Nicholas Rossis is Hosting a Giveaway and Some Awesome Deals on Fantasy and Science Fiction. Just in time for the Weekend!

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Avid readers, fans of fantasy and science fiction, listen up! Until the end of the month, author Nicholas C. Rossis is offering both Pearseus: Rise of the Prince and Pearseus: Mad Water at a discounted price on Amazon for just .99 (normal price: $3.99).

He’s also hosting a giveaway for up to seven fantasy novels! The grand prize is a Kindle “Gift Basket” of ALL SEVEN fantasy novels. Nine winners will receive selected titles. Click on this link for more information.

And if that doesn’t sate your hunger, the second issue of the Nonlocal Science Fiction magazine is available on Amazon.

book-photo-nr-500In case you don’t already know, Nicholas C. Rossis is a talented author of children’s books, epic fantasies, and science fiction. He lives to write and does so from his cottage on the edge of a magical forest in Athens, Greece. When he’s not writing, he’s spending time with family and chatting with fans. He’s also a huge supporter of the indie author community and offers helpful advice on his blog.

That’s all I’ve got for now. Make sure to check out these great deals, and have a great weekend!

 

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A Recap on Wednesday’s Author Visit & Tips for Doing Your Own

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Last year, I hosted several author events during which I met readers behind a booth. On Wednesday, I was wrenched out of my comfort zone when asked to speak to a group of students at Peru High School about writing and publishing.

I honestly didn’t know where to start. Do I talk about the writing process? Do I focus on indie publishing? Do I promote my published works?

Thankfully, one of my favorite indie authors, Adam Dreece, had recently spoken with a group of students and had some awesome advice:

One of the mistakes I see a lot of author speakers do locally, is they are giving a speech for them, instead of thinking of their audience. If the audience wants more about the series, give it. But start from the position of what are they likely writing, and that your goal really is to inform and encourage

Adam,I hope you don’t mind me sharing that verbatim but the advice was just too good to keep to myself! Actually, he shares more advice on his blog. Follow this link to check it out.

I’m glad I read his post first. Going into the event focused on the audience helped me create a better presentation. Audience interaction was fantastic! I could tell the kids had a really good time. Plus, I even sold a few books (at a special discount).

Why Should Authors Visit Classrooms?

Besides offering a break from the regular routine, an author visit introduces students to the writing process, publishing world, and gets kids excited about books. Most importantly, we as authors have an opportunity to encourage young writers.

Tips for Making Your Author Visit a Success

Be yourself. Kids can spot a wannabe and a fake in an instant. Tell jokes, juggle, and do tricks as part of your presentation if that’s your style. If not, that’s okay. Whatever you do, just be honest.

Be prepared. You don’t have to create a PowerPoint presentation like I did, but at least think about what you’re going to talk about. Prepare an outline if that helps. Practice at home and take along note cards if need.

Be aware of your audience. Find out what grade the students are in, how old they are, and what their interests are. I spoke to high school students from a writing club so I tweaked my presentation with that information in mind.

Plan activities as part of your presentation. Kids don’t enjoy long lectures. Keep their attention and engagement by including them in activities. At least involve them in the discussion. Students love  to share their experiences and knowledge.

Bring copies of your published works. Keep in mind the point of the event is not to make a profit, but some kids might want a signed copy of your book. If nothing else, provide them links to buy your books.

Bring marketing materials. I gave every student who attended a free bookmark and a business card. I encouraged them to follow me on social media.

Have fun. I shouldn’t have to say this, but author visits are supposed to be fun. Kids are fun. So lighten up, relax, and enjoy the experience.

Now go schedule an author visit. It’s totally worth your time!

Hold Onto Your Butts: The Wizard’s Gambit Kindle Countdown Deal Begins!

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It’s Monday morning, everyone! And what better way to start the week than with a new book? How about a comedy by yours truly?

