Amazon KDP Select: GIFTED Topped Free Charts! (Thank You!)

From April 30 – May 2, GIFTED, A DONOVAN CIRCUS NOVEL was free to download for your Kindle. For 3 days, I did nothing but refresh my pages and watch the number of downloads tick upward, my awe and excitement punctuated by my disbelief and terror. Between 3 days and several countries, the fact that my first book is now in the hands of over 20,000 people is both amazing and scary as hell.

Now, I know that it doesn’t necessarily mean all 20K people will read it. There are tons of folks out there who download only because it’s free. This doesn’t mean that I’ll even get many reviews out of it. (I will say I’ve already gotten 6 back, which probably makes it  worth it!) However, my sales have jumped, skyrocketed in my case, and while this may only be for a short time, I can’t tell you how amazed I am to see those numbers go up every time I check the page. It might not mean much to others. But it means a LOT to me. As for the KDP program, I’d say it was well worth it.

It might mean my name is out there more. It might make me more recognizable when someone goes to look at my work or buy my second book. It also bumps my ranking up in the Amazon secret sauce algorithms, which means better exposure. And that, my friends, is a win in my book.

Thanks to the most supportive group I could ever know, thanks to you the readers, thanks to the promoters who helped me with their knowledge and expertise, GIFTED, A DONOVAN CIRCUS NOVEL made it to the top in the free charts.

In the Amazon Best Sellers Top Free categories, it hit #1 in Science Fiction Adventure, #1 in Fantasy, and perhaps most exciting to me, #5 in the Top 100. My goal was to break into the Top 10 and I’m beyond thrilled it surpassed my expectations into the Top 5.

This is because of you. There are no words to express my appreciation, no thanks enough I can give to tell you just how much your support means to me. I’m honored you’ve joined me for this journey and can’t wait to see where it takes us.

To pick up your Kindle copy of GIFTED, A DONOVAN CIRCUS NOVEL, visit here.

To pick up your Kindle copy of WITCH HEARTS, please go here.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Top100 TopFantasy TopSFAdventure

World Building: Do the Rules Matter? (Survey Says Yes)

Fun fact about me: I never received detention, not once throughout all my school years. I was not a rule-breaker and knew that rules established the order of things. I LIKE rules, probably because I am forever and always a goody-two-shoes. Much like in the real world, there are rules that must be built into your fantasy worlds. Whether you’re writing dystopian, paranormal, or supernatural, authors must configure rules into their worlds to set up plot and help readers suspend their disbelief even in a fantastical world. This is different from your culture’s internal laws and the possibilities are endless, even if it’s defying gravity or other impossible-in-real-life situations.

Let me explain further. In Harry Potter, for example, we know that despite the wizarding world being in plain view of Muggles, they are separate worlds. Underage wizards cannot perform magic outside of Howarts, there’s a Ministry of Magic as their form of government, and as Hermione constantly reminds Ron, wizards cannot create food or money from their wands. Those are basic rules that everyone knows and as readers, we understand that these things are impossible because of the way the world is built. No matter how talented Harry might be, he’ll never create a million dollars from his wand, just as Hermione cannot create a delicious feast from nothing. While all the things we read in Hogwarts are unbelievable, we are able to suspend our disbelief because we understand how Rowling’s world works based on a few established rules (and more as we keep reading).

As usual, I’ll compare it to what I know – my Gifted world. Despite the components of a magical circus, there are set rules for the characters that help keep a reader grounded to the story. Much like a wizarding world, gifted beings typically hide themselves in plain sight of regular humans – but it is definitely a secret world and has been since the beginning. Each individual has a unique gift to their “species” so to speak and gifted only have one power (as opposed to X-Men, some of whom have several powers in addition to what they’re known for). That sets a few rules that readers can understand even if they can’t relate, but it helps them settle comfortably into your world because they know you won’t suddenly change things up on them.

