Friday, August 30, 2013

COVER REVEAL + Giveaway: Finding Home by Lauren McKellar

Today I have a very special cover reveal for you. Lauren McKellar is one of my fellow Aussie Owned and Read girls, and she is full of awesomesauce. I'm very proud of her, and so pleased to be able to participate in the first glimpse of her debut novel, Finding Home, which will be released October 1, 2013.

Isn't it beautiful? It's so simple and elegant, and full of feeling. I can't wait for its release.

Moody, atmospheric, and just a little bit punk, Finding Home takes contemporary YA to a new level of grit...

When Amy’s mum dies, the last thing she expects is to be kicked off her dad’s music tour all the way to her Aunt Lou in a depressing hole of a seaside town. But it’s okay — Amy learned how to cope with the best, and soon finds a hard-drinking, party-loving crowd to help ease the pain.

The only solace is her music class, but even there she can’t seem to keep it together, sabotaging her grade and her one chance at a meaningful relationship. It takes a hard truth from her only friend before Amy realises that she has to come to terms with her past, before she destroys her future.

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‘Look, I have to go. Can we talk about this later?’ Dad was asking Mum. Joe had shut the door behind him, and it was a good thing he did too, because when Dad had finished speaking, Mum picked up an empty bottle of Grey Goose vodka and threw it at his head. She missed, missed by a mile, but that didn’t stop the bottle hitting the wall behind him and shattering into thousands of tiny pieces.

‘Jesus!’ Dad exclaimed. He turned around, surveying the damage.

‘Oh, look what I did! Can’t have clean-cut Stevie D trashing the green room. People might talk!’ Mum’s voice dripped with sarcasm. It sounded hoarse, no doubt a result of the hours she’d spent alternating between crying and screaming up until now.

‘Even if this was our bloody lounge room, I would still be furious! You can’t just throw s**t like that.’

‘I’ll throw whatever I want to throw!’ Mum yelled. ‘You’re so uptight.’ She walked up to Dad and put her hands on his shoulders, shaking them. ‘Give up this stupid dream already.’

‘And do what? I can’t afford your habits any other way. If I don’t sing, you have to get a job.’ Dad shook his head.

I inched around behind them and started to pick up the pieces of glass. They were all different sizes, and some had gotten stuck in the carpet. They required a bit of twisting to retrieve, but the others I could pick up with ease and place in my hand.

‘What do you want me to do? I don’t have any skills. And there’s clearly only one thing you think I’m good at these days,’ Mum said, leering. She pulled at her top, exposing her d├ęcolletage.

I focused on the glass again. I counted each piece in my hand. Thirty-six, thirty-seven, thirty-eight. On the fortieth piece, a shard broke through my skin, spilling bright red blood. Funny. I hadn’t thought my skin would be so thin.

‘Amy, you’re hurt!’ Mum pushed past Dad and came to kneel next to me. ‘What are you doing?’ She knocked my hand with her own, and the pieces of glass flew up into the air and landed back on the floor.

All my efforts — ruined.

‘Let me see,’ Dad said.

‘Get the hell away from her!’ Mum yelled, raising her voice again.

‘Do we have to do this in front of Amy?’ Dad asked. I felt them turn to look at me. Did they think I hadn’t heard? That the fights they’d been having all day in the adjacent hotel room hadn’t resonated with a hatred that travelled through walls?

‘Please don’t,’ was all I could say. But it was enough. Dad left the room, and Mum tended to my hand, spilling some vodka to cleanse it before wrapping it in a spare t-shirt.

‘I’m sorry, baby,’ Mum whispered to me. ‘I promise, things are going to get better.’

Only they didn’t. They got much, much worse.

About the author: 
Lauren K. McKellar is an author and editor. Her debut novel, Finding Home, will be released through Escape Publishing on October 1, 2013.

As well as being a magazine editor for a national audited publication on pet care, Lauren works as a freelance editor for independent authors. She is also a Senior Editor for digital romance house, Entranced Publishing.

Lauren is a member of the Romance Writers of Australia and is obsessed with words--she really likes the way they work.

She lives on the Central Coast of New South Wales with her fiance and their two fur-children.

You can stalk Lauren at the following links: 
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

This cover reveal was hosted by Hardcover Therapy.

K x

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Evolution of a Cover - From Sketch to Illustration

Anyone who knows me also knows I’m a little bit of a control freak, and a perfectionist.

Making the decision to ask someone else to do the cover for Immagica was really, really hard. But I wanted the cover to be unique. The story was screaming for an illustrated cover, and I knew illustration was something I couldn’t do well. I made a compromise with myself (more than anyone) that I’d have a professional do the illustration, and then I would do the layout/design.

See, I need to be in (some sort of) control.

And it paid off—big time! I am so very happy with how the cover for Immagica turned out, as you’d probably know if you follow me on twitter or like my Facebook page.

Today I wanted to tell you a bit about the process involved with having someone illustrate for you. I’ve even got pics to show you!

