Monday, 17 August 2015

On reviewing as a writer

Some of you may have noticed I don't often post reviews on the blog any more. This is mostly because of lack of time--obviously, I don't get paid for blogging, and I already juggle two demanding careers. But the second reason is the one sometimes tiptoed around: how can you review honestly while taking care not to alienate fellow writers? The publishing community is small, and bridges are easily burned. Because of this, I only leave a review when I liked or really liked the book, and I've been removing my lower rated reviews from Goodreads (I never leave reviews below 4 stars on Amazon).

Perhaps this is an unpopular opinion, but as an indie author, I'm acutely tuned into how customer reviews affect my ability to sell and market my books. Most of the biggest promo sites require a minimum of 10 or 20 reviews, with a 4 star average. BookBub, considered the best of all the promo sites out there, had a dramatic effect on my sales when Darkness Watching was featured there. One lower rating, though, and my book would have been knocked out of the running. This time last year, I was selling a book a month. Being picked up by BookBub literally changed my career.

I'm never dishonest in my reviews, but I've become more aware that there's a time and a place for critical feedback from a writer's perspective on how to "improve" a book, and that isn't in a customer review. As writers, we receive continual feedback on our work: from critique partners, beta readers, and editors. When the book is published, however, it's out of our hands. So how are we supposed to react to reviews saying we "should" have written the book a different way? Obviously, everything's subjective, and it's impossible to please every reader. But writer-readers tend to be the most critical, and post-publication feedback posted in a public place for potential readers to see can feel uncomfortable at best. Before publishing, I ask other writers and editors to rip my writing to pieces so I can improve it. But after publishing? A different story.

I read as a writer. I'm an author, editor and English Literature graduate, and of course I'm a critical reader. I enjoy picking stories apart. But posting a review on retailer sites to this effect sends an entirely different message to the author. Publishing a book is an emotional rollercoaster, and where do authors turn to find encouragement and support? The writing community. Authors are expected to be thick-skinned and ignore reviews, but it's difficult to avoid seeing critical views of our work - again, especially indie authors, because we're responsible for creating and updating our own GR/Amazon book pages. I'd hate for a fellow writer to feel unwelcome in what's supposed to be a supportive environment. Maybe I'm being overly careful, but I've been ostracised from once-supportive writing groups before, and to be honest, it hurts like hell.

I'm still posting mini-reviews in my monthly roundups and I review honestly for NetGalley, but I'm refraining from posting any less-than-complimentary reviews on Goodreads or Amazon. I find I'm being more picky about what I choose to read in the first place, which means my ratings are naturally higher than average. I'd never condemn another writer for choosing to review critically, but I feel my super-analytical, nitpicky inner grammar nerd is better suited for editing and beta reading.

What do you think, fellow writers?

Friday, 7 August 2015

Release Day: Delinquent: An Alliance Novella + a $10 Amazon giveaway!

It's release day for Delinquent: An Alliance Novella! This is a novella set two years before Adamant. If you're curious about certain events mentioned in the series, this is the place to find out what really happened! :)

Nineteen-year-old Kay Walker seems to have it all, including an assured future with the Alliance after he graduates from the prestigious Academy. But when he and his friends discover the lure of the Passages, the place between the worlds where monsters hide, they’re caught up in a contest with rival student Aric - which soon escalates into a deadly game.

A perfect life hides lies, and Kay becomes a target for alluring yet deadly magic he has no way of understanding. Magic is a force on its own, and on no one’s side…