The Wizards Gambit ebook coverThe Wizard’s Gambit is a hilarious tale of magic, mayhem, and misadventure that turns the classic fantasy universe on its head. A must-read for anyone who enjoys comedic fantasy. The story centers around a ginger-haired outcast named Mongrel who dreams of uniting the warring kingdoms. He gets his chance when Wizard White Beard hosts a high stakes scavenger hunt to determine the fate of all. The rules are clear: no weapons and no bloodshed. Just clean, honest competition. Simple enough, if only the contestants would follow them. With the fate of the world at stake, it’s up to Mongrel, an orphan with an unconventional upbringing, to intercede. Joined by a hodgepodge group of misfits, including a gentle giant, a magically challenged elf, a feisty female dwarf, and a reluctant wizard’s apprentice, Mongrel just might stand a chance of winning—if he can survive! Think Middle Earth meets Rudolph’s The Island of Misfit Toys.

So far, the novel’s received only 4 and 5 star ratings and some rather flattering reviews:

“Kylie Betzner effortlessly combines elements of Terry Pratchett, The Princess Bride, and a Mel Brooks movie into the beautifully funny story that is The Wizard’s Gambit. I cannot express to you how hilarious it is. It’s filled with magic, mystery, death, and extreme animosity between the characters. I mean, talk about one hell of a party. The characters are so well drawn out that I could picture every single one of them perfectly in my mind’s eye. And the main character, Mongrel, is one of the best protagonist I have seen in a long time.”

With The Wizard’s Gambit we are treated to a comedic fantasy writer at the very top of her game. With shades of Pratchett and Gaiman in the humour there is much to savour. If the rest of the books in this series are half as good, we are in for a treat.”

“I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys comedic fantasy. I’m definitely looking forward to more adventures in the Six-Er-Seven Kingdoms.”

“The Wizards Gambit by Kylie Betzner is a whimsical light foray into the world of dwarves, elves and men — with a few other odds and ends thrown in for good measure.”

“The author’s light bouncy style imbues the book with a cosy warmth. There is humour running throughout, with tongue in cheek modern-day references aplenty.”

“Three words… A-Maz-Ing!”

. . . and my personal favorite: 

“The most disappointing thing about this book was that it ended.”

For those of you who haven’t gotten your hot little hands on a copy of book one of the Six—Er—Seven Kingdoms series, now’s your chance to get the eBook at a discount. From February 22nd to February 25th you can get a copy of the Kindle edition for 0.99! From then until February 27th the book will be available for $1.99! After that, it goes back up to $2.99, which is still less than the price of a small coffee at Starbucks.

Follow the link here to the Amazon.com sales page or the link here to the Amazon.co.uk sales page to get your copy today! Hold onto your butts; you’re in for a wild ride!

Attention Readers! The Wizard’s Gambit Kindle Countdown Deal Starts Monday!

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Attention Readers!

symbol colorFor those of you who haven’t gotten your hot little hands on a copy of my latest release, The Wizard’s Gambit, now’s your chance to get it at a discount! From February 22nd to February 25th  you can get a kindle copy for 0.99! Then until February 26th the book will be available for $1.99! After that, it goes back up to $2.99, which is still less than the price of a small coffee at Starbucks!

Can’t wait until then?

Follow the link here to the Amazon sales page. Available in both paperback and electronic formats! (BTW, sale applies to both Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk)

Already have a copy?

If you already have your copy, not only do you rock, but you can also help me out by spreading the word. I’m still a new author and can use all of the help I can get. I’ll be posting on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday this week as well as on Saturday next week on my Twitter, WordPress, and Facebook accounts if you want to share promotional material I’ve already created. I would be eternally grateful.

What is the book about:

Wizard White Beard had a plan, but destiny had something else in mind . . .

After 1,001 years of hostilities among the six—er—seven kingdoms, Wizard White Beard proposes a non-violent alternative to war—a scavenger hunt—to determine the fate of all! The rules are clear: no weapons and no bloodshed. Just clean, honest competition. Simple enough, if only the contestants would follow them. With the fate of the world at stake, it’s up to Mongrel, an orphan with an unconventional upbringing, to intercede. Joined by a hodgepodge group of misfits, including a gentle giant, a magically challenged elf, a feisty female dwarf, and a reluctant wizard’s apprentice, Mongrel just might stand a chance of winning—if he can survive!

