Free Book Friday Jan 14: Try Before You Buy

Ignore the right-hand picture. No interviews this week

The story behind Free Book Friday:

I’ve met many authors and readers during my time marketing, cross-promoting, and blogging. I think writers have a responsibility to inform readers about all the indie authors out there in the very crowded world of book publishing. You can’t do it alone, and why would you when you have a supportive group available?

Readers don’t just read one author – they stick with their favorite genres. There lies the power in cross-promotion. If one of my readers buys a book from an author I promote, then chances are there will be a reciprocal effect, or so is the hope. Do I want to boost sales? Of course I do. Do I want to boost other’s sales? Why not. It’s called karma.


There are many reasons to give away your product for free. The “try before you buy” is a time tested method to entice new customers. The free sample table at the supermarket is a great example. It was also a way for me and my college roommate to eat a free meal. Hint: Turn your jacket inside out and wear a hat for the second time round of the potstickers.

As an author, it’s the same, but without the free potstickers. Free books, either sample chapters or the first book in a series, are no risk for the reader—don’t like it? No sweat.

I try to read the works of the authors I promote. Some I like, some . . . not so much. But since every reader’s taste is different, I don’t often offer my opinion—I’m very picky on what I enjoy reading—so I let the reader decide. It’s free. No risk. I don’t like to do reviews either, for that very same reason. I do appreciate the authors who have taken the time to review my works.

My only criteria for not promoting a book is that it doesn’t contain any disturbing content. What do I consider disturbing? It’s different for every reader, so that’s moot.

I sent out review requests for my newest book to my newsletter subscribers and have had 35 downloads. Will that translate to 35 reviews? That’s the hope, but some readers will not, and that’s the risk of handing out your book for free. I send out an email to everyone who clicked on the download link, outlining the time expectations and giving them the links to post their reviews.

So now I wait. But two keeners have already weighed in on The View from Here:


“I did like the world build, how the inside cave was explained and explored. Also this is the kind of situation any sci-fi fan dreams off, to find a way of travel to another place/time, a place where the rules that make our world work do not apply at least not in the same way.”

“This is a really lovely story! I did thoroughly enjoy this, it was a truly captivating gentle sci fi adventure that took me on a journey along side the characters in the book. Really great ideas & storyline, I felt a little sad it was over…”

I just received conformation that my paperback copies are on the way, so Mom, you can stop clicking on the download link, I have a special copy just for you and Dad.

-Leon

Discover New Authors: BookFunnel and StoryOrigin Promos

Shane Shepherd was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. At a young age he developed an interest in space exploration. That led him to major in aerospace engineering at UCLA. During his time there, he developed a passion for writing and decided to become an author instead of pursuing a career in his field of study. Now he currently writes science fiction focusing on steampunk and space opera.

Shane is offering Book 1 for free!

Free Books

Note starting date: Jan 15-Feb 15
Ends Jan 31

Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of four books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar, The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories, and The View from Here, a science fiction novella to be released in March 2022.

Not ready to purchase yet?

Sign up for my newsletter and receive a free eBook of your choice.

Oh, pick me!
C’mon, space stuff!

First Free Book Friday of 2022 / The Return of the Interview: In (a new) Conversation With . . . Me!

I haven’t done a self interview in a while, and since I have a new book out, I thought it was time.

Whatcha doin’?
Not much, you?
Same. Working on anymore interviews?
I have two scheduled in January, but nothing right now.
We haven’t done one for a while either. Maybe we should?
Who will interview whom?
Rock, paper, scissors?
You’re on!

[in unison] Rock. Paper. Scissors.
Rock
Rock
[in unison] Rock. Paper. Scissors.
Rock
Rock. Why do you always pick rock?
Nothing beats rock.
Paper does.
Does it now …? Again.

[in unison] Rock. Paper. Scissors.
Paper
Paper
This isn’t going to work, is it?
Not if we keep picking the same thing.
What if we pick the one who has done something interesting?
Sounds fair.
What did you do?
I read a book. You?
I wrote a book.
Well, well. Aren’t you fancy . . .

