Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Moon Dwellers by David Estes Celebrates its first Birthday!

Today, I'd like to Welcome YA Indie author David Estes to my blog with his one year anniversary of the publication of his book The Moon Dwellers. Here's a great post about how he wrote the book and about David himself that's also a great encouragement to Indie authors everywhere. And don't forget to take advantage of the FREE e-book copies of The Moon Dwellers that are available in celebration! 



Today, The Moon Dwellers by David Estes turns 1 year old! It was 1 year ago today (June 30th) that David Estes first published the first book in his first ever YA dystopian series, The Dwellers Saga, and changed his life forever. Since then, The Moon Dwellers has outsold and drawn more hype than any other of his 13 published books, and has risen to the top 10 of many YA dystopian lists on Listopia, finding a place amongst bestselling books such as The Hunger Games, Delirium and Divergent. The birth of The Moon Dwellers also changed David’s life forever. As he’s gone from struggling Indie author to fulltime writer, he’s watched in amazement as his Goodreads fan group has swelled from 300 members to over 1,300. Since writing The Moon Dwellers, David has gone on to write and publish two sequels, The Star Dwellers and The Sun Dwellers, as well as three books in a sister series, The Country Saga (Fire Country, Ice Country, and Water & Storm Country). He plans to release the 7th and final book, The Earth Dwellers, in the combined series on September 5th later this year.
So what did David Estes want to do to celebrate The Moon Dwellers book birthday? His answer: “Give away as many free ebooks of The Moon Dwellers as possible!” So if you’re like so many others who are obsessed with YA dystopian novels like The Hunger Games, Delirium, and Divergent, and haven’t yet read the growing phenomenon that is The Moon Dwellers, now’s your chance to do so FOR FREE.
You can grab your free ebook of The Moon Dwellers from Smashwords.com using the coupon code below. And please feel free to share with your family and friends and pets, the more ebooks are given away the happier David will be. The only thing David asks for in return is that if you enjoy the read and continue on with the series, to please leave a positive review on Amazon.com for each of his books that you read.


Where you can find The Moon Dwellers: SMASHWORDS

Coupon Code: AQ92E

Please note, this code expires on July 31, 2013


a Rafflecopter giveaway


And for those of you planning on reading The Dwellers and/or The Country Saga, here’s a special note from the author, David Estes:

The Earth Dwellers will cap off an eighteen month journey that has taken me from unknown Indie author to still-mostly-unknown fulltime Indie author. The change is a subtle one for most people, but for me it’s a dream come true. To the hundreds (and now maybe even thousands!) of readers who have come along for the ride with me, either by reading the Dwellers Saga, the Country Saga, or both, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Now down to business. There may be some of you who have only read the three books in the Country Saga or only the three books in the Dwellers Saga, and are now thinking you’ll read The Earth Dwellers, which is supposedly the 4th book in BOTH the Country Saga and the Dwellers Saga. Well, that’s awesome! However, I must highly recommend that before reading The Earth Dwellers that you read the three books in BOTH series. Trust me, doing so will greatly enhance your experience, as The Earth Dwellers will be taking significant characters from both series and crashing them together (yes, like a water country wave) into an action-packed tale of struggle and loss and hope and friendship…and maybe a little love, too.
Anyway, that’s my advice, it’s up to you what to do with it. In any case, thanks for being a part of my own adventure, I’m a better person for having written stories for you!

Recommended Reading prior to The Earth Dwellers

Other YA Books by David Estes!
The Evolution Trilogy:
Children’s Books by David Estes
The Nikki Powergloves Adventures:
Nikki Powergloves vs. the Power Outlaws (Coming soon!)

David Estes was born in El Paso, Texas but moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania when he was very young. He grew up in Pittsburgh and then went to Penn State for college. Eventually he moved to Sydney, Australia where he met his wife and soul mate, Adele, who he’s now been happily married to for more than two years.
A reader all his life, David began writing novels for the children's and YA markets in 2010, and has completed 13 novels, 11 of which have been published.  In June of 2012, David became a fulltime writer and is now travelling the world with his wife while he writes books, and she writes and takes photographs.
David gleans inspiration from all sorts of crazy places, like watching random people do entertaining things, dreams (which he jots copious notes about immediately after waking up), and even from thin air sometimes! Recently he’s been inspired by some of his favorite authors, like Suzanne Collins, Veronica Roth, and Maggie Stiefvater.
David’s a writer with OCD, a love of dancing and singing (but only when no one is looking or listening), a mad-skilled ping-pong player, an obsessive Goodreads group member, and prefers writing at the swimming pool to writing at a table.  He loves responding to e-mails, Facebook messages, Tweets, blog comments, and Goodreads comments from his readers, all of whom he considers to be his friends.

Where you can find David Estes hanging out:  David Estes Fans and YA Book Lovers Unite

Friday, June 28, 2013

Books of Note: June Reads

My first month of Summer reads! I've read some pretty good books and some okay books, thankfully nothing really horrible. I've also gotten a few books on Review requests, so you'll be seeing those reviews posted here once I finish them. For now, these were my favorite reads of June:


Catherine Jinks spins a colorful tale loaded with action, down-and-dirty details of medieval life, and a healthy helping of sarcasm sure to appeal to teen readers - especially boys.

Down on his luck and kicked in the pants one too many times, sixteen-year-old Pagan Kidrouk arrives on the doorstep of the Templar Knights in medieval Jerusalem, looking for work as a squire. He’s expecting only some protection from the seedier aspects of life on the street and a few square meals. Instead, Pagan finds himself hard at work for Lord Roland de Bram - an exciting life of polishing Lord Roland’s armor, laundering his garments, and even training to fight by his side. 

But as the Infidel Saladin leads his army to Jerusalem, it becomes more and more difficult for Pagan and Lord Roland to discern what action to take or whom to trust. Neither Saladin’s army nor the Christian Crusaders offer easy answers. Is a bloody battle for control of the Holy City inevitable?

Review

Thoughts on the Overall Book: This is one of those books that I can forgive the style of writing and enjoy the story because of the characters. It's not the best book I've ever read, but I did enjoy it a lot, and it was a good quick read, nice for a rainy afternoon.

