NN Light January Giveaway Promotion – Cross Post

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Having a hard time choosing what to read in 2019? While there’s so many wonderful authors and books available, it’s imperative to have a dependable and responsible place that can help you choose what to read. It’s even better when you get a chance to win free books! Every month, you can win free books from multiple authors hosted by N. N. Light’s Book Heaven. Numerous authors are offering their books in this collaborative group entitled Literary Giveaway Portal. The best part is they’re all screened and approved by N. N. Light, a top reviewer.

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Resolve to Read More Books Giveaway: https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/92db775023

Literary Giveaway Portal:  https://www.nnlightsbookheaven.com/literary-giveaway-portal

January 2019 Prizes

autographed print copy of Eye of the Pharaoh plus swag generously donated by Nancy Fraser (US/Canada only)

audiobook copy of Rescue Love by Melissa Keir (US/Canada only)

autographed print copy of Dante’s Gift by Aubrey Wynne (US only)

autographed print copy of Healer (Truth Seer Trilogy Book 2) by Kay L. Moody (US only)

e-copy of Dickensen Academy by Christine Grabowski

e-copy of The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles Book 1 by A. L. Butcher (Smashwords voucher)

e-copy or print of one of C. C. Bolick’s books (winner’s choice)

5 e-copy of Fire on the Mountain by Clabe Polk

e-copy of Debriefing the Dead (Book 1 of The Dead Series) by Kerry Blaisdell

e-copy of The Cauldron Stirred (Guardians of Erin Book 1) by Judith Sterling

e-copy of Arresting Mason by Amber Daulton

e-copy of The Queen of Paradise Valley by Cat Dubie

e-copy of The Haunting of Hotel LaBelle by Sharon Buchbinder

e-copy of Once Broken by D. M. Hamblin

e-copy of A Debt to the Devil by D. M. Hamblin

e-copy of Tied Up With Strings by Madeline McEwan

e-copy of The Colony and The Last City by RM Gilmour

e-copy of Self’s Blossom by David Russell

e-copy of N. N. Light’s Book of Daily Inspiration by N. N. Light

 

 

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Kitchen Imps – Best Fantasy Book of 2018

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I am very pleased to announce the Kitchen Imps and Other Dark Tales has been voted Best Fantasy read for 2018 on the following popular blogging/website.

I am happy-dancing all around the house!

https://www.nnlightsbookheaven.com/

Winner announcement

NN Light Book Award Winner

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If you’d like to know the winning books in the other categories then check out the list below for some awesome reads.

Contemporary Romance

Betting on Cinderella by Petie McCarty

Paranormal

The Cauldron Stirred (Guardians of Erin, #1) by Judith Sterling

Fantasy

Kitchen Imps by A. L. Butcher

Historical Romance

When the Marquess Returns by Alanna Lucas

Historical Fiction

The Du Lac Prophecy by Mary Anne Yarde

Thriller

Game Six by Judy Bruce

Suspense

Malthus Revisited (Lindsey McCall #4) by Lin Wilder

Romantic Suspense (tie)

Gray’s Promise by Anni Fife

The Haunting of Hillwood Farm by Kathryn Knight

Nonfiction

Everyday Enchantments by Maria F. DeBlassie

Young Adult

The Broken Branches by Becky Villareal

Erotic Romance

In Deep by Stacy Gold

Paranormal Romance

Haunted Hearts by Kimberly Dean

Science Fiction/Science Fiction Romance

The IX: Prelude to Sorrow by Andrew P. Weston

Women’s Fiction

Once Broken by D.M. Hamblin

Children’s Fiction

Hockey Wars by Ben Jackson and Sam Lawrence

Holiday Romance

Dante’s Gift (A Chicago Christmas #1) by Aubrey Wynne

Sinners of Magic – Lynette Creswell Reviews 2019 #Fantasy

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Sinners of Magic by Lynette Creswell is a fantasy tale following the adventures of young adults Crystal and Matt. Crystal is a strange girl, haunted by visions, and odd occurrences and has no answers for her skills. After she saves her friend from drowning a strange bird arrives on her windowsill. Then answers start coming and a splendid adventure really starts. The world is interesting – with elves, sorcerers, monsters and orc-like beings. The rules of the world are strict, and inevitably get broken and this leads to more problems. There is death, there is wicked magic, there is love, courage and intrigue.

