sábado, 10 de febrero de 2018

Revamping my goodreads reading list

I not only write as a hobby, I also love to read books. And as an indie author, I know fullhand how insanely hard it is to get unbiased reviews which could include very useful honest criticism. Even harder, to get the highly coveted Amazon review because depending on the # of reviews your book gets, the online store will up your rankings and might even help you promote your book without having to move a finger.

Oh, and if that is not enough, Amazon reviews are pivotal to set your foot in the door in order to get a highly desirable Bookbub paid promotion. You need a bare minimum of 100 Amazon reviews minimally of all of your books combined, ideally of the book you want to vy for a promotion. The promotion costs you an arm & a leg (not literally, but almost in money terms), but every author that has done it gains an insane amount of new reads and sales. I've never heard of an author that has done a promo claim the money spent was a waste.

My TBR list is pretty large (but still meager in comparison to a lot of readers out there). One thing that I have been doing is uploading every book from my kindle to my goodreads account along with every ARC ebook I have on my computer. I have found a few interesting things:

1) My full TBR list is around 430 books and has been diminishing over the past few months because I attempt to read whatever I can during my scant free time.
2) I have some books both on my kindle AND as ARC copies which drops that TBR list a few notches.
3) I found today a few books both on my kindle and ARC copies that are current and past participants of the SPFBO contest. I am trying to put a bit more urgency towards reading all of the SPFBO books that I can. Judges and readers alike have comented that the 2017 batch has been unusually good which means that I know that those books will be worth my time. I was pleasantly surprised to know that this year's current finalist Tiger Lily is one of my ARC copies! Yaay! I haven't read any of the 10 finalists yet so it will be fun to read this book soon.
4) I deleted two short story books from my kindle because they no longer exist on amazon and had a pretty much impossible time finding them on goodreads either. The list is big as it is, why waste my time reading a book that I'll be unable to review anyways?
5) I'm glad that I organized things a little because I also did something new: I created two separate lists for really short books that are under 50 pages, under 200 pages and lastly but not least, another ticked box for books with 20 or less reviews. As an author, I know that it's insanely hard to cross the 20 review barrier and some books on my TBR have 0 reviews!
I kind of like doing this organization because now, I have realized I have 30 books that are 50 pages or less. Those books are indeed super quickies and while I've had a lot of 3 star experiences with short stories, I have read a small amount that are 5 stars in my biased opinion. Oh, and now that I know which of these are the super quickies, I can read a bunch of them in a day and get them out of the way. If I can slice the TBR list to around 350 in a short amount of time, that will be great. Even better, some of these quickie books have almost no reviews. Extra bonus!

So now, I will be reading those quickie short books in order to delete them from my harddrive and kindle to free space. I will be continuing on reading whatever spfbo books available with a certain degree of urgency, just 53 unread books waiting to be read.

Will I ever create a book review blog? I don't know. I don't want to do that in this blog because I want to try to focus more on my own fantasy book series. Plus, the real biggie for authors is the amazon and GR reviews. So far I've never had someone cruising on my blog to ask me to read and review their book, but now you at least know where my TBR list sort of stands.

Feel free to check my Goodreads profile HERE and see for yourself. Maybe one of the books I praised might be of your interest or something.

sábado, 27 de enero de 2018

A magnificent review of An Ominous Book 2, Separation

This is a new review of the second Ominous Book 2 Separation that is being featured by a prominent blogger/reviewer, Jeyran Main:

"Separation is an epic young adult fantasy novel. It is book two of the An Ominous Book. In the second book, the story focuses on Richard and Spaulding. Richard has to face the fact that all of his family have been deceased and he is only left with his sister and his cousin. Spaulding is imprisoned and is being tortured until he confesses what he knows about the Ayrtainian Family.
The second book certainly takes a darker turn, and more scenes turn the nature of the story into a tenser situation. The pace of the story was steady, and the quality of the storyline was just as good as the first book.
In case you wish to read what I thought of the first book, you can click on the link below.
The story was still fun to read, and the author once again uses her creativity in describing the plot in such a way that was very suitable for its genre. I found Spaulding’s situation to be very interesting and constantly wanted to know what is going to happen to him.
I believe the author has enough material to add more sequels to this story and consequently induce more depth to the descriptiveness of the world built. The fantasy nature of the storyline could then intensify, and that alone would be a standout novel to read.
I recommend this book for young adult readers.
Written by Jeyran Main"
The original review is featured HERE.
Are you curious to read the darkest of all of the novels of my fantasy book series?
Check it at Amazon HERE!

domingo, 14 de enero de 2018

An interesting intake I'm getting from reviews

We all formulate something different after reading a book and what one person might consider to be a masterpiece, another review will call it rubbish. Just look at Tolkien novels and you will find plenty of 1 star reviews claiming the books wander around too much with flowery writing. I myself didn't like the filler Tom Bombadil chapter in The Fellowship of the Ring but I otherwise enjoyed the book.

