Tag: Amazon

Adele Huxley-Caught by the Blizzard book cover

Caught by the Blizzard

Caught by the Blizzard by Adele Huxley

(2,5 stars out of 5)*

Just a quick review to get this rolling…

When I downloaded the book it was an Amazon freebie. From what I see it’s not free anymore. If you would like to buy it or download a sample, you can find it here.

Caught by the Blizzard is well-written, much better than others of its genre, but can someone please mail the female lead her brain if found somewhere? Just saying. She keeps making wrong choices concerning her personal safety throughout the book. It’s not an exaggeration to say she has a death wish, and it was distracting me, because I often found myself yelling adjectives at a person who doesn’t even exist.

I didn’t care for the sex scenes (in the sense that I found them boring and skipped them) but maybe that’s just me. On the other hand, the romantic element was very pleasant and sweet.

One more sore point was that weird preoccupation with virginity. It is one of those American things that leave me scratching my head. Somehow it’s considered normal to have done just about everything else, but not have vaginal intercourse. To be frank, I find it demeaning and objectifying to place such important on a person’s sexual activity (or lack of). It perpetuates beliefs that should have died in like, the early Dark Ages? But again, if that’s not something you mind, you might not even notice it.

Other than that, Caught by the Blizzard is one of those books that are published in two parts and you have to buy part #2 to read the conclusion. If you are OK with it, you’ll probably enjoy it.

*My star rating and what it means: 

Zero stars: Why me?!?  I do come across books that aren’t really books, but brain damage in disguise. For reasons you can all understand, I won’t be publishing reviews on them. I tend to become enraged and say things I later on regret.

One star: Meh… I didn’t like it and won’t be keeping it. It might be the book, or it might be me. I’ll try to clarify in my review.

Two stars: Average/ Okay. Either the kind of light/ undemanding book you read and don’t remember in a month, or suffering from flaws that prevented it from realising its potential.

Three stars: Better than average. Good moments, memorable characters and/ or plot, maybe good sense of humour… Not to die for, but not feeling like you wasted your time and money either.

Four stars: Wow, that was good! Definitely keeping it and checking to see what else I can buy from the same writer.

Five stars: Oh. My. Goodness. The kind of book you buy as a gift to all your friends, praise to random strangers on the bus, and re-read until the pages fall out and the corners are no longer corners, but round.

Sataniasis and masturbosity

Source: https://pixabay.com/photos/herbal-tea-cup-tea-relaxation-4232777/

As you probably know, my physical book is no more. My guess is that someone reported it as inappropriate and Creative Space took it down. It baffles me why an overly sensitive reader would buy it since I clearly state in the description they will detest it, but go figure. Conservative types are usually all over inappropriate material faster than flies gather around a corpse. Perhaps they hope to save the rest of us innocent fools from the clutches of diabolical smut by reading it first. Or perhaps they have a metric system and the appropriate gadgets that measure masturbosity and sataniasis in a book. If the gadget starts singing hosannas, it’s safe to read. If the gadget screeches like a televangelist is having a colonoscopy sans anesthesia in a moving firetruck, toss that book into the fireplace and wash your eyes and hands with bleach. I mean, seriously now? Oh, I just don’t know, and it makes no real difference. The book was no more, period, and Amazon refused to give me the exact details why. Grrr.

Now, much as I wanted to mail to the Amazon KDP headquarters a bomb which would contain hordes of live roaches covered in glitter, I did not. I triple-facepalmed, yelled, fumed, cursed like a sailor, complained to my friends… and pretty much left it at that. It is sad, but one has to choose their battles wisely. So Amazon KDP does not want to re-print my book ever. So what. I’ll find another way, I said to myself.

I started looking for an affordable printing company and found one. I decided I’ll sell my book through my blog. The ebook is still available on Amazon. If someone wants to buy a physical copy, they will be buying it from me. They may as well ask for a signed copy; I won’t charge them extra. 😉 Nowadays everyone has Paypal, and so do I. Paypal protects the buyer if something is lost or not as described. Problem solved… or not.

