Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Wishing You a Merry Christmas

This time every year I dream of one thing - a white Christmas.

The air with a hint of bite that tickles the nose.  The leaden gray sky pregnant with a promised gift.  The wet flakes swaying in a slight breeze as they fall.  They grow heavier.  And larger, until they look like hundreds of thousands of cotton ball puffs.

The crunch of tires driving by.  The laughter of children making snow angels and snowmen.  An impromptu snowball fight.

The hush of being wrapped in a cocoon as darkness falls.  The bright sparkle of Christmas lights against an outline of unspoiled white.  The beauty of stillness.  And wonder.

This year I received my wish.  It's like that promised gift.  I am in awe to welcome a white Christmas.

So from our home to yours, we wish you a very Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Take a Walk on the Dark Side

There are days in life where everything falls into place and all is good.  But then some days it all seems to crumble at our feet.  It's in those moments when the &%#@ hits the fan that we find out who we really are - when we take a walk on the dark side.

Join me in that walk today as we explore Scott Lerner's Ruler of Demons.

Book Summary:
Only eleven shopping days till Christmas. And less than a week to save the world.

Three nuns—in Chicago, Paris, and Jerusalem—have been killed in a religious ritual. The choice of victims and the macabre details of their deaths indicate that someone is following a recipe provided on an ancient text—a recipe to unleash the forces of hell on earth. The final sacrifice must occur on the Winter Solstice.

Samuel Roberts, a small-town attorney in Urbana, Illinois, knows a bit about the supernatural, having triumphed at least once over the forces of evil. Thanks to a friend who is aware of Sam’s little known previous efforts on behalf of mankind, Sam is hired by a big Chicago law firm to take on a sensitive case. His mission? Nothing less than halting the impending apocalypse.

Sam and his good buddy Bob travel first to Jerusalem then Paris in a desperate race to save mankind.

My Review:
Ruler of Demons was fast-paced, full of dry humor and took me on a whirlwind tour through Chicago to Israel and then France.

Sam Roberts takes a very light view of life.  As an attorney, he's not out pounding the pavement searching for his next client.  Circumstances - I'm assuming from the previous book, which I did not read - have allowed him to relax and not worry so much about how he's going to pay the bills.  And he takes advantage of that.

Until he's offered a very unusual case by a large, well-financed firm.  The harried friend who works at said firm urges him to leave the case alone.  But Sam is intrigued - or has a death wish.  So after meeting with Alexy Smart, the last surviving founder of the firm, and official representatives of the Catholic Church and witnessing first-hand the human flesh scroll authored by the Prince of Darkness, Sam decides to accept the case.

Oh, and it doesn't hurt matters that someone left him a human tongue on his kitchen table.

I must admit, I had mixed feelings about this book.  Dry humor isn't my forte, but I found the beginning to be intriguing and it pulled me into the story.  I was curious about the deaths of the nuns and how it all tied together.  I like a book that makes me think and surprises me.

Unfortunately I discovered few surprises here.  As usual, the priests, church, and military personnel were easy targets to spot early on, as they are utilized as the "bad guys" throughout so many novels these days.  I'd actually hoped to be surprised that maybe they were going to be the red-herrings but was disappointed to find this wasn't the case.  Plus Sam internalizes over and over again throughout the story how he doesn't believe in God/religion, which presents quite the dichotomy since he's dealing with demonic and supernatural forces here.  Logic says if there is evil then there must be good.  I don't mind an agnostic or atheistic character, but the fact that it gets brought up constantly leaves nothing to guess who the baddies are going after.  All-in-all these factors made it just too darn easy to figure out and left nothing to guess.

Then there are the travel moments.  I was looking forward to Sam and Bob's visit to Jerusalem and the dig site, but it felt like they were in and out so quickly, I as the reader didn't get to experience "being there" or anything.  Same thing with their jump over to France.  Yes, it answered some questions in the overall story and fit some puzzle pieces together, but it was like "poof" they're in and then "poof" they're out.

The story also lacked any real emotional connection to the characters or events.  When faced with a demon, Sam and Bob rather brush it off like it is an everyday occurrance and no big deal.  There was no fear or concern.  This also played into lack of internal motivation for why they did anything or went anywhere.  The overall lack of emotion and internal motivation made the characters and the story feel very wooden and somewhat disjointed.

I hate to say it, but after muddling through I felt as if I'd been offered an entire loaf of melba toast with nothing to drink.  It was a struggle for me to finish Ruler of Demons.  But perhaps if you like and understand very dry humor, you might consider checking out the book for yourself.  There were a few moments that offered up a chuckle even to someone like me.

And don't forget to sign up for the giveaway below!

Prices/Formats: $4.95 ebook, $13.95 paperback
Pages: 202
ISBN: 9781603819053
Publisher: Camel Press
Release: December 15, 2013

Amazon buy link:

Author Bio:

Author and attorney Scott A. Lerner resides in Champaign, Illinois. He obtained his undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Wisconsin in Madison and went on to obtain his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign. He is currently a sole practitioner in Champaign, Illinois. The majority of his law practice focuses on the fields of criminal law and family law. Mr. Lerner lives with his wife, their two children, and their cat Fern. Lerner collects unusual antiques and enjoys gardening, traveling, reading fiction, and going to the movies. His first novel, Cocaine Zombies, won a bronze medal in the mystery/cozy/noir category of the 2013 Independent Publisher (IPPY) Awards.

Check out his website http://scottlerner.camelpress.com/ and for a taste of his writing, check out the excerpt http://www.scribd.com/doc/181544210/Ruler-of-Demons-by-Scott-A-Lerner-Chapters-1-4

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Monday, December 9, 2013

Review of Piercing the Darkness

Hello again, dear readers!

Thanks ever so much to Nora over at Only God Writes Trees for her astonishing review of Piercing the Darkness, the second installment of my "Deepest Darkness" series.  Even though I still don't like the cover of the book (yes, I have plans to revise both by the time Rising comes out), she was able to look past its cheesy appearance to dig deep into the heart of the story.  Sorry to have made you cry, Nora!!! :-)

So if you'd like to see what she has to say, run over to her blog post and take a gander http://onlygodwritestrees.blogspot.com/2013/12/review-piercing-darkness-by-da-bale.html

And don't forget that Running into the Darkness is available free until the end of the year.  Be sure to pick up your copy at any eBook outlet of choice.