It took me a while to get into the book and to connect with the characters (it may be an age thing as they are young adults – and I haven’t been that for 25 years…). That said once the adventure gets going the story is exciting, well-written and the world well crafted. The two protagonists are out of their depth, taken to a strange realm they never believed existed, and faced with life-threatening revelations and situations but the bond of friendship doesn’t wane. I found myself really wanting Crystal to find the answers, the evil lord to be defeated and the good guys to win out. Did they? Read and find out.

I shall definitely pick up the other two books in this trilogy.

4 stars.

 

Audiobook Narrator Interview – Stephanie Montalvo

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*Name: Stephanie Montalvo

*Tell us a bit about yourself: I’m a retired professional dancer. I’m also a trained actor and singer. 14 years ago I started a production company. We’ve produced videos, voiceovers, shows and special events for private clients, municipalities, Fortune 500 companies, and brands such as Nickelodeon. I also have a strong connection to nature and so I founded a non-profit dedicated to environmental education and inspiration. Creativity and nature are my life force.

How did you become involved with audiobook narration and production? As a multi passionate artist it was natural to move my storytelling skills into audiobook narration. I love to tell stories and create characters.

Is this your day job? Yes

Tell us about some of the titles you’ve narrated. Do you have a favourite amongst these? I’ve narrated a wide range of genres. I love voicing children’s books because they have so many fun characters to create. I also like working with authors who really understand their characters and have created a detailed background story. Knowing the story behind each character helps you bring them to life.

Do you have a preferred genre?  Do you have a genre you do not produce? Why is this? I enjoy Romance, Comedy, Sci-Fi. I’m pretty open to all genres if the writing is engaging. I don’t think my voice is the right fit for historical work, although I do love to listen to them.

What are you working on at present/Just finished? I just wrapped the Healing Springs by Rhavensfyre.

*Tell us about your process for narrating?  (Be as elaborate as you like.) I like to read the whole book cover to cover first. I make notes about what touched me and any questions I might have for the author. Then, I like to meet via phone or Skype with the author and talk about their inspiration for writing the book and get to know them. I find that hearing the author speak about their characters helps me get a good idea of where they are coming from. I ask for specific details about each character even the smaller characters. I like to know what the authors are thinking about their characters. When an author can give me examples or match characteristics to popular figures it really helps create a better sense of the person and how they would sound. Then, I go and pull images or I draw features I like about the character and start working with my voice to give them their sound. I do lots of research on vocal styles for specific regions. I always keep samples of the voices I’ve created for each character to reference later on. If I need more information or confirmation on a particular character I contact the author with a sample. Once I feel solid about each character’s voice I go into the studio and start to tell the story.

What aspects do you find most enjoyable?  I love creating characters and telling their story. It feels good to listen back and hear their voice, not yours.

What do you find least enjoyable? Editing is hard at times. You spend many many hours in the studio all alone looking at a waveform on the screen. Your arms can fatigue which isn’t enjoyable.

Have you ever found an author you couldn’t continue to work with? How was this resolved? Unfortunately, yes. I’ve had an author that just disappeared. I didn’t hear from them for months. I had to move on to the next project. Sometimes life happens, I understand. I’ve never had any issues with a difficult author. I research them before accepting a project.

Do you consider royalty share when looking for books to narrate? If not why is this? Yes, I do consider royalty share. I’m happy to collaborate with an author if they have a nice following and good reviews.

Do you listen to audiobooks? I sure do. I love them!

*With many people owning MP3 players do you think this is the future of storytelling? Yes, I do believe that audiobooks are the future of storytelling. You can listen on morning commutes, while waiting in line, anywhere!

Why do you think audiobooks are becoming so popular? Audiobooks are calming and comforting. I’ve found that humans, and some animals, love to listen to stories. It is like having a good friend in your pocket. Audiobooks let your brain relax into the drama of a character instead of the day to day stress that many people encounter. They also stimulate your imagination. You create the imagery to the story. That is powerful!

