Sunday, July 31, 2011

My Top 5 Urban Fantasy Picks for August

Hi, writer friends! As many of you know, I've started a monthly urban fantasy newsletter. One of the features is a listing of lots of cool new releases for the month. This month, there are a whopping 48 new urban fantasy releases on my list. And that was with weeding out the heavy paranormal romance and subgenres like steampunk ('cause otherwise my list would be even more enormous). So, I thought I'd list my top five picks here, and if you want to see the rest, click here to sign up for my newsletter. Such a tease, right?

Not in any particular order:

Soul Thief - 8/30/11

Seventeen-year-old Riley has about had it up to here. After the devastating battle at the Tabernacle, trappers are dead and injured, her boyfriend Simon is gravely injured, and now her beloved late father’s been illegally poached from his grave by a very powerful necromancer. As if that’s not enough, there's Ori, one sizzling hot freelance demon hunter who’s made himself Riley’s unofficial body guard, and Beck, a super over-protective “friend” who acts more like a grouchy granddad. With all the hassles, Riley’s almost ready to leave Atlanta altogether.

But as Atlanta’s demon count increases, the Vatican finally sends its own Demon Hunters to take care of the city’s “little” problem, and pandemonium breaks loose. Only Riley knows that she might be the center of Hell’s attention: an extremely powerful Grade 5 demon is stalking her, and her luck can't last forever…

Mayan December - 8/16/11

Dr. Alice Cameron is a famous scientist - an archeoastronomer - devoted to studying ancient Mayan culture. The era driving her career has always been the end of the Mayan baktun, so she's on the Yucatan Peninsula in December 2012 with her daughter Nixie...and so are fellow serious scholars, plenty of end-of-the-world crazies, and - at an international summit - the President of the United States and other heads of state. When Nixie disappears into the past in the Mayan jungle, rationality and mysticism, the present and the past start merging.

Meanwhile, Alice is drawn into the machinations of statecraft by an old friend. A savvy scientist, a handsome dreadlocked time-traveler, an ancient shaman, a noble Mayan couple, a computer nerd, and an 11-year old traverse the past and present in a search for the meaning of life and a way to save two worlds.

With Fate Conspire - 8/30/11

Seven years ago, Eliza's childhood sweetheart vanished from the streets of Whitechapel. No one believed her when she told them that he was stolen away by the faeries.

But she hasn't given up the search. It will lead her across London and into the hidden palace that gives refuge to faeries in the mortal world. That refuge is now crumbling, broken by the iron of the underground railway, and the resulting chaos spills over to the streets above.

Three centuries of the Onyx Court are about to come to an end. Without the palace's protection, the fae have little choice but to flee. Those who stay have one goal: to find safety in a city that does not welcome them. But what price will the mortals of London pay for that safety?

Always a Witch - 8/1/11 

Since the gripping conclusion of Once a Witch, Tamsin Greene has been haunted by her grandmother’s prophecy that she will soon be forced to make a crucial decision—one so terrible that it could harm her family forever. When she discovers that her enemy, Alistair Knight, went back in time to Victorian-era New York in order to destroy her family, Tamsin is forced to follow him into the past.

Stranded all alone in the nineteenth century, Tamsin soon finds herself disguised as a lady’s maid in the terrifying mansion of the evil Knight family, avoiding the watchful eye of the vicious matron, La Spider, and fending off the advances of Liam Knight. As time runs out, both families square off in a thrilling display of magic. And to her horror, Tamsin finally understands the nature of her fateful choice.

Fury - 8/30/11

It’s winter break in Ascension, Maine. The snow is falling and everything looks pristine and peaceful. But not all is as it seems...

Between cozy traditions and parties with her friends, Emily loves the holidays. And this year’s even better--the guy she’s been into for months is finally noticing her. But Em knows if she starts things with him, there’s no turning back. Because his girlfriend is Em’s best friend.

On the other side of town, Chase is having problems of his own. The stress of his home life is starting to take its toll, and his social life is unraveling. But that’s nothing compared to what’s really haunting him. Chase has done something cruel...something the perfect guy he pretends to be would never do. And it’s only a matter of time before he’s exposed.

In Ascension, mistakes can be deadly. And three girls—three beautiful, mysterious girls—are here to choose who will pay.