Stay tuned!  Someday I'll have the opportunity to finish the final installment.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Reviewing the "Ruby Heart"

It may be a cold day outside, but inside I'm warm and toasty.  Winter is here.  Christmas is coming.  My heart is full.

Heart did I say?  Well yes, because today we're gonna talk about hearts.  Not warm hearts.  Not cold hearts.  But ruby hearts.  Cristelle Comby has released the latest in the Neve & Egan series - Ruby Heart - and it approaches one of my most favorite history topics, World War II.

Ruby Heart Book Summary:
When elderly client Doris Hargrave informs private investigator Alexandra Neve that her beloved antique ruby heart necklace has gone missing for the second time in a period of over sixty years, Alexandra knows this is no ordinary jewellery theft. The ruby heart is a family heirloom and the only thing that connects an ailing Mrs Hargrave to her parents, who were murdered during the Holocaust.

To solve the case, Alexandra and her business partner, blind history professor Ashford Egan, must sift through obscure Holocaust documents to find out the truth. It’s that way that they learn of a secret World War II-era love affair which could hold the key to all the answers they are looking for. Meanwhile, Egan is under immense pressure from the university to quit his private investigating business, and Alexandra is afraid that a man she trusts will leave her. Again.

When Alexandra begins to receive anonymous threats and her flat is vandalised, this all becomes personal. Knowing that there is someone out there to hurt her, Alexandra vows to find that elusive ruby heart if it’s the last thing she ever does.

My Review:
First off, I'm finding the Neve & Egan series to be quite charming.  The first book, Russian Dolls, was offered to reviewers to obtain the introduction to this unlikely sleuthing pair.  However, I think Ruby Heart gives enough backstory to be able to follow it without having first read Russian Dolls, though I would still recommend reading the series as a whole just because it is good.

After the events of the first book, including the loss of her best friend, and the subsequent media frenzy, Alexandra - or Lexa to her friends - decides to leave the university life behind for the life of a PI.  Part-time university history professor and her blind business partner, Ashford Egan, is a prickly character to both students and faculty alike.  But Lexa is able to see beyond the candy-coated shell to the soft chocolate center.  Thus the friendship and business relationship begins.

At first I was worried this would devolve into a middle-aged professor meets much younger student - you get the picture.  But I've been very pleased to see the relationship grow more like a father/daughter scenario (Lexa's father died years before) and it's very sweet to "see" played out in the pages.  Ash gets onto Lexa when she lets her frustration and mouth get the better of a situation (I can sooo relate to her that way), and Lexa helps Ash to express emotion and better relate to others.  Plus in their business relationship, Lexa can explore where Ash can't, and Ash's other senses are heightened due to his blindness and can detect intentions and what isn't being said by the people they interview.

So getting back to Ruby Heart.  Lexa is visited by Doris Hargrave, an ailing, old woman with an urgent plea.  Mrs. Hargrave emigrated to England in the nineteen-thirties as a young child from a wealthy German family of jewelers - and they were Jewish.  During the events of the Holocaust, she lost her entire family and a precious family heirloom, a pendant made from the finest rubies and diamonds and fashioned into the shape of a heart.  The pendant turned up recently when a home in Italy was demolished, returned to it's rightful owner, and subsequently stolen from Mrs. Hargrave once again.  Now she's desperate to recover it to pass on the hope of a happy marriage to her beloved granddaughter.

If a half-century old mystery isn't enough pressure for Lexa, Ashford is being forced to decide between being a blind detective or remaining with the university (and guaranteed income).  Lexa knows what Ash should do and is torn by what she wants him to choose.

To discover the reason for the current theft, Lexa and Ash have to follow a cold trail that forces them to explore the horrors of the Holocaust through the pages left over from the path through Germany to Italy - and possible ties to the Mafioso. 

At times, just when they have no further leads to go on, something pops up to turn them in the right direction.  A time or two this almost felt too easy and contrived, but since I was already invested in the characters and the story, I didn't let it bother me too much. 

I liked the bit of play between Lexa and Stensen, a young officer she's worked with on her cases, and I suspect a bit of foreshadowing of a possible relationship building for later in the series (wink-wink).  Then there's the fact that those with whom Lexa is close seem to be getting hurt - namely in this one, her mother.  But one thing I find interesting is that even though it is Lexa and Ash doing the investigating, Lexa's home is the only one that seems to get invaded.  The bad guys never seem to know where Ash lives so that feels a bit odd to me.  I've just chalked it up to the fact that Lexa seems to be the one doing the majority of the footwork.

Through the series, I really enjoyed the variety of characters Ms. Comby has created in this series.  Ashford's "friend", Dimitri, provides a little more backstory on how he came to be indebted to Ash - very interesting.  And I'm especially liking this mysterious underworld character who we never see but who is lurking in the shadows behind the series.  Oh, and this character is the one REALLY responsible for Lexa's best friend's death in book one.  His only name?  The Sorter.

Ooooo!  So if you're looking for a mystery series that isn't too deep (but has the promise to be), has some action, and threatens to teach you a bit about history, pick up Ruby Heart.  Better yet, just start with book one of the Neve & Egan series.  You'll be glad you did.

Author Bio:

Cristelle Comby was born and raised in the French-speaking area of Switzerland, in Greater Geneva, where she still resides.

Thanks to her insatiable thirst for American and British action films and television dramas, her English is fluent.

She attributes to her origins her ever-peaceful nature and her undying love for chocolate. She has a passion for art, which also includes an interest in drawing and acting.

Ruby Heart is her second new-adult novel, and she’s hard at work on the next titles in the Neve & Egan series.  Check out her website http://cristelle-comby.com/

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Dead Dreams - Or Are They Nightmares?

Don't go to sleep tonight - or you too could experience Dead Dreams!

Book Summary:
A young adult psychological thriller and contemporary mystery

Eighteen-year-old Brie O’Mara has so much going for her: a loving family in the sidelines, an heiress for a roommate, and dreams that might just come true. Big dreams--of going to acting school, finishing college and making a name for herself. She is about to be the envy of everyone she knew. What more could she hope for? Except her dreams are about to lead her down the road to nightmares. Nightmares that could turn into a deadly reality.

My Review:
I went into this story very intrigued by the title and book summary.  I wanted to like it.  I tried to like it.  But there were so many things that just didn't work for me.
The writing is fine.  There are few editing errors to get in the way of the story's flow.  I liked the pastor, Brie's parents were okay, and the story idea was interesting.  My biggest issue was with the main character, Brie.

