So, last week I made a vague comment about being busy with other things, and I promised to be more specific soon. Well, soon is now! You’ve seen before a brief mention of designing horse journals and activity books, and that is still going strong. But I’ve now taken my equestrian side and my fiction side and combined them.
Tomorrow my first equestrian romance novella comes out! To keep from confusing my thriller/horror audience, I will be writing and release all things horse-y romance under the pen name Isla Ryder. I won’t post about it much, if at all beyond this, here, but if you are a fan of that genre you can follow my page for Isla on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/IslaRyderAuthor) and/or join the mailing list (https://mailchi.mp/d07911f52f96/islaryderauthor)
Twin Springs Ranch is an enemies-to-lovers contemporary western romance and is the first novella in the Harris Twins series.
It can be found on Amazon HERE, and is free with Kindle Unlimited subscription.
t can be hard to stay positive during the querying process. Sometimes it seems like, at best, you get a form rejection. So often queries go unanswered and waiting out (and double checking) the agent’s timeline for assuming rejection is a tedious trudge through the swamp, only to discover...more swamp. Alright, so maybe that’s not so positive. BUT, sometimes you get a personal rejection—feedback! Yay! At least they have proven they actually made it past your query and read your pages. That’s a good start. You might even get a full request.
I got my first one for AtP about a month ago; they wanted it on exclusive for 3 weeks. I eagerly sent my baby out, and waited and waited for what felt like months... when I went and checked the send date...8 days ago. Oops. So I went back to waiting. After 13 days, I got an email. They weren’t interested. However, it came with feedback, like solid feedback. And while obviously it wasn’t all good, one thing they pointed out enjoying was my biggest worry for the story—its POV changes. So, after letting myself be sad for a minute, I was happy. They ‘got it’ even if it ended up not being for them. They read the whole thing and understood my intention. There’s that positivity again!
Now off to finish sending it to my agents list. I’m still being very strict with myself. I see no issue self-pubbing so if my short-list of agents are a no-go I’ll move on to the next step myself. Hopefully, though, at the very least, I can collect some more actionable feedback.
Keep at it everyone! It was my 45th (or so) query that got the request, and even if you aren’t down to self publish; there are always more agents to try.
Excite is going to turn a year old soon (December 1st) and I want to make the book birthday special! It is stagnating at 9 reviews, while it’s nice that all are four and five stars, I’d love to get the review and rating numbers up!
That is where you all come in, and where the prizes come out.
The first goal is 20 reviews. Ratings are great too, but a review can be as simple as a few words, so let’s shoot for those.
When we reach that everyone (you must be on my mailing list) will get to see my Excite vision board from when I was writing.
One winner will receive an ebook copy of Turn on the Light, my collection of horror and thriller shorts, and two runners up will get Excite stickers!
The bigger goal is 50 reviews. At that point, Amazon adds books to their marketing material, and how cool would that be?
For that big goal, of course, we have big prizes! Everyone (again—mailing list) will get a BRAND NEW story set in the Excite universe. I really want to share this one, so please help me reach this milestone!
One winner will get a signed paperback of Excite and there will be more stickers for runners up.
Remember reviews can be short—I liked it—is totally acceptable. “Fun story” is also cool. “Great read” you nailed it. See? Not hard at all!
Here’s the Amazon link if you are ready to help meet these goals:
and if you haven’t yet, be sure to join my mailing list here to get in on the prizes:
I give No good Deed by James Swain 4 stars. I loved the first book in the Lancaster and Daniels series by James Swain and was excited to finally get to the second book in my TBR pile. I’ll be honest, it took me a little while to get into. I’m not sure exactly what it was, but until I hit about the 1/3 point, I’d read only a chapter at a time before putting it down. Gradually I got sucked in as the case widened from the singular murder and abduction that started Lancaster onto the case.