Cover--Yea or Nay: I actually really like the artwork for the cover. I think it fits the voice of the book very well. It kind of makes me wish the artist had done some illustrations for the interior.

Characters: I loved Pagan. If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't have enjoyed this book nearly as much as I did. He's the kind of character I always enjoy reading about. Yes, he's snarky and sarcastic, but he's a street urchin, an orphan, and he has to be to survive. I can also see that he's growing in the story, and likely to do more growing in later installments. He's one of those character who, while sympathetic, might not be the most admirable character in the beginning, but you know he will grow into a really good person by the end of the story. And he does, already at the end of the first book. I also really liked Roland; you can see a great father-son type of relationship budding between him and Pagan and I always love to see that. The supporting characters are colorfully characterized and really fun to read about. I look forward to seeing more of some of the nastier characters in later books too.

The Romance: None

Writing Style: This was the only problem I had with the book. I really didn't care much for the writing style as such. It's first person, present tense (which I rarely like anyway) but it was also choppy, and almost to me read like a movie script. However, somehow, there still manages to be enough characterization and description to get through the book without too much annoyance. And I will admit I loved Pagan as a narrator, but I think he would have been just as entertaining if the author had used a different style to write this book. So did I like the style? Not really, but it wasn't enough to turn me off of the book altogether. It is funny though, and makes for a quick read. If I didn't enjoy Pagan so much though, I probably would have knocked another star off for the writing style. I do like how Catherine Jinks paints a very accurate portrayal of the time period though. Unlike some authors, she certainly isn't afraid to portray the filthy side of the medieval era. And I mean that literally. It's not pretty, but I like that she did it. Authenticity is always important to me, even if it isn't nice.

Problems/What bothered me: Apart from the writing style, I didn't have any problems with the book.

Conclusion: 4 stars. This series will probably never get more from me because of the writing style, but I loved Pagan a lot and I definitely want to continue his story and see where it leads.

Recommended Audience: People looking for a quick historical read and fans of historical/Templar fiction in general. Probably more guy read but girls who don't mind a little filth and gore would like it too. Ages 15 and up.







In 1558, while exiled by Queen Mary Tudor to a remote castle known as Perilous Gard, young Kate Sutton becomes involved in a series of mysterious events that lead her to an underground world peopled by Fairy Folk—whose customs are even older than the Druids’ and include human sacrifice.






Review

Thoughts on the Overall Book: I loved this book because it was typical of a fairy story, and yet it wasn't, which made it all the more intriguing. It was over all, pure historical fiction, but I loved how it felt like it had magic in it. It was dark, frightening at times and adventurous all in one, with a really great cast of characters.

Cover--Yea or Nay: I do like the cover, it definitely shows the time period, but also looks kind of like a fairy tale.

Characters: Kate Sutton was a really wonderful heroine. She never came across as annoying, she was brave, resourceful, sensible and got what had to be done done without fussing or breaking down. Even when she was put under a lot of pressure that would have lesser female characters becoming a puddle of emotion, Kate stood firm and I loved her for that. Christopher was also an awesome hero. He had a good heart, was a little tortured, and I also rather liked his short temper, it seemed to make him human. I liked a lot of the supporting characters too. Sir Geoffrey was a likable character, and I really liked Randal. I always have a soft spot for the minstrel or fool characters in books; they always end up helping save the day in the end. The Lady wasn't quite as frightening as she could have been, but I did still find her mildly chilling at times, and the reader knew she was perfectly capable of what she said. I think what made her scarier was the fact that she really showed no emotion. I was actually really glad Alicia wasn't in the story more because I think she would have been really annoying. Master John was also creepy and slimy, he was fun to hate.

The Romance: The romance really doesn't come in until the very end, which probably made this book even better in my opinion and made me like the characters even more. In most modern YA books, Kate would have fallen in love with Christopher as soon as she saw him being all enigmatic standing at the window, but no, that was not our Kate Sutton, thank heavens!

Writing Style: The writing style was really lovely. Descriptive, and painted a beautiful picture. The whole book had the feel of a quiet, misty forest to me, with a little bit of eeriness on the side. The dialogue and everything fit well with the time period, and the whole book read like the fairy tale re-telling. I particularly liked the premise of the book. The story was like an old Celtic fairy tale and was a bit reminiscent of stories like Tam Lin, but instead of actually being Fairy Folk, the 'Fairy Folk" were not fairies at all, but a Druidic cult who spawned the ideas of fairies. So while the book felt in every way like fantasy, it was really historical fiction, and I really liked that about it. It was very well done and surprisingly believable as well.

Problems/What bothered me: I didn't have any problems with it.

Conclusion: 5 stars. I enjoyed this book a lot, between the characters, story line, and writing itself, it's become a new favorite and one I will have to add to my shelves.

Recommended Audience: Girl read, fans of fairy tale re-tellings would probably enjoy this one even though it isn't technically a re-telling. Ages 12 and up.



Finnegan MacCullen: a thirteen-year-old apprentice with the famous Irish temperament.
Gideon Lir: a legendary Celtic warrior with a bit of a temper of his own.

Secretly, these blue-collar warriors battle the hobgoblins infesting their suburban neighborhood...when they are not battling each other.

Finn (not bleedin' Finnegan) MacCullen is eager to begin his apprenticeship. He soon discovers the ups and downs of hunting monsters in a suburban neighborhood under the demanding tutelage of the Knight, Gideon Lir. Both master and apprentice are descendents of the Tuatha De Danaan, a magical race of warriors from Ireland. Scattered long ago to the four corners of the world, the De Danaan wage a two thousand year old clandestine battle with their ancient enemy, the Amandán, a breed of goblin-like creatures.

Now with the beasts concentrating their attacks on Finn, he and his master must race to locate the lost Spear of the Tuatha De Danaan, the only weapon that can destroy the Amandán, all the while hiding his true identity from his new friends, Rafe and Savannah, twins whose South African roots may hold a key to Finn's survival.

Armed with a bronze dagger, some ancient Celtic magic, and a hair-trigger temper, Finn is about to show his enemies the true meaning of "fighting Irish."