Brie is young and trying to extricate herself from those she sees as cloying and controlling family members.  It's understandable and good that a college-aged adult wants to grab the bull by the horns and make her own way in the world.  I can certainly applaud that.  To try to establish her independence, Brie works hard at school and two dead-end jobs to pay the bills.  Even then it isn't enough.  So she decides to take on a roommate.
And this is where Brie goes downhill for me.

Enter Sarah.  Wealthy, spoiled, paranoid and scheming Sarah answers Brie's ad for a roommate - and with all of the cash flashing around, Brie falls for the show.  We know immediately there's all sorts of red flags concerning Sarah - Brie even sees them - and yet common sense still flies out the window. 

Brie never outright questions Sarah's strange comings and goings, her obsessive display of secrecy and security parameter requirements, the strange break-in attempts that start immediately after Sarah's residency begins, etc., etc., ad nauseam.  Then when Sarah suggests they play out an identity switch to commit fraud, Brie plays right along with it all, even when she discovers Sarah has outright lied to her.  Brie never confronts Sarah about any of her bizarre behaviors or schemes. 

That for me was too bizarre and unbelievable.  I just couldn't imagine anyone being that stupid nor having any sense of self-preservation.  Then when Brie decides to go through with it all anyway at the end, I by that time unfortunately didn't care.

Through it all, Brie came across as rather cold toward her family (especially when her father ends up in the hospital, fighting for his life), cold toward everyone that cared about her, and yet rather meek and timid where Sarah was concerned, letting herself be pulled by the noose like a lamb to slaughter.  All she seemed to care about in the end was the prospect of having a ton of money and hiding out as she traveled the world in style with Sarah.

Like I said, I really thought this sounded interesting and thought the prologue started it off well.  I so much wanted to like it, but in the end just didn't find the characters to be redeemable enough to establish any sort of empathic connection.

The ebook is only ninety-nine cents, however, if it sounds like something that might tickle your fancy.

Emma Right's Bio:
Emma Right is a happy wife and homeschool mother of five living in the Pacific West Coast of the USA. Besides running a busy home, and looking after their five pets, which includes two cats, two bunnies and a long-haired dachshund, she also writes stories for her children. When she doesn't have her nose in a book, she is telling her kids to get theirs in one.

Right worked as a copywriter for two major advertising agencies and won several awards, including the prestigious Clio Award for her ads, before she settled down to have children.  Visit her website at http://www.emmaright.com/

Price/Format: $0.99 ebook
Pages: 240
Publisher: Right Books
Release: August 26, 2013

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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Free Book Bonanza

Well folks, I'm in shock at the moment. 

The freebie fest continues - and in such an unexpected place!  This morning I looked up Running into the Darkness to see what sites have updated the pricing to free status.  Got the shock of my life to see it up for free not only on Barnes & Noble but...

Get this...

It's coming...

Wait for it...


And I didn't even do anything!  I think they're starting to get more savvy about price matching.  :-)  So today you can now find this first book in the Deepest Darkness series as your free pre-Christmas gift on not only Smashwords but Barnes & Noble and Amazon as well.

Here are the links:

Barnes & Noble



I'll continue to update you as more sites set their pricing to match.  Happy reading!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

An Early Christmas Special

Sorry to have dropped off of the radar for the past month (or is it two?) but I've been trying to make some headway on the latest installment of the Deepest Darkness series.  Plus there haven't been any interesting blog tours to participate in of late - this girl can only stomach so much YA, paranormal, and romance.  Death and destruction are more my cup of hard-boiled joe!

So I've decided to somewhat participate in Na-No-Wri-Mo this month and really make some headway on Rising from the Darkness as much as humanly possible.  I say "somewhat" because for the life of me, I can't just vomit as many words as I can onto a page and hope something sticks.  The self-editor in me is nearly impossible to shut off, so when I get 1,000 words onto a page it is usually in near publishable shape - and sometimes it takes an entire day just to get that.

So in honor of my first foray (somewhat) into Na-No, and the upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons, I've decided to offer up a gift of sorts.  From now until the end of 2013, you can pick up as many free e-book copies of the first book of the Deepest Darkness series, Running into the Darkness, as tickles your fancy.  Gift copies to family and friends and it won't cost you a cent.

At the moment, the freebies are showing up only on Smashwords http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/98766 but soon you should also find it on all other outlets such as Sony, Apple, and Barnes & Noble.  Amazon is a whole other realm, but let them know where you found it for free and maybe we'll succeed on getting Amazon to participate too.

To all of you writers out there, good luck with Na-No.  To all of you readers - an early Merry Christmas!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

EBook Marketing for the Indie Author

For the past month I've promised and now I'm delivering a smorgasbord of marketing tips my fellow authors and I have utilized to find readers and sell eBooks.  Remember, these are just ideas and should in no way be misconstrued as a guarantee.  These authors have also graciously offered copies of one or more of their books for several lucky commenters, so stay tuned below to find out how to win.  Now onto the meat and potatoes!

Marketing your novel can be one of the most intimidating experiences for the self-published, independent author.  Without a marketing degree or industry contacts like the major publishers, the full brunt of the responsibility can feel like you’re swimming against the current in a turbulent storm.  Couple that with a lack of computer savvy in today’s wired world and you may feel like throwing up your hands and quitting before you even get out of the gate.

I’m here to tell you – DON’T QUIT!

Let me start by saying that I’ve been there.  The eBook universe was changing the publishing landscape on a daily basis by the time I finished my first novel.  After spending ample time querying, I decided self-publishing an eBook was for me.  The Internet was rife with self-publishing success stories, and the stigma associated with such was dissipating. 

So I built an online presence then realized the dream of publishing my first novel.  I basked in the joy for a while as I worked the social media components like most of the “how-to” books instruct.  I blogged, Facebook’ed, tweeted – you name it.  Sales were minimal.  Soon they were anemic.  What was I doing wrong?

Reality check time – nothing’s wrong.  The truth is the Internet has become flooded by other independent authors doing exactly the same things.  Once again the publishing world is in flux.  So what practical ways could I utilize to find actual readers out there? 

I still haven’t permanently found that sweet spot, but what I want to share with you in this article are specific things both my fellow indie authors and I have utilized to find readers in the virtual world of eBooks.