While I loved reading Harry Potter (I chugged the 7th novel in less than 11 hours of binge reading which merely proves how good the book was), I detested the 5th novel and was overly generous by granting it a 3 star rating on Goodreads (mainly because I loved Dolores's character). The 5th novel suffered from too much filler, too much Harry's internal ramblings regarding Snape's private occlumency classes and a painfully slow pace. The book could have easily been a 4 star read if an editor had given J.K. a candid chat claiming that she needed to trim the fat a little bit.

I've reviewed a lot of books and some authors were surprised by some of the things I observed. It's also one of the reasons why authors really, really love getting reviews for their books. They not only get more visibility (Amazon starts granting you serious marketing power if your book has at least 50 legit reviews and the all mighty Bookbub site *might* accept your petition for a 1 day promo if you have a minimum of 100 Amazon reviews).

While getting a Bookbub deal is a huge (and a mightily worthwhile bang for your buck marketing feat), reviewers might see something else about the story that you haven't.

I have gotten some comparisons of my novel with Tolkien. And it's not because of the prose (I doubt I could ever reach Tolkien level), but more because of how they compare Spaulding to Frodo whose life turns upside down when they are dragged on an unwanted adventure that changes them due to something that shows up on their doorstep on the first chapter.

So far I have gotten two reviews that actually enjoy the breeze of fresh air that the child protagonists have no mystical prophecy or that they are innately special. For most of the first book, Richard and Nelida are just ordinary humans without any innate talent. Richard eventually learns how to summon his phantom beast but the endless hurdles thrown into the plot make it impossible for him to further his training. Nelida is on a separate realm of her own between being completely incompetant and the most terrifying mage in the entire story. Herb on the other hand shows enthusiasm but he never learns sorcery despite his best efforts.

The subsequent novels are vastly different in the sense that the children grow older and Spaulding becomes a more constant character in the story.

I also find it to be interesting that Froylan is universally detested. He's a main character that appears in every novel that is a mixture between awesome, terrifying, hateful and yet even funny at times.

Even though my book was killed off in the first round of the SPFBO contest and I currently don't have any other novels that could qualify for the 2018 contest (sequel novels don't qualify and I only have a few partially written novellas), I have found a lot of new books that I have attempted to read in my spare time, enjoyed hanging around in the sidelines of some discussion boards and surprisingly had my book chosen to be read and reviewed by a highly respected fantasy blogger. To get my book reviewed by two of the top fantasy blogs with mostly positive comments is thrilling.

I hope more readers that are into Young Adult will take a look at my work and see if the mostly positive feedback I've gotten so far is merited. ;)

My book on Goodreads

martes, 9 de enero de 2018

One easy way to promote your books

I'm lazy, I know.

Putting that aside, ever since I created a mailing list, I am quite surprised that I have subscribers in some rather unusual countries such as South Africa, Nigeria, Indonesia, The Phillipines and even Botswana of all places!

Everytime I send a letter to my growing list, at least one of the South African subscribers find the time to read them.

Now, I seldom sell books outside of the US but I do have some Latin American readers that oddly enough prefer to read the original English version of my novel. I still don't regret spending a grueling month translating my own novel to Spanish. Getting a 97,000 word novel translated to another language costs quite a lot of money (it's a tiresome task) and then the translator rightfully has a voice in the royalty rights. Either you pay them a hefty sum for a one time offer or enter a multi year contract where the translator gets a cut of the royalties and then after the set amount of years, the royalties fully return to you. I also like the fact that the translated book was also copyrighted in Mexico. Better safe than sorry.

Believe it or not, I have the second novel with a rough translation, but I haven't finished that task so therefore it isn't copyrighted and much less published. I haven't really gotten to that task mainly due to time constraints.

Now, indie authors don't typically have a huge budget and you usually learn as you go while you stumble... a lot.

One thing that many indie authors don't know when they publish on Kindle Amazon is that they can get an Author webpage that shows a kitchy photo, a short bio and at least the US site allowed you to sync your blog. You can then glue all of your books in one place and make it easier for customers to locate you. The process only takes a few minutes and even if you don't know how many readers you'll reach with it, it doesn't hurt to do so either.

