Welcome to my Blogger page, thank you for visiting. This is where I will share my reviews of books, movies and other things I enjoy. If you would like to see my ramblings, fanfiction and other general posts, please visit my Livejournal: beren_writes. Visit my pages to learn about me and my books.
Top set of links above are external links, second set are pages local to the blog.

Monday, 26 March 2012

New Competwition to win Cat's Call and Cat's Creation

Over at Wittegen Press we have a new competwition to win The Chronicles of Charlie Waterman.

We're offering three eBook bundles of the two books in the series as prizes over here at competwition.

What is a competwition, other than an obvious spelling mistake? Well it is a very nifty way to run a competition on Twitter. All you have to do is sign in with twitter, click one button and you're entered. The click automatically subscribes you to @wittegenpress, our company twitter, and tweets about the competition on your account.

If you win you will be contacted by us via twitter once the competition has closed on the 2nd April. Competwition is a great site and well worth checking out for lots of lovely prizes.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

New book: Cat's Creation (Chronicles of Charlie Waterman #2) by Natasha Duncan-Drake

My new book is out today. This is the sequel to Cat's Call for all those who have been waiting for it.

NEW From Wittegen Press The Chronicles of Charlie Waterman eBook: Cat's Creation by Natasha Duncan-Drake Available 22 March 2012
 Cat's Creation by Natasha Duncan-Drake
Cat's Creation (The Chronicles of Charlie Waterman #2)
By Natasha Duncan-Drake
Genre:  Contemporary Fantasy, YA, Length:  Novel (~68,000wds)
Date Pub:  22 March 2012, Available NOW from: Smashwords - $2.99, Amazon $2.99, £1.53, €2.68
Coming Soon from: Barnes and Noble, Diesel, Sony, Kobo, WH Smith, Google Books
ISBN:  ISBN 978-1-908333-31-5, ISBN 978-1-908333-30-8
Link to full listing with all buying links for Cat's Creation
(http://www.wittegenpress.com/catalogue_v2/items/show/36)

Description:  Life goes on for the residents of Between as they struggle to recover from the events that could have destroyed their home and that have left a gaping hole in the structure of their world. As one of the leaders of the Questors, Charlie feels responsible for helping to keep them strong and together, but he's not sure how. Added to that, his magic is being difficult and there is another task to deal with; one that requires all seven Questors and that will take them to, Mydarec, a world run by mafia-style families, where sorcerers and vampires are a part of every-day living. Forced to play a role that could cost him his life and plagued by a vision of death, Charlie must struggle to overcome his own insecurities and, with his friends, figure out why they have been sent to such a dangerous world.

You do not need an eReader to view this publication; there are Kindle aps available for most devices as well as formats for other eReaders, devices and PC.


Excerpt

"We have other properties to see," Alexander said as soon as he read Ford's new figure, "good day, Mr Ford."
The shocked expression on Ford's face was priceless as Alexander turned away.
"Wait, wait," Ford said, stumbling over himself and hurriedly did something on the device before literally handing it to Alexander.
Now Alexander turned to face the other man properly again.
"That seems more reasonable, however I will need certain provisions if we are to close this business deal."
Ford could not hide his relief at that and for a brief moment Charlie thought he might actually have glimpsed the man behind the facade. Alexander looked poised to strike and Charlie almost felt sorry for the estate agent as the two prepared to duel it out for the house.
However, he couldn't help noticing that Ford kept looking at him out of the corner of his eye, even though most of the man's attention was on Alexander. It was abundantly clear that something about him had Ford completely on edge, which, given he was the least well armed of their whole group, was odd. On impulse he smiled at the estate agent and watched Ford go incredibly pale. It was unsettling to have such an effect, but useful, never the less.
"Call off your dog," Ford said, voice quavering, "please, I get it, you want the house. All I ask is a fair price."
"After an insult like that it had better be very fair," Charlie said, not appreciating the comment at all.
The man's eyes opened wide in shock and terror and Charlie could see Ford visibly shaking. He was pretty sure he had just stomped over local form, but he also knew backing down would hinder their negotiations, so he stepped closer instead. Ford shrank away and Charlie smiled again, since it seemed to unsettle the agent so much. He only stopped when Alexander placed a hand lightly on his shoulder and a quick flick of eyes towards the back of the room was the only communication between them. He nodded and turned, playing what he was figuring out was his part as well as he could, and stepped away to leave Alexander to buy the house.
"Do not assume to know me or my people," Alexander said, voice just above absolute zero, "it will make trouble for you, you do not want."
"I'm sorry," Ford stuttered, "I'm not used to foreigners."
"Get used to it," Alexander replied as Charlie took up a position at the back wall.
He really had no idea what he was doing, but he leant back and looked casual, keeping his eyes on the man even though there was distance between them. Why he scared Ford quite so much was a question that needed answering, but it wasn't as if they could just come out and ask. As Alexander negotiated, Charlie started sifting through the information in his head to see what he could come up with. Nothing