1.         Utilize established news outlets and bloggers

Recently I had a spate of sales through Amazon that caught me by surprise – over seventy eBooks in a twenty-four hour period, which was huge for me.  A friend had sent me a link to a news outlet that regularly highlights independent authors.  Figured there was little chance the commentator would pick little old me to highlight, but after debating over it for several months I finally decided it couldn’t hurt to at least try.  I sent a brief email outlining my book title, the synopsis, and the Amazon link for my novel Running into the Darkness and thanked him for considering my book.  A few weeks later, I was shocked to discover he’d chosen my book!

If you’d like to try this specific tactic, the site link is http://pjmedia.com/instapundit/.  Email Glenn at pundit@instapundit.com.  He gets many requests daily so there’s no guarantee he’ll post your book, but I believe one of the reasons he picked mine was because of the brevity of my email.  Just give the facts as mentioned above.  He’s an Amazon affiliate so avoid any other links. 

Since then, I’ve picked up some residual sales from word-of-mouth.  It also gave me the confidence to approach other news feed sites with a brief request.  There haven’t been any other takers as of yet, but I figure the only things the effort hurts are my wrists. :-)  No matter who you contact, remember you are a professional and act as such.  If they don’t respond, let it go and move on to the next contact.  Don’t keep hounding anyone.  Sometimes we all feel desperate, but never EVER act like it.  Keep in mind what your momma taught you – treat everyone with respect no matter what.

2.         Target your audience

Marketing takes a ton of work, so why not reduce that effort a little bit by utilizing a couple of specific tactics here.  With the Halloween season rapidly approaching, fellow indie author William Brian Johnson (http://fatherthunder.blogspot.com and www.ruminationofthunder.com) has a fun approach this time of year to marketing his horror novel Hell to Pay.  Brian explains that he “…found a group of like-minded writers that promote themselves over Halloween on a blog hop called the ‘Coffin Hop’.  We do guest blogs, giveaways, baskets and I’ve met some interesting folk.”  This example can be utilized for other seasons throughout the year: romance at Valentine’s, inspirational at Easter, Christmas…you get the picture.  With my political thriller, I even try to take advantage of the election season every other year.  Search the Internet for other authors and groups within your genre and work together to promote one another.  The old adage applies here…you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.

Another way to target your marketing efforts is to remember to utilize your genre identifiers.  Heidi Ruby Miller (http://heidirubymiller.blogspot.com), author of Greenshift and Ambassadora, explains it well.  “Use your Amazon tags wisely.  You only have two major categories and seven keyword categories.  Take advantage of both your general markets and niche markets so that you can optimize the search results for your book.  For instance, my latest novel Greenshift is listed in the broad main categories of Science Fiction and Space Opera, but I’ve included appropriate niche tags that are already popular like galactic empire, science fiction romance, futuristic, military science fiction, fantasy romance, science fiction adventure, and series.”  You’ll choose your two main categories when uploading your eBook on Amazon.  Once your book page is live, scroll down toward the bottom to input your seven keyword categories.  As Heidi said – choose wisely!

Nicole Loughan (www.littlespotforstories.com), author of novellas To Murder a Saint and All Saints’ Secrets, had another great idea for targeting your audience.  “Another thing I did that I think was helpful was getting Facebook announcements from my Alumni Association.  I went to Michigan State University, one of the largest universities in the country so I have a huge amount of alumni available to sell to.”

3.         Participate in a blog tour

Now first thing I’ll say here is that this is an investment in your writing career.  It is unlikely you will recoup the associated costs through your book sales during the actual tour.  However, it’s a great way to ramp up interest in your novel and accumulate needed book reviews over a short period of time.  Reviews help sales!

There are many blog tour companies out there.  A quick Internet search will offer plenty to choose from.  Some are al-la-carte while others charge an all-inclusive rate.  Some are a rip-off.  Others are so-so in what they offer.  Just do your homework.  The most expensive is not necessarily the best.  And if you’ve written a thriller, don’t choose a tour company that focuses on romance.  Yes, they’ll take your money just the same, but it will be money poorly spent.

If you’d like a recommendation to make it easier, I’ve participated in tours with Tribute Books (http://www.tribute-books.com/blog_tours.html) and highly recommend Nicole and the gang for their professionalism in communication and organization.  They gather the tour stops, create a website with all of the tour dates and stops displayed and a banner you can utilize to drum up interest on your own website/blog.  You choose whether you want stops for reviews, guest posts, interviews or even a mixture to keep it interesting throughout the month-long process.  They blog, Twitter, and Facebook your tour and ask you to do the same leading up to and during the tour.  You can even have a giveaway as part of your tour promotion.  There are several different packages to choose from, and they’re all reasonably priced.

4.         Give ‘em away

This may sound contradictory to what you hope to accomplish as a published author – I mean, you spent months and years working to create your masterpiece(s) and should be rewarded for your hard work.  But the reality is that in the whole publishing realm you are a virtual nobody at this point.  What you’re trying to do right now is get noticed, get your book into as many hands as possible, and garner reviews to help sell future books.  Forward thinking at work here, folks!

Smashwords (www.smashwords.com) is a site that allows you to publish your book in all eBook formats – if you’re not on it you need to be.  Once you’re published here you can also go in and create coupons on your books for percentage discounts up to 100%.  Just access the Coupon Manager from your dashboard, create the coupon, discount, and expiration date then send the code or use it to gift a copy to whomever you wish.  Best of all, this method doesn’t cost you a thing!

Rafflecopter (www.rafflecopter.com) is another site that is a great way to offer professional-looking giveaways.  The basic level is free and the next level costs just $7.99 per month.  You can build your giveaway by choosing the prize(s), the dates of the giveaway (I recommend 30 days), and even allow your entrants to Tweet about, like your Facebook page, or comment on your website/blog.  Once you’ve built your giveaway and expiration date, the site prepares a widget code that you post under HTML on your website/blog.  You can even provide the widget to others to post on their sites to help promote your giveaway.  Entrants simply click the box to login and enter for a chance to win whatever prize you’ve set. At the end of the giveaway period, you go into the site, click on choose a winner and send them an email with their prize.  The nice thing about this is that it collects the names and email addresses of the entrants so you can create a fan base to notify when you have new book releases.  However, avoid abusing this information by sending random emails – makes you nothing more than a spammer and nobody likes a bunch of spam filling their inbox.

