The Dirt On Free Book Requests and How To Respond To Them

One of the most common questions I come across is how to respond to a readers query for a free book.

Why do authors get them and how are we supposed to respond?


There are usually two main reasons for these requests; they want to read the book and review it or they are down on their luck and can’t afford to buy a copy themselves.

The Read And Review Request

As an author the first reason is extremely enticing. We all want reviews. That’s how we get our names and our books out their to new readers. New readers look for those reviews to confirm that our books are worth purchasing. But is it worth giving away your livelihood in exchange for a review that may never be posted?

Some authors say yes, it absolutely is and I somewhat agree. If the reader requesting a copy is from a popular review blog, website, or company then send away. Send them a signed copy by all means. But if the reader who requests a copy doesn’t even have a goodreads profile don’t expect a thank you much less a review.

The Hardship (.a.k.a. sob story) Request

Let’s face it, everybody goes through difficult times in their life and we, as humans, are programed to empathise with others in tough times. It’s engraved into our very Souls from the moment we are born. You see someone crying in the corner and your heart breaks for them because you know they’re in pain. You cry when your favorite character gets their heart broken. Someone tells you their family member died and you say “I’m sorry for your loss” and try to finally a way to ease their pain.

It’s only natural to want to help someone out when they are in need and if a copy of your book can help them through this difficult time then you’ll have done your part. But you can’t help everyone, especially if your struggling to get by yourself.

We all know the cold hard truth about what we do. Being an author isn’t exactly living a life of luxury. Granted, their are a select few  who have gotten lucky and struck gold with their stories. Unfortunately, the vast majority of us have to keep our day jobs because our royalties don’t exactly pay the bills.

If you can afford to do so, giving away a few copies of your book a year is fine. It actually helps your reputation as an author because people talk. But it could also invite others to see you as an easy target and the requests for free books will start pouring in.

So what should you do if you get a request for a free copy of your book?

Ignore Them-

This is one of the most common answers I hear. It’s a viable option but not one I agree with and here’s why.

These people are your readers. They look up to you, idolize you because you are a published author. If you see your favorite actor or singer in public what do you do? You want to take your picture with them, shake their hand, get their autograph, or just plain old interaction! That’s what you want and that’s what your readers want. The more you interact with them the happier they are.

If they are your true fans they will be thrilled that you answered them at all, even if you send them a polite rejection letter.

If you ignore them they may loose faith in you and look elsewhere for that interaction!

Offer to send a copy to their local liabrary-

This is actually a very good idea…if you have a paperback verson. Donating copies of your books is an excellent way to reach alot of readers and help the liabrary out in a small way.

The only problem that you might encounter is that the liabrary won’t add your book to its shelf. Libraries have limited space and if your book isn’t in demand by the locals then the liabrary will remove it from the shelves to make room for books that the community does want.

I suggest donating to your local libraries anyway. Sometimes they will make a special exception for local authors and keep your book on display to show support.

Offering a book for free in exchange for an email sign up-

This is by far one of the best options and alot of authors are utilizing this method without realizing how significant it is.

A mailing list is a lifeline for most authors. It’s the best way for us to contact our true fans when we release a new book which leads to sales. It’s also a great way to weed out requesters who are just looking for a free book with no strings attached.

It takes 2.2 seconds to sign up for your email list. If they aren’t willing spend 2 seconds agreeing to receive occasional emails from you then they most likely aren’t willing to take the time to leave a review. They probably won’t be willing to actually spend money on any of your other books either.

Setting up an email list with Mailchimp is free up to 2000 subscribers and super simple as long as you have a landing page which you can also get for free with Having one might keep some of the less devoted readers from requesting free books.

Adding a notice to your site and social media-

If you have a website or a social media account it’s easy to add a notice that you don’t offer free books in exchange for reviews unless they sign up for your email list or get them from amazon when you offer them for free. You can post it in the header, footer, on your FAQ page, or Contact page. You could add it to your Bio on facebook, pin it in a post, or a pinned tweet.

The polite rejection letter-

I use a simple and polite rejection letter asking them to sign up to my email list where I already offer a free book for signing up. I also explain that they will receive an email when I offer my other books for free or at a discounted price through Amazon. Here is what the letter looks like.


Dear [reader],

Thank you for taking the time to contact me. I always love hearing from fans and avid readers. (If aplicable add “I’m sorry to hear that your [insert reason for hardship here])

I regret to inform you that I do not give copies of [name of book] out for free via email. I do however offer [name of free book] to subscribers of my email list which you can sign up for here [insert link to your subscription form] and receive a notice when [name of Book requested] is on sale or offered free on Amazon. 

Wishing you well,

[IInsert your signature]


Please share this with other authors who could benefit from it.

How do you deal with free book requests? Leave your answer in the comments below and don’t forget to subscribe and follow my blog for more great tips.

Bad Reviews Suck! How to deal with Negative Nancy’s.

Dear Aspiring Authors, This post is for you.

You see, when you are first starting out writing you are struck with this idea which you think is amazeballs!

You spend hundreds of hours thinking about this idea and hundreds more creating this imaginary world and it’s characters. Then, after slaving away for months or even years, you release this beast unto the world expecting it to be nothing  less than a New York Times Best Seller.


You’ve edited your manuscript to perfection and you’ve enlisted dozens of beta readers and reviewers who have all raved about your story.  You spent hundreds or thousands of dollars on a beautiful cover, amazing blurb, and done a ton of research before you set your masterpiece free. 

The book goes live and you ride the waves of ecstasy as the sales and Amazon Ranking climb. You may throw a release party or you may invest in promotions; either way you’re looking at a decent first paycheck. You’re thinking “Wow, if this continues I’ll be able to quit my day job and take up writing full time within the month!”

