Review Cheats—Shameful Author Behaviour

Hey, peeps. I haven’t done a ranty post in a while, but ranty Dionne is back! I find getting this stuff out of my system by writing it down helps, and why not educate readers and other authors while I’m at it. Today’s post is all about the wonderful world of authors scamming the Amazon system to trick unwary readers into buying their books.

I must state right out that I may be 43, but I’m naive, to a degree. Whatever I do, I do it honestly, with passion, and to the best of my ability, so it really comes as a shock to me when I discover people scamming the system. Writing has been my biggest passion of all (aside from my family). Ever since I was maybe nine or ten, I knew I wanted to be an author, and I’ve spend a good part of my 30s up until now trying to improve. There are many writers out there who have that passion to write and know that once the fire is ignited, not even a flood will extinguish it. I can admit that what I discovered hurts all the more because of this, and, hell, I know the people I’m about to talk about haven’t given a second thought to me, or any of the other authors out there who truly care about writing. I should not take this personally, but I do, and I feel ripped off on behalf of my author friends who I know put their heart, soul, time and money into each book they publish. The honest, talented, hardworking authors are missing out on sales because some other authors are getting visibility and sales based on dishonest practices.

It all started a few weeks ago when a certain book—which I won’t name because I’m not here to ‘out’ people, but open people’s eyes so they can be aware when they’re choosing a book to read—appeared on my book’s page as a number one bestseller (those orange tags are hard to miss). Being curious, and always on the lookout for fantasy books to read, I clicked on the book. It was sitting just under #200 overall on Amazon and had quite a few 5 star reviews. Naturally, I read a sample. I. Almost. Died. The prose was basic, and punctuation was non-existent; the poor comma was totally neglected and didn’t appear until paragraph eight. Sentence fragments made an appearance, but not the type that add tension or emphasise something, but ones that didn’t make sense. I couldn’t read on; my editor-type brain was bashing itself against the inside of my skull. Crying seemed like a good option. How could so many people LOVE this book—70+ reviews, 28 five star, 21 four star for a book that was release three weeks ago—when my book was languishing at #200,000 and has received 58 reviews since April 2012. Maybe I didn’t have what it took to write an engaging book; maybe readers really don’t give two craps about good writing, punctuation and error-free books. (I must say that I get not everyone will love your book, but when it comes too easy for some when it’s clear they shouldn’t have hit publish, it can get to a writer who has spent $1000 on their cover and hundreds on editing, until they realise it’s all bullshit).

Reading the legitimate reviews—the one star reviews—I could see their gripe was the same as mine, plus the brave, stubborn readers who had pushed on, despite the horror, pointed out that many words were incorrect, names for the same character had changed throughout the book, basically anything you could do wrong, this book did. It left me scratching my head, so I thought I’d do some research. Where did it lead?

To the conclusion that the five-star reviews were mostly either friends or paid reviews. I went to Fiverr to see what I could see after having heard it’s a place to go when you want to score (a good review). Oh, my, I felt like my rose-coloured glasses hadn’t just been removed, but they’d been ripped off, stomped on, then the broken glass stabbed into my eyeball. It’s like a red-light district on a Saturday night (ahem, not that I would know what one looked like except for what I’ve seen on TV). Dealers are everywhere, money is changing hands out in the open, and the dodgy people thanking the dealers for reviews are just as brazen. Here are some quotes from the dealers on what they can score for you:

Have your book on Amazon or Kindle? I’ll read it and write a detailed, thoughtful, and positive five star review quickly! I’ve written dozens of product and book reviews and would love to make yours stand out from the crowd. —kbroder9

I will write review on Amazon US, UK, FR, etc.. I can write it on my own or you can provide me and i will post it from my account(s). From different location and device. The more reviews, the greater the chance it will be found and used by potential users. Contact me for Bulk Order ! —reviewergal

I will write a 100-word verified review, highlighting the best aspects of your book. I have extensive professional experience in writing, editing, and beta reading. Your review will be thoughtful and well written. Please see my gig extras if you need me to do any of the following: -buy an ebook up to 3.99 for a verified review -repost your review to another site -add 100 words to your review -deliver in 48 hours (I no longer offer a 24 hour option–reviewing too fast increases the chances that Amazon will remove the review) —beccalovesbooks. (Some reviewers ignore this small issue yet Amazon hasn’t removed their reviews).

