I introduced myself properly to everyone I met. Come dear, I need to show you something.”

She turned away from Roberta and shuffled around the side of the coffee table.

“Try not to hurt yourself Roberta. There’s been many an accidental death by those who thought themselves invincible in this form.”

Roberta slowly lifted herself from the seat beside Sam. It was strange looking down at her body which was sipping tea and chatting to the others as if nothing had happened.

“Will I-”

“Yes, you’ll remember your whole conversation when we go back, don’t worry. Now come, we haven’t much time.”

“Are you a witch, Mrs Peacock?”

The elderly lady looked around at Roberta and chuckled. “There’s no such thing as witches dear girl. They are a myth created by those in the past wanting to hide the real evils of the world. I am a gatekeeper, but more in time,”….

To find out more, head to Amazon.com, co.uk, B&N or Kobo where you can buy Inside Evil for just $2.99. Until next week!

Inside Evil paperbacks are here!

As you’ll know from my ‘Making paperbacks with Createspace‘ blog, I’ve delved into realms that I never thought I would as an author. The digital age has really opened up the world of publishing, and I thought I would be happy having my books online as ebooks. That was, until I held the beautiful crisp paper and stunning covers in my hands and put my own works on the study shelves.

It’s taken a while to get the proofing correct and for CreateSpace to accurately link the Kindle versions with the paperback copies. This is largely due to an author name discrepancy that I talked about here. BUT, the good news is that you can now buy both Inside Evil and The Tower of Souls as books that you can actually hold in your hands!

Of course, paperbacks are more expensive than ebooks, and both my novels aren’t any different, making buying a digital version far cheaper. Also, I’m fairly sure there are large shipping fees and delivery periods for those buying in the UK. So, if anyone in the UK does want a version, I’ll be selling Inside Evil and The Tower of Souls at £6.74 and £8.99 respectively from my own batch. Just holla if you want one.

It is a glorious thing to hold an actual paperback in my hands though, and even though its probably very self serving, I’m glad that I decided to delve beyond the simple ebook niche.