Andy Peloquin Takes Us To Atlantis

Today I welcome my friend and fellow author Andy Peloquin to my blog. Andy is  a great guy who took some of his time to help me out, and I am happy to share his introductory work: In the Days: A Tale of the Forgotten Continent    

Tell us what the book is about

The Empire of Atlantis: the most powerful nation in the world. Peace reigns across the continent, and an age of prosperity and enlightenment has made the Empire the center of the globe.

But, beneath the peaceful façade of life in the Imperial City, trouble is brewing. Assassins lurk in the shadows, intrigue abounds in the court of the Empress. Will political ambitions topple the House of Tah, or could the threat be one much more sinister in nature? Dark forces threaten the land, and the future of the Empire is at stake.

What is special about the main character?

 The main character, Deucalion, is as ordinary as it gets – save for his sarcastic nature and his unique position as Historian and Chancellor to the Empress of Atlantis. He’s just a man trying to navigate his way through life.

What conflicts drive the story?

Political intrigue and assassination threatens both Deucalion and the Empress throughout. There is always the undertone of “Who sent these assassins?” and there are plenty of surprise twists throughout as the reader finds out who is behind it all.

To add to the problem, a prophet of doom has warned of the destruction of Atlantis! Will Deucalion be able to prevent the total annihilation of the continent, or is he doomed to share the fate of the rest of the world as he knows it?

What would you say the theme of the book is?

Acceptance of a calling. Faith and belief in a higher power.

Who would be most interested in this novel?

Anyone who loves a fast-paced adventure, complete with intrigue, mystery, suspense, sword-fighting, and a hint of the supernatural.

What prompted you to write the book?

I’ve always loved the concept of Atlantis, as well as the liberties I could take writing it. After all, with no written records of what the civilization was like, it is like a fantasy world in and of itself.

When you write, how does it make you feel?

It is a huge release to be able to put my thoughts and feelings down on paper like this. I put myself into my writings, and I love the creative outlet it provides me.

What authors inspire you?  Whose books can’t you put down?

Scott Lynch showed me the value of a great character.

Glen Cook showed me that bad guys aren’t always bad.

Brandon Sanderson showed me the importance of a complex, complete world.

Would you like to share any other stories or books that you have written?

I have a graphic novel coming out in the next few months, but I can’t say more than that just yet. This is my first published book, but many, many more are on their way!

Tell us about yourself and your family:

AndrewPeloquin1

I am married to a wonderful woman, and am step-father to four children between the ages of 10 and 14. It’s a full time job, but it’s a very rewarding career!

What projects do you have planned for the future?

My next foray will be into the world of dark fantasy.

A legendary assassin finds himself drawn into a much darker world than he could have possibly believed existed after a contract goes wrong. Will his target kill him, or will his death be by The Bloody Hand, the Dark Heresy, or a far less mundane threat?

I hope that helps to pique the interest of a few fantasy readers out there!

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What Scene-type Is Hardest For Me To Write?

Principle Destiny

Ever since writing and publishing my first (and some say best) novel, Principle Destiny, I have been haunted by one type of scene: Putting characters in harm’s way.

Generally I am quite compassionate. So, to make it hard for a character to have a happy and peaceful life does not come naturally. But I do it… some of my readers say I do it quite well. It’s hard, but I manage it… HOW?

One of my other personal aspects is a desire to drag readers through the difficult situations my characters face. Realistically, life is not often easy, nor peaceful. Happiness is fought-for, not granted, most of the time. So readers expect to be challenged. But I rarely think of the reader’s expectations. I write life, usually just as it happens to most people. Readers find they can easily see themselves in situations my characters experience. Danger begets hazards… and so it must, no matter how I personally feel about a character.

Broken bones, demonic possession, grief, sorrow, pain, mental agony… it all manages to happen, and sometimes even I am surprised by the results. For instance, In PD, when our beloved Princess decides to attack her assailant, rather than incapacitating him, she ends up in bad shape… and yet, as hot-headed and error-prone as that decision was, it had been building over months and months, and never could have been avoided. Then there is the rationale for the action that almost becomes her undoing… this did not come until some weeks later, when I realized that such a sacrifice, even borne on impulsiveness and poor judgement, served a larger purpose. Could my protagonist have changed her sire’s mind without physical damage from the attacker she had repeatedly complained to him about? I very much doubt it.

Scenes hardest to write? Any time I have to harm a character, even an antagonist, I have to work up to it in my mind, cast aside my doubts, and just write it as it might actually take place. Everything happens for a reason, even in a novel.