And then your first review comes in.

You’re shocked because it’s not a raving 5 star review like all of those beta readers and reviewers said your book was. You become angry as you read this person’s scathing words about your baby. You gasp in shock as this person you don’t know tears your baby to shreds and throws away the pieces. They point out every flaw that was missed, every plot hole that slipped through the cracks, and then go on to insult your writing ability.

“How dare they!”

Then you become angry for a whole different reason. You send a nasty emails to your editor, betas, and reviewers berating them for missing things. You consider removing your book from sale, throwing the hard copy in the grill, and lighting it on fire. Finally, you consider giving up writing all together.

Right now your probably thinking “Wow, talk about melodramatic!”

The sad thing is, this has actually happened before. There have been author who completely gave up on their dream because of a couple bad reviews.

I’m here to tell you that you need bad reviews!

That’s right, I said it! You need bad reviews. Lift your jaw off the floor and listen up.

Bad reviews are essential to your career. A good, bad review will point out all of the flaws in your writing and tell you what the readers want more of. These types of reviews are critical to making your stories everything that the readers want.

You may have written the story for yourself but let’s be honest, the readers are the ones that are going to pay your bills. You need to give them what they want or you will be writing your next novel from a cardboard box under a bridge somewhere.

Every great book has at least one bad review!

Don’t believe me? Go onto amazon and look up the Harry Potter books. Rowling sold millions of copies or the book and millions more copies of the movies. Yet each one of the books in the series has multiple bad reviews.

Harry potter and the Sorcerers Stone: 12, 061 reviews, 176 of them 1 star!
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Harry Potter and  the Order of the Phoenix: 7,783 reviews, 180 of them 1 star!

Fifty Shades Series? Same! Yet those were turned into movies too.


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50 Shades of Grey: 66,325 reviews, 10,158 of them 1 star!

Just because you get a bad review doesn’t mean that the book is bad, it just means that it wasn’t right for that reader.

My very first review was a 3 star and said the book was boring! (see image below) I took it in stride though and decided to use the criticism constructively and write a post for my writers group  on Facebook Authors Alley : Where Authors Come to Network.

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Sapphire’s Destiny Actual review. Though it got a 3 star review right away, my book went on to get multiple 5 star reviews after!

“So I got my first official amazon review today and I’m really happy with it 🙂 It was a 3 star review (before you ask why I would be happy with a 3 star review let me explain).

First, it’s a legitimate unbiased review of my book from someone I don’t know. Second 3 stars tells me that 1) the book was good enough to finish but 2) could use improvements. For my very first book, to me that is an excellent sign. It means that I’m doing well but have room to grow.

Next, they said the book didn’t have enough action and when there was action, it was short lived. This tells me that readers want more action and that they want the action scenes to be longer (totally doable I might add).

Then they said that a lot of things were left unexplained and that they will be reading the next book to see if they get explained. This tells me that the hook worked, that I need to answer some questions in book 2 (already planned to), and that I’ve pretty much already sold a book before it’s out.

I love these types of reviews, they tell you so much in so little words that help you become a better writer and make your writing more enticing.”

See what I did there?

I read the review, picked out the critical feedback, and turned it into information I can use for future books!


You can avoid getting bad reviews by targeting the specific audience your book would do well with. This is called Niche Targeting. Of course investing in a great editor, proofreader, and getting strangers to beta read your manuscript helps a lot but sometimes that’s not enough.

My advice to you?

Read each review but ignore the ones that are just trolling. If the review doesn’t contain anything useful then ignore it. The reviewer may have just been having a bad day or is just a negative person. If you are getting lots of 1 star reviews then step back and really take a good look at your book.

Use the bad reviews as a writers guide.

Take note of each of the issues that are pointed out and fix your manuscript. You can republish it with the new changes, unfortunately you won’t be able to remove those bad reviews unless you take the original down and republish the book as a second edition.

All in all, just enjoy the process! You can’t please everyone! If you are happy with the book then ignore the haters and write the next book. Maybe your first book wasn’t for everyone but maybe your next one will be!

What is the worst review you’ve gotten? Do you have any advice for new authors about dealing with bad reviews?

Post your responses in the comments below!


Author Interview: S.L. Perryman

Today’s Author Interview is S.L. Perryman; Author of The Realms Series: Sapphire’s 1

Names and dates of published novels?

Sapphire’s Destiny was published April 24th, 2016 though i do have another series which i ghostwrote for another author in 2015.

What genre/subgenres do you write in?

I write Fantasy novels focusing heavily on magical realism in an urban setting but I tend to mix mythology into my novels.

How long have you been writing?

I started writing in middle school, finishing my very first book called Blast To The Past which will never be seen by anyone…ever, but I didn’t really get into writing until three years ago when I became a stay at home mom.

What made you want to be a writer/ Have you always wanted to write?

Boredom, honestly. when you go from working a full time job to nothing what-so-ever you will find ways to fill the time. In my case I had a daydream that i couldn’t shake and finally decided to grab a pen and paper to write it out hoping that I would find a little releif but instead I found my new obsession.

Who is your favorite author?

I have so many; J.k. Rowling, Scott Westerfeld, C.M. Owens, Chamilla Chafer, Hailey Edwards, and so many more. There is no telling how many other authors I will end up adding to this list. I read a lot, so if an authors writing catches my attention and draws me in, then they will most likely end up becoming one of my favorites.

What was the first piece of fiction that you fell in love with?

The first book I can remember reading over and over again was the Uglies Trilogy by Scott Westerfeld. It’s a dystopian series and it really got my imagination working overtime. I instantly fell in love with Tally-the main character, her friends, and all of the unusual technology in the book.

