Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Year In Review and a Thank You

Hello again, dear readers!

I've been remiss in posting regularly to my blog this year, mainly because I've been so focused on getting as much writing done as possible.  And I succeeded in hitting my goal of releasing three novels this year in my Bartender Babe Chronicles series.  Yay!!!

Another 2016 milestone target was to start a podcast, which I have done with fellow author William Brian Johnson (see Podcast tab above).  We've been having a blast just feeling our way through some of the in's and out's of that whole mess, but I think we're beginning to find our stride (finally).  I was pleased to hear from a listener about how helpful he found Episode 6 to be, where we talked about reviews, how to find reviewers, and how to professionally ask for reviews.  Since I forgot to post the data mentioned there, I will do so below for the indie authors in the audience:

Review List Sites:
1.  indiebookreviewer.wordpress.com
2.  theindieview.com
3.  bookrevieweryellowpages.com
4.  bookbloggerlist.com
5.  tweetyourbooks.com

Also in said podcast Episode 6, I mentioned my top ten pet peeves of things authors do wrong when requesting a review from reviewers.  I talk about this repeatedly in the podcast, but the first thing to remember is to always, ALWAYS follow each individual reviewer's guidelines on their website/blog when sending out that initial request for review.  Then be professional in your request.

Top Ten Pet Peeves:
10.  Not addressing your email request to a real person - instead using Sir/Madam/To Whom It May Concern, etc.
9.    Asking for an "honest" review - as if all reviews we've written before yours are less than honest
8.    Piles request with positive comments of other reviewers - we'll make our own decisions, thank you
7.    Listing personal accomplishments that have absolutely nothing to do with NOVEL writing
6.    Sending the book and/or a bunch of other attachments with your initial request - some want it up front while most don't, and you can find this out by reading each reviewer's guidelines (see above for a reminder if you've already forgotten)
5.    Including a bunch of links for reviewers to discover your book blurb, cover, author bio, etc. - you want the review so don't expect the reviewer to do your work for you
4.    Unrealistic expectations - i.e. expecting a reviewer to read and review your book within days or even weeks of submitting a request when we're usually running months out on our TBR piles
3.    Not including the book title, author name, or book blurb - and the sender's email address gives no clue as to who they are because it's cutsie or disturbing
2.    A request to review a novel outside of specified genres - again, read the guidelines of every reviewer
1.    Expecting reviewers to BUY their book to review - ain't gonna happen

So with those out of the way, podcast Episode 7 is now live if you'd like to listen.  Again, find it under the Podcast tab above.

Another thing I really wanted to do in 2016 was to begin treating my writing more like a business instead of a hobby.  One of those ways I succeeded this year was to write and release more books. Even though this took me away from my more in-depth stories, it did allow me to branch out into other genres I enjoy reading and writing.  However, even though I'm going to spend time in 2017 writing these lighter books, I'll also be working behind the scenes on some deeper and more complex stories I've got percolating around in my head.  When they'll release is uncertain at this time, but for those of you who prefer something more along the lines of the Deepest Darkness series, trust that I'll have more for you again from my publishing quiver.

So continuing with the business model mindset, though I have yet to incorporate, I did begin to keep better track of income and expenses, created a variety of spreadsheets, tracked promotions and their effectiveness, and have started a newsletter in 2016.

I realized a little late in the game how important newsletters are to keeping in touch with fans and followers and the impact that has on growing sales of new releases.  When I ran a BookBub promotion back in 2014, I could've been much more ahead of the game by now if I'd have had this one little piece in place.  So instead of spending so much time and energy on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads this coming year, I'm going to expend more energy with my newsletter.  Just remember to be patient with me as I better learn these rather complicated ropes.  Hey, I'm teaching myself as I go (and for an older dog, it's a little harder to learn new tricks).

The other thing I've done is to start updating front and back matter of my book backlist.  One thing I'd never done was to incorporate a page at the end of each book asking for reviews. After talking with several more successful authors through Kboards.com (if you're an author and haven't spent time there, I highly recommend you do), I figured it was high time I grit my teeth, swallow my squirms with this well-used trope, and go ahead and do this too.  It goes back to that aspect of treating my writing like a business - and like a business, I need reviews to sell books, and to sell books I need reviews.  This makes it easier for a reader to click the link and leave a few kind words if they are so inclined.  Already I've gotten several new reviews these last couple of days (and a couple of signups for my newsletter too).

All in all, I'm still not exactly where I wanted to be by the end of 2016, but I have accomplished most of my goals for this year - and I have you, dear readers, to thank for what successes I've achieved.  From the bottom of my heart, please know I appreciate you sticking with my writing and thank you immensely for your support and for the encouraging words so many of you have passed along.

Now I'm on to finalizing new goals for 2017.  Fingers crossed!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Cover Reveal - Knock Before You Enter

The story writ.  The release nears.  The cover made.

The cover you ask?

Ah-ha!

Your favorite bartender is headed on vacation - and this time it isn't all handsome hunks and high heels.  More like grumpy gators and a grandmother on the side as Vicki heads to Louisiana for the holidays.

So with neither fanfare nor frolicking and with nary a nudge (okay, maybe a little), catch the first glimpse of the brand new cover for KNOCK BEFORE YOU ENTER, book three in the Bartender Babe Chronicles coming December 15th.



Thursday, November 10, 2016

Catastrophic Coffee New Podcast Episode


Hey, readers!  If you aren't yet aware, I've partnered with fellow author William Brian Johnson to host a podcast on writing and self-publishing - and we've got a new episode posted on D A Bale Publishing.

Click on the Podcast tab up above or HERE for the link to all four episodes thus far, including the most recent Episode 4: Marketing for Idiots, Complete Idiots, No Not You.  Some of the promotional websites we discuss during this episode are referenced below:

Free
www.mybookcave.com

Low Cost
www.readingdeals.com
www.thefussylibrarian.com

Mid Cost
www.ereadernewstoday.com
www.bookgorilla.com
www.booksends.com

High Cost
www.bookbub.com
www.freebooksy.com 

If you like what you hear and have a specific topic you'd like us to pursue, email us at catastrophiccoffee@gmail.com.  Stay tuned for more episodes!

Monday, October 31, 2016

A Halloween Announcement

Happy Halloween!

On this auspicious day of candy and capers, I offer up an announcement guaranteed to rot your brain better than a year of candy bars.

There's a podcast going on.

Yes sirree.  After months of working out the details and tripping over ourselves through the whims of the weather, I've partnered with a fellow writer to put together Coffee and Catastrophe...Writers on a Caffeine High, a podcast on novel writing and the ever-changing realm of indie publishing.  We'll converse about general principles, the important rules of novel writing, my personal experience with many of the marketing websites out there, NaNoWriMo, and what it's really like to visit the Vomitarium.

