Friday, May 22, 2015

On Writing and Researching (Alternate) History by AshleyRose Sullivan

Please join me in welcoming AshleyRose Sullivan to the blog today. Her new YA novel, Silver Tongue, features historical figures set in an alternate world, showcasing just how fragile history can be. I find the plot to be fascinating and asked her to write a bit about her writing and research.

On Writing and Researching (Alternate) History
by AshleyRose Sullivan

Mark Twain said something like, “Get your facts first, then you can distort them as much as you please.” Granted, I’m getting this quote from the notoriously unreliable internet and I doubt that when he (maybe) said these words he was envisioning a woman in the 2010s writing a book about monsters and murder on an alternate version of the Mississippi River but, I mean, I think it still applies.

My second novel, Silver Tongue, began as an idea about history itself–about how fragile it seems. I think we all ask ourselves, when learning about some big event long ago, how it might have been different but for one small thing. In my case, I thought about what might’ve happened if George Washington had drowned in the Delaware River. What would America have looked like twenty or thirty years after the Revolutionary War had been lost? Would America even exist?

This is where research comes in. I had decided George Washington never made it to the other side but I needed to know what actually happened before I went around making a fruit salad of history. I created a long list of questions and set about answering them. I got the bare facts pretty easily. Wikipedia is endlessly useful for things like the dates of famous water crossings. I made a timeline. Silver Tongue takes place in 1839–sixty-three years after The (Failed) Crossing of the Delaware. So, what really happened in those sixty-three years? How about the years that followed? What was just around the bend and might’ve changed if only a little thing here or there had been shifted around? I made a list of interesting events from all those years and let that feed into the atmosphere of the novel. The daguerreotype was introduced in 1839, for instance, but not until after the novel takes place–I bumped it up a little and the ability to see a photograph became part of the story.

The little things, though, that’s where the fun is. What kind of food does Claire eat? What might her best friend, a fashion-forward and wealthy Nouvelle French guy choose to wear to a big outdoor festival? What kind of games might these friends have played together? In other words, what does a regular day look like? For this, there are TONS of history books and blogs out there. There are lengthy posts about smocking fabric in the Regency Era and riding habits throughout history. And books like What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew, by Daniel Pool and Georgette Heyer’s Regency World are phenomenal resources when it comes to the mundane details of life in fancy pants olden days. Of course, when you’re writing an alternate history (with obvious and very dramatic emphasis on the alternate) you take liberties.

Claire exists in a culture that never was–a French/Indian mixed society that only might’ve been. The food she ate would be a blend of both culinary traditions–using ingredients that would’ve been available in the Americas. Substitutions occur. The writer takes over. New recipes are formed along with new history. At this point, you’re molding the world around the story but everything is always informed by the facts. In the end, you simply take charge. Decide what never was, what might’ve been, and let the ghost of our real history haunt the narrative.

One last thing: Read yourself some real, actual books from whatever time/place you’re writing about. People were writing the heck out of some books in old timey days! Netflix was not a thing yet! So get those books. Most of them are free or very cheap what with their authors being super dead. Silver Tongue is heavily informed by Gothic Fiction. I wanted to write a classic, gothic monster story so, in many ways, the best research I did was to just read a lot of classic, gothic monster stories: Frankenstein, The Portrait of Dorian Gray, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. But it isn’t just a monster story, it’s also an American story. So I read stuff by some big deal Americans: PT Barnum, Mark Twain, Edgar Allen Poe. Unsurprisingly, the works of the time are like treasure chests full of little details. We tend to not think of these books as research because they were written as entertainment but, when you let the fiction of the times sink into your brain, you gain a deeper understanding of the life lived by the characters, the authors, and the regular people of that time.

Silver Tongue

AshleyRose Sullivan

YA Alternate History
April 2015
Seventh Star Press

Amazon | B&N | Kobo

The Colonies lost the Revolutionary War. Now it's 1839 and the North American continent is divided into three territories: New Britannia, Nueva Espana, and Nouvelle France where seventeen-year-old Claire Poissant lives. 

Claire has a magical way with words—literally. But a mystical power of persuasion isn't the only thing that makes her different. Half-French and half-Indian, Claire doesn't feel at home in either world. Maybe that's why she's bonded so tightly with her fellow outcasts and best friends: Phileas, a young man whose towering intellect and sexuality have always made him the target of bullies, and Sam, a descendant of George Washington who shares the disgraced general's terrible, secret curse.

But when Sam's family is murdered, these bonds are tested and Claire's special ability is strained to its limits as the three hunt the men responsible into dangerous lands. Along the way they cross paths with P.T. Barnum, William Frankenstein and other characters from both history and fantasy as they learn the hard way that man is often the most horrific monster and that growing up sometimes means learning to let go of the things you hold most dear. 

