Lazy Weekend Reviews #4

In an effort to catch up on reviews and indulge in a lazy weekend, I've rounded up a few of my recent reads for quick reviews below. Included are The Shadow Queen by Sandra Gulland and Shadows and Dreams by Alexis Hall.

The Shadow Queen by Sandra Gulland

Genre: Historical Fiction

1660, Paris

Claudette’s life is like an ever-revolving stage set. From an impoverished childhood wandering the French countryside with her family’s acting troupe, Claudette finally witnesses her mother's astonishing rise to stardom in Parisian theaters. Working with playwrights Corneille, Molière and Racine, Claudette’s life is culturally rich, but like all in the theatrical world at the time, she's socially scorned.

A series of chance encounters gradually pull Claudette into the alluring orbit of Athénaïs de Montespan, mistress to Louis XIV and reigning "Shadow Queen." Needing someone to safeguard her secrets, Athénaïs offers to hire Claudette as her personal attendant.

Enticed by the promise of riches and respectability, Claudette leaves the world of the theater only to find that court is very much like a stage, with outward shows of loyalty masking more devious intentions. This parallel is not lost on Athénaïs, who fears political enemies are plotting her ruin as young courtesans angle to take the coveted spot in the king's bed.

Indeed, Claudette's "reputable" new position is marked by spying, illicit trysts and titanic power struggles. As Athénaïs, becomes ever more desperate to hold onto the King's favor, innocent love charms move into the realm of deadly Black Magic, and Claudette is forced to consider a move that will put her own life—and the family she loves so dearly—at risk.

Set against the gilded opulence of a newly-constructed Versailles and the War of Theaters, THE SHADOW QUEEN is a seductive, gripping novel about the lure of wealth, the illusion of power, and the increasingly uneasy relationship between two strong-willed women whose actions could shape the future of France.
   I found The Shadow Queen an appealing and entertaining change from what I expected. Historical fiction is either really amazing or really dull for me. This book fell into the former category. The author is liberal with her descriptions and it makes reading the book a very immersing experience.

  The only downsides for were easily overlooked. The title is a bit misleading to those expecting it to be about the Shadow Queen instead of her helper. And there were parts of the story that seemed oddly out of place. But all in all, I thoroughly enjoyed The Shadow Queen and would definitely recommend it to historical fiction fans!

**I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review with no compensation.

Shadows & Dreams by Alexis Hall
Kate Kane, Paranormal Investigator #2)

Genres: Urban Fantasy, LGBT

Second rule in this line of business: be careful who
you kill.

My name’s Kate Kane. And right now, I don’t know which is more dangerous: my job, or my girlfriend. My job makes me the go-to girl for every supernatural mystery in London. My girlfriend’s an eight-hundred-year-old vampire prince. Honestly, I think it’s probably a tie.

A few weeks ago, I was hired for a simple missing person case. Next thing I know, I’m being arrested for murder, a vampire army is tearing up London, and even my dreams are out to get me. Something ancient, evil, and scary as hell is on the loose and looking for payback. The vampires are in chaos, the werewolves are culling everything, and the Witch Queen can’t protect everyone.

Which means it’s down to me. And all I’ve got to hold back the shadows is a stiff drink, a quirky sidekick, my creepy ex-boyfriend, and the woman who left me for a tech startup. It’s going to be another interesting day.
  There is so much packed into the pages of this book! I didn't read the first book in this series, yet I did not struggle to get into the story. Alexis Hall is a master at inviting you into her world. There are a multitude of things happening in this book. Not  once did I get confused, though. It was a very easy and enjoyable read for me.

  Absolutely amazing is all I can say about Shadows and Dreams. I could gush about this book. Really, you should read it if you love urban fantasy served with a side of sass. Now excuse me while I go track down the first book in this series!

**I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review with no compensation.

Review: High Octane: Ignited by Rachel Cross and Ashlinn Craven

High Octane: Ignited
by Rachel Cross and Ashlinn Craven

Genres: New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Everyone’s fueled by something…

Cassidy Miller was living her dreams as an EMS helicopter pilot saving lives in Arizona but it all came crashing down. Suspended from her job and desperate to escape memories of that night, she jets to Europe and is swept along on a whirlwind world tour of Formula One racing courtesy of her father, an executive sponsor of a team. The last thing she needs is to get involved with a driver, who thrives on risk.

