Review Circles for Authors

Are you an indie author or an author looking for more reviews? Well, let me help!

I’ve created a private Facebook group to address this and hopefully help us all as we work on our promotions.

Let me get this out there to be clear: THIS IS NOT A REVIEW EXCHANGE! We will NOT review book for book. You will not be expected to review a book from an author who is reviewing you. That would make for a dishonest review (or at the very least, the temptation to leave a higher review since you’d expect them to give you a higher review). I don’t like how that works and I don’t condone it.

In it’s most basic form, it works like this:

Review Circle

 

Here are a few guidelines to consider:

All authors will be expected to buy the book they’re reviewing as long as it’s $1.99 or less. If it’s over that price point, I want the author to gift it to them or send the reviewer a free copy.

I prefer reviewers buy the book to give the review the “Verified Purchase” tag. But I also want people to stick around and if they gotta keep paying more than $1.99 per book for something they may or may not normally read, I feel it’s asking too much.

Reviewers will have two weeks to read and review the books. All authors participating must not argue with the review received. These are honest opinions and if your work isn’t up to par, work on it first.

All reviews are honest. If as an author you get a review lower than what you expect, please do not argue with the reviewer. By submitting to the Review Circle, that’s the chance we take. That’s what an honest review is. This is not an opportunity for us to hand out five star reviews “just because.” It’s meant to help each other gain honest reviews of our work. Honest doesn’t always mean pleasant. Again, please do not argue with the reviewer.

Reviewers, though you are tasked with leaving an honest review, please be courteous. We’re not trying to discourage our fellow authors with negative remarks. You can voice your opinion in a thoughtful and constructive manner. Please do not crush your fellow authors.

For the book you’d like to have reviewed, please make sure your book is well constructed and edited, preferably by a professional. This is not a Beta reading circle. We are working under the assumption your book is a final product. What we read is what any reader would read. Make sure it’s the best representation of your book.

Try to keep all books requesting a review under 350 pages or less. Since this is a fairly quick turnaround of two weeks, longer books won’t work well. If your reviewer is OK with a longer book, go ahead and submit it. If not, please consider a different book.

By participating in the Review Circle, you must be ok with reading various genres. I will try to assign reviewers according to their tastes but I can’t guarantee it’s gonna be in your wheelhouse. If that happens, please keep an open mind and review the book on its merits as a story, not on if you like the genre. We can all learn when reading outside our specific genres.


So that’s it. I’ve run something like this in a Facebook group I’m part of, but I think it’s time to branch out and start a group based solely on this premise. If you’d like to join and are ready to be reviewed while offering your honest reviews, please send over a request to join the Review Circle for Authors Facebook Group. Thanks!

Dear Writer

Dear Writer,

Hi, my name is Jason. I’m not special. I’m not an authority. I’m not a collegiately trained writer (well, sort of). I’m an (almost) average Joe. But I have something to say.

You know that story you keep meaning to write? Remember that idea burning a hole in your skull? Can you picture those characters that feel so life-like to you? Yeah, that. Do you remember?

Why aren’t you writing?

I met many writers this past weekend that said “I don’t have the time” or “I keep meaning to get back to the story” or some other lame excuse. I’m not gonna sugercoat it for you–write the damn thing!

Your first draft will suck. It will. No amount of “revision as you go” will do it any justice. Be ok with this. Embrace it. You must write a first draft in order to edit and revise.

The time excuse doesn’t fly. Do you have fifteen minutes a day? No? Find it. Put the game controller down. Set your phone to “Do Not Disturb.” Wake up fifteen minutes earlier. Eat a faster lunch to leave time for writing. Instead of watching that tv show in the evening–write. You can always find a quick fifteen minutes of your day to set aside for writing if you evaluate what you’re actually doing with your time and decide what can be cut from your day in order to give your dream a chance. You decide what you do with your spare time, not someone else. Pretty soon, that fifteen minutes will magically expand to twenty. Then to thirty, and then till you’re too tired to make any sense at all (remember, the first draft will suck!)