A hilarious tale of magic, mayhem, and misadventure that turns the classic fantasy universe on its head. A must-read for anyone who enjoys comedic fantasy.

“Middle Earth meets Rudolph’s The Island of Misfit Toys.”

-Random Reviewer

Hungry for more?

Here’s a snip-it from chapter one to wet your whistle:

In the middle of a magical land stood, in a liberal sense of the word, a kingdom . . . or the ruins of one anyway. It had a wall—on two sides at least—and a castle, for lack of a better word. At the most it had potential. Not that anyone noticed. There, in the dusty remains of the castle’s throne room, Wizard White Beard and his apprentice, Margo, waited in anxious anticipation for the arrival of some very important guests. Well, Wizard White Beard was at least. Margo, it seemed, was quite content to just sit there on the edge of the dais while her mentor paced the length of the room, each impatient step echoing off the walls. All the while he stroked his beard and mumbled to himself, periodically pausing in his tracks to glance at the doorway before resuming his pacing.

Margo followed him with her eyes, the most movement he’d seen out of her all morning. After a while, she said, “Pacing isn’t going to bring them here any faster. You might as well just have a seat . . . unless you’re worried.”

He stopped and faced his apprentice, staring at her under the brim of his conical hat.* She shriveled under his critical gaze. He said, “A wizard, Miss Margo, has nothing to fear. He knows exactly what he’s doing and what needs to be done. It’s everyone else who’s fighting against destiny. If anyone should be worried, it’s them.”

“By them do you mean the leaders of the six kingdoms?” Margo was, of course, referring to the seven or so guests summoned by Wizard White Beard on this particular day for an intervention of sorts. After 1,001 years of war and hostilities among the kingdoms, Wizard White Beard decided he’d had enough. Of course, he hadn’t been entirely up front about the reason for this meeting or who was going to be in attendance either. He figured those details were best glossed over if he wanted anyone to show up at all. He only hoped they wouldn’t be too upset when they realized they’d been bamboozled.

“Six kingdoms?” He stared at his apprentice as though she were a grade-schooler and not a fifth-year apprentice. “Don’t you mean seven kingdoms?”

“No,” she said. “There are only six kingdoms. One of elves, one of dwarves, and four kingdoms of men: north, south, east, and west.” She counted off her fingers. “That only adds up to six. I believe you added one for the ogres by mistake.”

“I made no mistake,” he said indignantly. “There can’t just be six kingdoms, not when there could be seven.* Everyone knows that. Shows what you know.”

“Anyway . . . don’t you think the leaders of the six kingdoms—”

“Seven kingdoms.”

“Fine, seven kingdoms. Whatever. Don’t you think they’re going to be upset when they realize you’ve lured them here under false pretenses?” Margo asked. Her violet eyes bore into him like a termite.*

He managed not to shudder; in fact, he offered her an encouraging smile.

“Trust me, Margo. I’m a Master Wizard.”

Margo returned his gesture, but the smile did not reach her eyes, and it slid away quickly. He did not blame Margo for her unease. This was the first time she’d accompanied him outside of the city walls—the university, even. A “field trip” he’d called it, though it was anything but. A little nervousness was to be expected, even justified. But more likely, it was just her typical melancholy and had nothing to do with nerves.

“I just don’t see how you expect them to go along with this.”

“I don’t,” he said. “That’s why we’re here.”

“To do what exactly?”

“To fulfill our roles as wizards.”

“Which is what specifically?”

He thought for a moment and said, “Well, according to The Complete Dullard’s Guide to Wizardry, which you have yet to read, the role of a wizard is to ensure that all predetermined or inevitable courses of events are fulfilled as prophesized.”

It was clear by her vacant expression a simpler explanation was in order. He cleared his throat and tried again.

“Consider these events: the crowning of a king, the dethroning of a dark lord, and the invention of the fish taco; what do they all have in common?”

“. . . Nothing.”

“Wrong! All of these events occurred, by will of destiny, with the help of a wizard. You see, wizards orchestrate all great happenings in this universe so things turn out exactly as they should. That is the role of a wizard. Does that make sense to you?”