One thing I have been stalling for a long time and I have *finally* done is to open an Author Central for the other Amazon country stores that include the service: UK, Germany, France and Japan. I have some experience editing web search databases and being requested to help with foreign language categories so I didn't find the task of setting up my bio, books and photo on the German and French sites to be hard at all.

Amazon Japan asked me to create a new Amazon account. I had a few extra hurdles to jump, but at the end my novels finally have a little bit of a Japanese presence. I always find it curious that I don't have Japanese fans despite the fact that I initially got a lot of the ideas of my book when I visited Nara which is a 40 minute train trip from Osaka. Maybe pasting a face next to the novels will change that.

My Amazon Author Central site in Japanese

Now, I know that China is the second largest reading market in the world after the US. At 1 billion citizens, that's a huge untouched market. The issue of course is that most Chinese don't speak English and I don't speak Mandarin.

There is an interesting website that skips the book agent madia called Fiberead that offers a translation of your novel and pitches it to Chinese publishers. They retain 70% of the royalties but in exhcnage, they pitch your book to a market that more than likely you wouldn't have even bothered to tap anyways due to the cultural and language barrier. I haven't requested them to check my books to see if they are willing to give it a go (mainly because of the scant amount of Amazon reviews. If I had at least 20 reviews, that would give me some serious street cred to give this a shot).

However, if you are already an author that is starting to have a real following, you should give this website a shot. I haven't checked their site for over a year, but they commented once that they were thinking about offering someday a similar service for the Japanese market. Now, the idea of having my novels in Japanese sould sound really slick and definitely sweet.

If you are curious, just check the website below and give it a shot!

Click here to visit Fiberread


Before I leave, I wonder if there is a similar service for other major languages such as German, French or Hindi...

martes, 2 de enero de 2018

Tameer, the ignored guard

I feel pleased today, I managed to finish a chapter that I began to write two days ago and logged a whopping 6000 words into the 7th novel.

I had wanted to write a chapter about Tameer for a long time and finally finished the job. It was fun to explore him from before he became a guard and how he quickly formed a strong friendship with Froylan despite being the reason why Froylan was arrested and forced to join the guard in the first place.

Unfortunately I can't upload the sneak peek of this chapter to Wattpad because I'm doing my usual antics of writing the chapters in disorder. However I'm certain that you'll enjoy reading this fun chapter just as much as how I felt when I wrote it.

Keep on supporting my work and if you have a chance, don't forget to review it on Amazon and Goodreads and spreading the word!

sábado, 30 de diciembre de 2017

Breathing some life into the 7th novel

This post will be real quick. It has been a tireless work that hasn't fully seen the light of day, the book that has taken me the longest amount of time to write (and at currently 143,000 words give or take, my longest book of the series). I was expecting to finish it a year ago and then things simply went to hell.

I hadn't even dabbled on more chapters until as recently as last August, but I actually wrote 1 chapter a while ago. At around 3500 words, I'm still missing the ending of this chapter, but I am pleased with it because it enters the mind of a recurrent supporting character that is always present in each novel but who never gets any real attention. Lord Tameer is present in every novel in a greater or lesser amount of detail (well, the second book is sort of cheating because his name is only briefly mentioned but at least he makes a lasting impression throught the entire series), but we never really get to know him.

He's Froylan's right hand, always keeping the shifts in the capital in order and snooping on the guards that skip their duties. Appearing in the final third of the first novel, we instantly know that he is an earth mage that summons a sort of anteater beast called a Yerjaha although it isn't until the third novel that he seems to take a more prominent role.

Appointed as a captain of the guard that works directly under Froylan's command, he has been barred from the highly coveted Senior guard status (with all of the political power that entails) and has secretly held a bit of a grudge against Spaulding for it because the motive seems to be merely personal for no justifiable reason.

We haven't been able to see him that much in real combat, he usually appears as someone that remains far from the frontline. His participation in the battle during the 5th novel is unknown although it's highly likely he fought in the battlefield because he was sent to assist Senior Lord Eiram in Ayrtain. With a haughty personality, he both alienates characters and yet gains the respect of others. Damantin seems to appreciate him in the 7th novel.

Froylan hints in the 5th novel that a ranger managed to pinpoint his identity and this chapter finally reveals that Tameer is the one that not only recalled his old wanted poster, but he managed to miraculously subdue him and survived unscathed.

