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The Van Helsing ParadoxThe Van Helsing Paradox by Evelyn Chartres
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a fabulous historical fantasy story! This adventure begins with a young girl, Clara Grey, who has a unique encounter with something otherworldly. She’s noticed for her special ability to see what others are trying to hide, as well as her added resistance to their different kinds of charm.

Her natural gift gathers the attention of someone who is a member of an elite Order – an Order which sets themselves up as hunters against the monsters who prey on humans. His influence allows him to shift her off the boring path her life would have otherwise taken. This Order sweeps her into a magical tower world full of higher education, monsters, combat training, and magic of a different name.

The story follows Clara into womanhood, and along the path toward getting her revenge against one of the first monsters who killed someone close to her. One of the best aspects of this character is that she’s well-developed. Sometimes she’s vulnerable and unsure of herself, and other times she’s almost cruel, but all the while she’s a real person with the complexity of a deep character who has a lot to accomplish.

If you’re a fan of the Supernatural TV show and Harry Potter, you’ll love this book. There are people trained to be monster Hunters, Vampires, Ghouls, Ghosts, religious figures, and lots of holy water!

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It’s been a while, about a month, since my last update on the writing and publishing process. Things have definitely improved since then. Is everything still occasionally a bit overwhelming? Sure, but that’s turning into a feeling that only hits a couple of times a day, and only for about 30 seconds before I’m back to normal. The panic stage is edging off, and I’m moving into the stage of… I just want this book done with so that I can get back to writing.

In fact, I haven’t been able to stop myself from dipping into writing – just a bit. But hey, it hasn’t gone too crazy yet. So here’s what’s happened and what’s on the agenda right now.

Final Edits & Creating a Style Guide

Last time I mentioned the book getting it’s final edits. Those came back, and it all looked wonderful. In the end, the final round of edits probably made about 1500 small fixes. It was looking pretty awesome in the end of that. I’m sure that some people will disagree with some of the stylistic choices that I made part of my author style, but that’s my choice and they can dislike it if they want. See, my publisher worked with me to develop a personal style guide that would be the rules that the editors would follow while fixing my book to retain my personal vibe. There are a lot of quirky grammatical and stylistic things which are disagreed upon, and I had to choose my direction.

For example, most people agree that “OK” and “okay” are both acceptable forms of the phrase, but “Ok” is not. However, for consistency, I had to pick one and I decided on OK. The word origins for OK are disputed, but several of them tend to favor it as an acronym, in which case I decided that regardless of which was the correct story, acronyms should be capitalized and went with that. It is, however, undisputed that “okay” is the phonetic enunciation of the phrase “OK” and not the spelling of the phrase itself. Therefore, it is only used in my book when someone drags out the phrase “OK” in such a way that the phonetic enunciation conveys that better.

Another decision was on the use of “then” or “and then.” For example: “Johnny walked over to the bench to join her, then proceeded to talk about the annoying co-worker who kept stealing his trashcan.” Some people argue that after “her,” there should be “and then” not just “then.” This is disagreed upon enough that it’s up for debate. I went with “then” over “and then” because, to me, “and” is interchangeable with “then” in the sentence such that it still sounds correct. However, to me, the sentence is different. If he walked over to the bench “and” proceeded to talk he could be talking while walking over to the bench. The use of the word “then,” to my way of seeing things, is a clear time based progression to explain that he sat down first before speaking. I have a preference for the Oxford comma based on similar reasons.

In any event, I now have a growing style guide based on these various personal voice quirks. However, it’s not just for my editors — it’s already helping me to stay consistent in the edits of my other books.

On Being Annoyed with Fonts

I was a bit annoyed with the issues related to font size on my paperback. When it was in formatting I heard back that it was going to be at something around 425 pages or so. I was pretty shocked because on my home computer when I tested out the formatting, it looked like it was going to be around 650 pages. Immediately, I was concerned about how small a font they were going to use. Turns out that fonts were definitely the reason for the difference.

I can’t say that I’m thrilled my paperback is going to be in a size 10 font, which I feel is too small, but when given the price breakdown I also didn’t want it to be too expensive to buy either. So I had to make a choice. If I wanted that 650 page book that I was seeing on my computer screen, I had to be OK with charging readers almost $20 for a paperback. I decided I definitely wasn’t okay with that. So the font is going to be tighter than I want, but they did a great job of finding one that looks very clear despite the size. Plus, as they reminded me, I’m going to put out a large print version anyway.