“I think so,” said Margo, but her tone was uncertain. “I just don’t see how it’s possible to shape a deterministic universe governed by fate. I mean, if a course of events was meant to play out, wouldn’t they do so with or without the aid of a wizard?”

“Yes—er—no—er—oh, just look it up in The Complete Dullard’s Guide to Wizardry next time you’re in the library!”

“All right, all right. Don’t get your hat all bent out of shape.”

And now she was having a go at the hat. He doubted, as much as she mocked the hat, she even wanted one of her own.

“So why are we here, anyway?”

Finally, a new topic. “Ah, the age-old question that every person—”

“No, Wizard White Beard,” Margo cut him off. “I mean why are we here in this decrepit, old throne room?”

“Oh, right.” He cleared his throat. Even he had to admit the dusty old room didn’t inspire awe. But, according to record, it had once served as a meeting place for the great kings and queens of the seven kingdoms. Now only dust gathered here, apart from rats and spiders. A few birds built nests in the decorative beams above. Cracks climbed the walls like vines, and plaster crumbled to the floor. The rest of the castle was no better for wear and neither were the surrounding buildings for that matter. In fact, the whole city had fallen to ruin. A shame, Wizard White Beard thought, since so many hands had aided in its construction. Now it lay in ruins, much like the alliance among those who had built it.

He smirked. “I thought it fitting, considering this city used to be the great capitol and cultural hub of the six—er—seven kingdoms. That is, until everything turned sour. Also, this is the only place that has the sufficient space to host such a meeting and doesn’t require a reservation. Not to mention I saved a small fortune not having to rent out a conference room. Those can be rather pricey—”

“So, what broke up the alliance?” she asked him, pulling his derailed train of thought back on track. Her own attention wandered to the empty throne atop the raised dais. “Was there a fight for power or an argument over magical jewelry?”

“That’s just it! No one remembers. Yet after 1,001 years, they’re still fighting it out like cats and dogs, the fools.” He snorted. “This intervention was a long time coming.”

Margo was quiet before she scrounged up the courage to ask, “Are you sure this plan is going to work?”

“Of course I’m sure,” he said, heat rising to his cheeks. “How many times do I have to tell you before you’ll trust me?”

“Once or twice more might help.”

The nerve of that girl, baiting him when there were serious matters at hand. And if she had reservations about his plan, why had she waited so long to speak up? Sometimes he wished he’d never taken her on as his apprentice. Now was one of those times.

“Who’s the Master Wizard here, you or me?” He loomed over her like a foot over an ant, threatening to come down.

“Whatever.” She sighed, closing the hair in front of her face like a curtain, shutting her mentor out. “When your plan fails, don’t say I didn’t try to warn you.”

Although they were mumbled, the words were as clear as day—well, not day, really—water more like, though not the water back in the city. It was more of a murky brown color. But anyway, her words stung. If ever he questioned his apprentice’s faith in him, it was now. Though he couldn’t honestly think of a time when she’d ever trusted him. Now would be a convenient time for her to start.


 

Footnotes:

* Upon the completion of wizard training, a wizard receives not only their hat and celestial robes but a moniker relating to the color of their beard—or fake beard for those incapable of growing their own (e.g. women and prepubescent teenage boys).

* All things—kingdoms, heavens, and hells—must come in sevens; it’s an unspoken rule in most fantasy realms.

* Violet-eyed people are invariably special, prone to possessing strange or mysterious talents. Those with black or red eyes, however, are always evil.


 

I hope you enjoyed the sample, if you have not already read the entire book. I hope you enjoy your visit to the six—er—seven kingdoms.

 

 

Random Confessions of a Modern Reader

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Happy Presidents’ Day and/or belated Valentine’s Day, whatever floats your boat. Personally, neither holiday inspired me to blog so, instead, I’m going to share with you some random confessions of mine as a reader.

Forgive me followers for I have sinned . . .