You see, what I just described is a process. It’s not going to happen tomorrow. I hired a graphic designer to do a makeover of my physical book as soon as she has some time. While waiting for that to happen, it was a good opportunity to check the contents. After the graphic designer is done, I won’t be able to change the file again, so the stories should be in top-notch condition prior to the makeover. I was pretty certain they were in good shape, as I had hired an editor before publishing it. Right?

(Bit of advice here: never, and I mean never, let your guard down when it comes to checking and re-checking before publishing something. You may have hired an editor. You may have hired an entire team of them. I don’t care. Read the damn thing one more time before hitting the publish button. Do it for science. Do it for grandma. Just do it. You will thank me later).

So I re-read the contents, groaned, and decided to unpublish the book in order to make corrections. After three weekends of editing, reading, re-reading, re-editing, rubbing my sore eyes and wishing for death, the book was re-published. It’s much better than before, and it can be found here. If you want to check for yourself what this whole fuss was about and why anyone would go as far as to censor it, be my guest. Reviews have been very good on both Goodreads and Amazon so far, and now the book is even better!

Off to feed the cats. Be good to yourselves and have a lovely weekend!
Amber Argyle-Witch Song book cover

The Bitch Song

 Witch Song by Amber Argyle

 (2 out of 5 stars)*

Okay, first things first. Witch Song is harmless, predictable YA fun. If you want to invest in it to take your mind off things, do. The writing is decent and the world not unlikable. Please ignore the rest of my review.

Now, for readers that might be looking for a serious plot and plausible character development, be advised:

1) The only way your heroine can have such low self-esteem is if her mother kept her in a burlap sack and beat her with a stick every day. A large, mean stick. Which is not the case, as her mother dotes on her.

2) Why on earth why would a dark witch wreck utter havoc with the seasons and the planet in general? She has nothing to gain out of it, and in the long run, it will be like shooting her own leg.

3) You do realise that in a battle between mortals and witches the witches win every time, or they can just escape, right?

4) Nope, a girl with such low self-esteem does not suddenly develop awesome leadership skills. Witches are not an exception to that.

5) A book can be complete even if there is no romance in it. In fact, wonder of wonders, a book can be complete even if your heroine does not get engaged to anyone at the end, or in any part of it.

6) Deus ex machina must be used sparingly and ideally, not at all. If you write yourself into a corner and can’t think of a way out, squeeze dem brain cells.

7) Oh yes, it is a series. Naturally. Because every single book has to belong to a series nowadays.

8) Personal pet peeve. Why name your main character Brusenna? Because it has such a good ring to it? Let me think of words that begin with “bru”: Brutus, brutal, brouhaha, brunt, bruise, brusque, brute… Melodic no doubt, and all those positive connotations. It was a natural winner. Not.

You can find Witch Song here.

YA books are my bane… Over and out.

*My star rating and what it means: 
 
Zero stars: Why me?!?  I do come across books that aren’t really books, but brain damage in disguise. For reasons you can all understand, I won’t be publishing reviews on them. I tend to become enraged and say things I later on regret.
One star: Meh… I didn’t like it and won’t be keeping it. It might be the book, or it might be me. I’ll try to clarify in my review.
Two stars: Average/ Okay. Either the kind of light/ undemanding book you read and don’t remember in a month, or suffering from flaws that prevented it from realising its potential.
Three stars: Better than average. Good moments, memorable characters and/ or plot, maybe good sense of humour… Not to die for, but not feeling like you wasted your time and money either.
Four stars: Wow, that was good! Definitely keeping it and checking to see what else I can buy from the same writer.
Five stars: Oh. My. Goodness. The kind of book you buy as a gift to all your friends, praise to random strangers on the bus, and re-read until the pages fall out and the corners are no longer corners, but round.

Censorship at its most insidious

 

Let me tell you a story. I mean, that’s what writers do, right? They tell stories.

