Tuesday, August 4, 2015

HBS Author’s Spotlight – Class of July 2015

This month we have a group of interesting writers with worlds of knowledge and expertise. The author interviews are a MUST read.

Be sure to check out what they have coming next for their readers. I try to pick authors who are interesting studies and ask them unique questions for our Q/A section.

Check out the Showcase feature of the HBS Author's Spotlight. I have included those authors in this class. Also, we have added the Author Bundles we have posted this month.

Thanks to the following outstanding authors for a great month. Here is a summary of our July 2015 crew.

Victoria Benchley

Author Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Romance

Website: Victoria Benchley
Twitter: @vbenchley
Google+: Check Out Google+
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Post with Profile + Interview: HBS Author's Spotlight

Amazon Author Profile

Next: My next book is a full-length Duncan Dewar Mystery, set in Spain. Duncan is offered a lucrative case that could jump start his new company. At first, it appears to be the typical industrial accident he used to investigate. Further review makes him wonder. I’m hoping this book will be ready for release in July.

Social media: My followers on Twitter have helped immensely in getting the word out about my books. I’ve found Twitter to be a supportive environment overall.

Covers: I have a hands-on approach to my covers, providing the designer with the tartan backgrounds (yes, every background is a Scottish tartan), frames, and picture inside the frame. My cover designer does a great job of bringing it all together with fonts and color washes.

Book trailer for The Snail Man: I went with a recommendation for the producer of my book trailer. I’m not sure of its impact on book sales/exposure. I provided the producer with photos that reflected the contents of The Snail Man and a plot summary. She did the rest.

Short story: I find writing a short story very challenging. A Crime At the Bakery was written to further develop some of my characters in the fictional village of Taye, Scotland. Also, I wanted the readers to know things were happening back in Scotland while Duncan was investigating a case in Spain. A Crime At the Bakery also gave folks something to read in the series while awaiting the next full length novel.

Support groups: I am now a member of ASMSG as well as IAN. Both groups, along with the helpful people I’ve met on Facebook and Twitter, have provided guidance in publishing and promoting books.

Giveaways: Ah, the double-edged sword of giveaways! I promoted my first book, The Snail Man, with a giveaway when it first came out. Giving your book away for free can really garner a lot of attention. However, not all of that attention is positive. Whenever folks can get your book free of charge, you will attract some people who are only looking for books to slam in reviews. So, the author must decide if the positive aspects of the exposure are worth the negative.

Author's Book List
A Crime at the Bakery
The Merlon Murders II
The Merlon Murders
The Snail Man

For the rest of the story...View Victoria Benchley - HBS Author's Spotlight

Jami Gray

Author Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Romance, Suspense

Website: Jami Gray
Twitter: @JamiGrayAuthor
E-Mail: jamigray@cox.net
Google+: Check Out Google+
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Post with Profile + Interview: HBS Author's Spotlight

Amazon Author Profile

Next: A collection of short stories based in the Kyn Kronicles universe plus TOUCHED BY FATE in early 2016

Social media buzz: Concept of an author’s platform - have a website, newsletter and blog plus a Facebook page, a Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, Pinterest accounts.

Personal appearances: I do interviews all over the blog-o-sphere. Every time I have a guest post, I put it up on my Facebook and Twitter so if readers want to follow along they can. Plus, I have a page on my website with my summer schedule of who’s at my place, as well.

Covers: I have to credit Kim Killion and Hot Damn Designs for my Kyn covers. HUNTED BY THE PAST’s cover was done by the fantastic MuseIt Up cover artist, Celairen.

Audio book SHADOW’S EDGE: ...the process is fairly involved. I haven’t noticed a correlation between having SHADOW’S EDGE in audio and my print sales, but I would love to have all my titles in audio. I know quite a few readers who prefer audio vs. book. I think if I could expand my audio offerings, I could reach a larger audience.

Short story: Actually, shorts are one of the hardest story types for me to write in. As a series writer, I prefer full length novels. WRAPPED IN SHADOWS was my first attempt at shorts, and I was thrilled to have an opprotunity to give readers a glimpse into the Kyn world and discover some great writers.