In Conversation With: Leon Stevens

I’m hanging out with author Leon Stevens. I just heard you wrote a book.
[whispering] You are supposed to offer me a beverage.
Oh yeah, I forgot. Would you like a beverage?
No thanks, I’m good.
[silence] . . . Sigh, really? . . . Why don’t you tell me about your book?
Well, it’s a continuation of one of my short stories from—
The Knot at the End of the Rope. Yeah, I read it.
I know you read it—wait . . . How did you do that?
Do what?
Speak in italics.
I don’t reveal my secrets. Please, continue. Why continue a story?
Many of my stories, like a good short story, tend to end leaving the reader to think or to ponder about what may or may not happen.
Like a cliff hanger?
No, more like an open ending. Some readers commented that some stories left them wanting more, which was my intent, but the more I thought about it, the more ideas came to me.
So why continue The View from Here?
You have to teach me how to do that.
Later. Go on.
Anyway, I never felt I wrapped that story up effectively. Sure, I created a natur—
Hey, no spoilers!
I don’t think I’m giving anything away. Anyway, I changed the ending of the short story to allow it to continue.
You can do that?
Sure. I’m the writer.
Cool. So . . . not a short story then?
Nope. It’s my longest yet, 30 000+ words. So, it’s a novella.
Do people read novellas? Doesn’t that just make you a lazy novelist?
Books don’t have to be long epics to be good. Some of the greatest books are novellas.
Right. Name five.
Umm, sure. Be right back.

[silence]

Animal Farm, Of Mice and Men, Slaughterhouse Five, A Clockwork Orange, and The Call of the Wild.
Did you just Google that?
Maybe. But you have to admit, those is some fine readin’.
Yeah. You’re right. Are you happy with it?
Yeah. I think I wrote a pretty good story. And a cool cover. Want to see?
Sure!


Nice. Have you stopped writing poetry then?
Stopped? No. Slowed down? Definitely. I think poetry comes from many places but is always sparked by an intense emotion. Maybe I’m in a level emotional state right now. I’m working on putting all my latest poems into a collection called, A Wonder of Words.
You mean, A Wonder of Words.
Show off.
Care to share a poem?
Sure. Here’s the title poem:

A Wonder of Words
 
A collision of ideas
A contusion of thoughts
A confusion of viewpoints
A disregard of refuse
A shelter of dwellings
A marathon of runners
A density of swimmers
A pollution of cars
A wonderment of stars
A desire of hopes
An obsolesce of pennies
A press of books
An obscurity of poets
A collision of ideas
A contusion of thoughts
A wonder of words

Very nice. Reminds me when as a child I learned that a bunch of crows was called a ‘murder’. I thought that was pretty cool.
And a parliament of owls. Yeah, that was the catalyst for it.
Got a cover yet?
Tentatively. Here it is:

[Ding]
Pizza’s ready.
That’s good because I was getting hungry and bored. Let’s eat.
I thought you were going to show me how to do that italics thing?
It’s all in the control. i will show you later.
What’s with the lower case—oh, I get it! Nice!
Nice.
Now let’s eat before it gets cold.


See (and hear) my first two self interviews, plus many other authors.

https://linesbyleon.com/the-interviews/

The story behind Free Book Friday:

I’ve met many authors and readers during my time marketing, cross-promoting, and blogging. I think writers have a responsibility to inform readers about all the indie authors out there in the very crowded world of book publishing. You can’t do it alone, and why would you when you have a supportive group available?

Readers don’t just read one author – they stick with their favorite genres. There lies the power in cross-promotion. If one of my readers buys a book from an author I promote, then chances are there will be a reciprocal effect, or so is the hope. Do I want to boost sales? Of course I do. Do I want to boost other’s sales? Why not. It’s called karma.

Free Books

There are few opportunities for poets on both platforms so I decided to try a year long page for the free offerings. I’ll try to add more throughout the year.

Ongoing in 2022: BookFunnel
Ongoing in 2022: StoryOrigin

Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of four books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar, The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories, and The View from Here, a science fiction novella to be released in March 2022.

Not ready to purchase yet?

Sign up for my newsletter and receive a free eBook of your choice.

Oh, pick me!
C’mon, space stuff!

Open Book Blog Hop Dec 27: Dinner Guest(s)

Thanks to P.J Maclayne for today’s topic.

If you could invite anyone in  the world to be your dinner guest, who would you invite?

You could open a book or Google to gain knowledge of a person, but I think to have an opportunity to sit down with someone in your home, in a coffee shop, or a dive bar for a few hours would be a real eye-opener. I would even offer to buy the drinks (secretly hoping for the reply: No, no. It’s on me.) Here are some different people—in no particular order.

Anthony Bourdain: He came across as egotistical, brash, and a bit of a bully, but the more I watched his shows and read his books, the more I was intrigued. During travel, I would visit the places that he did, which was never a poor choice. I would confess that I was not a very good cook, so we would cook together. He tragically took his own life a few years ago.

Herodotus: The original Rick Steves/Lonely Planet guy. Hearing about the history before history became history. This guy travelled and saw most of the Seven Wonders of the World before they succumbed to time—with the exception of the pyramids. All this before it was easy to travel. I’d show him TripAdvisor, and I’m sure he’d be impressed.

Kurt Vonnegut: So many authors to choose from, but he is one of my favorites. 

Margaret Atwood: Oh, to pick her brain.

