Sunday, November 25, 2012

Two Precious Reviews


   My mom is pissed. And, believe me, you don’t want to get on her bad side. This feisty eighty-something still has a lot of fire left in her, so you might want to lay low for a while. What’s she up in arms about? Let me give you some background.

   I don’t know if most moms are like this. I know some aren’t, and it’s a shame. But my mom has always been fiercely proud and supportive of her sons. Oh, I don’t mean she thinks we can do no wrong. Growing up, my brother and I got our fair share of whuppin’s, groundings, and other punishments as a result of our indiscretions. And that was fine, as long as it was her or Dad dishing it out. Let someone else accuse us of wrong-doing? Watch out.

   Through the years, anyone who ever uttered a negative word about me has gone on a list. Once you’re on the list, it’s hard to come off. I’m not sure anyone has. There are folks from my grade school days - teachers who gave me bad grades, coaches who didn’t play me, folks who didn’t vote for me when I ran for student council positions… you name it - who are still on that list.

   Just be grateful Mom doesn’t carry a gun.

   Who’s the latest addition to the list? Amazon. What did Amazon do? They pulled a couple of five-star reviews of my two novels from their web site. Yeah, you probably guessed. Mom wrote them.

   Amazon was prompt in replying to her query as to why. They don’t allow reviews by anyone who might have a vested interest in the success of the book. Mom insists she doesn’t, but… she’s my mom, after all.

   And, you know what? I love my mom. And I loved the reviews she wrote, which were up for the world to see for all of 24 hours. And, since I don’t mind anyone seeing a review from someone who probably does have a vested interest in the success of my book, I decided to post them on my blog.

   Here they are…

 


My review of The Draculata Nest, 11/19/2012

5.0 out of 5 stars Very hard to put down!, November 19, 2012
An extremely well-written story that catches the reader's attention on the first page and never lets it go. I am not a follower of this genre but bought the book because I was acquainted with the author and was curious to see what he had produced. Honestly, I found I couldn't put it down. By the time I turned the last page I was completely sold and impatient to read the sequel. The characters are so believable that you genuinely like them or hate them. The conversations - spoken or communicated otherwise - flow so naturally it seems you are actually hearing them. The action scenes are vivid and often nail-biting.
I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good read, but must warn you that the author has no qualms about sacrificing one of the good guys or letting one of the bad guys survive if it moves the plot along.
 
 

My review of The Dragon of Doughton Park, 11/19/2012
5.0 out of 5 stars Even better than the first one!, November 19, 2012

This follow-up to The Draculata Nest is even more exciting as the non-stop action moves from Charlotte and the Uwharries to North Carolina's mountains and the coast. The familiar cast of characters returns in the mortal contest between werewolves and vampires.
All the positives of the Draculata Nest: the excellence of the writing, the pace and tightness of the plot, and the evolution of the characters continue as Clifford Crane gradually accepts his destiny. His old friends from the Uwharrie pack return, as does the evil Roland who has managed to survive the annihilation of his former nest. A number of new characters are introduced; all just as interesting and believable as the ones we met in The Draculata Nest. The scope of action widens to reveal a much larger struggle for control of the planet by forces of good and evil. Again, the final chapter leaves us on the edge of our seats, impatient for the next installment.
I recommend this book to anyone who likes a fast-paced read with great characters and wonderful backgrounds. Those who've hiked the Smokies or sunned on the Outer Banks will probably look around those familiar places with new eyes; those who haven't been there may be curious enough to go.
But a word to the author: will we never be rid of the despicable Danielle?

 
Thanks, Mom. You’re the greatest!
On that note I'll close for now. But remember:
You can purchase my books through the following venues…
The Draculata Nest
The Dragon of Doughton Park
Until next time… Happy Reading!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

My Almost-Live Interview

   Hi, folks. I haven’t posted in a few weeks, and this isn’t a real blog post – you know, one of my usual clever, insightful observations on my life or yours – just an update on what’s going on.
   For those of you who followed my blog tour for the release of The Dragon of Doughton Park, you might remember the stop at Lost In Thought, the one run by author Jessica Turner. We gave away some stuff, which I hope you winners enjoyed, and she presented the new book and links where it could be reviewed and purchased.
   Like the others on the tour, Jessica asked for copies of the books to read and review, and, like most of the others, she found she didn’t have enough time to read both of them before the tour. But last week she posted her review of the first book, The Draculata Nest, and did an interview with the author (me, of course!).
   Most bloggers, when they want to do an author interview, send out a list of questions to the author ahead of time in an email. The author answers the questions, and the blogger posts the answers as an “interview”. Sometimes the questions are tailored to the author’s work, and sometimes they are so generic you get the feeling they sent out a list of questions they keep on file for such occasions.
   Jessica does something different, and it’s really cool. She does an online chat (
Facebook, Google, or Skype) with the author, records the text, then edits it to fit on her blog. The beginning questions are about the author’s work (she’s read the material ahead of time), and they flow from the author’s responses as the interview progresses. It was great fun, I loved it, and I think you’ll like the “live” feel as well. Click the following link to check it out…

                      Lost In Thought Draculata Nest review and interview
   I’ve also been pleased to see that a few reviews and “likes” have started to trickle in for Dragon. I knew I did a better job on this second book, and so far readers agree. Nothing but five stars! Click the following link for the kindle version of the book and scroll down to read the reviews…
                      The Dragon of Doughton Park - scroll down for reviews

   Okay, that’s all for now. But I’ll be back soon. Hey, why don’t you follow my blog so you can get updates and alerts via email? Just hit the Follow button below and follow the instructions.
 