GoodReads (www.goodreads.com) is a wonderful site that connects writers AND readers.  If you’ve not created your author profile here, do it as soon as you are finished reading this article (and remember to connect your books to your author page).  Readers can find your books and put them on their “to read” shelf.  You can let these potential readers know about your giveaways for your books when you have them.  Many GoodReads participants also leave reviews and comments on your novels and make recommendations to other GoodReads readers.  It’s a great way to help spread the word. 

But we were talking about giveaways here so let me offer you another of Nicole Loughan’s suggestions.  Even though the focus of this article is on eBook marketing, she had great results with a GoodReads giveaway of physical books at www.goodreads.com/giveaway.  Nicole says, “What you do is offer a physical giveaway of your book for a 30 day period of time and people sign up to win a free copy.  Between the two, more than 1,000 people signed up for the giveaway.  And 600 of them added me to their to read list.  Not that all of those people have purchased yet, that would be nice.  But a few definitely did.”

5.         Above all – ALWAYS present yourself as a professional

This should be understood, but you might be surprised what you’ll find out there in the indie world both in the material published and in author image.  As a reader, I make a point of trying to support fellow indie authors’ works.  But I’ve gotta tell you, sometimes it’s nigh impossible. 

Many times I’ve downloaded material to my Kindle and just about had a cow when within the first few pages there were so many basic punctuation and grammar errors or formatting disasters.  The storyline may be enticing and totally unique, but I never get that because I can’t get past all of the problems to even get into said storyline.  You aren’t doing yourself any favors if you rush to publish without taking the time to get your manuscript into the best shape possible. 

Gordon Kessler (http://gordonkessler.com), author of numerous novels and writing tools like Novel Writing Made Simple, offers some helpful guidelines in regard to getting your product into publishable shape:
a.       Give it a catchy title that fits your story’s genre
b.      Give it a professional, attractive cover design – when readers come across your novel, it’s the first thing they see, and that image needs to draw them in to take a closer look
c.       It should be professionally formatted – the way your book is laid out on the inside is incredibly important.  Since readers can sample your book on online bookseller sites, they’ll probably take a sneak peek at your story opening before they decide whether or not to buy
d.      Ensure your book description (synopsis) is every bit as enticing as your novel.  Think of it as a movie pitch to a producer.  Give them a great opening line (a hook), then pitch the story in movie-trailer fashion

Heidi Ruby Miller also offers this little tidbit of advice, “Keep writing and writing well.  The next book will sell the previous books, especially if they are part of a series or within the same genre.  But don’t hurry a product out to readers that isn’t your personal best – they notice.”

For a reasonable editing option, try a website called Grammarly (www.grammarly.com).  They offer an affordable online site to check your manuscript for grammar and punctuation errors.  Again, we’re talking an investment in your future as a published author.  Once you put something out there for public consumption, your abilities are on display for the world to see.  Grammarly is one way to help ensure that whatever you put out will be seen in the best possible light.

Make sure your image is consistent.  Utilize the same photo of yourself on your website/blog as well as all social media profiles.  And when you use social sites, do more than just constantly yammer about your own novels.  Most of us don’t like pushy salespeople that come across as the proverbial used car salesman – so don’t act like one yourself.  Use the opportunity to also talk about what you’re reading, promote other authors, your interests (besides books), or maybe an insight you’ve had.  Otherwise your followers will stop paying attention to your posts – you may even drop off of their radar completely.  Just keep your image open and friendly to your audience.  Perhaps then they’ll keep coming back for more – and that’s the ultimate goal when you’re trying to find that marketing niche.

So there you have it, dear readers!  As an author, when you’re marketing your books you’re actually marketing yourself.  Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there in new and interesting ways to find your audience.  William Brian Johnson even incorporates his novel sales into his storm photography booth at craft fairs, which I thought was pretty unique.  The more eyes that see your book and the more hands you can get it into will only help in the long run.

Let me end this article with a final word from Heidi Ruby Miller.  “Don’t panic.  The long tail is your friend.  There are millions of readers, which means you could see a jump in your sales at any time and for apparently no reason next month, next year, five years from now.  No more trying to sell yourself in just a two-week shelf window.”

Now get out there, write your best, and then find your readers!

EBook give away time!  William Brian Johnson is offering one copy of Hell to Pay, Heidi Ruby Miller one copy each of Ambassadora and Greenshift, Gordon A. Kessler one copy of Novel Writing Made Simple, Nicole Loughan one copy of To Murder a Saint, and me one copy of Running into the Darkness.  Leave a comment on this blog post (and a means to contact you like email in word form ex: dabalepublishing at att dot net) by October 31st, 2013 and be entered for the drawing of one of the six eBook prizes.  You will be contacted after said date if you are a winner.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Tia Silverthorne Bach's "Chasing Memories"

It's always a pleasure to welcome a fellow indie author to the blog.  Today we delve into the first book of the Tala Prophecy series by Tia Silverthorne Bach.  This YA series promises to be interesting, with a paranormal twist added in. 

Book Summary:
There isn’t another way; not now. The others are coming. I can’t let them have you…Seventeen-year-old Reagan has a problem: She can’t remember what happened the night her brother was taken.

Now, the dreams haunting her from the incident are becoming more intense by the day. All the while, the lines between what’s real and what’s a product of her paranormal-obsessed mind are becoming blurred.

Is she losing her mind or has she just stepped into a world she thought only existed in books?

Caught in a web of worried parents, competing boys, Wiccan relatives, protective amulets, and psychiatrist babble, Reagan must determine the truth before it’s too late.

My Review:
The prologue chapter very quickly sets up the horror and mystery surrounding a family campout at Yellowstone.  But before going further, we have to backtrack in time to the mundane life of seventeen-year-old Reagan in a sleepy Colorado town.

Chapter one takes us back two weeks prior to the events in the prologue - and it felt like those moments when people do nothing but name drop.  There were so many references to known books, magazines, television shows, movies, and product brands that I thought I was in the middle of advertisement overload.  One page alone referenced eight different books and television shows.  But I grit my teeth and read on.

I'm glad I did.

After chapter one we return to the events immediately following the prologue.  Reagan is in the hospital recovering from what appears to be a grizzly bear attack on their campsite.  Her younger brother, Sam, is missing and presumed dead, his body carried off into the woods by the attacking predator.

