I went to check out the blog of author Tim Pratt, who writes the Marla Mason series. And happily, there was a new Marla Mason title out -- LADY OF MISRULE is the name. So I bought it. Haven't started it yet. Currently I'm reading MURDER OF A NEEDLED KNITTER, a cozy mystery by Denise Swanson. (More on her in a minute). I'm also reading RED SURF by Tracy Sharp. (More on her as well in a minute.) I have always enjoyed Pratt's urban fantasy series featuring a sorceress who kicks butt (usually literally). She's changed a lot over the course of the series, and I've lost count on which book this one is. But the reason I thought I'd make a blog post on the series and on Tim Pratt is because I wanted to talk about the way I found him in the first place. There's a blog service called Journalscape -- they offer free blogs to their users. It's a different interface than what you find here at WordPress. In a lot of ways I like it. There is no scrolling; instead, you go to an archive if you want to see old posts by the blogger. Titles really mattered, if you wanted an audience. Tim Pratt maintained a blog there at Journalscape called Tropism. He doesn't blog there anymore, but back in the day he and a few other authors (Laura Lippman, Keith Snyder, S.J. Rozan, Michael Jasper, Eric Mayer, Mark Terry, to name a few) had their blogs at the site. (Only Rozan and Mayer still blog there, Rozan pretty regularly and Mayer off and on...) I found his work through his blog there. His Marla Mason novels were being published through a Big 5 publisher, and I found them in Barnes and Noble. Four novels were published in the series by whoever it was. When Pratt's series was dropped, he decided to self-publish the next book in the series. BONE SHOP was the first book he self-published, and it was also one of the first books I bought (for $4.99, if I recall correctly) for my old Kindle. Pratt usually runs a Kickstarter campaign to raise enough money to "pay" for the writing of the books now. He has enough fans that he is able to raise enough money to cover the "advance" that would have been paid by his publisher. Then he writes the book when it funds, and writes it to his own Kickstarter-imposed deadline. (I may have some of the specifics wrong here, but the gist of his system is correct, I think.) I have not contributed to the Kickstarter campaigns. But I've bought all of the Marla Mason books, and a couple of other books as well. I've found his writing to be very entertaining. I was happy to buy this latest at $4.99 for my Kindle, and I look forward to reading it. ***** So, on to Denise Swanson. Ms. Swanson writes cozy mysteries featuring school psychologist Skye Dennison as her sleuth. Skye's been getting involved in murder cases for seventeen books now, and in this latest, she is newly married to the police chief of Scumble River and on her honeymoon cruise. I've loved this series from the start, in no small part because it is set in a fictional town very near my own town. In fact, my town is the "big" town that everyone from her town goes to whenever they want to see a flick or eat out. She names places in our city that I've eaten at. She describes things that I used to do when I was in high school. She's even dedicated one of the books to a local dentist who is her dentist and who I know fairly well. And another book was dedicated to the guys in a local cover band called Plastic Santa (now defunct) and I played with two of those guys in the previous incarnation of Plastic Santa (called Night School) and with another of them in a band I was in right after high school. (I recognized the drummer of Plastic Santa as the main character's brother in the books -- I guess he's related to Ms. Swanson in some way.) The setting of these books has become a main character for me, and I always look forward to reading her descriptions of our area, and finding common experiences. It may be one reason that this latest book is taking me a while to read -- it isn't set in Scumble River; instead it's set on a luxury liner on an ocean cruise. That "important character" (to me) isn't a part of this latest book. ***** And last, I mentioned Tracy Sharp and her latest book, RED SURF. I've been slowly working my way through her Leah Ryan books, and this is the latest, I believe. I found her in a unique way as well. I found her through Joe Konrath's blog. She did a guest post back in the days when he was doing the fund-raising for Alzheimer's research, I believe, and then she ended up writing a collaboration with Joe called JACKED UP! It was pretty short, but it was fun. I liked the character of Leah. She was wild and irreverent and sexy. So I decided to try REPO CHICK BLUES, and I found that I really liked that one as well. Her others in the series haven't held up quite as well as those two. They're still good, and I still like to read about Leah and her partner Jackson and their adventures, but it's a good thing I started with the Konrath collaboration because if I had started with anything besides REPO CHICK BLUES, I probably wouldn't have gone on. Discoverability, thy name is Joe Konrath... *****