Can you remember the first audiobook you owned? I had books on tape as young as 5. We would get them from the library. I loved them then too.

If you are an author, do you produce your own audiobooks or do you prefer to look for an independent narrator? Why have you made this choice? I’m currently working on a book and I will produce it. I made this choice because I know the work and the story and would enjoy telling it.

Has ACX/Audible fulfilled your expectations? (such as earnings, ease of use, workload etc.?) I truly enjoy working with ACX/Audible. I find it easy to use. I’ve met some great authors there. It is a fantastic platform.

Have you ever had a negative experience producing a book? I’ve had some authors that don’t explain their vision well upfront which makes it harder to produce but nothing negative.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve had? The devil is in the details. Always find out exactly what the author’s full vision is for the main character from start to finish. The small details can shift a book and that is very important to know before you record the complete work.

What is the worst piece of advice you’ve had? Don’t read the book before you voice it. Ouch!

If you could narrate any book you wanted which would it be and why? I’d love to narrate the Wizard of Oz. There are so many fun characters and it is a wonderful story.

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself. I love bunnies. I had 12 at one time, all spayed and neutered rescues. They are not the easiest animals to care for but if you love them and learn their language you will get mountains of love back.

Where can we learn more about you? www.stephanievo.com

 

Social Media links:

Twitter: @StephanieVoice

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephanievoiceandvideo/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/StephanieVoiceandVideo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adventures in Self-Publishing – 1.3 – the basics – Smashwords 1.1

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https://www.smashwords.com/

I like Smashwords – but uploading the MS is a bit of a pain. The meatgrinder as it’s known is notoriously fickle. On the plus side, it will throw the MS back and tell you what to fix. It can take several attempts before it goes through. The help pages on Smashwords are good and will offer advice.

One of the benefits of SW is the Premium Catalog https://www.smashwords.com/dashboard/channelManager/

You can submit your book, and have it distributed to a multitude of other sites – including Barnes and Noble, Kobo, I-books and many others. The most useful aspect I have found for Smashy is the coupons. You can produce a coupon to reduce a specific book, for a specific time. It’s great for gifts, review copies etc.  Smashwords pay monthly (sort of). But the distribution stores pay at different times so it’s a little fiddly to keep track. That said it all goes through Smashwords and they pay via Paypal in USD.  Or you can just stick with SW.

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https://www.smashwords.com/upload

I have only added the pic for the first bit (as it’s quite long), but pretty self-explanatory.

You can also have a publisher account with SW. So, if you write under a pen name or publish on behalf of others then that works out nicely. It’s far more awkward on KDP – where you can publish under a pen name. The publisher account is helpful.

The dashboard for SW is reasonably easy to fathom and it’s easier to make changes to a book than on KDP and it’s better for readers as it offers Mobi, Epub and other formats (Amazon only offers the Amazon Mobi and it’s Kindle/Kindle app only).

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sw dashboard help

Smashwords requires an ISBN but will provide one free if you don’t have one. This is required for access into the premium catalog, but not solely publishing on SW.

If you can manage the meatgrinder then Smashwords is a great way to get that wider reach.

It’s more accessible than KDP (see the other posts about this).

Adventures in Self-Publishing – Marketing 1.1

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One of the primary skills needed to sell your book is marketing. Many people don’t like pushy sales people – so don’t be pushy. If little and often works then go for it but if someone doesn’t want to buy your book then, they don’t. Don’t pester folks.