Patrick Stewart: C’mon, how cool would that be.

Rules:
1. Link your blog to this hop. https://fresh.inlinkz.com/party/7d3ce9d9de2548f3ab2f535442237a99
2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.
3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.
4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.
5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.

Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of four books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar, The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories, and The View from Here, a science fiction novella to be released in March 2022.

Not ready to purchase yet?

Sign up for my newsletter and receive a free eBook of your choice.

Oh, pick me!
C’mon, space stuff!

Free Book Friday / In Conversation With Author A. R. Silverberry

About the interviews:

When I published my first book, I looked for ways to reach new readers, and being a brand new author, participating in various book bloggers interviews was a good way to start. Some interviews were standard questions, while others had more individuality built into them.

I then did a twist on the author interview by interviewing myself (Leon Interviews Himself). I then thought it would be fun to get to know some of the authors I was cross-promoting with, and the Friday Conversations were born. Guess what? They are a lot of work. I look up the authors information, visit the website so I can craft a unique set of questions (OK, there are a few standard ones) to let my readership get to know these new authors. Worth the work? You bet. Here is today’s conversation:


A. R. Silverberry writes thrilling fantasy and science fiction for children and adults. His novels have earned numerous awards, including three Florida Writers Association Awards and the Benjamin Franklin Award gold medal.

Today I have the pleasure of sitting down with author A.R. Silverberry. Thanks for dropping by. Can I offer you anything to drink?

If you have French roast coffee lying around, that would be wonderful.

I think I can do that.
[various kitchen sounds]
[15 minutes later]

You have a few awards listed on your website. Which one means the most?

Some of them go back years, and the feelings they aroused have faded. The most recent, three Royal Palm Literary Awards for my forthcoming YA science fiction, Shadow House, floored me. Judges were composed of agents, editors, and writers. In other words, no slouches. I hoped I might place in one of the categories, but to grab two golds and then first runner up for unpublished book of the year, that sent me over the moon. Reading the judges’ comments added high-octane rocket fuel.

Do you remember what the first story you wrote—or came up with—as a child?

I do! I was probably six. I use to dictate them to my mom in our tiny upstairs bathroom. She sat on the edge of the tub while I acted out what was going on. We had a three-step metal ladder that I used as a prop for an X-Ray machine. Can’t remember anything more about the story, other than crawling under said ladder. I asked my mom to note the machine sound I made and to show me how she’d written it. She pointed to nondescript scrawl I was skeptical of. Shouldn’t it have been Gshiuzzzzzzzz?

Gshiuzzzzzzzz. That’s definitely a machine sound.

California was hit hard this year by wildfires and drought, not to mention the pandemic. Is this something that affected how you write?

I can’t write if I don’t have something to say. The plight of the world figures big in my recent novels and inspires the story’s theme.

You are also a psychologist. Does this influence your writing?

Actually, very little. There’s a far stretch between theory, research, and static academic description of people and what they are really like. Writers want to capture something true. So I think very little about what I “know,” and just open up and listen to what my characters are telling me. Freud nailed it: “Everywhere I go I find that a poet has been there before me.” I would add: and penetrated to the heart of things. Shakespeare and Jane Austen profoundly understood human nature.

It’s always fun to have another musician to chat with. You play piano and also compose—

Wait! You play as well? What’s your instrument? What style?

Classical and acoustic guitar. I compose more than I play though. Performing just wasn’t my forte. Neither is recording my works, so it takes me quite a while to get things finished.  Do you have a favorite composer?

My favourite? Don’t make me choose! Let’s start with classical: Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, Stravinsky.

Do you listen to any other musical genres?

Jazz: Miles Davis, Coltrane, Monk, not to mention that Brazilian wave of the 60s. Better not get me started on Rock. I would have to mention The Band, Bob Dylan, Crosby Still and Nash, Sting, The Who, The Beatles, The Stones, Van Morrison, Cream, Fairport Convention, and any permutation of Steve Winwood.

Some good choices on that list! Are you ready for the lightning round?

Yep.

Camping or hotels?
Camping.
Big Sur or Big Mac?
Big Sur.
Favorite TV show?
I’m not watching any currently. Going for movies instead. The first few seasons of Arrow were fun—but favourite? This is going to date me: Frasier.
 Favorite city?
Drive south of the sleeping lady and her soaring redwoods, cross a golden bridge—where on a clear day you cast your eyes twenty miles out to sea and just make out the islands—and you find it. Most days you hear the foghorns.