What do you enjoy most about writing?

I love creating worlds that don’t exist, getting to know my characters, and seeing where the story ends up because it never ends like you imagined when you first start writing. I love being surprised by my own imagination and the things it comes up with.

How long did it take to write your first/last novel?sapphire--HD-Book-Cover

The very first novel I wrote was for another author and it was a short story, it took me about a month to finish from start to finish and 3 months to finish the whole series.

As for my books, Sapphire’s Destiny took me 3 years to write; but I was also working on the other novels in the series at the same time, though only the first one is fully finished now.

What are three words that you would choose to describe your writing style?

Descriptive, magical, and adventurous.

Are your characters inspired by real life people, or do you make them up 100%?

Some of my characters have traits of people i know though they aren’t completely the same. They might have the same hair or attitude but that’s about as far as their similarities go. Others are completely made up.

What sort of mood or feelings did you hope to convey to your readers with your latest work?

I want them to embrace the mystery and get lost in the adventure.

Tell us about the main character of your most recent novel.

Sapphire Archer is a single mom with a shadowed past who just wants to take care of her son and is willing to do anything to keep him safe. When a mysterious package shows up on her doorstep, she it thrust into a mysterious magical world and entrusted with a dangerous task.

Along her journey she encounters mythical creatures, visits magical places, and finds out where she really belongs.

 How do you go about building an antagonist?

I don’t build any of the characters really, they tend to build themselves. But I do believe that a good antagonist is one who can hide in plain sight without being suspected of anything.

Can you describe for us your writing process?

I write late at night. I find that it’s the only time that I can concentrate without interruption and my imagination works the best during the night hours. That my be because I’m so tired that I start dreaming with my eyes open but the scenes seem to flow better.

What kinds of activities do you enjoy besides writing?

I love puzzles, fishing, hunting mushrooms, growing plants, and learning.

Do you ever need to escape from writing? What do you do to get away?

Yes, if I ever need to escape I binge watch Netflix, read a good book, or do anything that is relaxing.

What is the hardest part for you as an author? Easiest?

The hardest part for me is getting the words from my head onto the paper and trying to make it understandable to everyone else. The easiest part is imagining the story line. I can clearly see the characters, where they are, the conversations they have, and the creatures they interact with; it’s just getting all that stuff onto paper that proves to be a problem.

Any author pet peeves?

Judging a book based off of bad reviews. J.K. Rowling and J.R.R. Tolkien have some pretty bad reviews but the stories were some of the most successful fantasy novels ever. Also someone leaving a horrible review on someone’s book and saying that they haven’t read the book yet, to me that’s just pointless.

Any authors that you feel directly inspired you, your works, or your style?

I love the worlds that J.R.R. Tolkien created and hope to some day be as good as he. But I also love C.M. Owens writing style and how relatable and loving her characters are.

Would you say that you were good at English in high shcool? If not, what were you good at?

I loved high school English and graduated on the A Honor Role. It wasn’t until college that I started to dislike the subject.

Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, what are some ways that you overcome it?

I think everyone comes down with a case of writer’s block at least once in their life. Believe it or not, I wash dishes or clean the house when it happens to me.  It gives me time to think the story through and find ways to correct whatever is killing the flow of thoughts.

Any current projects that we can look forward to?

I’m currently working on book 2 in The Realms Series: Blood stone as well as book 1 in the prequel series The Realms Before the Fall: Reign of the Archer, which is Sapphire’s grandmother Alice Archer’s story.

What are your long-term goals as a writer?

I want to finish The Realms Series and The Realms Before the Fall series. Then i want to start working on my dystopian series W. Vs. Z’s as well as a couple of stand alone novels.

Are you planning any spin-off novels?

Yes, The Realms Before the Fall will be a 6 book series. Each book will highlight different characters form The Realms Series, where they came from, and what they were doing up to the point the Sapphire’s Destiny starts.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Don’t worry so much about where you a headed just enjoy the ride.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Join writing groups (there are tons of Facebook), get as much advice as you can from experienced authors, do your research, and never give up. It will all come together eventually, just don’t rush the story or you will regret it.

Don’t dwell on bad reviews. Use the negative reviews to strengthen your writing and make it better.

How can your readers find out more about you and your books?

You can join my Book Club on Facebook where I hang out with everybody, host giveaways, parties with guest authors, sneak peeks at upcoming books, and so much more:

Like my author page:

Follow me on Twitter: @sl_perryman

follow my Amazon Author Page for my latest book releases:

Check out my website where I blog book reviews, author interviews, and talk about my life and thing I’m doing

Samantha Warren-Author Interview

Today’s Featured Author Interview is  Samantha Warren; author of  the Jane Series, the Alaesha Legacy series, and the TRK series.Samantha Warren
Names and dates of published novels?

I have over 20 books available which is entirely too many to list here! You can find all of them on my website Here are three as an example.

Vampire Assassin (Jane #1)

The Third Key (The Alaesha Legacy, #1)

The Iron Locket (TRK #1)

What genre and subgenres do you write in?

I write Speculative fiction. So far I have horror, paranormal romance, urban fantasy, fantasy, sci-fi steampunk, and now YA dystopian
How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing since 2010.
What made you want to be a writer and have you always wanted to write?

I found National Novel Writing Month and decided to give it a try. I was hooked.
Who are your favorite authors?

JK Rowling and Jonathan Maberry
What was the first piece of fiction that you fell in love with?

I’ve been reading since I was a kid. Some of the books I loved then were Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Ronia the Robber’s Daughter, Riddle at Pencroft Farm, and The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle.
What do you enjoy most about writing?

That varies depending on my mood, which is why I write such a wide range of things.
How long did it take to write your first/last novel?