If you read and enjoy this title, please consider reviewing it at Amazon, or Smashwords, or one of the other eBook shops. Thank you.
And if you'd like to help a small, independent publisher: Ways you can help us to up the profile of the book. Thank you! :) There are many and varied ways to help raised the profile of this book, we've listed a selection below.
  1. Tag Cat's Creation on your local Amazon site (US, UK, DE, FR, IT, ES) Just below the product details on each Amazon page is the tag section. Please tick the boxes next to the tags you agree with (please DO NOT click the agree with all tags option, because it does not help the book).
  2. Like Cat's Creation on your local Amazon site (US, UK, DE, FR, IT, ES) At the top of every page there is a like link which you can click if you are logged in.
  3. Like The Chronicles of Charlie Waterman on Facebook The Chronicles of Charlie Waterman on Facebook
  4. Review Cat's Creation on any of the eBook sites: Amazon (US, UK, DE, FR, IT, ES); Smashwords.
  5. Tweet about Cat's Creation, example tweet: Check out the NEW Nothing The Chronicles of Charlie Waterman eBook from @WittegenPress: Cat's Creation http://bit.ly/GGCmAe
  6. Circle, +1 and/or Share the The Chronicles of Charlie Waterman pages(s) on Google+ The Chronicles of Charlie Waterman on Google+
  7. +1 the book page: Use the +1 Button on Cat's Creation's Book Page on Wittegen Press Site

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Choosing a book on Amazon

I was chatting to my husband in bed the other night, as you do, and we were talking about free eBooks. I've been doing the rounds of the Amazon UK store to find free titles to try out new authors. He suggested I analyse how I pick which books to download and read so that I could better anticipate what a reader might be looking for. Then I thought to myself it might be an interesting topic for a blog post, so here we are.

Please remember this is me analysing my instinctive reactions when glancing down a list of books, so it might not make complete sense.

I actually surprised myself, the first thing I look at is not the cover; it's the title. I thought it would be the art work that would grab my attention first, but turns out it's not. I'm not going to lie, I am a picky reader; I have very specific likes and dislikes and if something in the title puts me off I rarely even glance at the cover.

Titles are complex beasties, but here is what I gathered from making myself stop and think:
  • Titles that say "Part 1" rather than "Book 1 of..." or "Volume 1 of..." make me less likely to click. "Part 1" makes me think the story will be incomplete, which, in most cases, is probably not true, but it's the conclusion I came to when analysing how my peculiar brain works. 
  • If the title is too long, it puts me off. I honestly can't figure out why, but for some reason a long title makes my eye slip on to the next book. However, if the title gives me nothing, i.e. it doesn't tell me something of what the book's about, I am less likely to click, so short can also be a problem. Of course a one word title can tell me a whole lot e.g. I'm much more likely to click on a book called "Cursed" than I am a book called "Kisses". The first screams paranormal at me and the second tells me nothing except there might be lip action.

If the title has my attention I turn to the cover. The book definitely gets bonus points if I can read the title from the small cover, but I realised this isn't a skip point for me. It helps, but it does not sell me the book.

Everyone I've ever talked to about books has always said the cover is incredibly important. It's the advertising for the book and I am clearly a typical customer, because, when I think about it, the cover can pique my curiosity or make me skip on. If the cover looks amateurish or does not fit the genre I am looking for I skip over it. It may be shallow, but it's what I do and I suspect it's what a lot of other people do whether they are aware of it or not.

If the cover gives me a hint about the subject matter of the book it also helps. A vampire with fangs on the front may be cliché, but I'm much more likely to look if my favourite genre is advertised right there in front of me.

Those are the two things that make me click the link.

The rating only comes into it if the book has an average rating of less than 3 stars, but it still doesn't stop me clicking on the link.

Next is the description, the equivalent of the book blurb on a paperback. I cannot stress how important this is. I may love the cover, I may think the title is brilliant, but if the blurb is badly put together, badly spelled or just not very informative I hit the back button. There was one book I looked at, the cover caught my eye, the title was fine, but the blurb consisted of six words that told me nothing. Click, back I went to find a title where the author could be bothered to tell me something about the book.

If it's a free book, I like the cover and I like the title, the book blurb isn't terrible and the rating is 3 stars or above, I'll download it. Simple as that. The best covers and the catchiest titles will get me first and I'll keep looking until I have enough to be going on with.

