Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Write On! Special Meet an Author Edition with S. Usher Evans

Help! My blog has been taken over by pirates! Okay, not really. Today I'm hosting S. Usher Evans, author of the Razia series. Read on to learn more about this fantastic author and the kick-ass space pirate she has given us.

*Waves* Hi there, I'm S. Usher Evans, author of the Razia series, and taking over Christina’s blog today, promoting my new book Alliances, the second book in the Razia series. It’s available for pre-order on Amazon Kindle. Book 1, Double Life, is out and is abso-toot-ly free. (Obvs, you should read that first…) The Razia series is about a woman dealing with a lot of inner demons while trying to balance lives as a scientist and space pirate bounty hunter. In Double Life, she comes to understand that she has to accept both sides of herself in order to be happy. Alliances is all about trust and friendship between Lyssa and another very strong-willed woman. In the spirit of their friendship, I've swapped blogs with Christina for the day (be sure to check out her post here). But before you do, stick around for my author interview:

Describe your book in gifs

It's six months after the first book, and Lyssa Peate - scientist by day, space pirate bounty hunter by night - is all:
But then Lizbeth Carter, a government investigator shows up while Razia is trying to capture a bounty. Lizbeth intends to take said pirate in for questioning, and Razia is all:
Obvs. Razia wins. But then this happens:
Turns out, Lizbeth is smarter than she looks and manages to blackmail convince Lyssa to help her with a insurance fraud conspiracy. So then there's a lot of this:
Some of this:
And mostly a lot of this:

Fill in the blank: If you like ________, you'll love my book.

If you're a fan of Joss Whedon, specifically Firefly (my new favorite show) or Buffy, you'll totally dig this series.

Your main character is stuck on an island - What 3 things do they bring?

Lyssa's day job is as a Deep Space Explorer. She discovers new planets, spending about a week on them to analyze their chemical makeup to sell it for money. She's also a bit of a misanthrope, so being stuck on an island would be the best possible place for her and everyone else in the universe. She'd bring her running clothes, her water sensor, and a DSE-approved trap to capture and kill animals. Lizbeth would bring a round-trip ticket. Because she would not have that mess. She would not have it.

How long do they survive?

When she was eighteen, Lyssa had to spend half a semester alone on a planet with none of these things (she thought her pirate mentor was going to come get her). So she'd survive a long time. Lizbeth is halfway back to the nearest space station.

Be completely honest: how much of your main character is really you?

Lyssa is absolutely based on me, but a more extreme version of me. She and I share a healthy distrust of people (although I tend to distrust people with a smile), and a lot of her big discoveries are ones I've made about myself along with her. But she's also a hell of a lot more stubborn than I am - which is saying something. Lizbeth is inspired by my best friend, but she has some of my traits too. Specifically, her frustration in working in a dead-end job where she's trying to get something done and everyone else isn't.

Also be honest - how much of your villain is based on a real person?

I don't consider the villains in my book to be the dudes causing the problems. The villain in the Razia series is Razia herself, and that person is definitely me. She's self-defeating for so much of the series, sabotaging herself through her inability to accept help.

How do you relax?

What is this word, relax? No, but when I has the dumb, and can no longer do what I need to do, it usually means that I'm binging on Family Guy or some similar cartoon on Netflix.

How do you market your book?

I use dual pronged approach - online and in person. For my online strategy, I utilize a build-relationships-first mentality, supporting other indie authors ("a rising tide lifts all boats," if you will). I do tend to post 1-2 ads a day for an active book (down to 1 a week for less active books), but also focus on posting content related to my book, including my blog content. And of course, sharing content from others that is interesting to me. In person, I go to a lot of comic book conventions. Like 1-2 a month (last October, I did 3 in 4 weeks). I'm an introvert, but I'm actually pretty chipper and can sell a lot of books in person. And, of course, as that audience grows, I'll share it with my other indie authors.

What social media works best for you from a marketing standpoint?

Speaking primarily about return on investments, Twitter has been the best for locating new fans that turn into book sales. Goodreads Giveaways are the best for growing presence, and most of the contest winners have posted a review.

What's your opinion on bad reviews?