Upon return to Colorado, life continues to turn upside down.  Her friends don't comprehend what Reagan is going through and regularly spy on her and report to her mother.  Reagan suffers from constant headaches accompanied by horrifying dreams of the night she was attacked and Sam killed.  In her dreams, she sees not a grizzly attacking their camp but a huge wolf with amber eyes - and it talks to her.

Worse, at times she hears her dead brother's voice in her head - but she's still awake.  Reagan knows she isn't crazy but can't explain it nor why she trusts Sam's directives.  But then everyone else starts trying to give her direction and control her every step.

That's when Reagan's mother goes on the defensive - and yes, I mean defensive.  Her mother doesn't appreciate the influence her Wiccan grandmother begins to have over Reagan's life.  Nor the new, strange, and somewhat dangerous pseudo-boyfriend who injects himself into Reagan's life - so she forces Reagan to accompany her to see a psychiatrist.  But her mom doesn't stop there in her efforts to remove Grandmother Nana's influence.  I found both Reagan's mother's actions and at times her "friends" actions despicable.

Chasing Memories kept me reading.  There's teenaged angst scattered throughout, but I was able to get past those moments and stay engaged in the overall story.  Yes, this is a paranormal YA, but the paranormal aspect rather takes second billing to the building of the storyline, of the relationships in Reagan's life, and then what is happening to her.  There were a few times where her thoughts and actions flip-flopped very rapidly and weren't cohesive, but for the most part this was a minor annoyance.

The story ends on a cliffhanger, so be warned.  For those who like a heavier paranormal focus, I'm guessing the paranormal component will take front and center stage in the following novel based upon how the first ended - but this is pure speculation on my part.

I'd recommend Chasing Memories to teens and twenty-somethings and to those who enjoy a light paranormal mystery.  And hey, I always enjoy a good, multi-layered female protagonist like Reagan.  Happy reading!

Author Bio:

Tia Silverthorne Bach is an avid reader, sometimes runner, involved wife and mother, and rabid grammar hound in addition to being a multi-genre writer. Her three daughters were born in Chicago, San Diego, and Baltimore; and she feels fortunate to have called many places home. She's the award-winning co-author of Depression Cookies, a coming of age story written with her mother. Tia's office is wherever her laptop takes her and any place that's conducive to allowing a wild imagination like hers to flourish.  Check out her website at http://depressioncookies.com/ and blog at http://depressioncookies.blogspot.com/

Prices/Formats: $3.99 ebook, $12.99 paperback
Pages: 296
Publisher: self-published
Release: May 22, 2013

Kindle buy link ($3.99):

Amazon paperback buy link ($12.99):

Barnes and Noble paperback buy link ($12.99):

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Monday, August 26, 2013

Housekeeping and a Book Recommendation

Hello hello, dear readers!  I've a few things to share with you today and wanted to just congeal it all into one post.

There's still a week left to enter the giveaway of Running into the Darkness.  Be one of twenty-five readers to get your free copy.  As you know, I've been prepping for the marketing your eBook article and have received several tips from my fellow participating authors - one of which was a giveaway, which I'd never tried before.  Thus this giveaway of RITD was born!  Click below to enter.

And yes, the marketing article is coming next week!  I'm looking forward to sharing with you the various practical things I've done to find readers for my book.  Then there are the ways other participating authors have championed their work too, and I'm so grateful for their participation.  It's going to be chock full of simple things you too can do to interest readers, so tell all of the writers you know and don't miss it!

Lastly, I have a book recommendation for all of you suspense lovers out there - especially if you like an interesting heroine.  Gingerbread Man by Maggie Shayne is an intriguing story I read last weekend that kept me guessing, and as regular readers know, that's pretty hard to do.  The red herring was obvious early on, but it wasn't until well into the second half of the story that I was certain of the killer.  There was also an element I didn't see coming until probably the final quarter of the novel.  I really like stories that keep me guessing.

Be warned - the storyline centers around a pedophile serial killer and the cop who jumps on the trail.  This trail takes him to a small lakeside town where he meets a woman shattered by tragic events from the past.  But it's this woman who could be his greatest asset in hunting down the sick pervert who preys on the innocent - if only he could get her to remember.

Like I said, this was a surprising freebie and I ended up enjoying the mystery element in the storyline.  The overall writing style, however, needs strengthening.  Too much pronoun usage kept me gritting my teeth, but once the story grabbed and got moving it wasn't quite as grating.  The love story aspect between the hero and heroine also was a bit much, but that's likely just because I find romance annoyingly sappy and unrealistic.

So there you have it, folks!  With the Halloween season rapidly approaching, Gingerbread Man might be your ticket.  Watch next week for the marketing article, and don't forget to sign up to win a free copy of Running into the Darkness before the opportunity dwindles.

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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Repeat Performance with Michael F. Stewart

Michael F. Stewart is once again joining us with his follow-up novel  to Assured Destruction.  I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing this prior work earlier in the year and jumped on the opportunity to read the second in the series Assured Destruction: Script Kiddie.  If you don't remember, I enjoyed the first in this YA series, even though my technologically challenged brain had a little difficulty keeping up with some of the protagonist's computer ease.  So let's get down to brass tacks and take a peek at Script Kiddie.

Book Summary:
Jan Rose no longer steals data from the old computers she recycles. She doesn't need to. As the newest member of the police department’s High Tech Crime Unit, the laptop of a murderer has landed on her desk. Her job: to profile and expose a killer.

But that’s not all.

A creep lurks in the shadows, stalking a friend, and Jan must stop him before the hunt turns deadly. The clock counts down for Jan to save her friend, her job, her boyfriend—maybe even her life.

My Review:
Script Kiddie starts off shortly after the events from the first book - and quickly we see the crap hits the fan for our protagonist, Janus Rose (I still like that name).  She's sporting a cast on her leg, crutches in order to get around, still having little time to take care of everything in her day (namely schoolwork, her family business, and the new boyfriend), and then there is the matter of penance for her crimes.

Yes, the police department has taken her on as her community service requirement.  Jan is now placed with the cyber crimes division.  Problem is, none of the other officers want her around.  After she's given an assignment to "prove" her mettle, she discovers it was all a ruse.  But the computer she's asked to profile is what gets the blood flowing (and in real life, heads would roll).

