Monday, June 30, 2014

Back to the beginning

Photo via NewsbiePix (creative commons)
The book launch tour comes to an end at the blog where it all began two weeks ago.

It’s been a whirlwind—well, a virtual one, anyway. Keeping up with the daily posts, as 15 different bloggers posted excerpts from the book, checking the page for the comments and entries to the giveaway.

I have said it before, but I will repeat: thank you all for your support—all the busy people who posted the excerpts, left comments and sent encouragement.

Now, to be completely honest, the pick-up on the giveaway contest wasn’t what I hoped it would be. While I appreciate those who did leave comments, there were not many of you.

So, here’s one more chance at winning a signed paperback. All you have to do is visit the blogs who participated in the tour, scroll to the end of the excerpt, past the blurb about the book, past my brief biographical note, and you’ll find a one-word clue. Write it down. Then go to the next blog on the tour and collect the clue there.

When you have all 15, unscramble them into a sentence. Leave the sentence in the Comments section below, and make sure you sign in so that I know who you are. I’ll draw the winner’s name from a hat (or maybe a mug or a bowl) and send a signed copy of the paperback PLUS a $50 Amazon gift card.

And tell your friends about it!

The blogs

Dawn Torrens’ My Books& I… 

Gary Henry’s Honest Indie

Cinta Garcia de la Rosa’s Indie Authors You Want to Read

Frederick Lee Brooke’s Author Unplugged

RS Guthrie’s Rob onWriting

Rebekah Lynn’s Books blog

Michael Lorde’s Fantastical Reads

BestSelling Reads’ Focus Friday

Wodke Hawkinson’s Find a Good Book to Read blog

Michelle Chiapetta’s Chipper Muse

Gae-Lynn Woods’ TheBig Heat

Good luck!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Hand me my sword! A female writer’s thoughts on writing fantasy

Guest post by author M.A. Chiappetta

If you look at the list of fantasy and science fiction authors from the past 50 to 75 years, a majority of those names belong to men. Take, for example, NPR’s list of Top 100 SFF books—85 of those books were written by men. 85 percent!

As you can guess, being a female writer in a world once dominated by men is sometimes a strange place to be. But I wouldn’t change it for anything. I love being a woman who writes fantasy. And that will never change. It doesn’t matter if it’s hard.

You see, the realm of speculative fiction—science fiction, fantasy, horror, magical realism—is filled with possibilities. It’s a place where magic is real…where you can fly to the moon or Mars. Real-life boundaries like the law of gravity can be bent, changed, or defied. Anything is possible.

I love that!

As a child, I fell in love with fantasy (and to a lesser degree, science fiction)—not only because it introduced me to a view of the world as more wondrous than everyday reality, but also because it reminded me that despite appearances, anyone could end up a hero. You could start out as a poor assistant pig-keeper, yet you could grow up to be High King of Prydain. You could begin as an orphaned girl struggling just to stay alive and end up a dragonrider and Weyrwoman.

Who wouldn’t want that?

And so, I write fantasy now because I remember the enchantment of believing that I could not only achieve great things, but that I could be heroic doing it. I could do something good in a world that is often filled with bad things. That’s a message I believe in sharing.

I do this knowing that there are a lot of people in the world who have problems with women. There is still a significant portion of the reading audience that says: “A woman wrote that? Well, I won’t buy it then. I won’t like it.” It’s a prejudice that doesn’t make a lot of sense. But it exists.

What, some women disagree with the
functionality of a chainmail bikini?
On top of that, there are some ugly stereotypes in the fantasy genre. There’s the “helpless pretty face”—the woman who can’t rescue herself because rescuing is a man’s work. There’s the Disney princess—whose life doesn’t have meaning unless there’s a Prince Charming (a man) around. There’s the chick in chainmail—the woman who wields a sword but does so in a metal bikini because she’s nothing more than eye candy. And there’s the “Strong Female Protagonist”—the girl who is so strong that she never needs anyone’s help.

The truth is that people­ are much more complicated than any of those stereotypes.

One of my goals as a writer is to make sure that all the characters in my stories—male, female, alien, dragon, other—all reflect the complicated traits that make people both maddening and lovable. It’s not easy to create characters who defy stereotypes. But I’m committed to making my character complex, because I think my readers deserve it. And frankly, so do my characters!