Review

Thoughts on the Overall Book: I was a little wary starting this because I thought it was going to be pretty much like an Irish version of Ranger's Apprentice, and wouldn't be all that original. However, this book really surprised me in a good way. It was not only an original storyline (sure there are similarities between it and Ranger's Apprentice, but not so much it seemed like just a spin-off) but it also had some really awesome characters. But then, you can pretty much give me anything having to do with Celtic legend and I'm happy.

Cover--Yea or Nay: Not the worst character impression cover ever, but I think something more abstract would have worked better. Like maybe one of their knives over top of Celtic knot-work or something.

Characters: Finn was a good protagonist. Yes, he was snarky on occasion (he's a 13 year old boy!) but he was never so annoying that I couldn't become attached to him, which I did. He genuinely wants to become a Knight of the Tuatha De Dannan and he also wants to earn Gideon's respect. Whenever he does something really stupid, it's for the right reasons at least. I also loved Gideon. Yeah, he's pretty much our typical sarcastic, gruff mentor, but there was also something about him that was original as well. I don't know if I can pin point it, but it's there. I love sarcastic characters like Gideon, and I loved the master-apprentice/father-son relationship between him and Finn. I also liked all the supporting characters. Rafe was awesome and I hope to see more of him and Savannah in later books. I also loved Mac Roth. He's your typical big Celtic warrior. While I had a lot of the same opinions about Asher as Finn did as first (snotty) I also saw through him. And it's undeniable that his role in the story is an important one as well.

The Romance: None!

Writing Style: It's not particularly special or beautiful, but it's definitely not bad. The dialogue flows well, and is usually pretty funny and wonderfully sarcastic, and the description is easy to picture. The action scenes were easy to follow as well, which is always good. I loved the idea of modern Irish warriors. I've become more and more in love with Urban Fantasy that deals with folklore and legend, so I'm excited to see more Irish thrown into the mix as that's pretty much my ultimate favorite of all time. I'll admit I don't know as much about the Tuatha De Dannan as Na Fiana but I do know the legends of Fionn mac Cumhail and I like how there's a little of that thrown in. And while the Amandan weren't the scariest bad beasties ever, they were certainly frightening enough to make the fight between them and the De Dannan convincing.

Problems/What bothered me: I didn't have any specific problems with the story. I kind of felt it could have been longer and I was kind of hoping we would get to find out what happened to Gideon's last apprentice in this one. On a technical side, there were some typos but it wasn't anything terrible.

Conclusion: 4 stars. I look forward to continuing this series. In fact, I am much awaiting the second book. This one definitely left me wanting more of Finn and Gideon and I'm kind of sad this book was so short.

Recommended Audience: Ranger's Apprentice fans would definitely enjoy this series, as would Percy Jackson fans as well. A great guy read, 13 and up. (Just a content note: there was some language that I personally don't feel in appropriate for kids under 13, but that's the parent's call)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Kickstarter or Indiegogo: What Might Work Best for You?

Well, I promised a post about using Kickstarter and Indiegogo to help fund your writing ventures as I have just done, with moderate success. I hope this post might help other self-published writers who are looking into setting up a campaign. Mainly this is about Kickstarter vs Indiegogo but there are many other funding websites out there as well.

Anyone who has been following my blog and my own campaign will probably know that I was originally going to use Kickstarter, but ended up going with Indiegogo instead. I'll explain more about that later, and I don't want to deter anyone from using one or the other, it really depends on what works better for you.

To start off, Kickstarter is probably the better known site. And it is a really good site, especially for people who have lots of contacts and other people willing to help them spread the word. It is also great for people who are planning on relying mostly on the support of family and friends. Since I don't have a lot of either (especially not ones with money) I was a little wary about that. The thing about Kickstarter as opposed to Indiegogo is that it is an All or Nothing funding campaign. That means that if you don't make the amount you planned to, then you don't get anything. There is an upside to that, as it will probably induce more people to donate (possibly) and there's the obvious plus that even if you donate and the campaign doesn't pull through the donators don't lose anything either. The only problem for the person who set up the campaign is that you end up with zero. My philosophy has always been 'a little is better than nothing' and anyone poor enough to set up a campaign would probably be happy with whatever they got, even if it wasn't the whole amount. It just seems kind of anticlimactic to me. But again, if you're almost positive that you will be able to fund your campaign (or have a rich relative to beg for the difference at the end) then Kickstarter would be a great site to go to. It has good repute, and it relatively easy to use. However. I had a really hard time setting up the Amazon Payments account (which is ultimately what made me quit Kickstarter.) I didn't understand why they couldn't use Paypal like every other sane person does now days.

Indiegogo, on the other hand, was, for me, so much easier and exactly what I was looking for. It might not be as well known as Kickstarter, but it still has good repute, they are very helpful and even have a real person you can contact if you have a problem. Kickstarter didn't, they only have a FAQ board that never answers the questions you need to know. Indiegogo does All or Nothing too, but they also have the option of Pay As You Go which means that every time someone donates to your campaign, the money goes directly to you. You don't even have to wait to use it until after the campaign. This was how I was able to pay for my giveaway copies and shipping. This also means that you still get the money you earned even if you don't make your goal. They do take a larger percentage of the earnings if you choose Pay As You Go, but if you do make the whole amount, they will pay you back half of what they took. So technically, it's still better to make up your whole amount, but you're not stuck with nothing if you don't. Also, Indiegogo uses Paypal or direct deposit as their payment options. Direct deposit takes longer, but if donators pay with Paypal, you get the money instantly. And setting this up, is simply putting the email that goes to your Paypal account into the site and verifying it. Whereas setting up Amazon Payments through Kickstarter was like the Spanish Inquisition.

I'm not saying Kickstarter is going to be so horrible or everyone or so hard to start up (I have infernal bad luck with these kinds of things) and I have known other authors who have had really great success with Kickstarter as well. But if you want to go a pretty much no-hassle way, then I would definitely suggest Indiegogo. And for the record, the account through which you are paid by Kindle for selling your books on Amazon is NOT an Amazon Payments account. I don't know what exactly it is, but it is not what Kickstarter wants when they want you to set up and AP account. So don't think you already have one if you sell your books through Kindle.