Then there is still the matter with her ailing mother and the strange, old boyfriend her mom decided to start seeing from AD.  Peter is still an enigma to Jan.  She's not sure who he really is and whether or not he's trustworthy.

Next throw in a quasi-irritant from the first book, who is stupid enough to post naked pictures to get involved with a cyber romance and finds herself stalked by a middle-aged sexual predator.  Who does she run to for help?  You guessed it - Jan.

Janus has changed alot from the first story.  Circumstances have humbled her and with too much to deal with, nothing gets accomplished.  She's no longer the hip, super-smart chic who knows it from AD - and I'm not yet sure how I feel about that.  I understand she's gotten in way over her head, but I rather missed the sharp wit and self-assured young lady from book one.  It felt almost as if too much was going on at times so that no one thing got enough focus in the storyline, almost like what happened to the movie Spiderman 3.

The only other thing that just seemed too unrealistic was the final big scene where the bad guy gets his comeuppance.  Just seemed unreal for a young teen with a broken leg and several other injuries at this point to get the upper hand of a large, angry man.  But the fact that Jan was willing to go the extra mile for a disturbed friend does lend her that dose of heroism for our main character.

Even with these issues, I found Script Kiddie to be a good, fast read.  The scene where she tries to drive with her cast is absolutely hilarious.  The fact that the student body clapped for her after this (at least she thinks that's what it's for) makes it even funnier. 

I also found the aspect of her being accused of changing the grades for the entire student body a good kink in Jan's armor.  Who wouldn't suspect her after all she's proven capable of in the past?  Proving she didn't, however, is a task even she's not sure she's up to.  This throws her to trust Peter, her mom's aged boyfriend.

And once again, I found Peter to be a good "red herring" character at times.  I like the fact that Jan's still not sure exactly who he is and what he's really up to - and why he's appearing to try and help her with her cyber investigations.  He tends to keep the story in a state of flux, never sure if he wears a white hat or black.

And I like that!

So check out Assured Destruction: Script Kiddie near the end of August 2013 for the teen audience or the youth within yourself.

And don't forget to sign up for the giveaway below:

Author Bio:
After crewing ships in the Antarctic and the Baltic Sea and some fun in venture capital, Michael anchored himself (happily) to a marriage and a boatload of kids. Now he injects his adventurous spirit into his writing with brief respites for research into the jungles of Sumatra and Guatemala, the ruins of Egypt and Tik’al, paddling the Zambezi and diving whatever cave or ocean reef will have him. He is a member of the International Thriller Writers and SF Canada, and the author of the Assured Destruction series, 24 Bones, The Sand Dragon, Hurakan, Ruination and several award winning graphic novels for young adults.  Check out his website at http://www.michaelfstewart.com/

Formats: paperback & ebook
Release: August 2013
Pages: 156
ISBN: 9780981269979
Publisher: Non Sequitur Press

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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Sitting Down with Tony Rauch

It's been a great week thus far and is only getting better with today's interviewee.  I had the pleasure of reading some of author Tony Rauch's work prior to conducting the interview.  It's fun, light-hearted, a bit creepy, and yeah...bizarre!  So let's get down to business.  Come on, Tony, and sit down in my interview chair!

DAB:    I have no experience with the bizarro fiction genre, and there may be many in our audience like me.  So let me start this interview by asking – what is bizarro fiction?

TR:       it is many things, or can be many things. It is weird fantasy. Dr. Seuss for adults. A swirling of genres. It is experimental. Formula turned inside out. It is Kirk Cameron moving in next door to you and getting a job as a clown at children’s parties. It is you then stalking Kirk Cameron and monitoring his every move with elaborate charts, much as I have done (you can join me some night if you wish, but you have to pass a test first, and I’m gonna test you but good). It can probably best be summed up in the beginning of this interview and this listing -

scroll down a little for the list –

            But the main thing is: it is not just one thing. It is the literature of the strange, the absurd, where stories are harder to classify. It might be silly or cartoony, it might be strange horror, it might be unusual cowboy, it may be a love triangle between really shy dinosaurs. Now it’s your turn to list what it might be. It can be whatever you want it to be.
 DAB:  That's funny!  I especially like the "Dr. Seuss for adults" moniker.  How did you first develop an interest in this genre, and when did you decide this was what you wanted to write?

TR:       I do not like labels, as I find them limiting. And I don’t know what categories my stories would best fit. I guess that would be up to others to consider. I like a variety of story types, tropes, and formats, so mixing them seems to work best for me. This was how I always wrote because formula fiction was too boring and limiting. A swirl of styles, forms, and types was more challenging and freeing. A story might be a list, it may be just three lines, it may be a middle with you to be left thinking of a beginning and ending. It is meant to challenge and provoke.

            I was writing this kind of stuff before a recent label congealed. My first collection, “I’m right here,” came out in 1998, and some of those stories date back to the early 90s. I just called them absurdist, or post-modern, or experimental, or put the pedal to the floor and drive through the supermarket in a stolen city bus, or alternative, or underground. It was just more challenging, more liberating, more boundless than other forms of inhibited, tight, constrained, formula jive.

            I was always interested in this type of writing - Donald Barthelme, Mark Leyner – anything different, fresh, new, alive. I didn’t go to it. It came to me at the library when I first read anthologies such as “the anti story”, “super fiction”, “the naked i”, “the uncommon reader”, “cutting edge.” Leonard Michaels’s short story “murderers” showed me there could be no rules, no formats. It unshackled previous restraints. I was always into art, reading, drawing, sketching, and I read that story and said, yes, this is what I want to do, and so I did.

            But I’m not sure if my stories or sketches would fit in with “bizarro fiction” as I seem to deal with the middle ranges of experience and not the extremes. But you see, there’s where it’s great, and that’s the appeal to me – that is my thoughts on the subject, where everyone else will have a different point of reference. So the genre then becomes more elastic and oozing as everyone has their own idea of what “extreme,” “absurd,” or “silly” might be. Someone might read something and think it is a horror piece, where another person may see it as an absurdist piece or satire. Actually, I’m really tired of talking about this – investigate it on your own. In the meantime, would you like to see my Kirk diagrams? I’ve got notebooks full.

DAB:   I'm definitely with you on the whole "labels" issue, and I'll leave Kirk to you for now.  This short story collection is so different – how do you come up with such interesting and “bizarre” ideas about which to write?

