Blogoversary: Giveaway 2 [CLOSED]

Happy New Years! It’s probably the day after New Years for a lot of you since you probably spent yesterday hung over. But hey! Better late than never, right. 🙂

As promised, we have another giveaway for you. Awesome way to bring in the New Years, right? But first, 🙂 let’s talk about how I got into this Indie nonsense. You see… there’s this gal called Zoe Winters (see all related posts here). She started talking about how self-publishing is no big deal. It’s not going to ruin your writing career and all that.

All this talk was quite contrary to what I’d heard before. In fact, I avoided anything to do with self-publishing like the plague. No way was my writing career going down the drain before I started. Screw that! Publishers check those ISBN numbers.

I suppose that didn’t matter. Cause by the time I ran into Zoe Winters and her corrupting ways, I’d stopped writing… pretty much given up on the idea of seeing my work published. Then I saw my first Zoe Who? video. You know what I realized… self-publishing really isn’t a big deal in the big scheme of things. That is, in terms of the publishing world. Agents don’t even want to hear about your self-publishing work. But it’s a big deal to a writer. And I’m totally looking forward to my chance to test the waters (again) with my works.

So now that you’ve heard me ramble… how about that giveaway.

Zoe Winters has offered two copies of her book, Blood Lust. If you’re interested in my 3 part review of Blood Lust, check it!

Okay, here’s how it goes. Two winners, two prizes.

  • One winner will receive a paperback copy of Blood Lust by Zoe Winters (US only)
  • One winner will receive an eBook of Blood Lust by Zoe Winters (International)

So how do you win? Simple. Fill out the Form

The rules!

  • Become a blog follower. See Google Friends Connect to the left.
  • You’ll earn 1 point for completing the form and additional point if you tweet and leave the link.
  • You may tweet once per day after your initial entry for an extra 2 points. Use the same form. :)
  • Comments are appreciated, but only entries from the form count.
  • Giveaway ends Saturday, January 8, 2011.
  • Please read the giveaway policy for the nitty gritty.

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I’m not saying self-publishing is for everyone. And it takes a lot of work. But if you’ve been considering that route, definitely head over to Zoe’s blog or check out the Zoe Who? videos.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for another giveaway.

So who’s been inspirational in accomplishing your dreams?

Novella Review: Mated (Blood Lust #3) by Zoe Winters

This is the final review of the Blood Lust series (review of Kept here and Claimed here). Why? Because Mated is the end of the trilogy! Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s the end of Zoe Winters‘ writing. And we’re sure to see the characters again in her next book, Save My Soul. Before we get into the review, a quick teaser from Ms. Winters’ website:

Because of the vampiric blood that has run through her veins since birth, Jane has been a target for vampires who resent a human being “kindred.” She’s forced to disguise herself as a vampire groupie to appease them and safeguard her life. When she’s abruptly given to Cole, the leader of the werewolf pack, to satisfy a gambling debt, she discovers the blood running through her veins has a far greater impact on her destiny than she ever imagined.

I quickly learned Jane was not the same wild girl she was in Claimed. Yes, I knew Jane was disturbed in a broken kind of way. I expected the right incident to set her off, and she’d go out like a blazing flame taking everyone around her with her. I was wrong. So very wrong.

I’m not sure if the spark I thought I saw in Jane was more bravado or if Paul had beaten all sense of self-worth out of her by the time I got to Mated. Truly, it saddened me to see what became of Jane. But her story isn’t unique. Men batter women all across the country. And for some reason or another the women feel as if they have no other choice but to accept it. That was Jane. Trapped in an abuse relationship with no place to turn. Her only way to fight back was to survive another day.

I found Cole to be very straightforward. I’m not sure if this was a werewolf trait with the species being forthcoming with their emotions and such or what. But it worked. I liked that there were no games in love. In many ways, it’d make life easier if people were so honest with their feelings.