Back in 2014, when I started out my journey as a published writer, Amazon only published ebooks via its KDP service. KDP is short for Kindle Direct Publishing. If you wanted to also offer a physical version of your book, you had to use Amazon’s subsidiary company, Create Space. So I published my book, the Theater of Dusk, using both companies. KDP published the ebook. Create Space got the physical book. Good so far? 

I’ve paid for everything out of my pocket. By ‘everything’ I mean the cover, editing costs, the costs of organising giveaways and sending copies to the winners and so on and so forth. It was a large sum, and I don’t regret spending it. Other people spend the same money on shoes and the latest iPhone. I wanted to publish my book. Each to their own. Don’t judge me for my vices and I won’t judge you for yours. 

My book doesn’t sell, and it comes as no surprise. Since Amazon will publish even the manuscript of a monkey with basic IT skills, the floodgates were opened. Everyone hoping to make a quick buck or having delusions of grandeur jumped on the bandwagon. The market was and still is buried under tens of thousands of cheap, similar, awful books. Standing out became impossible, unless there was a team of professionals behind your book who used their knowledge and some serious money to promote and advertise you. Since I don’t have a big publishing house behind me, I had very little hope of getting noticed. In fact, I never stood a chance. This, by the way, does not mean I regret publishing my book. I will never regret that.  

About a month ago I made updates to both versions of my book and re-uploaded the manuscripts. Create Space contacted me shortly afterwards and told me they will stop publishing my physical book because it violated their standards. I sent several emails asking them to point out the exact problem, because they wouldn’t even tell me if it was a title, cover, description or content issue. My book just violated their standards, end of conversation. They refused to answer my emails and explain what the problem was. And of course the book remained out of print.

Create Space is currently in the process of becoming one with KDP. The physical book was recently transferred to the new company. As soon as that happened, it was blocked there too. Wowsers! So I contacted KDP asking for help to solve this issue, hoping they’d be more professional and give me information. I mean, unless you tell me what the problem is, how in the blue blazes am I supposed to solve it? I waited and waited and got the same vague reply. That my book violated their standards, and consequently it would not be published.

At the time of writing this entry, only my ebook was available. I am surprised they haven’t taken that down too. Now, I would love to think I’m too shocking for the minds of common men, and my literary genius has scared them senseless and they cowered before my immense depravity. But believe me if I tell you I’ve both read and written some very extreme things, and my first book is nowhere near close. All things considered, it’s rather mild, it has a ton of trigger warnings in the description, and even the erotic scenes are few and in between.

How hypocritical is it to sell books like 50 Shades as Amazon and refuse to sell what doesn’t even qualify as porn?

How hypocritical is to sell mysteries and thrillers with excruciating details of gruesome murder and torture and refuse to print what can barely be labeled as violent?

I am disheartened, because it has been a non-stop uphill struggle for four years and it doesn’t look like it’s going to improve anytime soon. I also know why they won’t tell me what the problem is. If they did, and I had money, I could have taken legal action. By keeping the details vague, I can’t accuse them of something specific. So they get to do what they want, and I have no say in the matter. A meek, obedient, perfect little cog, keeping the Great Machine running.

A meek little cog with visions of cities burning, of angels mating with monsters and giving birth to abominations, of deepest darkness, the Night Without End. Of beauty inseparable from suffering, for all beauty leads to suffering. Of compassion, cruelty and despair, and everything forbidden and forgotten, desolate and alone, crying out under starless, empty skies.

Still want me to be your cog? Because I don’t think the shoe fits.

I don’t even know why I bother writing this entry, except for the fact I am too bitter to keep it inside. It’s not going to change anything and I know it. But I’m sick to my heart by constant adversity. And my only outlet is, unsurprisingly, writing. I mean, who would have thought.

Reviewers needed for my wee monster!