I wrote my first novel in 3 months. My most recent one I wrote in about 3 weeks.
What are three words that you would choose to describe your writing style?

Fun, weird, easygoing
Are your characters inspired by real life people or do you make them up 100%?

I think all characters have a little piece of the author in them somewhere. They’re either who we want to be, or what we fear.
What sort of mood or feelings did you hope to convey to your readers with your latest work?

That it doesn’t matter where you came from. You can be who you want to be.
Can you tell us a little bit about the main character of your most recent novel.

Kinley is a 15-year-old who has lived most of her live in the zombie apocalypse. She has a twin brother Kincaid and isn’t quite sure what she wants to do with her life.
How do you go about building an antagonist?

My antagonists tend to grow organically, as the story forms. I don’t always have one in mind when I’m starting.
Can you describe for us your writing process?

As much as I try to make a schedule, I’m definitely a binge writer. I’ll do nothing for a month, then bust out a novel in 3 weeks.
What kinds of activities do you enjoy besides writing?

I like to read, of course. And I’m a big fan of coloring books. I also volunteer for the local 4-H.
Do you ever need to escape from writing? What do you do to get away?

Not usually. Usually I need to escape TO writing.
What is the hardest part for you as an author and what would you say is the easiest?

The hardest parts for me are the first draft and the marketing. The easiest is the formatting. Formatting is a piece of cake.
Do you have any author pet peeves?

When someone thinks they know the ‘right’ way to do it. There is no right way. There is only your way.
Any authors that you feel directly inspired you, your works, or your style?

JK Rowling, Jonathan Maberry, Chuck Wendig. I’m sure there are many others that I can’t think of off the top of my head.
Would you say that you were good at english in highshcool?

If not, what were you good at? I was good, but I found it boring.
Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, what are some ways that you overcome it?

I don’t believe in writer’s block. To me, it’s just a lack of motivation. Sometimes I have a REALLY hard time working through it, but the only true solution is to just write.
Are there any current projects that we can look forward to?

Zombie Juice is heading to Kindle Scout very soon. I’ll let you know when it’s there.
What are your long-term goals as a writer?

I eventually want to be able to attend conferences and whatnot and speak and teach others.
Are you planning any spin-off novels?

I have some already, for the Jane series.
What advice would you give to your younger self?

Just do it and who cares what anyone thinks.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Also, just do it and who cares what anyone thinks.
Are there any other interesting things that you would like your readers to know?

I love you all! You’re the reason I write!
How can your readers find out more about you and your books?

Amazon Author Page:

Martine Lewis-Author Interview

Today’s featured author interview :Martine Lewis; Author of Crossing the Barrier- a contemporary young adult romance.martine lewis





What are the names and dates of  your published novels?

Crossing the Barrier – The Gray Eyes Series – Book One was published on March crossing the barrier by martine lewis22, 2016

What genre/subgenres do you write in?

I write upper Young Adult Contemporary Coming-of-Age Romance with a touch of Paranormal.

How long have you been writing?

I began to write when I was 11 years old. I use to write ban-fiction and fan-fiction. I wrote one original story in high school, but it was my only original work before this series.

What made you want to be a writer and have you always wanted to write?

I have always considered myself a writer, but, I never thought I would publish anything. If anything, when my sister asked, I always told her that I did it for fun and was too lazy to create my own world. Well, not anymore… I think she’s the major reason why I finally ventured to create my own universe.

Who is your favorite author?

I have many but, I want to say Cambria Hebert is my favorite. I love her #hashtag series.

What was the first piece of fiction that you fell in love with?

It’s been too long… Maybe Mercedes Lackey, her first Valdemar trilogy… It’s been way too long…

What do you enjoy most about writing?

I enjoy talking about people who fascinate me, taking the time to get to know them, and telling their stories.

How long did it take to write your first and how long to write the last novel?

Usually, I can write a 95,000 words in a month. I use challenge months such as the National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo), Camp Nano, and Junowrimo to complete my first drafts, and off months to plan and edit. It works for me to have the pressure of a challenge in order to obtain a good word count by a certain date. I think my first draft is by far the easiest part to write. I once wrote a 100,000 words fan-fiction beginning to end in 10 days… But I was never able to repeat that feat!

What three words would you choose to describe your writing style? Energetic, fun, but also angsty.

Are your characters inspired by real life people, or do you make them up 100%?

Lily was made up. The idea of Malakai came from my looking at a particular player from the high school football games I attend. But Malakai’s character is completely different and he doesn’t play the same position so that’s where the similarity stops.

What sort of mood or feelings did you hope to convey to your readers with your latest work?

Things may be dark, but they won’t stay dark forever.

Can you tell us a little bit about the main character of your most recent novel?

Lily is a band member with a secret. Malakai is a football player who is rather lonely. Both have issues at home but very different ones. They fall in love and have to face their issues in order to grow and come into their own.

How do you go about building an antagonist?

I don’t really “build” them. They actually come to me and tell me I need to write their stories. It’s unsettling sometimes. That’s how my second series was born. A minor character of my book (who didn’t make the cut!), jumped out of the page and screamed at me to write her story. She came fully developed and all… She hasn’t told me all of her story yet, just some of the background. I think she’s mad that I told her she would have to wait a few years before I can get to her.

What is your writing process?

Usually, a first draft is one month. Then I let the draft sit for at least one month before coming back to it for a first revision. If it’s good enough (which it rarely is), I send it to my legal reviewer and my betas. If it’s not good enough, it sits for another month then receives a second round of revision before going to legal review and betas. When I get it back, I take one month to review it then I send it to development editing. After development editing (usually 2 months – one for my editor, one for me), I send it to copyediting. Copyediting is two rounds of comments from my editor and takes about 2 months of back and forth. Then it’s proofreading with a second editor, and that is also two rounds and take about 45 days. During that time, my cover artist works on the cover. Once it’s all done, I create the the paper copy layout and then the eBooks.