You read that right - but you'll have to listen to find out more.

If you've visited the site within the past week, you'll notice a new tab at the top labeled Podcasts.  Or you can click on the link HERE and follow the few episodes posted thus far.  Each episode is just under thirty minutes, and the plan is to post new episodes weekly.

So join me and co-host William Brian Johnson as we explore this world of novel writing and self-publishing.  Or just laugh at us as we try to navigate our way through the podcast experience. Either way, we promise a wild and interesting ride.




Thursday, September 29, 2016

Interviewing Bestselling Author Elle Casey - Part Two

Last week I had the pleasure of introducing you to bestselling author Elle Casey in part one of her interview (read HERE). This week we continue our discussion about life and writing within the world of self-publishing.


DAB:  Have you written stories your whole life or only recently when deciding to pursue a novel writing career?

EC:    I have written stores my whole life, unofficially. I remember writing a romance for a girlfriend of mine in seventh grade who had an unrequited crush on a boy. It featured her as the main character and him as the boy pursuing her. She begged me for new chapters everyday. That was fun to do, but we were always panicked someone would get their hands on it. I also did a lot of letter writing when I was very young, as a teenager, and in my 20s, before computers and printers were in every house. In those letters I told stories and many people have saved them because they liked them so much. I’m an attorney (one of those many work lives I mentioned) and there's an awful lot of writing included in that career field, although it’s mostly non-fiction. I decided to try writing novels in November 2011. I had read an article about Amanda Hocking and that inspired me to try.

DAB:  Inspiration well channeled, I must say.  Going from being an attorney to a teacher and now an author, did those around you support your career decision or did you struggle with detractors?

EC:    Anyone who knew how well I was doing was absolutely supportive. Other people who were kind of clueless about self-publishing probably thought I was a weirdo, but I didn't pay any attention to them.

DAB:  Not so easy to do sometimes, but good thing your husband and family were firmly in your corner.  That had to make you breathe a little easier, but what were some things you researched before diving into this crazy new self-publishing world?

EC:    When I read about Darcie Chan and Amanda Hocking and how they were publishing directly to readers without the middlemen, and how they did it almost immediately after they were done writing and editing their books, I decided this was something I'd like to try.  My goal was to sell my first book to a single stranger who liked it, and I figured if I was able to accomplish that goal, it would mean that I had a possible future as a writer. I achieved that goal in my first month of publishing.

DAB:  Ha!  What would you say to those detractors now?

EC:    I don't feel the need to say anything. My success speaks for itself. Some people are just negative by nature, and I don't waste my time on them.

DAB:  And what a success it is too, with so many books published in such a short time.  So what steps do you take to get the word out about an upcoming release?

EC:    My assistant gets in touch with my ARC team, we run ads, use social media and my newsletter to let as many readers know about the new book as possible. I sometimes will run contests for free or reduced price books. I will also do cross-promotions with other authors where we share each other's work with our readers to help spread the word. When I have a release with Montlake, they do price promotions, use NetGalley to get reviewers on board, Goodreads giveaways, and other promotional levers that only Amazon has access to.

DAB:  Ah, I've seen some of this implemented in your newsletter (sign up for Elle's newsletter HERE).  How far ahead of release do you begin your marketing campaign, and how does publishing a book every six weeks or so affect planning?

EC:    Not far, since I publish so frequently. I finish a book, get started on a new one, and my team starts the marketing machine going as we release the new book. That goes for my indie books. My trad books with Montlake follow their plan, which is marketing months out.

DAB:  After a new release, is there a process you go through when deciding what novel to work on next?

EC:    Usually I will work on the books fans most want me to work on, and I try to spread myself out among genres. For example, my fantasy readers have been waiting for the next War of the Fae books for a loooong time. They’re next. But sometimes I have contractual obligations that decide which book I’m working on.

DAB:  Waiting for more DRIFERS' ALLIANCE here.  I just love Captain Cass and the Ginger Twins (hey, sounds like a music group). So who is your favorite created character thus far, and why?

EC:    Probably Tim the pixie in the War of the Fae series. He’s a blast. Whenever I’m writing his dialogue or have him in a scene, my spirits are soaring. It’s impossible not to love that little guy.

DAB:  Okay, you've convinced me.  Now I'm gonna have to try your WOTF fantasy series.  Speaking of fantasy, have your travels and life experiences bled into any stories you've written?

EC:    I took a trip to Scotland and the Isle of Skye a couple of years ago, and I stumbled upon some information about the McKenzie clan. That’s what sparked my novel Shine Not Burn which made the New York Times bestseller list. I also used the setting in my War of the Fae books. Scotland and the Isle of Skye are magical places. I think it's impossible not to be inspired there.

DAB:  Sounds heavenly!  I'll have to depend upon your imagination/inspiration there.  Settings aside, how do your characters/plots come to you?  Dreams?  Situations?  An amalgamation of people you know?

EC:    Life. My past. My future. Things I see on the street or daydream or nightdream about. Sometimes weird stories on Yahoo.com are fodder for good books too.

DAB:  Isn't that the truth?  Life oftentimes is literally stranger than fiction, but that doesn't stop us from reading about it, eh?  What is your preferred reading medium (paper, electronic, audio), and what are you reading right now?

EC:    I read in both paper and e-book form. I don't like audiobooks very much. The narrators usually sound very different than the narrator in my head and I find it distracting. I also read really fast and audiobooks take too long. I have very little free time right now, what with my writing, family, and animals, so I have to cram the books in as fast as I can. Right now I’m reading a book for book club called Extraordinary People by Peter May. I didn’t choose it, but he’s a great writer, so it’s a pleasure to read.

DAB:  I don't know how you find the time to read, what with your prolific output of writing.  What would you say then is the most satisfying thing about being a bestselling author?  The most difficult?

EC:    The most satisfying thing is getting messages from my fans telling me how much they like my work. Especially when people tell me how one of my books helped them through a hard time or made them laugh so hard they peed their pants or woke their spouse up in the middle of the night when they were reading in bed. I know about that experience from a reader's perspective, so it's really flattering to hear somebody saying it about my work. The most difficult part of becoming a more popular writer is that it tends to bring the online trolls out to play. They can be very unkind which is demotivating for a writer. Writing is a creative endeavor, and if your heart isn’t in it, it's almost impossible to do. Trolls kill creativity_; at least, that’s how it is for me.