So, what about you guys? Any books you're dying to read, urban fantasy or others?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Dramatic Death Song for Borders

Oh, Borders, how I loved to walk in your gigantic temple of books

Oh, Borders, how I was super addicted to the chocolate chip cookies in your café

Oh, Borders, how I loved to sip a hot caffeinated beverage and sit in the presence of other book lovers

Oh, Borders, how I knew the faces of so many staff and wonder what they’re going to do now

I do not like Books a Million. I do like B&N, but it’s all the damn way on the other side of town.

How could you leave us like this Borders?

Where will I go now to sit with other book lovers and smell the delicious inky paper smell of books? Real books, not Nooks?

Where will I go to look at all the shiny new releases?

Where will I go to feed my son’s addiction to those darn cat warrior books that he snarfs through in a week?

Where am I going to go to fantasize about my future book signings and being the local literary starlet?

I guess all the Borders lovers are SOL, up a river without an oar, up against a vampire without some garlic.

But we will remember you, Borders. We will declare, e-books are cool, but I want my freaking bookstores, too!!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Final Week of GUTGAA Blogfest! First 200 Words Critique!

Hi, writer friends! Last week of Deana Barnhart's blogfest! I am not officially participating in the contest because my novel is for adults, but I wanted to put up my pages for critique nonetheless. Also, if you missed me and fellow blogfester Michelle Fayard's post on using Amazon to boost your book sales, check it out now!

Okay, so here's the scoop with my first 200. My novel, Countless, starts with sort of a prologue. And further, the prologue is written from the perspective of my villain, not my MC. I know agents typically don't like prologues, however, this opening event really and truly is the catalyst for the whole book. And, my MC is not aware that it's happened, which is also vital to the whole book. So, what I decided to do was post the first 200 from this prologue, and also the first 200 from the next chapter, which is written from my MC's perspective. Please pick which one you'd like to take a stab at and critique away! And if you have any thoughts on the whole 'to prologue or not to prologue', please share!

Here goes:

Prologue - First 200

He had found his prey at last. From across the room he took in every detail of her face, though he knew it well. The full lips, thin nose, and most of all the deep green eyes. Green like a highland meadow or a piece of lustrous sea glass. His eyes traced the moon-pale curve of her calves, down to her stilettos. She had raven hair this time.

One hundred and ninety-four years had passed since he’d last seen her. That time when he’d killed her was different than the times before. He’d made it so when she came back, she wouldn’t remember a thing. Their times together, the power they’d shared, the life they’d almost had. She’d chosen another path. Taken pity on humanity, and decided she wouldn’t go through with their plan. And worse, she’d fallen in love with one of them.

So now, as he watched her, he took a moment to appreciate the beauty of it. She stood before him, waiting for the elevator, completely oblivious to the fact that she was being hunted. Totally unaware that though she may look human, as he did, she was not. And this time, there would be no temporary death.
Chapter One - First 200
The day wasn’t going as planned.

First, her alarm hadn’t gone off and she’d nearly been late for work. Then the copy shop screwed up the prints for her big presentation. And now, the cabbie had dropped her off at the wrong address, except of course she didn’t realize it until he’d already pulled away from the curb.

Eva tried to chase him down, but her only reward was a cloud of exhaust and a close encounter with the sidewalk as her Gucci heels wobbled beneath her. She let out a groan as her gaze traveled up and down Lexington Avenue, searching addresses. She’d been told the gallery was near Gramercy Park, just south of East 22nd. Flipping black curls behind her shoulder, her eyes scanned the buildings around her again. Shit. Where is this place?

After a quick glance at her phone confirmed how late she was running, she decided to stop and ask for directions. To her right she saw a bar named The Lunar Landing. As she reached for the door, her eyes moved over the windows spanning the front, curtains covering the lower half so she couldn’t quite see in. This better not be some sort of strip joint.

 And there it is! It will probably take me a few days to hop around to everyone. Good luck to everyone entering the contest!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Using Amazon to Optimize Book Sales: Guest Post with Michelle Fayard

Hello, writer friends! As promised, Michelle Fayard and I have collaborated on something fun for you! It stemmed from week one of Deana Barnhart's blogfest, the subject of which was to ask your burning questions about writing. For my blogfest post, I asked readers to share the most successful marketing tips they'd implemented or seen other writers implement. Michelle's comment was so detailed and mentioned several things I'd never even heard of! I asked her for more details, and after a string of discussions, we decided to share with all of our writer friends!

I strongly encourage you to check out and follow Michelle's blog. She is a wonderfully supportive blog friend full of great insights (as you'll see below)! Michelle and I have recreated the course of our conversation in a question and answer format. Enjoy!