Every world is different but provided you’ve set some rules, it will be much easier for a reader to feel involved, even if it’s not an in-your-face fantasy. The witchy thriller piece I’m finishing is set in the everyday world and while there’s certainly a little hocus-pocus floating around, the story is more focused on the murder/thriller plotline. My witch magic is subtle (flickering lights, sudden weather changes, and other explainable things a human wouldn’t blame on magic) but rules are still in place to establish how their world works and how a reader should approach the story. If a reader sees an author breaking their world rules, it can turn them off – who’s to say you won’t keep breaking your own rules and throw everything we’ve just read out the window because now suddenly that one broken rule affects the rest of the story. It’s a cop out, in my opinion, because it means that not only did we not establish a solid world, but now we can’t even get our heroes out of the problem with their own skill set. We’ve then hurt our hero’s credibility! If Hermione could suddenly produce meals out of thin air, that means they shouldn’t starve, shouldn’t feel the hunger pains and accompanying emotions that come along with their frustrated journey to defeat Voldemort. It would’ve taken away a lot of angst, which of course only adds to our character development.

Moral of the story? Establish your world-building and make sure you understand the rules. Ask lots of questions as you jot everything down – can they produce food or money from thin air? Is your vampire still dangerous even though he dates a human? Can Character X accomplish her task once you’ve set up your fiction government control? (And if not, how does she overcome her obstacle?) Once you figure out what works and what doesn’t, you’ll have an easier time writing your story (that I can promise you!) because you know the boundaries of what your characters can and can’t do. Rules will help readers become comfortable with the story as they get lost in a world unlike their own and they can trust you to take them on a fantasy adventure that’s both realistic and unexpected.

YA Indie Carnival: Villains!

Today’s YA Indie Carnival post is about villains! (Muahaha) Yes! This post is important to me not just as a member of the YA Indie Carnival, but as an author. Villains are ESSENTIAL to a fantasy story. I love villains and seeing what makes them tick. It’s almost easy to make a reader feel for the hero. It’s who we automatically root for, right? But I think great writing comes when a reader sympathizes with a villain. Whether it’s understanding where they’re coming from, respecting their determination, or admiring their clever plans, villains are an important part of a action-packed plot in fantasy stories.

Let’s talk about a villain from my book, Gifted. Without giving too much away, especially spoilers, I won’t reveal too much, but I still wanted to show you how I made my villain dangerous, different from other villains. When Lucy, my protagonist, meets Felix Hardy, she has no idea what to make of him:

“A figure emerged from the dark. I could only make out the silhouette, but as it got closer, details became clearer. He had a small frame, graying dark hair and he dressed in khakis with a white button-down shirt. Moonlight bounced off black-rimmed glasses over brown eyes that never left my stare. He stopped a few feet from where I stood and I could see a crooked nose where it had presumably been broken once or twice. Who was this nerd? I almost looked for a pocket protector on his chest.”

You can see what I was going for with my villain. He’s unusual, nonthreatening, a small, wiry nerd. No one would ever guess him to be as dangerous and evil as he really is. But scary villains don’t need to be super buff all the time. He relies on his brilliant mind, which can sometimes be even more dangerous than muscle. And really, the fact that Lucy automatically passes him off proves a point–sometimes your enemies don’t simply jump out from the shadows at you. Sometimes they scheme first.

I also wanted to share one last thing with you about villains. When writers sketch out their characters, they spend a LOT of time on the main character. But it’s just as important for writers to focus on their villains, too. When I first wrote Felix, he was a cardboard cutout, a walking cliche that I couldn’t quite grasp yet. Then I looked a lot closer at him, devoted pages to who he was and what was important to him. And it hit me–villains act the way the way they do based on their past. Once I took a better look at him, it seemed obvious. Felix told me his story:

“I want to share something with you, something only my wife knows.” He paused and looked my way. I raised an eyebrow, curious to see where this was headed.

    Felix undid the buttons of the wrists of his shirt and slowly rolled up the long white sleeves. He came closer, stepped into the shallow pool of light that spilled in from the circus grounds. I leaned in despite my misgivings and saw scars all over Felix’s arms. Tiny little circles scattered across his pale skin like freckles.

    “Are those cigarette burns?” I asked.

    “Not quite. You see, I loved science even as a young boy. My favorite hobby was frying ants with a magnifying glass on my sidewalk. Inhumane perhaps, but at nine years old, it kept me entertained. One afternoon, a bully approached me. My father, his science teacher, flunked him for cheating. This boy stole my magnifying glass out of my hands. He straddled me and proceeded to fry my skin.”