Once I was in, I was in. I enjoyed learning more about Team Adam and how Lancaster got involved with them, finding out more of his back story and the hints about him and Daniels. I’m not a big romance reader, but I could have enjoyed a bit more time with them together off the clock (we get almost nothing outside the case—which is fine, it’s a thriller) I think it could have rounded them out even better to see them in that capacity. We get to know a lot about Lancaster in this one and I hope future books will delve more into Daniel’s history, too. Yes—I will read more from this series!
The plot unfolds with biker gangs, parolees, missing persons and all the goodies you would want from an FBI thriller. I won’t say too much to spoil how this crime expands and explodes into something bigger than expected. If you want some good character building along with your crime thrillers, this series is for you. Looking back, I think if I had set to dive in more fully right off the bat I would have been sold even sooner, but even if you start out like me, hold and stick with it. If you enjoyed the first book, you will enjoy this one as well.
As a self-employed person, especially one that works from home, it is easy to blur the lines between working and not. Am I on the computer to relax and mess around or am I checking emails and working on social media posts? Am I editing or am I chilling with some ice cream? I have always been a person with too many ideas. Writing both helps with that and encourages me to overdo it.
I write thrillers and horror here; I do some ghost writing, and I publish equestrian journals and non-fiction fun books. I love getting ideas for one or more of those ventures at all hours of the day. But I know better, and I am trying to be better. This spring I quit my horseback riding instructor/horse trainer job because it had become all-encompassing. I worked every day and was expected to be on call, even when I did go home. It wasn’t healthy, and I definitely burnt out. I needed to change, and it wasn’t easy. I took a full two months off of riding—at all. No riding, no teaching, no horses; nothing. Then I started back up in an amateur role. I now lease a horse that I go ride a few times a week and just have FUN.
I realized recently that I was getting in to the same cycle—for myself this time—but still working every day, at any hour, on multiple projects. I can’t turn my brain off for all the different projects, but I can set limits. I now have a ‘No Work on Sunday’ rule. The only exception being writing fresh words if inspiration strikes—I won’t ignore a blast of motivation. I have some social posts scheduled, as well as this blog, but beyond that (and maybe one check in to be sure there’s nothing important in my inbox) you won’t see me in a business capacity on Sundays.
I want my writing to work; I want to keep loving my job(s) and to do that means I have to take a break. Will there be weekends that I have an event to sell books, sure, and maybe that week I’ll make Monday my off day. But there will always be an off day, not just a few hours here or there. You can only be so productive. I’ve learned that the hard way and I am recognizing the path now and trying a different route.
Have you experienced burn-out? What do you do to stave it off? Sharing stories is the best way to help other people, everyone goes through it! It can happen at every level and in every profession—it can happen everywhere there are people who want to be better.
At first I wasn’t sold on My Dark Self by Jessica Huntley, but in the end I give it 4 stars. There were few typos/miss-used words in the early chapters that had me almost putting it down, but I kept going because I enjoyed the voice and was intrigued by the character(s). I’m not sure if the actual disorder is well (or factually) represented, but I am not really one to be bothered by inaccuracies if they do not affect my reading or engrossment of the book. The mystery was well kept up; when you think there is one thing, it leads you along, then tosses that thing you think you knew out and sends you on a new venture.
At times, I wasn’t sure I liked Alicia (I know she’s a psychopath, but I always like a love-to-hate character and I’m not sure I ever truly liked her) but she engaged well with the other characters and it was interesting how the POV shifted and kept us as in the dark as Josslyn was much of the time.
The final twist was well executed, although not totally surprising once we got there. I think some areas could have been expanded on in this quick read, but I definitely enjoyed it for that. Being able to pick it up and flip the last page in a short time frame made the dark theme fun and almost light reading-wise. Little things didn’t bother me because of the length. I love to read and write short, so this was really in my wheelhouse. I look forward to where the series takes us!
*spoiler free, so may be a little strange if you have read it, but it’s hard to talk about without spoilers so.... here we go*
Final Girls by Riley Sager comes off my TBR pile after a long time to an unimpressive 3 stars. It took me a long time to get into this one. I only kept going because I had heard so many good things about it, and its twists. For the first half I kept finding myself thinking of twists that it may be that would really piss me off, but I pressed on. The pace picked up some after the two-third mark, but at that point I was more finishing it to see it through rather than because I was into it. I found I didn’t like any of the characters: Quincy annoyed me, Sam was kind of a bitch, Jeff was bland, Coop was kind of creepy with his ‘helpfulness’ and so on.