Confession #1: I’ve read Secret Sacrament by Sherryl Jordan at least 10 times

Secret Sacrament is a fantasy novel that centers around Gabriel, a boy with a haunting past who wants to become a healer. His adventures–or misadventures more appropriately–lead him to the wild Shinali people on the outskirts of the city-state. As sinister forces take control of the empire and threaten the peaceful Shinali, Gabriel’s destiny is revealed. From the synopsis, it sounds like a typical YA fantasy read, but it’s anything but. The main character is vulnerable and intelligent. He’s relatable to me on so many levels. Not only does he have a close relationship with his brother (like I do with my sister) but he also has a tender heart. The way he emotionally invests in every patient he heals reminds me of the way I am with my clients. Not only that, but he’s a coward. I too struggle with my own cowardice. Fear is a huge barrier for me. Reading Gabriel’s story and seeing him overcome his past, his fears, and his circumstances, inspired me to do the same. I think it’s a book I’ll be revisiting soon.

Confession #2: I like to read in my underwear

I’m not trying to be shocking or scandalous; I seriously think it’s really enjoyable to read a book in nothing but my Fruit of the Looms. (I’m actually more of a Haynes Her Way kind of girl). Sitting on the couch or sprawled in bed with a good book is an intimate experience. Why ruin it with clothes?

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Everything is better without pants

Confession #3: I prefer to read paperbacks over hardcover copies or ebooks

As an Indie author, the majority of my sales are ebooks unless I’m at an event, then the paperback copies move like hot cakes. And I do buy a lot of books for my Kindle device because they’re affordable, but I prefer a physical book in hand, more specifically a paperback one. I don’t like the weight of hardcover books. Paperbacks bend easy and fit just right between the palms of my hands. And the pages smell good. Nothing beats a paperback book.

Confession #4: I’ve never read Harry Potter . . . and don’t plan to

Hear me out before you burn me as a heretic. The books came out when I was entering high school, and personally I thought the story sounded juvenile. At the time, I was exploring the adult fantasy section of my local bookstore because my school library couldn’t carry books containing adult content. I was mature for my age and curious about the darker elements of life, which those books were not shy to share. Young Harry’s adventures at Hogwarts just didn’t interest me. If homicidal maniacs weren’t sleeping with their sisters and destroying entire cities I didn’t care to read it.

As an adult, the YA genre certainly appeals to me more, though I am still hesitant to pick up that series. Why? Mainly because of the villain. I can’t stomach dark lords, and I don’t care what people say, dark lords don’t make a series dark. Wizard schools are neat and magic is always fun, but dark lords are dreadfully tired. And before you even call me out, I know the LOTR series features a dark lord. He’s not my favorite villain either and the only reason I forgive it is because of when the novel was written. Post WWI and WWII, stories often featured villainous villains and centered around a battle of good versus evil. War inspires such things. But modern storytelling cannot rely on tired tropes and lazy writing.

While some of the major supporting characters tempt me to pick the series up, I’m still doubtful I will ever dive into the realm of Harry Potter.

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Dark lord, eh? No thanks

Confession #5: I prefer The Lord of the Rings film adaptations to the books

I know. Burn me at the stake. I deserve it. But as much as I enjoy Tolkien’s unique author’s voice and his beautiful descriptions of landscapes, I actually prefer Peter Jackson’s film adaptations of the original trilogy. Why? Because of the characters. Peter Jackson focuses on the characters in the films, blowing up their personalities and making them absoltly lovable. Look at Gollum! Peter Jackson was so distant from them and focused on where and what they were doing, that I never got a good sense about who they were and what they were feeling, which is very important for me. I’m not saying the films are better; I’m just sharing my personal preference.

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You shall not pass judgment!

Confession #6: I only read for one hour a day

I like to think of myself as an avid reader since I read every day, but with mom’s illness, taking care of my nephew, working out,and writing my own novel, I don’t have more than one hour–if that–to devote to reading a day. When I was in high school it was nothing for me to read 5 or 6 hours straight, but now that I’m an adult with a full-time job and lots of responsibilities reading is just not something I can binge on anymore. Though that one hour or so I have to read is perhaps one of the best hours of my day.