DAB:  Unrelentingly true.  When life becomes difficult, writing becomes impossible.  How does your mood/emotional state affect your writing (life situations, bad reviews, etc.), and how do you deal with the down times

EC:    Well, the most critical thing someone’s ever said is that I’m dead stupid and should never even think of writing another book for the rest of my life, but that kind of garbage isn’t helpful and really isn’t about me so much as it’s about an angry, mentally unbalanced person with free access to the Internet. As silly as those kinds of reviews are, and even though I can rationally tell myself that it’s just a person blowing off steam, it still makes it difficult for me to work after reading one. What I’ll do nowadays is read all the negative reviews on a certain day, prepare myself as best I can for the anger and vitriol, and then take a couple days off to cry and hate myself before I get over it and go back to work. lol. (not kidding, but lol anyway) I do, however, get helpful writing tips from reader reviews, those that are actually discussing the book and not me as an author: things like a romance happening too fast, not enough description of a character to get a good picture, cliffhangers (I ignore any complaints about those, haha), etc. If enough people tell me something they didn’t like about a book, character, or series, I am definitely thinking about it as I write the next book, assuming I agree with it. Sometimes I think a reader just didn’t get what I was trying to do with a certain character or scene, so I just let it go. But if I think their gripe is legit, I work to be better next time.

DAB:  Oh yeah.  I've had my fair share of reviewers angry about cliffhangers too.  However, it's good to hear you've learned to take those in stride and kept on plugging away.  Now that we're here at the end of our interview, do you have any further advice you’d like to offer the authors in our audience?

EC:    Ignore the haters. Even the most amazing authors in the history of writing have them, and none of us should expect to be different or allow those jerks to define who we are as authors. It was my readers who gave me that advice.

I’m often asked to give advice to to aspiring authors. Here’re my 2 cents: Write. Don’t just dream about writing, or talk about wanting to write, or read about writing, or do practice exercises designed to help you learn how to write. Just write. And then keep doing that. You can’t have a career as a writer if you can’t finish writing a book. Then, once you’ve done that, edit over and over until it’s the best you can do. Then ask for feedback from trusted, gentle sources. If you have problems with your writing, read a book or two on writing and edit again. You’ll never be a good writer if you don’t WRITE. Also, if you don’t read a lot, you should probably read at least 50 books in your preferred genre before you even start to write in it, because you have to know what readers of that genre will be looking for. Reader expectations must be met always and exceeded whenever possible. If you’re not a big reader, I don’t think it’s possible to be a big writer.

Sage advice, Elle, though I still wonder where you find the time to read what with all the writing you do.  Keep at it, though, and we'll keep reading.

If you haven't had a chance to read any of Elle Casey's work, dear readers, she's got plenty of material to choose from in a wide variety of genres to satisfy your tastes.  I can personally recommend her sci-fi space opera series DRIFTERS' ALLIANCE.  Now I'm off to sample the first in her ten book series WAR OF THE FAE so I can see why Tim the pixie is such a favorite character of hers.

Happy reading!


Elle Casey's Bio:
ELLE CASEY, a former attorney and teacher, is a NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY bestselling American author who lives in France with her husband, three kids, and a number of furry friends. She has written books in several genres and publishes an average of one full-length novel per month.

BOOKS BY ELLE CASEY

ROMANCE
By Degrees
Rebel Wheels (3-book series)
Just One Night (romantic serial)
Just One Week
Love in New York (3-book series)
Shine Not Burn (2-book series), also available as an Audiobook
Bourbon Street Boys (3-book series), also available as an Audiobook
Desperate Measures
Mismatched

ROMANTIC SUSPENSE
All the Glory: How Jason Bradley Went from Hero to Zero in Ten Seconds Flat
Don’t Make Me Beautiful
Wrecked (2-book series), Book 1 also available as an Audiobook

CONTEMPORARY URBAN FANTASY
War of the Fae (10-book series) *Book 1, The Changelings, is a free ebook at most retailers*
Ten Things You Should Know About Dragons (short story, The Dragon Chronicles)
My Vampire Summer
Aces High

SCIENCE FICTION
Drifters’ Alliance (ongoing series)
Winner Takes All (short story prequel to Drifters’ Alliance, Dark Beyond the Stars Anthology)
The Ivory Tower (short story standalone, Beyond the Stars: A Planet Too Far Anthology)

DYSTOPIAN
Apocalypsis (4-book series)*Book 1, Kahayatle, is a free ebook at most retailers*

PARANORMAL
Duality (2-book series)
Monkey Business (short story)
Dreampath (short story, The Telepath Chronicles)
Pocket Full of Sunshine (short story & screenplay)

A personal note from Elle ...
If you've enjoyed any of my books, please take a moment to leave a review on the site where you bought this book, Goodreads, or any book blogs you participate in, and tell your friends! I love interacting with my readers, so if you feel like shooting the breeze or talking about books or your family or pets, please visit me. You can find me at ...

www.ElleCasey.com
www.Facebook.com/ellecaseytheauthor
www.Twitter.com/ellecasey

Want to get an email when my next book is released? Sign up here: www.ElleCasey.com/news

Friday, September 23, 2016

Interviewing Bestselling Author Elle Casey - Part One

Have I got a real treat for you today, dear readers!  I stumbled upon Elle Casey during one of her freebie promotion days for her sci-fi space opera adventure series DRIFTERS' ALLIANCE (read my review HERE).  It was such an enjoyable read, I quickly downloaded books two and three in the series and devoured them.  Her characters are rich.  They're flawed.  They have pasts, presents, and are dreaming of futures yet to be realized - and I can hardly wait to jump back on board the spaceship DS Anarchy for additional adventures with Captain Cass and Company.

While I was in full geek-out mode, I took a chance and contacted Elle through her website (www.ellecasey.com) to see if she'd be willing to let me interview her for the blog - and she graciously agreed, answering not just some but all of my questions.  Thus, please join me today for part one of this interview and get to know bestselling author, Elle Casey.

DAB:  Welcome, Elle!  You’ve been an attorney, a teacher, and now a bestselling author.  Tell us a little of what the progression was like through your various careers, and how it prepared you for the life you’re living as an author today.

EC:    I’m the kind of person who gets interested in a particular topic or subject and then I research the heck out of it. And if it interests me beyond that, sometimes I turn it into a career. I've done that several times, in fact. (stock broker, insurance sales, restaurateur, medical devices, etc.) But I'm also the kind of person who, once I have mastered something, I get bored with it. That goes for jobs and it also goes for places where I live. So I guess you could say I've been a bit nomadic in both my work and private lives. Most of my life, the people who love me would make offhand comments about me being flaky (“She can’t settle down, she’s always starting something new.”) But as it turns out, this kind of life can turn a person into a great storyteller. I've met many kinds of people, I've worked in a lot of different environments, and I've lived in a lot of places. You will see bits of that in all of the books I write.

DAB:  Well here's one reader that hopes you won't give up this particular writing career anytime soon.  You’re an American living in France.  How did you arrive at the decision to make the move, and did moving to France influence your decision to pursue a novel writing career?