  1. Marketing
  • Marketing (no one is going to buy your book if they don’t know it’s there. Many people don’t like the pushy salesperson (I certainly don’t), but there are ways and means. I took a course (Diploma in social media marketing) with Shaw Academy. This was a bargain – the course is usually a couple of hundred pounds but a friend put me onto Living Social which offers all sorts of stuff at real bargain prices. It has everything from weekend breaks, to courses, to laptops or whatever. As I understand it – they have a small amount at the low price and when they are gone they are gone.  Check out these bargain sites – you’d be surprised what you find.
  • Facebook – There are zillions of pages and groups on FB. Set up an author page (you can do this from your main account). If you have somehow managed to avoid FB then I’m sorry it’s a good idea to get an account. There are lots of groups devoted to blogging, genre books, author groups, writing groups, promo groups – you name it there will be  FB group for it. Join a few – and CHECK THE RULES. Some let you promo, some let you promo with restrictions (once a week/once a day), and some are non-promo but good for advice and networking. Facebook really wants you to spend your money and buy ads. I haven’t as yet – and I have heard mixed reviews on whether it’s useful. But I understand you can spend a small amount to have a small ad. You can promote in some groups for free – but the reach is limited. Prepare to spend a lot of time on social media…
  • Twitter/Tweetdeck – If you are going to use Twitter to promote then get Tweetdeck. It’s free and it makes managing your Tweets much easier. You can schedule tweets, add graphics, and see what you’ve booked in and when. You can attach more than one Twitter account to it.  Does Twitter help? Probably – there are a lot of cross-tweeting groups, and many people follow there.
  • Linked-in – This is more of a professional site – many employers look there. I’ve been contacted via LI more than once about jobs (all of which were utterly unsuitable), but it’s another forum. 
  • Pinterest – I love pinterest. I set up a page for all the interviews and promo from the blog, but mostly I use it for pics of animals, Phantom of the Opera, and random interesting stuff.  Again there are reader and author groups.

There are countless others but keep in mind how many sites you’re going to have to manage. Even with Hootsuite (for FB, Linked in, Tumblr and Twitter) and Tweetdeck it’s still a couple of hours a night for me. That’s two hours not writing…

You could ignore the marketing, do less than I do and it MIGHT work, but then again it might not. Promotion of your book will get you sales. No one knows it’s there – no one buys it. Simple as.

Blogging/Website. 

Set up an author website if you can – again if you aren’t very good at that kind of thing then look for a course or watch You-Tube. There is plenty of free/cheap advice about if you look. WordPress is fairly easy (and free for the basic package), Wix, Squarespace, Blogger etc are other options. Also, set up a blog. My website is the ‘official’ author site – it lists the books, about me and is updated when there is something new. The blog is more informal (and gets more traffic). You can blog about anything – books you’ve written, books you’ve read, your cat/dog/rabbit/degu, plants, recipes or whatever. It’s good writing practice – builds a network of followers who might check out your book(s) and it’s fun. I will say this – pick what you blog about carefully. If you want to go rant about some reviewer leaving your book a 1-star review on Amazon; politics; what someone famous has or hasn’t done then go ahead but keep in mind what goes on the internet stays on the internet. It’s easy for a reader to misunderstand a comment, and if you start bitching then someone will notice and it’s likely to end up with a slanging match – which is public. You’re the author, you’re the brand. Being a jerk can harm this brand. You can’t undo it. I’ve seen authors behave badly – slagging off readers who rated a book low, or making some derogatory comment about a reader’s opinion or intelligence. It didn’t end well.  You have been warned.

 

 

 

Adventures in Self-Publishing – 1.2 the Basics cont. KDP.

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So, your book is written, edited (hopefully), and you have sourced a decent cover. What are your choices?

KDP – Amazon. The biggest slice of the pie BUT they are known to be a little picky and have the usual issues with big business (don’t care about the little guy – you). Some authors don’t like the big bad Zon’s business practices – but they ARE the biggest marketplace. They are also issues with authors getting account bans because of content violations, multiple accounts or other, vaguer issues.

READ THE FAQ and TOS. You can ONLY have one account. ONE. You can have an account for buying things, and a different login and password for KDP but only the single KDP account. KDP is hot on this, they will close your account. I’ve heard of people sharing computers with separate accounts being caught out. I assume it’s done partially on IP address. There’s a regular feature on people forgetting their login, and accidentally set up a new account. There’s a post on the forum about this at least once a week. Keep your original log in safe – if you do inadvertently set up another account, contact KDP and explain, asking them to remove the duplicate.

There are lots of password safe programmes and apps – you can save your logins there and only need remember the one password to log in. I googled password storage and at least 10 pages of links came up.

Watch out for KDP Select. If you want to sell your e-book anywhere else do NOT join Select.

I will talk about print books in another post.