The follow-up question: But do I have to actually physically harm a character?

Nope… most of the worst damage done to characters , in my novels or others, is psychological. Physical damage can go away, usually. The broken bones heal, the scars fade, the blood clots, the black eye turns back to normal, and so on. Psychological harm must be coped with until it is conquered, both more rewarding, and often more intense for readers. Physical pain generates sympathy. Psychological pain generates empathy. For a writer, empathy is what we seek from our readers. If we have empathy towards our characters, we have interested readers. And this, above all, is what our craft is all about: Engaged and page-turning readers.

In that spirit, I’ll share a brief excerpt from Principle Destiny:

…When she came-to Skye was tending her wounds with the aid of warm water and the heat from a hot fire that he had built. She looked into his blue eyes, and suddenly she remembered. “ELIOS,” she screamed. “Where is he?”

Skye simply turned his head. He had built a pyre, and placed the body on it. Thankfully, to Alyssa’s mind, he hadn’t lit it.

Her tears began to flow again. “We have to take him home, Skye. His father would want that.” She sobbed, clinging to Skye with all her might. “Oh God,” she said through her tears. “He was such a good man. He gave his life to save me. I even asked him to go first.” She finally took a breath, but her sobs continued. “What have I done? I thought together we’d be safe. I shouldn’t have let him stay with me.”

Princess Alyssa has made an error in judgement, she believes, but it was just a twist of fate. She could no more see the future than avoid it. Yet a good friend and ally is now dead. She is in the throes of unimaginable distress and blames herself. Would we? Most likely.

How hard was it to write the scene, the precursor where Prince Elios is killed, and the days that follow in the Princess’s life? The build-up, when I realized it had to happen, was harder than doing it. But it took me half a day to accept and adjust to the idea.

I write thrillers… even when I don’t really plan on it. A long time has passed now, since novel-attempt number one, and the published books I have managed to produce. Is it any easier to put a character in harm’s way? Nope. I doubt, to be honest, it will ever be easier. But, even so, I cannot complain. The ability to weave an impactful story is a gift, and a privilege. To that end, I will always strive, difficulty aside.

Happy Reading,

Dave Cleinman

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Lynne Cantwell’s Annealed – Released Today!

Release Day Blitz for the 5th and Final Book in The Pipe Woman Chronicles by Lynne Cantwell

Naomi Witherspoon lives in interesting times.  At the winter solstice, she was Seized by a Native American goddess to mediate a power-sharing agreement between all the pagan gods and goddesses and the Christian God.  Then, as her relationship with her new boyfriend Fissured, she Tapped a wellspring of strength – her Native American heritage.

Now, Gravid and due any day, she must conduct the mediation of her life.  Will she succeed?  Or will it all go up in smoke?

The answers to those questions, and more, can be found in Annealed, the final installment in the Pipe Woman Chronicles, an urban fantasy series by Lynne Cantwell.

It began at the winter solstice
And it ends
Now. 

PWC5 - Annealed

It’s zero hour…

Naomi has just two weeks to find a new home for Joseph’s grandfather. The old Ute shaman is fighting for his life against a mysterious injection of toxin he received at the hands of the Norse Trickster god Loki. If Naomi is to defeat Loki once and for all, she must learn what it is he seeks under the old man’s wickiup. 

She has just one week before she must mediate between the Earth’s pagan gods and goddesses and the Christian God. If her efforts fail, all of humankind will suffer the consequences.

And her baby is due any day.

In this, the fifth and final book of the Pipe Woman Chronicles, Naomi is in a race against the clock to balance the demands of her body, her family, and her friends – and she must do it while the whole world is watching.

PAPERBACK | KINDLE

A taste of chapter 10: Jehovah sighed. “White Buffalo Calf Pipe Woman, I concede that much of what You have said here is true. Humanity wrestles still with its baser impulses, even as it reaches for the pinnacle of its potential. Math, the sciences, engineering. I never thought they would figure out fractal theory.” He chuckled. “I love My children dearly. Soon they will reach the stars. They are ever a surprise and a delight to Me.” Lynne Cantwell’s take on the excerpt: “Naomi has finally reached the Big Mediation — the one between the Christian God and all the pagan gods and goddesses that the whole series has been driving toward. In this scene, White Buffalo Calf Pipe Woman has just outlined all the ways humanity has trashed God’s Creation: ruining the environment, using Scripture as an excuse to treat other human races like animals, and so on. God acknowledges all of that. But it’s also clear that He takes great delight in what He has created — and He has a sense of humor, too.”