In the end, I supposed I didn’t *quite* see the twist(s) coming exactly. I had a good idea where it was going with the killer, and it got a bit of an eye-roll when we got there. Sam’s surprise was a welcome relief, but after the whole book, it didn’t feel like it was worth it, and felt kind of forced in the speedy wrap-up. Am I glad I read it? I suppose. Was it what I expected? No, I wanted more into the final girls; I wanted the story, not the conspiracy. Maybe I had too high hopes for it since it was littering my thriller pages for such a long time, and it was unfair to start with. Although my always-gripe, I know there was some mystery at first as to the authors gender, but without any research I can tell you Riley Sager is male. I did get one or two of those eye-roll moments where you basically get ‘ she breasted boobily’ please, men, for gods sakes please stop. That always tears me right out of the story. I can’t find the line right now, but maybe a few more early female readers could help.
So, I know other people really like this one, and don’t run off on my account. But maybe reel in your expectations—it may be a perfectly fine book, if that’s what you are looking for. If you think it’s the next big thing—I suspect you will be a bit disappointed like I was. If you can justify a whole book for a couple of final-final act twists, go for it.
So PitMad happened, a fateful day of Twitter-posting our micro-blurbs to get an agent’s attention. Joy. But it’s a way to get noticed, and it gave me an excellent deadline for editing According to Plan. We’ll see if any agents want to request more than my query—which don’t we all love writing those too?
I wish I had some sage advice for you about either pitches or queries, but the best I can do is to tell you to ask for help! I posted my pitches several times for feedback and each time got critiques that made them better. People who had no idea what the book is about could help me pull the * big themes * and make the pitches even more snappy. I thought they must be pitching gods... then I started seeing other people posting theirs for help, and guess what? It’s so much easier to do other peoples than it is your own! So go forth, ask for help and give it in return, everyone’s pitches will be better for it.
No, if you want to know about writing a synopsis, I think we all loathe those, too. Mine is—well, mine is words that seem to sum up the plot. But I would rather go back to high school than have to do these things all the time. But the same logic applies. Share it out, swap it, read others and revise.
Off to research agents, and see what the next steps will be! Who knows, maybe this whole querying thing will go...According to Plan (sorry, not sorry)
I give Thief River Falls by Brian Freeman 3 stars, it should have been a book I loved. The promise of mystery, suspense and a twist ending got me excited to start it. I was interested, the main character Lisa Power is a writer and well known in her small town. A mysterious boy with no memory appears at her house.... I'm totally sold. Police are looking for him, but something is off, they seem hostile. She lies. She hides him and tries to find the truth. I'm still sold, although as I go on the waterfall of metaphors and the like are cascading off the page and getting in the way a bit. But I press on, I want to know what is going on!
Lisa keeps running around her home town trying to find allies and answers, but it seems that both are in short order. A few more things pop up that annoy me, I had to look back to see that the book was written by a man; it is- and it isn't anything big but there are a few times where it just screams off the page (Native Americans are referred to as Indians - something I wouldn't expect from the MC, and at one point he refers to getting an introvert o come out of their shell- sorry but no.) Lisa and her boy run all over town, blocked in and hunted. He remembers bits and pieces and she starts to figure his story out - it is eerily close to the plot of her famous book! What a coincidence!
Still, I'm on board, waiting for this ending that is promised to be amazing... I'm still trying here. We start getting bits from other character perspectives and things are starting to get hazy - I'm getting the idea that it isn't all Lisa thinks it is. I think I have a clue as to what is going to happen and I'm starting to get let down.