I’ve got a secret for you, and unlike a magician, I’m gonna share. Do you know how a novel gets completed? By stringing together pages of words. Those pages are made up of paragraphs. Paragraphs are made from sentences. And those sentences are made from words. Write one word. Add another. Add a couple more. That’s progress kids. Keep typing. E-V-E-R-Y word you add to your story is progress. When your time is short, just remember every word you write is one step closer to completion. Your story is moving forward.

Get the words out. If you really want to write, don’t say “I want to.” Do it! Add a couple words at a time. Soon enough you’ll have a sentence, then a paragraph, then a page, and so on.  Be ok with the first draft sucking. Just get it done. Then go back and fix it.

Like I said at the beginning, I’m not an expert, but I have gone through this process. All it takes to go from “I want to write” to “I’m a writer” is putting down one word at a time.

You got this!

 

Your friend,

-Jason

 

“The Selection” Now Available!

My first novel “The Selection” is now available on Amazon!

You can grab the ebook for .99 through the weekend and then the price goes to $2.99. Get it now and save a couple bucks!

Print

Click the giant “Buy Now” button below and grab your copy today!

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“The Selection” – Themes

The Selection, at it’s core, is a coming of age story. It describes in detail the process by which boys become “men” on Anastasia. Though in truth, they’re far from ready.

When Eron sets off for his turn in the Selection, he’s a scared eighteen year old boy. Like all other males his age, he’s forced into the Selection and must survive till the end. It’s a rite of passage for the boys.

My original concept for the story stems from reflecting on my son, who’s sixteen now, and how harrowing it is for kids to grow to adolescents and then continue on to adulthood. Any adult can tell you it’s not an easy transition. Add a very real survival component, and you have The Selection.

Another theme I hadn’t set out to write but clearly presented itself is the idea that we need each other. Alone we run the risk of failure. Together we can achieve so much.

Too many of us–myself included–often go through life trying to do it our way, by ourselves, without any help. I admire people that can take care of themselves, but in the bigger picture, we must care about each other. We can’t stay with our heads in the sand, oblivious to the needs of others. We aren’t creatures that survive long by ourselves. We need each other to flourish.

The Selection comes out tomorrow! I do hope you grab a pre-order copy now and save off the normal price of $2.99.

If you missed my post on the characters of The Selection, check it out here.

“The Selection” – Setting

With the release of my new novel The Selection set to hit on Thursday March 30th, I wanted to introduce you to the world you can expect to discover. Over the next few days I’ll reveal more about the story introducing you to the setting, characters, and themes of The Selection.

Today’s installment is a sneak peak at the world of The Selection, exploring the setting of my novel.


The Selection takes place on an alien world. Specifically it’s known to us as Kepler 186f. Human settlers changed the name to Anastasia soon after landing. I was drawn to Kepler 186f through NASA’s series of travel posters for planets that may sustain human life. kepler

Kepler 186f orbits a red sun and I felt it would be a perfect place for the events to unfold. It would be familiar enough to readers yet allow for creative license.

The foliage is inspired by the red sun and NASA’s poster. Green is not a common color on the world. Instead, red, orange, and yellow are the dominant colors creating a warm pallet.

It also gave me a blank slate to build inherent dangers on the alien world. You’ll discover many new creatures similar to Earth animals yet with a twist.

My favorite new animals are Gracers. These small animals have large ears and stay high above in the treetops, far from larger prey below. They are typically purple in color, a stark contrast to the foliage. Their name “Gracers” is in honor of my little chihuahua named Gracie. These animals are about her size but with longer tails.

Craates (pronounced “Crayts”) are dog-like animals with bright hair. They are pack animals. Their savagery is unmatched. Stumbling on a pack of craates is the last thing you’d want to do!

Flying Vulbores are similar to pterodactyls. They have long venomous claws capable of poisoning their prey. They are often blue or purple and very deadly. modea15_080317awk04

The inhabitants of Anastasia live a difficult life avoiding natural dangers. Add the Selection to the mix and boys have an extremely arduous road ahead.

Come back tomorrow when I share about the characters in The Selection.

Pre-orders are available now: The Selection

Bonus: Did you know one of the stories in (Almost) Average Anthology belongs to this world? The last story, The Long Sleep, is a prelude to the events in the novel. Sign up for my newsletter to get it for free or you can buy it on Amazon for .99.

Books for the Halloween Mood

Dark, creepy, and scary stories are perfect for this time of year. I enjoy a good horror movie or book and in the days leading up to Halloween, I can’t get enough.

I want to share a few books to get you in the Halloween mood that you might not have read. These authors are not as well known but that doesn’t mean their work isn’t excellent.


butcherbrideThe Butcher Bride” by Vince Churchill. I met Vince at a con in St. Louis in June. Great guy! He’s hilarious and we had a great competition going. In the end, he won the “Golden Screw” but it was close! (Go ahead and ask him when ya get the chance!) This book reminds me of 80’s slasher flicks. And I Love those kinds of movies. It’s set in a small Illinois town and centers on a haunted house around Halloween. Give it a try! Vince is an excellent writer who clearly loves horror and does it right.

 

 

 

 

 

nightmaresNightmares of a Madman” by John W. Smith. Despite his common name, John is not a common writer. I met him in St. Louis in May of 2016 and instantly hit it off. He has a couple short story collections featuring dark fiction similar to my two books. This is his debut collection and I was entertained from the beginning. Dark, twisted plots with some unusual characters fill this volume of stories. It’s certainly worth a read.

 

 

 

 

 

seasickSea Sick” by Iain Robb Wright. I came across Iain on Twitter and I’m thankful I did. He’s got an excellent writing voice and in this zombie novel, I couldn’t get enough. I say “zombie novel” but trust me, it’s not your run-of-the-mill story about zombies. There’s an interesting plot twist that makes it a highly entertaining read. I have four more books of his I intend on reading but I can’t recommend this one enough.

 

 

 

 

 

516qlpryx7lMoments of Darkness” by…me! (I had to do at least one shameless plug, right?) It’s my second collection of dark fiction short stories perfect for when your reading time is limited. My stories are often referred to as “slightly darker than Twilight Zone” which I take as an excellent compliment. I recommend this book but try it for yourself and let me know what you think!

 

 

 

 

 


There you have it.–four books to set the Halloween mood. Have you read any of these? Do you have others you’d like to recommend? Do so in the comments below and maybe help us discover new voices in dark fiction. Thanks!

 

Franken-script

Franken-script was a poorly written manuscript forced on readers who in return gave kind advice and suggestions. This flawed yet loved manuscript was lightly revised to eliminate the ultra-yucky parts and considered to be a prize winning student.

It found an editor to love it and whip it into shape. And that’s where the fun begins!

The brutal editor claimed a skeleton lay underneath the ragged body of a manuscript but would take a whole lot of work to add muscle and skin. Deep sorrow followed. It wasn’t the prize winning student after all. It was in fact a poor-mans representation of what a manuscript should be. A body created with inferior parts.

Two days later while playing at a writers conference, the grotesque manuscript found its way onstage in front of an auditorium filled with other writers in a slush-pile exercise. Out of almost a hundred manuscripts submitted, it was chosen at random to be one of just 6–6!!! manuscripts read out loud for all to hear. A panel of New York agents, editors, and small publishers judged when they’d reject it and move on. Followed by commentary. A slaughter ensued.

Fortunately it was anonymous and no one is the wiser. To protect the innocent I will not reveal the name of the bloody manuscript.

On the hour drive home from the conference with the tattered remains of the manuscript oozing in my car, I had a revelation. Or something.

Patchwork repair was no good. Severe trauma isn’t fixed with duct tape. This required reconstructive surgery.

Not long after arriving home, the new plan was set in place. I could rebuild it. Make it stronger. I had the tools. It would take time but in the end the skeleton will hold up to the new body created for it.

A new manuscript began. A new direction was created. New life emerged from the once monstrous manuscript. No longer would it be known by it’s former shell. It lives! It lives!

So let the lesson be learned. Out of hubris do not force an ugly, rotten, disgusting manuscript on the masses. Rebuild it. Gut it. Strip it to the gleaming white bones and layer strand after strand of new vibrant muscle until it beats again with life.

And when you’re forced to see the awful truth under the bright light of scrutiny, don’t run and hide. Use your tools and make it beautiful.

Doubt doesn’t belong in the lab.

 

*Note: The brutal editor is in fact an excellent editor and held nothing back for which I am grateful.