Friday, July 29, 2016

The Week in Links 7/29/16: Corpse Flower, Harry Potter, Naruto

Book Marketing and Branding
Facebook Ads Work: How to Use Facebook to Reach Niche Readers
4 Successful Influencer Campaigns You Can Model
How to Grow Your Email List
Twitter Analytics: How to Know if Your Twitter Marketing Works

Why Are The Worlds of Fantasy Romances So Grim?

Writing, Publishing and Bookishness
Opinion: Writing Swear Words – It’s Not Appropriate, It Isn’t Clever and It Isn’t Funny – or Is It?
Four Truths and Four Myths That Every New Novelist Should Know
How To Find Your Author Voice With Roz Morris
Joss Whedon Wants to Direct a Black Widow Movie, But Should He?
Manga at Comic-Con 2016: Pokemon, Titans, Sci-Fi Take Charge

Want to see your post in the next The Week in Links? Email me at The post needs to be published between today, 7/29 and next Friday, 8/5. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Dark Dreams and Dead Things by Martina McAtee

Title: Dark Dream and Dead Things (Dead Things #2)
AuthorMartina McAtee
Genre: YA Paranormal/Urban Fantasy

17-year-old November Lonergan spent her whole life feeling like an outsider. She was right. She’s a reaper like her mother; like her two cousins, Kai and Tristin. The supernatural world believes they are part of a prophecy to save them from an evil known as the Grove. Ember just wants to survive high school and fix the fallout from bringing back her friend.

Old enemies are lurking; waiting for their opportunity to strike but the pack has a new problem. A group of legendary hunters has resurfaced, threatening the reapers and anybody who stands with them. They are making good on their threats too; attacking those closest to the pack.

Their only hope of defeating the Legionaries involves trusting a stranger to perform a dangerous spell to advance Ember and her cousin’s powers. But Ember has a secret; a secret she can’t tell the pack. One that leaves the pack vulnerable.

An attack on pack allies, leaves one member of the group injured and another missing, along with a mysterious girl named Evangeline who may play a bigger part in this than any of them realize. As the Legionaries are closing in, the pack must trust their enemies, enter hostile territories, and play a dangerous game of cat and mouse with a psychopath. Their entire plan lynches on a dangerous bargain, but rescuing one member of the pack could mean losing another in their place…possibly forever.

Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things (Dead Things #1) 

Martina McAtee lives in Jupiter, Florida with her teenage daughters, her best friend, two attack Chihuahua’s and two shady looking cats. By day she is a registered nurse but by night she writes young adult books about reapers, zombies, werewolves and other supernatural creatures. She wrote her first story when she was five with an orange crayon on a legal pad she stole from her mom’s office. She’s been writing ever since. Her influences include Christopher Pike, R.L. Stine, Joss Whedon, L.J. Smith and even J.K. Rowling. Living in South Florida provides her with plenty of material for the weird worlds she writes about. When she isn’t working, teaching or writing she’s reading or watching shows involving reapers, zombies, werewolves and other supernatural creatures.

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Monday, July 25, 2016

Caught in the Ripples by S. McPherson

Title: Caught in the Ripples (The Water Rushes #2)
AuthorS. McPherson
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: July 31, 2016

When the Exlathars escaped the battle that night, their silhouetted figures merged with the sky, their wings swatted at stars and the Coltis people were too busy celebrating their victory to realise that there wasn’t one.

Now the Exlathars are back. And they bring with them remnants of everybody’s past.

Back in England, Dezaray discovers just how deep Coldivor’s connection to Earth really goes. But she cannot change their past and she cannot see how to alter their future. So it seems the ripples that shake the surface are only a glimpse of what’s brewing beneath.

'Caught in the Ripples' delves deeper into the Water Rushes saga, answers questions the first book raised and plunges you into an ocean of intrigue and magic.

They thought the Elenfar was the end…turns out it was only the beginning.

At Water's Edge (The Water Rushes # 1)

Don’t you just love heroes? My list of the ones I could rave about is endless, and not just the classic D.C. and Marvel delights but all heroes! Harry Potter, Katniss Everdeen, Jon Snow, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

Heroes are the good guys; the reason we embrace the story. They are the person we root for. They give us hope and show us qualities we like to think exist in all of us. I often like to imagine what my ability would be if I were a hero. It remains a toss-up between invisibility and telekinesis. Hmmm…

Anyway, how well do you know your heroes? Take the quiz below, called: ‘Weapon of Choice’. Can you identify the hero based on their weapon?