What do you do when you aren’t writing?

Rollerskate. Yeah, even at my age, I still do.

Do you ever need to escape from writing, if so, what do you do to get away?

I drive… well, it’s not really an escape. It’s when I can figure out my plot issues. Real escape…. Mmmmhhh, rollerskating is one.

What is the hardest part for you as an author? What do you consider the easiest?

Grammar and finding the right word is the hardest part. English is my second language after all. I also struggle with show/tell. Characterization is probably the easiest part.

What is your biggest pet peeve as an author?

Pen color! Even on my white board… Everything needs to follow a certain order of color.

Are there any authors that you feel directly inspired you, your works, or your style?

Cambria Hebert is definitely one of them.

Would you say that you were good at English in high school? If not, what were you good at?

I was okay at everything; even English. I wasn’t the best student ever (I had stuff to write after all), but I was doing all right.

Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, what are some ways that you overcome it?

Yes, I do. They last for years. Before, I would just wait for it to go away. After all, I was writing fan-fiction so keeping a schedule wasn’t important. Now, I just hope I don’t get one! I don’t know how I would manage it.

Any current projects that we can look forward to?

The Gray Eyes Series is a series of six books; the first in the series is now available. I plan on releasing one book  every six months. After that series, there are two others planned.

What are your long-term goals as a writer?

After The Gray Eyes Series is over, I am planning on starting on my second six book series, The Blue Eyes Series, then move on to my third series, The Green Eyes Series. I currently have a five-year schedule that covers the first two series.

Are you planning any spin-off novels?

Not so much a spin-off novel as spin-off content which will be available for free on the website, to my newsletter subscribers.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Don’t give up. Don’t listen to mom. Keep on writing.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Don’t give up. And when you’re ready, seek help and advice. There are so many good writers groups on Facebook. Join a few and ask for help. Writers are generous people, they will help you if you ask.

Are there any other interesting things that you would like your readers to know?

I have all sorts of things coming up the pipeline. Please join my newsletter to keep informed.

How can your readers find out more about you and your books? 





Goodreads author page:

Amazon author page:

C.J. Ethington – Author Interview

Today’s Author interview is C.J. Ethington; Mastermind behind Cinnamon and Salt.

c.J. Ethington
Names and dates of published novels?

Cinnamon and Salt (March 2015)

Oil and Vinegar (September 2015)
What genre and/or sub-genres do you write in?

I write a little bit of everything. The Sentinels series, which is already out, is young adult urban fantasy. However, in the past few months, I have finished writing and editing a middle grade fiction fantasy, and have started first round edits on a contemporary romance. I like a good challenge.
How long have you been writing?

Since I could hold a crayon. No, really.
What made you want to be a writer and have you always wanted to write?

Always. Well, at least as far as I can remember. My sister started my interest in writing. When I was four years old, I overheard her working on a creative writing assignment with my mom. Her story was unlike anything my young little ears had ever heard. I had to know it ended. She never finished it, but I did. A million times over in a million different ways. She still doesn’t believe me when I tell her, but she was my inspiration.
Who is your favorite author?cinnamon and salt

Man, well, that depends on the day. I have too many to narrow it down. First, I love the classics: Jane Austen, Oscar Wilde, Charlotte Bronte. On a more modern side: Holly Black, Rachel Vincent, Cassandra Clare, to name a few.
What was the first piece of fiction that you fell in love with?

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I probably read that book ten times just in elementary school.
What do you enjoy most about writing?

Watching my characters take on a life of their own. As frustrating as it is sometimes, it’s exhilarating to watch them defy me at every turn.
How long did it take to write your first/last novel?

It took me a lot less time to write it than to publish, that’s for sure. Cinnamon and Salt was originally written in 2008. That’s eight years ago! It sat on my personal computer where only I could read it until last year. Originally, I was really nervous about publishing that story in particular because there were so many stories that were similar being released. In the end, I decided that I wanted to share it with the world anyway. The (aforementioned children’s) novel that I just finished took me a month. It’s easy to get something done quickly when you have a cute little 9-year-old setting deadlines for you.
What are three words that you would choose to describe your writing style?

Informal, direct, and humorous.
Are your characters inspired by real life people, or do you make them up 100%?

Honestly, I don’t think any character is 100% made up. Whether they show similar characteristics to the clerk at the grocery store who twitches one eye whenever he sees me, or the woman walking her dog who sings at the top of her lungs, every character has a trait I’ve picked up from the real world. I do have some characters who were inspired by family and friends, though. The most fun I’ve ever had was when I called one of my friends and said, “By the way, let me know when you come into the story.” I’m evil like that.
What sort of mood or feelings did you hope to convey to your readers with your latest work?

Obviously, I want my readers to feel attached to my characters, because I am. I want them to feel what my characters feel. So, basically, I want them to feel every single mood and feeling, except maybe a stabby feeling. We can do without that.
Tell us about the main character of your most recent novel.oil and vinegar

Let’s talk about Nicky from Cinnamon and Salt. She’s a 17-year-old introvert, cynic, and skeptic. While her friends are out partying, she’d rather be home watching the latest episode of Supernatural. While they’re drinking, she’s happy sipping a cup of coffee. In fact, she only puts up with the crowds because her best friend, and unrequited love interest, asks her to. Her world has always been black and white. However, when she meets Asher, she realizes that there is a whole spectrum of color she never knew existed.
How do you go about building an antagonist?