I looked at the shiny white spots and felt nauseous. Marks covered Felix’s skin. I could even make out scars on his neck behind the collared shirt. I looked at his face again, processed his severely broken nose and quiet, geeky demeanor. I would bet my gift that the torture had continued for several years.”

After I wrote that out (on a sheer whim, I might add), it gave me a whole new insight to Felix. Suddenly I felt bad for him, even believed that maybe he wasn’t a bad guy. And who knows? Maybe he’s not as bad as you think. Maybe he’s actually got a legit reason to act how he does. Or maybe he’s batshit crazy. You’ll have to read Gifted to find out 😉

(In fact, I got so involved with his character history that I’ve written a short story about him. I plan to put it into a short novella once I get other character histories written. A friend who edited Gifted for me–therefore knows the story as well as I do–read it and immediately told me to finish it. She was freaked yet captivated by Felix and his actions. And I gotta say–I kind of enjoy writing from a bad guy’s perspective!)

And of course, be sure to check out the amazing authors on the list to see their ideas of villains in stories!! Until next week, readers. Have a wonderful weekend!!

1. Laura A. H. Elliott author of Winnemucca & 13 on Halloween, Book 1 in the Teen Halloween Series

Character Interview: Gabriel Knight

Today, we’ve got another character interview, this time with Donovan Circus member Gabriel Knight. Sarcastic, apathetic, and oh-so-hot, he does a terrific job of driving Lucy arms-on-fire crazy. I’ll admit sometimes Gabriel is an enigma even to me, but his wit, charm, personality, and good looks make him a great character to write. (Okay, maybe not his good looks. It’s just fun to imagine how pretty he is.)

For those of you who haven’t read Gifted yet, avert thy eyes if you plan to avoid ALL spoilers. Gabriel’s gift is a bit of a mystery for the first few chapters of the book, so if you don’t wanna know, just a warning. Though his gift is a surprise, it in no way gives away major plot details or spoilers.

Character: Gabriel Knight, main character
Role: Anti-hero, eventual love interest for Lucy
Age: 26
Gift: Empath

Q. Tell us about your Gift and your role around the circus grounds.
A. Jesus Christ, do I really have to do this? *looks around with a mixture of boredom and irritation*

Q. Would you rather Lucy give the interview?
A. *Grimaces, sighs and lights a cigarette* Oh, all right. I help around the grounds–usually working on machinery or moving animal cages. I’m an Empath, but I don’t really use it to its full advantage.

Q. What’s that mean exactly?
A. I’ve had some control issues in the past. Depending on strength and skill, Empaths can feel, control, and warp others’ emotions, as well as take them completely for their own, leaving the person more like a shell than a vibrant, emotional being. I do my best not to screw with people anymore.

Q. Gah, okay. How about some happier questions….What’s your favorite act in the show?
A. Hmmm…*grins* Lucy’s.

Q. She doesn’t have an act…
A. …Yet! She will in another few months and I promise she’ll astound. Even if she doesn’t believe it.

Q. Tell us one of the hardest things about being in a traveling circus.
A. I’m not exactly what one would call a team player and I’m a pretty private person, so the fact that there are always tons of people around drives me nuts. Plus, people gossip way too much.

Q. Anything about you we’d be surprised to know?
A. I’m great in bed. No, wait, you said something you’d be surprised to know. *grins* Actually, I’m a huge Kurt Vonnegut fan. “So it goes,” am I right?

Q. What do you do when you’re not preparing for a show?
A. More than likely trying to escape Lucy’s incessant questions and arguments. That girl could argue with a rock and probably win. She just kinda wears you down until you give in.

Q. And finally, who would play you in a movie?
A. That’s easy–that Alexander guy, he’s Swedish, right? I’m from the South but  he plays Eric on that True Blood show. We’re both blond, muscular, and very fun in the shower. Minus the fangs (because no one wants to be a vampire except vampires), of course, but he’s almost as good-looking as me.

Well…I may need to go fan myself off. Arrogant, rudely blunt, yet charming enough to practically “undo a chick’s bra with a wink” as Lucy says, Gabriel is a character I expect to stick around for a while. Happy Thursday friends!