I am desperately looking for reviewers. I am particularly interested in reviewers who can publish on both Goodreads and Amazon. PLEASE be warned, my book contains strong triggers: BDSM, suicide, murder, violence, blood, non-con sex etc. If you have 10+ reviews on Goodreads and you’re interested, please message me for an ebook. In order to confirm your Goodreads account, you will need to message me from Goodreads. If you want a physical book, due to my very tight budget (unemployed at the moment) I can send out one book per month. PLEASE share!

My Goodreads profile:

 

All reviews of my work, positive, neutral or negative, are welcome. Reading a book is a completely personal experience, so an honest review is a blessing. Even a negative review is better than no review. It shows that people read my work and validates the positive reviews. So please contact me if you are interested. Thank you!

Looking for a title

I am looking for a title for my SF Romance novel and brainstorming with my illustrator on a possible cover. Naturally, I decided to browse covers and titles in Amazon. Here are some titles I found.

 
·         Desired By The Alien
·         Seduced By The Alien
·         Stolen By The Alien
·         Bought By The Alien
·         Caressed By The Savage Alien
·         Chosen by the Alien
·         Chosen By The Alien Lord
·         Releasing Rage (Cyborg Sizzle Book 1)
·         Alien Warrior’s Captive Earthling
·         Alien Alpha: (Qetesh Warrior)
·         Rescued By Tordin: Olodian Alien Warrior Romance
·         Alien Warrior (Zerconian Warriors Book 1)
·         Warrior’s Mate: A Sci-Fi Shifter Romance
·         Claimed by the Warrior
·         Barbarian Lover
·         Kidnapped by the Alien Barbarians
·         Alien’s Innocent Bride
·         Alien Commander’s Chosen
 

I can safely say that I am no wiser than I was before (at least concerning a possible title). My illustrator is none the wiser either. Almost every cover had a headless torso with amazing abs superimposed on a scifi background. Astounding abs, those aliens. I want to be abducted by a savage shapeshifter barbarian alien lord commander too, but maybe tomorrow. Tonight I have to wash my hair.

Maniacal laughter and book formatting issues on Amazon

Okay, here is some advice to all writers who publish or want to publish through Amazon.com, and can’t afford to pay a graphic designer for the book interior.

So, let’s say you are about to publish your book through Amazon’s kindle program. First of all, congratulations! It wasn’t an easy ride and believe me, I know it. Here is some advice I discovered through bitter experience, in the hope that you won’t have to go through the same. 

When you upload the book file to the Kindle Converter, download the converted file to your kindle and check it page by page BEFORE publishing it. Why? Because the online reviewer does not spot all issues. I did a very thorough checking of my book interior using the online converter and it seemed decent, so I published it. Yesterday that was the free promotion day I downloaded a copy out of curiosity. As soon as I started flipping through the pages I was horrified. All those pages the online reviewer had shown to be fine, weren’t so fine-looking on my kindle. The name was on one page, the title on another. The word ‘Dedication’ was changing place between the bottom of one page and the beginning of another one. The tabs in some of the stories had moved further inside the text. Those problems had been there all along and yet the online converter showed the text to be okay. Only after reviewing the text on my kindle page by page and re-uploading the corrected draft several times did I manage to get it right. There is nothing I can do about those copies with the wonky interior that have been downloaded already, and to be 100% honest, I am content with the fact there are no grammar mistakes or typos there (or at least I pray there aren’t). I hope readers can live with the fact there are some minor formatting issues, especially since we’re talking about something they downloaded for free. For those who are too picky with such matters, please cut me some slack and buy the paperback. They are no such problems there. 😉 (Nope, this isn’t shameless self-promotion, it’s an attempt to say something funny because I know some people WILL complain about it, so there.)

If you are a writer, here is what to do in order to download the converted interior of your book. After you have uploaded the book interior and it has been converted to kindle format, go to ‘Preview your Book’ section. Go to ‘Downloadable Previewer’ and choose ‘Download Book Preview File’. Then transfer it via USB to your device and read the file there just like you would do with any other ebook. If you spot any formatting mistakes, you need to make corrections to your original book interior file and re-upload it. Then download it and check it again. I’ve lost count of how many times I have done this. Good luck and patience. You’re going to need both.