So, every day, I approach my writing boldly. I wield my pen as if it were a sword, determined to cut through the stereotypes and prejudices…as well as the self-doubts that plague all artists…and I go forth to write.

It’s a hero’s job, in its own way. And I’m glad to do it.

M.A. Chiappetta is a fantasy writer, copywriter, educator, and blogger with past publications in Blue ShiftScience Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat, and Mensa Bulletin. Her most recent short stories are found in the anthology, Dark and Dangerous Things II, available on Amazon. She shares thoughts on writing at Purple Ink Writers and muses on creativity, SFF, laughter, God, and geekdom at The Chipper Muse. You can also find her on Twitter as @chippermuse.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Thanks for the support

Thank you, readers and Internet friends, for all the support through the publishing and launch of my third book, Army of Worn Soles.

Publishing any book is an intense and drawn-out process—a lot of work over a long period. As I said in my post of June 16, I did not accomplish this on my own. First credit has to go to the protagonist and subject of the book, the man who lived the story and somehow survived Operation Barbarossa, scorched earth, capture and starvation, my father-in-law, Maurice Bury. Without his surviving, and later cooperating with me, this book simply would not have happened.

I have to thank my beta-readers for their insight: Literary Gary Henry, Action-writer Alan McDermott and Flawless Frederick Lee Brooke.

Rockin’ Rebecca Tsaros Dickson, as I said, did a fantastic job of bringing out the best I can do as an editor.

I asked a number of people to do advance reviews, and they responded not just with a blurb, but also with suggestions that really improved the book:
Thanks to all the people who posted reviews on Goodreads and Amazon:

And then all the bloggers who agreed to host the cover reveal and/or an excerpt:

Let’s not forget my family: my beautiful and ever-supportive wife, Roxanne, for not only filling in some critical information about her father, but also putting up with me over these past months when I’ve been sitting at my computer, researching or writing or editing or some damn thing instead of fixing things around the house; and my mighty sons, Awesome Evan and Super Nicolas, for enduring their dad’s weirdness.

Oh, yeah, and the won't let me leave out the cats. So thanks, Simba, for howling all morning while I try to write, and Cloudy, for putting your fluffy tail in front of the computer screen when I'm trying to type something. I don't know where I'd be without you.

I’m grateful to you all.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Box 'o' books launch: The HOT BOX launch tour

Sizzling Thriller Hot Box Release:


Get yours today

What's in the Hot Box:

Steven Bannister – Fade to Black
John Paul Davis – The Cortes Enigma 
C R Hiatt – Sanctioned Kill 
David Leadbeater – The Razor’s Edge 
Andy Lucas – Race Amazon 
Karen Perkins – Dead Reckoning 
C K Raggio – Heron Park 
Mike Wells – Wild Child

Steven BannisterFade to BlackAllie St Clair is young and brilliant and today she’s been promoted to Detective Chief Inspector at New Scotland Yard. But the time for celebration is short. Something is wrong in rain-swept London. Very wrong.
John Paul Davis—The Cortes Enigma1581: It appeared in the west as the sun was setting, a distant silhouette like a fire on the water. Twelve hours later it appeared again, this time much closer to the mainland . . . Who was on board or where they came from remained a mystery . . . No trace of the vessel was ever found . . .

C R Hiatt – Sanctioned Kill - Destined for Danger. Sanctioned to Kill.  Hot on the trail of an international weapons ring, covert agent Kyra Ray finds herself caught in the cross-hairs of a ruthless arms dealer in the perilous mountains of war-torn Afghanistan. Closing in, the mission takes an unexpected and near-deadly turn in the high-stakes drama of New York City, where Kyra is mysteriously spared by an assassin sent to kill her. Retrained as an assassin and given strict orders to take him down, Kyra becomes trapped in a game of cat-and-mouse that will put her life on the line and her directive to the test—her sanction to kill.
David Leadbeater—The Razor’s Edge—Trent, Silk and Radford are the Razor’s Edge and the best spy team in the business – until the government they toiled, served and bled for, disavowed them.

Andy LucasRace AmazonJames Pace, ex-RAF helicopter pilot and amateur cameraman, is still trying to figure out what to do with the rest of his life when a child’s bullet nearly kills him.