Author bundles: THINGS THAT GO BUMP FOR THE HOLIDAYS was a collective concept from the writers of Black Opal Books. We split into two groups: Paranormal and non-paranormal. Then we created two different anthologies. It was fun to do, made me stretch outside my comfort zone and attempt short story writing, but it also provided a great vehicle for readers to discover new writers

Free books: This is actually the first time I’ve given any book away free. SHADOW’S EDGE is free through the end of August. It took me a long time to make this decision because writing is not painless, much like any artistic creation, I pour my heart into my stories, and it hurts to give it away free.

Blogging: When I first began working with an author platform, one the main pieces of advice I kept running across was to make sure you blogged regularly. Now for some that’s everyday, but I know me, and if I don’t want to end up bald, once a week is what I can manage. At first I used my blog to share my journey from final draft to publication…

Author's Book List
Shadow's Curse
Hunted by the Past
Shadow's Moon
Shadow's Soul
Shadow's Edge

For the rest of the story...View Jami Gray - HBS Author's Spotlight

Mari Hannah

Author Genre: Crime, Thriller, Mystery

Website: Mari Hannah: Author
Twitter: @mariwriter
E-Mail: info@marihannah.com

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Amazon Author Profile

Next: I’m very excited about The Silent Room. It’s my first standalone thriller featuring Special Branch detective Matt Ryan and it’ll be published on 19th November in the UK and is out on submission in Europe and the US.

Social media: When my agent suggested that I join Twitter, I had reservations to be perfectly honest, but publishers expect authors to build a social media profile and Twitter has certainly done that. It’s always difficult to judge whether or not activity on such platforms impacts on sales, but the fact that crime fiction readers can contact me in this way is wonderful.

Personal appearances: My events page can be found at www.marihannah.com and people can chat with me here on Twitter: @mariwriter

Covers: I have Harper Collins/Witness Impulse art department to thank for that. I have little input initially. They are briefed by my editor in the first instance and then sent over for my approval and that of my agent. We then collaborate on what we like/don’t like until we get it right. Any reader comments I receive are fed back to my publisher.

Support groups: Crime Writers’ Association plus I’m a member of the International Thriller Writers and the Society of Authors. The SOA in particular is a great source of advice and information for authors. They cover a huge variety of subjects too great to mention here. They also champion the cause for decent standards of pay too, which is great.

Giveaways: My publishers often give books away around the time of publication to bloggers and reviewers. It generates a buzz around a new title. I have also run competitions from time to time. It’s a fun thing to do. Readers love to get involved in that kind of thing. And from my point of view, it’s a way of giving back to those readers who support me.

Foreign language publishing: Strangely enough, I was published in German before I found a publisher in the UK and US. I have two titles out there. Germany is a big market to conquer and I have many fans there, some who read the books in English, not in their first language. My audience abroad is growing year on year, especially in Australia, Canada and the US where the success of ebooks has led to physical books across the whole of the Kate Daniels series.

Author's Book List
Killing for Keeps
Fatal Games
Deadly Deceit
Settled Blood
The Murder Wall

For the rest of the story...View Mari Hannah - HBS Author's Spotlight

Marcia James

Author Genre: Romance

Author's Blog: James Gang
Website: Marcia James Web Site
Twitter: @Marcia_James
E-Mail: Marcia@MarciaJames.net
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

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Amazon Author Profile

Next: Southern Exposure, a comic romantic mystery, is scheduled to be released next spring.

Personal appearances: I'm an extrovert, so I really enjoy book signings and other personal appearances, although I am a little shy when it comes to public speaking. So far this year, I've participated in three multi-author book signings and two writers' conferences...The best way for readers to keep up with my in-person events is to check my website's "The Scoop" page. I always love meeting readers, both in-person and online!

Covers: I've worked with several great book cover designers and always value their input. However, I pick the stock photos for the covers and the branded look for the font, colors, etc. Designers appreciate when an author comes to them with a clear vision of the cover because it saves them time -- they have to design fewer cover drafts.