Ms. Winters mentioned in the past her Blood Lust series were standalone. I’d say definitely yes with this book. The novella starts months? after Claimed and is so focused on Jane and Cole, there’s no time for back story from the other novellas in the series. Of the three books, I’d have to say this was my favorite.

Speaking of favorites, a few lines which stood out:

  • She’d said no strings, and he hadn’t realized that no strings really meant fuck me, then never let me go.
  • “I’m Cole, and I’ll be your captor for the evening.”
  • “You think just cause you’re older and better looking than me that you can come in here and take my girl?”
  • “They are battle wounds. These are the marks that prove you’re strong, that you’re been through fire and walked out safe on the other side.” <—This is actually my favorite of favorites. It remind me of an old boyfriend. I was self-conscious about my after-pregnancy stretch marks. He traced the grooves and said something along the lines, “I love these scars. It reminds me you’re a mother and what you went through to get them.” <sigh> Every time I think of his words, I feel a little pride. Nine months of pregnancy and pushing life into the world is no easy task.

Mated is available at Barnes & Nobles || Amazon || Kobo || iTunes || Smashwords

Or get the complete collection (Blood Lust) at Barnes & Nobles || Amazon || The Book Depository || Kobo || iTunes || Smashwords

Interview: Zoe Winters on Publishing

If some of you haven’t caught on by now, you should know I’m kind of a Zoe Winters stalker. Shh…don’t tell her that. She might start avoiding me. The thing is, Ms. Winters created this character called Zoe Who? which put thoughts of self-publishing into my head. Now being the newbie and all, I wanted to know more. Today, Ms. Winters has offered to answer a few questions which have tugged on my mind.

Tell us a little bit about your books.
The Preternaturals series is set in a world in which humans for the most part don’t yet know what goes bump in the night. There are several different species/groups I deal with: incubi and succubi, vampires, shapeshifters (called therians in my world), Guardians (a demon breed that works guarding mostly vampires during their daylight hours), magic users (wizards, sorcerers, witches), and I may introduce other demon breeds later. Each group has their own political structure and secrets.

Each book technically “stands alone” but some readers might not get all the subplots and back story if they don’t read in order. Different books will focus on different species and different places.  Blood Lust, the first book, is a series of three novellas that happens in a place called Cary Town, where the therians live under a police state. The first novella involves a werecat and a sorcerer, the second involves a vampire and a human, the third involves a werewolf and a human, though that human isn’t what she appears.

Who the heck is Zoe Who?

That is the $64,000 question, huh? Who is Zoe and why should I care? 😛  Zoe Who? is a cartoon video series I started on Youtube. The episodes can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/user/ZoeWinters1 Basically the series makes fun of the publishing industry, my genre, me, etc. There is a lot of material there, LOL. It’s a way to vent a lot of the frustrations in this business and dealing with people, in a snarky, funny way while also garnering a little bit of marketing exposure and sharing my self-publishing journey. Everything is funnier with robotic voices and cartoons.

What made you decide you wanted to get into the self-publishing industry?

I really don’t like working for other people or other people telling me what to do. I’ve had 33 jobs (before I gave up entirely on the concept of working for others) and it just never worked out. I’m an entrepreneur. Someone else’s cubicle is not my natural habitat, and it was becoming a pain in the butt trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. This feeling extended to creative pursuits. The whole idea of the traditional publishing process depressed me. As I got closer to the point where I felt something was ready to be submitted, the writing flow just shut down. Not to sound like a prima donna but I “couldn’t work under those conditions”. LOL. I wanted to succeed or fail on my own. The idea that I needed “permission” to even play the game when we aren’t talking about brain surgery here… it’s just not that serious. So I decided to start my own business and do my own thing.

What was your experience with the traditional route before self-publishing?