What I originally wanted is nothing like what I ended up getting. My vision was very different in the beginning. I wanted a leather-look cover with Rosaline’s amulet embedded on it like the actual book in the story. Think the cover of the book in The Neverending Story movie. My heart still yearns for this type of cover, so who knows, I might release a different edition later down the track (if all goes well).

Below is a nice little sketch I did of the amulet that Rosaline wears. Now do you see why I needed an illustrator? For one, I can’t illustrate. I can draw if I put my mind to it, but it would take me forever to get it right and it would never be good enough. For two, how do you find a stock image of something your brain created?

It turned out the sketch I did wasn’t a complete waste of time because the amulet still needed to be on the cover. My illustrator, Lawrence Mann, steered me in a different (and better) direction. After all, he’s been illustrating for more than fifteen years, he probably knows what he’s doing. I’m just a mere layout designer with adequate (I like to think advanced) Photoshop kills. He said he had an idea, so I let him go with it. This is what he gave me on the first round.


See how well my amulet sketch worked out for me! But, I admit I wasn’t sold. There are a few things I don’t like about this. I couldn’t really gauge Rosaline’s expression, and the amulet is too big. Plus, it felt like she was saying, “hey, look at my amulet”. It’s just a bit awkward. I wanted the book on the cover as well since it and the amulet are such integral parts of the story. So, Lawrence sent me the full sketch.

I liked this better, but I still didn’t like the way Rosaline was holding the amulet. By this stage, Lawrence was probably getting annoyed with me and my pickiness—it all stems back to being a control freak—but he was very patient and said he had another idea he wanted to show me. This is what I got.

This sketch made me smile, big! We were almost there, but I wanted to fix a few things. I loved that Rosaline is holding the book, but the amulet is too big. She needs short sleeves on her top, and her expression is a bit weird, as in it doesn’t fit the story. I wanted her awestruck and looking at the book, but Lawrence said we should maintain eye contact. I was all cool with that as long as she didn’t look like she was smirking in a bored kind of way. Lawrence went away again, tweaked a few things from my feedback, and he came back with this.

Now we’re talking! This made me jump around the room like an excited idiot. I must admit I was a little concerned about her eyes. They’re creepy-looking in this sketch. And I questioned the proportion of the bars on the amulet. Here is where Lawrence probably rolled his eyes at me, and probably not for the first time. He assured me it’s just a sketch, and I needed to wait to see the final illustration. Everything would fall into place. Keeping in mind I like to be in control, I took a leap of faith and left it in his very capable hands.

You've all seen the amazing job Lawrence did with the finished cover. The pic below gives you an idea on how accurate the final illustration is in relation to the sketch.

The end result all comes down to communication and working with someone who is the right fit for you. Lawrence has an awesome amount of patience, which you need when you're working with a control freak like me, and I can guarantee I'll be asking him to do more work for me in the future. A great illustrator is worth every penny you pay them, plus a whole heap more. The process is not a quick one, but the end result is well worth the wait.

To check out Lawrence's totally amazing portfolio, go HERE, and if you need an illustrator for your next project I can highly recommend him.

K x

Monday, August 26, 2013

REVIEW + Giveaway The Forgotten Ones by Laura Howard

About The Book:
Allison O'Malley's plan is to go to grad school so she can get a good job and take care of her schizophrenic mother. She has carefully closed herself off from everything else, including a relationship with Ethan, who she's been in love with for as long as she can remember.

What is definitely not part of the plan is the return of her long-lost father, who claims he can bring Allison's mother back from the dark place her mind has gone. Allison doesn't trust her father, so why would she believe his stories about a long forgotten Irish people, the Tuatha de Danaan? But truths have a way of revealing themselves. Secrets will eventually surface. And Allison must learn to set aside her plan and work with her father if there is even a small chance it could restore her mother's sanity.

Check out the rest of the tour stops via Xpresso Book Tours HERE.

About the Author:
Laura Howard lives in New Hampshire with her husband and four children. Her obsession with books began at the age of 6 when she got her first library card. Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley High and other girly novels were routinely devoured in single sittings. Books took a backseat to diapers when she had her first child. It wasn’t until the release of a little novel called Twilight, 8 years later, that she rediscovered her love of fiction. Soon after, her own characters began to make themselves known. The Forgotten Ones is her first published novel.

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

My Review:
Favourite line: "I'm perfectly happy with a good book and a bowl of Double Fudge ice cream."

Yes, Allison, so am I!

Firstly, I have to say that the cover of The Forgotten Ones is pure awesomeness. I love it! So, so pretty. The font, the image, the colours, everything is beautiful.

Okay, so I went into this book with a preconceived expectation that was fulfilled, but not in the way I assumed it would be. The cover and title lent towards something magical and mystical, so when I was almost half way and hadn’t encountered anything in the way of magic (as in waving wands and stuff, not romantic magic, although there wasn’t much of that either), I was convinced I was reading a contemporary romance.

Then bam! We have magic faeries flitting around causing all sorts of trouble. Cool.

I’m going to back-track and start with Allison and Ethan’s relationship. I loved the tension between them, but sometimes I wanted to smack her over the head. Seriously, she’d been in love with this guy for forever, and he was obviously into her, but Allison kept making excuses. Her main reason was because Ethan was a player, but I didn’t really see that. If a girl was hanging off him, he made the effort to untangle himself and run to her. There was never any big event that Allison witnessed Ethan doing to suggest he was with heaps of girls. I wanted Allison and Ethan to get it on more.

Now, back to the bam! moment.

The first half of this book read like a contemporary romance, then all of a sudden I was thrown into a magical world with conniving faeries, some of them imprisoned, others creepy, and way too many complicated names to make sense of, or try and remember. At one point there were two guys fighting each other and their names both started with A. I got confused and it took me a while to work out if the guy who won was the guy I thought he was. I ended up skimming over the names because I didn’t know how to pronounce them. There was a pronunciation guide at the back of the book, but I didn’t know it was there until I'd finished. I think I wouldn’t have struggled so much if I’d read this first.

The reason for all the faerie fighting: Allison’s mum is schizophrenic. Allison has grown up with no father and spends all her time worrying about her mother. She also believes she is the reason for her mum’s illness. Cue creepy faerie man, Liam. He turns up looking for Allison’s mum, and is actually Allison’s long lost dad, and everything goes to hell. She disappears, Ethan disappears, and Allison goes to faerie land to save them.

Despite the things I didn’t like, I did enjoy The Forgotten Ones. It was a fast and easy read, but not one that grabbed my complete attention. There were too many characters for me to get invested in anyone in particular, and Allison was a little boring really. My favourite moment by far was the one kiss Allison and Ethan shared, but it was over so quickly. I really like Ethan, and I wish Allison had given him more of a chance.

The ending: We’re left with a cliff-hanger, but I didn’t feel as if there was a huge lead up to it. The story just sort of stopped. I love a good cliff-hanger, but I’m not a fan of this sudden-stop type of ending, and for me there was no satisfactory resolution. I know it’s part of a trilogy, but the second book isn’t out yet! This is the kind of book where you need the next one to keep going with the story, and I do want to find out what happens.

Overall I liked The Forgotten Ones, but I didn’t love it. That’s okay though, because there are plenty of people that will love it, and I encourage you to give it a go for yourself. You never know, it may be your favourite read of 2013.

The Giveaway:
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K x

Friday, August 23, 2013

Immagica COVER REVEAL + Giveaway

The clocks in the US are ticking past the midnight mark into August 23rd, and it's time to reveal the cover for my next book:

I'm really excited about this project. I wrote Immagica back in late 2011 and it was one of those stories that just flowed out of my fingers. It even got a full manuscript request from Random House, but they declined publication. I'm just as passionate about this story as I am about my angels and vampires, so earlier this year I pulled it out of the drawer, dusted it off, and gave it a face-lift.

I hope you like the cover as much as I do. I think I'm actually in love with it.

Immagica wouldn't look so awesome without the help of the most amazing illustrator on the planet, and possibly on every other planet that exists or has ever existed (and the ones that we don't know exist). Lawrence Mann is indescribably awesome. He went above and beyond what I expected, and the first time I saw Rosaline brought to life, I almost cried. I originally had a very different vision for this cover, but Lawrence was able to gently steer me in the right direction, and expertly pluck the right information from my brain. He is very patient, and extremely easy to work with. Lawrence gave me the feeling that he loves my book just as much as I do. Make sure you check out his other work, and if you need an illustration for you next project, I highly recommend him. You can stay up to date with what Lawrence is doing on Facebook and twitter.

Title: Immagica
Author: K. A. Last
Genre: YA Fantasy/Adventure
Expected Date of Publication: November 2013
Word Count: approximately 66,000
Cover Illustration:
Cover Designer: KILA Designs

Book Blurb:
Where anything is possible, but not always controllable.
Enter at your own risk.

The night before her fifteenth birthday, Rosaline Clayton receives an amulet from her deranged father. He tells her she must find the book, and begs her to save him. Rosaline is used to her father not making any sense, and she dismisses their conversation as another of his crazy rants.

Rosaline and her younger brother, Elliot, find the old, leather-bound book tucked away in their Nana’s attic, and it sucks them into its pages. They land in a magical world where anything is possible, but when Rosaline and Elliot are separated, the only thing Rosaline wants is to find her brother and go home.

The creatures of Immagica have other ideas. Rosaline befriends a black unicorn, two fairies, and a girl named Brynn, who are under threat from a menacing dragon. Rosaline discovers she is bound to Immagica in ways she doesn’t understand, and the fate of this magical world rests entirely on her shoulders.

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The book flew open and a gust of wind whipped my curls around my face. The pages riffled back and forth before coming to a halt, open at the first page. This was getting a little weird. I was about to slam the book shut when words began to appear of their own volition, right before our eyes.

“Um, Elliot. Can you see that? Or am I as crazy as Dad?”

“I can see it,” he whispered.

Immagica, the place where anything is possible,
but not always controllable.
Enter at your own risk.

“What a load of crap,” I said, picking the book up. The new line of text flickered gold and pulsed, on then off, then on again, like a flashing, neon sign. I gingerly picked up the corner of the page and peeked under it to the next, but it was blank.

“How do we enter?” Elliot asked, leaning into me and staring at the book.

“Why do you keep asking me all these questions? You’re here, you know as much as I do.”

“You’re older, and always acting so much smarter than me,” Elliot said. I poked my tongue out.

“That’s real mature.” He rolled his eyes.

“Oh, so you’re Mr Maturity now you’re a teenager.”

“Sometimes I’m more mature than you!”

While we argued, we were oblivious to what was happening. The book riffled its pages again, and another gust of wind hit our faces. Before we knew what was happening, the golden glow exploded from the book and sucked us in. That’s the best way I can describe it. One minute we were in my room, surrounded by my grandmother’s elegant interior decorating, and the next we were enveloped with gold light.

At first I felt Elliot beside me, but then he was gone. The light was warm, like a soft, fuzzy blanket. Then the ground hit me in the face. It was hard and rough. The force of my landing knocked the wind out of me, and I tumbled over myself before coming to a halt on my back. Above me was an azure sky dotted with fluffy, marshmallow clouds. I turned my head and spotted the book lying closed on the ground a few metres away. I tried to move to retrieve it, but it took a few moments before I could roll onto my side and get to my knees.

When I finally managed to stand, I took in my surroundings with wide eyes. The sky may have been blue, but the ground was dirty charcoal. Lumps of gravel mixed with sand and dead grass. It stretched on, and on, nothing but barren wasteland no matter which way I turned. The only break in the landscape was where the horizon met the sky.

A lump of fear rose in my throat. Where was Elliot?

I didn’t know where I was, and I was completely alone.

K x

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

What comes first, the Paperback or the eBook?

I’m a member of a group on Facebook for Aussie and New Zealand authors and bloggers, and I love it. It’s a great place to go and chat about writer-ly stuff, ask questions and share our experiences. I think I would probably check in and see what everyone is up to at least twice a day, if not more.

A week or so ago one of the members asked a question along the lines of, do you publish your paperback or eBook first? Specifically through CreateSpace. This got me thinking, so I thought I’d share my experience and what works best for me.

I think we should start with a different question, which do you get ready first?

For my eBooks I use Word and then I either upload to Amazon KDP or crunch it through the Smashwords meat grinder. You need to know earlier (rather than later) what formatting is required to get your files through both these publishing outlets. Amazon is slightly different to Smashwords, but the basics of file formatting are the same. They both have free guides that tell you what is required to have your book looking its best. I suggest you read them before you get too far into your manuscript. Of course, if you plan to pay someone to format your books for you, you may stop reading here.

My first book was a mess, and it taught me a lot of things. Since then I always format for eBook as I draft. Because I self-publish, I don’t need to impress agents or publishers with double spacing and big margins. I make sure my file is set up with all the correct styles, check my paragraph indents, line spacing and font choice, and then I write. When I get to the end of my draft I know that the big job of formatting my eBook is mostly done, because the ground work has already been laid. There are only a few minor steps before it will be completely ready to upload. The book then goes through beta reads and edits, and when it’s done I only have to check that all the paragraphs are set to the correct style, my italics are where they should be, save it to the correct format, and that’s it—ready to publish.

But… before I get all carried away and hit that publish button, I format my paperback, and here is why.

I almost always pick up mistakes on the printed proof that I didn’t see on screen. If you don’t plan to publish a paperback I would highly recommend that you PRINT your book out onto paper, go and sit in a comfy chair, and read it.

Now, this is where it can get a bit grey. To answer the first question, do you publish your paperback or eBook first? I would say neither. I do mine at the same time. Just because the eBook is electronic and you can have it on-line and available faster, doesn’t mean you can skimp on one of the most important steps—proofing. I treat my paperback proof as the proof for both formats of my book.

For my paperback formatting I use Adobe InDesign. This is because I’m a graphic designer and I have the software available. I know many people use Word, so I guess at this stage all that needs doing is to change your page size and margins, sort out your headers and page numbers etc. Because I use design software, it’s a little more complicated so I won’t go into that now. If you format yourself, use whatever program you want to. Like I said before, if you pay someone to do the formatting for you you’ve probably stopped reading.

Whether you decide to publish your paperback or eBook first or at the same time isn’t really the issue. The main key is to make sure you proof your book thoroughly, and I believe the best way to do that is to actually read a printed version, more than once. I don’t want to have to go back through my eBook and fix all the mistakes I picked up on my printed proof. Personally, I’d rather wait to get both formats right the first time around.

To break it down, these are the steps I usually take:
  1. Set up Word file with correct paragraph formatting, font, indents etc.
  2. Write book.
  3. Send to beta readers.
  4. Edit book.
  5. Print a home proof and edit book more.
  6. Once I’m happy I format the paperback. I might even print one or two home proofs of this to double and triple check everything before I upload it (and the cover!) to CreateSpace.
  7. Order a printed proof from CreateSpace.
  8. Read the proof and make any last minute corrections. This is the stage where you can also fix problems with your cover if there is anything wrong concerning colour etc.
  9. Publish your book.

I haven't mentioned all the other promotional stuff you need to be doing while you're writing your book. Social networking, building your fan base, getting the cover designed and doing a cover reveal, adding your book's details to Goodreads, organising a blog tour … the list is endless and deserves its own blog post at a later date.

I hope you’ve found this useful. I’d love to hear about your process, and the steps you take to get your book published.

K x

Friday, August 16, 2013

Gulliver's Travels, a Puddle and an Iron

We interrupt our regular program for this small announcement:

I used Grammarly to grammar check this post, because as much as I like to think I'm always right, I'm often not. That, and my brain works faster than my fingers.

Now for today's post:

Every Tuesday my kids go to swimming lessons after school. It's one of those things they've been doing since they were old enough to be in the pool on their own, and we’ve been doing it for so long that some weeks I wish I didn’t have to take them. This week was no exception. Like I said last Friday, I’m not planning on running for Mother of the Year.

For the half an hour I have to sit in the steaming hot, noisy pool room, I divide my time between watching my daughter at one end of the pool, watching my son at the other end of the pool, and reading my book. This weeks’ title was Gulliver’s Travels.

Now, I have had this classic on my book shelf for a number of years, but (as with so many of my books) I have yet to read it. I started my BA in July, and one of the texts for my English major is Gulliver’s Travels. Yay! Finally, I would have to make time to read it.

For my LIT subject we’re only required to read book IV, a total of 68 pages.

I’m usually very careful about where I put my bag at swimming. As you can imagine, there is water everywhere. My green bag was on the floor next to me, I was engrossed in the weird talking horses when both my kids appeared in front of me dripping. So, Gulliver went into the bag and out came the towels.

Sadly, the bag had been sitting in a rather large puddle. The bottom was soaked, and since Gulliver is made of paper, he ended up soaked as well. Thankfully, my iPad managed to avoid the water since it’s less absorbent, and was sitting on top of Gulliver.

I swore a few times under my breath, shuffled the kids to the car, stuffed Gulliver with tissues and drove home, all the while swearing some more. I was mentally berating myself because I’m always so particular about the condition of my books. How could I be so careless?

I’m not sure how many of you have read Gulliver’s Travels, but I was quite enjoying it. The part that sucked the most is that there are four books, and the one that sustained all the water damage was the one that I had to read for uni. Book IV was soaked. Murphy’s Law states that it couldn’t have been book I…

It doesn't look so bad here, but it was!

Anyway, out came the hair dryer. I’d already resigned myself to the fact that the book was probably ruined, and I’d have to buy another copy, but I was determined to try and save it. Each of the 68 pages (plus those in the notes section) received a blow dry. When that wasn’t quite working, I resorted to the iron, and I must say I’m glad my husband didn’t come home to find me ironing a book. He probably would have committed me.

Gulliver is now dry. He’s a little creased and crinkly, but he ironed out quite well, and I have a reminder not to put my books in puddles of water (because obviously I need to be reminded not to do that).

Yep, crinkly…

Have you had a mishap with a book? I’d love to hear about it.

K x

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Indie Life - Two Things That Get Results

Welcome to my Indie Life post for August. This is a monthly feature posted on the second Wednesday of the month and hosted by the Indelibles. The aim is to promote, encourage, and support indie authors.

When I decided to travel the Indie road, I had pretty much no budget. Sure, I had some money in the bank, but I had never set aside anything to fund my publishing, and I still haven’t. I basically do things when the money is there, and when it isn’t, I wait until it is.

I’m quite lucky really, because I don’t have to pay anything for cover designs and formatting, which means a good chunk of the upfront cost in creating a book is already taken care of. What I do need money for is marketing and advertising, and to date I haven’t spent much, but what I have spent has been (mostly) a worthwhile investment.

There are two main services I’ve used since first publishing Fall For Me back in January.

A Blog Tour Host
If you find a good host, they are worth their weight in gold.

My first tour experience was not all that great. I went with a company because they were running a special at the time, and looking back I should have followed my gut and gone with my other (more expensive) choice. The communication was poor, and I ended up doing a hell of a lot of work for not much gain. I did interviews, guest posts, and promo spots, for an entire month. By the end of it, I had a handful of reviews and not many sales. I felt I could have done a better job organising my own tour, but I’d gone with this host to save time and money, which in the end I didn’t. I chalked it up to experience and being a new author, and went on my merry way.

Then I wrote Sacrifice and was ready to do it all again. I decided to try a different approach. With Fall For Me I had no pre-marketing before I published. With Sacrifice I did a cover reveal, and then when it was released I went on a double tour with both books, reviews only, for a week. After Sacrifice's first month of publication I had a nice amount of reviews on my Amazon and Goodreads pages, and a whole lot of exposure in the book blogging world for both books.

I will always do a cover reveal for my future books. I use Giselle at Xpresso Book Tours. She charges $30 and it is a fantastic opportunity to drum up interest in your next release.

I originally shied away from online advertising because it was a little on the pricy side. BookBub was recommended to me by another Indie author who had great success using the service. I ended up biting the bullet and paying for an ad, and it was the best thing I ever did.  

Fall For Me reached:
#1 in the Romance>Paranormal>Angels category
#6 in Romance>Fantasy & Futuristic
#7 in Fantasy>Paranormal & Urban

See this post for more details. It also made it into the top 300 eBooks. Over a week I sold more than 900 copies, and as a result Sacrifice also made it to #24 in Romance>Paranormal>Angels.

I know these figures aren’t huge compared to other Indie authors, but to go from almost nothing to that was pure awesome. Now, I’m waiting so I can place another ad with them. I made back the ad fee plus a whole lot more.

So, they are the two things I’ve found get the best results when it comes to marketing my books, along with word of mouth from all the awesome people I’ve met along the way.

Make sure you check out the other Indie Life posts from the linky below.

K x

Monday, August 12, 2013

Sacrifice - FREE for Three Days + an Excerpt

That's right!
Sacrifice is FREE on Amazon from August 12th to 14th.
Click the Amazon button to purchase.

Amazon rating: 4.2 from 20 reviews

Goodreads rating: 4.08 from 38 ratings/30 reviews

Sacrifice is a 23,000 word prequel to Fall For Me. It tells the story of Grace and Seth, and what happened in that castle. It is meant to be read after Fall For Me, although it can be read first...

Book Blurb:
Seth’s heart is breaking. He knows his decision will hurt the one person he keeps breathing for, but he can’t take it anymore. He can’t be near Grace knowing she will always be just out of reach.

Grace is oblivious to Seth’s turmoil. She loves him unconditionally, but not in the way he wants. They both know that in Heaven physical love is forbidden, and to break the rules is to defy everything they’ve ever been taught.

When Grace and Seth are sent on a mission to save a young mother and her unborn child, Grace must face the fact that Seth won’t be returning home. She doesn’t understand Seth’s decision and hates him for it. But what neither of them realise is how big a part that single decision will play in shaping their entire future.

What would you sacrifice for the one you love?

Excerpt from chapter Four Seth's POV
The area on the other side of the barbican was quiet, but we had to get out before the watchman came past on another round. I grabbed Grace’s hand and quickly walked across to the inner bailey. When we reached the wall I stopped and took a moment to decide which way to go next.

I heard footsteps coming towards us and panicked. I wasn’t sure if we were permitted to be in that part of the castle, so I tugged gently on Grace’s hand, spun her around and pressed her against the wall. Her chest rose and fell in beat with mine. She clutched my upper arms and stared into my eyes. My hands rested against the wall on either side of her head, our faces mere millimetres from each other, and in a moment of pure misjudgement I leant in intending to kiss her. Grace’s grip on my arms tightened and her breathing sped up.

“What have we here,” a gruff voice said.

I closed my eyes and rested my forehead against Grace’s.

“Just taking a moment,” I said. “I’m sure you understand.” I turned my head a little and tried to smile wickedly.

The watchman sniggered. “I think you’d better move along. The feast is about to start, and if you’re meant to be working you’ll be in trouble.”

“Of course,” I said. I put my arm around Grace’s shoulders and led her away.

We followed the wall until we turned the corner and I let go of Grace. I couldn’t look at her, and I couldn’t believe what I’d almost done. If the watchman hadn’t have come along when he did, I’d be attempting to explain something I didn’t want to. As it was, Grace wasn’t going to let me off so easily.

“What happened back there?” she whispered.

“Nothing,” I said a little too quickly. “I was trying to keep us out of trouble.”

“By pressing me against the wall and almost kissing me?”

“What are you talking about?” I asked.

Grace blushed and looked away. “Never mind,” she mumbled.

Guilt punched me in the stomach as we snaked our way through the castle grounds. I didn’t want Grace to feel uncomfortable, but I couldn’t let her think my actions were anything other than for her protection.

We walked in silence until we passed the blacksmith’s shed, and the stables. Grace stopped to stroke the nose of a fine-looking mare. A squire brushed the horse’s coat, and he offered Grace a bashful smile. The mare whinnied and tossed her head, but lowered it again for another pat.

“I can look after myself, you know,” Grace said. She stared at the mare as she scratched between its ears.

I sighed. “I know. I just acted on the spur of the moment. I thought it would be a good cover. And we’re a team, remember? I watch out for you; hopefully you’ll watch out for me.”

“I’ve always watched out for you.” Grace lowered her hand and faced me. “You’re my best friend.”

The corners of my mouth curled up. “Come on,” I said.

K x

Friday, August 09, 2013

Music to My Ears and an Excerpt of Something New

I used to listen to music while tapping away at the keyboard, and I know a lot of writers have to have the tunes pumping, but I think I've come to the realisation that I'm one of the minority that needs silence to get my words out. I admit I'm easily distracted, and sometimes it depends on what mood I'm in. I find I can write perfectly well with the TV on and my hubby in his chair next to me. I think after having two kids I've mastered the ability to block out the drone of talking voices. (I won't be running for Mother of the Year any time soon!)

When it comes to music though, I get swept up in the melody or beat, the meaning of the lyrics, and bam! I'm distracted. Leave me alone in the house with my laptop and I prefer silence. I'm not sure why because I'm a complete music nut.

I'm even struggling to write this now because I actually have the iPod playing for once.

The way I feel about music is something I can't really explain very well. I love how a song can evoke so much emotion, whether it's happiness or deep sorrow. I get lost in songs just as much as I do when I'm reading a really good book. I find music very inspirational, and one song can spark so many story ideas my mind gets so full that I feel like I'm about to burst.

But I struggle to write and listen at the same time. Maybe my hubby is right and I really can't do two things at once!

Recently I discovered Imagine Dragons. And how appropriate is their name? As a writer, my imagination is constantly in overdrive, and who doesn't love dragons? They are now officially my new favourite band because of this:

About a month ago I had a dream that was so vivid I had to get up in the middle of the night to write it down. I'd heard Radioactive on the radio numerous times, but it wasn't until after this dream that it sparked an awesome story idea, one I've been totally itching to write but I've got so much on already that I have to wait. Every day since I had that dream I think about this story. You know that feeling when you're dying to go to the bathroom, but there's no bathroom in sight so you have to hold it? That's what having this story in my head is like. I got to the point where I had to relieve myself and just write. The first couple of chapters poured out, and I wanted to share the first one with you. It's a sci-fi sort of dystopian story, and is still very rough, and it will probably change when I'm ready to finish writing this, but I hope you enjoy.

So, even though I've finally figured out I write better when it's quiet, music is still a very important part of my writing process. I'd love to know how music affects your writing.

K x

Current Untitled Project - Chapter 1
I was awake the entire time. You’d think if you were about to have a big, metal disc implanted into your chest, they’d at least knock you out first. Doctors and nurses in bio-hazard suits hovered around me. I couldn’t really see their faces because they wore masks, which was probably a good thing; I wanted to punch every single one of them. They knew I could have taken them down. Why else would I be strapped to the table with no less than six straps? I clenched my fists and pulled at my restraints for the thousandth time, but they wouldn’t budge. All I succeeded in doing was bruising my windpipe with the strap across my neck. I wasn’t getting out of this one in a hurry.

“She’s feisty,” a female voice said. She was the only one not in a suit. Maybe she thought she was invincible. Apparently I was, since I didn’t have a suit either. She looked at me over the top of her black rimmed glasses. “She’ll make for good entertainment.”

I glared at her and she smiled smugly.

“You’re all sick,” I said through clenched teeth.

The woman leant closer to me. “Just relax, sweetie. This will be over before you know it.”

I spat in her face.

She pulled a handkerchief from her pocket and wiped my spit away, along with her smug smile. She noted something on the clipboard in her hand then spoke to one of the other doctors. “Make sure she feels pain.” She turned on her heels and left through the double swinging doors.

A male voice chuckled. “You picked the wrong woman to mess with,” he said. He came to the side of the operating table and peered down at me.

“She called me sweetie. I suggest you don’t make the same mistake.”

“You think you’re tough now, Electra—” a nurse handed him a syringe, and malevolence flashed through his eyes, “—but once you’re out there, you’ll wish you were dead within the first five minutes.”

I was one up on him. I’d already wished I was dead—several times.

The other girls in the facility had told me the horror stories of their implantations, and all of them were frightening. The doctor gripped the syringe with the needle pointing down. It wasn’t just a little, pointy needle that would give you a tiny prick. This was huge. I could have fit my pinkie in the end of the shaft. The nurse gripped my head with both hands; her rubber gloves pulled my hair. I didn’t fight her, what was the point? I was strapped to a metal table—shaking my head around was only going to delay the inevitable. The doctor parted my gown, exposing my bare chest, and then raised his arm. I stared him right in the eyes. If he thought I was going to cave and look away, if he thought I was going to scream, he had another thing coming.

I didn’t just think I was tough; I knew it.

“Before Mr Pointy becomes intimately acquainted with my insides, won’t you at least tell me your name?” I asked.

“It’s Dr Quinn. Most of the other girls are too terrified to ask,” he said.

“You don’t scare me.”

“Don’t speak too soon.”

Dr Quinn’s arm swung down and the needle slammed into my sternum. The reason it was so big was because it had to get past the bone. My back arched and my eyes rolled up into my head. I fought the urge to pass out; I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction. My teeth clashed together when my body fell back to the table and blood welled in my mouth where I’d bitten my tongue. I looked down at the needle sticking out of my chest. Dr Quinn pushed the plunger and the sickly, blue liquid flooded into me. It was like ice. The cold flowed across my chest, down my arms and legs, and up into my head, wrapping itself around my nervous system. Within minutes I was completely numb.

“There you go,” the nurse said, stroking my hair. “Feel better?”

“One day, you’ll all pay for this.”

“Now, now … sweetie,” Dr Quinn said. He mocked me with a half-grin. “We’re not done yet. It’s a bit early to start planning our demise. When I’m finished with you, you’ll be on your knees begging for mercy.”

“If you think I’ll be begging for anything, you’re delusional.”

He laughed. “Just hold still.”

“Very funny, you know I can’t move.”

“Yes, but that’s my favourite line.” Dr Quinn wrapped one hand around the syringe and placed the other on my chest. “This will hurt.” His grin was sickening.

Slowly, he pulled the syringe out, and he hadn’t been lying. Every millimetre of movement was more painful than the last. I clenched my teeth, and my eyes watered, but I refused to scream or shed a tear in front of him. The needle finally emerged from my body and my chest was on fire with pain. Blue fibres like tentacles shot from my wound as if they were searching for something to latch onto. The numbness was wearing off, and the blue liquid inside me tightened around my nerves.

The nurse let go of my head and brought over a metal disc made from titanium. I’d seen these discs every day for the past two years. They were embedded into the chests of some of my closest friends. The disc was about the size of a bread and butter plate and had two parts. The base was solid; the top was shaped like the radiation symbol and moved around on top of the base. Dr Quinn took the disc from the nurse. He gripped the edges and held it over my fancy new tentacles. The fibres of liquid reached up and latched onto the disc, inserting themselves into holes on the underside. Dr Quinn let go, and the piece of metal slammed into my chest.

This time I couldn’t stop the screams.

© K. A. Last 2013

Thursday, August 08, 2013

A Box of Books and a REVIEW - Aurora Sky and Northern Bites by Nikki Jefford

It's no secret I'm a big fan of Nikki Jefford and her writing. She is so sweet, and lovely, and always willing to get involved in just about anything. I think she is uber talented, and spins a great story, so imagine how excited I was when a box of books arrived at my post office all the way from the US. Nikki even signed the Spellbound Trilogy books with pens that match each cover.

Now all I need is a copy of Northern Bites to complete my collection. Check out my reviews of the first two books in the Aurora Sky series, and make sure you go and grab your copy. All the purchase details can be found HERE.

My Review:
I read Aurora Sky: Vampire Hunter back in December 2012 when it was first released, and I absolutely loved Jefford’s original take on these creatures of the night. It was one of those quick reads I devoured in a couple of sittings.

Aurora Sky is packed with everything I love: attitude, angst and blood. Aurora reminded me a lot of Buffy with her snarky comments and ability to deal with a whole heap of crap. But she’s also a very real character. She still did stupid things, got scared, and sometimes wasn’t as tough as everyone expected her to be. But I don’t blame her when her job is basically to let vamps chew on her until they die.

Enter Fane. He’s with this other chick, Valerie (who happens to be a nasty piece of work), until Aurora gets his attention. Okay, so he’s not your typical fall-over-your-tongue-and-slip-in-the-drool cute guy, but he is one hell of a bad boy. I loved him, and the bus scene was pure awesome. You’ll just have to read it to find out what I’m talking about!

Dante is the other male involved in Aurora’s life. He’s her (slaying) partner, and I didn’t like him too much. He was very cocky and he annoyed me. But I think he may have redeemed himself in Northern Bites.

My final verdict: Aurora Sky is a must read for any hardcore vamp fan, and if you love Buffy as much as I do, then you'll love this, too. 4/5 feathers.

For readers 18+

My Review:
Aurora and her mega attitude are back with a vengeance in Northern Bites. Again this was a fast read and I got sucked in right from the beginning.

When Aurora and Valerie are sent on a mission together, we get to see more of Valerie’s bitchiness, and Aurora’s sarcasm. The chemistry Jefford has created between these two characters is full of awesomesauce.

We are introduced to a new character, Jared, and I’m on the fence when it comes to him. I’m not sure how to take him yet. One minute I loved him, and the next I loathed him and wanted to punch him in face. I’m looking forward to seeing more of him in future books.

Fane makes a reappearance, but not in the way that I’d hoped. Actually, it’s Dante that steps up and fills in that gap, much to Aurora’s surprise, or disgust? She doesn’t seem to know what she wants, but oh my, I wanted her to want it! The flirting was driving me crazy. There was one particular dream scene that shocked me a bit, but only because explicit is not really my thing. I didn’t see it coming.

My final verdict: Northern Bites picks up where Aurora Sky left off. It’s a great continuation of the story. It answered some questions, but leaves everything wide open for more awesomeness to come. 4/5 feathers.

This is definitely 18+

 K x

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Free eRead-a-thon Sign Up

I have way too many free reads on my iPad, so I'm joining in on the freebie fun with the first ever Free eRead-a-thon!

The Free eRead-a-thon is organized by Danielle @ Consuming Worlds and Jessica @ Literary, etc.

From Midnight August 11th until 11:59 p.m. August 17th in your time zone.

In your favourite chair, at the park, or anywhere you want to read.

The idea is to read those free books that we all seem to download, but never read.

Read as many or as few books as you want. There will be prizes, 3 challenges, 2 Twitter Chats and a Grand Prize!

Make sure you sign up to join in the free reading fun, and get through some of those free reads sitting on your eReader.

K x