Short stories: "Love Unleashed" is my shortest story (12,000 words), and I wrote it originally for an American Heart Association fundraiser that asked for short stories. "Heating Up the Holidays" is a standard-sized novella (22,000 words). My upcoming Klein's K-9s trilogy of novellas will all be between 20,000 and 40,000 words. Writing short can be more challenging than writing a full-length book because you have to fit a lot of character development into a small word count.

Author bundles: I love participating in romance ebook anthologies (or boxed sets, as many people call them). Not only do I get to work with a great group of authors, but we each get one of our stories in front of the other authors' readers. This can and does lead to an increase in sales of our other books and novellas. So these boxed sets are a way of co-promoting with other authors. That saves time and money, since we're splitting the jobs (running a Facebook page, contacting advertisers, coordinating the cover and formatting, etc.) and the cost (paying for advertising, the cover, the formatting, etc.) And the boxed sets are a great deal for readers, too, since most of them include at least ten stories for 99 cents.

Reader list: I send out a monthly enewsletter on Yahoo (although I plan to move the newsletter to MailChimp next year), and readers can sign up to receive it on my website's Home and Contest pages. To encourage readers to subscribe to the enewsletter, I hold a monthly contest on my website, and the enewsletter includes contest updates.

The James Gang: I had a very clear vision of how I wanted my website (www.MarciaJames.net) to look, because it needed to reinforce -- through images, text, fonts, and colors -- my brand of writing "Hot, Humorous Romances" featuring pets. Before I became a romance author, I worked as a writer: an advertising copywriter, a corporate scriptwriter, a nonfiction publication writer, etc. It was important to me that I be as professional as a fiction author as I was at my other writing careers. I want to write romances for the rest of my life -- stories that entertain readers and take them away from their worries for a while. I also want to make a good living writing romances. So that is my goal.

Interviewing other authors for my James Gang page is a way to cross-promote with the authors. I'm promoting them, and they're promoting the interviews on my website. But I also try to promote other authors on my Facebook page and at my booksignings. I was at an event in June with urban fantasy author Darynda Jones. I love her books and talked them up to everyone I met. The flip side of this is I never put down an author's books or leave bad reviews. Whether or not a reader (myself included) likes a book can be very subjective.

Smokey, your Chinese Crested hairless dog author logo: My first book (At Her Command) featured a tiny Chinese crested hairless dog who was a DEA drug-sniffing dog. I chose the most incongruous breed to be a DEA dog, and I enjoyed the humor that came from pairing the tough, Alpha-male police detective hero with this tiny, goofy-looking dog. Since I'm a sucker for any book with a dog character, I decided my books would always feature pets -- and always at least one crested as my Alfred Hitchcock (who appeared in most of his films).

Author's Book List
At Her Command
Love Unleashed
Heating Up the Holidays
Sex & the Single Therapis
Tails of Love

For the rest of the story...View Marcia James - HBS Author's Spotlight

Lisa M Lilly

Author Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

Author's Blog: lisamlillypad
Website: Lisa M Lilly
Twitter: @lisamlilly
E-Mail: lisa@lisalilly.com
Google+: Check Out Google+
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

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Amazon Author Profile

Next: Right now I’m revising Book 3 of 4 in the Awakening series, working title The Conflagration. I’d love to release it by the end of the year, but I tend to have an optimistic relationship with time, so Spring 2016 is probably a better bet.

Social media: I love Twitter. I’ve met some wonderful people there, including Shiromi Arserio, the producer/ narrator of the audiobook version of The Unbelievers, which will be released shortly...It’s hard to keep up with everything, so for social media I concentrate on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads. (Though I love Pinterest for wish fulfillment when it comes to decorating and travel sites).

Personal appearances: The best way to learn about where I’ll be is to join my email list at this link: http://bit.ly/1LFM5IU or visit The Awakening’s Facebook page:
I don’t have any events scheduled right now, but I’m working with a health and lifestyle coach to put together a joint workshop on how your innate creativity can help you manage stress.