Confession #7: I prefer traditionally published authors over indie authors . . . for the moment

I know as an indie author I should be ashamed, but so far I’ve been more satisfied by the traditional authors that I follow. Not to say there aren’t several indie authors I follow with excited anticipation, but they were hard-found in all the self-published sludge. Don’t get me wrong, I support indie authors–I am one–but I am constantly dissatisfied with the quality of their writing, writing that I know would excel that of the traditional authors if only they’d taken the proper steps in editing their works. With beta readers, content editors, and copy editors online, there’s no excuse for a poorly written story with redundant scenes and inconsistent characters. It’s the lack of serious editing that holds indie authors back.

Confession #8: I’d rather write than read

Don’t get me wrong; I love to read, but when I’m reading, I often become frustrated when the story doesn’t go my way. I’m not saying I could have written it better, but it’s nice to write the story you’d love to read and know it’s going to turn out just the way you wanted it to.

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I’d rather be writing

Confession #9: I only review a book when I hate it or love it

I’m like most readers; I only write a review when I’m inspired, or asked nicely to. It takes energy to construct a thorough review, and nothing inspires the words to flow like love or rage. When I love a book, I have to share it with the world! And when I hate a book, I feel compelled to warn others. Sometimes I don’t like books based on taste. This does not warrant a bad review. Only when I feel like the author didn’t try to put forth the proper effort do I dare a negative review. If there was any love or effort detected in the writing, I won’t write a flame review. I rarely write bad reviews. I have to really really hate a book to do that. Most of the time I write rave reviews, not to boost an author’s stats, but their self-esteem and encourage them to keep at it.

Confession #10: I never download free books, EVER!

As an indie author, I can’t support the giving away of free books when an author can profit on their hard work. I know I spend countless hours each week writing and editing my work. Not to mention the countless dollars I’ve spent for professional cover design and editing services. I loathe to imagine myself paying these off for years to come, so I make a point to purchase books at full price. Helping authors is what authors do best.

And those are my confessions. Boy, do I feel a heavy burden removed from my chest. Hopefully, I didn’t hurt anyone’s feelings, but I just wanted to be perfectly honest. The blogosphere is like a confession box, but for readers, so hopefully you can forgive me for my reader sins. For fun, share with me some of your reading sins.

Have a good Monday, everyone, celebrating whatever holiday you prefer!

Voice Actor Jay W. Eccent Brings Characters from “Quest” to Life

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Welcome back, everyone! I hope you all had a good holiday weekend . . . or plain old weekend for my friends abroad who do not celebrate Thanksgiving. Last week, I posted a list of 10 things indie authors have to be thankful for. On that list, I listed readers last, though I personally would place them at the top of the list. I just thought it would be more pungent to save them for last.

I can’t tell you how grateful I am for readers, especially when they leave a review on Amazon or send me a private message telling me how much they enjoyed my book. And I can’t even begin to explain my excitement last week when one of my readers shared with me a voice recording they did of the prologue from my debut novel, The Quest for the Holy Something or Other, an Arthurian parody centered around Sir Kay and his quest for the illusive holy item.

The reader’s name is Jay W. Eccent. Jay is a talented artist as well as voice actor, it turns out. His recording of the prologue was absolutely fantastic and entertaining. It was just as good, if not better, than the recordings I’ve played for other audio books. The recording can be found here. Check it out!

I want to congratulate Jay on his fantastic voice acting and thank him for bringing my characters to life!

As always, thanks for stopping by, and I’ll see you again on Wednesday!

Time + Work = Novel: A Pep Talk by Stephanie Perkins

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“Novels aren’t written by muses who come down through the ceiling and shoot magic through your fingers and out onto your laptop’s keyboard… They’re written with one simple equation:

Time + Work = Novel.”

Stephanie Perkins.

I thought this was a rather inspiring quote, going into the second week of NaNoWriMo 2015. I’m sure we could all use a pep talk, even those of us who aren’t participating in NaNoWriMo this year. Well, considering I’m waaaay behind on my word count right now, I’m not the one to offer a pep talk, but Stephanie Perkins can. Read the rest of it here.

Best of luck!