About the Author

AshleyRose Sullivan: Born and raised in Appalachia, AshleyRose Sullivan now lives, writes, and paints in Los Angeles. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Spalding University and her first novel, Awesome Jones: A Superhero Fairy Tale is available from Seventh Star Press. She can be found at her website or her blog, My Year Of Star Trek.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

How to Sell Books by the Truckload on Amazon by Penny C. Sansevieri - Review & Giveaway

How to Sell Books by the Truckload on Amazon

Penny C. Sansevieri

Non-Fiction Reference
March 2015

Amazon wants you to sell a lot of books. And How to Sell Your Books by the Truckload teaches you exactly how to do it. Internationally renowned Amazon book marketing expert, Penny Sansevieri, has created the ultimate guide for mastering the Amazon marketing system. 

And in moments it can be right at your fingertips! The savings in time you’ll gain is enormous—when compared to painstakingly researching this information yourself. 

When you follow Penny’s time-tested proven formulas you’ll instantly skyrocket the exposure you receive and kick your book promotion campaign into overdrive! 

Plus, you can bypass all of the misinformation out there about how Amazon works. That’s because every secret you need to know to understand the Amazon marketing system inside and out is right here. Penny Sansevieri takes you step-by-step through simple and dynamic processes that show you how to:

  • Get top visibility for your book on Amazon
  • Increase sales through perfectly-timed pre-order campaigns
  • Leverage a secret tool to get hundreds of reader reviews
  • Use Kindle Unlimited to your greatest advantage
  • Boost sales by knowing when to give away your e-book – it really works!
  • Use keywords and book descriptions that puts your book in front of tons of buyers
  • Identify and locate secret categories that drive bigger sales
Get your booked ranked #1 in your category!

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review

How to Sell Books by the Truckload on Amazon is a great reference set for self-published and traditionally published authors. Perhaps the first book in the set won't be as much help to traditionally published authors (I had very little input on keywords and the like), but self-published authors will find it a gold mine of information. When I first self-published, I spent hours searching for the information Ms. Sansevieri has compiled.

The writing is clear, concise, and easy to understand. It's laid out in a logical manner with lots of images and links. I think I might change my publishing style from novels to novellas after reading this book. Keywords are something that can be mystifying to newer authors. Fear not, they are explained in detail.

The guide to reviews is spot on and contains fantastic advice, as well as multiple links to some great sites. Truly a set of books every new author should read. Even established authors will learn a thing or two from How to Sell Books by the Truckload on Amazon. As a side note-- if you haven't visited the author's website, it contains a wealth of information. 

About the Author

Penny C. Sansevieri, Founder and CEO Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. She is an Adjunct Professor teaching Self-Publishing for NYU. 

Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most innovative Social Media/Internet book marketing campaigns. She is the author of fourteen books, including How to Sell Your Books by the Truckload on Amazon and Red Hot Internet Publicity, which has been called the "leading guide to everything Internet."  

AME was the first book marketing and publicity firm to use Internet promotion to its full impact through The Virtual Author Tour™, which strategically harnesses social networking sites, Twitter, blogs, book videos, and relevant sites in order to push an author’s message into the online community. AME has had over eleven books top bestseller lists, including those of the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal. 

To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, you can visit her web site at

Connect with Penny:  Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Pinterest   Google +

Amazing Tour-Wide Giveaway!

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Ollie the Orca by Laura Maw

Ollie the Orca
Bubba n' Buddies

Laura Maw
Artwork: Mike Motz

Children's Picture Book
October 2014

Come along and join Bubba the Bottlenose dolphin as he makes a new buddy while sharing a day they won't soon forget. Grade 1-2 Reading Level

Bubba is out on one of his undersea adventures when he finds a frightened Orca trapped by a fishing net! In this attention gripping yet comical tale, Bubba works with his buddy Sammy the Seagull to free Ollie. Come along and join Bubba the Bottlenose dolphin as he makes a new buddy while sharing a day they won't soon forget.

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review

Ollie the Orca is a sweet story about new friends working together. The illustrations are adorable and will appeal to younger children. I liked the message of working together to help someone in need. While I noticed one mistake, I think most children will read right past it. I read the pdf version and was pleasantly surprised that the illustrations were so crisp even in ebook form.

About the Author

When Laura Maw was a child, her favorite activities were going to the ocean and picking out another stack of books from the library. She loved reading from a very young age and could never seem to satisfy her craving for another new adventure, another new imagination landscape. Writing is a passion that seemed to come naturally with her love of reading. She too wanted to be able to help someone through a bad day, or to have a unique and thrilling experience on a good day, through the written communication of a story. She has a very vivid imagination that often takes her on wondrous adventures in her dreams. In fact, the idea for Bubba’s Balloon came to her in the form of a very funny dream. She woke up laughing and felt that it was a story that must be shared with others. The character of Ollie was even developed through daydreaming about Bubba’s adventures.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Interview With Jackie Keswick, Author of Job Hunt + Giveaway

JobHunt Tour Banner

Please welcome Jackie Keswick, author of Job Hunt, a new M/M romantic suspense. She was kind enough to join us today and answer some questions about herself and of course her new novel.

Tell us about the main characters. Who are Jack and Gareth?