I figure out the one thing the antagonist could want that would go against the hero then try to put myself in their shoes for a moment. All it takes is a spark and they usually build themselves. Although, there have been some stories I’ve written where not even I know who the antagonist is until they reveal themselves. It’s odd when that happens.
Can you describe for us your writing process?

Character development, setting, write, plot a little, edit, delete, write, plot, delete, edit, start over. Just kidding. Sort of. Let’s put it this way: by the time I start writing, I have the setting and character figured out. Everything else is created around them. Seldom do I actually plot.
What kinds of activities do you enjoy besides writing?

I love to read, hang out with my kids, try new things, and I crochet. That’s still so weird for me to say. It’s a newer hobby that I don’t think I suck too bad at.
Do you ever need to escape from writing? What do you do to get away?

Not from writing. I need an escape to write. Writing keeps me sane.
What is the hardest part for you as an author? Easiest?

The hardest part is marketing. I am a diehard reader, which means I have an easier time talking to you about what you’re reading than tell you about what I’m writing/publishing. The easiest part is writing. I am a selfish writer. I write what I want to read. That way, I never run out of books.
Any author pet peeves?

I plead the fifth.
Any authors that you feel directly inspired you, your works, or your style?

Of course. I always feel an insatiable desire to write when I read a Rachel Vincent novel. Also, Lisa McMann. I love how easily she bends the rules of writing to her will. There are more; I just can’t think of them right now.
Would you say that you were good at English in high shcool? If not, what were you good at?

I remember being good at English in high school. It was the class I enjoyed most at least. During the rest of my classes, I was writing a book that starred all of my friends.
Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, what are some ways that you overcome it?

I have, yes. Many times. That’s when I take out a pen and notepad and write out a scene where I’m playing a game with whatever character I’m writing about at the time. That usually breaks down the wall. On a side note: Nicky sucks at Checkers while Kaleb always beats me at Poker. I think they cheat.
Any current projects that we can look forward to?

I have a lot of projects in the works right now. Currently, I am working on Blood and Water (The Sentinels #3), two contemporary romances, a middle grade fantasy, an illustrated children’s book, and multiple other projects that are in my queue.
What are your long-term goals as a writer?

To be better today than I was yesterday.
Are you planning any spin-off novels?

I have two, but most of my stories connect in some way. Kaleb from The Sentinel series has his own spin-off/prequel that’s in editing right now. Also, I have a tour journal written by Nicky’s favorite band that should be out later this year.
What advice would you give to your younger self?

“Believe it or not, you can have a job you don’t hate. Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise.”
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Don’t take constructive criticism personally. It’s normal for some feedback to hurt, but that’s what’s going to make you a better writer.
Any other interesting things that you would like your readers to know?

You are beautiful, each and every one of you.
How can your readers find out more about you and your books?