1-2 star reviews happen, but this is generally my standpoint
Don't forget to pre-order Alliances for Kindle today!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Sentient Being In My Pocket

   Back in June of 2013 I wrote this post about how awesome it was to have computing power in the palm of my hand. At the time I was using an HTC Evo 4g LTE, which, while only being about 8 months old at the time, was not the latest and greatest. But still, it was a powerful tool and continued to be one of my greatest resources up until last week, when Eva the Droid began her death throes.
   To be fair, this wasn't the phone's fault entirely. I could have put more effort into nuking the unnecessary apps and deleting the thousands of random pictures that were already stored in the mythical cloud. I probably could have also figured out a way to remove some of the bloatware that was added by my network and the manufacturer. But I didn't. Honestly, I was too fed up with missed texts, so I went a'shoppin'.
   I got a new phone. Not just any phone. I got the Nexus 6.
Bitchin' street art sold separately

   I won't pretend that I put a lot of time and thought into researching different models in order to come to the conclusion that this was the best phone for me. I already own a Nexus 7 tablet and what I really enjoy about it is the simplicity of the pure Android operating system. My two biggest issues with my previous phone were HTC sense and Sprint Zone, which are both unnecessary overlays that continually gave me update notifications and errors when I didn't want to update. The only thing that made me jump on the Nexus faster than the promise of direct from Google updates was the reviewers' 'complaints' that the phone wasn't equipped with the Sprint Zone feature.
   And I'm not going to pretend that the name itself wasn't a factor. Just the fact that this shows up on the wiki puts a smile on my face:
Wiki's are like any other website, they're either a benefit or a hazard. 

   You should already know by now that Blade Runner is the best Sci-Fi movie of all time and you should also know my views on machine sentience. I've named my phone Roy, though with the big ass neon pink case I threw on it, I have to wonder if Pris isn't more appropriate. And if this phone doesn't last me at least four years, I am going to have strong words with the Tyrell Corporation Google.
   As for the phone itself, It's pretty bad ass. It has the most memory and fastest processor of any computer in the house. That's kind of scary when you think about the fact that I use my laptop to write and my husband uses his computer to record and mix music. It is really freaking powerful. Even the My Fitness Pal app, the bane of every phone and tablet's existence, doesn't lag or hang up. That is how powerful this thing is. (Seriously, app developers, make an ad-free paid version of this!!! I will give you money for an app that doesn't suck!!!)
   I've carried a smart phone for roughly seven years now. Prior to that, I carried a Wi-Fi enabled Palm device since the early '00s. Yet here I am, still awed by the amazing power at my fingertips. I refuse to take for granted how cool this is. There are those who will complain that the more connected we are, the more disconnected we get from reality. I disagree wholeheartedly, but that is another post for another day. Right now, I have 32gb of storage that is just begging to be filled with 13megapixel pics of my smelly dogs.
You are lucky we cannot yet smell in HD.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Princess Robot Commander and the Case of the Literary Identity Crisis

   When it comes to ideas for stories, most authors aren't hurting. In fact, I'd wager most authors have more ideas than time. I know I do. At the moment, I'm working through a series that will have seven books in total. Sure, that is a daunting number, but I'm planning on splitting up the series and starting on something different after I have the first three or four written. Right now, my problem is that 'something different.'

   You see, I began writing a book last summer that managed to become a trilogy. I put it aside because I had planned that if I was ready to dive into a series, it would be this one, Rise of the Discordant, because I've been throwing this idea around since the days of dial up and my Brother Super PowerNote. The book and eventual trilogy that I put aside was to be called Princess Robot Commander.

   Well... That might have changed again. The story, a very light SciFi, clean romance with a moral message, will definitely be written. This story is going to appeal to those who enjoyed The Eyes of The Sun and maybe Kind of Like Life. I hesitate to use the words New Adult, but that is the basic idea minus the obligatory NA sex scenes. I don't do sex scenes. But that is a different topic for another day. This book is many things, however, what it is not is going to be called Princess Robot Commander.

   You see, I had another flash of brilliance and decided that a name like Princess Robot Commander deserves more than that. Princess Robot Commander deserves book titles that begin with her name and end with a concept, joined together by the all important 'and the' of pulp classics. She also deserves proper golden age covers. These stories will be just like the classic space explorer tales with a neo-feminist twist. Think Flash Gordon meets Tank Girl. In fact, if this turns into something I can work with an artist on, it may even become a graphic novel or comic series. Who knows? The possibilities are nearly endless!