EC:    My husband and I decided to take a one year timeout with the kids so that we could all learn about another culture and take a break from the rat race. But once we were here, we didn't want to leave. So that put me in the position of having to figure out a way to make a living here. At first, I was working as a teacher, but as everybody knows, teacher salaries aren't so great. Self-publishing came along at just the right moment.

DAB:  I come from a family full of teachers, so I can definitely appreciate that aspect.  Was it exciting, frightening, nerve-wracking, or simply business-as-usual to move from the corporate/business environment to self-publishing?

EC:    It was just plain exciting! I did it while I was also working as a teacher, so I had nothing to lose and everything to gain by trying.

DAB:  So I guess we could say teaching was your transition career between being an attorney and an author.  So at this point, which of your novels is your favorite?

EC:    They all take a piece of me to put together and they all pull from my life or my history in one way or another. My favorite might be Apocalypsis because I dreamed of a post-apocalyptic world often as a teen, wondering what I’d do to survive. I also love War of the Fae because the characters are so crazy and I adore supernatural stuff. There will always be a part of me that believes vampires, witches, elves, and fairies exist here with us. No one will ever be able to convince me they don’t.

DAB:  Maybe they're all part of that world in a galaxy far, far away. Speaking of other galaxies, I’ve read your DRIFTERS’ ALLIANCE series and loved the three books thus far.  Where did the germ that sprang into the idea for this series come from?

EC:    I’m a big fan of the television series Firefly. My husband and I were always looking for something similar on TV, but there's not much out there. So, I decided to write my own story. I would love to see it on television one day.

DAB:  Me too!  Total Firefly geek. Personally, I'd love to see your DA novels become the next space opera TV series.  Now who would play the ginger twins???

But sci-fi aside, you write in a broad category of other genres such as romance, mystery, etc.  Have you experienced unexpected challenges to writing under and juggling so many hats?

EC:    I write in several genres including action-adventure, contemporary urban fantasy, romance, romantic thriller, paranormal, paranormal romance, science fiction, and post-apocalyptic dystopian fiction. I really believe there are no genre or subject matter limits to what indie authors can publish. Indies can write in any genre, and that work will be accepted by readers around the world. In fact, I believe that indie writing lends itself to a much broader spectrum of fiction than what has been accepted by the traditional publishing world.  Right now indie authors are setting the trends, and traditional publishers are playing catch-up.  But there’s a valid reason for it. It’s all about the cost of doing business. Traditional publishing companies like to make sure that their marketing money is being spent as efficiently as possible, therefore they limit their authors to a specific genre so that every dollar they spend can be focused on a single group of readers that’s very easy to find and identify and “speak" to. If an author were to write in several genres, that marketing money could be wasted, in that they’d be talking to the wrong people sometimes and they’d have to build up and attract a new audience for each genre. I’m sure they see it as re-inventing the wheel over and over. It’s true to say that reader-fans don’t always cross over and read other genres written by their favorite authors. Many of my readers have told me that they will read all the romance novels I write, but they won't touch the other genres that I write in; and, on the other hand, I have readers who will only read my fantasy or paranormal work and nothing else.  From a marketing dollar perspective, it's very expensive to have to build new audiences for each genre, but indie authors don't really worry about this kind of thing, in general. Indie authors write what excites them, write what they're interested in reading, or write what they think their readers are looking for. Indie authors are not limited by a company head above them telling them what they can and cannot do. Personally, I like to read in all these genres, and I also get bored writing in the same genre all the time.

DAB:  I second that.  It's nice as an indie to be able to write what we enjoy without all of those restrictions. You've mentioned many different genres in which you write, so that's got to translate to quite a few books.  How many total books written/published are you up to now?

EC:    I currently have 44 published works (this includes full-length novels, serials and short stories).

DAB:  In three/four years as an author?  That's incredible!  Have you found certain genres perform better than others?  If so, what’s your take on the reasons for this genre performance?

EC:    The romance genre performs better than any of the others because the market is so big and readers of romance tend to be very voracious. They read more books in a the year than any other genre reader, I’m convinced of that. A close second would be mystery/thriller readers, but that genre is more popular in the UK than the US. Lately, science fiction has started to jump, and I'm really excited about that. It's one of my favorite genres to watch on television and in the movies. My Drifters’ Alliance science fiction space opera has been really well-received.

DAB:  Uh, big fan here if I've yet to make that clear.  What project(s) are you currently pounding out that we might see later in 2016/2017 (please say DA4)?

EC:    Yes! DA 4, 5, and 6 actually—they’re coming next year. I have more War of the Fae coming this year. I also have a 4th book in the Bourbon Street Boys series in process right now. You can check my website for my full publishing schedule: http://www.ellecasey.com/publishing-schedule/.

DAB:  Okay, here's something I ask every interviewee who visits the blog, and I get some very interesting answers sometimes.  Are you a plotter or a pantser (i.e. to outline or not to outline, that is the question)?

EC:    I don’t use outlines to write; I’m a total Pantser. I’m never in control of my stories. Never ever. I just take dictation of what I see and hear them doing/saying in my head. My stories go wherever the characters take them. When I try to outline it ends up being a waste of time.

DAB:  I'm so glad to hear you say that!  I'm a Pantser as well, but most Plotters shake their finger at me and tell me they get a much higher output when they outline.  However, your reported word count output per day is astounding.  Tell us what word count you’ve been running lately, and advice you would give other authors on how to increase their daily volume.

EC:    It totally depends on how close the deadline is. If I set a short deadline, I can do as much as 10k a day for several days in a row. I can do more than that but it’s mentally exhausting and then I need a break. 5k a day is very reasonable for me. I would say that practice makes perfect. Getting into the swing of writing is like anything else; you have to do a lot of it before it starts feeling natural. I’ve also started doing dictation using a dictaphone and uploading to Dragon. That makes it much easier to hit my targets.

DAB:  Hmm, I might have to try that too.  To get all of this writing done, do you keep a regular writing schedule or do you write all hours of the day and night as the muse nags?

EC:    I have a schedule but it’s flexible. I write at all hours of the day and night depending on what else is going on in my life.

DAB:  Do you ever write to music or do you prefer silence?

EC:    I need either silence or white noise. Anything that can distract me, will! So anything with lyrics is out, anything I can hum to, etc.

DAB:  Uh-oh!  The writer's death knell.  That reminds me - I've read references on your site about what you call ‘squirrels’.  Care to explain this term to our audience and how to deal with these pesky critters that plague us as writers?

EC:    Squirrels are, quite simply, distractions. The reference comes from that movie Up where there's a talking dog who’s having a conversation with somebody and then stops and whips his head to the side and says, “Squirrel!” Most dogs are distracted by those little critters. And writers are distracted by Facebook, Twitter, email, laundry, spouses, kids, etc etc. The list of writing squirrels is endless and ignoring them is a daily battle.