You could go to the marina. Today you don’t. You pass an expansive park, housing two grand museums. Then you’re heading down Van Ness. Better stop at Tommy’s Joynt for the world’s best pastrami on rye. Afterward, there are more destinations than you can explore in one day. You might walk the wharf and fight the seagulls over a loaf of the greatest sour dough bread on the planet. Or head to Chinatown, the largest and oldest outside of Asia, for dim sum. Or take in Jackson Pollack at MoMA. Or drive the up-and-down dizzy streets. Or the crookedest. You might take in a ball game or the strains of the world-class symphony orchestra, or simply head to Telegraph Hill for the panoramic view.

Whatever you do, you’re charmed and seduced, and it never leaves your heart.

So … San Francisco.
[Grins]
Aisle, window or middle seat?
Window.
Do you feel sorry for Pluto—the ‘planet’, not the dog?
Naw, I’m not prone to anthropomorphizing rocks with layers of frozen gases.
What is your favorite palindrome?
The square palindrome

R o t a s
O p e r a
T e n e t
A r e p o
S a t o r

is pretty cool. There were some in Poisonwood Bible, but I don’t recall them. [Spoiler Alert!] The ending of The Lacuna, one of my all-time favourite novels, feels like palindrome.

That’s a good one. Hadn’t seen that before.
This has been a pleasure. Thanks for chatting. Any links you want to share?

Thank you, this has been fun! Here are some helpful links.

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Amazon Author Page


New BookFunnel and StoryOrigin Promos

The story behind Free Book Friday:

I’ve met many authors and readers during my time marketing, cross-promoting, and blogging. I think writers have a responsibility to inform readers about all the indie authors out there in the very crowded world of book publishing. You can’t do it alone, and why would you when you have a supportive group available?

Readers don’t just read one author – they stick with their favorite genres. There lies the power in cross-promotion. If one of my readers buys a book from an author I promote, then chances are there will be a reciprocal effect, or so is the hope. Do I want to boost sales? Of course I do. Do I want to boost other’s sales? Why not. It’s called karma.

Author Offering Free Books

Purchase Links

Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of four books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar, The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories, and The View from Here, a science fiction novella to be released in March 2022.

Not ready to purchase yet?

Sign up for my newsletter and receive a free eBook of your choice.

Oh, pick me!
C’mon, space stuff!

Promote a Poet/Writer Thursday, December 16, 2021 — Go Dog Go Café

Thought I would share this link for any other writers/readers out there:

Welcome to Promote a Poet/Writer Thursday! This is the day of the week where all members of the Go Dog Go Café Community are invited to introduce a Poet or Writer they enjoy reading. Participating is really fast and simple- in the comments below, post the link for the Home Page of the Poet/Writer you […]

Promote a Poet/Writer Thursday, December 16, 2021 — Go Dog Go Café

Weird Wednesday: Poem/Cartoon

I try to cycle as much as I can. Sometimes in winter it can be challenging, but it is exhilarating. Here is a poem the will be included in my newest collection: A Wonder of Words*

Winter Biking 101

You may choose to bike in winter’s throws
Reading rules set down in prose

If you wish to cycle in the winter’s curse
Listen to these tips presented in verse

To stay upright is what you aspire
Get yourself a studded tire

One in front is minimum
Add the back for more traction

If the trails are hard-packed snow
Then winter biking is a go

Fresh snow? I think an inch or two
Any more will feel like glue

Always pay attention to
What’s on the ground in front of you

When on the ground is a layer of ice
Rest assured the ride will not be nice

If you find yourself on an icy sheet
Go straight and keep weight upon your seat

Take the corners slow and wide
Or a slip may coincide

Never overcompensate
Turn too fast and meet your fate

Getting stuck should not be feared
As long as you stay in the lowest gear

The following tip may not make sense
You need to stay loose—but tense

If you don’t like the cold or have a fear of falling
Then winter biking is not your calling

But answering the adventure call
Can be fun for one and all

Unrelated Cartoon*

My newsletter goes out on Wednesdays:

Lines by Leon Newsletter: December 15

*Want an advance beta-copy? Let me know. (see bottom of page)
**Unrelated? Both involve transportation. OK. you got me there.

.


Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of four books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar, The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories, and The View from Here, a science fiction novella to be released in March 2022.

Not ready to purchase yet?

Sign up for my newsletter and receive a free eBook of your choice.

Oh, pick me!
C’mon, space stuff!

Contact me!

Free Book Friday / In Conversation With Author Kyle Massa

About the interviews:

When I published my first book, I looked for ways to reach new readers, and being a brand new author, participating in various book bloggers interviews was a good way to start. Some interviews were standard questions, while others had more individuality built into them.

I then did a twist on the author interview by interviewing myself (Leon Interviews Himself). I then thought it would be fun to get to know some of the authors I was cross-promoting with, and the Friday Conversations were born. Guess what? They are a lot of work. I look up the authors information, visit the website so I can craft a unique set of questions (OK, there are a few standard ones) to let my readership get to know these new authors. Worth the work? You bet. Here is today’s conversation:

Kyle A. Massa is a fantasy author living somewhere in upstate New York with his wife, their daughter, and three wild animals. His published works include two books and several short stories. When he’s not writing, he enjoys reading, running, and drinking coffee.