About the Author: Lynne Cantwell

Lynne CantwellLynne Cantwell has been writing fiction since the second grade, when the kid who sat in front of her showed her a book he had written, and she thought, “I could do that.” The result was Susie and the Talking Doll, a picture book, illustrated by the author, about a girl who owned a doll that not only could talk, but could carry on conversations. The book had dialogue but no paragraph breaks. Today, after a twenty-year career in broadcast journalism and a master’s degree in fiction writing from Johns Hopkins University (or perhaps despite the master’s degree), Lynne is still writing fantasy. In addition, she is a contributing author at Indies Unlimited and writes a monthly post for The Indie Exchange.

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Where has author Dave Cleinman been?

Dave CleinmanI apologize for my nine-month absence from my blog. I have been writing almost nonstop for this entire past year, and have made little time for blog posts or anything that detracted from my writing endeavors.

As a blogger I spent the majority of time focusing on other authors and sharing their work. While I truly enjoy doing this, I received so few reciprocal offers it became a distraction rather than a boon. In fact, some of the authors that I actually interviewed and spent time working with proved to be quite unfriendly and ungrateful. Perhaps their fame limited their ability to be kind to the little guy, like me. I don’t begrudge them that, and I hold them in no ill will, but I had to choose what was right for me.

So, moving forward on this blog, I will feature only authors who reciprocate. Not to be selfish, but I have two small businesses: writing and editing, and am a webmaster for multiple sites. I simply do not have the time to give freebies any longer, and I mean that in the nicest possible way. I wish my fellow authors all the luck in the world and I promote them whenever I can. But my blog has to be at least equally about me.

I will expand the blog to include editing tips, writing tutorials, promotion and options, and anything else I think could help me and my fellow authors. When I choose to promote a fellow author’s works on my blog, there will be a reciprocal agreement in place first. This means you will find my works on their blog as well! (About time, too). This is essential for both the best use of my time and, to a lesser degree, my sanity.

I hope you will enjoy the new blog. I believe I’ve always had a great deal to offer both readers and writers, and I love to learn for my fellow authors and readers as well. If they have something excellent to say, I will share it.

For the love of writing and reading, I remain humbly (or perhaps less so now), Dave Cleinman.

My two eBooks on Amazon. (there are more, but they will are remaining unreleased (publicly for now,at least):

Principle DestinyPrinciple Destiny follows the intense efforts of Alyssa, banished Princess and yet royal heir, as she strives to regain both her position and her rights as heir to her father’s crown. The only remaining path for her to accomplish this is to race her brother across three kingdoms for almost a thousand miles. She is harried, pursued, attacked, and endlessly threatened by unseen lurkers. She is a fighter, determined, and deeply loved by her people, but can she prevail alone and hunted in the vast wilderness of the race terrain?

Toys In The Attic

Toys In The Attic is the survival story of Sarah Stewart, abused and horribly victimized by her unstable father, and forced to cope with horrors that are as dark and distressing as they come. She prevails, and does survive she believes, until she enters into a relationship that threatens to bring back the very horrors of the past she thought she had left behind. Sarah is a fighter, and a perfectionist, but her shattered life as a teenager rears its ugly head at times, and she finds herself at war with both her instincts, and her choices. Can she truly survive a return to her haunted past?

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How to self-publish and market your book online (And have the time of your life!)

Today I am thrilled to have yanked on Rasana Atreya’s arm hard enough to convince her to share this awesome article on how to self-publish and market your book, originally featured in The Hindu, India’s most popular paper. I feel like I have been given a great gift I can share with all of you! Thank you Rasana! Here we go:

Rasana Atreya

How to self-publish and market your book online and have the time of your life.

RASANA ATREYA

Early this year the unpublished manuscript of my novel, Tell a Thousand Lies, was shortlisted for the 2012 Tibor Jones South Asia prize. I was ecstatic when I was offered a publishing contract soon after, by one of India’s largest publishing houses. Yet, I declined the offer.

Let me explain.

I would have been happy enough to have my paperback published. What I wanted were the rights to my ebook (the electronically downloadable form of a book). I’d been following the career paths of Amanda Hocking and Joe Konrath, the two authors leading the self-publishing charge, and I wanted a chance to apply their marketing methods to my ebooks. The publisher wasn’t agreeable though, so we parted ways, no hard feelings.