Anyway, you get the picture. After chasing up some of the authors on Amazon and going from one link to the next, from ebooks, to reviews, to reviewers, and back to other books they’ve reviewed, I’ve learnt how to spot some of the dodgy reviews. Because Amazon clearly either doesn’t care, or maybe their toilet is clogged and the disposal of such a huge amount of shit is beyond them, I wanted to give you your own BS detector. When you’re trying to find a book to read, please read the sample to make sure it’s at least been edited, then check the validity of the review by clicking on the reviewer. This is what I noticed:

1. The reviewer only posts 5 star reviews

2. The reviewer posts more than one review on any given day

3. Reviewers who have been doing it for a few weeks have a shitload of reviews within a short space of time. Note this reviewer who does multiple reviews in one day, day after day. They must be the fastest reader ever.

Screen Shot 2014-11-27 at 4.21.24 pm

4. Look for generic reviews that don’t really say anything about the book, except for gush about how bloody awesome it was and how they can’t wait for the next one (yes, some reviews like this are legitimate, but if there are several within a short amount of time, you can bet your cutest, warmest pussy cat on them that they are fake). Here are a couple of doozies I had to share because hey, you gotta laugh, right? (I was led to this book from one of the fake reviewers when I clicked on their reviews to see what other books they’d been so kind as to comment on for money).

Wow, this alarming book has utterly riddled my mind. I’m stunned at the brilliance of the author has she waves this intriguing tale. It twists and turns with action-packed events. The distinctive characters were well fashioned owing to the vivid descriptions. I refused to put this book down. Indeed it moved so fast I could barely keep up. Here goes a book with a riveting tale that will leave you completely astounded as each character’s role is unleashed in a very surprising way. You have got to check this out!—Nita

How’s that for gushing without actually saying anything?

And this from a reviewer who posted three reviews on the same day, all five stars: XXX (book title left out for obvious reasons) is really a book that you should only read if you are prepared to have a few very late night sleeps. Because yes you are right, it is one of THOSE books that keeps you to the edge of your seat from first to last. And No, you will NOT want to put it down until sleep finally overcomes your eyes. I am sure you are looking forward to the next book in the series if you have read this one. You are lucky to find such an author among all the crowd. Its not every author who can take your sleep away (wink)—Yong C. Hudson.

5. If there is only one 5 star review from the reviewer, they may be legitimate, or they are could be a friend, family member, or the author with a fake account. Again, use discretion. I think it’s prudent to look at the complete picture before you judge on this particular type of review, but if things about the other reviews look suss, this review probably is too.

6. When you’re looking at the reviews for a single book that has only come out in the last few weeks, unless it’s a freak success story (which does happen), multiple 4 and 5 star reviews on the same day, day after day, are suspect. Even bestselling books take a while to gather reviews.

I hope I’ve helped people see when authors are gaming the system. Readers, when you’re looking for a book to read, please check out the sample, and try and buy a book from an author who is doing the right thing, and if you like their book, leave an honest review. Discovering this scummy behaviour has made me sceptical of every good review. It’s not fair that as a reader I can’t trust reviews, and it’s not fair that I, or any other honest writer, should feel they are failing because they are not getting 70 great reviews within two weeks of releasing their book—you’re not failing; I’m not failing. I have to believe that good writing, while it may not sell to millions, will sell better than shit writing, and will lead to a loyal fan base of readers who will buy your books and will truly appreciate your work.

Many of my friends have told me, and I think/hope they’re right, that the crap books will still lose in the end, that readers won’t come back and buy anymore from these authors once they realise the writing, despite the glowing reviews, sucks. And yes, there are some great books out there with fake reviews, which is still dishonest, but at least you won’t be buying a substandard product (although, I don’t condone this underhanded levelling of the playing field).

Anyway, I’ve decided to brush it off and run my own race, sans performing-enhancing reviews. I’ll keep doing what I love—writing—and take comfort that when that one review every few weeks comes in, it’s from a reader who really did love my book. After all, the drug high only lasts so long, and coming down can be a bitch. To all the honest writers, I’m glad and proud to call you my colleagues, and to all the dishonest ones, I wonder how it feels to have to pay people to love your book? I wonder what else you have to pay for…?

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Author Kelly Stone Gamble Has a Question for You

bio shot Kelly Gamble

One of my awesome author friends, Kelly Stone Gamble, has just had her debut fiction, They Call Me Crazy, published by Red Adept Publishing. In honour of the release, and because she’s running around doing the promo thing all of us authors must do, she’s visiting to ask you all an interesting question:

Journaling-Yes or No?

Dear Diary,

Mark is the cutest boy ever! I want to marry him someday.

Kelly + Mark=forever!

These are the words I was taunted with for several months in the fifth grade. Of course, writing them in my diary should have made them private, but when you have an older brother, especially a nosy one that knows exactly where to find your private diary, you aren’t always guaranteed that your inner most thoughts will remain private.