OMG. So limited. I’d done a lot of research and heard a lot of horror stories and that’s about the extent of it. When I realized that most NY pubbed authors weren’t making a living from their fiction and still had to have full-time jobs to make ends meet I was like “screw that.” That was the only remaining motivator left to do it that way. I submitted one book to an agent (which wasn’t ready. I’m in edits for that book right now. It’s come a long way since then.) And when I wrote Kept I submitted it to one publisher. By the time I submitted Kept to the publisher, though, I was already really leaning toward self-publishing. I was in the bizarre position where I actually “wanted” them to reject me, so I didn’t have to stand at a fork in the road and make a choice. I wanted to find out what I could do by myself. They did reject me, but it was a very nice rejection letter that offered several bits of advice (most of which I acted upon), to improve Kept. Then I self-pubbed it.

When did you know you’d learned enough and were ready for self-publishing?

I don’t think you ever really learn enough. I think you have to build your wings on the way down. I do think you should find people who you consider to be much better writers than you to critique and beta your work. And find hard asses who won’t let you get away with lazy writing. When you get to the point when it’s time to publish, you’ll know. Then get a good editor to make sure you put out something professional. There is a lot of information out there now on all aspects of self-publishing. You learn from doing. You learn from your peers. And you just keep growing and moving forward.

Editing and critiquing: What says you about them?

hehe. I think I answered that in the last question. Basically… editing and critiquing are absolutely necessary. I’m sure there are a very few people out there who can edit their own work because they have some amazing ability to step back from it and see the problems and fix them, etc. But… that’s probably not me or you. Even if it is, it can’t hurt to have other eyeballs on your work. Though one caveat is… you have to know when to listen to your gut. Some suggestions will kill your work. You need people you trust and more than one. If several people all see the same problem, then even if you don’t like their suggestions for fixing it, you probably need to do “something” to it to get across what you’d intended.

Marketing for the indie industry relies a lot on word of mouth. How do you get your name out there?

Right now I just do Twitter, Facebook, My Blog, my Zoe Who? series, guest blogging, blogging at IndieReader.com. I recently did a Kindle giveaway and blog tour that got my name out a lot. I’ll probably do a big promo with each book release like that. Not sure if the prize will be a Kindle or not… I feel like that’s not specific enough to my demographic and throws off the Amazon recommendations a bit. I also have a little bit of paid advertising coming up with Kindle Nation.  I used to go to forums and comment on a lot of other people’s blogs. But I’m downgrading from a lot of the drama. I don’t have as much time for it now and my platform is starting to get to the point where I don’t “have” to do all that extraneous stuff. But the other stuff, I still do, and will do for the foreseeable future.

The finished product: How do you know your beloved is ready for readers?

When I can look at the cover and know it stands up next to any other professionally produced book cover (helps that I have a pro cover artist). And when I can read it without cringing. You may have heard this from someone else before… but when you do a read-through and you keep switching back and forth on little things, like a word choice, or punctuation in one sentence, then you know you’re pretty much done.

Any advice or words of encouragement for writers?

You aren’t curing cancer or feeding Ethiopian children. You are just writing words, putting them together in an attractive package, and trying to find an audience. It should be something you love, not something that’s stressing you out. Try not to compete with everybody, because there will always be someone who is a better or more successful writer than you, and someone who isn’t as far along as you. Be as generous as you can, but don’t let people take advantage of you. Have fun. Learn, grow. Pick yourself up and dust yourself off when you fall down. The only thing that matters is how you finish, not how you start. And with that last bit of warm fuzzy platitude, I’m out.  Thanks for having me!

Zoe Winters writes snarky paranormal romance and is a loud-mouthed advocate of the indie author movement. Her favorite colors are rainbow and clear. Her books are available at Amazon and Smashwords.com.  You can find her at the following places:

Website: http://www.zoewinters.org
Blog: http://zoewinters.wordpress.com
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/zoewinters

I don’t know about others, but Ms. Winters has been a world of inspiration for me as a wannabe published author. Thank you.