However, a 3 star rating is not a must. If the cover and the title look good (and they probably have to be a bit more special than high rated or unrated books) I will go check out a book with a lower rating, but what I do then, as well as reading the blurb, I go and see what the reviews had to say. Sometimes a book is trolled and people give it bad reviews for the hell of it and it's usually easy to tell when this has happened. This is why the rating is definitely not the first thing I look at, that and the fact that I have been disagreeing with reviewers for years and am unlikely to stop any time soon. When you're a fan of the vampire genre you take every review with a pinch of salt.

If I'm still not sure I take a look inside the book before I will click the buy link. The most annoying thing I have seen so far which put the author on the "never click again" list was a preview that consisted of the front cover and a paragraph with a web address. That is not a preview, that is what I can see on the main web page.

So, that is basically my decision process laid out. I am sure some people have other processes, but I suspect a great many do it the same way I do. Until I actually sat down and thought about it I honestly had no idea what my thought processes were, it was just like magic magnetism. I suspect my thought process for buying a book over a certain value will be different, but I haven't analysed that, so I'll let you know when I do.

I would be most interested to hear how other people go through the process.

Monday, 5 March 2012

It's read an eBook week

Did you know it was Read an eBook Week? Well it is and in honour of this many of our books on Smashwords are discounted. We have offers from 50% off to 100% off depending on the title.

How to get the money off.
  1. Click the individual title and visit the Smashwords page.
  2. Check the right col to see the discount code (same as the one next to the titles below).
  3. Click buy the book and use the discount code on checkout.

Books with 50% off

Advent by Natasha Duncan-Drake - 50% off (code REW50)
Every hunter knows a vampire bite means damnation.
Every hunter knows killing a victim is an act of mercy.
Every hunter knows there is no cure. Every hunter is wrong.

Nate Lavern became a hunter at eighteen and was well aware of the golden rule until he met Lexie. Lexie is a white witch infected with vampirism and when Nate was infected as well she showed him her secret for staying partially human. Together they hunt vampires, protecting the unsuspecting general public, but their magical solution is beginning to fail.

Their only hope is the Avebury ritual, little more than a legend even in hunter circles, and requiring four ancient relics. They are running out of time and must find out what is truth and what is myth; what is real and where it has been hidden. 

Sacrifice of an Angel by Tasha and Sophie Duncan - 50% off (code REW50)
"Harry Potter (with grownups) meets Midsommer Murders with a magical version of C.S.I. thrown in for good measure." - Rob Drake

The body of a beautiful girl dressed in a ceremonial robe is found on a playground roundabout. Her throat has been ripped out and the roundabout has a bad case of perpetual motion. Is it a ritualistic, magical murder or a setup to distract from the real killer?

That is the question that faces twins, Theo and Remy Haward, detectives in the Sorcerous Crimes Task Force (SeCT), when they are called to the scene in the middle of the night. That and who could commit such an act. They must find the answers to these and other questions, all the while ensuring the general public finds out nothing about the magical world that co-exists with their own.

Armed with their experience, their natural magical abilities and their complimentary instincts, Remy and Theo must identify the victim, follow the evidence and find the killer before anyone else dies.

Books with 100% off

Face of the Dead by Tasha D-Drake - 100% off (code RE100)
Old houses creak and groan and make noises. Miles had expected that when he bought the farmhouse, but the tapping on the windows is a bit of a shock the first night he moves in. Of course there has to be a rational explanation and Miles is determined to find it, which would be easier if things didn't keep getting stranger.

The Need In Me by Sophie Duncan - 100% off (code RE100)
Struggling artist, Rob, has come to London to make his name. However, moving into a flat in an old house, he finds himself with some unwanted attention. Someone else is sharing the flat with him, someone he can't see, but whose terrifyingly erotic presence makes itself known. After a series of very direct messages, Rob must head back to his home county, Cornwall, to discover who lies behind the heady encounters. 

Three Bullets by Tasha D-Drake - 100% off (code RE100)
Bae figured out he wasn't like most of the guys in his small home town pretty quickly, which is why he wants out. His only route is college and for that he needs money. When he sees an ad in the local paper for a house sitter with very good rates he jumps at it. What he soon finds out it that it's a person sitting job as well. Jim Jones and his brother Steve are new to town and Steve is temporarily blind thanks to an accident. The job involves looking after the house and Steve while Jim is out of town.


That wouldn't be so bad, except Steve has an attitude problem and something about the two brothers just doesn't seem quite right. Bae is not sure what he has gotten himself into, but it's definitely not what he was expecting. 