Content violations: This is a vague term but usually means:

The type of smut – (some erotica is allowed but anything ‘illegal’ or ‘dubious’ will end up in the dungeon (pardon the pun). Amazon is a bit foggy about what is and isn’t allowed so erotica authors do get caught out. You have to tick the ADULT CONTENT criteria. On the subject of covers.- Amazon is pretty lenient but they do not allow nipples, genitals or bare backsides on covers. If you write that sort of material then have your images with a bit of modesty,

Public Domain – PD books are allowed but there are strict criteria. Your version has to be substantially different to what’s already out there. I’ve seen ‘authors’ with hundreds of titles get banned – because they uploaded some version and put the odd comment in here and there. Public domain is a minefield – tread carefully.

https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G200743940 – public domain

https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G200672390 – content guidelines

Plagiarism  – GRRR don’t get me started on this. Basically – did you write what you are submitting? Do you have the copyright? Yes – good then go ahead. No – then crawl off somewhere and stop stealing other authors work.  Just because it was available on the web, or you found it on one of the plethora of pirate sites doesn’t mean it’s yours.

Complaints – if your work is not up to standard and lots of readers complain you MIGHT get a content violation. Usually, Amazon will contact you about this and let you rectify it/remove the book.

Amazon does usually send an email if a book is taken down, or there is an account issue. Check your spam filters too. Respond to what they say promptly, politely and they MAY rectify the issue.

Uploading to KDP is fairly easy. You can use a Word document. It converts it to mobi (or if you have a mobi generator I think you can use that. Check through on the previewer and fix any issues. It usually takes a few days to permeate the stores.

There will be later posts on SMASHWORDS, DRAFT2DIGITAL and LULU.

Adventures in Self-Publishing – Part 1.1 – The Basics

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I have been trying to think of useful and interesting posts to share in 2019. I love the interviews, and these will continue, but I’m going to try the ‘Adventures in Self-Publishing’ series of posts – detailing advice, pitfalls, highs and lows and upskilling.

When I read the KDP forums (that’s Kindle Direct Publishing – Amazon’s publishing system), it never ceases to amaze me the newbies who write a book (or occasionally scrape content from the internet, or upload a public domain book with barely any new changes) and then wonder why they aren’t the next Stephen King or JK Rowling.

I’ve posted up KDP advice before:

KDP: A Noob’s Guide

KDP: A Noob’s Guide Part 2

KDP: a Noob’s Guide Part 3

However there is a lot more on offer than just KDP, and a lot more to do that writing.

Most indie authors have little or no money to spend buying services or advertising – so the easiest way to get around this is to learn how to do these things yourself, network (really important), or trade skills.

I published my first book in 2012 (yep that long ago), and since then I have learned about many, many things.

Depending on your genre you may do research (I love research but I am easily distracted), but there is more to it. Unless you’re a wiz at everything (If so I hate you) then you’ll probably need to be proficient in the following:

Marketing, cover design, editing, networking, formatting. And that’s just the start. If you can write, then you can learn these things. It takes time, and patience.

Let me see in the 6 and  half years since Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles was published I have learned:

Networking (this is really important); editing (currently editing for Perseid Press so I can’t be that bad); cover design (I’m learning Photoshop); marketing; formatting; how to convert to Epub/Mobi etc; how to produce audiobooks; how to format for paperbacks; MSWord; Calibre, Book bundles. Not to mention courses on creative writing, grammar, historical fiction writing, copyrighting and lots of other fascinating (mostly) stuff.

If you are on a low budget then check around. Sites like the ones below are useful.

  • Living Social – offers bargain prices on courses. I got the Diploma in social media marketing and the Creative Writing Certificate for less than 20 GBP each, instead of several hundred pounds.
  • Udemy  – discounted online courses – currently using for Photoshop, and they have lots of writing/marketing based courses. You can pay full price but usually if you wait then a course will appear in the sale – for as little as $10 or $20. You can do them in your own time.
  • Coursera – mostly free but you can pay for the more advanced ones.

And there is You-tube of course.

Much of it comes with practice, but it’s not a simple case of writing a couple of hundred thousand words down and whacking it onto KDP (not that writing is simple – I’m not belittling the craft). None of the publishing sites which let authors publish for free will edit/format or promote the book. That’s the author’s job. It’s a steep learning curve.