Karen PerkinsDead ReckoningA historical adventure of piracy, love and revenge in the Caribbean in the seventeenth century.

C K RaggioHeron ParkA small Long Island town erupts in a panic when a woman and her dog are found savagely murdered on a popular hiking trail.

Mike WellsWild ChildA fast, suspenseful thriller with an ending that you’ll never see coming.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

It's launch day today

Image courtesy SpaceX
Army of Worn Soles, my third book, launches officially today.

It’s exclusively on Amazon, at least for three months, allowing me to take advantage of the marketing and promotional tools available through the Kindle Select program.

Go to Amazon right now for a look inside (or to buy it if you can't wait)
And in celebration of the launch, I’m putting my previous books, The Bones of the Earth and One Shade of Red, on sale for just 99 cents each on all channels, all week long:

What’s it about?

Ukraine, 1941
A Canadian is drafted into the Soviet Red Army, just in time to be thrown against Nazi Germany's invasion. Caught in the vise of the Nazi and Communist forces, Maurice Bury concentrates on keeping his men alive as they retreat across Ukraine from the German juggernaut. Now the question is: will they escape from the hell of the POW camp before they starve to death?

Follow the tour and win a signed paperback

Sixteen awesome bloggers are supporting the launch of Army of Worn Soles by posting excerpts. Coming up:

Monday, June 23: Rebekah Lynn’s Books blog
Tuesday, June 24: Michael Lorde’s M.E. Author blog
Wednesday, June 25: BestSelling Reads’ Win-a-Book Wednesday—two chances to win!
Thursday, June 26: Wodke Hawkinson’s Find a Good Book to Read blog
Friday, June 27: Seb Kirby’s New Words for New Times
Saturday, June 28: Michelle Chiapetta’s Chipper Muse
Sunday, June 29: Gae-Lynn Woods’ The Big Heat
Monday, June 30: Back to Written Words for the wrap-up.

Read each blog on its day and collect the clue. Put all the clues together and unscramble them for a chance to win a signed paperback copy.

And if you enter the clue into the comments field in the respective blog, you’re eligible to win a free e-copy. Don’t delay—enter now!

You still have a chance to go back to the previous blogs. For a list, visit my blog post from the start of the tour.

Why June 22?

June 22 is the anniversary of a key event in the book and the life of its protagonist, Maurice Bury. What is it? Well, you’ll just have to read the book to find out.

Get it from Amazon today!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Army of Worn Soles launches this weekend

Image source: Wikipedia
My third book comes out this Sunday, June 22.

A true story told in novel form, it presents the opening of the eastern front of World War II through the eyes of a man who lived through it: my father-in-law, Maurice Bury, a Canadian citizen drafted into the Red Army just in time to fight against Operation Barbarossa.

It’s an important book to me, and I am so gratified for the advance reviews it’s already received. You can see them in a Goodreads group, Army of Worn Soles Army.

To celebrate the launch, I’m putting my earlier books on sale for the first week of Army of Worn Soles’ publication. You can now get The Bones of the Earth and One Shade of Red for just USD $0.99 each from your choice of e-tailer—Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Diesel or iBooks.

And because the solstice is coming, Initiation Rites, the first part of The Bones of the Earth, is free all weekend.

Don’t forget to follow the blog tour

Collect the clues, solve the puzzle and you could win a signed paperback copy (signed by me, that is; sorry if you were hoping for an autograph from a celebrity) and a $50 gift card for Amazon.

How to win:

Where can you find the clues? Follow the trail below. If you’re checking in after one of the dates shown, that means the post is already up.

The tour dates

Sunday, June 15: Dawn Torrens’ My Books & I… blog
Monday, June 16: Gary Henry’s Honest Indie
Tuesday, June 17: David C. Cassidy’s blog
Wednesday, June 18: Cinta Garcia de la Rosa’s Indie Authors You Want to Read
Thursday, June 19: Frederick Lee Brooke’s Author Unplugged
Friday, June 20: RS Guthrie’s Rob on Writing
Saturday, June 21: Writer CR Hiatt’s site
Sunday, June 22: Back here on Written Words 
Monday, June 23: Rebekah Lynn’s Books blog
Tuesday, June 24: Michael Lorde’s M.E. Author blog
Wednesday, June 25: BestSelling Reads’ Win-a-Book Wednesday—two chances to win!
Thursday, June 26: Wodke Hawkinson’s Find a Good Book to Read blog
Friday, June 27: Seb Kirby’s New Words for New Times
Saturday, June 28: Michelle Chiapetta’s Chipper Muse
Sunday, June 29: Gae-Lynn Woods’ The Big Heat
Monday, June 30: Back to Written Words for the wrap-up.