Anyway, I hope this might help a little. In truth you will have to figure out which site works better for you. If you have any other questions, let me know!

Slainte, Hazel

By the way, I'm going to be revealing my new Work in Progress sometime within the next couple weeks or so! I'm very excited to share with you all what I have been working on recently!



Monday, June 24, 2013

Read to Review #1 "Enoch's Device" by Joseph Finley


Thoughts on the Overall Book: When I started this book I was kind of expecting a Dark Ages version of Indiana Jones, and while there are similar elements, it’s also an original story. Interesting concept, good historical fantasy, and an exciting adventure novel.

Cover--Yea or Nay: The cover definitely fits the kind of story this is, so yes, I like it.

Characters: Ciaran and Donall were good main characters, Donall was a pretty good mentor, and Ciaran was your typical young man who is thrown into a difficult situation due to drastic happenings. I liked to see him grow through the story. Alais, I’m kind of torn about. I didn’t dislike her, but she certainly wasn’t one of my favorite heroines either. For the most part she seemed mainly like a victim of circumstance and despite her role in the story I kind of felt she was only there to provide a damsel in distress. I don’t think the story would have been bad without her. Geoffrey could have easily played her role. Ademar was a pretty good villain. He was frightening, and you knew he was perfectly capable of all he threatened. I also liked the supporting characters, though some sadly didn’t stick around long enough for me to really get to know them. One of the main complaints I had with this book was the fact that I thought it could have done with a little more characterization. I got to know Ciaran and Donall pretty well, and even Alais, but at the same time, I think there could have been a little more internalizing, and relationship between the characters. Since this is an action/adventure story though, and more plot driven, it didn’t bother me as much as it could have. I cared about the characters, but I didn’t form a die-hard attachment to them either.

The Romance: There really wasn’t much in the way of romance, but there is probably an inkling of there being something between Ciaran and Alais in future.

Writing Style: While not the best of most beautiful I have ever read, the writing style fits the book genre well. It’s an action/adventure novel and on occasion kind of reads like a movie. Again I can tolerate that because of the genre. In fact, I think this book would make an awesome movie. On that note, it was very visual, and the description was easy to picture and very vivid. This is something I am always glad of in books like this because reading fantasy novels that I can’t picture or follow really bothers me. The mixture of historical events and mythology and biblical myth (not sure what else to call it) was pretty interesting and unique. It made for good historical fantasy material and there’s a detailed author’s note in the back of the book explaining what is what. 

Problems/What bothered me: Apart from the characterization pet peeve I have and that fact that I obviously didn’t really agree with the biblical aspect of this book (though I didn’t expect to seeing as this is fantasy) I really didn’t have any other big problems. I think the beginning could have been stretched out a little more to get to know the characters a little better before all the action started, but again for this kind of book that’s acceptable. 

Conclusion: 3/5 stars. It was a very good debut novel, a fast read and a good adventure. Despite the couple niggles I had, I did enjoy it.

Recommended Audience: Historical fantasy fans and those who love books about puzzles and codes that lead to finding hidden artifacts. 


I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review; that in no way changes my opinion or rating for this book.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Indiegogo Campaign Finished! Thanks to Everyone!!

Well, my Indiegogo Campaign ended Sunday night, and while I didn't get the $800 I had originally hoped for, I managed to raise $221 which is enough to pay myself back for the printing cost of the posters, and pay for a really good book tour and another giveaway of some kind which was my main goal anyway. It already paid for the last giveaway as well, which I am very happy about because I was virtually broke. (Though I did find $60 randomly stored away in my copy of Beowulf--I sometimes really love my forethought).

Anyway, here's a big thank you to everyone who donated to the campaign and also to the people who helped promote it! I'll be getting all the thank you gifts ready the next couple weeks (I just ordered the copies of the books tonight!) I'm very exited to pass out the packages. I love sending people things almost as much as I love getting things in the mail myself! (Almost)

So this is just a prelude to the thank you gifts I'll be sending and to anyone else who helped promote. I'll be writing a post soon about my campaigning experience for writers who might be interested and also about my personal feelings on Indiegogo vs. Kickstarter. So if you're interested in that, check back soon!

Thanks again!

Slainte, Hazel

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Father's Day Sale! By Blood or By Bond

Happy Father's Day to all dads!!! =) Just like for Mother's Day, I decided to cut the price of one of my books so dads can download it for Father's Day! I decided to do By Blood or By Bond because it is essentially a father-son story and would be gift for sons (and daughters) to give their dads. It's going to be $2.99 in e-book format from Amazon and Smashwords until next Sunday, so if you haven't downloaded By Blood or By Bond yet, do so!

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/By-Blood-Bond-ebook/dp/B00AOMUMKW/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1371351587&sr=1-5

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/265066

And DON'T FORGET that I'm still trying to raise $80 for my Indiegogo Campaign and have added new perks, involving original artwork by myself. Please check it out here: http://hazelwest.blogspot.com/2013/06/indiegogo-campaign-last-days-and-extra.html

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Indiegogo Campaign Last Days and Extra Perks!!! (Yes, I'm asking for Money Again)

Well everyone, my Indiegogo campaign is going to be up Sunday and I still need some funds to at least get enough money for a really good book tour. Besides that, thanks so much to everyone who has donated, because you made the recent giveaways possible! And also paid back the money I spent to get the bookmarks and posters printed with extra =) THANK YOU AGAIN!!!

I'm trying now to at least reach a goal of $200. I know I'm not going to reach the $800 goal I had to begin with, unless everyone is totally awesome, but if I can get another $90 that would be awesome and would give me enough to have a really awesome book tour and more giveaways in correlation with it. Because I'm so determined to get more people to donate, I've added an exclusive perk for all donators, even those donating $5. You won't see it on the campaign page, but let it be known that everyone who donates between now and the end of the campaign, will receive an original piece of artwork by me: a sketch, not copied, in it's original condition, of any character you so want from the book. If you want to wait until you read the book, that's great, if you have no preference, I'll send you whatever I feel like. I might not send the picture with the same package as whatever else you are receiving for your pledge, but if you let me know that you donated, I will see to it that I get it to you. This is how you do it (very simple)

Tell me that you donated by emailing me at: sirwilliamssquire@gmail.com and give me your email address (and your mailing address if you did a $10 dollar pledge because that one is only for an e-book and I didn't mark that I needed a mailing address for that one) Then I will get back to you to say that I will be sending you your sketch soon. That way you can have a chance to read the book first and figure out your favorite characters before you tell me what sketch you want. It can even be a scene from the book too. A note though: I do not draw contraptions, so please don't ask me to draw you one. It won't even look like how I pictured it.

I hope this is a good incentive to donate! Let's see if you can help me make my goal (or rather new goal) or $200 before Sunday! Remember, only $90 are needed, so every $5 dollar increment helps, and you'll still get a piece of original artwork!

So go to the link below and share your spangle (otherwise the urchins might steal it)
http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/new-action-packed-steampunk-mystery-series/x/3259500

Here's some examples of the kind of thing you'll get from me:



Tuesday, June 11, 2013

2013 New Releases I Can't Wait For (seriously, I'm dying here)

Since I still don't have any inspiration for a real blog post, I thought I would share with readers all the books I'm looking forward to that are (hopefully) coming out throughout the rest of the year. Then you have to share what books you really are waiting for too so we can share the agony =)





Series Books that I really Need NOW!

The Dream Thieves (Raven Cycle #2) by Maggie Stiefvater (September 17th)

This is definitely the book I'm looking forward to most (at least the one that I KNOW is coming out this year) I loved Raven Boys and I just seriously adore the characters. I'm glad this in one of the first ones coming out this Fall because otherwise, I don't think I could wait any longer.









A Spark Unseen (The Dark Unwinding #2) by Sharon Cameron (September 24th)

Another series book I'm looking forward to. The Dark Unwinding was one of my favorite new releases of 2012, and after the cliff-hanger ending, I'm really excited to see where this one goes.














The Royal Ranger (Ranger's Apprentice #12) by John Flanagan (November 5th)

I've actually got some very mixed feelings on this one, not all of them good, but I promised myself I wouldn't form any opinions before I read it. As a long-time fan, I'm definitely going to buy and read it anyway.




Rebel Spring (Falling Kingdoms #2) by Morgan Rhodes (December 3rd)

I'm really looking forward to this one too. Falling Kingdoms was a really good start to the series, and this is one of those series that I really should have waited to read until they are all out... but I never do that. Great characters and story line. On another note, is this not an absolutely gorgeous cover?













New Series/ Authors Releases


The Lost Sun (United States of Asgard #1) by Tessa Gratton (June 25th)

I haven't read any of Tessa Gratton's novels, though I really enjoyed all her stories in The Curiosities and love her writing style. And, come on, how can you pass up modern day vikings??? So I'm really excited to see what this series is all about. I've just pre-ordered a copy from the library, and I'm so glad it's coming out at the end of the month =)









Books that I really want but don't have the publication date for yet (curses) 


Thieves' Quarry (Knight and Rogue #4) by Hilari Bell

If I knew when this was coming out, it would be on my top NEED NOW list, BUT the stupid publishers are taking FOREVER to get this printed. I'm sorry, that's no excuse. I publish, edit, and print books usually every six months. It's not Hilari Bell's fault, she needs to get a new publisher because I'm in SERIOUS need of Michael and Fisk. They are in all truth, two of my favorite characters ever.


White Fangs (Secret Journeys of Jack London #3) by Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon

This is another book that has taken way too long to come out. The last I heard about it was that they were writing it in 2011. The last book The Sea Wolves, came out last year, and The Wild the year before, so it should only be normal for the third one to come out this year. Besides, the last one was a cliff hanger, and this is one of the very few paranormal series I really love. But whatever, make me wait.



Monday, June 10, 2013

Anthony Maxwell Giveaways Completed!

Well, all my giveaways are completed now, so I'm going to announce the winners:

The two lucky winners of the Goodreads giveaway for two signed copies are

Pamela Marie and Sue Sauer. Goodreads should have already informed you that you have won.

And the two lucky winners of my release party giveaway are

Leonide who won the free e-book, and Rachel Z. who won the posters and bookmarks. I emailed you two, so if you haven't gotten my email, let me know!

Everything will be shipped off on Wednesday.

If you didn't win the giveaway, you can get a copy of A Case of Poisons in whatever format you wish, by visiting the tab at the top of the page entitled "My Books".

And if you wanted a SIGNED copy, you can still get one of those too by pledging money to my Indiegogo campaign. There's only a week left, and I still need a little more before I can get enough to pay for my book tour. (By the way, thanks to those who have already donated, because you just paid for the giveaway copies and shipping! =D) So please do check that out because I could really use your help!

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/new-action-packed-steampunk-mystery-series/x/3259500

And in other news, I will, very soon, be posting a sneak peak into the next book I'm writing. I'm very excited to share it with you =) Then hopefully later this month I can get started with my weekly serials (or memes) again.

Thanks much to everyone who participated in the Giveaways! I really hope that some of you who didn't win will decide to buy A Case of Poisons for yourself. It's a fun book, and I think you'll all enjoy it =)

I'll be back later this week with a post of some kind. Not quite sure what yet, but there will be one!

Slainte, Hazel

Monday, June 3, 2013

A CASE OF POISONS RELEASE PARTY!!!!!





Finally it's the release day for A Case of Poisons! I've been really excited about sharing this book with everyone, and I hope you will all be able to get a copy and enjoy the book as well =) Today I've got lots of fun things planned for you to celebrate the release, including behind the scenes about the writing process of A Case of Poisons and a special character interview with Tobias and Scamp.

My friend and fellow-writer, Mara, is also helping me celebrate the release by posting an excerpt from the book on her blog, so check that out here: http://667bakerstreet.blogspot.com/2013/06/book-feature-case-of-poisons.html

But first, let's do the "door prizes"

***GIVEAWAY DETAILS!***

To celebrate the release, I'm doing a couple giveaways. There's still the one from Goodreads for two signed paperback copies, but just for the release, I'm also giving away an e-book copy, and a poster with the lovely cover art on it to two lucky winners. This is what you have to do to win:

Leave me a comment, and put your email address in it. If you don't want to display your email to everyone, email it to me here: sirwilliamssquire@gmail.com But please give me your email address, otherwise I won't be able to contact you to tell you you won!

The giveaway will run for a week, and anyone who comments on this post and leaves their email in that time, will be added to the drawing. Next Monday, I'll be announcing the winners here on my blog, and then I'll also be emailing the winners. The e-book winner will receive thier e-book in any form they want from Smashwords, and the winner of the poster, will need to supply their mailing address to me through email so I can send it to you =) Very easy, and very fun.

Book, poster and bookmarks, all awesome giveaway prizes!




Purchase Links:


Createspace (paperback): https://www.createspace.com/4196823



*Don't Forget!!*

There's still time to donate to help me promote "A Case of Poisons" so I can afford a book tour and advertisement to make the release even more awesome =) If you like what you see here, please go to my Indiegogo campaign page and consider parting with a bit of spangle to help me and Anthony.

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/new-action-packed-steampunk-mystery-series/x/3259500

Remember! It's not just benefiting me, if you donate, you will get something in return, weather it be e-book, signed paperback, or other fun stuff. There's also a chance to name a character in the next book, so do check it out!

Now for even more fun stuff:


Behind the Scenes of writing A Case of Poisons

The Story

Usually after I publish a book, I write a “reasons for writing this” post, but since I didn’t have any real reasons for writing A Case of Poisons like I did for On a Foreign Field or By Blood or By Bond—it was more of just a fun book all the way round—I’m going to give you a little “Behind the Scenes” instead.

If I were pressed at all to give a reason for starting the Anthony Maxwell series, it would be because I have always wanted to write a mystery novel. I’ve always loved mysteries, and last summer, about this time, actually, I came up with the idea for a mystery novel where the villain uses strange, fabricated poisons to kill people. That was all I had, (there was also something to do with a mysterious moor at night, but you’ll have to wait for Book Five to see that) and Anthony didn’t really come along until later. Eventually I did find a name for him, but it was one night at about 4 in the morning when he finally came to me and said “We are writing the beginning of my story now” and as the dutiful writer, I went along with it and wrote about half of the first chapter in my note book:

Official first page of Anthony ever!


And that was all I had for a while. The first chapter. I spent all summer mulling over the villain’s exact motives while I wrote By Blood or By Bond and its backstories, wondering even what decade I wanted A Case of Poisons to be set in. I actually originally had thoughts on the villain being involved in the Crimean War, but that was putting everything a little earlier than I really wanted it. I wanted Anthony in the London of Sherlock Holmes. I love steampunk set in that time period, and couldn’t resist making this book a steampunk. I didn’t do it because it’s “the thing” now (besides, I was a steampunk fan before it really became “the thing” in the last few years or so) I did it because I love steampunk. And there’s the possibility of airships, which *spoiler*, you will see in Book Four. I could go into the story of how this would not be the first time I’ve written steampunk, or about airships, but I think I’m going to have to wait for that story until the release of Book Four as it will make a lot more sense to everyone then.

Despite that, I also wanted to have the option of playing around with pre WWI plots and such later in the series. Because... I just might take advantage of that.

So pretty much, that was how the story was conceived. It took a lot of sweat, coffee, (and more coffee) to get it the way it is now, but that was how, as is hopefully obvious, it all began (to quote Anthony)



The official case all mapped out



The Characters

Sir Anthony Maxwell
Writing a Victorian mystery novel, I pretty much figured that people would compare it to Sherlock Holmes. I would, if I was picking it up for the first time. So initially I was a bit worried that Anthony would come across too much like Holmes, since I am a diehard Sherlockian and I already felt I was being influenced by Doyle. I don’t really know why, because, truthfully, Anthony had that all covered himself, and he certainly isn’t like Holmes. There might be a few similarities that Sherlockians will spot, but I assure you, they were not done intentionally, (and if they were, you’ll likely know) and there’s only so far you can go into writing a Victorian mystery novel set in London without emulating Doyle a bit.

But no, I would not say Anthony is much like Holmes at all. Nor would I say that Tobias and Scamp are anything like a Watson. Truthfully, the Anthony series is like if you took Holmes and crossed it with Prisoner of Zenda or other swashbucklers of the same era. In fact, there are actually some similarities to Prisoner of Zenda. I did somewhat base Tobias off of a supporting character from it. It’s definitely both mystery and adventure series, and I felt I needed somewhat of an action hero to lead it. 

Anthony came to me as himself, and he, thankfully, ended up being just who I had in mind to play lead role. Tobias and Scamp came soon after, and I really didn’t have any trouble pinning their personalities down either. Why the trio instead of the traditional hero detective/sidekick? Well, pretty much for that reason. I have always loved trios, and I really like having the guy-guy-girl trio, particularly if they all act like brothers and sister, which is definitely the relationship Anthony, Tobias and Scamp share. Scamp is the kind of girl who can be “one of the guys” and Tobias and Anthony know that, thus, they don’t worry about her any more than they worry about each other. Scamp, in turn, never tries to be better than them because she’s not one of those kick-butt-and-take-names heroines who I never care for. They all watch each other’s backs and hold no genderal biases between each other. This is the kind of relationship I love to read about, but, frankly, never really get to because in everyone else’s books, it always ends in a love triangle. Well, sorry to disappoint love triangle fanatics, but there will be absolutely no romantic interest between my trio. I’m not saying there won’t be outside romantic interests later *hint hint*, but certainly not between these three.


Now for a little bit about the other characters you meet in the series. I’ll start off with Archie and his urchins. I adore urchins, and I really don’t think anyone should write a Victorian story without including urchins. Archie wasn’t based off anyone in particular, but I love him. He’s smart, and proud, but he will do anything to protect the younger children he keeps under his wing. I loved writing his somewhat father-son relationship with Anthony, because Archie is so stubborn, he doesn’t like to accept help from anyone, but Anthony takes care of him anyway. He’s definitely one of my favorite characters in the series.

And then there’s Inspector Garrett. No, he’s not really like Lestrade, in fact, I kind of shamelessly based him off of Inspector Japp from Agatha Christie’s Poirot. Anthony likes to pretend he doesn’t know what he’s doing, but Garrett is actually a lot smarter than he gives him credit for, and Garrett is always there when he needs him, acting as brute force if nothing else. The second book is going to be really fun because you get to see the two match wits as a wager to see who can solve the case first!

And that was just a little sneak peak into the characters you have to look forward to by reading A Case of Poisons. I wish I could talk about the villain, but that would be telling too much ;-)


The Steampunk

As I said, I wanted this to be a steampunk. A Case of Poisons does not feature as many steampunk inventions as the series will in later books, but I did take liberties with the technology of the time to create a steampunk feel to the story.

First off, we have the contraptions, which are motorcars that are used more widely than horse drawn cabs in my book. I based them off of actual Victorian cars, and crossed them between the sportier-looking ones from the 20s and 30s. Some are steam powered and others are electric (go green, right?) There were actually both in the Victorian era. The Electrobat was the first electric car. I would post a picture of my contraptions, but I tried to draw one and it just didn't turn out, so unfortunately, you'll just have to use your imagination. 

The weapons were really fun to come up with. I love designing weapons, and some of the ones you will see in A Case of Poisons and likely in future Anthony Maxwell books as well, are as follows:

The Eagle’s Claw: This is a small curved blade that is folded into a mechanism that can attach to the palm of one’s hand. When the release button is pressed, the blade pops out. It’s used mostly in street fighting and such other dirty work as that.

Eagle's Claw blueprint 
The Broadsman’s Barker: Typically a gambler’s weapon (broadsman is Victorian slang for ‘card sharp’) Tobias carries one of these. It’s a small, thin pistol that is attached to a mechanism that is worn on the wrist so that the pistol can be hidden up one’s sleeve. You can either have a Manuel release in which you shake the pistol from the mechanism into your hand, or an automatic one where you hide a release button in the palm of your glove (of course this is the kind Tobs has).

Suicide Pistol: This is my favorite. It’s a pistol that you can reverse the barrel of so that it is pointing behind you. Perfect for when you have an enemy with a gun to the back of your head!

And then of course Anthony has his boots with the secret sheathes for his shortsticks which, when he clicks the heels together the shortsticks pop up.

Shortsticks

But the technology isn’t the only thing that can be advanced in steampunk either. You can also go the scientific rout, which leads us to:

The Poisons

Okay, I’m not going to lie, this was my favorite part of researching this book. I’ve never been a fan of science, medicine (apart from historical cures), or microbiology, but I have always found toxicology a fascinating subject—no, don’t run away yet! It’s because poisons can be hidden, they’re subtle, and leave less trace of the murderer than a stab wound or gun shot. I’ve always enjoyed poisoning mysteries more because it left more to figure out. Without giving too much away about the story, the poisons I chose to use were, for one, all organic, taken from animals that were certainly not indigenous to Britain.

All the poisons I use in the book are portrayed accurately. I got them all from my new favorite writing reference book Book of Poisons which is an actual legitimate Writer’s Digest book. See, they know what we need. It classes everything so wonderfully it was very easy to find exactly what I needed.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to go into a lot of the poisons as much as I wanted nor did I get to use all that I had on my little list (cue evil laughter) but there might be another book with poisons in it later (in fact, it’s most likely), so I hope to have more time with them then ;-)

The Things One Finds Out When Writing Mysteries

I always like to say that I learned about pretty much everything by reading Trixie Belden and Sherlock Holmes, certainly more than I did in school anyway. I never actually realized why this was before I started writing mysteries myself. (Okay, I actually realized why when I watched Castle and saw all the weird stuff he knew from researching) but I never really applied that until I set out to write my own. Think of all the random knowledge that has popped up in the Sherlock Holmes stories that has helped him solve a case: The lion’s mane jellyfish, the KKK, the Australian hunting cry, how to measure how tall a tree is from its shadow—to name only a few off the top of my head. I learned a ton reading those books, and that’s because there is no accounting for what you may have to research when going into writing a mystery. Without giving too much away, here are some of the random things I had to research for A Case of Poisons:

Poisons, of course, but I had to do deep research into symptoms of poisons, particularly that of the brown recluse spider as you will see why when you read the book.

Ancient British royalty.

Ancient Egyptian history and rebellion.

And a bunch of other numerous things I never foresaw when I started the book. I can’t wait to see what the next one brings.

Some Fun Facts (mostly) Relating to A Case of Poisons

This you probably already know, but I’ll say it again: A Case of Poisons is my first official mystery novel. I never even wrote an old mystery novel in my years of young writerhood (I refuse to acknowledge certain stories from when I was 11 that really were not mysteries at all even if I termed them that at the time)

A Case of Poisons is my first published novel in the First Person, and actually only my second written novel in first person perspective, but now you will be seeing a lot more of it as it’s quite addicting.

Writing First Person is addicting.

Though I had the idea for the villain first, he took me forever to figure out while Anthony just came strolling along.

I really had no character building to do on Anthony at all. Once he decided to talk to me, he came as a whole package.

The ‘side-kick’ villain in this story (you’ll have to read it to find out more about this subject) was actually the original conceived villain for the piece in its very very early days.

I came up with the term ‘shortsticks’ and the fighting style to use them when I stole my brother’s friction rod after he had finished the science experiment it belonged to.

I could not sit down to write or read this story without a cup of coffee. I’m drinking one as I write this.

My music inspiration for writing this was the soundtracks for the new Sherlock Holmes movies. They were really perfect.

Anthony Maxwell has seven planned novels, and probably will have more.

The actor I would choose to play Anthony would be Jonas Armstrong (Robin from BBC’s Robin Hood)—Random Robin Hood Fun Fact: I actually liked Guy better

Also, not only a fun fact, but a reason to buy the book: there is a sneak peak of the first chapter of Book Two in the back of the book. Both the Paperback and the E-book, so you e-book readers should thank me ;-P
~~~

And now I'd like to introduce Tobias and Scamp who have agreed to do an interview for your benefit today!


Interview with Tobias and Scamp

Hazel: For readers who don’t know you, why don’t you two introduce yourselves?

Tobias: I’m Tobias Farley, ex-broadsman thanks to an incident that I will talk about later. I’m also a champion charmer, but unfortunately my prowess is not used in this story nearly enough, Hazel.

Scamp: I’m Scamp—you’ll have to read the book to find out my real name—I was a street lass for most of my life until I met Anthony. I also have a Gypsy heritage through my Grandmother. And, as you probably know, we are Anthony’s partners.


Hazel: What’s it like working with a private detective?

Tobias: Sometimes exciting, sometimes tedious, all the time unexpected, and on rare occasions terribly dangerous as “The Case of Poisons” will tell you.

Tobias and Scamp in for their interview
Scamp: I find it always invigorating, though sometimes Anthony will leave us in the dark and that is quite annoying. It’s not that he means to, it’s just that when he starts really thinking and is at the end of the case, he just dashes off without a care in the world but to solve it. He always makes sure to clear things up once the villain is apprehended, though.


Hazel: What was the first case you all worked together?

Tobias: I believe Scamp worked a case or two with Anthony before I came along, but the first case we all worked as partners, well, it wasn’t exactly the greatest achievement of our career. In the early days, Scamp and I didn’t really get along…

Scamp: I had never had any brothers, but I instantly knew that Tobias was exactly like the annoying brother I had never been graced with. We never agreed on anything back then. In fact, this case actually changed that.

Hazel: How was that?

Tobias: During a part of the case—it was a string of jewelry thefts where the thief would send small children down the chimneys of houses to unlock the doors for the others to get in—we were waiting up on the rooftop of a rich house that Anthony suspected would be the next target. It was in the middle of the night, raining, and we were all freezing.

Scamp: Unfortunately, Anthony had miscalculated, and the house that was actually getting robbed that night was the next one over. So we were sitting there freezing, trying to hide behind the chimney of the house when we realized we weren’t even in the right place. That was when Tobias got the brilliant idea to jump over to the other roof to apprehend the thieves.

Tobias: Admittedly not one of my greater moments. As everyone can probably guess, I didn’t really make it, and I was hanging from the eves two storeys above the ground, with wet, freezing hands that were slipping more and more by the second. Anthony and Scamp quickly made the decision that they would split up: he to chase after the thieves who had taken flight as soon as I had jumped over, and Scamp to help me.

Scamp: He was not happy about that at all, especially when I was able to jump to the other roof without a problem—I had been doing it all my life, after all, with much shorter legs than I have now. I hauled him back up just as he was slipping and ever since, he was eternally grateful to me for it, though he forgets sometimes.

Tobias: So that’s the story, and we did apprehend the thieves in the end, so I suppose it all worked out for the best.


Hazel: Tell everyone how you met Anthony.

Tobias: I met Anthony when I was being attacked by four bruisers from a local gambling house where I used to sharp cards. It can probably be assumed that I don’t do that anymore. He saved me lots of broken bones that day, and once I had found out what he did, I decided that I might as well join him.

Scamp: I met Anthony when I tried to pick his pocket. Then he had the gall to invite me to dinner. I thought he was just another no-good cad that London had far too many of, and I was all set to teach him a lesson his grandchildren wouldn’t forget, but he turned out to be a very kind—if somewhat naïve—fellow, and I decided I liked him enough to stick around. It was a favour, really. He needed someone to look after him if he was going to make a habit of inviting ladies to tea. Others might not hesitate.

Hazel: What do you think is the success of your partnership?

Tobias: Ultimately, our friendship and undying loyalty to each other. I know it sounds fantastic, but we would all gladly take a bullet for one another. I think it all partly comes down to the fact that none of us ever really had a family. Anthony mostly just had his Aunt, never any siblings. I left to “seek my fortune” when I was thirteen and was just a rash chap without any meaning to my life and too few real friends, and Scamp’s family died when she was very young, leaving her to live on the streets to fend for herself. We are a motley crew who doesn’t really fit in any one place, and I think that’s what attracted us to each other. Because we never fit in with anyone else, we fit in with each other and became a family of our own. The three of us are brothers and sister in everything but blood. We even have extended family; Archie is kind of an adopted son to Anthony, Inspector Garrett and Doctor Reynolds are sort of like cousins, and of course Mrs Hutchings looks after us all. I love this family more than any I was born into.

Scamp: I second Tobias heartily on everything. Apart from our tight friendship, there’s also the fact that we all bring a different skill to the table when we work. There is no squabbling over rolls when we are solving a case, we all know our parts instantly and we all count on the other to get his part done. We’ve had great success in that apart from a couple of our first cases.

Hazel: Before you leave, why don’t you tell readers a little about why they should invest in the Anthony Maxwell series?

Tobias: Hazel, you are shameless, making your characters promote your books for you! But as for why readers would enjoy the books, well, there’s me, of course. I’m dashing, blond, and single, I might add.

Scamp: Not necessarily what Hazel meant, I think, Tobias. Apart from my colleague’s own self-promotion, there are definitely some better reasons why you should all get into the series. For the first part, Anthony is a very engaging narrator. He might drink too much coffee, but he’s a good fellow. There are many misadventures in this book, and certainly more to look forward to in later books as well. There’s all the good stuff, chase scenes, fight scenes, even torture…

Hazel: But not true love (Sorry guys, The Princess Bride is way after your time)

Tobias: And this one has lots of poisons. And urchins, and also mummies *shudder*.

Scamp: And if that’s not reasons enough, well, let us know how we can try harder.


Hazel: Thanks so much for giving us time out of your busy schedule to interview you two!

Tobias: My pleasure! Though I’m quite looking forward to the vacation you promised before you start writing the next one.

Scamp: Likewise. But it was a pleasure to be invited to speak on your blog! Until the next book, then!

~~~

If you missed the character interview with Anthony Maxwell on Mara's blog, check it out here now!

Thanks to everyone who stopped by to be part of the release! Don't forget to leave your email in the comments below to enter the giveaway! =D