DAB:  Which is why my desk is covered in notepads.  Squirrels are an insanity-inducing challenge some days.  Speaking of which, did your husband and children ever question your sanity when you told them you were going to quit your day job and write novels?

EC:    Never, because I think it had been pretty well established already that I wasn't sane in the first place. Haha. Ask anyone who loves me. . . they’ll tell you I’m a little crazy. My husband’s favorite line is: “Life with you is never boring.”

DAB:  Well, hey - if life got boring, what would you write about?  So that brings us to another big question.  You could've gone the traditional route and spent time writing and sending out queries to agents and publishers instead of taking such a big risk and publishing on your own.  What advice would you give someone considering traditional publishing versus self-publishing?

EC:    My advice to other people considering self-publishing is to absolutely jump in there and do it. Nobody's going to come knocking on your door asking you to write a book for them, but there are plenty of people out there who want to read what you have to write, I promise. And they’ll pay you for it! Also I wouldn't bother with the traditional publishing process because it takes so long, and the market is flooded with people doing that. Besides, you really don't need a gatekeeper between yourself and your readers. Let the readers decide if you're a good writer. Let the readers give you the very valuable feedback you will need in order to improve your skills; and then, after you've had some success as a writer to the real people who matter—  that is the readers —  go ahead and send a query letter out if you still feel the need. At least following this path you will have the confidence you need to push through the closed doors you’re apt to find. The most pleasing aspect of self-publishing for me has absolutely been the reader response to my work. I suspect that had I sent out query letters to agents, I would have run into a lot of closed doors. I never had to deal with that as an indie writer. I love being able to speak directly with my readers about my work and to share in their enthusiasm over it.

As I mentioned before, Elle was so gracious to answer every question I posed to her, I decided to break the interview up into two parts.  Stay tuned next week for some additional insight into the world of Elle Casey, self-publishing, and what it takes to become a bestselling author.

In the meantime, happy reading!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Love Space Opera? Try DRIFTERS' ALLIANCE

Have I got an intriguing series for you!

If you're into the whole sci-fi space opera genre (think Firefly, Star Trek, etc.) then you need to pick up Elle Casey's DRIFTERS' ALLIANCE series.  Thus far it's only three books, but more are on the way - and I can hardly wait.

Now onto the show.


Book Blurb:
One hand of cards and it's all over but the crying...

Cass Kennedy finally gets what she's been dreaming of for the past ten years: a drifter ship to call her own. All the sim time and battle training is going to pay off in spades as she sets her course for the future. She'll be living on her own terms, not those of her father.

But drifting through deep space with a crew of nutty strangers on the DS Anarchy carries a lot more surprises than she bargained for. Nobody told her that her ship is falling apart, that dead chickens are something you really want to hang on to, and that the OSG has big plans for the universe that don't necessarily jibe with her plans for herself.

Jump onboard with Cass and her crew as she charts a course toward an alliance that will either make her or break her as Captain of the DS Anarchy.

My Review:
Through a game of chance, Cass Kennedy has done the impossible - become captain of her very own drifter ship at the ripe age of nineteen.  Now she can explore the far reaches of dark space with her crew and escape farther from the clutches of the OSG - and her father, a major general of the Omega Systems Group elite command.

But the title of captain comes with its own set of challenges - and mutiny doesn't just happen on the Bounty.  Throw in a questionable stowaway, and Cass' maiden voyage at the helm of the DS Anarchy might just be her last.

Especially if she can't avoid the OSG's warships and those hunting her down for escaping their elite clutches three years ago.  Her only hope?  Become a member of a freedom alliance of other drifter ships.

DRIFTERS' ALLIANCE has a great cast of characters in the vein of that short-lived TV show Firefly.  Cass is no wilting flower and has a closet full of skeletons that threaten to expose her and the crew to the mighty and merciless hand of the OSG's ruling order.  But all crew members, both old and new, hide behind secrets of their own.  Each is drawn as unique, three-dimensional individuals which makes them feel like they could leap from the pages into the real world.

The action takes time to ramp up, but the characters drive the plot forward in the interim, which keeps the pace from bogging down and avoids devolving into a bunch of telling.  The reader is simply dropped into the characters' lives where they are without resorting to a bunch of world-building info dumps.  Instead the world-building is nicely interwoven into the storyline as it plays out.

Editing is smooth and clean, with only one tiny error I noticed in the entire story.  DRIFTERS' ALLIANCE is a quick and entertaining read, with each of the three episodes thus far at just around two hundred pages - and yes, I've already read all three books and am anxiously awaiting the next release.  Five stars from me.

Content Warning:  Strong language is sprinkled throughout, but it fits with the characters and the nature of the story.  Some mild sexual jokes but nothing you wouldn't hear in school or the office.  The following books in the series have some violence and blood with danger to the characters, but again not terribly graphic.

Books one through three can be purchased by clicking here on AMAZON, B&N, and anywhere else books are sold.

Author Bio:
ELLE CASEY, a former attorney and teacher, is a NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY bestselling American author who lives in France with her husband, three kids, and a number of furry friends. She has written books in several genres and publishes an average of one full-length novel per month.


Want to get an email when my next book is released? Sign up here: www.ElleCasey.com/news

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Dark Thriller Review - All Good Deeds

Hello again, dear readers.  I've got a review for you today for a dark, twisted thriller.  Stacy Green's Lucy Kendall series book one ALL GOOD DEEDS deals with the subject of pedophiles and human trafficking of children.  Oh yes, and murder - Old West style - so this isn't for the faint of heart.  My review is for book one in the series, but I bought and read the package deal of all four books in the series (not including the prequel novella) and recommend you do the same.

If the free first book doesn't make you squirm too much.

Book Blurb:
She's no killer. She's just taking out the trash.

Don’t call Lucy Kendall a serial killer. She’s fighting for the innocent, and she’ll do whatever it takes to bring justice.

When a child disappears, Lucy quickly discovers the link to a predator she’s faced before–a man the state of Pennsylvania decided to turn loose on the streets. Determined to find the little girl and put a criminal behind bars for good, Lucy forces her way onto the case.

As the search for the kidnapped child pulls Lucy into a web of evil beyond her darkest imagination, she’ll have to face her own dark truths to save the little girl–and herself.

Packed with suspense, All Good Deeds is a dark psychological thriller with a finely crafted mystery that takes readers into the deepest recesses of the human psyche.

My Review:
This would've been a five star if not for all of the editing errors (missing words, transpositions, wrong words used, etc.).  As is, I'm giving it four and ahalf stars because everything else about it is fantastic - if you can stomach the subject matter.

Lucy Kendall is a former social worker who quit the system when child pedophiles kept going free because of legal loopholes.  Since then she's obtained her PI license and been on a quest of her own choosing - finding and killing these repeat offenders before they can destroy any other lives.  Lucy practices justice like they did in the Old West - vigilante style.

But killing - even for honorable reasons - is taking a toll on her psyche.  Then someone discovers her secret.

Chris tags along with Lucy in hopes of stemming his own fascination with serial killers - and he has secrets of his own he can't keep in the closet.  When another neighborhood child goes missing, Lucy and Chris discover there are worse things out there on the World Wide Web - and they're in a race to bring down this child trafficking site before another little girl is lost in the ether forever.

Such dark subject matter we have here, but handled so well without short-circuiting and holding back too much or going over the cliff and showing us everything so awful about such a topic.  The plot and pacing races along, just as a thriller should.  Point-of-view is handled well without a bunch of head-hopping in each scene.  Then we are shown all the way along the gut-wrenching ride instead of resorting to a bunch of telling or info-dumping.  This book has everything a great thriller should have.  Like I said, four and ahalf stars from me.

Content warning:  Because we're dealing with the subject of child pedophiles and human trafficking of children, it's difficult to read at times and the emotions it brings out (especially for someone who has been abused) can be devastating.  There's also plenty of language and a few uses of strong language (which seemed a bit overreaching and unnecessary at times), so be aware if you dare.

Book one is free by clicking here on AMAZON.

Author Bio:
Stacy Green is the author of the Lucy Kendall thriller series and the Delta Crossroads mystery trilogy.
ALL GOOD DEEDS (Lucy Kendall #1) won a bronze medal for mystery and thriller at the 2015 IPPY Awards. TIN GOD (Delta Crossroads #1) was runner-up for best mystery/thriller at the 2013 Kindle Book Awards. Stacy has a love of thrillers and crime fiction, and she is always looking for the next dark and twisted novel to enjoy. She started her career in journalism before becoming a stay at home mother and rediscovering her love of writing. She lives in Iowa with her husband and daughter and their three spoiled fur babies. Stacy loves to hear from readers! Visit her website at stacygreenauthor.com, or Facebook at www.Facebook.com/StacyGreenAuthor.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Spotlight on "A MATTER OF TIME"

Book Blurb:
The world's greatest evil stalks the world's greatest ship, and the only one who can stop him hasn't been born yet.

Jamie Collins is a junior at Santa Clara University in 1986. He has friends, a professor who mentors him, and a promising future as a writer.

Then the dreams begin - nightmarish memories that transport him back to a time and place fifty years before he was born: Titanic's maiden voyage in 1912.

When Jamie discovers a foreign cell in his blood that links him to the famous vessel, the two timelines begin to overlap and he realizes an unimaginable truth - something supernatural stalks the ill-fated ship, something that will kill him if he can't stop it first. And the only way to stop it may be to prevent Titanic from sinking.

But even if he can figure out a way to do that, should he? What will be the effect on history if he succeeds? And what about the lady he wasn't supposed to fall in love with? As her destiny becomes entwined with his, Jamie discovers the value of friendship, the power of love, the impact of evil, and the vagaries of Fate.

Prices/Formats: $2.99 ebook, $12.95 paperback, $14.95-$21.83 Audible
Genre: Historical Fiction, Suspense
Pages: 340
Release: March 2, 2012
Publisher: Outskirts Press
ISBN: 9781432787110

Amazon buy link:
https://www.amazon.com/Matter-Time-Michael-Bowler-ebook/dp/B007GOAC9C?ie=UTF8&tag=tributebooks-20

Barnes and Noble buy link:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-matter-of-time-michael-bowler/1109296752?ean=9781432787110

iTunes buy link:
https://geo.itunes.apple.com/us/audiobook/a-matter-of-time-unabridged/id1035392958?mt=3
Follow the Tribute Books Blog Tour:
http://amatteroftimeblogtour.blogspot.com

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Saturday, July 9, 2016

Books and Bindings Reviews THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK

Well it's two-fer-one week here at the blog.  Empress DJ over at Books and Bindings enjoyed LOOK BEFORE YOU JUMP so much, she immediately jumped right into book two of the Bartender Babe Chronicles.  Her fabu review of THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK can be read by clicking HERE.  Many thanks once again to this belle from Hawaii.  Mahalo!

And don't forget, you can still pick up book one in eBook format for free on Smashwords only through July 31st by clicking HERE and using the coupon code SFREE at checkout.  If you're a Kindle user, click on the MOBI file.  For Nook, use the EPUB version.

Happy reading!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

A Review of LOOK BEFORE YOU JUMP from Books and Bindings

Books and Bindings has a wonderful review of LOOK BEFORE YOU JUMP, book one in the Bartender Babe Chronicles, over on their blog.  Thanks much to Empress DJ for taking the time to read my book and for the great review.  When you have a chance, run on over and check it out by clicking HERE.  Reviewers are so appreciated here at DA Bale Publishing, because I understand the investment of time it takes not only to read the book but to write a concise review as well.  I look forward to reading her thoughts of book two.

And don't forget about the Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale 2016, where you can pick up an eBook copy of LOOK BEFORE YOU JUMP for free by using the coupon code SFREE at checkout.  Click HERE for the product page.

I hope your summer is going well, dear readers.  I'll soon have a few reviews of my own to share with you soon.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Happy July Housekeeping Updates

Happy July, dear readers!

Just a how-dee-do housekeeping post today to update you on things both new and old.  After writing and publishing two novels so far this year, I haven't done a good job keeping you up-to-date on what's happening in the little blogosphere corner that is DA Bale Publishing.  So here goes!

As part of the Smashwords summer reading promotion, I've offered up LOOK BEFORE YOU JUMP for their free campaign promotion.  From July 1st through July 31st, you can pick up a free copy of this first novel in the Bartender Babe Chronicles through Smashwords - and only through Smashwords - by clicking HERE and using the coupon code SFREE at checkout.

I've also enrolled my short story THE STUDY for this promotion as well,which you can click HERE to pickup - just use the same coupon code at checkout.


If you take a gander to your right here on the blog, you can also enter the latest Goodreads giveaway for a chance to win one of five autographed print copies of PIERCING THE DARKNESS, the second novel in the Deepest Darkness series.  This opportunity is slated to run from July 1st through August 15th, so sign up before it's too late.

Lastly, we have an Independence Day sale going on here at DA Bale Publishing for the month of July.  We recently partnered with a digital media specialist to offer affordable, professional book cover designs.  You can click on the tab above or HERE to see some of the currently available options.  The good news for the authors in the audience is that during this sale, you can pick up one of these pre-made covers for the low price of $35 - a savings of $40 over the custom design price.  Just email dabalepublishing@cox.net with your cover of choice and your book title and author name, and we'll get a PayPal invoice sent over to complete your purchase.

