Sunday, August 2, 2015

Kindle Unlimited--Loving it!

The first month of Kindle Unlimited 2.0 is now in the bag, and I am happy with it so far. I had over 200,000 pages read of my books in Kindle Unlimited. While that is a piddly number compared to the big dogs, I'm happy with it, except I know I could have done even better if I hadn't screwed up in mid-July. (accidentally let them expire when their then current term ran out.)

 There is something incredibly satisfying about seeing and knowing that people are actually reading the books. Yes, I get reviews and emails, but those are from a very small minority of readers. For the most part, I can only guess that people are reading because they bought/borrowed the next book. If it kind of freaks you out as a reader that authors can 'see' you reading, don't worry about it. We don't even know the number of books that have been borrowed in total. We don't even know if most of our pages read are just someone sampling the first few pages and returning the book. We definitely don't have access to who downloaded a book, where they are in the world (other than which country) and don't know when you stopped reading a book. All the pages read are lumped together into one number for a book.

 For those who don't know what Kindle Unlimited is, and I know there are still quite a few of you out there who might be wondering, Kindle Unlimited is a program Amazon started a year ago. The reader pays a monthly fee of $9.99 and for that, they have access to the Kindle Unlimited library. I think that's over a million books last I checked. You however many of those books that you want. The only restriction is that you can only have 10 checked out at one time. If you try to get book 11, Amazon simply reminds you that you have 10 already and would you like to return a book. (pops up with a book in your library so you can very easily return it, or select another to return.) I don't know about you, but I can't read 10 at a time anyway, so the restriction hasn't been an issue at all. You also don't have to worry that an author is going to pull their books from the library before you finish it, because once you have it downloaded into your library, it will stay there until you return it. It could be months. I had pages read from No Good Deed last month, and it hasn't been in KU since mid-January, so it sat on someone's Kindle that long before they read it.

 Anyway, there are a ton of great books in Kindle Unlimited. I keep reading about authors who had pulled their full-length novels out of it last year because they were losing out since a borrow paid so much less than a sale, but many are now putting their books back into Kindle Unlimited. Some of these are New York Times and USA Today Bestselling books. Not to mention the thousands of great books you might never have discovered.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

BigAl's Books and Pals: Shoot / M.P. McDonald

BigAl's Books and Pals: Shoot / M.P. McDonald: Reviewed by: BigAl Genre: Thriller Approximate word count : 60-65,000 words Availability Kindle US: YES UK: YES ...

Friday, July 10, 2015

Read "SHOOT: a CJ Sheridan Thriller" ~ New Release by M.P. McDonald

SHOOT: Book One
Interning at the CIA prepared CJ Sheridan to be a bureaucrat, not a hero. But, when he's handed a camera that offers teasing glimpses of potential tragedies, what else can CJ do but try to change the future? 

No stranger to the cameras power, CJ’s father is dead set against the idea. He understands all too well the horrifying price the previous owner, Photographer Mark Taylor, paid for its use.

CJ’s knows the cameras history, but with the support of an experienced team behind him, including his FBI Bureau Chief father, he’s sure that won’t happen to him.

Heedless of the dangers, when offered the chance to save the life of a murder victim, a young nurse named Blanche, CJ charges to the rescue. 

Only to find himself alone, a suspect… with only his wits and courage to help him change the course of fate.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Arctic Wargame, by Ethan Jones~On Sale~99 Cents

My friend, Ethan Jones, has put his Kindle bestselling thriller on sale for just 99 cents for a limited time. 

Arctic Wargame is the first book in the wildly popular Justin Hall spy thriller series, hitting Amazon’s
Best Sellers lists in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

Canadian Intelligence Service Agent Justin Hall—combat-hardened in operations throughout Northern Africa—has been demoted after a botched mission in Libya. 

When two foreign icebreakers appear in Canadian Arctic waters, Justin volunteers for the reconnaissance mission, eager to return to the field. His team discovers a foreign weapons cache deep in the Arctic, but they are not aware that a spy has infiltrated the Department of National Defence. 

The team begins to unravel a treasonous plan against Canada, but they fall under attack from one of their own. Disarmed and stripped of their survival gear, they are stranded in a remote location. Now the team must survive the deadly Arctic not only to save themselves, but their country. 

Arctic Wargame is an action-packed spy thriller in the bestselling tradition of David Baldacci, Brad Thor and Vince Flynn. Readers will enjoy a great tale of courage, fear and betrayal. 

The bonus content includes the prologue and the first chapter of TRIPOLI'S TARGET, the second book in this series, which came out in 2012 and reached Amazon’s Best Sellers lists in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

ARCTIC WARGAME links on major book retailers:

Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble
Nook UK

Friday, June 19, 2015

Kindle Unlimited~How I'll Approach It

I currently have five titles in Kindle Unlimited and borrows make up about one fourth of my ebook income. Of course, KU has some advantages beyond income--increased visibility in the Kindle Store, for example. I'm not sure how that can be measured in relation to an actual increase in purchases. I would say possibly a handful of purchases can be attributed each month to word of mouth from borrowers. That's probably a generous number, but one I'll go with for now.

With the changes coming up next month when KU switches to paying by page instead of paying nothing until readers read 10% of a book, and then once they do, Amazon paid the full borrow rate for that month. It averaged about $1.38/borrow.

What I'm going to do to determine if it's worth staying in, since Amazon will only give us the number of pages read, and not the number of books borrowed, I can only go by pages read. Call me a pessimist but I don't think we'll get more than 2 cents/page read. That will be okay, actually if most of my borrowers finish my books. At an average page count of almost 300 pages a book for 3 of my 5 books, and the other 2 averaging 175 pages, I'll make out better than I do with the current system.

Being even more conservative, I'm going to assume the worst at a penny/page. That would still be better for me--if readers consume the whole book. Big if. Of course I hope it happens more often than not, but the reality is, readers--especially readers who haven't invested much in a book--give up on books for all kinds of reasons. Some are within my control--write a better book, for instance--others are beyond my control. An example: a reader begins reading March Into Hell after downloading No Good Deed for free. Their real life gets busy, they stop reading, and then forget about it. A month later, they want to borrow some other book and have to return one to get within the 10 book checkout limit, and March Into Hell pops up and Amazon asks the reader if they want to return it. They debate, then decide to return it because they can always read it later, and they forgot what it was about anyway. Boom. Book returned.

My books are due to come out of Select in mid-July. Most of the time, I'd probably just roll them back into KU because I don't normally have a lot of sales on other platforms, but I recently had a Bookbub ad for No Good Deed, and I had thousands of downloads outside of Amazon. It's been killing me that I can't put my other books up on those sites. I wish I could do both and hate the exclusivity clause in KU. Okay, rant about that over. Reality is, I hate to leave those readers hanging.

To know if staying in is worthwhile, in my head I'm going to assign a penny/page read, average out the pages read/day, and see if the income from those comes out to the same income I'm earning now on borrows/day. If it's significantly lower, I'll yank the books out of Select, and put them back onto other platforms. I just hope two weeks is enough time to evaluate the program.

That may sound all very business-like, but I don't know how else to evaluate it. Up until this Bookbub ad, even the sales I did have on other platforms were 'silent' sales. I didn't get reviews or feedback in any way, so I didn't know if anyone was actually reading the books, but in the last month, No Good Deed has racked up quite a few reviews on other platforms, and I've had messages from readers who found the book on other sites. Hearing from them makes me even more inclined to pull out of KU.

One question I have is will Amazon count books borrowed in June, read past 10%, but continued into July. Say someone borrows a book on June 28th, reads the first 10% by June 30th, and continues reading the book into July, finishing all 300 pages. Will Amazon pay me for both the 10% borrow in June, and the 270 pages in July? Or will they consider that book as paid for already? Will they tally those pages, but then not pay them because the book was paid in June? And if they do that, how will I know?

Friday, June 5, 2015

My Current Deals for Summer Reading

Quick rundown of my current deals on ebooks and audiobooks. All links will be at the bottom of  the post so you don't miss a deal by clicking on link before reaching the next deal:

First, No Good Deed: Book One--still FREE! Woo-hoo! Response to this deal has been phenomenal! I love all the new readers it has brought to the Mark Taylor Series. As if getting the ebook free was a good enough deal, did you know that because No Good Deed has Whispersync, you can get the audiobook version, narrated by award-winning narrator, Daniel Penz, for only $1.99! Yes, even a free ebook download counts for this deal!

Next BIG DEAL---For a limited time, March Into Hell: Book Two is just 99 cents in both the US and the U.K. via a Kindle Countdown Deal!

Next deals are for Mark Taylor: Genesis, and Deeds of Mercy: Book Three. Both of these titles are also Whispersynced. Mark Taylor: Genesis for almost a year. If you took advantage of that deal and have the book already on your Kindle, you can get the audio book for just $1.99! Of course, no worries if you didn't--the regular price of the ebook is only $2.99, and you can still get the audiobook for just $1.99 no matter how you acquired the book.

Deeds of Mercy has never been free, but it still has Whispersync and if you have the book on your Kindle--even if you bought it when it first came out three years ago--you can get the audiobook for just $1.99!





Friday, May 29, 2015

No Good Deed Still Free, Plus Unexpected Success in the UK

I am thrilled with No Good Deed's success as a free book in the U.K. over the last month. I don't
know what changed, because it's been free there before, but I'm not sure it ever made the top 100 free at any other time, and if it did, it was only for a few hours in the high 90s. So, when No Good Deed was price-matched to free in several Amazon markets, including the UK, back in mid-April, I didn't have high expectations for it in the U.K. It had always received pretty good reviews there, but had never been all that successful, even back in 2011 when it did very well in the US after a free run.

With no promo at all, it hung around 180-300 free in the store for weeks for the first month, and I was pleasantly surprised. On the 19th of this month, I had a BookBub ad, and that shot the book up to #2 in the Kindle Free store. It stayed there for several days and since then, has bounced from about #18 to #8. This morning, it was #11. How cool is that? I don't know how long it will remain in the top 100 there, let alone the top 20 (and I probably just jinxed it by creating this blog post!) but I'll be happy while it lasts.

Meanwhile, it's still hanging in the top 100 in the US Kindle Free store as well, although it's been not as high and it had some extra help from the fantastic Pixel of Ink and EreaderNewsToday, having promos with both of those great sites.

My friend, Susanne O'Leary's book, Hot Property, has done even better in the UK, sticking in the top 10 for several weeks now. It is also still free in the US as well, so grab it while you can!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

"SHOOT" Cover Reveal & Excerpt

“So, you don’t use the camera anymore?” CJ glanced at Mark as the other man crossed the loft and
retrieved his shoes from a mat beside the door. He’d posed the question because he was curious, but it was also a desperate attempt to distract himself from the overwhelming urge to touch the camera. Its energy beckoned him with the urgency that meth called to an addict. He jammed his hands in his front pockets, hooking his thumbs on the edge of the denim. Was he just imagining it, or could he actually feel the energy coiling through his body even from a few feet away?

Mark sat on the sofa and put his foot on the edge of the coffee table as he tied his shoe. “I use it sometimes, but I don’t really need to anymore. After my stay at the CIA spa,” Mark threw CJ a rueful grin, “I get the visions without using the camera, but sometimes I use it anyway, to check if what it shows is any different from what I …see.”

He dropped his foot from the table. “So far, I’ve been able to see the same as what’s in the images, plus a lot extra.” He shrugged. “I don’t have to mess around with developing the film. Of course, the downside is that I can’t print out my visions.”

“True, but that’s cool that you get complete visions.” CJ sidled closer to the bookshelf that held the camera. As he edged beside it, the hair on his arms rose as if he’d just removed a sweater in dry winter air. He swiped a hand down his arm but the charge of energy remained. He just knew if he touched something metal he’d get a hell of a  shock from the static. His skin tingled in an almost painful way as goose bumps dotted his arm, but as though his feet were nailed to the floor, he remained close to the shelf despite the discomfort.

The hum of the air conditioner caught his attention. Had it just cycled on? That had to be the reason for the sudden chill. It would explain the dry air, too. He rubbed his arms, but couldn’t ignore the overwhelming urge to hold the camera. It was as if he was made of iron and the camera a powerful magnet drawing him closer and closer. The power seemed to lift his arm and suck it towards the camera. Straightening his finger, he, touched it. A surge of energy-along with the shock he’d anticipated-charged up his arm and he jerked his hand back.

“You want to try it out again?” Mark stood and circled the coffee table, stopping beside him. “Here. It’s okay.” He plucked the camera off the shelf and offered it to CJ.

Swallowing hard, he nodded. “Yeah, but…I wasn’t sure if you wanted anyone else to touch it.”
Mark laughed. “And yet, you touched it anyway.” He gave CJ a wide smile.

Returning the grin, CJ shrugged. “I couldn’t stop myself.”

“Don’t worry-I get it.”

The camera felt just as CJ remembered-warm and thrumming with energy he couldn’t explain. Ever since he’d used it a few months ago when Mark needed help in D.C., he hadn’t been able to put the incredible device out of his mind. Every day, he wondered if it was showing Mark an image of some future horror that needed to prevented. He imagined all kinds of scenarios fueled by the real life exploits he’d wheedled out of Mark while the poor guy had taken a few days to recover before returning to Chicago.

He still felt a little guilty for making a complete pest of himself while Mark and Jessie had stayed at CJ’s apartment those two nights. His dad had been busy with tons of reports and paperwork and hadn’t been around to tell CJ to knock it off. Even when Mark had slept, which he’d done a lot of the first day, CJ had pried more stories out of Jessie.

His cheeks heated in embarrassment at how obnoxious he’d been and he tore his gaze from the camera long enough to shoot a look at Mark. “Hey man, I’ve been meaning to apologize for how I acted when you stayed at my place.”

Mark’s brow knit in confusion. “How you acted?”

“I was like a little kid the way I was pestering you about this.” He lifted the camera slightly. “I’m pretty sure I made a fool of myself.”

Mark clapped him on the shoulder. “No worries. You were fine. I know firsthand it’s a lot to take in. I just wish I’d have had more time to discuss it with you while I was at your place, but honestly, my memory of that time is a fuzzy mess.” He waved a hand. “I haven’t given a second thought to your questions.”

The guilt melted away but his doubt about using the camera grew and he thrust the camera back at Mark, shaking his head. “I don’t think I can use it. It’s not something I should play around with as if it’s a freaking toy.”

Mark didn’t take it immediately. He gave CJ a long look, his head cocked and his mouth open as if he was about to say something, but instead, his lips compressed into a faint smile and he took the camera. After returning it to the shelf, he stepped back and crossed his arms. “CJ, one thing you have to realize is it’s still just a camera. It’s not alive and it doesn’t judge your intentions.”

“I suppose, but I feel like if I took it, I’d be…I don’t know….” CJ shifted and jammed his hands in in front pockets up to his knuckles. “It’s as if I’d be using it on a lark because I’m here on vacation. It’s too important to be treated lightly.”

Mark nodded. “I see.” He raised an eyebrow at CJ and snapped his fingers, pointing at him. “You know, now that I don’t need to use it, you could just take it back to D.C. with you. Who knows what kind of events you could alter?”

Temptation beckoned but CJ ignored it. “I want to use it…believe me. It’s the most awesome, fantastical thing ever, but, I can’t do what you do. I can’t take the responsibility of changing the future.” CJ backed away from the bookshelf, putting as much distance between himself and the camera as possible.

Mark raised one shoulder. “I don’t know about that. You handled yourself like a pro out in D.C. from what I recall and from what Jessie told me.”

Pleasure at the compliment heated his cheeks, but CJ shook it off as undeserved. It was easy to be calm when his dad and Jessie did the most of the work and took the risks. Besides, he probably wasn’t ready for taking on the camera and its responsibilities.

He plopped onto the couch and wondered how soon Jessie would arrive. They were just waiting for her before they went out for dinner. His dad would meet them at the restaurant. CJ leaned forward, elbows resting on his knees as he scrubbed his hands down his face. “I mean, that’s crazy to think I could deal with the camera. I’m barely out of college and I don’t even have a job yet.”

Mark dug in a basket on his breakfast bar for something. “About that…Jim told me that you had an offer from the CIA-that you had already interned with them and had planned to work there after graduation.” He pulled a set of keys out of the basket and twirled the ring around his finger as he leaned a shoulder against a brick column between the kitchen and the living room. “I hope nothing that’s happened to me made you change your mind. You could do a lot of good there.”

CJ shrugged. “It has something to do with it, but not everything. I need to be able to trust the agency I work with. How can I trust them after what happened to you?”

Shaking his head, Mark pushed off the column. “It was just one rogue officer and a desperate scientist. It wasn’t a sanctioned operation.”

“Are you sure about that? What about that other guy who was involved?” CJ knew from personal experience that the CIA had layers upon layers of secrecy and one hand didn’t know what the other was doing half the time. It had to be that way for the safety of the people involved and he understood why. He got that. What bothered him was that the officer took advantage of the secrecy code to go rogue and conduct his own experiment.

Mark waved a hand dismissively. “He didn’t do much besides give Callahan my name and that I was coming out to D.C. Jim says the investigation is still ongoing, but he doesn’t think anything will come of it.”

CJ jumped to his feet. “See? That’s what I’m talking about. It’ll all be covered up. Can you imagine what the press would do with this story?” He didn’t mean for it to come out as though he was contemplating telling the media, but Mark must have taken it that way. His eyes hardened and he jabbed a finger at CJ.

“The press can’t ever know of this, understand? The last time reporters got wind of anything, it nearly killed me.”

CJ hadn’t heard that story, but he didn’t doubt Mark’s statement. “I’m sorry, Mark. That came out wrong. I’d never tell anyone about what you do.” CJ tried to lighten the sudden tension and quipped, “That would be like revealing Batman’s identity or something.”

Mark’s shoulders lowered and the corner of his mouth turned up. “Batman? I was thinking more along the lines of the Greatest American Hero.”

CJ chuckled because he knew Mark was making some kind of joke, but he felt like he was missing something. “Uh, yeah.”

“Oh jeez. Now you’re making me feel old. Come on. Jessie sent me a text to meet her at the restaurant.”

Be sure to sign up to my Mailing List to be notified of release! 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Bookbub is AMAZING!

I had a Bookbub ad for No Good Deed yesterday and had fantastic results with the book reaching #3 on the Kindle Free Top 100 in the US, and #2 in both the U.K. and Canada!

On top of that, I found out that March Into Madness was nominated in two categories in the 2015 eFestival of Books. The categories were thriller, and novel. Since it's the newest book in the series, and the last one, plus, it's never been free, the audience for it has been much smaller than my older books. I was astounded that anyone would think to nominate it, but whoever did so, here's a big THANK YOU!  (and I don't know how many nominations a book needed to get on the ballot)

Two more good things happened yesterday--Kboards does a nice shoutout every day, I think, for kboards authors, and I had a message saying one of the books in my signature was going to be in yesterday's feature and it turned out to be Seeking Vengeance. I was happy to see that book receive a little love. It gets a little lonely sometimes, being the only stand alone novel that I have, and surrounded by the Mark Taylor Series.

The other good thing was that No Good Deed almost made the top 100 in audiobooks according to the sales chart in my author page on Amazon. It got up 109 at some point after I went to bed.

So, as you can imagine, it's been hard to focus on finishing the next book, but I'm still plugging away! I am getting so close! If all goes well, it should be published sometime next month. I was going to post a cover reveal, but I might be making changes to the cover and won't know until I get those changes back if I'm going to go with them. Stay tuned! Next week, I plan to post a sneak peek for the next book in the spin-off series of CJ Sheridan thrillers.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

A Bloodline & Breaking Bad comparison

I think one of the aspects that makes Bloodline compelling in a Breaking Bad kind of way is that the whole time you're watching it, you start to know the characters and begin to understand what makes them act the way they do. Just like we see why Walter White begins his 'career' making meth, we start to see the family dynamics of the Rayburn family and how it starts to unravel when Danny comes home.

The compelling part is that we start to identify with the characters. I think many of us can relate to huge medical bills Walter White faced, limited medical options, the thought of leaving his family in debt, juxtaposed with seeing the piles of cash Hank showed in the drug bust video that Walt saw in the first or second episode of the series.  Who hasn't seen news coverage of a huge drug bust where it is mentioned that thousands in cash was found with the drugs, and think,  "Damn, I bust my ass working all week at job where nobody appreciates me anyway, and for what? To scrape by until I get sick and then die, leaving my family finances in ruins while people like this break the law and rake in the bucks?" Thankfully, for most of us, it's just a fleeting thought, but still, we recognize those feelings and so can cut Walter a little slack for what he decides to do.

In Bloodline, we see the family before Danny arrives. They seem like the perfect upper middle class family. Actually, only the parents are upper middle class--the children are more middle class, working at respectable jobs, but not getting rich by any means. They look happy as they prepare for a huge party to celebrate 45 years of operation for the Rayburn Inn, the beautiful inn that sits oceanside and seems to have a steady, and repeat business. The inn and the family are so well known  and respected on the island that there is soon to be a pier named after them.

John, the second oldest, works as a detective with the count sheriff. He's married with a son and daughter. And a dog. Perfect family.

Meg is the youngest and the most educated, but her dad paid for her to go to law school. That becomes a bone of contention later on as Danny throws that in her face--that Dad paid for her education, but wouldn't pay for Danny's culinary education.

Kevin is the youngest brother, and owns a boat yard. I have no clue what kind of living something like that would provide, but hints are tossed out that he's barely scraping by. It wouldn't take too much for the boat yard to go under. He's married, no kids yet, and he's outgoing but has a temper, plus he tends to drink too much. Still, he's not the black sheep by any means. That role falls to Danny.  The oldest in the family, he disappeared for a a long time. It doesn't really say where he's been and why he was gone, but we do know that there was some communication still as John stepped up and paid Danny's tuition to culinary school.

 It seems like John has stepped up more than once to help Danny, except for one time, and it's that one time that eats away at Danny. It seems he tried to run away from the gnawing ache of being left out and slighted, and not fitting in with his own family, but finally he decides to confront them. I don't think he consciously decided to get even, but as he's faced with their rejection, he reacts in a way that is creepy and yet...sort of pathetic and sad at the same time. On one hand, you can understand why the others in the family don't really want him around, but at the same time, you feel so bad for Danny.

The same as Walter White's perceived betrayal by his business partners long ago. It seemed like it was long forgotten, but viewers find out that it was the spark that lit the fuse. The very slow burning fuse that eventually became the show, Breaking Bad.

In Bloodline, the fuse was lit when the siblings were all children, and it's been burning oh so slowly ever since. Danny's return causes the fuse to burn hotter and faster. Just like we saw a flash-forward in the very first scenes of Breaking Bad, we see a flash-forward in Bloodline. A very dark, foreboding flash-forward. And, as it does in Breaking Bad, it compels you to keep watching to find out how the characters ended up in that situation.

When we first meet these people, with the exception of Danny, we can't imagine any of them doing anything terrible. I'm pretty sure anyone who met Walter White before he became "Heisenberg", would have said he was a nice guy. Law abiding. Good teacher. Great husband and father. Heh.

As John says in an ominous voice-over in the first episode, "We aren't bad people, but we did a bad thing...Please don't judge us."

Please share your thoughts in the comment section. Do think Bloodline is comparable to Breaking Bad in any way? Or completely different?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Listen to No Good Deed for FREE!

Daniel Penz is getting rave reviews for his reading of No Good Deed: Book One. Check it out for yourself for FREE! All you have to do is sign up for a free 30-Day Trial of It's easy. It's simple. It's no risk. You can cancel after 30-days. Listen to No Good Deed for free 

I almost wish I had a long commute to work again because I'd love to listen to audiobooks in the car or on a train. When I was a kid, I used to be able to read in the back of a station wagon, riding backwards (remember those seats? And waving at the people behind you?), but these days, I try and I can do it for a few minutes, then start to feel a little sick. Of course, I only do that as a passenger in the car. ;)

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Seeking Vengeance is Free 3/8-3/9

With 58 reviews and 4.5 rating, don't miss your chance to grab a copy of Seeking Vengeance. Thank you to Free Kindle Books & Tips for their support in helping to advertise this giveaway.

Vengeance takes on a whole new meaning in this romantic police thriller.
Tormented with grief…
Sam Brennan has one goal–vengeance. He’s done playing by the rules imposed as a cop and goes rogue in his quest for blood.
Scarred and wary…
Molly Flynn balks when her brother Johnny dumps an injured Sam on her doorstep. As a paramedic, she feels compelled to help the man, and after all, he saved her brother’s life, but as soon as he’s able to ride his motorcycle, she wants him gone. She knows from the past that bikers only bring pain and shame, and now she has her young daughter Kelsie to protect.
Forced together…
When Molly’s brother flees from the same biker gang Sam hunts, Sam is forced to put his own mission on hold as he takes Molly, Kelsie, and Johnny to the one place he feels they’ll be safe–his cabin in the Northwoods.
Molly discovers the cabin holds more than safety, it contains all of the memories Sam holds dear. Drawn to the glimpses of the man he was before revenge consumed him, she longs to heal his heart, but will there be time for their love to grow or will he destroy it when he seeks vengeance?

Friday, February 13, 2015

Playing Around with Cover Designs

I am obsessed with book covers these days and have been teaching myself some basic graphic skills with some free programs (image program: PhoXo, Fonts: Font Squirrel) I am far, far from an expert on graphics but I had a lot of fun making these covers. If the author thing doesn't work out for me, maybe I can design covers for sale some day in the future. Far, far into the future. Meanwhile, I love trying to figure out what might work for different genres.

I found this image of lips covered with little bits of candy decorations and didn't really need to do anything to the image. I think I added a little glow to it and softened the edges. This one is more about font. I wanted something that would be good for a romance. The title for this imaginary book was easy based on the image and makes me wonder if I can write a story to match the cover. That could be my next challenge!

My breakthrough with this one was learning how to do the gradient on the word Kisses. It was so easy, now I feel silly for not figuring it out months ago.

With Sunset Heat, I just loved the image of the cowboy and his horse with the deep sunset. I'm envisioning this for a western romance, either contemporary or historical. I'm not sure I like the font I used for the title, but didn't want anything too elegant and flourishy (made up word) for a cowboy image. I may re-visit this one. All I did with the image itself was pick up the color of the deep red from the sunset and create a backdrop. I needed to because the image was square. (also, I need to re-size this because it's a little too squarish for a book cover, I think.) I then layered the image over the backdrop. I thought about trying to blend the line where the end of the cowboy meets the backdrop, but decided not too. I had the cowboy on the bottom of the cover at first, and that blended better at the top, but I think the cover is better with the image at the top. What do you think?
Evidence is closer to my usual genre. the image already had the handprint, but I had to move it and make it a mirror image because I wanted it on the left. I don't know why. I think because I wanted the author name on the lower right, and wanted to stack the author name. I usually make the author's name all on one line out of habit. 

There are some things I'd probably do differently on this one if I wanted to use it. I'd bring the tagline down a little, or move the title up, make it bigger, and put the tagline in that empty space beside the thumb print. I think I like the fonts I used. I wasn't planning on using a distressed font, but I thought it worked well with the texture on the background.

Last one for today. This image of the red curve, I guess you'd call it, looked so luxurious that it made me think of royalty. This could work for a hot romance along the lines of 50 Shades kind of book. Not sure I'd keep the 'a novel' text there, but I'd like something there to off-set the title. Any ideas? I might also move the tagline to the top of the cover. Oh, and no matter what I did, I lost the top of the L when using a script. It didn't matter which one I used. I downloaded some more since making this cover, so maybe one of those would work, but I definitely wanted a script for this image.

If you try it yourself know that I make sure that the fonts I download are free to use for commercial purposes. Also, the public domain images I've found to practice with are free to use for commercial purposes with no attribution required. In case I actually make something I want to use, I don't want to worry if I can legally do so.

                                            This genre is
totally new to me. I have never even attempted a science fiction cover before. The one on the left feels like it needs something more, but I'm not sure what it's lacking. Anyway, I was happy to learn how to do that angle thing with text. I'm sure 'angle thing' is the technical name for it, right?  

I have to admit that the one on the right is one of my favorite covers I've made.      

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Thrilling Thirteen II

Are you ready for more thrilling novels? The team of authors that brought you Thrilling Thirteen is back again with Thrilling Thirteen II. All new books, and a couple of authors new to the team.
When Ty Hutchinson, our fearless leader, emailed me about contributing another book to a second volume, I was like, YES! SIGN ME UP! The first time around was a great experience and I'm sure readers will love this volume at least as much as the last one. For 99 cents, you can't beat it for value.

Thrilling Thirteen II

Identity Crisis (Sam McRae Mystery) - Debbi Mack


A simple domestic abuse case turns deadly when the alleged abuser is killed and Stephanie Ann “Sam” McRae’s client disappears. When a friend asks Sam to find Melanie Hayes, the Maryland attorney is drawn into a complex case of murder and identity theft that has her running from the Mob, breaking into a strip club and forming a shaky alliance with an offbeat private investigator to discover the truth about Melanie and her ex-boyfriend. 

With her career and life on the line, Sam’s search takes her from the blue-collar Baltimore suburbs to the mansions of Gibson Island. Along the way, she learns that false identities can hide dark secrets, and those secrets can destroy lives. 

Choke - Dani Amore:

The new pulse pounding thriller from bestselling author Dani Amore.

Vincent Keyes is an L.A. psychologist who specializes in peak performance. He helps some of Hollywood's brightest celebrities, sports stars, and corporate executives be the best that they can be.
 But suddenly, the doctor's own ability to perform under pressure is put to the test when someone forces him to "practice what he preaches" or people very close to him will die.
The psychologist quickly finds himself in a complex web of murder, manipulation and revenge in which he must be smarter, faster and stronger than he ever thought he could be.

Sin Walks Into The Desert - Matt Ingwalson

"Sin Walks Into The Desert is a taut, suspenseful tale without a wasted word or scene. Five Stars." -

Sin gets a late night call from la Calavera. She's an ex-federal agent living on half a lung in a retirement home near the border. And she says el Viejo is missing.

This is el Viejo she's talking about. Diabetes and arthritis may have the old man in a rocking chair now, but in his day he was the baddest of snipers and the bravest of private eyes. He also saved Sin's life, back when the boy was a 12 year old punk hellbent on shooting up the school bus with his daddy's .357.

So Sin heads off to find his mentor, only to find a nest of killers with ancient vendettas waiting for him in the desert with the kingsnakes and coyotes.

Tenderloin (Abby Kane FBI Thriller) - Ty Hutchinson

"If you're looking for a gutsy female, a woman who is tough and gritty yet has a mothering instinct that is second to none, Abby Kane will reel you in." -- SeattlePI

Life in San Francisco could not be better for FBI Agent Abby Kane and family. With white-collar crimes dominating her work schedule, chasing deranged killers is a thing of the past, until the body of a dead DEA agent pops up in Bogotá. 

Ordered to Colombia for answers, Abby’s investigation takes her deep into the Amazon jungle where she discovers evidence of strange experiments at a rundown lab. When she later crosses paths with one of the scientists involved, she learns that a new drug has been invented, and its danger isn’t the addictive high but the terrifying side effects. 

Abby believes the cartels are behind the drug, but the locals think it’s one man. They call him The Monster.

Blood On Blood (Ania Trilogy) - Frank Zafiro & Jim Wilsky

 If you enjoy fast-paced, gritty crime fiction, I think you'll like it a lot.~ James Reasoner, Amazon reviewer

When half-brothers Mick and Jerzy Sawyer are summoned to their father’s prison deathbed, it isn’t for a tearful goodbye. The spiteful old man tells the two estranged brothers about an old diamond heist with outstanding loot, and sets them on a path of cooperation and competition to recover the jewels. 

Jerzy is the quintessential career criminal, fresh out of a short bit and looking to get back into the action right away. Mick is the failed cop and tainted hero struggling to get by with a clean life that doesn’t seem to ever pay off. Both men see this score as their ticket out of Chicago. 

Throw in the mysterious, blond Ania, and Blood on Blood is hardboiled Hardy Boys meets Cain and Abel. Jerzy and Mick battle each other for all of it — the diamonds, the girl, and survival — and nothing else matters…not even blood.

Truth And Lies (Charlie Fox Thriller) - Zoë Sharp:

"Ill-tempered, aggressive and borderline psychotic, Fox is also compassionate, introspective and highly principled: arguably one of the most enigmatic − and coolest − heroines in contemporary genre fiction."~Paul Goat Allen, Chicago Tribune

Truth And Lies is a short story by the highly acclaimed crime thriller writer, Zoë Sharp. Published in e-format as part of the FOX FIVE short story collection, it features her ex-Special Forces soldier turned self-defence expert and bodyguard, Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Fox.

Truth And Lies puts all Charlie’s skills and ingenuity to the test as she has to single-handedly extract a news team from a rapidly escalating war zone.

By Executive Order - Lawrence Kelter

Two governments, one objective: stop the flow of narcotics – by any means possible. America and Israel, old allies in a new war. To win this one, they must sell their souls! The clandestine operation plunges veteran FBI agent, Hal Niecro into the most extraordinary investigation of his career. He has been assigned to investigate the murder of Rachel Rabin, an Israeli national.

Scale Of Justice - Dani Amore

Murder...well done...

Detroit crime boss Diego Villanueva must meet the demands of his Colombian overlords in order to retire to sunny Florida. To help him meet that challenge, he enlists the services of Tomas Sariagmo, whose son was caught stealing from Villanueva. Sariagmo must help Villanueva succeed or both he and his son die. Scale of Justice is an explosive, violent short story from bestselling crime novelist Dani Amore.

No Good Deed (Mark Taylor Series) - M.P. McDonald

"It's a frightening tale of an innocent man trapped in the kafkaesque brave new world of paranoia and terror. An important subject written with true passion by Ms. McDonald." ~ Stephen Carpenter, (Creator of the NBC hit show, Grimm)

The government can do anything they want to him—anything at all... 

Mark Taylor knows his actions scream guilty—but he was only trying to stop the horrible terrorist attack. Instead of a thank you, the government labels him an enemy combatant and throws him in the brig with no rights, no trial, and no way to prove his innocence. 

He's just a regular guy—a photographer—who finds himself in an extraordinary situation when an antique camera he buys at a dusty Afghanistan bazaar produces photographs of future tragedies. Tragedies he's driven to prevent. 

His frantic warnings about September 11th are ignored but put him in the government cross-hairs where he learns what being labeled an 'enemy combatant' really means...

Saving The World - Gary Ponzo

“Gary Ponzo is a fantastic storyteller.” Stephen Carpenter, creator of the hit NBC series, “Gary Ponzo is a fantastic storyteller.”~Stephen Carpenter, creator of the hit NBC series, Grimm.

Award-Winning author, Gary Ponzo, brings us a mind-bending thriller about Margo Sutter, a proven teenage clairvoyant who claims to hear invisible aliens planning to destroy the planet. The world is in a frenzy debating whether to prepare for the apocalypse or lock up Margo in an institution. When she seeks help from noted psychiatrist Michael Bryant, he’s drawn into a maze of deception, lies and intrigue.

Through Smoke (Firefighter Heroes Trilogy) - J.R. Tate

Is Margo who she claims to be? 

Through Smoke (Firefighter Heroes Trilogy) - J.R. Tate

Through Smoke (Firefighter Heroes Trilogy) - J.R. Tate

"Great story of NY firefighter, love, and family." ~atabarac, Amazon reviewer

Firefighter Michael McGinnis is no stranger to intense situations. Veteran of New York’s Ladder Twenty-One Company as a search and rescue man, he has seen his share of burning infernos, high-rise saves, and intense emergency situations. Despite McGinnis’ years on the job, nothing can prepare him for getting tangled in his brother’s mistakes as a drug addict and gambler, especially when a blood thirsty bookie gets involved. A romance sparks between him and fellow paramedic, Eva Crisante, catching him even more off guard. Morals are tested, lies are told, and relationships are built and then torn to ruins. The problems ahead are more challenging than any fire McGinnis has experienced. He learns that bravery is not only needed in his job with the department, but also in dire situations away from work. His tough love for his brother is tested, proving that there truly are things more dangerous than a five-alarm fire.

The Death of Red Rocket - Lawrence Kelter

Rehoboth Beach is a far cry from glamorous. It’s an old-world seaside town with Coney Island-esque mystique, a rickety boardwalk, and small-town shops that sell inexpensive tourist items. 

But for Lindsay Harding it was more. The Yale Law School grad had one last summer to enjoy before beginning a fulltime job at a prestigious Washington D.C. law firm. 

Connor Patrick was a man apart from the crowd, shunned for being different, lonely, and socially awkward, he was the kind of person you’d avoid if there were any possibility of doing so. 

Lindsay was the girl with everything to live for. Connor was the boy without a reason to live. A twist of fate and a plunge into the macabre—find out how their paths became inexorably intertwined in The Death of Red Rocket

Volcano Watch (Forensic Geology Series) - Toni Dwiggins

"I couldn't put this one down!"~

** Murder and Magma **

NO WAY OUT--so says the note in the pocket of the murdered mayor.

The volcano beneath her town is seething, and the fate of Mammoth Lakes now rests in the hands of emergency planner Adrian Krom. But Krom has his own agenda.

Investigating the case, forensic geologist Cassie Oldfield tracks mineral clues to discover how the mayor died--and what she found. As the volcano moves toward red alert, Cassie races to prevent 'no way out' from becoming a prophecy.