Breaking new ground

Giving up a publishing contract, the holy grail for any writer? — my friends thought I was a few neurons short in the brain. But the unchartered territory aspect of it — going where no Indian woman had gone before — appealed to me. I would have complete control over the final product; everything, from pricing to cover design to marketing, would be my responsibility. It was exhilarating. It was also scary.

I commissioned the book cover and had my manuscript edited professionally, paying a one-time fee for both, instead of a cut in the royalties. This is the sensible approach because both were one-time services (traditional publishers take cuts in royalties because of additional costs like distribution, warehousing etc). If you cannot afford an editor, at least join an online critique group. I’ve been on one for seven years now, and it’s been invaluable.

Back to my publishing journey — when everything was in place, I formatted the manuscript as an ebook, settled on a selling price, took a deep breath and uploaded it to Amazon.com. Twelve hours later, my book was published.

Though there are a lot of online retailers, I went with Amazon’s KDP Select program. In this program you may not sell your book elsewhere; for this exclusivity, you are accorded the privilege of reducing the price of your ebook to zero any five days of your choice.

This isn’t as crazy as it sounds. You pick the days you want the book free, inform as many people as possible, then wait for downloads of your ebook to begin.

Over the two days I did my free promotion, I posted to relevant Facebook groups, I tweeted, I blogged. I also talked a couple of big newsletters into listing my novel. The fact that it had been shortlisted for an award didn’t hurt. That weekend 17,000 people across the world downloaded my ebook.

After the promotion was over, I checked my Amazon account obsessively to see if people were paying real money to buy my book. A trickle here, a trickle there. Quite disheartening. Then things started to pick up. By the end of the month, I had sold almost a thousand copies at 70% royalties (as opposed to traditional publishing royalties, which often are in the single digits).

Even a few months ago, my numerous downloads would have counted as an equal number of sales, resulting in huge visibility. But Amazon tweaked its algorithms recently, causing approximately just 10% of the downloads to be counted as sales. So, was giving away that many copies worth it?

Absolutely. Prior to this promotion, I was selling maybe 20 books a month. Mostly to family and friends, let’s be honest.

It works

Wasn’t the free strategy akin to lost sales? I merely used the sales I wouldn’t have had anyway, to help my book gain visibility. In the traditional world, publishers send out Advance Review Copies (ARC) to magazines and newspapers; free promotions are the e-world’s ARC.

I’ve not been able to sustain the sales figures of the first month, but that’s to be expected. Marketing online, with its myriad strategies, can be a full time job, and I need that time to work on my next novel. But that’s okay. I am still selling much more than before, and I am in it for the long haul. The best way to sell more books is to write your next one, which I’m doing. I’m also writing a couple of cookbooks, an ebook on how to format ebooks and self-publish, and I’m having the time of my life.

With my 90-day contract with Amazon running out, I’m exploring smashwords.com, which acts as an ebook distributor for Barnes & Noble, Apple etc. Not a bad strategy, because B&N has captured about 30 per cent of the ebook market (Amazon is at 60 per cent). I will continue be on Amazon, just not part of Select.

If you decide to self-publish, investigate your options carefully. It is easy to get scammed on the Internet. To confuse the issue, a lot of companies are calling themselves self-publishers. Self-publishing is when you upload the book, you set the price, you track the sales, you run the promotions. When someone else does it for you, they are the publisher of record. Horror stories abound about these so-called self-publishers; from manuscripts being stolen, to sales data being fudged, I’ve heard them all.

If this seems too intimidating, reputable sites like bookbaby.com can help for a one-time fee. If someone is charging you fees upfront and keeping a cut of your royalties, beware. Reputable publishers will never charge you for publication, which is why they take a cut in your royalties. A quick and dirty way to check if the publisher is legitimate is to look at their website. The focus of a legitimate publisher will be the reader. Their website will be in the business of selling books. A subsidy or vanity publisher’s focus will be you — the gullible writer — and how many unneeded services they can sell to you.

I used CreateSpace to publish the paperback in the US (LightningSource and Lulu are the other options). I’m pleased to report my novel has started to catch the attention of book buyers for public libraries there. My novel shows up on flipkart.com etc. because I had it listed on Ingram’s catalogue, but the international edition is too expensive for India. The time is ripe in India for someone to replicate CreateSpace’s business model, offering printed copies of books for sale, perhaps even distribution to physical and online bookstores.

Does this mean I would rule out traditional publishers for my next book? Not at all. I am always open to new experiences.  <>

You can visit Rasana Atreya’s blog here.

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