Jack Horwood is an ace hacker who hunts pimps in his spare time. Not the sort of information you put on your CV and take to a job interview, but his past serving first in the army and then with MI6 doesn't exactly lend itself to cheerful discussion either. To Jack, being a hacker is something he takes pride in. He grew up on the streets until Rio Palmer offered him a safe place to stay and taught him his way around a computer. As Jack would say, "It was either hacking bank accounts or trading blow jobs for food. I'm sure you can appreciate the moral dilemma."
Jack's never had anything resembling a family until he joined the army and met Gareth Flynn.  He must have fallen pretty hard, but he never let on. Not even when he walked away five years later to keep the others safe. And he'd never in his wildest dreams expected to bump into Gareth Flynn... during his job interview of all things!
To say that Gareth Flynn was stunned when Jack's CV landed on his desk would be an understatement, especially since he'd just spent the last eighteen months trying to find the annoying brat to offer him a job!

Even when they still served together, Gareth had  thought that Jack needed a keeper, or at the very least a leash, and time doesn't seem to have changed the way Jack worked. He still ignored rules he considered stupid, mainlined coffee as if it was a proscribed substance and got so caught up in his crusades that he forgot to eat and sleep.  For someone like Gareth, who has turned looking after people into an art form, Jack's the ultimate challenge. That he's also stubborn as a mule, vulnerable as a porcupine and way hotter than the chillies he likes is a bonus.

What are some interesting things you learned while writing/researching Job Hunt?

Simpson's-in-the-Strand, one of the oldest restaurants in London, has been serving food for 185 years and lists Sherlock Holmes as one of its most famous patrons. It also offers the grandest English breakfast you can imagine. It's called the Ten Deadly Sins and comprises Cumberland sausage, streaky and back bacon, Stornoway black pudding, fried mushrooms, baked tomato & egg (fried, poached or scrambled), liver, fried bread, bubble & squeak and baked beans. Just the right pick-me-up after a night out celebrating (or hunting pimps.)

Is there anything you’d like to tell your readers about Job Hunt?

Nico and Daniel will be fine? Also pronounced as: damaged people are dangerous because they know how to survive. They're also some of the strongest people around. Even if they feel broken rather than strong half the time.

What must you have handy for a productive writing session?

The right music.

 If you could have any literary character over for dinner, whom would you invite and what would you serve?

That's the trickiest question! I've been thinking about this quite seriously all morning and have finally decided that one guest wouldn't cut it. It would need to be a garden party. A grand one.

What’s your favorite TV show or movie?

I gave up TV four years ago when we moved house, so I'm not at all up to date.  I watch the odd DVD when I'm doing the ironing and my go-to TV series when I'm feeling blue and need cheering up is The Beiderbecke Affair.  It's simply superb. More recently, the Danish/Swedish crime series The Bridge kept me guessing.

What’s your go to comfort food?

Cheese and garlic mashed potatoes. And red wine.

 Where can readers find you online?

Since I work there, too... probably all the usual places at one time or another: website, Twitter, tumblr, Facebook, Goodreads... though my focus tends to shift. Right now, my favourite is Twitter. It's nice to chat when I'm in need of a bit of a break while working. Tumblr is lovely when I need inspiration. Just learning my way around Goodreads.

JobHunt CoverJob Hunt

Jackie Keswick

Publication Date: May 13, 2015
Genres: LGBT, M/M, Romance, Suspense

Amazon - Kobo - Dreamspinner Press - PRINT

You don’t greet your new boss dressed like an underage rent boy. But when Jack Horwood—ace hacker and ex-MI6 operative—opens the door to Gareth Flynn, he's too busy to worry over details like that. And anyway, his potential new boss is his former Commanding Officer – the same guy Jack has had a crush on since he was seventeen. So he should understand, right? When he applied for the job in Nancarrow Mining's corporate security division, Jack had hoped for peaceful days repelling cyber attacks. Maybe a bit of corporate espionage on the side. His plans didn't include rescuing abused children, hunting pimps, or dealing with his overly protective and hot-as-hell boss, Gareth Flynn. Walking away is not an option. Jack never takes the easy way out. More than that, meeting Gareth raises old ghosts that Jack needs to put to rest. Rescuing kids. Taking risks. Saving the day. Jack can do all that – but deciding what to do about his attraction to Gareth isn’t the sort of cloak-and-dagger game Jack plays well. Yet Gareth, strong and smart and always on hand when needed, might be Jack’s salvation.

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About Jackie Keswick

Jackie Keswick Jackie Keswick was born behind the Iron Curtain with itchy feet, a bent for rocks and a recurrent dream of stepping off a bus in the middle of nowhere to go home. She's worked in a hospital and as the only girl with 52 men on an oil rig, spent a winter in Moscow and a summer in Iceland and finally settled in the country of her dreams with her dream team: a husband, a cat, a tandem, a hammer and a laptop. Jackie loves stories about unexpected reunions and second chances, and men who don't follow the rules when those rules are stupid. She has a thing for green eyes and tight cyclist's butts and is a great believer in making up soundtracks for everything, including her characters and the cat. And she still hasn't found the place where the bus stops.