Sexy, daredevil British driver Ronan Hawes has no room in his life for anything but winning. Strategy meetings, press conferences, practices, sponsor events, and racing consume him. Halfway through the season, he’s on track to win the Formula One World Drivers Championship—a title that has eluded him for years—and no emotionally damaged woman, felon father, rookie rival, or rumor mill are going to run him off course.

From Brussels to Abu Dhabi, Texas to Germany, their relationship speeds across the globe, navigating the dangerous turns of life, love and racing.
  I'll admit that Formula One isn't something that I know much about. But in no way did that hinder me from enjoying High Octane: Ignited! The thing that I enjoyed the most about this book (besides the amazing writing!) was that the romance was never cut and dry. There were ups and downs to it that made it seep with reality and drew me in that much more.

  The characters of Ronan and Cassidy were brilliantly done. If you're looking for Mary-Sues, you won't find them here. Cassidy was someone that I softened to immediately. Her story is heartbreaking, and I was rooting for her from the start. Like I mentioned before, their story isn't cut and dry. But it was a memorable and enjoyable one.

  The level of detail that these two authors pay to the setting and characters is outstanding. It really brought the story to life. Even if you've never heard of Formula One like me, you will love this story! It's the perfect balance of finding your own way in life and meeting the one that you can't live without!

**I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review with no compensation.

Release Blitz: I Want It That Way by Ann Aguirre

IWITW RDL Banner  

We are absolutely thrilled to bring you the Release Day Launch for Ann Aguirre's I WANT IT THAT WAY! I WANT IT THAT WAY is a New Adult contemporary romance and is the first book in the 2B Trilogy Series, published by Harlequin HQN. We are already in love with this series and Ann's characters! Read the excerpt, then go grab your copy today!!

I Want It That Way
Amazon | B&N | BAM | Indiebound | Vroman’s | Book Depository | Powell’s| iTunes
Nadia Conrad has big dreams, and she’s determined
to make them come true. But between maintaining
her college scholarship and working at the local day care to support herself, dating’s the last thing on her mind. Then she moves into a new apartment and meets the taciturn yet irresistible guy in 1B….

Daniel Tyler has grown up too fast. Becoming a single dad at twenty turned his life upside down—and brought him heartache he can’t risk again. Now, as he raises his four-year-old son while balancing a full-time construction management job and night classes, the last thing he wants is noisy students living in the apartment upstairs. But one night, Nadia’s and Ty’s paths cross, and soon they can’t stay away from each other.

The timing is all wrong—but love happens when it happens. And you can’t know what you truly need until you stand to lose it.
"A tender, sweet, and sexy story about how life—and falling in love—can never be planned."

—Jennifer L. Armentrout, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Wait for You

IWITW Teaser

I WANT IT THAT WAY on Goodreads

Read the First Chapter HERE!

“Where are you from?”

Ah, an actual question. That means I can ask one back.

“Nebraska, toward the South Dakota and Wyoming side, if that helps.”

“I’ve never met anyone from there.”

Michigan was a long way from home. “I usually get ‘not in Nebraska anymore’ jokes, and then I have to decide if I’m going to remind them that’s Kansas or play along.”

“What do you usually do?”

“Play along.”

“You don’t like conflict, huh?” He sounded normal tonight, as if talking to me wasn’t an unpleasant chore anymore.

That was a relief since I’d come to look forward to these moments with him so much. More, maybe, than I’d like to admit.Right. Friends. I distracted myself by considering his question. “Not if it can be avoided. I’m not what you’d call pugnacious, no. But I like to think I don’t back off important issues. What about you?”

“No.” His voice was bleak and quiet. “I don’t. Even when I should.”

Wow, that took a dark turn.

If I could’ve jumped onto his patio without breaking an ankle or waking Sam, I’d have been down there like a shot. The distance between us seemed intolerable, and from the knot in my throat, I didn’t see how I could live another second without touching him, finding out if his hair was as soft as it looked or what he smelled like. I wanted him in a way I never had before.

In high school, I had a boyfriend who played basketball, and we broke up when I left the state. It was a rational decision, and I didn’t miss him that much once I was gone. My freshman year, I went out with a lot of different guys, one date here, two dates there, but I never clicked with anyone enough to focus on them. Sometimes there were hookups with no strings, no expectations. Classes, friends and work seemed a lot more important. The intensity of this attraction was foreign and frightening, if exhilarating. I might already be backing off if I had the faintest sense that Ty was jerking me around on purpose.

Wish he didn’t make me feel this way. It’d be so much simpler if I could friend-zone him.

I realized I still hadn’t touched his verbal grenade. “We all have things we’d do differently in hindsight.”

“What is it about you?” he asked in a wondering tone.


“You make me…better. Calmer.”

“Like a sedative?” I snickered. It was the least sexy thing a guy had ever said to me, including a junior high squeeze who said my face wasn’t actually that bad.

He laughed, too, a sheepish sound. “I didn’t mean it like that. Just…I’m worried pretty much all the time that I’m dropping the ball somewhere, about to face-plant, but when I come out here and hear your voice, everything backs off like ten steps. I can breathe again.”

IWITW Available now

Author PhotoAnn Aguirre is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author and RITA winner with a degree in English Literature; before she began writing full time, she was a clown, a clerk, a voice actress, and a savior of stray kittens, not necessarily in that order. She grew up in a yellow house across from a cornfield, but now she lives in sunny Mexico with her husband, children, and various pets. Ann likes books, emo music, action movies, and she writes all kinds of genre fiction for adults and teens, published with Harlequin, Macmillan, and Penguin, among others.

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Pretty Little Indies: Amy Dunne

  I'm really excited to have Amy Dunne around for Pretty Little Indies today! Young Adult LGBT fiction is so important. Keep reading for my review of Secret Lies and to enter to win your own copy!

Secret Lies by Amy Dunne

Genres: Young Adult, LGBT, Romance

Would you face your biggest fear, to save the one
you love?

Nicola Jackson escapes from her abuser, only to realize she has no one to turn to and nowhere to go. In a twist of fate, she accidentally bumps into Jenny O’Connor, the most popular girl at school. They strike up an unlikely friendship. As their trust in each other develops, they share their darkest secrets, and their relationship blossoms into a secret romance.

Jenny loves Nicola, but she is fearful that if their secret relationship is discovered, she might lose her family, friends, and her seemingly perfect life.

Nicola confronts her abuser and blackmails him to leave for good, but things go terrifyingly wrong. Jenny is left with a life-changing dilemma: should she face her fear and accept who she is, or let Nicola take the blame and pretend their relationship never happened?
  What a flashback to my own teenage years! Amy Dunne masterfully captures the moods and emotions of these characters and blends them perfectly into this story. The attention paid to the characters enhances the story so much and makes it so much more enjoyable to watch these complex people evolve and grow throughout this book.

  This book is seeping with reality. Some of it is harsh and hard to read. It's all too real. It's another testament of Amy's that she can bring something to life so well that you feel it just like Nicola does. The evolution of romance is also told in a realistic way that brought a lot of emotions that I've experienced myself to the surface. If I had to sum up Secret Lies with only one word it would be realistic. Amy Dunne makes everything in this story come to life and capture your attention and heart.

  Secret Lies is packed with emotions. It isn't a book to be taken lightly. But still, I recommend it to anyone looking for more LGBT fiction. It tells a story that will resonate with you long after you've finished.

**I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review with no compensation.

Amy was raised in Derbyshire, England. She attended Keele University and graduated in 2007 with a BSc in philosophy and psychology. After graduating, she worked for a while with vulnerable young people until she moved on to deliver training and educational courses. She is currently in the process of setting up her own speech writing business aptly named, Gift of the Gab. She and her lovely partner Lou celebrated their Civil Partnership at the start of this year. They share a love of Dolly Parton and live with their two gorgeous cats and very naughty puppy.

Head over to my Birthday Bash Kick-Off to enter to win a signed paperback or an ebook of Secret Lies.

Book Blitz: Pieces of Me by Kira Adams

Pieces of Me
by Kira Adams 
For sixteen year old Peyton Lane, life has
never been easy. She’s not popular,
overweight, and oh yeah, her sister is embarrassed of her. But over the course of a tumultuous year, everything changes for Peyton.

Suddenly all eyes are on her and it’s not because she’s fat. From a pair of handsome twins to a couple of dangerously sexy rockers, Peyton will have to find out who she can trust with her heart. From the ups and downs to the twists and turns—this is Peyton’s story of finding one’s voice and growing into your own.

This is a coming of age romance that involves realistic situations and raw emotions. This is Pieces of Me.

We were seated on the couch in his hotel, close enough to touch, but far enough away to be appropriate in any situation. I was wiping away tears in the corner of my eyes from laughing so hard at something Colton had said, when he changed everything. “Do you have any idea how beautiful you are?” he asked out of nowhere, tucking a stray piece of hair behind my ear.

I was suddenly aware I was shaking, uncontrollably. It was an uncomfortable sight, so I got up suddenly and retreated to an adjacent wall, which I leaned upon. I couldn’t even look at him. No one had ever called me beautiful before; it had to be too good to be true. He obviously felt the awkward tension and didn’t waste any time addressing it. “Hey, are you okay?” he asked, as he rose and started slowly coming towards me.

My heart was beating faster and harder with each step he took forward. I couldn’t remember how to breathe. I was pretty sure I was going to faint, but was surprised to see I was still alert when he finally made his way to me. “Hey.” He touched my cheek softly, “What’s wrong?”

I couldn’t look him in the eyes with such an embarrassing confession, so I did my best to look away. “No one has told me that before.”

“What? That you’re beautiful?” Suddenly something seemed to click for him. I saw pain in his eyes, the realization finally making its appearance. “You are beautiful, Peyton.” He looked down into my eyes for a long time, willing me to believe him, willing me to see what he saw.
Krista Pakseresht has always been a dreamer. From the first time she opened her eyes. Creating worlds through words is one thing she is truly talented at. She specializes in Young adult/New adult romance, horror, action, fantasy, and non-fiction under the pen name Kira Adams.

She is the author of the Infinite Love series, the Foundation series, the Darkness Falls series, and the Looking Glass series.

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Birthday Bash: An Open Letter to Indie Authors

Click the banner to go to the kick-off post with two huge giveaways!
  Wow! This past week has been amazing. Thank you so much to everyone who has helped me celebrate my birthday. The two giveaways will be open through the first week of September, so hop over and enter if you haven't already. I want to give a huge thank you to the authors who wrote guest posts for this event. You guys are rock stars!

Dear Indie Authors,

  I can still remember the first Indie book that I bought. It was Tracey Ward's Writing on the Wall. After holding out for years, I had finally given in and put the Kindle app on my phone to see what the fuss was about. Late at night, I was scrolling through pages of books and hoping that some would leap out to me to help me fight off insomnia. Whenever I saw Writing on the Wall, I second guessed it because zombies. I've never been a fan. But less than a day later, Tracey Ward had sold me on zombies and Indie authors. I was hooked.

  All of you are an immense inspiration. Far too many people think that traditional publishing is the only viable and legit way to be an author. How wrong they are. Every single one of you who give the middle finger to common perceptions and do it your own way are what makes me happy to be a reader and a book blogger.

  My entire life, I have struggled with anxiety and depression. Reading has always been my escape from the panic attacks and endless stream of thoughts. For a few years, depression took my passion away. I was so uninterested in reading. It was horrible. But all of the changed whenever I discovered the world of Indie authors. You guys have given me my love for reading back. You guys make me excited to sit down with my Kindle. You guys make it okay for me to spend a day in bed whenever I just need a break. You guys mean more to me than you know.

  So, thank you. Thank you for chasing your dreams. Thank you for giving me so many diverse worlds to escape to. Thank you for never giving up. Thank you for giving me characters that go against the norms and seem like real people. Thank you for giving me characters that feel like lifelong friends. Thank you for being not only an author but a friend. Thank you for sacrificing your own time to write these books. Please, don't ever stop.

Kittens and hugs,

Birthday Bash: Tracey Ward Guest Post

Click the banner to go to the kick-off post with two huge giveaways!

  Right. So. I'm a fangirl for a lot of things. But one Indie author will be forever at the top of my fangirling list. And that's none other than Tracey Ward. She was the very first Indie author that I ever found. She's entirely responsible for my Indie author obsession. Whenever she agreed to write this guest post, I may or may not have done some weird jig dance freak out. The cat wasn't impressed. See, I'm rambling gushing. I'll shut up and let you guys read why Tracey Ward is my spirit animal!

Insta-love and How It Eats My Soul
by Tracey Ward
You know that Oscar Mayer commercial where the family is sitting around watching a movie together and there's a voice over that proclaims, "I don't care if you're a vampire! I love you!" and the dad buries his face into a pillow to scream until his lungs are empty and his throat is raw with rage?

That's me when I read most romances out there. It's actually the reason I finally felt the push to write a romance of my own. I'd read so much cookie cutter formulaic crap that I couldn't take it anymore. I wanted to put out something real.

Granted, I write mostly Sci Fi and none of it is remotely real, but i like to think that the love is. That the romance is the true thing that grounds the reader and gives them a genuine connection to an impossible world. And I feel like believing a bad boy with a broken past meeting an "ordinary" girl and finding her extraordinary (life changing, earth shattering, world view altering kind of extraordinary) within two minutes and promptly centering his world, heart, body, and soul around her is a bigger leap of faith than zombies and teleportation. Chill with her at an airport when she's sunburned, hungover, her flight is delayed overnight, her cell phone is dead, and the Starbucks is closed. That's a true color situation right there, and depending on how she handles it, you might want to rethink your instant eternal undying love.

I'm not saying love can't happen quickly. You shouldn't have to read a War and Peace sized tome to get to the good stuff, but you gotta work for it a little bit! I met and married my husband within 13 months. It's pretty quick but when you know, you know. But no one knows in 2 days. No one. The newness needs to wear off. You have to stop forgiving their flaws and accepting them instead. And if you can't accept them, you need to bounce. If it annoys you in the first three months, it will land you as the subject matter on CSI in ten years. That's a romance no one wants to read.

Personally, I want to earn it. I want to wait for it and anticipate it eagerly like it's Christmas morning. I want to see the feelings build and the characters grow into them. I want a journey. I want that payoff. I want to smile and sigh and say, "Finally!" when the people I've become invested in make that leap into love.

But just in case, I always keep a pillow nearby...

I was born in Eugene, Oregon and studied English Literature at the University of Oregon (Go Ducks!) It was there that I discovered why Latin is a dead language and that being an English teacher was not actually what I wanted to do with my life.

My husband, my son and my 80lbs pitbull who thinks he's a lapdog are my world.

Birthday Bash: Amy Dunne Guest Post

Click the banner to go to the kick-off post with two huge giveaways!
  The guest post today is from Amy Dunne. It's one that I have been anticipating all week. LGBTQI is something that is close to my heart and that I am very passionate about. I'm constantly trying to diversify my reading list by adding LGBTQI literature to it. The world needs more of it and more authors like Amy Dunne. Whenever I read this guest post for the first time, it brought tears to my eyes. I hope you enjoy this post as much as I did. And don't forget to head over to the kick-off post to enter to win a copy of Amy's book, Secret Lies.

Throughout my teenage years I read anything and everything I could get my hands on. I’ve always enjoyed reading, but it was more than reading for pleasure that was driving me. I was searching for something unknown, but I felt certain I’d recognise it as soon as I found it. And I did, in my early twenties.

I’d just graduated from university, returned to live with my parents, and my first serious relationship which happened to be with a woman, had ended badly. My Catholic family weren’t thrilled at my newly discovered sexuality and made it clear that this phase was over, and I should concentrate on the straight and narrow. The relationship with my ex hadn’t been a positive experience and as a result I’d lost some friends. I felt alone and depressed.

One night while buying books off the internet, I came across a section I honestly hadn’t seen before. Gay and lesbian fiction. It was like a bolt out of the blue. Excitement and nerves coursed through my veins, as I perused the lists of books. In my naivety, I was surprised and couldn’t believe how many books were available. I purchased one just to see what it was like. When it arrived, I searched my room for the perfect hideaway and decided I’d only read a few chapters. Seven hours later and totally sleep deprived, I realised I’d finally found what I was looking for.

All those years spent reading books I’d secretly been searching for something I could relate to. I wanted to feel represented in the pages and feel an affinity to a character. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always enjoyed reading mainstream fiction and I still have certain favourite authors whose latest work I eagerly buy and read. But I found my reading experience was different when I started to feel more for the characters and stories. For instance, I’ve never been great with reading sex scenes. When I read one of these scenes in a mainstream heterosexual book (even before I fully accepted the fact I was a lesbian) I always feel...meh. It held no appeal whatsoever. When I read a sex scene in a lesbian fiction book, I blush, go bright read, skim the pages etc, but aside from by Catholic prudishness, it does invoke feelings and emotions. Reading about the attraction, flirtation, feelings, emotions, romance, and love between two women is something I can 100% relate to.

I also appreciate that these days most lesfic books have a happy ending. I know that sounds bizarre and some claim it’s not realistic, but I don’t want doom and gloom all the time. In the not so distant past most lesfic books ended with tragedy. The main protagonist/s would suddenly come to their senses and realise they weren’t really a lesbian and what they were doing was morally, ethically, socially, and religiously wrong, so they would find the error of their ways, marry a suitable man, produce children, miraculously embrace their inner domestic goddess, and become a pillar of their community. Those who didn’t embrace heterosexual life would often end up being diagnosed as mentally ill and deeply unhappy. In some cases, they might die or commit suicide. Not exactly the cheeriest of reading material.

Today, lesfic is growing from strength to strength. There’s a wide range of high quality fiction available from a variety of publishers and indie authors. If you want to read a lesfic novel about pirates, ghosts, vampires, werewolves, spies, zombies, the future, history, surviving in space, erotica, or a contemporary romance, there are lesbian books out there for you. Basically, there’s pretty much any genre you can think of. And I love the diversity of the stories and characters. There are books for everyone’s taste. My wife refuses to read anything weird—by weird, she means anything supernatural or out of the ordinary. She has yet to run out of lesfic reading material which shows how much fiction is out there. I still read anything and everything with the exception of erotica. I also tried my hand at writing lesfic.

After university I worked with vulnerable young people in care, and one day I asked one of the young people why they didn’t enjoy reading. They said the characters and stories were always about the popular and perfect people, and that wasn’t who they were. At that time, YA fiction was still new and sparse, and so it dawned on me that this person was right. I made up my mind to write a YA novel that showcased the strength and resilience that the young people I worked with showed on a daily basis.

My debut novel, Secret Lies is a classed as a YA story and was published by Bold Strokes Books in December 2013. It addresses the gritty themes of abuse and self-harm, but also explores everything that comes with experiencing first love and accepting sexuality. It’s had positive reviews and what I’ve found to be the case is that you don’t have to be a young adult to enjoy it. YA fiction is just another genre, not a reading age. YA fiction is huge today! I’m proud to say I enjoy reading it and I’m not alone.

I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to many readers about their thoughts on Secret Lies and their ages range from fifteen to seventy-five. At least half of those readers also identified as heterosexual, which goes to show you really don’t have to identify as LGBTQI to enjoy reading our books. All that matters is that there’s a good story.

So, if you’re looking for high quality stories and you’re open to the prospect of LGBTQI protagonists and relationships, there are a wealth of novels in a vast variety of genres just waiting for you to read. Enjoy!

Amy was raised in Derbyshire, England. She attended Keele University and graduated in 2007 with a BSc in philosophy and psychology. After graduating, she worked for a while with vulnerable young people. She's now concentrating on developing her writing. She's married to her best friend and lovely wife Lou. They share a love of Dolly Parton and live with their two gorgeous cats and very naughty dog. Amy loves to hear from her readers. You can find her at:

Birthday Bash: Kira Adams' Top Ten

Click the banner to go to the kick-off post with two huge giveaways!
 Today I am so very excited to have someone that I consider not only a fabulous Indie author but a friend here for the birthday bash. A lot of times, I wonder how Indie authors manage to do what they do. Without the support of a large publishing house behind them, they often have to take the job of author, editor, publisher, and publicist by themselves. It's inspiring and mind-boggling. Krista Pakseresht, who writes as Kira Adams, shares some of the things she's learned as an Indie writer. Stick around for her Top Ten then head to the kick-off page to enter to win copies of her amazing books!

1. Beta readers are invaluable. One of the first things I did when I decided I wanted to write more seriously was join the site, Goodreads. There are hundreds of people on there who are interested in beta reading, and they all do it out of the kindness of their heart—asking for no monetary compensation. Each and every one of my books went through multiple rounds of beta readers who helped me address problems with the plot, flow, characterization, and even sometimes, spelling and grammar. I honestly believe if it were not for Goodreads and the beta readers help, I wouldn’t be the author I am today.