Buy the book ($0.99/£0.99): Amazon   Kobo  Barnes and Noble  Apple  Smashwords


“Not to worry,” I said. “If there’s anything around, it’s nothing worse than we’ve faced in training.” Which was true. Coming face to face with a Passage monster wasn’t a big deal. We’d be doing that on a regular basis in a couple of years. And if it turned out we couldn’t handle it, we’d run like hell. If anything wandered this close to the stairs, then like I’d said—it was our duty to deal with it.
“Let’s do this,” I said.
My fingertips found the hidden panel in the wall. Loose. Something had tried to get it open before—recently. Marks on the edge became visible. Okay, something with really big hands had tried to get it open.
Hmm. Maybe this wasn’t my smartest move. But it was too late to turn back. The panel opened at the slightest touch, and sure enough, a steep staircase appeared in the gloom.
The staircase was shorter than I expected, and led into another corridor. I definitely heard movement ahead. Our footsteps made no noise, and gradually, a faint growling became distinct.
“Damn,” I whispered. “That’s way too close to first level.”
Andy froze, swearing under his breath. Simon and I continued, and when we rounded a corner, we found our monster.
It was easily seven feet tall, and looked like a hairless bull, except it walked on two legs. Its pinkish skin was marked with scars, and two cracked tusks protruded from its huge jaw. It prowled the tunnel on legs thick as tree trunks. This was a kruchifal, and they were known for munching on stray travellers walking between the worlds. This one had wandered way out of Cethrax. Damn thing. No guards had come here, but if they went near those stairs—which newer guards might not even know about—then this monster could easily make trouble for them.
And us. The kruchifal turned around with a bellow loud enough to alert half the Passages this side of Cethrax.
Oh, shit.
“Be quiet,” I muttered.
The kruchifal swiped with a giant hand, forcing us to back away. Towards the stairs. Damn. Just what I’d wanted to avoid.
“You don’t wanna be here, trust me,” I said.
The kruchifal roared angrily again.
Great. I hadn’t reckoned on actually playing the part of a guard without their fancy weaponry to back it up. We didn’t have a way to alert the Alliance without giving away that we were here illegally. Besides, the monster was only metres away from the stairs.
We had to scare it off.
Simon’s eyes widened as he realised what I was going to do, and got out of the way just in time. I ran, launching myself into the air, and grabbed onto the beast’s back, pulling myself up to balance on its shoulders. The kruchifal roared as it realised it had an unwanted passenger, and rocked back and forward, trying to throw me off. Laughing, I clung on with one hand, while Simon charged it. He dodged the snarling tusks and kicked at the beast’s thick leg. The monster roared again, and this time, it dislodged me. I flipped over backwards and landed on my feet. Andy was still here, to my surprise, but wasn’t inclined to join in the fight.
All the more fun for me and Simon.

Enter here to win a $10 Amazon gift card! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Start the series with Adamant (Alliance, #1).

Ada Fletcher is twenty-one, keeps a collection of knives in her room, and lives under the Alliance's radar in London, risking her life to help her family smuggle people away from a devastating magical war on her homeworld to hide on the low-magic Earth. But when a simple delivery goes wrong and she's forced to use magic to defend her own life, she becomes a prime suspect for a murder at the heart of the Alliance.

Kay Walker, grandson of the Alliance's late founder, expects to spend his first week as an Alliance employee chasing monsters out of the dark Passages between worlds, not solving a murder or questioning a strange, fierce young woman he arrested in the Passages. Killer or not, she stole something highly dangerous - something tied to a dark time in the Alliance's history. The closer he gets to the truth, the higher the body count rises.

The last thing Ada wants is to help the infuriating Alliance guard who arrested her, but it soon becomes clear that the Alliance knows too much about Ada's magic. More, in fact, than she knows herself. Now she has to choose between loyalty to her family, and helping the Alliance save the Earth - and the Multiverse - from a deadly enemy.

Buy the book:  Amazon  Kobo  Barnes and Noble  Apple   Smashwords 

Add on Goodreads   Read the first chapter

What reviewers are saying

"The world building is magical. Even though we only get a hint of what's out there, I am already in love with this world." - Lola at Lola's Reviews

"...the beginning of a potentially brilliant and addictive series" - Jeanz Book Reviews

"This book is a unique, fun read, and I'd recommend it to everyone who enjoys sci-fi and fantasy." - Amazon reviewer

“Adamant is a fantastic start to a fun, adventurous and super cool series… a world so well written and brought to life you can totally lose yourself in it... Can't praise it enough!” - Alisha at Reality's A Bore

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Writing Wednesdays & IWSG: 10 signs you're a writing/publishing veteran!

It's Wednesday, which means it's time for an update! Since last week, I've been revising my YA post-apocalyptic superhero story, Indestructible. I received extensive notes from my editor last week and I've been working to fix all the problems.

My lesson of the week is that big editing changes can sometimes be solved by only changing a few lines. I was reminded of it when I read this post from Jami Gold about the same thing. You can change the entire impression a reader has of a scene just by switching out a handful of sentences. One of the issues I have that always comes up in edits is character motivations/reactions. I'm a plot-driven writer, so sometimes I forget to add in the internalisation which makes it clear to the reader why a character is acting/reacting in that way. It's a simple change, sometimes only adding a couple of sentences to a scene, but can make a huge difference to whether a reader connects with your character or not. I like writing characters with strong convictions who aren't conventionally likeable, but the reader hopefully still gets why they act the way they do. That's the goal, anyway!