Look out for more posts on Adventures in Self Publishing.

 

 

Reviews 2019 – Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths in Bath – Kirsten Elliott

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Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths in Bath

This is one of the better ‘Foul Deeds’ series, and all the more interesting as I live reasonably close to Bath. Bath is an ancient city, which has seen its share of blood and wickedness – these cases were, mostly the lesser known from 19 century onwards, there was a chapter outlining older crimes. The research was well done, and the author didn’t sensationalise the accounts (which tends to happen in many true crime books).

I’d recommend this for local historians, true crime buffs and people with an interest in the area.

Nicely done.

First review of 2019! Yay!

Release Blitz/Book Spotlight – Anthem of Survival – M/M Romance

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Out Now—THE ANTHEM TRILOGY BOOK 3: ANTHEM OF SURVIVAL By Thom Collins

The Anthem Trilogy:

  1. Anthem of the Sea
  2. Anthem of the Dark
  3. Anthem of Survival

Anthem of Survival

Will they ever escape the past?

Revenge casts a long shadow.

Following two prior attempts on their lives, Daniel and Elijah are together and stronger than ever. Their relationship has weathered the toughest elements and survived. Physically and emotionally scarred, the bond between them can’t be broken. One year on from the devastating events in Anthem of the Dark they have reassessed their priorities and want to spend time out of the spotlight.

Elijah has quit his stand-up career to focus on his new passion: training to be a chef. But for Daniel, there are too many questions he desperately needs answers to. Like who orchestrated the violence in Blackpool a year ago? Whose hatred of him runs so deep they’re ruthlessly prepared to hurt innocent by-standers? He teams up with journalist Keeley Rank to uncover the facts.

Though the truth is well hidden, it is closer than anyone thinks. Someone wants revenge. Someone intent on destroying Daniel anyway she can. When Daniel and Elijah attend a fundraising gala for a victim support charity they are unaware they are about to face their most perilous situation yet. Vengeance is a deadly game and not everyone will survive.

Available in ebook and Paperback

 

BUY LINKS:

Pride Publishing: http://ow.ly/2EIj30myQPQ

Amazon USA: http://ow.ly/J2nk30mTNMC

Amazon UK: http://ow.ly/iXQc30mTNIb

Excerpt:

Daniel Blake, sitting on a shaded terrace in a pair of sun-bleached shorts, strummed a melody on his guitar. The afternoon sun blazed in a cloudless sky and, despite the protective canopy above him, the heat was intense. Beads of sweat ran down his neck, tracking over bronzed skin to the dark mass of chest hair. It glistened on his top lip as he gently chewed the bottom. With his eyes closed, he progressed through the strings. A moment later, he smiled, finally satisfied, and put down the guitar. He reached for the weathered notebook that had been his constant companion all summer and wrote in an eager, untidy hand.

Daniel had been working on the song for two days, both music and lyrics, and, at last, it was done. He had nothing left to add.

He lifted his gaze to the sky and inhaled full into his lungs. Across the terrace, the blue water of the Ionian Sea reflected the white light of the sun, its expanse an ever-changing collage of sapphire and diamond colors. Down the coast, the outline of Corfu Island was a hazy mirage in the heat. This perfect view had been his for six amazing weeks. The idyll would soon be over, but not yet.

Daniel lay back on the lounger and lengthened his arms above his head, stretching the stiffness in his neck. He’d been so absorbed in the song, ensuring every chord and every word were right, he’d ignored his own comfort and now his body ached. A few weeks earlier, he’d made the mistake of writing beside the pool, in the direct glare of the sun, and paid the price. Two painful days in bed with sunburn. Since then, he’d stuck to the shade while working on his music. He lost himself so much in the process it was easy to burn.

Daniel studied his body as he lay there. He’d never looked so good or been this tan before. There’d been no time to sunbathe in the past, he’d always thought it a waste of time. He had had too much to do, too much to achieve, to spend his days lying around a pool. But he’d realized this summer that a tan didn’t just suit him, it helped him feel better.

It wasn’t just the sun. Daily sessions in the pool and long walks on the beach kept him in shape. Coming off Lady Lynda, he’d had every intention of letting his fitness routine go a little, if only for the summer, but it hadn’t worked out that way. He was in better condition now than when he arrived, in mind as well as body.