Watch for some upcoming reviews of some great books I've read the last couple of weeks.  As always, happy reading and have a safe and happy Fourth!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Release Day for THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK

Today it's official - the release day for THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK, the second outing in the Bartender Babe Chronicles.

This time Vicki Bohanan's mouth runneth off with her brain - and she must find a way to get it under control before Reggie's secrets are spilled.  Find out more below.

Book Blurb:
Vicki Bohanan is at it again, and this time she’s sporting a whole new reputation.  On the eve of preseason football, blackmail lands at her feet – and for a woman with an attitude the size of Texas, it’s gonna take more than a pigskin to plug her pie hole.

Especially when the old reputation continues to nip at her like a never-ending hangover.  A Texas Ranger, her undercover boss, and a patron affectionately dubbed ‘Radioman’ walk into the bar and keep Vicki’s head whirling like a ride at the state fair.  All she wants is to move back into her remodeled apartment to escape the madness.  So when her Aussie model sometimes squeeze invites her to San Antonio for a shootout at the Alamo – cameras this time – Vicki saddles up for a ride.

Then runs smackdab into an unexpected hitch by the name of Reginald von Braun.  Reggie’s got secrets hidden behind secrets, and someone else has discovered the truth.  With blackmail in the bargain, Vicki must determine the culprit who has threatened to expose Reggie’s past right when he’s on the cusp of finding a future.

All while protecting his revelations, hard to do when you’ve got that dreaded disease known as foot-in-mouth – and when you’re fighting off multiple men with an eye on your goods.

How many men can one woman fend off?  As many as Vicki can handle in book two of the Bartender Babe Chronicles.  Bring it on, boys.

Grab your copy today by clicking here on Amazon Apple B&N Kobo and anywhere else ebooks are sold.  Watch for the paperback coming by the weekend.

And if you haven't had a chance to get into this series, you can pick up the first book in the Bartender Babe Chronicles for the rootin'-tootin' sale price of only ninety-nine cents, now through summer's end.  Get LOOK BEFORE YOU JUMP while the weather's hot!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Coming Soon and a Sale

There's a sizzling summer sale going on!

As part of the upcoming release of THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK, the second in the Bartender Babe Chronicles, I've put the first eBook in this cozy mystery series on sale for only ninety-nine cents.

So for the remainder of the summer you can pick up an eBook copy of LOOK BEFORE YOU JUMP for .99.  Then stay tuned for the June 15th release of THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK, and join Vicki Bohanan for an irreverent and fun jaunt through the mysteries of life.

And don't forget!  You can still enter for a chance to win one of ten paperback copies of LBYJ by clicking on the GoodReads link at the top right on the blog.  But hurry before entries close.

Purchase links:  Amazon Apple Barnes & Noble Kobo Smashwords

Friday, April 1, 2016

Time Again For Some Southern Spooks

Today let's revisit a series of cozy mysteries by Angie Fox.  I'm talking the Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries.  You can read my reviews of the first two HERE, but needless to say, I've enjoyed the colorful characters, creepy trips through history, and witnessed an unlikely pairing or two.

Plus I'm anxious to be on the front lines when Verity's almost-ex-mother-in-law gets her comeuppance.  It's long overdue in my book.

So time to introduce you to book three in the Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries - THE HAUNTED HEIST.

Book Blurb:
Just because she can see the dead doesn’t mean Verity Long wants to spend her days hunting ghosts. Instead, she’s over the moon to land a marketing job at the local bank…until she finds her new boss dead in the vault. Even her ghost friend, Frankie, knows that's no way to start a career. 

Relieved to let the police take charge, Verity steps aside, bound and determined to keep her ghost sightings to herself. But when she learns the main suspect in the murder is a very crooked, very dead mobster, Verity knows it's up to her to solve the case. 

She teams up with her ghostly gangster buddy Frankie, as well as the irresistible and charming Ellis, as the three of them search haunted mob hideouts, hidden passageways, and historic cemeteries for the facts behind the heist of the century—and a modern-day motive for murder. 

Too bad uncovering the truth could very well make Verity the next victim... 

My Review:
Upfront confession time - I've really struggled with writing my review and rating this book.  There's nothing wrong with the writing in relation to structure, so I'll not belabor that issue.  It's just with this third book there was a lack of charm, humor, and wittiness I've come to expect from this series.  The first two were great.  This one...not so much.

The gang's all here though:  intrepid and never-give-up Verity Long, our goofy gangster ghost Frankie, Lucy the sweet pet skunk, best bud Lauralee, and who could forget hunky almost-brother-in-law Ellis Wydell.

Verity's still clinging to the antebellum manor left to her by her grandmother after Virginia Wydell went after her with a court order demanding repayment for the wedding Verity missed - namely with Virginia's good-for-nothing son Beau.  But if financial circumstances don't turn around soon, Verity may lose the little she still has left.

Enter Lauralee's uncle, returned from Chicago to take over First Sugarland Bank - and provide Verity with her first paying graphic design job since the epic breakup.  It couldn't have come at a better time, what with her own bank account inching closer toward zero.  But faster than you can say 'murder' circumstances again fall out of Verity's favor.  Now not only does Verity need Frankie's 'ghostvision' to help her solve this crime, but she might even have to resort to talking to the ghost of the area's most notorious hit man when evidence points in his direction.

But a ghost can't manipulate objects on this side of the veil - can he?

Like I said, I really liked the first two in this series, which is probably one of the reasons I felt let down with this installment. The humor present in the first two was completely lacking in this one, the characters seeming to go through the motions and yet falling short.  When things get tough for Verity, Frankie is usually there to offer up a differing perspective - no matter how odd.  But in book three, Frankie is down and depressed, unable to break free of being bound to Verity's property and depending on her to escort him around town via his urn.  The humor he usually provides is absent and he serves merely to bring Verity down and get her into one scrape after another, though she tries everything she can think of to help free Frankie.  

Then we have the budding relationship with Ellis.  While I still like the dynamic of the secret relationship they have as the brother of Verity's ex-fiance, here Ellis forces the relationship more into the open, with no regard for the recent trauma Verity barely survived when standing up to the matriarch of the wealthy Wydell clan.  After the events of the second book, I was really hoping to see some of the results of that wrap-up here and see Ellis stand up to his mother.  Sadly, this never happens, which showed a surprising lack of compassion and complete disregard toward Verity.  Ellis even goes so far as to get angry with Verity and verbally browbeat her for her hesitation and fear of his mother, even though again nothing he's done up to that point provides Verity with any assurance he will stand with her in her corner.