TR:       I think my collection, “eyeballs growing all over me . . again” is just some strange story starters for young adults and sci fi fantasy adventures, maybe picking things up where Ray Bradbury left off and just taking off with those types of vibes.

            The stories just hit me – at the super market, while walking my dog, etc. I’m so busy at work during the day that it’s as if a part of my brain is thinking of these things all day without my knowing it and then that door opens in the quiet moments. I like the big ideas in the small moments – the mini-adventures, going places, discovering gadgets, seeing things I otherwise could not.

            Most of the ideas I think are just extrapolations of things I think about, then extrude them to their breaking point – what’s in that cupboard or behind that door? Obviously a strange mushroom who knows who has a crush on me but won’t tell me until I do it a favor. That sort of thing.

DAB:   In eyeballs growing all over me…again, which is your favorite story in the collection?  Which is your favorite character?  Do you personally identify with him/her/it in some way?

TR:      I hate them all. the people in it are all liars, they have poor hygene, they . . . No, actually I like them all. I guess the best for me in that one would be “send krupac through the portal” as a man is offered a chance to search for his girlfriend in another dimension as the version of her in this one has broken it off. And “people have been drifting away lately” where people just up and float away. They deal with loss and I have a hard time coming to terms with loss, though I am getting better with change. I identify with the feelings and sentiments behind those two and some other pieces in there – the man who builds a robot to try to meet women, the desire to go back in time and see a cool rock and roll concert, the desire to escape, ambivalence, contradictions, dealing with weird crap that happens for no reason, etc. These are just extrapolations, just metaphors for the crap we have to deal with.

DAB:   Do you have a set writing routine, or do you fit it in around everything else whenever you can?

TR:      I have very little time to write, which is why short stories probably fit best for me. Most novels I’ve seen are contrived and way too long. I tend to write when a good idea hits me. But usually I only have an hour a night to write as I work all day. It’s too bad that short story collections, and weird genre stuff in particular, does not sell well because I think it would challenge a lot of people to think in a different gear for a while if they just gave it a chance. Basically I work in a very obscure art form and thus I consider myself more of a folk artist, an outsider – as if writing down old folk songs or paintings found in the attics of old garages that no one knows who wrote or painted.

DAB:    The "folk artist" comparison fits pretty well, I think.  Tell us about your writing space.  What’s on your desk?  What do you do to get in the writing mood?

TR:       The first two books were written on those old main frame macs in a study with books all around me. Both my old apartments had views to flowers and trees, so no hectic distractions and lots to wonder about. Then I got a house and a lap-top and now type in the living room on a wooden TV stand. The view across the street is nice – again, lots of big trees, no distractions. Often I will write something out long hand in bed at night, again when there are no distractions. That’s it. There are no real secrets other than the old adage: ass to chair. Having no distractions is the key for me, so at night when all is blank and quiet seems to work best at opening things up for me.

DAB:    Was there anyone in your past that influenced your desire to write?  Your present?

TR:       No one person. I was always introverted, way too much for my own good, and always into art and drawing and those drawings had a narrative to them which I started writing down as they were actually stories in pictographic form, whether I realized that or not. Also, me and my friends used to write funny, absurdist skits for school to entertain ourselves, and I think that really formed my outlook and template – seeing the world as a strange, absurd place.

DAB:    So since we’re talking about some “bizarre” situations here, if you had a time machine would you choose to go visit the future or past?  Why?

TR:       The past. Unfortunately I miss a lot of things. I’ve always had a longing for the past - friends, old stuff, a chance to re-do a couple of things and get them right. Though I should be more adventurous and say the future, as that is probably a healthier outlook. Sometimes you just gotta let things go, let things be.

DAB:    Okay, now let’s come back to reality for a moment.  There’s one question I love to ask fellow authors – do you outline your stories or do you just sit down and write where the story takes you?

TR:       Depends. Either / Or. Sometimes it’s easier to write it all out all at once, since most of my stuff is so brief. Sometimes if I get an idea elsewhere, I have to jot it down as an outline. So basically it depends on where I’m located when the idea hits me. For some reason, often times the endings come to me first, and then I work back from that.
            The important thing to me is to be interesting, thought-provoking, entertaining, informative, fast and brief, present new and different ideas or takes on things. Now I don’t know if I’ve achieved that, but that’s the goal.

DAB:    And it's always nice to have a goal.  Are you working on anything new at present?  Care to give us a sneak peek?

TR:       Nothing new right now, unfortunately. I’ve been swamped with other life matters and work. I have three books of shorts done and ready to be published and at least one YA collection almost finished, but no one as of yet to publish them. I was unemployed for a while (I’m an Architect, so my job depends on lending and the overall economy because it is a service industry) so I had some time to really dig in and finish some things and work on marketing my other published story collections, which is really hard.

            But odd shorts have a very limited market, so very low sales potential I’m afraid. I have thought of doing a novella just to see if I can do one, and also just as a change of pace or as a writing exercise. It’s probably good to stretch and grow and not get stagnant or refine a shtick. Repetition is the opposite of art. If you’re burning on technique, you’re not an Artist, you’re an illustrator, and artist with a small ‘a’. If you’re out there balancing on new ground, trying new things, then you’re an Artist. I want to create Art, something different, unique, challenging, fresh, alive, free. Whether I’ve achieved that or not is up to an individual reader to decide and balance out with what their thoughts are.

            In the meantime, tell Kirk I say hello.

I'll do that, Tony!  Thanks again for joining us here at the blog to offer insight into the bizarro genre - and your writing life.  Be sure and check out Tony's work through his website at  http://trauch.wordpress.com/

Author Bio:

Tony Rauch has three books of short stories published –
-         “I’m right here” (Spout Press)
-         “Laredo” (Eraserhead Press)
-         “Eyeballs growing all over me . . . again” (Eraserhead Press)
            He has an additional titles finished and is looking for a publisher for them, including “as I floated in the jar”. He has been interviewed by the Prague Post, Oxford Univ student paper, Raintaxi, and has been reviewed by the MIT paper and the Savanna College of Art and Design paper, among many others.
Story samples can be found at – http://trauch.wordpress.com/
His work deals with fragility, uncertainty, impermanence, the mysteries hidden in everyday life, a sense of discovery, escape, concealment, ennui, regret, loneliness, technology run amok, eerie vibes, irresponsible behavior, confusion, absurd situations, surrealism, modern fairy tales, etc.