Audio book: I have reached some new readers, or listeners, I should say, and so far they have liked the audio version, which makes me happy. I’m planning to focus more on audio marketing when Book 2 is released. Doing this also prompted me to start listening to audiobooks, with the result that sometimes I’m immersed in “reading” three books…

Short story collection: I shied away from writing short stories until I attended a 5-day writing retreat with author Steve Barnes. He had us write a short story every night and turn it in the next day for critiquing. That cut off my tendency to turn everything into a novel. At the time, I felt cranky about it. I didn’t want to write anything short. But one of those stories became the first fiction I sold to a paying market. Now I enjoy writing short stories when I take breaks from longer projects

Time management: I’m one of those people who likes charts and graphs. So when I first draft, I set a goal of writing a certain number of words per day, five days per week, and each day I hit the word count and write it on my chart, and everything else shifts around that. But I’m more a rewriter than writer (which is why no one ever gets to see my first drafts). It’s harder to track progress on rewriting, so I split my time in 50-minute increments and set a timer.

Giveaways: I’ve offered The Awakening free on Kindle for limited time periods. That helped me get more Amazon reviews, plus more people added it to their Goodreads shelves. Once I’d released Book 2, The Unbelievers, its sales always jumped after free days for The Awakening. I’ve also done Goodreads giveaways of signed paperbacks. That prompted more people to add the books to their shelves.

Reader list: I created and edit a monthly e-newsletter with book and/or a movie reviews in the M.O.S.T. (mystery, occult, suspense, and thriller) genres, including a historical mystery recommendation by a friend who loves that genre and contributes a column...Now I put email list sign ups out at book release parties and appearances, and I usually do a drawing of everyone who signs up for a free book (paperback or audio) or an Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card. Plus I have links on my blog, website, and in my ebooks.

Author's Book List
The Unbelievers
The Awakening
The Tower Formerly Known as Sears and Two Other Tales of Urban Horror

For the rest of the story...View Lisa M Lilly - HBS Author's Spotlight

Rob Sinclair

Author Genre: Thriller, Crime, Mystery

Author's Blog: Rob Sinclair
Website: The offical website of Carl Logan and author ROB SINCLAIR
Twitter: @RSinclairAuthor
E-Mail: robsinclairauthor@gmail.com
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

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Amazon Author Profile

Next: k. The third book in the series, Hunt for the Enemy, which brings the main story arc to a close, is now very nearly finished. I’m hoping to release it during winter 2015…

Social media has been very important to me. It’s been a great way for me to connect with readers and other writers and it’s nice to have a very open forum where I can chat to readers rather than just being a name behind a book they read. It does take a lot of time though.

Personal appearances: I’m hoping for some in my local area (West Midlands, UK) over the coming weeks and I’ll always post such events on my social media profiles. I’ve done numerous events recently from radio, TV to book festivals and I’m always on the lookout for more.

Covers: For Dance with the Enemy I left it initially in the hands of a designer. I just knew I wanted something striking yet simple. For Rise of the Enemy, I thought about it a bit more myself. I wanted to keep a similar styling but use a different colour scheme to emphasise the setting of the story (which is in a Siberian winter).

Free books: The problem with marketing is that it’s hard to figure out exactly which specific elements were a success and which weren’t. I’ve run numerous giveaways whether on Goodreads or to my email list or on social media. I think the Goodreads ones in particular can be very effective as the “to-read” stats for my books sky-rocketed when the giveaways were first released.

Reader list: I have an email list but it’s nowhere near as big as my twitter following. I’ve found it hard to convert readers onto the list though I do get a steady trickle coming through from people following the links at the end of the books and I always get a bit of a jump whenever I promote the fact that the list exists e.g. on my twitter posts.

Blogging: Finding time is always the problem! I do a lot of my blogs in the evening, after writing. Or, when I’ve got a particular back-log, I’ll set aside a full day to catching up on blogs and interviews etc - like today, as I’m writing this! I have two other blogs/interviews to do today plus a load of organising for the upcoming free promotion (and some gardening!) so I’m not planning on doing any real writing today!