An important sidekick that finally gets a brief chance to shine, I had a lot of fun writing this chapter. I'm still missing a lot of chapters, but I feel glad that at least I managed to behead one head of this hydra. Lets see how long it will take before I manage to write another portion of this tale and hopefully finish it... someday.

domingo, 17 de diciembre de 2017

A few thoughts about Belize

I just returned from another brief yet amazing trip abroad. It might sound puny to people that live in Europe where multiple countries within the free Schengen zone are just a short train ride away, but I live in a region of the world where countries are somewhat large and traveling abroad can be kind of expensive.

I've been counting the countries and now I have seen 8 of them. Wow, just, wow. I still wished they stamped my passport in Lima to be able to brag I went to Peru last year, but they didn't do it because I was simply in a transit flight to Chile. Too bad.

So, what is Belize like? It's a pretty cool country and it wasn't how I expected it to be. For starters, I never really knew what language I should use when I spoke to people. English? Spanish? It seems like everyone speaks multiple languages among them Kriol, Garifuna, Mandarin and three dieferent Maya languages and most people never really sounded fluent in either one of the two languages I speak.

The other thing that massively surprised me is the beer. It's really, really good. Central America seems to be the mecca of quality beer. Okay, so I have only been to Guatemala and Belize and I'm missing the other 5 countries to make a final judgement, but neither one of these 2 countries has let me down. To curb the heat, they like to serve it ice cold, lovely.

I was shocked that soda was so expensive. They began to tax it in Mexico last year and despite the tax, sodas cost 4 times more in Belize than in Mexico. Even though the Belize dollar is pegged to the USD, you can buy two Belikan beer for 1 tiny soda of Dr. Pepper. It was little surprise that I never saw Belizeans drinking Coca-Cola even though its relatively easy to find. People in the street taco stands either drink instant coffee, beer or fruit juice. The cups of fruit juice costs around 15-20 MXN which is rather similar to Mexico, fresh and they aren't as laden with sugar as the mexican beverages. I was shocked that cans of Arizona tea cost 4 times as much in Belize. I really suspect the country has a hefty tax on insanely sugar ladden beverages. While I did see obesity in Belize, it was around the same percentage of people as I saw in Chile. Mexico keeps on being the king of the obesity epidemic and the bucketload of sugar they chug into every drink can explain part of the cause.

Do they sell tacos in Belize? Yes they do and they don't taste like the stuff in Mexico. They sell arachera sliced beef or pork that is cooked on a large pan with these rather delicious fluffy small tortillas and covered with an exquisite coleslaw and cooked onion topping that has a strong vinegar flavor. It seems like there is a strong Chinese cuisine influence in Belize and as odd as the ingredients sound, the tacos are great. Very different from Mexico. If you are looking for mexican street fare such as nopal, mole, campechanos, adobo, pastor or chorizo, you will not find that here. Maybe in the northern towns of Corozal or Orange Walk you will be luckier, but I stuck to the central region of the country.

To rap it up with the food, I never had a crappy meal in this country. The worst was a slice of cheese pizza that was "okay", something quick to eat. The corn on the cobs they sell on the street look like American cobs but they serve them sort of mexican style with mayo and have a strong habanero flavor mixed with pepper. Despite the golden color, the corn tasted a lot like mexican white corn. Rather tasty and the price was comparable to Mexico. I loved eating Cassava chips which I have never seen in Mexico. There are no 7-Eleven or Oxxo type convenience stores, all of the small supermarkets are family owned and almost unanimously run by Chinese families. It was a bit of a strange sight for me.

I couldn't buy a lot of gifts because the prices were hurtfully expensive here. It seems like an effect of the USD. I only bought a few small gifts for my coworkers and a strange looking chandelier for myself. I kept an awesome Belikan drink coaster for myself. Really kitchy.

Mayan pyramids?
Belize indeed has pyramids and they are spectacular. I only went to 2 of the 16 well established sites (Cahal Pech and Xunantunich) and the entry fee was a very reasonable 100 MXN for each park. They were well maintained and the sites were restored with US foreign aid assistance which I find to be really nice. I got horrible vertigo when I stood at the top of El Castillo but I couldn't see the nearby El Naranjo pyramid in the Guatemalan border because the place is oddly very hilly.

I was in the country for a scant 6 days and only got a glimpse of Orange Walk, Belmopan and Corozal but I enjoyed my trip. I mostly stuck to Caye Caulker and San Ignacio which were both great small towns.

Happy travels!