In Conversation With: Kyle A. Massa

Today I have the pleasure of sitting down with author Kyle A. Massa. Thanks for dropping by. Can I offer you anything to drink?

Thank you, Leon! Coffee with some sort of sugary flavoring, please.

I have sugar . . .

Perfect, thanks!

I’m glad I get to talk to another author of short stories. Is it a lost art or is there a resurgence in the popularity?

That’s a great question. With the rise of social media, bite-sized articles, and shortening attention spans, some authors predicted a corresponding surge in interest for short fiction. The theory clicks logically, since shorts require far less time investment than novels.

Yet we haven’t seen this play out. Novels remain the dominant medium of prose storytelling, while short stories are still, in the words of J.G. Ballard, the “loose change in the treasury of fiction.” It’s difficult to pinpoint why our reading habits contradict our technological conditioning. My personal theory: Readers are more patient than the average person; we celebrate lengthy tales rather than avoid them. Or, in other words, readers are weird.

All that said, the short story is certainly not a lost art. All sorts of influential contemporary writers focus almost exclusively on shorts, including Kelly Link and George Saunders. Plus, big publishing entities still recognize the importance of short fiction (see HMH Books adding a Best American Sci-Fi/Fantasy series in 2015, or Amazon’s recent launch of Kindle Vella, which breaks long-form stories into serialized shorts).

All in all, short fiction is like cult classic movies: Both have small but dedicated fanbases.

…Sorry, that was a long answer.

Long answer to a short story question. Although, who has loose change anymore, right? Did you know that we have the same website theme?

Ha, yes, I did notice that! I’m surprised there aren’t more of us.

It was second theme I have used. I think it is cleaner than some of the options.
In one of your stories, you base a character on Kilgore Trout. Is Vonnegut an author you are influenced by?

Definitely! I love how Vonnegut uses humor and absurdism to address our biggest problems, such as war, intolerance, and eventual apocalypse. Plus, you’ve got to give props to a guy who ends his greatest novel with the words “Poo-tee-weet?”

I totally agree.
When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?

In second grade. An author visited our classroom and led a creative writing workshop, challenging us to write a story based on a photo. Mine’s too embarrassing to mention, but the experience of creation never let me go.

You know I have to ask about it now…

Oh, alright. Something about a kid fleeing a bathroom because he found a portal to another dimension inside. Ya gotta start somewhere.

Not to far-fetched. Toilet training can be traumatic for some—it might feel like another dimension in there.  What was the first book you published?

A weird little novel called Gerald Barkley Rocks. It’s part mystery, part contemporary fantasy, and part rock-and-roll elegy. Plus, it features lots of cats.

Were you an avid reader when you were younger?

Oddly, no. I was much more interested in movies and video games. I really didn’t become a reader until I attended Ithaca College, where I discovered writers like Salman Rushdie, David Sedaris, Joyce Carol Oates, and some guy named William Shakespeare. Plus, we had an outstanding bookstore about 10 minutes down the road. Shoutout Buffalo Street Books!

Do you have a favorite book?

American Gods by Neil Gaiman. It’s challenging, thoughtful, complex, funny, and utterly brilliant.

I have tried to get into Gaiman’s works. I haven’t read that one yet. It may be my final attempt.

Great to hear! It’s not for everyone, but if it’s for you, you’ll be enchanted.

In your author blurb, you mention running. What’s the longest distance you have done and are you concerned with time or the experience? 

Hmm, not too far…maybe five miles? I definitely run more for the experience than for time. I love cranking up the volume on my favorite songs, then pounding the pavement. It’s a freeing experience.

How has the past year affected your writing?

In hindsight, it was harder on my writing than I realized. Around November 2019, I planned a novel that would follow five characters in three different years: 2000, 2010, and 2020. However, March 2020 brought the pandemic, which quickly dumpstered my enthusiasm for any writing about the year. So that book stalled.

I waffled between several replacement projects until I finally settled on Eggs for the Ageless, a trunk novel I hadn’t touched since 2014. Fortunately, I’ve been feeling much better about my writing of late, and Eggs will hatch in mid-2022, along with a bunch of other stuff.

Are you a music lover, and if so, care to share some of your favorites?

For sure! I’m a big fan of classic rock, particularly The Who, The Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath, Jethro Tull, and The Doors. I used to despise modern music, but I’m getting less crotchety about that. Wolf Alice is my current favorite.

I have heard some Wolf Alice.
Do you have a favorite meal or snack to eat that other people just think is weird?