Blood Lust is available at Barnes & Nobles || Amazon || The Book Depository || Kobo || iTunes || Smashwords

Novella Review: Claimed (Blood Lust #2) by Zoe Winters

I’m a day late, a dollar short with this post. I don’t know what a dollar short means, but it sounded good…kinda. 🙂 If you read my post on Kept (Blood Lust #1), you know I got into this series because of Zoe Who? I’m sure I sound like a broken record when I say I love that cartoon gal. 🙂 Well, now it’s time for the next story in line, Claimed. I picked up the digital copy during Ms. Winters blog tour. Then through a fluke comment on Mama Kitty’s Reviews, I inadvertently entered myself in a giveaway and won a personalized signed copy of Blood Lust. 🙂 Do I feel a wee bit guilty for having two copies…a little. But when it came to signed print versus digital, I have to admit: Greed won out. So, the blurb from Ms. Winter’s Website:

For a vampire, Anthony isn’t a picky eater, but he’s drawn to Charlee’s blood more than any other. Like a fine wine saved for a special occasion, he’s denied himself this pleasure. But one night, high from the potent magical blood of another, he claims his prize and loses control. Ashamed of almost killing the one woman who means anything to him, he wipes her memory of the event. When Charlee awakens with complete amnesia, Anthony is the only one who can clean up the mess he’s made.

Anyone out there ever play Dungeons & Dragons? Don’t be shy. I know some of you all were as nerdy as me growing up. I bet some of you still play the game. 🙂 What does that have to do with Claimed? Anthony. I’d definitely classify him as lawful evil. Add that to his rash behavior, and Claimed ended up with some funky situations. 🙂 I have to say, I rather liked him. Once in a while I think of something he did/said and crack up laughing. I try not to think about him in public places, cause I’m not quite ready to go to the loony bin.

Hmm…Charlee. I wasn’t so fond of the amnesic Charlee. She was a bit of a flake. She also spent a lot of time being pawned by vampires throughout the story. This is just a preference, but I rather like strong, decisive heroines. Even so, she had some great lines, such as: “Then you show up, all dark and brooding with your coat flapping out behind you like a comic book villain, and you’re upset I’m not acting like me?” Of course it makes me think of Anthony again, and I start laughing. But it’s okay, cause I’m at home in the privacy of my bedroom.

On to the spoiler free plot. In many ways this book is a standalone. However, I believe some may be confused with a few of the references on the first few pages if they haven’t read Kept. Get past that, and you’re good to go. I didn’t bother reading the blurb for Claimed, so it was quite a twist for me that Charlee lost her memory, and how she lost it even more so. I loved it! 🙂 Everyone’s freaking out around her and acting weird, and she’s in lala land. Meanwhile, Anthony has his own agenda. And if he doesn’t achieve his goal, there’s a good chance all us mere humans might get pawned.

Well, Anthony and Charlee’s story is over, but really I want to hear more about them. I sure hope the aftermath of their lives show up in Mated and the soon to be released novel Save My Soul, even if it is hearsay.

So, some favorite lines:

  • “Well, you better figure it out, buddy, or I promise I will find a way to unmake you.” ~ Greta
  • When you’d lived as long as Anthony had, you stopped listening to dire warnings of doom.
  • “I’m a guy. I live alone. I know what I look like.” ~ Anthony’s response to a lack of mirrors.

My little slip of a teaser for the next book Mated: Jane was a world of amusement in Claimed. Once again, I skipped the blurb, but I’ve started it. I’m looking forward to seeing some of her survivor attitude. Off I go to read it. 🙂

By the way, I weaseled Ms. Winters into doing an interview here. So stop by on Friday and see what she has to say. 🙂

Claimed is available at Barnes & Nobles || Amazon || Kobo || iTunes || Smashwords

Or get the complete collection (Blood Lust) at Barnes & Nobles || Amazon || The Book Depository || Kobo || iTunes || Smashwords