S. McPherson is a young British expat living in Dubai and working as a kindergarten teacher. When she is not at work immersed in a world of imagination and fantasy created by the children, she is immersed in her own worlds of imagination and fantasy at home, dreaming up tales and writing them down. 'At Water’s Edge' is S. McPherson’s debut novel and the first in the romantic, fantasy series, 'The Water Rushes'.

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Friday, July 22, 2016

The Week in Links 7/22/16 Luke Cage, The Dark Tower, Nintendo

How to Discover Your Customers’ Favorite Social Media Platforms
Taking Submissions: Dark Designs
THE DARK TOWER - Six New Photos Revealed
Predictions From Science-Fiction Literature: INFOGRAPHIC
Can Science Fiction Anticipate the Future of Gender?
Here’s What Writers Really Do

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Special Levels of Earthly Hell by Merry Freer

Merry will be awarding a $20 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner. See rafflecopter at the bottom of the post.

Title: Special Levels of Earthly Hell
Author: Merry Freer
Genre: Horror, Supernatural

Drew Collins experiences the world in black and white. As an educated man of science, he rejects belief in the paranormal and the existence of demons. Until an evil energy he calls "The Beast" repeatedly enters his bedroom at night and takes possession of his wife's body.

What he witnesses at night in his own bedroom cannot be reconciled with science. And yet he sees it with his own eyes, feels its presence, ominous and evil, with his entire being.

Against every instinct, Drew reaches out for help. It is not just his marriage that’s at stake. The evil force has invaded his wife's family, tearing them apart and culminating in bloodshed and murder. Drew must face a stark choice: sacrifice his belief that the world is a rational place and fight an entity he doesn’t understand and is reluctant to label, or abandon his wife and her family.

Author's Note to the Reader: Sadly, the most frightening and brutal events in this book are factual. The story is loosely based on one family's experience with multiple tragedies, some of them "ripped from the headlines." It is also an excruciatingly factual account of one man's experience with a loved one who is possessed by a demonic presence. However, it transcends genre and is as much a tale of romance, of cultural barriers, of abuse, and of family drama, as it is of demonic possession. The link between the introduction of an evil spirit and the heartbreaking misfortunes that are visited on the family is left for the reader to decide.

Drew didn't remember falling asleep. He did remember waking up. Something was wrong. A chill traveled up his spine and enveloped him. With a sickening feeling of familiarity, sweat began to form on his forehead and trickle down his temples as fear overcame him. He quickly glanced at the digital clock on the table beside the bed. The blood-red numbers announced the time eerily – 3:00am - a haunting reminder of the first time.

Someone was watching him. He was certain of it. His eyes were immediately drawn to the window. A dark fear formed in his gut and sent out tentacles of terror that invaded his thoughts and squeezed his lungs, threatening his very breath.

The sensation of movement brought him to his feet but his trembling legs couldn’t support him and he allowed himself to fall back onto the bed next to his sleeping wife, Adriana. Turning his head toward the window, he looked closer at what appeared to be vapor, distorted lines of energy waving like the air in the distance over a desert highway in August. A terrifying feeling of knowledge washed over him. It was alive.

Drew’s mind flashed to the first time he had encountered the demon in the bedroom at his mother’s house, the night it hijacked Adriana’s body - at 3:00am. It was always at 3:00am.

Merry Freer is an author of memoir and fact-based fiction. “Special Levels of Earthly Hell: The Story of One Family’s Chilling Struggle with Demonic Possession” was inspired by actual events that were experienced by her nuclear and extended families, tearing relationships apart and making national news headlines. This book comes on the heels of her first book, a memoir named “Doctor, Doctor.” While "Doctor, Doctor" is her debut novel, she has been a writer and editor for many years, including work with the San Diego Chargers and the San Diego Hall of Champions. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism from San Diego State University and has been a featured speaker for classes dealing with medical ethics.