Raye Wagner – Author Interview

Today’s Author interview is  Raye Wagner.raye wagner
Names and dates of published novels?
Curse of the Sphinx– August 2015
Demigods and Monsters– April 25 2016
Narcos- Revolution Anthology, June 2016
What genre/subgenres do you write in?
YA urban fantasy/mythology
How long have you been writing?
I started writing June 2010
What made you want to be a writer and have you always wanted to write?
When I was 16 I wrote a goal that I wanted to write/publish a book. But the only fiction I wrote was for college classes (you can take that several ways, and I mean most of them). However, many years later, an idea about a girl cursed by Apollo dropped into my head. I thought it had the makings of a great story, and I called my sister, who majored in Creative Writing, to try and convince her to write it. She told me to write the first 10 pages and send them to her. I’ve been writing ever since.
Who is your favorite author?
I have too many to choose. Hmm. I will forever love Leon Uris. I went into nursing because of one of his characters. I love David Eddings who was the author my brother and I followed as young adults. And now I have a list a mile long.
What was the first piece of fiction that you fell in love with?
The Belgariad by David Eddings.
What do you enjoy most about writing?curse of the sphinx
The opportunity to share my imagination with others.
How long did it take to write your first/last novel?
My first novel took 5 years to complete. The second took about a year.
What are three words that you would choose to describe your writing style?
compulsive, neurotic, anxious (that revealed a lot more about me than I thought)
Are your characters inspired by real life people, or do you make them up 100%?
Some of my characters come to me fleshed out completely. Others have traits from people I actually know, but none of them are actually based on/inspired by people. Although, I am going to have a contest where the winner will get to be or help create a character in book 3.
What sort of mood or feelings did you hope to convey to your readers with your latest work?
Narcos is a political realism piece (11k words) that is meant to inspire readers to take personal responsibility for who and what they are. It is a weightier piece of work than the Sphinx series, but even there I feel strongly that each of us has the power to determine the outcome of our lives. My stories are meant to inspire and empower the reader to take control of their destiny.
Tell us about the main character of your most recent novel.
Hope Nicholas is a monster. Cursed by Apollo, she has the ancient Sphinx’s blood in her veins, and is bound to the same destiny. Hope is sheltered and naïve, but also stubborn and willful. She’s been raised to be self-sufficient on things like cooking, cleaning, and self-defense. However, running from demigods and Skia (think shadow demons from the Underworld) has given her woefully inadequate social skills.
How do you go about building an antagonist?Demigods and Monsters cover 1
I believe antagonists are the protagonists in their own mind. I don’t believe everyone is either good or evil, but both reside in all of us. Those that make poor/bad decisions still are “nice” people. Working with convicted felons taught me this. The antagonists in my stories are moving with intention they believe is best for them, although usually selfishly motivated. I think the defining characteristic of an antagonist is their selfishly motivated actions actually cause harm to someone else. That’s what makes them “bad”.
Can you describe for us your writing process?
I have 3 children (11, 9, and 18 months). I write when I can. Sometimes I get time during the day, other times, it’s late at night. Sometimes, my husband covers for me on a weekend. I’ve discovered it is all about prioritization.
What kinds of activities do you enjoy besides writing?
I love to read. I love to bake. If I don’t exercise I’m a grouch. I love the beach. And I love getting to see family. I have seven siblings, and getting us all together is such a treat.
Do you ever need to escape from writing?
When I was writing Narcos, I would need to take an emotional break and do something cheerful. It is a dark story. What do you do to get away? My favorite getaways have included beach trips, trips to the mountains, and even a day locked away from reality.
What is the hardest part for you as an author?
Not being able to get it all done. I want to be able to do it all. There aren’t enough hours in the day to write, catch up on social media, schedule giveaways, answer emails, help with homework, fold laundry, and make dinner. Not to mention soccer practice, piano lessons, and a quick workout. Easiest? I do love to write.
Any authors that you feel directly inspired you, your works, or your style?
When I finished my first MS I thought I would go the traditional publication route. Then I met A.G. Henley and fangirled at her at Utopia. Shortly thereafter I read Runes by Ednah Walters. Both of these authors put out books that met the same standards I expected from the traditionally published marketplace. I’ve since become friends with both of them, and they’ve been so supportive and great mentors as I’ve travelled down the indie path.
Would you say that you were good at english in highshcool? If not, what were you good at?
I graduated with a 3.7 GPA. I got straight As in English in high school, and even in college. But I excel in analytical thinking. I’m a nurse practitioner by education and profession.
Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, what are some ways that you overcome it?
Write. Even when the words sound stilted and stiff, write. Eventually, they will start to flow again.
Any current projects that we can look forward to?
I’m working on book 3 in the Sphinx series, Myths of Immortality, that will be released the end of 2016. Book 4, Deities and Destiny will come out in 2017. There will be a spin off book or two for at least one character. There is also a prequel novel I’m working on. I’m also writing a screenplay for a friend of mine. I have a few more ideas for after that, too.
What are your long-term goals as a writer?
To continue to write. I’d like to put out 1-2 novels a year.
Are you planning any spin-off novels?
What advice would you give to your younger self?
There is no such thing as a destination in this life. It is one long journey. Enjoy the journey. Remember what is important. Let go of the things that aren’t. Do your best work. Be true to yourself.
 What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Write. Keep writing.
Any other interesting things that you would like your readers to know?
Everyone has challenges. Everyone. Even that girl or guy that looks like they have everything going for them. Sure they’re gorgeous, rich, athletic and smart, or whatever. They might have Crohn’s disease, or their sibling died from cancer, or their father is out of work and they barely have enough to eat. So, two things I think are important. Don’t be surprised when your challenges come. They come for everyone. And you’ll get through them, and be stronger because of them.  Also, don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Just stop it. Instead be you. Decide how you want to be, and if it’s realistic be that. Almost everything good comes from hard work. Don’t be a victim. You are in charge of you. Don’t relinquish that control for anything or anyone. Be the best version of you possible today, and then do a little better tomorrow.
How can your readers find out more about you and your books? 

Kindle Unlimited- How it works and why you should finish the books you start.

So I don’t know how may of you guys have a Kindle Unlimited membership, but for thoseKU-retail-lp_KindleCards._CB292599245_ of you who do, Sapphire’s Destiny is free on Kindle Unlimited.

For those of you who don’t have a membership, I highly recommend it if you read a lot of books like I do. At $9.99 per month, it’s not that expensive and you can borrow quite a few books at the same time. As an added bonus, you can try Kindle Unlimited Free for 30 days. That way you can make sure you like it before you pay anything!

If you don’t know how Kindle Unlimited works for us authors, let me explain. When you borrow a book, the author gets paid for each page that you read. Right now I think it’s about half a cent per page, so if you don’t finish the whole book the author only gets paid for the pages you read and not the ones after you stop.

So let’s say you borrow a book that has 300 pages but stop reading it after 150 pages. The author would make roughly $0.75. If you finished the whole book, the author would get roughly $1.50.

You can say thank you to all authors, whether you liked the book or not, by skipping all the way through the book. It doesn’t cost you anything extra for finishing any of the books you borrow and the authors will be paid for their hard work.

If you didn’t like the book, you can always skip to the end and leave an honest review explaining what was wrong with it. We authors are notified of every review and most of us read them all. We use your reviews and critiques to make our writing better.

In conclusion, Kindle Unlimited is deffinately worth the money. Remember to show authors some appreciation by finishing the books you borrow in KU and leaving an honest review.

If you don’t have the Kindle App for your smart phone, tablet, or other smart device (android, iphone, or other device) you can get the Free Kindle App Here.

Book review: Breeder by Casey Hays

Up until a few weeks ago I had never heard of Author Casey Hays

breeder pic

or her books, that is until a Facebook group I am a member of ran a HUGE celebration in which dozens of Dystopian authors joined in the fun and ran a bunch of giveaways.

I can’t say no to a giveaway of anything, so naturally, I entered into everyone of them I could not expecting to win anything. You can imagine how surprised I was to be tagged in multiple winners posts. It turns out I had won quite a few Ebooks; including Breeder by Casey Hays.

To say I was a bit skeptical about reading it is an understatement. The book was so far out of my normal realm that i had to give it some serious thought as to whether or not to read it. I normally stick to Adult fantasy novels, erotica, and supernatural books; all of which Breeder is not!

The books only saving grace was an intriguing description and the fact that it was free to me.