Taco Bell. I have an irrational affection for that place.

I think you should try Maui Taco—if there is still one in Manhattan. There was only one more in the mainland US—at the Minneapolis airport.

Dang, Google tells me there are none left on the mainland. But if I ever make it out to Hawaii, I’ll buy a taco and cheerily announce, “This one’s for Leon.”

That’s sad news. I always looked forward to the mad dash between flights. Are you ready for the lightning round?

Let’s do it!

Public or active transportation?
Active (though I’ll have to walk, because I learned to ride a bike relatively recently—I know, it’s sad)
At what depth does snow become annoying?
When the White Walkers start showing up
Last binged show?
Succession
Favorite city?
The Big Apple, of course!
Do you carry a wallet?
Yup
Hardest tongue twister?
The Peter Piper one

This has been a pleasure. Thanks for chatting. Any links you want to share

Likewise. Thanks so much, Leon! For those who’d like to learn more about my writing, you can find all my work at www.kyleamassa.com. Enjoy the feeling of deja vu from the theme!

New BookFunnel and StoryOrigin Promos

The story behind Free Book Friday:

I’ve met many authors and readers during my time marketing, cross-promoting, and blogging. I think writers have a responsibility to inform readers about all the indie authors out there in the very crowded world of book publishing. You can’t do it alone, and why would you when you have a supportive group available?

Readers don’t just read one author – they stick with their favorite genres. There lies the power in cross-promotion. If one of my readers buys a book from an author I promote, then chances are there will be a reciprocal effect, or so is the hope. Do I want to boost sales? Of course I do. Do I want to boost other’s sales? Why not. It’s called karma.

Author Offering Free Books

Kinda Like Free: KU Titles

Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of four books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar, The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories, and The View from Here, a science fiction novella to be released in March 2022.

Not ready to purchase yet?

Sign up for my newsletter and receive a free eBook of your choice.

Oh, pick me!
C’mon, space stuff!

Weird Wednesday: Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast

As I wait for my sourdough to rise, a thought came to mind:

Flour + water = glue

Flour + water + salt = glue the kids won’t eat

Flour + water + salt + yeast = bread

Where did the glue go?

I have several recipes for bread, and most of them have just those four ingredients. Yet, they all have subtle differences. I have gotten to the point where I don’t often refer to them anymore, preferring to go by look and feel . So yeah, I have turned into my grandmother. Just the right amount sticking on the spoon, sprinkle flour and kneed until it is only slightly tacky, yet smooth.

Hint #1: You can always add more flour, adding more water is messy.

My go-to bread is either a baguette (sometimes with a bit of rye flour) or a French loaf, followed by tray buns, whole wheat, and rye bread (like grandma used to make – Read more about that in this post: Food for Thought: Fitter or Fatter?), and of course, pizza dough.

Well, my dough is almost ready to shape, so I’ll end with these words of wisdom:

“Don’t make bread unless you are prepared to eat the whole loaf.”

-Leon

My newsletter goes out on Wednesdays:

Lines by Leon Newsletter: December 8

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Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of four books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar, The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories, and The View from Here, a science fiction novella to be released in March 2022.

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Free Book Friday / In Conversation With Author G.G. Collins

About the interviews:

When I published my first book, I looked for ways to reach new readers, and being a brand new author, participating in various book bloggers interviews was a good way to start. Some interviews were standard questions, while others had more individuality built into them.

I then did a twist on the author interview by interviewing myself (Leon Interviews Himself). I then thought it would be fun to get to know some of the authors I was cross-promoting with, and the Friday Conversations were born. Guess what? They are a lot of work. I look up the authors information, visit the website so I can craft a unique set of questions (OK, there are a few standard ones) to let my readership get to know these new authors. Worth the work? You bet. Here is today’s conversation:

G.G. Collins loves the southwestern US where many of her stories are located. She can be found hiking through ruins of the ancient ones and enjoying New Mexican cuisine. When not traipsing about, she makes up stories with great friendships, quirky characters and, oh yeah, dead bodies. In real life she shares her time with a man, several neurotic—and psychic—cats and the ongoing struggle to grow a garden.

In Conversation With: G.G Collins

G.G.  Collins

Today I have the pleasure of sitting down with author G.G. Collins. Thanks for stopping by.

You’re welcome. Nothing I enjoy more than talking about writing, except maybe stringing words together.

Can I offer you in a beverage this fine [insert time of day here]? —Morning. It’s always morning, Leon.

Tea drinker. Hot, iced or instant. My favorite brew is Assam.

Coming right up!
You have conducted some interviews yourself, but with the characters you created. How did that come about?