As an adult, I don’t keep a diary, nor do I journal. I tried, but I found myself too worried about what someone might learn about me if they found it, so I held back, or just lied. Lying to your journal kind of defeats the purpose. But I do see the value in writing things down: thoughts, ideas, dreams. But is there a point where you limit yourself? And am I being foolish for caring what others would think?

One of my favorite aspects of writing is the research process, and when I was working on a historical fiction novel set in the 1930’s, I spent a lot of time going through the writings of those that lived during the period. It’s amazing what you can learn about people by reading their thoughts, especially those from a time long ago. So another side of me thinks that if I started journaling, my words may be valuable to a writer in the future, and what a wonderful gift I could share with them.

But every time I try to start again, Mark, (the cutest boy ever) pops into my head, and I can’t write a word. Not. One. Word.

So maybe I should just stick to fiction.

Do you keep a journal? Why or why not?

Thanks for the post Kelly! I hope we get some answers. I don’t keep one, but I used to — it always helped when I was going through ‘stuff’. And if anyone wants to check out her new release, which looks amusing and suspenseful, click on the book cover below and you will be magically whisked away to Amazon. If you like Kelly’s style, you can visit her website too.

They Call me Crazy

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Sneak Peak at WIP Little Dove—Book 1 of My New Fantasy Series

Sorry it’s been so long between posts. With work, kids, and running Booktastik, life has been hectic. I’ve also, finally (after much angst because I wasn’t writing) started working on the first book in my next fantasy series. I’m hoping the first draft will be finished by February with a release date at the end of March. So please cross your fingers for me :). I hope you enjoy this little teaser first chapter.

Laney is a princess dispossessed. Sworn to protect her world as a caretaker for the long-disappeared dragons, she lives a relatively idyllic life with her royal parents. But darkness is closer than they realize. After Tyrk the Destroyer kills her family, she is forced to flee to a neighbouring kingdom, revenge in her heart. But there are secrets even she isn’t privy to, and she is likely to learn about them the hard way.  Because now that Tyrk has taken her kingdom, he is preparing to destroy her world.

Little Dove

Chapter 1

Laney ran across the field, her breath burning in her throat. Billowing behind, her green dress left her ankles bare, allowing stiff stalks of yellow grass to whip and scratch her skin. Not far now. The leaden granite walls of the keep beckoned. She hoped she wasn’t too late.

In her mind, Frederick’s urgent parting words sounded. I have taught you all I can. The time has come. You must do everything in your power so that all is not lost. I fear the blood of the Varians has already been spilled. He had pushed her out of the door before he finished speaking, only to yell after her as she sprinted away. “Do not lose the bird, whatever you do!” She had hardly heard the last but knew the dove was her only salvation.

Glancing down, her eyes met those of the silver-colored bird at her waist. Its wings were secured with thick woollen twine, which wrapped around its body; its body secured in a netted pouch fastened to her dress. Warmth from the small bird radiated against her stomach. “It’s okay, bird. I won’t hurt you. You can trust me.” She panted, looking up. Almost upon her home, her feet slowed. What would she find? Was there a chance her family was still alive?

The guards standing tense at the spiked iron gates—black breastplates gleaming, hands resting on the pommels of swords hanging at their sides—were strangers. Frederick was right, she thought, they are dead. Laney swallowed the sorrow threatening to undo her. If only her brother hadn’t listened to their parents, the king and queen, when they forbade him and Laney from visiting Frederick, the strongest sorcerer in the small kingdom of Arbalion. Rumours had persisted for weeks about the foreign king’s march upon her father’s throne, and though King Bastian had sent a force he deemed sufficient to annul the threat, and word had reached them of their success at pushing Tyrk the Destroyer back, Frederick was one of the only people who had smelled falsity in such reports.

Laney had learned much, over warm deelvine tea, in her many illicit visits to the wise man’s cottage with her guard, Hazine. But had she learnt enough?

One of the dark-bearded guards, a soldier of Tyrk the Destroyer, turned his head toward Laney and spat. The shaggy-furred black dog at his feet looked at her, slowly stood and growled. Laney stopped, wishing she were invisible.

The soldier regarded the large animal before following its gaze. He would see her in three, two, one…. Now only yards away, Laney’s blue eyes connected with his. Desire and cruelty lit up his eyes — a look she had seen before — and twisted the corners of his mouth into a greedy smile. The bravado with which she had left Frederick’s fled, leaving her empty and frozen. She had envisaged herself striding into the keep, meeting her family’s bitterest foe on her own terms, but now all she could do was stand and wait as the enemy made confident strides toward her. Thankfully, he had bade the dog heel before he approached. I am a coward, she thought.