His legs were strong, muscular and tan. He hardly recognized his own body. He inched down the top of his shorts to admire the contrast in color between the creamy skin below his waist and the coppery tones above. The villa was private and he could have bathed naked if he’d wanted to, except he wasn’t that kind of guy. Besides, tan lines were sexy. He’d always thought so. Who needed to risk a burnt butt and balls?

The one thing that marred the bronze color of his torso was the scars between his hip bones and ribcage, sustained the night Oliver Gill had stabbed him, and from the lifesaving surgery he’d gone through afterward. Before coming to Corfu, the pale scars had been almost unnoticeable on his white skin. His dark body hair just about concealed them. But as his tan deepened, the scars stayed white, becoming more pronounced, forcing him to look at them, to acknowledge them.

Daniel traced his fingers along the lines and indentations. Had he made peace with the disfigurement? No. But as the summer came to an end, he’d learned to accept them.

Daniel sighed and basked in the heat. Life was not so bad, considering what the last two years had thrown at him. Better than that, things were good. Not perfect, too many questions remained unanswered for that, but his optimism grew every day.

The glass doors of the terrace opened behind him and Elijah Mann stepped out, offering him a cold bottle of water.

“It’s hotter than hell out here,” Elijah remarked, shielding his eyes against the sun to gaze across the sea.

Daniel swung his legs over the side of the sunbed and sat up. He drank the chilled, sparkling water and looked with admiration at Elijah’s chunky thighs. While the sun had turned Daniel’s white-boy skin an appealing shade of bronze, Elijah, with his Greek heritage, had gone nut-brown. The beige shorts and blue open-neck shirt he wore today complemented his tan. God, he’s gorgeous. Daniel never had to remind himself what a lucky guy he was.

Elijah dropped onto the other sunbed, knees spread wide, and looked straight at him with soulful brown eyes. His thick blue-black hair fell in an untidy wave across his brow and a three-day beard darkened his jaw. With his natural Greek coloring, Daniel wondered if Elijah had ever looked more handsome. Even more important, he looked happier and healthier than he had in a long time. Less than a year ago he’d been in hospital, fighting for his life. Daniel wouldn’t ever forget how close he’d come to losing him. Those long, terrible hours beside his bed, praying he would recover. Hoping for the best, afraid of the worst.

“How’s it going?” Elijah asked, nodding at his guitar.

“I’m finished,” he answered, smiling.

Elijah’s eyebrows raised. “Really?”

“Absolutely.”

“Don’t keep me in suspense. Let me hear it.”

“What’s for lunch?” Daniel asked, feigning indifference.

Elijah leapt forward, grabbing Daniel’s bare waist, tickling the sensitive flesh around his middle. Daniel yelped and fell backward, giggling. Elijah followed through, lying on top of him, fingers still working his waist. Daniel laughed, squirming against his hard body.

“No lunch today,” Elijah said, his face on top of Daniel’s. “Not until you play me your song.”

Thom Collins Bio

Thom Collins is the author of Closer by Morning, Gods of Vengeance and Silent Voices with Pride Publishing. The Anthem Trilogy is out now from Pride Publishing. His love of page turning thrillers began at an early age when his mother caught him reading the latest Jackie Collins book and promptly confiscated it, sparking a life-long love of raunchy novels.

He is currently working on a new novel.

Thom has lived in the North East of England his whole life. He grew up in Northumberland and now lives in County Durham with his husband and two cats. He loves all kinds of genre fiction, especially bonk-busters, thrillers, romance and horror. He is also a cookery book addict with far too many titles cluttering his shelves. When not writing he can be found in the kitchen trying out new recipes. He’s a keen traveler but with a fear of flying that gets worse with age, but since taking his first cruise in 2013 he realized that sailing is the way to go.

Links:

Blog: http://www.thomcollins.co.uk

Twitter:   @thomwolf     and  @realthomcollins

Instagram: thomcollinsauthor

Pinterest: Thom Collins

Email: thomcollinsauthor@aol.com

 

Release blitz organised by Writer Marketing Services.