2. Where is the rush? I hastily made the decision to publish my first book after being fed up with my life in general—I would not recommend this. I missed minor formatting errors and settled for the story as it was even though I had inner doubts about it. Although thousands of readers were happy with the version that was published, I have already edited it once and will probably revise and update the published copies once more if I decide to delve back into the story. I also missed the opportunity to promote at all. Even though I have found book bloggers (and thank God for them), it is still very hard work. I would recommend taking your time to publish your novel.

This is the format I would follow if you are interested in self-publishing: Write the story, edit the story, have the story beta read, put the story away for a little bit of time to breathe while you begin something new, edit the story again, have it beta read one more time, edit it for the final time, format it for e-books and paperbacks, promote, promote, promote, publish.

3. Join online writing communities such as Wattpad, Figment, Authonomy, Scribophile, etc. Joining a site like Wattpad has been life-changing for me. It is a website that merges readers and aspiring writers with published authors and even agents sometimes. You are able to post your stories chapter by chapter and others have the opportunity to read, comment, and vote on your works as well as follow your profile and add your books to their libraries. There are also forums you can join that give advice on the ins and outs of the industry. A majority of the website is the younger generation, tweens and teens, however Wattpad is filled with aspiring writers and published authors of all backgrounds.

I joined the site in September 2013, and since then I have 645 followers, over 7000 votes, and upwards of 35,000 reads on some of my stories. Even though I have not and will not ever receive any monetary compensation from having my stories on Wattpad, I will be a lifer. I cannot tell you how much of a community it is and how supportive my followers have been for me as well as advice I’ve been given on improving my novels; I cannot say enough great things about Wattpad. I think I should be their mascot!

4. Your friends and family will come around. Don’t be offended if your friends and family don’t read your stories right away or even bother to buy them when they are released. Things to keep in mind, everyone has their own life and are busy living it—they will support you when they see the hard work. Also, factor in what genre you are writing in because not everyone will be interested in Young Adult or New Adult Romances.

5. If you have the opportunity to have a critiquing partner who will swap a few chapters at a time, TAKE IT. While beta readers can be helpful to no end, a critiquing partner can and will become passionate about your work; they will push you to write new chapters and even though they won’t go easy on you just because you’ve built a rapport, they will support you to no end.

6. Go with the flow. As much as I love outlines and have used them plenty of times in the past, I have always been a firm believer in writing what you feel is right in the moment. My stories with the biggest recognition have not been planned out, I believe that’s what kept the intensity building from start to finish. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying there is anything wrong with outlines, I am just saying if your gut is telling you to write something, don’t feel confined to your outline.

7. The ups and downs of Print-on-Demand. When I published my first two novels, I chose the website Createspace to help with the paperback copies I would be needing. I love how self-sufficient their website makes you feel and how quickly they can approve everything for publishing (within 24-48 hours).

Pros: Createspace is very easy to use and navigate.

Cons: The royalties are about 30% your book price, which in the grand scheme of things isn’t much.

8. You do not have to pay a fortune for a cover that could compete in the traditional publishing world, trust me. One of the best decisions I ever made was asking a peer on Wattpad to make my covers professionally for me; little did I know, she actually wanted to be a cover designer! I approached her and we worked out a 6-book deal for a VERY affordable price. She not only works with me to make sure I am satisfied in full, but she has a ridiculously fast turnaround. Sometimes it’s as quick as 24-hours. Her name is Emmy Logan and she is the creator of Cover Me Designs, do yourself a favor and check out some of her creations—you won’t regret it.

9. Find Book Bloggers who review self-published titles. Reach out but be respectful, some of them may agree to review your book even though it doesn’t interest them. Be content and satisfied with each one that that takes the time. They are essentially who is going to help create buzz and build an audience for upcoming titles.

10. If you do not want to deal with the hassle of formatting the eBook—DON’T. I’m not going to release her name in fear she may get too booked up for me to use her on future projects; but, I found a decent eBook formatter who gets it ready for both platforms, Epub and Mobi within a week or two for $20. Twenty dollars is nothing compared to the headaches and hours you’ll spend trying to get everything right.

  Krista Pakseresht has always been a dreamer. From the first time she opened her eyes. Creating worlds through words is one thing she is truly talented at. She specializes in Young adult/New adult romance, horror, action, fantasy, and non-fiction under the pen name Kira Adams. She is the author of the Infinite Love series, the Foundation series, the Darkness Falls series, and the Looking Glass series.

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