Resting her hand protectively over the bird, she trembled but met the man’s gaze. No words separated his upturned lips as he closed a rough hand around her slender arm. As he dragged her past the other milling guards, all fell silent. Laney heard gravel crunching beneath their feet and horses whinnying in the distance. They passed through the main gates into the outer courtyard then Laney felt firm stone underfoot, signalling their entry through secondary gates.

Felches, the bright blue beetles whose sustenance was the flesh of the dead, scurried across the inner courtyard, leading the way to the formal entry. When Laney looked down to negotiate the two steps to the main doors, she saw a dark stain of dried blood, the road the scavengers followed into the main hall.

Mamma. Pappa. Her legs lost strength, and she fell. The guard’s fingers dug painfully into her arm, jerking her upright before she hit the ground. She stumbled forward. Her shoes trod upon the recently warm vestiges of people she had known, and, as the soldier hauled her onward, half-digested food exploded from her mouth, covering the soldier’s black boots with barely recognizable splatters of milk, carrots and cheese. He stopped, dead. Turning swiftly, he dealt a backhand blow to her cheek, the force cracking her head to the side. Again, his grip prevented her from falling, and she cried as quietly as she could as the brute pulled her down the hall, towards the throne room. Reaching her free arm up to wipe her mouth, she remembered the bird and quickly lowered her hand to cover it.

The oak double doors to the throne room stood open. The man stopped at the entrance, shoving Laney down. Her knees slammed into the flagstone floor, and a cry escaped her. “Do not move.” The guard growled before approaching the throne and bowing. Muffled voices reached Laney, but she couldn’t make out what was said.

Breathing in a metallic tang, Laney sat back, bottom resting on her heels. Looking around, she hoped to see her parents, but also hoped not to. Her heart pounded. She gazed to her left, where a stone dragon deity stood — Avindar — wings outstretched, head almost touching the twenty-five foot ceiling, light gleaming off its polished black surface. Laney and her parents were sworn to the old ways, and Avindar represented their custodianship of the land and their promise to protect peace and fertility until the long-disappeared dragon race could return and claim their home. More of the black-breasted guards ringed the statue, mallets in hand. Oh, no. They’re going to destroy it!

Laney swallowed, and after hesitating, looked to her right, the vein in her neck beating so hard, she could feel it. Her sight rested on a pile of limp bodies thrown into the corner, clothes bloodstained, limbs tangled in a lifeless embrace. She blinked, her breath coming in short bursts. None of the corpses appeared to be wearing clothes she recognised as her parents’, but lying on the top of the macabre mound, she saw the long, black, plaited beard of her father’s chief guard, Lucas. His once stern, battle-scarred face was hidden by his burgonet, but Laney could see the fatal wound; a slice rent from his side: red, gaping, final. The fiercest of her father’s soldiers, he had always had a smile for the princess. Laney held back a sob.

The bird at her waist squirmed as a shadow fell across them. So engrossed in the horror of what she saw, she hadn’t heard the man approach. She looked up at the dark shape of her captor. He grabbed her arm once again and hauled her to her feet. Staying behind her this time, he jabbed his fingers into her back, prodding her forward until she stood at the foot of her father’s throne. She had never seen anyone sit there but her father, except when she was a child and her older brother, Marcus, pretended to be king as they played. Laney blinked back tears, squared her shoulders and looked Tyrk the Destroyer in the eyes.

Tyrk rose, his wide-chest and black cloak blocking Laney’s view of the Arbalian throne. Stepping down, he stood within touching distance of the young princess. Tyrk placed a hand on Laney’s shoulder, gripping harder and harder until he saw her wince. He relaxed his grip, but left his hand to rest on her slender frame. When Tyrk smiled, wrinkles fanned out from the corners of his dark eyes, like cracks shearing the surface of a frozen pond. “So, the little bird flies home. But, as you can see,” he gestured extravagantly with one arm until his hand waved towards the carnage Laney had seen piled in the corner, “you have arrived too late. Imagine; one day you are rejecting the marriage proposal of a prince, and the next, you are dead. Life’s funny like that.” He raised one arm, and Laney couldn’t help but flinch. Instead of the blow she expected, Tyrk waved to the men at the statue. “Darnil, attend me.”

A young man, Laney estimated his age at maybe twenty-five, approached, his face too stern for a young person, two short, deep lines marking the space between his brows. The thick beard that was cut in a straight line under his chin mirrored the color and style of the king’s. When he reached them and looked into her eyes, she could see the family resemblance—his dark eyes were as intense as his father’s, intense to the point of madness. The princess tried to hold his gaze, but discomfort won, and she looked to the ground.

“So, father, this is the bitch.” Darnil prodded Laney’s leg with his boot. “Not so smug now, are you, princess?” He raised his voice. “Look at me when I talk to you.”