Enter now!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Not self-publishing—independent publishing

Creative Commons
I am not a self-publisher, because I did not publish my books by myself. I was part of a team of talented, dedicated, professional, skilled and very giving people, to whom I am indebted and grateful.

You know by now that my new book, Army of Worn Soles, will publish in e-book form on June 22, 2014—less than a week from the day this post goes up on the blog.

In the past few weeks, I’ve been busy with all sorts of not just last-minute details on the book itself, but also with advance promotion and publicity. I’ve been answering questions, and learning, from those answers. A question that has come up (however, not as frequently as I expected) was about “self publishing.”

I prefer the term “independent publishing,” simply because I think it’s far more accurate. I don’t publish any books by myself.

Publishing any book calls upon a wide range of skills:
  • writing—creating the story or the information for the reader
  • substantive—“story editing,” a review and critique of the overall worth of the manuscript, whether it’s complete, or there’s too much material, and whether the basic ideas make sense
  • copy-editing—ensuring it’s clear, grammatical, logical?
  • proofreading—looking out for spelling, punctuation and grammar mistakes and silly little errors in logic (like setting the opening of a chapter on a spring morning and ending, without indicating any passage of time, with a winter night)
  • design—of the cover as well as the interior
  • layout—setting up the interior according to the design, and making sure that the whole book follows the same design
  • manufacturing—transferring from manuscript to e-book or print format with the highest fidelity to the final manuscript and the highest production quality affordable.
Each of this is a major task requiring specialized knowledge, and no, I don’t attempt it myself. I can do many of them, but not all—not well.

And I have always said, “You can’t edit your own stuff.”

The team

When it comes to publishing my books, I call upon a supportive team. For Army of Worn Soles, that team included:

  • Fred Brooke, Alan McDermott, Russell Blake and Cinta Garcia de la Rosa as pre-readers
  • Rebecca Dickson as my stalwart editor
  • David C. Cassidy as cover designer
  • a large team to help promote the cover and excerpts, whom you are meeting through other posts on this blog.

Army of Worn Soles, like my other books, is a truly collaborative effort.

No, I do not self-publish. Army of Worn Soles, and all books I write, followed a cooperative publishing model, one promoted and supported by Independent Authors International. Like those published by the Big Five commercial publishers, are the result of a team of talented professionals applying developed skills to producing a quality book.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Army of Worn Soles blog tour begins

The true story of a Canadian conscripted into the Soviet Red Army in 1941, Army of Worn Soles is coming out in e-book and print formats on June 22, 2014, the anniversary of the opening of Operation Barbarossa, Hitler’s Germany’s invasion of the USSR.

A memoir in novel form, it’s my third full-length book to be published. As you can imagine, I’m very excited about it. And I’m also thrilled to have enlisted the support of a group of prominent bloggers and wonderful people.

They’re supporting the release with a blog tour that begins one week in advance of the tour and ends one week after. Each one will present a short excerpt from the book.

On the trail of the clues

And if you follow the whole tour, pick up the clues and answer the skill-testing question at the end, I’ll send you a free e-copy of Army of Worn Soles, plus enter you in a draw for a free print copy and a $50 Amazon gift card.
Start checking the blog tour, and follow every day.

The tour dates

The contest

At the end of each excerpt on the tour will be a clue word. String them together then unscramble them to make a coherent message, and you’ll qualify for the Grand Prize: A signed paperback copy plus a $50 Amazon gift certificate. Copy the full answer into the Comments section of this blog. I’ll draw one winner from the correct answers.

Early bird prizes: Enter a comment on each blog on the tour on the day the excerpt goes live, and I’ll enter your name in the draw for one of five signed paperbacks.

Everyone who correctly unscrambles the sentence at the end of the tour will win a free e-copy of Army of Worn Soles, PLUS an e-copy of my first book, The Bones of the Earth.

Save the date in your calendar: visit Dawn’s My Books & I … early on June 15, and keep following the tour!