Reviews: For the release of Rise of the Enemy I listed the books on NetGalley to get initial reviews. I’m not sure yet whether I was pleased with the return I got or not as it’s a very costly service for a standalone author. I also have a small list of bloggers/reviewers who I’ve met, largely through social media, who I sent copies to for reviews (both ebooks and hardcopies) and that list is growing all the time.

Author's Book List
Dance with the Enemy
Rise of the Enemy

For the rest of the story...View Rob Sinclair - HBS Author's Spotlight

HBS Author's Spotlight Showcase

Jeremy Bates
Featured Book: The Catacombs

Author Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

Author's Blog: Jeremy Bates - Suspense Author
Website: Jeremy Bates
Twitter: @jemacba
E-Mail: jeremybatesbooks@gmail.com
Google+: Check Out Google+
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Post with Profile + Interview: HBS Author's Spotlight

Amazon Author Profile

Author Description:
Jeremy Bates is the award-winning author of several novels and short stories. He writes suspense, horror, and thrillers. The novels in his "World's Scariest Places" series are set in real locations, and so far include Suicide Forest in Japan, The Catacombs in Paris, Helltown in Ohio, and (forthcoming) Island of the Dolls in Mexico.

Author's Book List
Dark Hearts
The Catacombs
Suicide Forest
The Taste of Fear
White Lies

For the rest of the story...View Jeremy Bates - HBS Author's Spotlight Showcase

Mohana Rajakumar
Featured Book: The Migrant Report

Author Genre: Essays & non-fiction projects with young adults

Author's Blog: YouTube Channel - Mohana Rajakumar
Website: Mohadoha - Modern Mother, Writer, Scholar
Twitter: @moha_doha
Google+: Check Out Google+
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

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Amazon Author Profile

Author Description:
Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar's award winning books have focused on various aspects of life in the Arabian Gulf nation of Qatar. From Dunes to Dior is a collection of essays related to her experiences as a female South Asian American living in the Arabian Gulf and named as Indie Book of the Day in 2013. Love Comes Later is a literary romance set in Qatar and London and was the winner of the Best Indie Book Award for Romance in 2013, short listed for the New Talent award by the Festival of Romance, and Best Novel Finalist in eFestival of Words, 2013. She currently lives with her family in Qatar, where she teaches writing and literature courses at American universities.

After she joined the e-book revolution, Mohana dreams in plotlines.

Author's Book List
The Migrant Report
Love Comes Later
The Dohmestics
From Dunes to Dior
Saving Peace
Hip Hop Dance
Mommy but Still Me
So You Want to Sell a Million Copies?
Coloured and Other Stories
Qatari Voices

For the rest of the story...View Mohana Rajakumar - HBS Author's Spotlight Showcase

P. C. Zick
Featured Book: Third Base

Author Genre: Literature & Fiction

Author's Blog: Living Lightly
Website: P. C. Zick
Twitter: @PCZick
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

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Amazon Author Profile

Author Description:
P.C. Zick began her writing career in 1998 as a journalist. She's won various awards for her essays, columns, editorials, articles, and fiction. She describes herself as a "storyteller" no matter the genre.

She's published five works of fiction and two nonfiction books.

She was born in Michigan and moved to Florida in 1980. She finds the stories of Florida and its people and environment a rich base for her storytelling platform. Florida's quirky and abundant wildlife - both human and animal - supply her fiction with tales almost too weird to be believable.

Her fiction contains the elements most dear to her heart, ranging from love to the environment. In her novels, she advances the cause for wildlife conservation and energy conservation. She believes in living lightly upon this earth with love, laughter, and passion.

"This is one of the most exciting times to be an author," Ms. Zick says. "I'm honored to be a part of the revolution in writing and publishing."

Author's Book List
Third Base
Behind the Bar
Behind the Altar
Odyssey to Myself
A Lethal Legacy
Native Lands
Trails in the Sand
Tortoise Stew
Live from the Road

For the rest of the story...View P. C. Zick - HBS Author's Spotlight Showcase

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  1. I'm honored to be a part of this fantastic showcase! Thank you.

  2. It was wonderful to be interviewed on your blog, James! I really enjoyed the questions and appreciate being part of this great group of author interviewees!