Arrows Flight book 1 : Breeder ♥♥♥♥♥

♦Nestled within the folds of a war-torn and ruined world, there lies a village. It has no name; it is full of secrets.
Its women survive because they seem to have found a remedy for war; its men survive because the women let them. They all survive because Fate allows it.
Kate never thought much about Fate until she decided not to believe in it anymore. Destined to become a breeder, she wakes up on her sixteenth birthday determined to defy this duty at all cost. It is a heavy price. For her open rebellion, Mona, the Village counsel leader, drags her to the Pit and forces her to confront her mate for the first time.
He is not what Kate expected.
Despite Mona’s fierce punishments for Kate’s disobedience, the tug of her heart grows stronger; it beckons her away from this life and lures her toward the truth about herself, about her village, and about the boy assigned to be her mate.
The questions bring her hope… but the answers?
They terrify her.

Now upon reading the books description I had flash backs of a book I once read in junior high called The Giver, which was also about a post-war world that was supposed to be a Utopia but had some extremely dark secrets, and I initially wondered if maybe Breeder was in fact a spin off of The Giver. It’s not but they do share many of the same elements and Breeder turned out to be so much more than just another YA Dystopian novel.

After reading Breeder, which is free on Amazon, I fell in love with the series and went on to read the second installment; The Archer, which continues the story and delves deeper into the mysterious Boys of Eden- a modernized city in a destroyed world.

Arrow’s Flight book 2 The Archer: ♥♥♥♥♥

The bridge between Kate’s primitive village and Ian’s contemporary world is long and wide. Due to a horrifying event that ends in her self-imposed banishment, Kate finds herself at the mercy of Ian and his friends–the boys of Eden with their unnatural abilities and dark secrets. Kate has no idea if life outside the Village exists, but Ian promises her she will have a future in Eden if she will trust him. With Diana by her side, she takes the first step in faith.

The journey is harsh, full of relentless rainstorms, illness, clandestine troublemakers . . . and no sign of another village. Kate begins to doubt her decision to leave everything she’s ever known behind. When Diana’s daughter, Tabitha, is struck with a sickness that forces Ian to leave them behind and go for help, Kate’s hopelessness soars. But quiet and confident Justin takes the reins in Ian’s absence, and Kate feels a subtle bend toward him. Only then do the secrets surface, leaving Kate in a miserable state of shock as her faith in Ian falters.

Meanwhile, inside the modernized walls of Eden, Ian must face horrific truths about the source of his superhuman qualities. Truths that will test whether Kate can ever trust him again.

As for Kate, will entrusting her heart to a boy from Eden place her in graver danger than ever before? Will Eden finally be enough? Or will her heart continue to ache for something greater?

After reading the first two books I must say I am hooked! I am twiddling my thumbs waiting to read the third book in the series Master because book two killed me with its enormous cliffhanger! I just have to wait until payday. Until then, no spoilers in the comments please!

Dandruff: What I Use and What I Avoid

For years I have suffered from dandruff and over the years I have tried so many products hoping to help ease the itching of my dry scalp. You name it, I have probably tried it.

The problem first started my junior year of high school. I didn’t notice it much at first, it just felt like my scalp was a little irritated so for the most part I ignored it thinking that it would go away on its own, blaming the itch on winter related dry scalp problems.

About 2 months into my senior year, I was out roaming the local woods and low and behold I got a bad case of poison ivy. I don’t even have to touch the plant to catch it, I can walk by 20 feet away with the wind blowing toward me and Bam! Little itchy blisters start showing up randomly all over my body and I have to go to the doctor and get a shot in the fatty flesh of my hip to rid myself of the pesky blisters.

It was right about the same time, during the height of my impending itching, that I noticed my scalp itching non stop as well. I was under the assumption that I had accidentally scratched my rash and then my head, spreading the nasty little blisters onto my scalp. So 3 tubes of cream, 2 shots, and 4 bottles of calamine later my body was rash free but my head still itched.

Being in high school is hell, we’ve all been through it but most go without being picked on. I was not so lucky. A girl in my class decided that my incessant itching of my dry scalp meant that i had head lice and that is exactly what she proceeded to tell anyone that would listen. The rumors spread and by the end of the week I found myself sitting in the nurses office being examined like a preschooler. of course I was clean but that’s besides the point. needless to say I was quite pissed and ended up putting my fist through the school wall.

After a long conversation with the schools councilor, principal, and nurse I decided it was time to do something about my issue; and no I’m not talking about anger.

So I bought every kind of dandruff shampoo on the market and started to experiment. Head and shoulders was okay but not as good as selsun blue. T-gel helped for all of 5 minutes but made my hair dry and damaged. I tried medicated, normal, moisturizing, and everything in between an spent hundreds of dollars on special lotions, shampoos, hair oils, and even tried adding expensive essential oils. Still nothing would last.

After my son was born I noticed he had dry skin all the time. I tried lotions which is how I found out that he has sensitive skin and can’t use some of them. One day I noticed that he was able to use baby oil and Johnson and Johnson vanilla oatmeal lotion  but only in very small quantities. The problem was getting him to sit still long enough to put it on him.

That night as I was giving him a bath a thought struck me “What if I put a little bit of both into the bath water?” and vioala! His skin was amazingly soft and there was not a single bad reaction. So I thought “I wonder if this would work for my dandruff?” and amazingly after a few uses it did.

Personally I hate the smell of baby oil so I bought a small container of mineral oil in its place and it works just the same. I use an old lotion bottle fill it half way with baby lotion and add 4 tablespoons of mineral oil and the rest is water. Shake it really well until its well blended and as I take a shower I rub it into my scalp before I shampoo. It works like a dream, no more itch, and better yet it makes my hair feel healthier.

Of course this is just one case of what worked for me and it is not guaranteed to work for you but it could be worth a try.