Her controversial memoir, "Doctor, Doctor," topped the Best Seller List in True Crime/White Collar Crime for 10 months and received a "Best Books of 2014" award from "Suspense Magazine."

Merry will be awarding a $20 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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Follow The Tour and comment. The more you comment, the better your chances of winning!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Harlem Book Fair 2016

Attending book events can be awesome and nerve-racking. It's nice talking to people about my book and making connections. It's terrifying talking to strangers about my books. I am an introvert after all. Whenever someone walked to our booth, I resisted the urge to hide under the table. The Harlem Book Fair was an adventure. I met some awesome people.

Preparing for this event was its own adventure. The swag was easy to order. I need to figure out an inexpensive and professional way to display my images. First I went with binders. I designed covers for them. Binder + cover did not look professional. I needed a portfolio. Not exactly inexpensive or easy to find. Fortunately, I have a large photo album I use for storing my collectibles. The cover wasn't professional but no one would see it since the book would be flat on the table.

On Saturday, the day of the fair, we were baking under 91 degrees with almost no wind.

The things I do for my books.

Fortunately, my publisher rented a large tent. Some people didn't have anything but a hat protecting them from the sun. Those were the real troopers.

It was hot even under the tent. On top of that, we were close to the event stage and the music. I was yelling over the noise which gave me a nice headache. A quick walk down the street for some cold water solved that problem. Eventually, the music stopped.

The fair had a good wave of people. Unfortunately, most of them weren't interested in my books. There didn't seem to be a lot of fantasy/science fiction fans there. Someone assumed my series was romance and complained to us about the lack of historical books at the fair. We corrected them. They still weren't interested. The fair seemed to be heavy on the nonfiction. It wasn't like that last year. But I sold some books, talked to people, passed out a lot of cards and postcards, made some connections.

I use these events to take nice pictures of my books and share them on social media. I saw some amazing engagement on Instagram.

At a certain point, one of my images made the Top Posts for #HarlemBookFair on Instagram!

Towards the end of the day, clouds covered the sun. The weather report didn't talk about rain so we enjoyed the cool breeze.

It started raining. The wind tried to throw our cards down the street. Since we were under a tent, we didn't plan on leaving. We put the cards away so we wouldn't lose them. Then, the wind grabbed the tent and slid it into our neighbor's space.

It was time to go.

One problem.With only two of us, we couldn't move the tent. Fortunately, a nice couple helped us put it back over our table and lower it. We didn't know how to take down the tent. The event staff disappeared like they ran in from the rain and forgot about us. We rented the tent. We couldn't leave it and risk it flying down the street. I held onto it while my publisher finished packing.

We put everything away and still no event staff. By then it started pouring. The wind was determined to steal the tent and get us in trouble.

Finally, finally, someone who worked there showed up. We called them over. The rain and wind ceased their attack and we walked to the train station, suitcases in tow.

That was my Saturday. How was yours?

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Week in Links: 7/15/16 Pennywise, Photography, Nintendo

Enter The Catcher’s Trap in November
Why We Still Go to Bookstores in The Age of Amazon
Writing Advice From Ray Bradbury
What to Do When Your Writing Process Fails You
Apex Publications seeks talented eBook builder
36DaysofType by Juan Díaz-Faes
3 Habits Every Outdoor Photographer Should Develop to Avoid Missing Shots

Want to see your post in the next The Week in Links? Email me at The your needs to be published between today, 7/15 and next Friday, 7/22. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Guest Post: The Ghost Chronicles by Marlo Berliner

The setting for most of THE GHOST CHRONICLES was inspired by The Angel of the Sea, an award-winning bed and breakfast in Cape May, NJ that I visited several years ago. This spectacular inn has been featured on several television programs and in magazines throughout the world. Most notably, it was chosen by Oprah Winfrey as one of the “Best Vacations in the World” and included in her television talk show. The Angel of the Sea is one of the most recognized Victorian structures in the United States. Legend has it that in the late 1960’s, a girl fell to her death at the Angel of the Sea and did at one time, haunt the inn. The story of the girl has been included in several non-fiction books about ghosts in Cape May. My heroine in THE GHOST CHRONICLES, Sarah McConnell, was inspired by this legend.

I did extensive research on the legend surrounding Sarah and the haunting at The Angel of the Sea. News stories about the death say that the young girl, whose real name was Sarah Brown, was an Irish exchange student rooming at The Angel and working at the nearby Christian Admiral Hotel. The story goes that she returned to her room at The Angel to shower and change for church, but discovered she had left her keys at work. Since she didn’t have time to retrieve the keys and still get ready, she attempted to shinny along a ledge to get in through the window. But when she tried to pry the screen off it suddenly broke free, smacking her in the forehead and sending her tumbling to her death.

Over the years, guests at The Angel of the Sea have attributed a number of experiences to the girl’s playful spirit. It is said she has an affinity for electronic devices. Lamps, radios and televisions have all been known to turn on and off by themselves from time to time. Guests and staff have noticed items disappearing from one spot only to reappear mysteriously in another. Objects also fall from tables and dressers as if knocked off by unseen hands. Furniture and pictures have been seen wobbling or shaking for no explainable reason.

Most notably, the girl seems to have an aversion to locked doors. Given the fact that a locked door contributed to her death, it is not surprising that her ghost has been said to lock and unlock doors in certain parts of the inn, and in particular, the door to her own room has been found inexplicably unlocked.

Angel of the Sea B&B, Cape May, NJ

Title: The Ghost Chronicles
Author: Marlo Berliner
Genre: YA Paranormal

***FINALIST in the National Indie Excellence Awards for Young Adult Fiction 2016***

Can Michael get to heaven before the devil gets him first, and if it means leaving Sarah is he sure he still wants to go?

Michael Andrews had everything - a loving family, a great girlfriend and a promising basketball career. That was before the accident that took his life. Now, he's a ghost, wandering among the living, struggling to understand why he's stuck. All he wants is to move on.

That is until he meets Sarah, an attractive young girl who died just as tragically as he did. The only trouble is falling in love and binding oneself to another soul is forbidden, for it may keep one or both of the souls bound to earth for longer than they should be.

To make matters worse, there's also a danger in going too far with Sarah, because the "joining" of two souls in the afterlife is also strictly forbidden and they don't know what will happen if they do go that far. Each time they touch they can feel the boundaries of their energies slipping perilously into one another.

Things get even more complicated as Michael learns he's being pursued. Demons are after him because he's a marked soul, a soul the devil wants very badly for some unknown reason.

So, maybe falling in love in the afterlife isn't such a good idea.

THE GHOST CHRONICLES by Marlo Berliner is a YA paranormal with romantic elements and adult crossover appeal, perfect for fans of If I Stay and the movie, Ghost. The book was inspired by the legend of a haunting at the Angel of the Sea bed and breakfast in Cape May, NJ.

Formerly an accounting manager for a Fortune 500 company, Marlo is currently a full time writer, as well as, a freelance editor at Chimera Editing. Marlo writes young adult, women’s fiction, and short stories. THE GHOST CHRONICLES is her first novel and was awarded FINALIST in the National Indie Excellence Awards for Young Adult Fiction. Her second novel in a new series, SECRETS BENEATH, will be released in the fall. She is currently working on a sequel to THE GHOST CHRONICLES, as well as, her third and fourth novels. 
When she's not writing or editing, Marlo loves reading, relaxing at the beach, watching movies, and rooting for the Penn State Nittany Lions. After having spent some wonderful time in Pittsburgh and Houston, she’s now back in her home state of New Jersey where she resides with her husband and two sons.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Web Design Dos and Don'ts for Authors

You want people to enjoy your website. You want them to share it. As authors, it's often up to us to design our sites. We don't always have the funds or the connections to have someone else do it. Fortunately, sites like GoDaddy, WordPress and Squarespace do most of the work for you. But, authors are serial offenders when it comes to poor web design. Here are a few design tips to get readers to stick around and tell their friends about your site.

Avoid light text on dark background
This seems to be the number one design choice for authors of dark fiction. I fell into this trap too. When I first started blogging, I figure I'd attract more readers if my site looked all horror-y, meaning have a black background with white or bright blue text.

When I started studying other site designs, I noticed most had a white or light background with black/dark text. I didn't know the reason at the time but I wanted my blog to look professional so I dumped the black background and instead used images and font to convey "dark."

Readers' eyes get tired faster if they're looking at a page with light text on a dark background.

You know when you've been inside all day, you walk outside and you're blinded by the bright sun? That's what reading on a dark background feels like.

If you want to have a dark background on your site:

Or, have less text on the site.

The Dos and Don’ts of Dark Web Design
Light vs. Dark Web Design

White Space
Negative space is your friend. It gives your site a cleaner, more professional feel. Don't try to put everything on one page. I far too often come across author websites where their home page is just cluttered. You don't want people to get overwhelmed. You want them to have a relaxing time while they explore your site. When a page is too cluttered, important things get buried.

Use fancy fonts sparingly
I used to come across this more often. Not so much anymore. You can give your page headers interesting font but please keep your body text at a nice safe font like Times New Roman or Georgia. Don't go happy with the italics.

Make social media follow links easy to find
When I share a posts on Twitter, I like mentioning the person/site I got the post from. There have been a few times where I couldn't find the site's social media links. Usually, I give up and don't mention the person. 

You might be thinking the site's not on social media. 

There are certain times where the author intrigues me enough that I want to find them on Twitter or Facebook. I do a search on those social networks. Guess what? I find the brand. Most of the time, the person is on social media but it's difficult to find their follow button/link/widget on their site. 

Please have your follow buttons some place people can easily find them.

They're usually at the top of the page or in the sidebar. My blog has a floating social follow bar. It follows you as you scroll down the page.

Sidebars aren't always mobile friendly 
If you've spent some time online, which you've probably have, you might've noticed many websites don't have sidebars. That's because sidebars aren't mobile friendly. In some cases, like with blogger, you can't help but have a one.

Try opening this blog on your phone. 

No sidebar. 

If you open this blog on a tablet or smartphone with a large screen, you may see the sidebar but the text will be too small.

Ditch the Sidebar on Your Website and Increase Conversion Rates by 26%

This is something to keep in mind. Don't put too much stock into your sidebar content. There's a chance many of your readers won't see it. If it's important, put it on another page. 

Blogger has actually up'ed their game when it comes to website templates. I haven't changed my site design because I like having that big header. Many of the templates I like don't have a large header space.

On the other hand, sidebars can work for sites that aren't text heavy. It's mostly used for navigation. I don't see many sites putting a lot of content in the sidebar.
20 Examples of Outstanding Website Sidebars for Inspiration
15 Amazing Websites with Modern Sidebar Menu Layout

If you want to see how your site looks on different devices:

In Chrome:
  1. Right click your webpage
  2. Select Inspect 
On this page, you can select different devices and Chrome will show you how your site looks on those devices.

Optimize images for slow internet speeds
Yes, we live in the age of high speed internet but there are still some people, me, who can't afford fast internet. Generally, internet speeds in places like trains and parks are slow because some many people are logged on. It's best to make sure your site loads fast for everyone so readers won't give up and leave.

Reduce the size of your images. 

As a blog tour host, I get book cover images usually at 1000px in width. That file is way too big to put online. It would slow the site's load time. I shrink the image to around 800px in width. This size gets that nice big preview image when you share it on Facebook.

Most website hosts let you edit your image, including reducing the size. 

10 Must Know Image Optimization Tips

Don't be color happy
You many have three favorite colors. Doesn't mean those three colors work together. Website templates come with themes. Most of the time there's no need to change the colors. If you have to change them, find some that work well together. I've been using Adobe's Color Wheel to find complementary colors.

10 Tips for a Successful Author Website

Friday, July 8, 2016

The Week in Links 7/8/2016 Self-Publishing, Pokemon Go, Sulu

100 African Writers of SFF — Part One: Nairobi
John Cho Says Sulu Is Explicitly Gay in Star Trek Beyond
Read/Watch These 5 Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Books Being Adapted for TV & Film
Amazon reportedly planning a physical bookstore in New York City
It’s Not You, It’s Me: Nine Things I’m So Over in Romance Novels

Photography and Design
The World’s First UFS Memory Cards are Tiny and 5x Faster than microSD

Want to see your post in the next The Week in Links? Email me at The post needs to be published between today, 7/8 and next Friday, 7/15. 
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