Reporting made it easy for me to interview my own characters. I noticed that some publications liked to use character interviews so I thought, geez, this would be fun. My favorite was the interview I did with the characters of Atomic Medium. Rachel Blackstone works for a magazine in Santa Fe called High Desert Country. So I assembled everyone on the rooftop and placed salsa, chips and margaritas on the table. The alien bad guy was a little defensive at one point saying, “Who are you calling mad? Why is the so-called space alien always the bad guy to Earthlings? We need to organize. We have rights.”

These interviews are entertaining and they give the reader some insight to the story. I dare say they help the writer with that too, perhaps enabling more fully-formed characters as a series progresses.

Having dialogue with your characters does give them an extra dimension.
Do you write full time?

Oh yes, but I have a writing day job which complements my fiction writing. I also have two blogs. One is my book blog Reluctant Medium at Large. It’s not just book stuff, but lots of quirky things about Santa Fe, New Mexico where my stories are set. The other is Parallel Universe at Large where I write mostly reviews of international TV shows and the occasional news posts.

Did you write the Reluctant Medium series before your Young Adult books?

The young adult books were first, followed by the Taylor Browning Cozy Mystery, Dead Editor File. But oddly Reluctant Medium was the first published even though written later. I guess I’d finally done my time learning writing. Taylor Browning was inspired when I worked at a book publisher. We published a mystery series and I thought wouldn’t it be interesting to write a book about a mystery editor who does sleuthing on the side. You know, editing real murder mysteries is not possible, but have real consequences.

Rachel Blackstone is a reporter and I began writing her shortly after I began reporting. Real life has a way of intruding nicely into fictional efforts. Neither were originally conceived as a series, but developed that way.

What was the first book that you remember reading?

Oh my, the one that made the biggest impression on me was, “We Have Always Lived in the Castle” by Shirley Jackson. I read it when I was about 12 or 13. Wow! I didn’t expect that ending. I’ve always loved the weird and spooky. I’ll still watch “Twilight Zone” reruns. My favorite is “The Odyssey of Flight 33.” I’m a big “Supernatural” fan and certainly it has encouraged the storylines in my Rachel Blackstone series.  

What do you do to unwind, or do you have to?

Yoga makes the top of the unwind list, but most types of exercise will work. I watch international TV series and review many of them on my Parallel Universe at Large blog. Movies before pandemic; can’t wait to go back. And I love to travel, although that’s not always relaxing. Travel today, can be quite challenging.

Challenging is an understatement …
You live in the US Southwest. Did you grow up there or were you drawn to it?

Both. For decades the Southwest has attracted artists and writers. For artists, it’s the clear light. The sky is special in this area; vivid azure. For this writer, it is the magic of the place. I am so aware of the ancientness, of the peoples who came before, the Ancient Puebloans. Their history and culture teaches me about the importance of Mother Earth. Bandelier is spectacular with its cliff dwellings and breathtaking Alcove House, some140 feet above the canyon floor. It is reached by stone steps and four ladders. I used this in the storyline of Anasazi Medium. These ruins take me back in time. Every occasion I walk a trail, I think of those who walked it before me. It infuses my writing with timelessness and history.

It’s interesting that you mention the Ancient Puebloans. My latest story mentions Mesa Verde, describing how an alien civilization lived.

Some believed in the star ancestors.

I also enjoy hiking. What is your most memorable hike?

The first time we walked the Borrego Trail outside Santa Fe, we kept hearing water. We thought it’s just around that next bend, or maybe the next bend. We finally gave up, turned around and headed back which is mostly up hill and through the forest. It taught us a lesson; you have to save enough energy to get back. And being wimpy hikers, that’s important. The Aspen Vista Loop is fantastic during the autumn with the cascade of golden aspen leaves. But beware. It’s a tough climb.

I usually have music playing, except when I’m writing. You?

I actually listen to music more when I’m writing. But nothing with vocals – or I’ll be singing and that’s not good for writing, or listening. Usually, I’ll choose something like David Arkenstone, Stephen Halpern or Ottmar Liebert. And Spa on Sirius XM is nice too.

[Crash. Boom]

Oh, you know what that sound means, don’t you? That signals the lightning round. Are you game?

Line them up.

Favorite drink?
Margarita, margarita, margarita.
I enjoy my tequila straight. A nice Reposado or Anejo for sipping. But I won’t pass up a Margarita—on the rocks, of course.
Rocks or frozen.
Dine out or eat in??
Out! Please!
Favorite city?
Santa Fe, New Mexico with Paris, France at a close second.
Last binged show?
“The Code.”
Ever pick up an armadillo?
No, but they’re really cute. You know they can remain under water for six minutes and walk on the bottom of a pond? They can also inflate their stomachs allowing them to float. Too much information?
Nope. That’s good to know. Might make it into another quiz.
Can you solve a Rubik’s Cube?
No interest in doing so.
What search engine did you use before Google?
There was a search engine before Google?!
What does G.G. stand for?
Pseudonym

This has been fun, but we need to wrap it up. Any links you wish to add?