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Guest Post – Self Publishing Platforms and Accessibility – by Victoria Zigler

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Victoria Zigler is a prolific author, mostly of books for children and poetry. She has an impressive catalogue. She is also blind – and has visited the Library Of Erana in the past to discuss the accessibility (or otherwise) of publishing, reading and enjoying books. I’m pleased to welcome Tori back, where she discusses the issues of self-publishing on Amazon vs Smashwords.

Tori – over to you

“Which platform is best for self-publishing?”

It’s a question you’ve likely heard many, many times – one especially popular with people comparing Smashwords to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) – and one that will have a different answer, depending on who you ask, and what experiences they’ve had using one platform or the other.

Here’s another question for you though:

“Which platform is more accessible for visually impaired authors who rely on screen readers?”

This one may also come with different answers, depending on who you ask, and their personal experiences.  The screen reader and browser you use may make a difference too.  In fact, I’m pretty sure it does.

I’ve only ever used JAWS (Java Access With Speach) so can’t compare screen readers for you.  But I’m going to give you my opinion on which platform is more accessible if you use JAWS and Firefox, which is what I use.

Although, I can only answer it using a comparison of Smashwords and KDP, because I actually haven’t dealt directly with the other platforms.  My books may be on other retailers, such as Barnes & Noble and Kobo, but it’s because of distribution.  Something I’m very grateful exists, since it makes my life easier.  Actually, it makes things easier for a lot of people, and not just screen reader users.  But this post isn’t about distribution.  This post is about which publishing platform is more accessible for screen reader users using JAWS and Firefox.

So, what’s the answer?

The short answer is Smashwords.  They’re easier to navigate, having a less cluttered page.

Although, in all fairness to them, KDP do appear to have improved their accessibility a little.  So at least they aren’t as much of a headache to use as they were when I first started publishing, which was almost seven years ago now.  Navigation is still a little more difficult on KDP than it is on Smashwords though.  Still, any improvement helps.

Of course, there’s room for improvement on both.  There’s always room for improvement, no matter what we’re talking about.  Especially since whoever invented drop-down menus obviously hasn’t had to use a screen reader.  Then there’s how graphics happy everyone is these days…

You know, I think we should make it essential for every company’s technical department to have a team of visually impaired people whose jobs are just to check the accessibility of websites using different screen readers and browsers.  It would create more jobs, and improve accessibility for screen reader users at the same time.  It’s a win- win situation!

But, in the meantime, if I had to recommend either Smashwords or Amazon to someone, based on accessibility alone, I’d recommend Smashwords.

Unfortunately, a lot of people still prefer to go directly to Amazon for their eBooks, and you have to sell a lot of books to have your Smashwords books distributed to Amazon.  Something very few authors actually achieve.  That means your best chance of having your books listed on Amazon is to put them on there yourself.  So, as I’ve recently realized and accepted, you’re going to want to deal with both platforms.  At least, you are if you want all those people with Kindles to buy copies of your books.

***~~~***

About the author:

Victoria Zigler is a blind poet and children’s author who was born and raised in the Black Mountains of Wales, UK, and is now living on the South-East coast of England, UK, with her hubby and furkids.  Victoria – or Tori, if you prefer – has been writing since she knew how, and describes herself as a combination of Hermione Granger and Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter books: Hermione’s thirst for knowledge and love of books, combined with Luna’s wandering mind and alternative way of looking at the world.  She has a wide variety of interests, designed to exercise both the creative and logical sides of her brain, and dabbles in them at random depending on what she feels like doing at any given time.

To date, Tori has published nine poetry books and more than 40 children’s books, with more planned for the future.  She makes her books available in multiple eBook formats, as well as in both paperback and audio.  She’s also contributed a story to the sci-fi and fantasy anthology Wyrd Worlds II, which is available in eBook only.

Links:

Website: http://www.zigler.co.uk

Blog: https://ziglernews.blogspot.co.uk

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/toriz

Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Victoria-Zigler/424999294215717

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/victoriazigler

Google+: https://plus.google.com/106139346484856942827

 

Find Tori’s books on…

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/toriz

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Victoria-Zigler/e/B00BHS9DQ6/

…Along with a variety of other online retailers.