Cat's Call by Natasha Duncan-Drake - 100% off (code RE100)
Charlie Waterman is eighteen and until he is assaulted by a cat figurine and wakes up with a tail, he is boringly normal. Seven great Spirits guard the universal Balance against the forces of chaos and it is time for them to choose new Questors to wield their power and be their mortal advocates. Charlie is supposed to be the Questor of the Cat Spirit, but no one bothered to ask him about it. 

Books that are free all the time

Chip Off the Old Block? by Tasha D-Drake - FREE
The Anti-Christ is coming! 


His name is Owen.

Well technically it's Beherit, but that's so last millennium. Aspiring to world domination is just around the corner and his simple life of school is coming to an end ... which is kind of the problem. His best friend David, the local vicar's son, will no longer be there and that makes Owen feel things he doesn't understand. What else is a boy to do, but ask his dad what it all means, even if that dad has horns and his eye on the corruption of humankind? 

Mouse Trap by Sophie Duncan - FREE
Harry Moorsely is a noticing sort of gal. 
And she has noticed Mariam DeBoer.

Visiting her God Mother, Lady Jane Devril, bright young thing, Harry, has set her sights on another guest at the weekend house party, the divinely elfin Mariam. Yet, when Lady Jane's emeralds are stolen in the middle of the night, Harry's eye for detail means only she sees the clues that point to an inside job. Should she believe her suspicions, or will her heart lead her to another conclusion? 

Bonds of Fire by Sophie Duncan - FREE
Drekken is a dragon warrior. Bonded to his dragon, Miri, together they lead a squadron of fliers. His fliers respect him, his enemies fear him, his reputation precedes him. Yet, nothing in his life could have prepared Drekken for his greatest challenge: babysitting.


Stranded after a deadly battle, separated from his squadron and Miri, Drekken finds himself the only hope for two young empaths and their nursery group of hatchlings. He must lead them all to safety and, along the way, discover some truths about himself. 

Forgotten Soul (Book 1 of the Soul Reader Series) by Tasha D-Drake - FREE
John knows that at best he is a male escort and at worst a whore, but it's what he does and he's good at it. He sells his body and his clients come with fangs so it's more about blood than sex. Hiding behind his acting skills is how he survives, but when he meets one of his latest clients, Michael, his professional detachment is severely threatened, leading him into very dangerous territory.

The Diablo Ouija by Sophie Duncan - FREE
Theo and Remy Haward are drawn into a ghostly murder investigation on Hallowe'en when The Diablo Ouija, a dangerous magical item, is stolen from the SeCT evidence store. Theo turns to his old mentor, retired DCI Swanson, for more information about the one-time tool of serial killer, Raymond Holiday, and discovers Swanson has been keeping a secret about the deadly spirit board. 

Stockings - Two Haward Mysteries Christmas Short Stories by Tasha and Sophie Duncan - FREE
In one story meet Remy and Theo as six year olds trying to meet Father Christmas and in the other see them come to terms with being the guardians of Blackwood during their first Christmas as such. 

Books that are not discounted, but are still cheap

Forbidden Soul (Book 2 of the Soul Reader Series) by Tasha D-Drake 99c
John's life used to be risky, but it had been simple. Allowing vampires to suck his blood had never been safe, but now there is Michael and having a vampire who actually cares about him is complicated. Michael is urging him to reconnect with the family he lost when kidnapped. His recent past also doesn't want to die quietly and is making his life less than easy and it's about to become deadly. 

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Free Books on Amazon - the Update, Month 2

Well I promised to keep everyone updated on how having a free book on Amazon continues to affect my Amazon sales. So here goes.

My free book on Amazon (Forgotten Soul) was downloaded 7272 times in February compared to 3758 times in January.

I've just analysed the number of sales rather than free downloads comparing January 2012 to February 2012 and it's official; it works. My sales are up by 107% overall against last months sales which were already up over 100% on December's sales.

Here's a breakdown by country for the increases this month:
  • UK - up 378%
  • US - up 88%
  • DE - up 100%
  • FR - down 100% but that was only one book in Jan.
Once again, however, it seems to be the series that makes this work. In Jan my other book sales went up, but they have stayed at a similar level for Feb rather than increasing again. It is the second book (Forbidden Soul) in the series for which the first book is free (Forgotten Soul) that is selling so well.

The free book (Forgotten Soul) has almost consistently been in the top #20 Free books for it's category on Amazon UK (#9 being the highest) and the top #100 for the US (ranging from #36 to #100 depending on time of day etc). Which has upped the profile of the sequel which is 99c.

So, on current evidence I would say having a free book permanently on Amazon does two things:
  1. It lifts sales of unconnected books, but does not encourage them to continue increasing beyond a certain level.
  2. If the books is part of a series, it continually helps increase sales of others in the series.