   And remember:
   You can purchase my books through the following venues…
 
The Draculata Nest ----------------------------------------------------
The Dragon of Doughton Park-----------------------
 
Until next time… Happy Reading!
 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

After the Storm - Blog Tour Winners


   Last Sunday, massive storm Hurricane Sandy moved up the Atlantic coast, turned inland on Monday, and wreaked havoc across the northeast United States for two days, causing an estimated $50 billion worth of damage, not counting the loss of human lives. It was such a catastrophic event that the vicious presidential campaign actually toned itself down for a few days (well, for the most part, anyway). Wednesday, folks in the northeast began digging themselves out of the snow, pumping the water out of their homes and businesses, and assessing the damage. Some folks in New Jersey say it will be a year before they’re back on their feet.

   Sandy missed Charlotte almost entirely. I can be thankful for that, but I had my own ‘perfect storm’ going this week, the Blog Tour for the release of The Dragon of Doughton Park. Although on a much smaller scale, my storm lasted five days, and (metaphorically, at least) I am just now digging myself out and assessing the damage.

   Blog Touring is a phenomenon that’s developed only in recent years, yet it is agreed upon as an essential aspect of self-publishing. For those of us who don’t have the advertising budgets of large publishing houses behind us, it is the best way to spread the work about our work.

   Theoretically, blog touring is the virtual equivalent of a face-to-face book signing tour that would be the staple for the release of any well known author’s book to the network of brick-and-mortar stores. And theoretically, it should be even better, because each stop has the potential for reaching hundreds of thousands of potential readers with reviews, interviews, and book-related swag giveaways.

   In reality (for this author, at least), each stop probably reaches ten to twenty potential readers, with further restrictions on prize giveaways (you generally have to have some sort of blogger account to enter) that narrow participation further. I’ve been blog touring sporadically for almost a year, and I couldn’t give any concrete, measureable correlations between the activity and actual sales.

   And, for me, it takes its toll mentally, emotionally, and physically. Each day last week consisted of early morning correspondence and posts of Facebook to announce the daily stop address, a breakfast of coffee before an 8-12 hour work day, followed by an hour or two stop at a coffee shop (for wifi and, of course, more coffee), a nightly un-related meeting I’m attending, then more late-night follow-up on the day’s post, a meal if it’s not too late, and finally (and always too late for me) bed.

   The schedule caught up to me Thursday evening. I closed up my laptop at a Starbucks in the Meyers Park area of Charlotte a little after 7 pm. Realizing I was already late for my meeting, I decided to skip it. I went home.

   When I walked into my apartment, I noticed the week’s worth of dirty dishes in the sink, the unpacked bags from my trip the previous weekend, the over-flowing garbage pail in the kitchen, and the half-empty basket of laundry I’d hastily pulled from the dryer last Sunday. I wasn’t too exhausted to care, but I was too exhausted to do anything about it.

   Operating on auto-pilot, I pulled my laptop from my backpack and plugged it in to recharge the battery. On a whim, I opened up Windows Explorer and checked my Writings folder. I stared at the Date Last Modified on the document that contains the work-in-progress on the third novel in the Red Wolf series. I was horrified to see it was 09/07/2012. Other than this blog, I have done no creative writing for almost two months! And, yeah, the next question is, could this blog remotely be considered ‘creative writing?’

   Okay, I’m going to stop my rant before delving too deeply into that last question! Suffice it to say, something needs to change. There are many other reasons besides the time I’m spending on this blog for my not doing any more writing than I have been lately. But this blog is one of the things I’m going to have to back off on some in order to do the writing that I love.

   I will no longer be doing a weekly post on this blog.
   No, I’m not abandoning blogging altogether. I will continue to post occasionally and provide updates on the progress of the Red Wolf Novels. So check in occasionally, okay?
You see, I’ve been so focused lately on publishing and marketing that I’ve missed the true value of these blogs and the tours they host. The marketing opportunity, good or bad, is not where the value lies. It’s the networking. It’s the people you meet along the way.

   Bloggers hosting sites dedicated to reading and reviewing books are an interesting and admirable breed. Regardless of whether they are authors (like myself) who are trying spread the word about their work or so-called “normal” people who like books and reading, they all share a common love of the written word. I swear, from the efforts and for-free hard work that I’ve seen them do to support us indie authors, that love is palpable.

   Ironically, it was commiserating with one of the hosts of this week’s tour about the difficulties of networking that helped bring this into focus for me. J.S. Turner, author of The Realm Between Heaven and Hell, hosted my Halloween stop on her Lost in Thought blog spot last week. Jessica is an interesting person and a perfect example of why I really need to keep doing this sort of thing. In her I found the opportunity to chat with a fellow author, exchange reviews of each other’s work, and talk about the challenges of self-publishing.

   And in one of the emails to her I found myself answering my own question. Ultimately, my success as a writer does not hinge on how many potential readers I reach on a blog tour. It hinges on the effort I put into developing my craft. It hinges on how well I write.

   Blogging, and visiting the blogs sites of others, gives me the opportunity for networking and feedback, so I can tell if I’m on the right track in my craft. 

And it puts me in contact with some wonderful people with whom I can share my own love of writing and reading.
   To hell with marketing. From now on, my friends, I’m blogging for fun.
 
  Now, it’s time to announce the winners from last week’s blog tour:
 
(drum roll, please...)
Fangspiration bookmark winners:
   Must Love Fangs (2), Ray DeLotell, Kristi.
Dragon of Doughton ebook winners:
   Must Love Fangs, KaraC, Dragonmama
Dragon of Doughton signed paperback winner:
   Tammy Middleton

  Congratulations to all you winners. I am trying to make contact with all of you to collect email and address information so we can send your winnings. If you want to help me out, please email your info to jhundley50@gmail.com.
And remember:
   You can purchase my books through the following venues…
The Draculata Nest
The Dragon of Doughton Park
 
 Until next time… Happy Reading!