   So when will Princess Robot Commander see the light of day? Who knows. I honestly have too many ideas at the moment. I am happy with how the current series is shaping up, but I'm also kind of excited about the prospect of getting back into some girly writing with the now unnamed trilogy. That is to say nothing about a short story anthology I have in the works or a second stand alone young adult SciFi that will compliment Kind of Like Life.
   But it will happen. This is the beauty of being an indie author. No one can tell me what I can't write. I am limited only by my own ideas. Unfortunately, this also means that unless I ignore these ideas, retirement is a long way off.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Write On! Indie Book Reviews #5 Girl Power Edition

   Before I begin my long overdue review segment, I'd like to take a moment to explain my review process. All of the books you see here have earned a minimum of four stars from me. All were books that I read because I thought I would enjoy them. I write this segment to bring attention to indie published books that I enjoyed and feel others who like to read genre fiction will enjoy. Though I make the occasional exceptions, my reviews are mainly of science fiction and fantasy books written by female authors. 
    I don't take submissions for reviews. Nor do I write reviews for books that I don't like. I'm the kind of person who either loves something or hates it. I rarely find much use for the three star rating and the reason I don't write one or two star reviews is simple self preservation. I am an author and rather than find myself the target of a retaliation review, I prefer to quietly forget the books I didn't love.

   Now that the particulars and disclaimers are out of the way, on to the reviews! The following books are all about as different from one another as books in the SciFi/Fantasy category can be, but they all have one thing in common: strong female leads who kick some serious behind. Let's begin our adventure.

Double Life (Razia Book #1) by S. Usher Evans
   If words like space pirate and bounty hunter don't already get your blood pumping, you can't sit at my nerd table anymore. Well okay, you can, but read this book first.
   Razia is a space pirate. Lyssa is a scientist. Razia is Lyssa, but shhh... That's the secret. Double life is set in a space faring world that is in some ways reminiscent of the Star Wars galaxy. It has the aforementioned pirates, multiple habitable planets that can be traveled to and from via space ship, as well as an academy, a system of intergalactic law, and a mysterious religion that centers around a swirling vortex and a river of fire.
  Razia is something of a cranky loner with major trust issues. She's the only female pirate in the known universe and as such, is the least respected. It does not help that she comes from the ultimate dysfunctional family and has lost nearly everything she has held dear.
   The story itself is an action packed space adventure. Razia is snarky and sarcastic, yet completely likable and easy to root for. The supporting characters, both those within the story and those we only hear tales of, are well developed and add a lot to the overall plot.
   In many ways, Double Life parallels our own patriarchal society, but it does so while telling a great story. In just a few weeks, the author, S. Usher Evans, will be a guest on this blog and will have some additional insight into this and many other aspects of how Razia came into being.
   Double Life is currently free, so you've no excuse for not reading. Alliances, the second book in the series, is currently available for preorder. I had the pleasure of reading an advanced copy and all I can say at the moment is that it is even better than the first, so get reading!

   I've often said that what I love about indie books is that we aren't limited to what some marketing department at some publishing house think will make money. Nica is one of those books that defies genre norms and takes the reader on an epic journey.
   Nica S.T.A.T.I.C. (yes, that's her last name. It's complicated) is a private investigator who doesn't let anything stand in her way, including things like obtaining a private investigator's license or a permanent address. From the onset, this reads like a pulp detective novel with a twenty first century update, but soon it delves into the weird. Nica is approached by two strangers who hire her for a very different type of job and suddenly she learns that our world is just one frame in a limitless series of parallel worlds. In these other worlds, inanimate objects are animated and have lives of their own.
   The tone of the story is light, humorous in a way that is both high and low brow at the same time. The way Nica 'hears' the unpronounceable names from the other frames is hilarious. No word yet on when the next book will come out, but this one has a defined enough ending that even if you are like me and hate waiting, you can read this book without feeling unfulfilled.
   Once again, I'm breaking my boys have cooties rule to bring you a book by an author who doesn't belong to the girl's club. And in the girl power edition, of all things!  Yeah, I know. And I know what you're thinking. That I'm partial to the series title. Well, okay, fine, I am. As it turns out, the author picked the name because of a Tom Jones song that came out around the same time as the movie that inspired me to call my vampire cult the Daughters of Darkness.
   Silverblood Demons is an urban fantasy story steeped in demon mythology. It opens with Kylar, a young man who is having some highly realistic dreams of a certain nature. It turns out those dreams weren't so much dreams as they were visits from a lovely little she-demon and surprise! Poor 23 year old Kylar finds out that he's the proud father of three teenage daughters who reside in Hell.
   So, why am I writing a review about this book when clearly it's about a dude and written by a dude? Because it's really not about Kylar at all. This is just the first chapter. The real stars of this book are Kylar's daughters. They, along with his ex girlfriend, are the ones who really set in motion the plan to open the gates of Hell and free the thousands of young girls who have been trapped there for, obviously, nefarious reasons.  
   Even though the bulk of the story takes place in Hell, the tone is light and the humor is weird. This is another one that doesn't yet have a release date for the next book, but the story is self contained and enjoyable on its own.