Alexia: What is “tagging” on Amazon, and what should authors try to get their readers to do to increase the success of this tool?

Michelle: Tags are keywords readers are likely to use when searching for a book, similar to the label feature of Blogger. Once you set up tags for your book, ask others to tag it with that same keywords, because the more people that do so, the higher up your book will show in a search.

Alexia: How many reviews should an author attempt to get on Amazon as soon as their book is available? What is the benefit of this? What other popular sites allow readers to post book reviews?

Michelle: I recommend authors get at least 10 reviews, each about 75 to 300 words long. According to Berrett-Koehler Publishers, customer reviews are the single most effective tool for selling books on Amazon, as they help potential customers decide if the title is a fit for them. If you ask your contacts to post a review on Amazon, ask if they’d mind posting the same review on Barnes and Noble and Goodreads as well, for example.

Alexia: What is Author Central? What about an Amazon Connect blog?

Michelle: Author Central is a place where you can upload your photo, bio—even videos. Another great thing about Author Central is you can start posting content to your author page as soon as your book is listed on Amazon, which usually is several months before it ships.

Amazon Connect is the former name of a feature that allows authors to tie in a blog to their book listings, either writing them directly from Amazon Connect, the recommended way, or using an RSS feed to pull content in from an existing blog. The great thing is you don’t need to post as often on your Amazon blog as you would a “regular” one; about once a quarter, let your readers know about your book’s highlights and milestones. Some things to get out there include press mentions, reviews and any book appearances you’ll be making. You also can direct readers to your Web site. Some other cool things you can do include enrolling your title in Search Inside the Book and linking to Amazon’s Author Pages from your own Web site. As of May 26, Amazon Connect became part of Author Central.

Having an Amazon blog has another advantage for when your subsequent books come, as you can use it to announce your next novel to your current readers and increase pre-orders, since the blog shows up on all your books’ pages.

Alexia: How does an author coordinate a “bestseller campaign?”

Michelle: What’s great about a pre-order campaign—which is where you do advance promotion to build up customer orders for your book before it’s available on Amazon—is the orders will ship at the same time, increasing your sales rank for that day. It also helps get word of mouth and customer reviews happening sooner. Another advantage about driving traffic to Amazon’s site is the more sales Amazon has on a book, the more its search engines will recommend that title to others and the more it will pop up as a book bought by others.

Similarly, you can do a bestseller campaign, so your Amazon sales rank will be in the top 100 bestselling books for that day. If anything, it inspires you to let a lot of people know about your book in a concentrated time frame. What other authors have done is offer a free gift customers can receive if they buy your book from Amazon on a particular day. The gift can be something readers can download from your Web site or blog. You also can do this as part of your pre-order campaign.

Thank you very much for inviting me to share these tips with your followers, Alexia. Yours is one of the best blogging sites out there, because of features such as your Awesome Books page and your new monthly newsletter.

Michelle, thanks so much for visiting my blog today!! You are a fountain of knowledge!

So, writer friends, do you have any Amazon secrets to share? Or other marketing tips?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Gearin' up to Get An Agent Blogfest - Queries!

Hello, fellow blogfesters and writer friends! Hope everyone is having a great weekend. I saw Deathly Hallows Part 2, and it was awesome!!

So, week three of Deana Barnhart's blogfest is pretty straightforward - post your query and let everyone critique it! Then reciprocate for them. So, here's the query I'm currently using. Please critique away!

(Mr./Ms. Last Name of Agent),

I am seeking representation for my urban fantasy novel, Countless.

Finding out she’s a witch is pretty much a complete mind blow for Eva Westvale. After all, she was just a normal Manhattanite moving up the corporate ladder and planning her wedding to her college sweetheart.

And discovering she’s lived countless lifetimes, hunted through the centuries by a sorcerer intent on possessing her soul? The icing on her perfect paranormal cake.

Now all she has to do is evade the cloaked figure that seems to show up everywhere, avoid becoming too physically entangled with the sexy shapeshifter who’s decided to help her, escape the rival shifters she’s pissed off, fit in with the other witches, learn coven politics – oh, and regain a millennia worth of memory and power so she can stay alive, soul intact.

Countless is complete at 75,000 words. Per your submission guidelines, I've included (sample pages, synopsis, whatever they've asked for on their website). I appreciate your time and consideration.