Laney cringed, but brought her head up and looked at him. He would have been handsome, she thought, with his high cheekbones and thick hair, except for the unsettling twist of his mouth and dangerous glint in his eyes. Even though she knew she would soon die, she would rather that than marry him. Her father had agreed, thank Avindar, refusing Tyrk’s proposal on behalf of his son. Not four months later and Laney and her family were paying the price.

Tyrk watched his captive’s face. Laney blinked, but the usurper saw no tears in the wake of her lids. She stared at him without expression, although it took great self-control. Trained to keep her feelings hidden, she tucked her sorrow behind her heart, keeping it warm for later. She let it flow through her veins; the blood feeding her body with oxygen, the misery feeding her determination, determination she would surely need to accomplish what she was about to attempt.

The king squeezed on her collarbone again, so hard she expected to hear the crack of bone. He leaned down, his face inches from hers, his menacing voice so quiet that none but she could hear. “I know your little secret.” His breath smelled of wine. Laney coughed, disgusted to be breathing his recently expelled air. “You thought your alliance with Carthain would save you, but I’m coming for them, too. All they’ve worked so hard to protect will be mine. I know about Avindar’s Blessing, and I will have the Dragon Throne.” Taking his hand off the girl, Tyrk turned to the soldier who had dragged Laney in. “Let’s do this in the courtyard; I don’t want any more blood on the floor in here — I’d hate for it to stain. Bring her.” His stride was long and powerful, the set of his head arrogant.

What was this secret—Avindar’s Blessing? Laney had studied the Book of Avindar, and there had been no reference to any blessing in the nine-hundred pages. Her musings were interrupted by another bruising grip on her arm. She winced as the soldier jerked her to her feet.

As Laney was dragged to her death, she sent her thoughts to the wind. I’m not ready for this, Frederick. I don’t want to say good-bye. Nausea born of fear rolled through her stomach. A memory from two weeks ago came to her, and she saw her reflection in her bedroom mirror. She would never look into her own azure eyes again. Now, saying a final farewell to herself, she touched the smooth rise of her cheek, slipped a finger to trace her full lips, lips that had only kissed a boy once, and finished by reaching into the hidden pocket at the hip of her skirts.

Her unsteady fingers touched steel.

Reaching the courtyard, the red wetness upon the ground drew Laney’s attention. Thinking of her parents — her dead parents — the anticipation of revenge gave her the strength to close her fingers around the hilt of the dagger. When the guard stopped her in the middle of the courtyard by yanking her hair until her head snapped back painfully, she grunted and gripped the dagger even harder. What she wouldn’t give to slit his throat with it, but she wasn’t here for that. Don’t mess it up now, she chided herself.

He held her in that position for the scrutiny of a circle of sneering, road-stained soldiers. Laney stared at the sky and imagined what it would be like to escape into its cerulean heights.

Tyrk’s chin was tipped upwards as he took casual steps around the courtyard. Passing the soldiers, he looked each in the eyes before halting in front of Laney. Darnil stood by his side, a smirk on his face, hands clasped behind his back.

The king spoke louder than he had in the throne room, and his voice echoed off the courtyard walls, carrying a short way into the fields beyond. “You are about to witness the end to the royal Varian line. Standing before us is the youngest, and only, living child of the recently deceased King of Arbalian.” Tyrk paused to allow the audience’s laughter to subside. “Remember this day well, for this is what happens to those who refuse me. We will send you to the heavens, Little Dove. It will be quick — let no person say I am a king without mercy.”

Laney’s eyes widened momentarily. How does he know my father’s name for me? Her free-spirited ways as a child, following her brother and his friends climbing trees, participating in mock battles and championing injured animals had earned her the pet name of Little Dove.

The guard holding Laney’s hair released his grip. He put his mouth so close to her ear that the touch of his foul breath caused her to shiver. “King Tyrk likes to. . .” his tongue slid along her ear, “. . . to watch the life drain from the eyes.” Laney shivered involuntarily and gripped the dagger hard enough that her fingers ached.

The guard stepped away. Tyrk drew his sword from its sheath. The hiss as it left its scabbard seemed to Laney to be the loudest thing she had ever heard. Had Pappa thought the same thing before he was murdered?

Laney ignored her shaking fingers as she slid her hand from her pocket, adrenaline drying her mouth. One of the soldiers shouted, “She has a weapon!”

Laney rushed, almost dropping the dagger—she would only get one chance. She saw Tyrk’s eyes widen before he lunged his sword toward her stomach. She sliced the dagger across the bird’s bonds before dropping the blade to grab the dove, Frederick’s words in her mind: You must be touching the bird when your soul leaves your body. So much could go wrong, and the few seconds she had to consider it seemed an eternity.

Tyrk’s sword nicked the tip of the bird’s wing before splitting the fabric of Laney’s dress and piercing the porcelain skin of her stomach. Laney grunted. The bird fluttered in her hands as she tried to hold it, the pain of her injury almost too great to ignore.

The king held the princess’ shoulder, forcing her to stand while he stared into her eyes. Feeling cold and light-headed, yet strengthened by a blossoming flame of hatred as heady as the scent of one of her mother’s vermillion roses, she smiled and whispered, “You are wrong, usurper, the Varian line lives on.”

***

Tyrk’s grin as the verve in Laney’s eyes glazed to stillness was for the benefit of his soldiers—the truth in the girl’s words reaching his ears. What did she mean? Was there a relative they knew naught about?

Laney’s limp fingers fell to dangle at her sides. Scarlet bloomed, seeping into her dress, staining the green fabric black. The silver-colored bird, a red blemish upon its wing, was free. With frenzied flapping of desperate strokes, it sent a scatter of feathers to land softly upon the bloody ground.

Tyrk released his grip on Laney, dropped his sword and leapt for the bird, his hands catching the air beneath its swiftly rising form.

 

The bird flew—Laney’s awareness gazing out of its eyes, to look upon her home and the lifeless body of the young princess slumped in the courtyard. Deep sadness welled within her, the lack of avian tears a confirmation she no longer resided in human form. The castle’s towers and turrets receded as she soared west, to a different land. She cawed a final goodbye to her family.

 

Tyrk watched his men drag the girl’s body away. They would throw her on the substantial pile of dead already in the field beyond the castle, to be burned in two days. Wind, newly risen from the south, gusted into the yard, sending goose bumps slithering along his arms. Ignoring the chill that settled in his belly, he cast superstition aside. Omens are for the weak, he thought, before shivering. Striding into the cold embrace of his ill-gotten keep, he hadn’t noticed his youngest son watching, gray eyes peering from a second-floor window.

Erendol, tears grazing his face, whispered a promise so quiet it was barely the caress of breath over his lips. In that moment, in the smothering iron-laden seconds between one fate and the next, a traitor was born.

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New Fantasy Release from L.L. Hunter

Okay, I admit it: I’ve been slack. I don’t post here nearly as often as I should. Gone are the days of the ranty post or short story to share. I have no time. As many of you are probably aware, most authors have to have a ‘proper’ job to pay for coffee, oh, and food, well more specifically chocolate. This is taking me away from doing more pleasurable things like writing and blogging. But today I have something that will hopefully interest many of you readers. My friend, another Australian author who writes fantasy (not necessarily epic but more urban romance), has kindly offered to share a post on here. So now I will introduce you to L.L. Hunter who has a new book coming out very soon—Crave, and she’s offering it for a bargain on release, but it’s only for a limited time. You can grab it from here.

cravereleaseday99

So what’s it about? Here’s the blurb:

I remember excruciating pain.

I remember unimaginable heat.

I remember an undeniably beautiful young woman.

But I’m not sure whether these things are real.

One year ago, Ash Brandon was framed and sent to an unknown realm where he learnt his fate. A fate where he held the blood of an ancient line of Dragon shifters called Dragon Hearts. The thing is, he can no longer remember. All he knows is that he is a nineteen-year-old guy who wants to study architecture and one day, take over the family business.

Then two beautiful girls show up in his life — one who is sexy as hell and could be the woman of his dreams, while the other claims to have known him from a past he cannot remember. Only there is one thing he can’t wrap his mind around — Why does he crave each of the girls?

A now eighteen-year-old Eva, a powerful Dragon Heart Keeper from the Dragon Realm, is punished by her parents and sent to the earthly realm by her witch maiden. Her memories have all been wiped clean, but why can she still remember Ash, and the undeniable bond they once shared?

Emily is a Siren princess, and she always gets what she wants. When she sets her sights on Ash, all bets are off. She will make him hers — if only his Keeper weren’t in the way.

Will Ash discover who he truly is before its too late? Or will his deadly addiction to both girls get him killed?

Crave Love – Crave Life – Crave Truth

Inspired by the short story,

The Dragon Heart Keeper, also by L.L. Hunter

Add Crave to your Goodreads shelf: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18590749-crave

You can Download The Dragon Heart Keeper FREE from all eBook retailers!

Amazon: http://amzn.com/B00CSCT2R0

Here is an excerpt from the book:

It must have been some time before I regained consciousness because the water had turned cold, and I could no longer feel any pain. I blinked the water from my eyes and sat up. My head throbbed from bashing it against the shower wall. I sat there on the floor of the shower a little while longer, and when I could stand, I turned the water off. When I looked down, I saw absolute carnage. What had happened?

Metal blades clinked and flesh sliced. Blood flew, coating everything in its path. Pointy teeth flashed bright under the streetlight…

I tried to grab onto the wall to steady myself as the sudden vision caused everything to blur and me to feel nauseous. What was happening? Was I having nightmares while I was awake now, too?

I wasn’t crazy. I shook it off and stepped over the broken glass from the shattered shower door. My feet must have gone straight through when I fell. I would clean it up later. I had to get to class.

I cleaned myself up as best I could and downed a quick cup of coffee before dressing and heading out to my car. A light rain was falling steadily outside, which only added to my messed up mood. I only hoped the day would get better.

* * * * *

I pulled into the college campus around ten past eight. Shit, I was late for my first day. This was not a good start. I grabbed my book bag off the passenger seat of my car and rushed toward the building I knew held my first glass. I hoped the Professor was a nice one, because if he or she wasn’t, they were going to eat me alive, both for looking like crap and for turning up late. I barged through the doors and saw the lecture hall to be almost full. There were only a few empty seats scattered here and there. I hurried to find one near the back as quietly as I could to not draw attention to my lateness.

“Mr. Brandon, is it?” said a large booming voice. I froze. I was a goner. I exhaled and slowly turned to face my fate.

“Uh, yes, sir. Sorry I’m late. I…”

“You overslept or partied too hard last night or both. I’ve heard them all before and would rather not hear them again. Take a seat.”

“Yes… yes, sir,” I stuttered. This was not going as well as I had hoped. I swallowed and quickly sat down. I pulled the small table over my lap and dumped my books on top of it. My pen fell out of one of the spiral notepads and fell to the floor. I bent down to grab it, but so did the person next to me. My head collided with theirs, and I only realized it was a girl when she started laughing. And God, her laugh was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard.

“Oops, sorry. Here, let me,” she said. I sat up rubbing my head.

“Sorry. Thank you.” She bent down and picked up my pen and held it out to me.

“I’m Emily. You must be new.”

“I… yes, I am.” God, could I even talk at all? What was wrong with me? It must have been all the knocks to the head I was having lately. Emily giggled again and titled her head to the side taking me in. She had the most amazing leaf green eyes I had ever seen and honey colored locks, which cascaded down to her waist.

Leaf green eyes? Where had I seen that before?

“So, what’s your name, new boy?”

“Oh, sorry. It’s Ashley. Ash for short.”

Emily smiled. And my heart fluttered. Her smile was one of the most beautiful I had ever seen. I knew I would be up all night tonight dreaming about it. God, help me.

“Well, Ash, what’s your favorite myth or mythical creature?”

The question struck me out in left field. It was an odd thing to ask.

“Pardon me?”

“Silly, weren’t you listening? That’s what the Professor just asked. Our first assignment is to do a paper on a myth or mythical creature. So, what is your favorite myth or mythical creature?”

“That’s a good question.” It really was. I had no idea what my favorite myth or mythical creature was. But something about this class called to me. I don’t know, but it was. It was as if a higher power had made me pick this class. Call it fate if you believed in that kind of stuff. As a guy who didn’t believe in anything, it had really struck me as odd.

I realized Emily was talking to me. Where was my head? Oh, yeah, it had been dented several times.

“So, I was thinking of doing my paper on dragons. I have this fascination with them. You don’t know if they actually exist or not.”

I realized Emily was kind of a rambler, but I didn’t care. She was hot, and I was pretty sure I had met her before somewhere. I wasn’t sure how I knew her. I just knew I did.

“Dragons are cool,” I agreed.

She smiled. “Oh, but if you want to do dragons, then I guess I could do mermaids or sirens. They were my second choice.”

I smiled back. She reminded me of a Siren somehow. It was as if her blood called me to her like a song on the wind. I was drawn to her in unexplainable ways. “I think you should do Sirens.”

“Cool. Then it’s decided. I’ll see you later, Ash.”

It was then I noticed it was the end of class. Emily got up and left. I stood and realized I was the last one left in the lecture hall. Well, besides the Professor.

“Mr. Brandon. Will you come see me, please?”

I nodded and looked around one last time for Emily, but she was nowhere to be seen. I made my way down the steps to the stage at the front.

“Daydreaming isn’t going to help you pass my class, Mr. Brandon.”

“I… sorry, sir. I’ve been having a rough time lately. You see…”

“I don’t need to hear it.” He held up his palm toward me and turned away to get something off his desk. It was then I saw his name. Professor Mikhail Elderoy. I had read articles about this man. He was the leading expert to some in the field of myths and legends. To others, he was a kook. He had also been called a witch or warlock in his lifetime. Before I could do anything, I felt cold metal against my skin.

“I know what you are.”

***

Hmm, that looks very interesting, and I’m loving the cover. I’m sure many of you are ready to dive into this awesome book so run and grab it when it’s 99 cents.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Stay tuned because one of these days I’ll actually write another post :).

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Realm of Blood and Fire is Here!

realm-blood-fire_ebook_resized

This is a little post to let all those Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo readers know that Realm of Blood and Fire, the last book in the Circle of Talia trilogy, is out in five days! Amazon have, surprisingly, just made preorder available for everyone, so you can preorder it now if you click here.

Those who may ask why it was out in the iBooks stores first, well, they’ve been super supportive of my writing so I gave them a one-month exclusive on the book. I do admit to waiting anxiously for it to be available everywhere as I know there are a few readers ready to do damage to my person because it’s taking so long ;). If you’re one of those readers, your wait is almost over and I want to say thank you for being so patient. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

So, go now, click that link! Ciao :).

 

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My Writing Process Blog Tour

Hey everyone. I don’t often do blog tour thingies, but I couldn’t say no to the awesome Lorna Suzuki when she asked if I’d participate. Lorna has written a truckload of books, and the first three books in her Imago fantasy series are being turned into movies. I can’t wait to go see them and brag to my kids that I know the author. If you want to find out more about Lorna and her work, click here for her website.

So, to play the blog tour game, I just have to answer four questions about, you guessed it, my writing process. Here goes.

What am I working on?

I’ve just finished writing the last book in my epic fantasy series The Circle of Talia. Realm of Blood and Fire is with the editor at the moment and will be released through iBooks on 21st July as an ebook. They’ve been really good to me, so I’ve given them a one-month exclusive on the ebook, but the paperback will be available from Amazon on the same date. So I have editing and reading through to come, and when I’m finished, I’m going to start on the next book in my Doris & Jemma Vadgeventure series (yes that’s women’s fiction, not YA fantasy).

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Well, I wouldn’t say that everything I feel is fairly original has never been done before, but I don’t think there are a lot of books out there at the moment being written with the same fantasy tropes as mine (cue a hundred people naming books in the comments thread). I have strong female protagonists, animal companions that can speak to their realmists mind to mind, an original magic system, and sentient dragons who have their own culture and city. I also have gormons, and I know no one else has those :).

Why do I write what I do?

I love fantasy because I love to escape, and I’ve always loved dragons, so I had to have them in my books. And no one can tell me I’m wrong. It’s my world and I made it up, so I’m right ;). I also write horror, women’s fiction and suspense. I write different genres because I enjoy it, and I love pushing my writing boundaries, which I really have with Close Call, my women’s fiction (if you think I’m exaggerating, go read the blurb on Amazon).

How does your writing process work?

I usually know where I want my characters to end up, and I know where they start from, but I’m what’s known as a ‘pantser’—I make it up as I go along. I can write at any time of day or evening, but my brain is usually fried by 10 pm, so if I’m awake, which I usually am at that time, it’s tv or reading that I do rather than writing. If I come across plot problems, my brain works them out quite nicely just as I’m falling asleep or waiting in line at the shops—my brain is fairly good to me and it hasn’t let me down yet (fingers crossed).

After I finish writing my book, I read through it and then send it to the editor. When it comes back from the editor, I go through the edits, and when I’ve done that, I give it one more read through before it goes out. I also used a proofreader for my last book, and I’ll probably do that for this one too (although time is always tight).

Thanks for stopping by and having a read. I’m not sure if I’ve enlightened anyone about anything worthwhile, but hey, you’ve just procrastinated for a couple of minutes—now get back to work! ;).

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Flash Fiction – A Million Little Pieces

Dionne:

I’m busy finishing Realm of Blood & Fire, so thought I’d reblog an older flash fiction that I still love. Hope you enjoy it :).

Originally posted on Dionne Lister - Author:

This flash fiction was inspired by 30 Seconds to Mars’ song Search and Destroy (A Million Little Pieces). I entered it in a flash fiction comp but alas, it didn’t catch the judges’ eye. Not to worry, that’s why I have a blog. Maybe one of you peeps will like reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

A Million Little Pieces

She stood on the creaking deck of an ancient ferry. A million little pieces. Her hands tightened about the railing. Debris from black clouds, invisible in the night sky, stung her face. Which were tears and which were rain; she no longer knew. Closing her eyes, she tilted her face to the infinite space above. A million little pieces.

She imagined she felt his hands about her waist, grounding her as gusting tentacles attempted to carry her off. Where she once felt his warmth…

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