The new Taylor Browning Cozy Mystery, “Editor Kill Fee” is scheduled for release in 2022. Taylor will be investigating the disappearance of the president of the local mystery book club. Is it supernatural or just a wrong turn? 

Books available at Amazon worldwide: G.G. Collins Amazon Page

Blogs: 

https://reluctantmediumatlarge.wordpress.com/

https://paralleluniverseatlarge.wordpress.com/

Twitter: G_G_Collins

The story behind Free Book Friday:

I’ve met many authors and readers during my time marketing, cross-promoting, and blogging. I think writers have a responsibility to inform readers about all the indie authors out there in the very crowded world of book publishing. You can’t do it alone, and why would you when you have a supportive group available?

Readers don’t just read one author – they stick with their favorite genres. There lies the power in cross-promotion. If one of my readers buys a book from an author I promote, then chances are there will be a reciprocal effect, or so is the hope. Do I want to boost sales? Of course I do. Do I want to boost other’s sales? Why not. It’s called karma.

New BookFunnel and StoryOrigin Promos

Author Offering Free Books

Kinda Like Free: KU Titles

Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of four books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar, The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories, and The View from Here, a science fiction novella to be released in March 2022.

Not ready to purchase yet?

Sign up for my newsletter and receive a free eBook of your choice.

Oh, pick me!
C’mon, space stuff!

Thursday Thoughts: A Book About Nothing (contains spoilers)

Now that NaNoWriMo is over, I have time to reflect on the process of writing a book. I am reminded by this iconic scene in pop culture:

[Two men sit across from each other drinking coffee in a diner]

“This should be the show.”
“What should?”
“This.”
“Just talking?”
“Just talking.”
“About what?”
“About nothing.”
“Nothing?”
“Nothing.”
“You want to do a show about nothing?”
“Everybody’s doing something. We’ll do nothing.”

It never is about nothing, though. Even the most mundane events are something, but who wants to watch or read about mundane events? (I see that no one has their hands raised.)

When writing fiction, something has to happen. And not just one thing. In The Lord of the Rings, the trip was not uneventful. They were chased, attacked, pursued, captured, and trapped. They needed to venture through caves, haunted woods, got caught in snow and floods, and fought their way through armies. It was one thing after another, and it felt like the whole Middle Earth was against them*. And they only lost one, and he wasn’t even part of the original group. Pretty good story, huh?


[inaudible]
What’s that?
[inaudible]
They lost two? Well, you can’t count Gandalf—
[inaudible]
Because.
[inaudible]
Just because. It’s magic.
[inaudible]
Then don’t read it then.
[inaudible]
No need for that language…

The reader has already bought into the premise that the characters will encounter difficulties and problems they will have to solve to survive. That’s why they are reading your story, right? Your characters have to get into jams—and out of them. If they don’t, the story ends.

Things have to happen on a regular basis. Too much time between events or not enough suspense will lose a reader. Too many in a row will exhaust them (The Fast and Furious, anyone). How many crises is too many to have on an adventure? And if your protagonists keep finding ways to solve them, does it become unbelievable? There is a fine line between believable and ridiculous —even when you suspend your disbelief.

When it comes to believability, science fiction has the majority of nit-pickers. There are great writers who research and employ experts in order to get the science (or potential science) right. I don’t write technical science fiction. I don’t enjoy reading overly technical stuff either and I’ll skim over those parts. So, how do I explain my technology to a reader?

Q: “How does your Faster-Than-Light drive work?
A: “You press the green button.”
Q: “Then?”
A: “You get there fast.”

How many times do read read about or watch a main character dangle precariously off a cliff or building and still feel tense, knowing that they are going to get out of this alive . . . or will they**? Can you kill off a main character? Sure, but you have to do it in a way that moves the story forward—and not in the first chapter.

Also, have all the good (and bad) tropes been used***? Is there anything truly original or is everything just a variation of a previous story. I found myself having to go back and change something I previously wrote because I’ve read a published book with the same idea. The same book that’s now in the hands of my editor. Yeah, there’s stuff in there that I swear I thought up all on my own. Really.

Readers read to escape. Writers write for much the same reason and to entertain, of course. You can’t entertain with a book about nothing, can you?.

-Leon

*Spoiler alert: It was
**Spoiler alert #2: They do.
***Spoiler alert #3: Yes


Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of four books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar, The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories, and The View from Here, a science fiction novella to be released in March 2022.

Not ready to purchase yet?

Sign up for my newsletter and receive a free eBook of your choice.

Oh, pick me!
C’mon, space stuff!