Alexia A. Chamberlynn
(phone number)
(web address)

Whatcha think? I'll be hopping around over the next couple days to provide feedback on everyone else's.
Also, mark this date on your calendar: July 21st. On that lovely day, Michelle Fayard is doing a guest post on my blog about self promotion for authors! She's got some great tips to share, so stop on by!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Contest Winners!

Hello, writer friends!! I'm back from a relaxing weekend at the beach. Man, turning twenty-one sure feels great ; ~) Snicker.

SOOO! The winners of my contest to celebrate my Urban Fantasy newsletter are Jennifer Hillier and Deana Barnhart!! Ladies, you get a choice of either a $15.00 Amazon gift card or two urban fantasy new releases (Grave Dance by Kalayna Price and Viper Moon by Lee Roland). I'll email you shortly!

I used to generate the winners of my contest. They use atmospheric noise to generate true randomness (as opposed to pseudo-random algorithms), and that just sounds really cool so I thought I'd share.

And, since atmospheric noise is on my side and you know my contest results are truly random, we can all indulge in a giggle when I share these pics from my trip (atmospheric noise apparently has a sense of humor and great coincidence):
Creep getting a tan in Florida.

Me, not getting a tan (darn Irish blood).

Random sunset pic I took that I'm pretty proud of.

Thanks to everyone who signed up for the newsletter and entered the contest! I hope everyone is enjoying their week. Stay tuned for a joint collaboration between me and Michelle Fayard!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Sun, Sand, Water and Margaritas

With my birthday coming up on Tuesday, I'm off to the beach for a girl's weekend. I'll be dropping off the net until Wednesday. But before I leave, here are a few fun things that will hopefully entertain you a bit this weekend:

1) A web link to my new Urban Fantasy newsletter. Check it out! I'd love your feedback! And, I'm having a giveaway to celebrate the launch of the newsletter, so if you want to enter, click here!

Oh, and for all the lovely folks who are already signed up to receive it via email, thank you so much! I heart you!

2) A really awesome online writing resource! The Gatekeepers Post. Lots of great posts by authors, agents, and publishers. Sections on book reviews, book events, writing jobs, book clubs, books by ethnic authors. Head over and rock out!

3) Well, this is more of a tease. Me and Michelle Fayard are cooking up something cool that we'll talk about next week. Check back for the details! And if you haven't met Michelle yet, pop over and say hello! She's a great blog friend!

Well, that's it for now, writer friends. Have a terrific weekend!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

CREEP Release Day!!

For the blogfest post, scroll down a pinch...

Today CREEP is available from Simon & Schuster! Congrats Jennifer!

Here's a little teaser:

Dr. Sheila Tao is a professor of psychology. An expert in human behaviour. And when she began an affair with sexy, charming graduate student Ethan Wolfe, she knew she was playing with fire. Consumed by lust when they were together, desolate and depressed when they weren't, she realizes the three-month fling with her teaching assistant has to end. After all, she's engaged to a kind and loving investment banker who adores her, and her life is about to change for the better. But when she attempts to cut the affair dead in its tracks, Ethan Wolfe won't let her walk away.

Ethan has plans for Sheila, plans that involve posting a sex tape that would surely get her fired and destroy her prestigious career. Plans to make her pay for rejecting him. And as she attempts to counter his every threatening move without her colleagues or her fiancĂ© discovering her most intimate secrets, a shattering crime rocks Puget Sound State University: a female student, a star athlete, is found stabbed to death. Someone is raising the stakes of violence, sex, and blackmail . . . and before she knows it, Sheila is caught in a terrifying cat-and-mouse game with the lover she couldn't resist — who is now the monster who won't let her go.

Click HERE to buy CREEP on Amazon. Or just wander down to your local bookstore!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Gearin' Up To Get An Agent Blogfest!

I'm very excited to be a part of Deana Barnhart's blogfest, which is being held over a period of four weeks! The subject of week one is: what are your burning questions about writing?

Here are mine:

1) Has anyone ever been offered agent representation or publication, but declined it? Why?

2) What are the most successful and/or unique promotional techniques you've implemented or heard of another author implementing?

I intend to visit all of the participant's blogs, but I'm out of town on the 4th and back to work on the 5th, so I'll probably be hopping Tuesday and Wednesday night. I look forward to chatting with old blog friends and meeting new ones!

Also, I'm having a book giveaway to celebrate my new Urban Fantasy newsletter! Click here to enter!