So my promotion ended yesterday. It ended with a slight uptick on the downloaded copies of my two short story trios but it still was unimpressive. Thank you to everyone who DID download the stories. Hope you find something you like. Even more, I hope you'll maybe try something else I've written. DIE 6 has some pretty good stories in it....I think... So how did it compare to my first giveaway, where I promoted my titles SOLE OCCUPANT and DEAD OR ALIVE? Well, that time I gave away 144 copies of the two titles. The first of them did better. I don't think it's surprising. The cover for SOLE OCCUPANT was done by a professional, while the cover for DEAD OR ALIVE was done by...well, by me. This time I gave away 71 copies in total. Forty nine copies of JACK'O'LANTERN and 32 copies of THE GATEWAY were given away (by zombies...no, not really...by me). Half the number of copies, though almost as many copies of JACK'O'LANTERN were given away as of DEAD OR ALIVE. Anyway, why so few this time? I have a few theories. First, I did not have the opportunity to tag my giveaway with another giveaway. In that case it was QUANTUM ZOO, with the giveaway promoted by all twelve authors (to some degree) and D.J. Gelner shared my status update, where I plugged both my own stories' free status as well as that of QUANTUM ZOO. This time, no shares from any authors. (One offered but didn't follow through, far as I could tell.) I did have two friends share it with their own friends, and there is not much overlap between our groups of friends. Anyway, when D.J. shared it on FB, my post views approached 300. This time my post views were around 150 (maybe a bit more). Half the page views, half the downloads. Plus, people who were downloading QZ might have theoretically searched out works by the other authors in the collection and found a couple of mine on promotion, and grabbed them that way. I'll never know. Second, these two covers are probably my worst covers. I did them myself, and they were the first and second covers I ever did. I'll probably try to redo them sometime when I have the time. But I don't want to spend any actual money on them. At $0.99 per download (which means $0.35 to me) it just does not make sense to spend the money on them. It's a shame, really. I've had really good feedback on some of the stories. Annetta Ribken once said of JACK'O'LANTERN (seen in a less edited form on the Friendly Fiction forum on Journalscape) that she could totally see it in a YA Halloween themed collection. J. Michael Major listed AMERICA'S PASTIME (part of THE GATEWAY trio) as one of his favorites of the 14 DARK WINDOWS collection. THE MOMENT also received good comments when I posted it on a blog a few years back. And SARAH'S PUPPY won a contest on The Book and Candle Pub several years ago. I think they're decent stories. Here's Annetta's quote (about JACK'O'LANTERN):
I can so see this in a YA Halloween anthology. Cute and interesting premise. nicely done!Author Eric Mayer (of the John the Lord Chamberlain mysteries) said this about THE MOMENT:
I enjoyed the story. From what I recall of eighth grade it seems true to life. Although I only wish I could've been bright enough to ever come up with a ruse like that. I'm surprised you could concoct this from six words not of your own choosing. Out of curiosity, do you recall what the words were?I couldn't, by the way. I remembered "pirate" and "tommy gun" and "black cat" once I read it and looked for them. And J. Michael Major's Amazon review of 14 DARK WINDOWS:
So there you have it. The results of the giveaway. I had been debating whether to put ODD MAN OUT on promotion next month. It's my best cover, and I like both stories. But I don't know if it's worth it. Maybe I'll just schedule it for a two day giveaway or something like that. Better get something new written and published. And soon. Take care! Thanks if you downloaded them. Heck, thanks if you're reading my blog! *****It's always fun to discover a new, talented author, and Scott Dyson is my latest find. The fourteen creepy tales here range from wistful and romantic ("The Moment" and "Ghost of Love") to the horrific ("Hot Spot" and "The House at the Bend in the Road"). My personal favorites are "The Only Solution" and "America's Pastime," but all are wonderfully written and there is something here for everyone -- just don't read these hair-raising stories when you are alone at night! I look forward to reading more by Dyson. Buy a copy today and tell your friends about this exciting new author!