In the end I did not see the ‘twist’ coming, but I wouldn't register it as a twist personally. I'm sure lots of people were thrilled with it, but I found it almost as cliche as the ‘it was all a dream’ endings. The only thing that made me go ‘OK, alright’ were the two words that she mentions throughout. They are not the two words you think they are, but the reveal of that is too late to have enough impact. So it gets three stars, I finished it, it wasn't full of typos or anything. But I wouldn't pass it along to a friend.
Question: First, tell us how you came to be a published author and how you came up with the idea to provide services to authors.
Answer: I wrote my first novel, Esperanza: A Latina Story, WHILE I was still in college. The book follows the story of a 14-year old Mexican-American girl trying to get out of the barrio and make something of her life. Full of humor and refreshing dialogue, this book was voted as an inspirational favorite by teen readers. Shortly after that, I wrote the sequel entitled Beyond the Gardens, published in October 2009. In the second book, the lead heroine gains new confidence and strength as she learns the hard way that “you can take the girl out of the barrio, but you can’t take the barrio out of the girl.”
I write stories with strong and independent female characters that I, myself, would like to read about. When I’m not writing, I get my fill on reading for the enjoyment as well as to improve my craft.
Like every published author, I was emailing book bloggers, asking them to please review my book. But, like querying to a publisher, most of them were unresponsive and some weren’t interested. And, of course, I used paid services that would list my book in their newsletters, reaching potential readers that may or may not review my book. That worked out okay. But let’s face it: getting reviews is tough. It’s hard when your book isn’t well publicized and no one is willing to give it chance. That’s what started my book blog. Initially, it started as just a blog for my own personal reviews on books that I read. At that point, I started taking requests from authors and publishers. My own personal review would be free, but, of course, like every other blogger, I only chose the ones that I wanted and rejected those that I didn't. Yes, my readings tastes are pretty open in a wide variety of genres, but there are some that just don’t really interest me (i.e. westerns, politics sports, etc.) So how do I help those rejected authors get reviews? After all, I couldn't possibly review them all. That’s when I came up with the idea of starting a book club of readers and a review program to supply authors with more reviews besides the one that I give them. Readers can sign up to get free books from authors, and authors can get reviews for their books. It’s a simple, easy, and convenient program. And it’s working!
Q: How can this review program benefit writers?
A: The review program allows authors to list their books and reach a wide range of readers. It's been a hit so far! About 91% of participating authors get at least 1 – 2 reviews on Amazon, and we receive over 100 reviews a month from readers. And the best part about it is that we offer free ways for authors to list their book in our program. As an author, I totally understand that budgets can be tight, which makes it harder (maybe even impossible) to promote your books. Most authors shy away to any promo service when there's a price. What better price is there than FREE?
Q: What do you think is the most important aspect of a book to make it sell?
A: The story itself along with a fabulous cover is definitely important. But probably the most important would have to be reviews. Let’s face it: reviews are the life blood of any book. More reviews equal a greater online exposure and a higher sales ranking, which, could result in sales. My book, Single Chicas, has over 80 reviews, and that has given me more royalties on Kindle sales. The reviews made the difference because before I got no royalties, and now I’m surprised to actually see one come through knowing that I didn’t do any promotion. Book reviews are definitely the key thing here.
Q: How is your author review program unique?
A: My review program is unique because I offer a free option for authors, and I do that because I want authors of all kinds to get a fair chance at getting reviews for their books. Every book deserves a review. These are HONEST and LEGIT reviews. There is no buying reviews here. Readers are free to choose any book and reserve the right in whether or not a review gets posted. It’s all strictly voluntary and 100% honest.
Q: I see on your website that you also do graphics. Would you mind telling us a little more about
that end of your service?
A: As a graphic designer, I help authors with book covers, bookmarks, flyers, social media graphics, headers, and so on. I often try to offer clients bundle packages that include graphic design, book promotion, AND an opportunity to get listed in my review program to reach potential reviewers daily. I definitely know what authors want and I try to give that to them in a bulk deal.
Q: How can authors and readers sign up?
For authors interested in submitting their book to get reviews, please go to:
For readers interested in signing up to read free books, please go to: