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Author, Avid Tweeter & Blogger, Lover of books, Teacher of Maths & Swimming, Mother, Speaks Spanish, Friend to many...

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Talking to Susan Ward

I met Susan Ward via Goodreads. She recommended her book on my Group and I decided to give it a go. After reading it and enjoying it a lot, I have the pleasure of welcoming her to my blog.

“The Girl on the Half Shell” is a fantastic book with a lot of layers. I thought it was an incredibly addictive read. Enjoy my review…

Stunning cover too! 
WOW... I am emotionally drained. This book has it all. What an incredible story.

Chrissie Parker is the daughter of famous rock star, Jack Parker. She is a very confused and traumatised 18-year-old girl, who carries a burden from years earlier. She believes that she had something to do with the death of her brother, Sam, and has self-harmed numerous times to help deal with the guilt that she feels. This is so sad and is portrayed brilliantly in the writing.

She is about to audition at Julliard to become a cellist, like her mother, and heads to New York with her crazy best friend. However, before she does she meets Alan Manzone, a rock star on the brink of disaster, who has been helped back to the road of recovery by Jack for the last few months. The attraction is instant and fate decides to give them a helping hand by cancelling her flight the next day. Alan comes to her rescue and gives her a lift on her private jet to NYC.

Chrissie is out of control and Alan is frankly too old for her (10 years older) but the chemistry that develops between them is unstoppable. I was totally hooked and loved how their story develops.

There are a few scenes that annoyed me a bit. She has a lot of baths, he washes her a lot, and the sex develops too fast and becomes too extreme considering her limited experience. I would have thought that if Alan truly loved her he would have realised she was really just out of being a school girl. These issues could have been avoided if she’d been in her early twenties, but I understand why it worked better to catch her when most vulnerable. Even so, at times I honestly thought he had pushed the boundaries in the relationship too far.

Saying this, Chrissie acts irrationally a lot. She is not a stereotypical girl. She does not do what you’d expect. I love this about her. We can all act a bit insane at times.

The ending is fantastic. I will not give a spoiler, but it is not what you would usually expect. Chrissie grows up and makes the right decision. Alan has helped her on many levels and it’s wonderful to see so many issues potentially resolved.

Overall, I found the author on Goodreads and asked to review her book! I am SO glad she let me do this and am so lucky to have come across this book. Definitely recommended, but not for those who can’t stand references to ‘Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll!’

*~Rated: 5 stars~*

Now, let's start with my questions. 

First off, I have to ask this… How does this story relate to your ‘real’ life? What inspired you to write it?

It is based in my hometown, in the world I grew up in, in the era I grew up in, and Chrissie is a composite of girls from my clique in high school and parts of her are me, but I won’t tell you which parts.

(I promise I wasn’t going to ask…)

Jack is based on a real person I knew all through my childhood. Chrissie’s house is modelled after a real house. The neighbourhood, Hope Ranch, is my childhood stomping grounds. Everything in the book is based on something real or really lived, either personally, or through a friend.

(I loved Jack as a character, I can understand why you made him so real now)

Your female MC, Chrissie is a very confused character. She has no idea what she wants from life. Was it hard to decide how old to make her? 18 is very young and can be considered to be when young people are most vulnerable.

We have five children. I’ve been raising girls for over 30 years. That’s definitely the way I was, growing up in a very sheltered environment before the world of technology. You have to remember this is before the internet age. For better or for worse, most of us, what we knew of the world, was direct experience.

(I must have led a sheltered life then… or at least, I know I kept away from many situations that could have gone bad!)

Us Santa Barbara girls were not sheltered and naïve about the world. As for girls, they haven’t changed. Eighteen is a very confused, volatile state for a girl, in my opinion having raised so many.

(I have two sisters and no brothers and we all kept away from trouble. But, I know friends who made mistakes along the way. I also have two daughter myself. If any of my daughters got together with an older man at 18 I’m pretty sure I would flip! Ha ha)

Your male MC, Alan Manzone, has such a harsh take-it-or-leave-it attitude. Yet, his honest approach made him more believable. As much as I wanted to slap him at times, I also feel head over heels for him. Funnily enough, his commitment to Chrissie was never in doubt.

Your reference to drugs and its use is harrowing and realistic throughout. Alan is one of the victims. Do you think drugs can be the ultimate escape for those looking for meaning in their life?

Drugs are never an escape or assist in finding the meaning of life. They are the trap that prevents both. However, having known addicts, it’s usually in recovery when they make their greatest personal growth.

(True, but I have seen many get into drugs for escapism or due to peer pressure. I said no, but many of my friends didn’t. In the end, it can destroy people, as I saw in the recent River Phoenix documentary! So sad…)

Many background characters add depth to this novel. Do you think Chrissie, like many at times, purposefully surrounded herself with ‘needy’ people? She comes across as very innocent, even though frustratingly stupid on occasion.

Most fragile people surrounded themselves with needy people. Those who need rescued personally often grab on to be people who need rescued. I’m old. This is a theme of human behaviour that hasn’t changed in my lifetime. Beneath every person I’ve ever known trying to rescue someone, is a personal crisis they need rescuing from.

The reference to sex in this novel is very raw and animalistic at times, definitely for over 18. How do you feel when you write these scenes? Are you ever embarrassed to talk about it with friends and family? I know, personally, I got a few looks from friends from some of my scenes!

My husband and children have not read my books. They don’t want to run into a sex scene written by mom J However, I’m not at all embarrassed to discuss my view on sex scenes in romance novels. Sex is the expression of who we are and our emotional state and should be consistent with that state. I don’t believe in writing a sex scene just to include a steamy bit. I have a novel that’s over 400 pages that is a bestseller that does not contain a single sex scene even though it’s romance. Not having sex was the physical expression of the state of those characters.
However, people in crisis, I’ve often found, become sexually intense. That’s why the scenes in Half Shell are raw and animalistic. Both Chrissie and Alan are dealing with intense, deeply buried emotional conflict. Those issues struggling to come out are expressed in their sexual interaction.

I think Alan expresses this pivotal point in his life with, “The opposite of death is not life, Chrissie. The opposite of death is you. You are my opposite of death.

It is the physical expression of our being, our emotional condition, and I hope, that how I’ve written the scenes. I don’t think anything less raw and animalistic would ring true.

With the advent of Fifty Shades, a book I am still to read, do you think people like to read about situations considered taboo before? Especially from the privacy of their kindle?

I don’t write about things I consider taboo. I try to write and speak to young women about the issues in their, in all our lives, that we don’t talk about. Poor Chrissie, however, is getting a handful of my contemporary women’s issues. She’s struggling a lot, for all of us.

Additionally, I wanted to write a character who self-burns in a way readers could understand her, maybe help someone who has issues. This issue has personally touched my life through someone I love. I’ve received so many emails from people with substance and self-harming issues, whether it be anorexia, burning, cutting that humble me, their kind praise and appreciation for writing this book.

You book is currently on a FREE promotion. How did you go about advertising it? Are you loyal to Amazon’s KDP program? Many authors, including myself, would love to know how you got into the top 100 in the US & UK! The Holy Grail…

The most important thing to me is readers reading my work. Some people chase NYT bestsellers list, US Today. Me I chase something I call shelf space. That’s the number of people who have read my books. Now, being virtually unknown last year, Amazon KDP offered me the best way to distribute my work to readers. Chrissie has been slowly growing in fan base for the past twelve months. This book is alive based on word of mouth. The readers who love it really love.

So, it was a combination of timing and word of mouth.


I help back from ever offering her free until my one year anniversary. I wanted her book birthday to be perfect. I didn’t know any major promotion, Bookbub or Ereader News, I let my reader base know she was going free. I would say word of mouth and regular tweeting is how she got into the top 100.

Which is the character you have created to date and why?

Chrissie is my favourite. She is the narrative in my head, though you would never know it if you met me. Her uncertainty. The way watches the world. Her mess, all internally contained in your least likely women. She’s my favourite because I think she’s like most women.

Have you ever watched that Movie, What Women Want, (I have indeed – love it!) with Mel Gibson and he’s out walking and he hears all the women’s thoughts around him. I loved that because it’s true. We think, we worry, we doubt, we are hardest on ourselves.

The life in our head is often different than the life we live. Just like Helen Hunt’s in What Women Want. It’s so true.

Do you get a kick out of reader feedback? How do you deal with reviews that are critical?

It may surprise you but I thank ever reviewer, positive or critical, and if possible establish a discussion with the critical readers. I will never be able to please every reader with a work, we have five kids I’ve never been able to please all of them on a single day, but I love to listen, hear, get feedback and sometimes learn from the people who did not like my work. It’s the only way to grow in your craft. The productive review can often be the review that is critical of you. It also helps define who is and isn’t my reader market. I’ve learned a lot about the demographic of who my books appeal to and don’t appeal based on critical reviews. And what I learned surprised me.

Do you think social media is important? If so, how do you prioritise your time?

Very important. When I first released I wasn’t on twitter, Instagram, and had only 20 Facebook Friends, my kids & a few intimates. I didn’t know anything about social media. It took me 6 months and the help of a girlfriend who is a blogger for me to get up to speed, but it’s really improved my market exposure. Throughout the day, I periodically touch base. Pretty regularly actually. I try to leave my desk and relax my mind about every two hours. I go sit outside and stare at the ocean. That’s when I touch base with my social media.

What is the most important thing you have learnt, as an author, since you published your first book?

That I didn’t know a darn thing when I started. It’s hard work to sell a book, and it takes a village to do it. I have a tightknit of supporter and author friends, and we work together for each other. It’s made a definite difference in the level of success I have.

(I hear you on this… the road is long!)

Do you think books are timeless, or do you think some fads disappear?

Great books last forever because what they say to people is timeless. Enjoyable books can have longevity. The trite, trendy fad driven creation dies quietly. (This is true in all things. Fashion. Music. Cinema) However, no author knows which kind of book they’ve written until the readers tell them and they face the test of time.

What is the best book you have read and why did you enjoy it?

The best book I've ever read is Through a Glass Darkly. I thought it was an amazing accomplishment. The blend of history, drama and characterization. I just ached for Barbara on every page and got a definite feel for the time she lived in. It kept me flipping pages for 700 pages, and while I didn't want it to end the way it ended, I still love the book.

I thought it was an absolutely amazing read.

What is the best book you have written, and why did you enjoy writing it?

Without a doubt The Girl on the Half Shell. I enjoyed it because if readers what to see what I’m saying to women in that book, there is something to find. So many women have told me that this book has helped them. I get a lot of “how did you know” messages. However, if you just want an intense and raw story, you can have that as well. It’s a book where you can take away something different depending on what you want to take away after reading it.

Where we can find out about you and buy your books?

I’m exclusively on Amazon. Amazon buypage

Our you can visit my website and read my blog www.susanwardbooks.com

Or you can like me on Facebook

And follow me on Twitter @susaninlaguna

Thank you again for letting us find out more about you and for your honest responses!

Thursday, 30 April 2015

~*Book Recommendations*~

I have not been blogging very much due to several reasons. Time is the biggest culprit. I feel guilty if I am blogging when I should be writing. I have also been reading a lot recently and have now hit 50 books this year! My Goodreads target is 100... I think I'll make it!

I have to admit I was a bit blown away by "THE DUFF" - I loved both the film and the book and did not mind the fact they were so different.

Very different takes on the same theme. I admit that I'll never be to old to relive the drama of growing up!

Read on to find out more about the books I recommend. For full reviews visit my Goodreads page.

Click on the Amazon links to download...

Bargain Reads - Under £1/ $2

~*FREE*~ Reads

Bargain Reads - Under £1/ $2

~*FREE*~ Reads

Bargain Reads - Under £1/ $2

Thanks for reading and let me know what books you recommend in the comments. I am happy to review if I enjoy! 

All the best,

p.s. In case you have not read my debut novel yet, please take a look and review if you enjoy. Thanks a lot :)


Find out more about me, how I wrote The Evolution Trilogy, and more, on my blog... http://www.theevolutiontrilogy.blogspot.co.uk/

I would also love some more likes on FACEBOOK

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Happy Easter

I am heading off to a Center Parks in Belgium for Easter.

Can't believe it was 10 years ago when I last went there!

We used to go to Eperheide a lot when we lived in Rotterdam and it has an amazing ball park which I am sure my youngest will love.

Even though I had to add the cost of the ferry, it still worked out cheaper than booking a UK one! And you get to experience a different culture...

So, I hope the rest of you enjoy the week. I can't imagine I'll be online much - but, I will be reading a lot!

Enjoy your time with family, friends, and CHOCOLATE! If you need some ideas for Easter baking click on the LINK

All the best,

Monday, 30 March 2015

Tonia Parronchi and the food of love...

Thank you, Tonia, for agreeing to be featured on my blog.

I read “The Song of the Cypress” after getting a copy via Rosie’s Book Review Team. Here is my review…

4 stars – Review on Amazon and Goodreads

“It's hard to even begin to explain what I thought of "The Song of the Cypress". This novel is so unique and beautifully written that I feel inept at writing down my own views about it.

Ultimately, the story is about the self-discovery of Ann (or Annie). A woman who needs to find herself as a person, spiritual soul, lover and member of a community. Until she dreams of the "Cypress" her life has been depressed. Following the needs of her mother, she has no time for herself. When her mother dies, she finally gets the freedom she desires and leaves everything she has in England to start a new life in a remote cottage set on the mountains in Italy.

Once here, she explores her spiritual side through an eccentric old woman, or local "witch", who guides her in finding out about a connection with the Cypress tree that spans many centuries. The ability of the spirit or soul in this book is interesting and it beckons us (the reader) to seek out our true instinct as human beings and the role we have play with nature.

Her relationship with Joe is interesting and cleverly done, although it did have a ring of perfection that at times felt unbelievable. Every relationship has some trauma. This had barely any. Annie also seems too content in her own skin towards the end. It certainly is something for us all to strive towards.

Without giving any more away, this is a book you can taste (I got hungers pangs from some of the descriptions), smell, feel and almost touch.

My own upbringing in Gibraltar came to mind as the author described the traditions and mannerisms of Italians. My distant relatives were of mixed origin, but many descendants of Gibraltar come from Genoa. We definitely like our food!

I have rated it a 4 because as much as I loved it at times the pace slowed too much for me and I needed more than excellent descriptive writing. But, this is a personal preference.
I highly recommend this and think it should be studied as part of an English course on how to write creatively. I certainly don't think I could ever achieve this level!”

What do you think of my review?

I was very pleased to have this honest review. I was surprised and flattered by your praise and also understand some of your doubts and am glad to have the opportunity here to explain a few things. My intentions do not really matter, as each reader has to get what they feel from a book, but here are my explanations.

Joe - yes, he could be seen as a bit too perfect. However, I wanted someone solid and at home in his own skin, to counterbalance Annie. Joe knows what he wants and has the patience to wait until Annie is ready for life and love. In my head he was the sturdy oak, the gateway to another realm and she the cypress, constantly reaching for the ethereal sky.

I did not base Annie on me but can say that my own spiritual journey has led to me now being very content in my own skin. I tried to make Annie have this awareness and peace as she moved ahead in the book. There will always be moments of stress and upheaval in our lives but if we learn to really know ourselves, shadow side and all, they become easier to deal with.

Finally, the pace of the book, which at times you found a little slow. I tried hard to follow the rhythms of nature within the book and it is certainly not a tale of adventure but of a gentle unfolding of life, love and deep universal connection.

Thank you again for your words.

I certainly felt this way in reading it. It was a journey, beautifully written at that. What inspired you to write this story?

Walking in my Tuscan hills, seeing new life unfurling in the woods in spring, while the ancient cypresses remain unchanged season after season, made me want to capture the beauty in words.

I had written about seven chapters but was unhappy with it when we went away for the summer months on our sailing boat. There, far away from my valley, as I sat mesmerised by the ever-changing waves, I realised that what was missing was the sense of magic I feel when walking there, as if connected to the universe in some strong way. That is how the character of the cypress came into being. The cypress is an ancient spirit that can dream through centuries or concentrate on the intimacy of a second and through its wise council my main characters can gain access to that spiritual dimension we all dream of attaining.

Can you tell us a bit about how you came to publish your book? What was the editorial process like?

I decided to self-publish "The Song of the Cypress" because trying to find a UK publisher while living here was not easy. I was lucky to find the lovely Sunpenny Publishing House for my second book, "A Whisper on the Mediterranean", which is a true tale of our family sailing adventures when our son was a small baby. It is a funny book, full of beautiful places to visit and has easy recipes at the end of each chapter. Believe me, if I could make these dishes on a constantly moving boat, anyone can!

A great friend of mine, Valerie Poore, is also with Sunpenny – what a small world!

The process for each book was very different and each had pros and cons. With Sunpenny I had the benefit of a proper editor to sharpen my text and bring it all together well, whereas with this novel I relied on the help of friends, who did a wonderful job but maybe with a different editor I would have ironed out some of the things that did not work for you, Vanessa.

The easy part is writing. Editing is hard because it is not a simple thing to have the proper detachment needed. I wait until months have passed and I am not so emotionally involved before beginning to edit and need to print off pages and read them instead of using the computer or I miss lots of mistakes.

I know all about the editing process! I agree on walking away for a while. Best advice is to forget it for a while.

Do you think social media is important? If so, how do you prioritise your time?

It is very important if one wants to become known. I am a real dinosaur when it comes to technology. I have a mobile phone but turn it on maybe once a week! I have really struggled with this aspect of being a writer but have now managed to set up a website, a Facebook page and am beginning to tweet along merrily, even if it seems a bit potty to me. I try to do all my social media stuff when I wake up, with my second coffee in hand, because my husband is usually still in bed then and I can concentrate better. When I get stuck or have a technical question I have to wait for him to wake up and come rescue me!

Ha ha… my husband is clueless when it comes to technology! I had to work it out for myself – I am a computer geek really J

Do you have a favourite author or genre? Did anyone inspire you to start writing?

Oh, I have so many! How can I give you a favourite? I am an eclectic reader and have been since a child. I love poetry and certain lines stay with me while doing the house work, like song tunes do. Sometimes they then trigger off something that I want to write about in my own way.

I love books with a hint of what Joanne Harris calls "everyday magic" and I really love her books.

I also enjoy a good murder, adventure stories and even science fiction as well as literary fiction. I remember reading "My Sweet Orange Tree", by José Mauro de Vasconcelos, one Christmas morning when I was quite young. It was in my stocking and I always woke early to open that. I started reading and could not stop. I cried my eyes out and my parents were worried that they had chosen the wrong sort of book until, through my tears, I managed to tell them it was the most beautiful thing I had ever read.

Personally, I loved your description of Italy and the food. Can you tell us your favourite places there, and why?

Well, my valley of course, the Valdarno, with its pretty hill villages and wild countryside full of olives and cypresses. It is not as well-known as the Chianti area but for me is far more beautiful. I prefer wild nature to perfectly groomed hills.

I also love the Mediterranean islands that we sail around each summer, in particular Ponza. When you approach Ponza by sea on a spring morning the scent of yellow broom wafts down from the cliffs and Ponza harbour looks like a rainbow with its multicoloured houses rambling up the hillside.

Can you name an Italian dish that you love and another you hate?

Dishes that I like are easy because there are so many. The fresh vegetables used for each seasonal dish are amazing. Right now the asparagus is beginning and last week I bought a slender stemmed bunch and made pasta with asparagus and bacon. 

An unusual dish which is being eaten right now that your readers may not have heard of is fave with pecorino. 

This is perfect picnic food. Fave are small, tender, broad beans which are served in their pods. You break them open, pop out the beans and eat them with fresh pecorino - wonderful.

I used to peal these with my grandmother when I was growing up... I love them!

What do I dislike? A Roman dish called pagliata, is made from the intestines of an unweaned calf and I cannot bring myself to think about it! 

Ahhh.. this does NOT sound (or look) good at all! I have a feeling my parents have eaten this. Sounds like tripe? I tried it once - and did not like it! 

I am feeling ill now... 

In Gibraltar, we have a lot of Italian descendants. Might explain why the food is so familiar to me. My mother's maiden name is Olivero. 

Where we can find out more about you and buy your books?

You can have a look at my website, www.toniaparronchi.com , for more information. I also write a blog, Tonia Parronchi at Wordpress and am on Facebook. I really love to hear from my readers and make sure to reply to any messages I get as soon as I can.

The best places to buy my books are through Amazon or the Book Depository which has free delivery worldwide. Your local book shop will be able to order the books for you if they are not in stock.

Anything else you want to share with us?

I have just finished a new novel called "The Melting of Miss Angelina Snow" which I hope will make my readers laugh as much as I did while writing it.

Frosty estate agent, the formidable Miss Angelina Snow, has no time for romance or other such frivolities or so she believes, until her well-ordered life is turned upside down by a very troublesome client, Leonardo Marconi.

This book is set in England but with a very Italian hero and I am hoping it will be published this year. Sounds exciting! Best of luck with it.

Now I am thinking about a new story. At the moment it is a jumble of ideas dotted on post-it notes and in notebooks but it is slowly taking shape and will be more similar to my first novel in so far as it will be a literary novel. I am fascinated by our relationship with water and want to explore that realm with all its mysterious charm. A tentative title would be "Mermaids Breathing".

Fantastic! Keep writing and living the dream. Thank you for being here. I look forward to reading your next book!

Monday, 23 March 2015


For the last few weeks I have suffering from a tooth ache and knowing that I had a dental visit waited patiently until today! So, one filling later and after being made fun of by my husband (he was actually really funny) I now talk like a dummy... hopefully, it'll pass!

Anyway, last week I made some progress on my new novel and it is now approaching the 60,000 work mark. I still have no idea if any of it is any good. Major editing will be needed. Even so, it is great to keep going and the love-story part is finally coming together! It's really hard to visualise a wedding 150 years ago in Jamaica, but I tried!

Yesterday, it was my daughter's Birthday Party and it was brilliant - thank you to Pizza Hut for an amazing job.

My daughter made this cake herself - with a little of my "unwanted" help" HA!
If you don't know about it (I didn't) they do kids parties for excellent value - click on the LINK! The staff at the Newport branch on the Isle of Wight could not be praised more. They were amazing...

After this, I took my daughter to see Insurgent in Cineworld in 3D. It was a treat for her - honest! This is a great review of the film by ENTERTAIN THIS, which basically says it all.

I really liked the film and the way it was different from the book. Why do things the same? Kate Winslet pulled off her character, Jeanine (crazy cold-hearted Erudite) really well. I liked the way Tris is portrayed as so tough, but wonder what they are saying about the perfect human being? (for those who know what's coming)

Either way, I would LOVE to see Theo James as the main character, Steven, in my trilogy! Added bonus, he is English - PERFECT for the role! Contacts, anyone? :)

I know, I know... I AM allowed to dream!

I do wonder how successful this franchise will be in the long run. For the third day showing, there were about ten people in the theatre... I personally look forward to the next installment.

Have a great week everyone - let's keep trying to live the dream.

Al the best,

Monday, 16 March 2015

Advertising your eBooks? My experience as a Self-Published Author

Since I published my first ebook, HYBRID, in 2012 I have been plagued with the writers curse... "How to get noticed?"

Some self-published writers seem to effortlessly get to the top of the charts and I am constantly in awe of them!

Let's explain for those who do not know what a self-published writer is nowadays!

In my mind, a SP writer is someone who has published their work themselves.

They have arranged for the formatting, covers, proofreading, etc by themselves and then gone on to publish via Amazon, Smashwords, etc. They might have paid for some of these services, but ultimately they made all the decisions.

If you have an agent, publisher, or have paid a publisher to do the work for you, then in my books you have not self-published. When you get an agent and publisher who does it all for you and pays you an advance (amazing this) you are traditionally published. If you paid someone to publish it all for you then you are bracketed as using a "vanity" publisher.

Sorry, but this is the way I see it. I understand that you are a writer and might not want the hassle, but then you are not a SP author.

I pride myself in having done most of the work myself. I have been fortunate to have amazing help from people willing to proofread my books, and only recently paid for covers (thank you Shutterstock!) to use for my trilogy for the first time. This will hopefully prove to be a worthwhile investment. BUT, I have spent hours figuring out how to do everything and do not think I did it for vanity! It was a self imposed challenge.

My new covers - what do you think?
This being said, I want my hard work to be seen and to get some feedback for it. This is where it gets hard. Having not used any services there was no one to promote me. Ultimately, paying people to do things for you might get them to spread the word. At least, I'd like to think this is the case, but I do hear of many authors who have paid a lot of money and see no results.

So, the question... how is it done? How do you get seen?

This is my take on "success"...

1) Write a fantastic book. 

Make it different from the rest or follow the trend, and get readers of certain books attracted to yours. For example, for Twilight, Fifty Shades, or Harry Potter fans? A lot of readers like books that are formulaic.

2) Have a Book Launch (either a real one or virtual)

When I finished my trilogy, I held a book launch in Gibraltar and gave a talk on my experience. It was fantastic.

I sold lots of paperbacks, got my name out, was featured in magazines and the local newspaper, and had a ball!

I blogged about it HERE!

I was lucky though - people in Gibraltar are amazing and I have contacts. My dad knows many people...

3) Spread the word via Social Media and hope your friends, family and followers will tell others about it.

This tends to work well at the beginning, but fizzles out fast in my experience. You don't want to annoy close acquaintances by constant promotion. I find Twitter is the only place I tend to schedule posts. I have so many followers that I figure if it annoys anyone they'll simply unfollow me.

I suggest you use something like HOOTSUITE to schedule and CROWDFIRE to keep tabs on followers.

Facebook has a lot of groups that allow you to post your work. How effective this is is questionable. But, you never know... it might lead to some success. I think the reader groups are a better way to make friends and promote. If you are a writer you should be a reader too. If not, are you mad? Ha!

4) Use the Amazon threads to promote your work.

The discussion threads used to be a good place to advertise. Of late, I fear this is no longer the case. Too many promos going on.

5) Advertise with successful companies

In 2015, my plan was to let things go. To stop trying and give up. Then I decided to reinvest some of my takings.

Bear in mind that these promotions were to promote a FREE ebook - that's right, I give it away and then have to PAY to get it noticed! 

I have heard that BookBub is the place to go, but I never get in! I think they favour KDP promotions, or books with lots of reviews. I think this is unfair since the whole point of a giveaway is to get more reviews. But, they have a reputation to uphold so have the right to be picky. Saying this, I have seen some featured which are not the best books! They don't read them - the expression judge a book by it's cover comes to mind!

So, I tried FreeBooksy on a paid promotion. I had got featured on there last year by chance and had success. This worked a treat and my free eBook soared up the US Amazon charts. Since I also publish on smashwords, I also saw a huge increase in downloads via Barnes & Noble, iBooks, etc. I do have sales for the next books in my trilogy here too which is great. It is not cheap - $100! But, I think it was worth it and the customer service is fantastic. I am trying another in April for $200 - Eek! A series promoter... I'll have to let you know how it goes!

I have also tried a paid promotion for a free eBook feature with Facebook (£5 + £13), AwesomeGang ($10), Bookgoodies ($30), and KUFads (£10 - Book of the Day). All of these were a complete flop! I might as well have given the money away to charity...

6) FREE eBook promotion

As I have said in 5) I have paid for promotions to increase the visibility of my free ebook, HYBRID. Some of you might be asking how it is always free. Well, Amazon have a price-match policy. I have published my book via smashwords for FREE, which distributes to Barnes&Noble, Apple, etc. when Amazon see it is free they match it. You might have to inform them via their website though if it does not happen automatically.

This is a good idea if you have a series, or if you have many books to promote and want to offer one of your older books for free.

Again, the effectiveness of this is dubious now. When I first published in 2012, free eBooks were snapped up like hotcakes! However, with the constant offers via Amazon or mainstream publishers, us SP authors are no longer as attractive.

Readers are no longer attracted since they have had bad experiences with free eBooks. I admit this also happened to me, and many free ebooks I download disappoint me. Saying this, because it is free I am ruthless. I simply do not read it!

This is the downside. A free ebook will not inspire readers to review. I find myself more willing to review something I have paid for. Weird but true. So to all you readers out there, please review free books! (Like that's going to work!)

I do have a great site to recommend, which allows you to place your book for free. It may not work but it's free to try - Author Marketing Club

7) Sell your paperbacks at local events

I have tried this a few times. The first few times it was exciting, but I am not an aggressive salesperson! If you are you'll do just great :)

8) Participate in Reader forums like Goodreads

This is a great way to sell books, especially if you were a reader before you wrote a book!

Again, I have not found the confidence to pull this off well yet. But, I know others do a super job!

9) Write Another book

This is my worst offence at the moment. So I wrote a trilogy... and? You have to keep on writing to sell more books. If readers like what they see they will want to read more of your work. If you procrastinate and publish nothing new then what's the point?

Saying this, I also wonder what motivates some authors to continue. If you can't sell the books you have why publish?

My husband tells me I am too vain! I think maybe he has a point. I need some feedback or sales to make me believe that I am doing a good job. How sad am I?!

Ultimately, I have never continued with something that I have seen limited results for. I want to succeed. If I can't do it via writing I'll find something else to do with my time.

10) Think about why you write...

BUT, the truth is I NEED TO WRITE. I will always write... I know this now.

Today, I continued writing my next book and felt like writing this post. So I did. Sometimes, you have to vent in the direction your mind goes.

If by writing an idea down you find some peace or escapism from the world around you then you have succeeded no matter how low your sales are. I'll just keep telling myself this...

Thanks for reading & I hope this helps in some way.

All the best,

*~Okay, so now I can pitch my work!~*

HYBRID (The Evolution Trilogy) is FREE

Smashwords http://ow.ly/AbP0V


Get the entire trilogy (and prequel, EMILY) in a boxset via Amazon only http://www.bookgoodies.com/a/B00K24EA0U

Friday, 6 March 2015


After HOURS of "fun" I have managed to update my covers and paperbacks! As well as publish a paperback for EMILY! I will celebrate this somehow (not sure how exactly at the moment).

I am thrilled with the final result and hope someone appreciates my efforts. So far the response from a lot of you has been extremely positive. You can click on the link on the side of this blog to go to my page to find out more about my trilogy or CLICK HERE!

In the meantime, can I remind you all that HYBRID is *~FREE to download~*

Barnes & Noble

Please take the time to review it if you have read it already. It would be amazing to get 100 reviews one day. Recently, I have had a series of feedback from readers and they all seem to like it.

You have no idea what this means, or how relieved I get hearing it!

This one is from Amazon UK - 4 Stars :)

"Vanessa Wester's vampires are unlike the familiar fanged protagonists of other paranormal capers. Their humanity is at odds with their physical requirements and the lengths they go to to contain their needs lend the novel a realism not usually found in the genre. Hybrid is an enjoyable read with just enough mystery, romance and suspense."

Woo hoo!

Since it is also Read An eBook Week on smashwords you will find that Emily is free, and Complications & Return are half price via a promo code available on the site!


This offer expires on the 7th March so head on over there...

Thanks again for your continued support.

All the best