If you are interested in self-publishing, here are some articles that can help you. They had helped me a lot when I started out. If you want my opinion, don’t feel sorry for money spent on an editor and a decent book cover. It makes a huge difference.

 


  
Mrs. KJ Charles also offers some VERY good and funny advice on writing:


I hope this helps! My (corrected) book is here: 

http://www.amazon.com/Lizbeth-Gabriel/e/B00HVCOFMY

Now that WAS shameless self-promotion. 😀 See the difference?

Some thoughts on Amazon’s free ebooks

I recently checked Amazon’s list of free ebooks to see what’s available. I really enjoy reading, and having an e-reader of any kind means you can carry an infinite number of books with you without the bulk and weight. So I skimmed through the list to see what catches my fancy. Observations follow below.

One: every fourth book had a set of male abs as a cover. Not even a face. Just a set of abs. Pleasant as that may be, it gets old very soon. Usually the book indicated something wild going on, as in ‘cowboy’, ‘shifter’, ‘bad boy’, etc. Lots of strong words too, like ‘possessed’, ‘taking’, ‘owned’ ‘bitten’ etc. Imagine being bitten by a cowboy that shifts into a gorilla and owns you, but he loves you even though he’s a bad boy and dabbles in drug dealing in between riding horses and you. But golly, just one look at those smokin’ hot abs and you’re willing to forgive him everything, from stepping on discarded banana peels to finding his old friends from jail at your doorstep. (I think I skipped all the ab-covered ones. May have downloaded a couple for research purposes. Just to be sure, you know.)

Two: every tenth book had the word ‘billionaire’ in its title. Those ones had no visible abs. No, men of that category wear suits and ties. I mean, if you are a billionaire, abs come with billions just like malaria comes with specific mosquitoes. I wonder for how long bad copies of Fifty Shades of Grey will be floating around. Probably until the time their writers realise that the success of the Fifty Shades trilogy is a one time occurrence and they try to copy the next best seller. I think my next book should be about a billionaire who shifts into a broke guy with a flabby belly every full moon, disgracing the young lady he seduced and now owns. Or even worse, the young lady discovers that the billionaire she has been bitten by and now belongs to, exists only every full moon! In reality he’s an ordinary pizza delivery guy without THOSE ABS and THE BILLIONS and now she’s locked in the basement of an unimportant someone who wears the same pair of socks for a week. She was taken in by the suit, you see. She didn’t know he was (gasp!) a were-billion. (That sounds a lot like vermilion and what I had in mind was werewolf). Oh, the tragedy and human sorrow! Oh, the angst and the deep meaning of this unique literary work! I am going to go and prepare my Nobel acceptance speech immediately.  

Three: the summary of some books is so bad that it makes me wonder what the writer is hoping to achieve. The summary (also called blurb) at the back of the book serves as an advertisement and ‘bait’ to attract buyers. If you can’t describe what your book is about without making mistakes, I am sure the contents won’t be any better. And that discourages people from buying your work. In my case, I won’t download it even if it is free. (But I did download some of the ones with the abs. Now shush. You don’t understand. It is a sacrifice for the sake of knowledge.)

Four: some of the classics can be found on the list. I picked Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, Edgar Allan Poe, Guy de Maupassant, Oscar Wilde and other such old loves of mine, for free. Yep.

Five: there are SO MANY books (and so many writers) out there. There’s just so many of them. The fact I may spend the rest of my life reading and I won’t do more than scratch the surface never ceases to amaze me. It is just wonderful and scary at the same time. 

To be completely honest, one of the reasons I go through that list is to try and discover writers that exist outside my comfort zone. Bearing in mind that most free ebooks I have come across are terrible, this might not be such a good place to look, but hey. I too gave my book for free a few days ago and I honestly hope I am not terrible.

Now, back to editing. On the count of one, two, three: AAAARGHHHH!