ARC Release & Problems

So once the book was done with final edits, the people who are members of my Early Access Newsletter got it first. Right out the gate they downloaded and one contacted me as soon as it was available to tell me he got it! Then followed up by letting me know he’d signed up for the pre-order. How amazing are my newsletter people? Seriously, the best ever.

Then another person from my newsletter group tells me that my formatting is working on the Kindle device, but is showing wonky on the Kindle app version. Oh no! So I download this Kindle viewer thingy, and open it up and it seems fine, but I went ahead and saved it as a fresh version and uploaded a fresh copy. Didn’t seem to solve the problem so that sounds like a potential mess — that my publisher gets to handle. I talked to them this morning about it, and they go get on the horn with Amazon. Turns out that in order to be absolutely certain of compatibility with their new cross-platform apps, now you need to use their Kindle Create software to build your file. So that’s going to go back into production and get reformatted to make all the Kindle apps happy.

Book Samples in the Wild

Once my Early Access people had their ARCs, I released the preview version (which is less than 10% of the book) into the wild. At the end of the preview is a link with instructions on how to join the newsletter to get the rest of the ARC. Or how to pre-order if that’s their preference. If you want the preview version, head over to Prolific Works and you can get your copy of Cursed by Furies.

My book sample is also participating in three upcoming group giveaways.

  1. The Last of the Summer Bad Boys (paranormal romance) = 15th Aug 2019 – 15th Sept 2019
  2. Magical Encounters Fantasy (fantasy paranormal) = 16th Aug 2019 – 13th Sept 2019
  3. Happily Ever After Romance (romance) = 19th Aug 2019 – 15th Sept 2019

That’s also an upside to using the preview version, because all those giveaways will cross the launch date of my book and Amazon has strict rules for things in Kindle Unlimited not having more than 10% of the content in the wild (and I was dead-set on having my book in KU).

One that will not be giving out anything past launch is the ARC that is currently being managed by BookSprout, so if you use that to find books to review and you want the ARC, the cutoff for it is right before Amazon launch.

Goodreads = Active, Bookbub = Pending

My Goodreads profile and my Amazon eBook page are now talking to each other, and my blog is now happily in-sync with updates out to Goodreads. I definitely want to work on cataloging my book collection more on there, I have soooooo many books. Thousands of them in every corner. I’ve actually currently got about 500 boxed up in my living room ready to get donated to the library. PS: I think I have a grand total of zero followers of Goodreads, so feel free to follow if you have it!

Bookbub is pending verification that I am an author of a book before they’ll connect my stuff! Blah. I understand, but it’s just so much of that wait and setup thing. Down the road, I definitely hope to be using Bookbub for advertising, so setting that up is pretty darn important.

Launch Day Book Tour

The awesome Roxanne at Bewitching Book Tours, which specializes in people who are absolutely my cup of tea, is going to organize a book blast for my launch day. She’s got an exclusive excerpt, and *gasp* an actual author bio versus the insanity I posted here. I suppose I should probably change it, but I like my goofy bio. Maybe some day.

She’s going to be distributing the ARC and a custom media kit out to her army of book bloggers, handling social media promotion, setting up and managing a giveaway, and being an overall awesome warrior for my book.

Kindle Pre-Order is Live & Ranking!

My Kindle version is currently live and available for pre-order in… the US, UK, Canada, Australia, Mexico, India, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Japan, and Brazil Amazon stores. Due to the variety of stores, I decided to make a Booklinker link to make that easier to share.

So I can just give out a single link that looks like this: getbook.at/CursedByFuries

In case you’re not aware, Booklinker attempts to geolocate the right store based on the country the person is connecting to the internet from. Unfortunately, it’s not fool-proof for a couple of reasons. If the person is browsing privately behind an anonymous wall it may not show the right country. Also, some countries don’t have their own Amazon store so they have to use another one. Another reason is that sometimes people use multiple Amazon stores, and you don’t necessarily know which one they want to buy your book from. But, for the most part, all those people already know they’re doing things differently and understand they may need to search the book independently in the store of their choice.

Why is my book already ranking? Probably because pre-orders are already happening!

 

It’s not bad considering that the book only became available for pre-order a couple of days ago. Maybe I’m just easily pleased, but it seems good to me. I do want to have more categories added to that list. In case you don’t know, you can actually be put in 10 categories, not just 3, but you have to actually request it from Amazon.

So What Happens Next?

Honestly, a little more relaxation time to start. As I’m finishing this article up, I’ve got a fully charged Kindle, a cup of coffee, and I’m planning to go sit on the couch and read for a while. Someone else’s book! Shocking how much I crave reading something else besides my own things, over and over, during editing.

More practically speaking, I’m already editing book two and my cover designer is already working on some ideas to match the theme of the first book to the second. The second book involves a lot of time on a yacht, so I wanted to see if they could do something with that while still keeping them very visually part of a series.

I did start writing book 1.5, but I’m still of the opinion that it will be an extra book rather than put into book 2 or making it out before book 2. The Sigils are almost ready, and those will go out to the newsletter people in the next edition. If you want in on that, you should join.

Anyway, that’s enough for now. I’m going to go refill this coffee and do some reading.

Hugs and kisses!

Three Star IslandThree Star Island by Kat Caulberg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I absolutely enjoyed this read and devoured it in a long afternoon. I got sucked into the wonderful dynamic between the two parties of the main love interest, Penny and Will. They play off each other so beautifully. He’s this gentleman pirate who isn’t used to having to ask for help and expects his orders followed, and she’s a modern female who is trapped in a situation in which she’s barely surviving on her own but deeply needs to retain her autonomy in the face of everything else she’s lost.

The time travel component is a bit more subdued because by the time we meet Penny (our time traveler from the modern day) she’s already had a lot of time to adapt to living in the past. It’s not that there isn’t some element of it, it’s just not as overwhelming of a shock for that character, as you read in some books. The shock and adjustment period is done through bits of information that sneak in and explain why the people who live on the little island with her, despise her so strongly.

There is also a TON of detail about pirates and ships, the author clearly knows her stuff on it. Back to her romance with Will, I was enchanted. I think the two of them have great bickering scenes and plenty of steamy ones. So much to love here, and I definitely want to read more from this author!

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ShadowlessShadowless by Randall McNally
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one of the most, if not the most, unique book I’ve read this year. I could say that this story is about children of evil Gods who are hunted by evil people because they are born Shadowless. The people who hunt them are attempting to appease the Gods pre-emptively, based on some bad past experience with protecting one of the Shadowless. Why? Because when these Gods create children, some of their power gets lost and given to the child, rendering them temporarily weaker than they’d like to be. However, as the child grows, the power grows and the God can reabsorb that power and become more powerful than before. The absorption concept is contingent on releasing the energy the child has, which is done through the killing of their offspring. Everyone lives in terror of the Gods, until a chosen one is born to change the future.

I could say… there, that’s the story. But it’s not. Not actually. The story is about 100 times more complicated.

I have to admit to waffling a bit on whether it was a four star book or a five, but I will explain that. See, the problem is that I really wanted this book to be 10 books. Instead, it’s one incredibly dense volume. Yet, I almost feel like this book is a sampler, in a way. A tiny taste of this world that Randall McNally has crafted, and a big part of me really wishes that he’d taken each one of these interesting characters, and woven it into a really long, in-depth jaunt through this gigantic world. Then finally, some many books later, have them all meet up toward a final goal. When I’m of that mindset, it’s a 4. When I remind myself that he could still break it all up into a ton of books just for this tiny piece of the story, leaving loads that could come after or before, I’m back at a 5 again.

This is like randomly picking up the Silmarillion and getting introduced to a world in which you are left wanting so much more from it all because you sampled several small stories. I will take a moment to mention that I don’t make Tolkien comparisons often.

I loved so much about the world, and in it found so much darkness and devastation, that it makes you feel like you’re stepping into a moment in time in which everything is at it’s very lowest, and you are only able to go up from there. Which is good, because it creates a concept of hope for a better future for the people of that world. Particularly, for the Shadowless.

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Bound by CottonBound by Cotton by Patrick Khayler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Bound by Cotton is, in a word, stunning. As a bit of background, while I’m definitely an erotic romance reader, this is the first of Patrick Khayler’s books I’ve read. In addition, I’m not particularly keen on BDSM from a personal taste perspective. Which makes how much I loved this story even more surprising!

Not only does the writer paint beautiful, sensory pictures with his words, but the story itself is interesting. I do want to pause a moment and say that the quality of description cannot be emphasized enough. However, moving on to the story aspects, I was thrown into the story without having read the previous ones and that was just fine. There were references to things from previous books, but it was nothing that detracted from my ability to understand the story.

I completely adore Peter as a character. He’s a fabulous blend of forceful, strong, protective, and loving. I found the relationship between Rebecca and Peter to be fascinating. The dynamic pulled me in and carried me along until it was coaxing emotional reactions out of me. I didn’t expect a BDSM story to be capable of drawing me into some of the emotionally draining experiences Rebecca goes through, but I was wrong. The relationship between the two reached a point where I hoped that they would end up together because their chemistry was so strong.

Brilliant piece, absolutely on my short list of favorite erotic stories now.

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