The one thing in this book that did provide a little bit of humor was discovering the secret speakeasy, where the ghosts of the South Town Gang and other colorful characters from an era long gone regularly party and 'kill' each other nightly for fun and sport. Now that was a riotous brawl of good times.  But this was the only bright spot in an otherwise downer read.

Do I still want to read the next release in this series?  Certainly.  I have high hopes that at some point Virginia Wydell will get served with more than tea and scones.  Am I still waiting to witness Verity's inevitable rise from being trod underfoot by Sugarland's snooty elite?  Absolutely.  It's going to be totally cool now that Verity's secrets are out of the bag.  But for this outing I'll offer up three stars.

You can find Angie Fox's THE HAUNTED HEIST in eBook and paperback formats on AMAZON, BARNES AND NOBLE, and anywhere else books are sold.

Author Bio:
New York Times bestselling author Angie Fox writes sweet, fun, action-packed paranormal mystery and romance. Her characters are clever and fearless, but in real life, Angie is afraid of basements, bees, and going up stairs when it is dark behind her. Let's face it. Angie wouldn't last five minutes in one of her books.

Angie is best known for her Southern Ghost Hunter mysteries and for her Accidental Demon Slayer books. She lives in St. Louis, with her football-addicted husband, two kids, and Moxie the dog.

Sign up here: http://eepurl.com/bUrBDT to find out when her next release is coming out.

Visit Angie online:
Website: www.angiefox.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/AngieFoxauthor
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/176533609089557


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Like Space Opera? Read STARRIE

For those of you who enjoy science fiction and space opera genres, I've got a great little book for you.  It's full of action, intrigue, and some far-out experiences in a galaxy far, far away.

No, it's not STAR WARS, it's Heidi Ruby Miller's novel STARRIE.  Check out my review from Amazon below.

Book Blurb:
SPACE OPERA WITH AN ENSEMBLE CAST!

In this caste-ruled society, where multiple partners are the norm, celebrity, beauty, and power mean everything. Love and jealousy are considered emotional fallacies, nothing more than fleeting moods and sentiments biased by hormones. But sometimes people just fall in love...and that can be deadly.

Ben Anlow and his team embark on a revenge mission to bring down serial murderer and rapist, Liu Stavros, at his fortress in the inhospitable mountains of Tampa Three. But contractor Naela Starrie already has her own kind of vengeance planned for Stavros. Even as a battle-hardened soldier, Ben's not prepared for the darkness he sees in the female assassin, nor the way she challenges his prejudices about her people when she makes a sacrifice to save to his life.

My Review:
STARRIE is Firefly meets Battlestar Galactica - and it's a non-stop ride through terraformed planets.

Having previously read the first novel in the AMBASSADORA universe, I was well aware of Ms. Miller's excellent writing style and pleased to have the chance to read this side story set within as well. It's always nice to read a novel that is well plotted, uses point-of-view properly, and is free of irritating errors that slow so many stories down. So since there is no need for me to breakdown those elements here, let's move onto the storyline.

The world-building in STARRIE is excellent, and if you're like me and have had at least some exposure to the space opera genre in books, movies, or television, you'll easily find yourself enmeshed in the fictional universe created here. I cracked up with the 'docking' euphemism (think about it) and several other word usages that took on whole new meaning here. Even with such a far-out-there imaginative world, the story never bogs down with heavy-handed telling and achingly long descriptions (thank you!), while the action continues to keep things moving forward at a well-paced clip. There are familiar tie-ins with some of the elements from MARKED BY LIGHT that were nice to see and get a better feel for in this outing. And, of course, there's the Anlow brothers.

We open with Ben Anlow and his team on a mission to take out a sick and twisted member of the Embassy, the ruling order, on the frozen planet of Tampa Three's highest peak, Durstal Ki. But someone else got to Stavros just before them, a contractor assassin on the Embassy's payroll. Through a series of dire circumstances, Ben is separated from his team and must depend upon Naela Starrie, the assassin in question, to get him off of Tampa Three or at least keep him alive and safe from the hunters until contact can be made to the outside world. Naela knows who is hunting them, and her crazed cousin won't stop until he has what he's always wanted - her.

After a genetically altered puma attack on Tampa Three marred the team's own attack plan atop Durstal Ki, Char must race to get her prime back to civilization before the blood loss and poison have their final effect. But that means leaving the team's leader behind in the hands of a deadly assassin - and also explaining to Embassy officials why their mission failed.

Like I said, excellent pacing, nearly non-stop action, and great world-building (not to mention an error-free experience) make STARRIE a fabulous read for those who enjoy science fiction, particularly the aforementioned shows. I guess that means I'm exposing my nerdy/geeky side.  I did get a little dizzy and had trouble following all of the media drones toward the end and how the characters' recorders worked, but that was only a minor annoyance.  Content warnings: graphic and bloody violence (dismemberment), mild sexual situations, and strong language usage throughout, so definitely an 18+ read. For the wild adventure, five stars from me.

Pick up a copy if science fiction and space opera are up your alley by clicking here on AMAZON.  Oh, and you can also enter for a chance to win a paperback copy over on Goodreads if you sign up soon by clicking HERE.

Author Bio:

Heidi Ruby Miller uses research for her stories as an excuse to roam the globe. With degrees in Anthropology, Geography, Foreign Languages, and Writing, she knew early that penning fast-paced, exotic adventures would be her life. She's put her experiences and studies to paper in her far-future AMBASADORA series and into her two new thriller series.

In between trips, Heidi teaches creative writing at Seton Hill University, where she graduated from their renowned Writing Popular Fiction Graduate Program the same month she appeared on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. AMBASADORA was her thesis novel there, and the multi-award winning writing guide MANY GENRES, ONE CRAFT, which she co-edited with Michael A. Arnzen, is based on the Seton Hill program and was named #5 in The Writer magazine's Ten Most Terrific Writing Books of 2011.

She has had various fiction and non-fiction publications, as well as various jobs, including contract archaeologist, foreign currency exchanger at Walt Disney World, foreign language teacher, and educational marketing director for Frank Lloyd Wright's House on Kentuck Knob. In 2012, Heidi created the Dog Star Books science fiction imprint for Raw Dog Screaming Press and was the managing editor for the line for three years. Recently, she was the Director of Professional Writing Relations for the Pennsylvania Literary Festival, an event she co-founded in 2014.

Her formal memberships include The Authors Guild, International Thriller Writers, Pennwriters, and Science Fiction Poetry Association. Heidi is fond of high-heeled shoes, action movies, chocolate, and tea of any sort. She lives near Pittsburgh with her award-winning writer husband, Jason Jack Miller, and a sweet little kitty. Visit her at www.heidirubymiller.com.