It's also the first Wednesday of the month, so it's time for IWSG! The Insecure Writer's Support Group is the creation of Ninja Captain Alex, and is a great way for writers to share their worries, support and encouragement.

I have another book coming out in two days! So naturally, I'm on that old rollercoaster of excitement and sudden inconvenient confidence drops. I'm also in the editing cave with an old manuscript, so I'm currently convinced I'm a fraud and want to apologise to my beta readers and editors for inflicting my crappy drafts on them. The life of a writer. :')

Spoiler: intense edits and promoting a new release do not go well together. I really ought to know this by now...

So naturally, instead of editing, I'm writing such blog posts as this: 10 signs you're a writing/publishing veteran:
  1. You expect the worst and are pleasantly surprised when anything goes right.
  2. You get suspicious when you manage to complete edits on your twentieth book in less than a week, because you're convinced you missed something.
  3. You get doubly suspicious when it takes months to edit a different book, because you're convinced your brain is broken.
  4. You have a mental list of sarcastic responses to the inevitable questions you face at family gatherings, social events, and from the optician/doctor/hairdresser/dentist - "How are your books selling?" "Are they in bookshops?" "Are you planning to write a real book soon?" "How do you write so fast?"...
  5. You hope no one ever finds your computer and goes through your files and bookmarked pages, because you have several years' worth of dubious research material saved there.
  6. You no longer flip out when a much-better-known author favourites one of your tweets. (Well... okay. Maybe a little.)
  7. A 2-star review kills your book's rating on release day, and you just laugh at it.
  8. You spend time writing posts like this instead of editing, because you have procrastination down to a fine art.
  9. Whenever you get a ten-page edit letter detailing everything wrong with your book, or a long, scathing review, you despair over your writing career for exactly ten seconds before remembering the two years' worth of nice reviews and feedback and readers waiting for your next release. That many people can't be wrong, right? ... Right?
  10. You wonder when you'll ever stop feeling like a fraud. But occasionally,  you remember you kept every old journal since you were ten, and in every single one, in answer to the question "What will your job be in ten years' time?", you put "writer."
So hey, you're doing the job you've always dreamed of. You're writing books, publishing them, and getting paid for it. And that's pretty awesome. :D

Interview with Samantha Bryant, author of Going Through the Change!

Today I'm interviewing fellow Curiosity Quills writer Samantha Bryant, author of Going Through the Change - which is FREE for the next two days!

Tell me three interesting facts about yourself!
I nearly always wear Converse sneakers. My feet don't like any other shoes. Even my wedding shoes were Converse. They are white with blue trim and say "The Bride" on the ankle. 

All my celebrity crushes are on men whose movies were filmed in black and white (Humphrey Bogart, Robert Mitchum, Cary Grant). I'm a woman out of my time in that way. I'm a sucker for shoulders and an awesome hat. 

I knew my husband was going to be a keeper when he gifted me a large figurine of Treebeard that speaks quotes from the LOTR movies when you push his shoulder. 

Summarize your book in one line.

What if menopausal women had superpowers?

Tell me something cool/crazy/quirky about the book – it can be anything!

When writing Linda Alvarez's transformation into Leonel Alvarez, I embarrassed the heck out of all the men in my life by asking a lot of very specific questions about penises. 

Why did you decide to write this particular book?

It started from a conversation about why superheroes always seem to have adolescent origin stories. I said that if hormones gave superpowers, then menopausal women would be the most powerful people on the planet. And a book was born.

Best part of the writing process?

Those days when the words seem to flow through you from somewhere out in the ether, like you are the conduit to something from beyond. It must be what it feels like to do magic. 

(This is the BEST feeling! :))

Share one thing you learned writing this book.

Writing action scenes is a different ball of wax than other kinds of writing. Half logistics and half emotion and a balancing act of pacing those elements. They are also extremely satisfying to write!

Tell me about one strange experience you’ve had. Again, it can be anything!

When I was in my early twenties, I accepted a teaching job in a very small town in Alaska (Kenny Lake, population 400).  I showed up, assuming I could find a hotel or something and then get set up with a place to live in short order. Um . . .not so much. There's no hotel. I spent three nights in my truck before another teacher took pity on me and let me live in a little cabin on his property for two months until the place I found to rent came open. It was a real eye-opener to realize how different life was going to be in a truly small place. I came to love it with all my heart though. It's the kind of place where I could mention in class that I wanted a dog, and the next day a student was offering me a puppy. 

Name one fictional place you’d love to visit.

London Below, but only if I can get Door as my tour guide. 

Name one real place you’d love to visit.

New Zealand. It's been at the top of my someday list ever since the LOTR movies came out. 

(Same here! :))

Share one sentence/mini-excerpt from the book!

"Police were not used to things like this, things that should be impossible: women becoming men, people who float like balloons or become dragons."

Samantha Bryant is a middle school Spanish teacher by day and a mom and novelist by night. That makes her a superhero all the time. Her debut novel, Going Through the Change: A Menopausal Superhero Novel is now for sale by Curiosity Quills. You can find her online on her blog,Twitter, on Facebook, on Amazon, on Goodreads, on the Curiosity Quills page, or on Google+.

Going through “the change” isn’t easy on any woman. Mood swings, hot flashes, hormonal imbalances, and itchy skin are par for the course. But for these four seemingly unrelated women, menopause brought changes none of them had ever anticipated—super-heroic changes. 

Helen discovers a spark within that reignites her fire. Jessica finds that her mood is lighter, and so is her body. Patricia always had a tough hide, but now even bullets bounce off her. Linda doesn’t have trouble opening the pickle jar anymore… now that she’s a man. 

When events throw the women together, they find out that they have more in common than they knew—one person has touched all their lives. The hunt for answers is on.

Amazon - FREE on the 5th-6th August only!

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Release Day: Chameleon by K. T. Hanna!

Chameleon Releases Today!

CHAMELEON Domino Project Front with Text 2
"Wow! A fast-paced, science fiction delight with fabulous action, a seamless world, and the most unique characters I've read in a long time." Elana Johnson, Author of the Possession Series.
Four Fun Facts about Chameleon:
Originally there was no double agent, but it made the plotline difficult to pull off and one of KT’s cps got into the genius juice during brainstorming and made the suggestion - and here we are!
Deign was always a bitch.
Nimue and Sai were originally enemies, but K.T. decided she couldn’t stomach a second Deign.
At one point, the book was called Ebony, for one of the materials that make up the game piece also called Dominos. Ivory and Bone were also considered as names for the sequels at that point.
The Blurb:
When Sai's newly awoken psionic powers accidentally destroy her apartment complex, she’s thrown into an intensive training program. Her only options are pass or die.
Surviving means proving her continued existence isn't a mistake--a task her new mentor, Bastian, takes personally. Her abilities place her in the GNW Enforcer division, and partners her with Domino 12, who is eerily human for an alien-parasite psionic hybrid.
After eliminating an Exiled scientist, she discovers nothing is what it seems. With each mission more perilous, Sai must figure out who to trust before her next assignment becomes her last.

Available at:

Amazon | Kobo | iBooks | IndieBound

If you'd like a signed physical copy, Watermark Books has them in stock.

We're having a blog hop, and an e-card & mega swag Rafflecopter giveaway!
The blog hop stops are noted below. Each day has a different theme and you can find out about the process, the idea, and the evolution of Chameleon, and even a bit about K.T. by visiting each blog, when their posts go live.
4-Aug 5-Aug 6-Aug 7-Aug 10-Aug
Fun facts about the book What I learned writing Chameleon Author Interviews The world of Chameleon The Evolution of Chameleon
Manuel Soto Marlo Berliner Leatrice McKinney Rebecca Enzor Patricia Lynne
J Elizabeth Hill Stacey Trombley Dawn Allen Sharon Johnston Bex Montgomery
E.L. Wicker JC Davis Suzanne van Rooyen Mandy Baxter Madelyn Dyer
Jessie Mullins Andrew Patterson Heather Rebel Jessica Therrien Carissa Taylor
Emma Adams Lady Jai Elyana Noreme Kendra Young

I’m giving away e-cards of your choice from B&N, iTunes, & Amazon – one to the value of $25, and three to the value of $10! Each prize includes a swag pack of a magnet, sticker, bookmark, postcard, and mousepad!

Just follow the options listed on the giveaway and you'll be entered!full swag pack

About the Author

Me Squared
KT Hanna has a love for words so extreme, a single word can spark entire worlds.
Born in Australia, she met her husband in a computer game, moved to the U.S.A. and went into culture shock. Bonus? Not as many creatures specifically out to kill you.
When she's not writing, she freelance edits for Chimera Editing, interns for a NYC Agency, and chases her daughter, husband, corgis, and cat. No, she doesn't sleep. She is entirely powered by the number 2, caffeine, and beef jerky.
Note: Still searching for her Tardis