Free Book Friday, Book Review and my latest Interview: In Conversation With Author T.J. Christoff

But first, Inktober day 14: Helmet

October 14: Helmet

All previous drawings: https://linesbyleon.com/inktober/


In Conversation With Author/Poet T.J. Christoff

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:

Today I have the pleasure of sitting down with author TJ Christoff. Glad you could make it.

Hello Leon, it’s a pleasure to be here with you.

Your poetry goes back all the way to 1983. What took you so long to publish?

That is an excellent question—

Thanks.

Actually, I am a firm believer that nothing happens by accident. Everything happens exactly when and how it is supposed to. I didn’t publish sooner because it just wasn’t the right time for me to do so.

Why did you decide to put all your collections into one volume?

I really think I did that more for myself than for anything else. I wanted to have a published book with all of the poems that I had written and maintained to that point in my life.

Is there a poem that you have written that you think best encapsulates you?

There have been many, but that changes over time as I change over time.

I know what you mean. Any new projects on the go?

I’m currently working on my Master’s Degree, so my writing projects are pretty much on hold for now. However, I have always said that I am merely the conduit for a much great source to use as He (or She) sees fit. I can’t write to save my soul. So, if I am inspired, I will write, but I am not consciously thinking about new projects at the present moment.

Inspiration sneaks up on you, doesn’t it? It’s not something that can be turned on or forced.

That’s a fact! I can’t tell you how many times I have “tried” to write a poem, only to be disappointed by the results. But then again, there have been countless times when I would be trying to fall asleep at night, tossing and turning, only to have to sit upright, turn on a light, and grab a pen and paper to scrawl the words that seemed to be pouring out of me from seemingly nowhere. Once penned, I would find that I was then able to drift off to sleep very peacefully.

When you are not writing, because we can’t do that all the time, what do you enjoy?

LOL…School has me writing quite a bit. In fact, I just had to write a 1- page paper for this week’s assignment. But, on those occasions when I do have a bit of free time, I usually spend it with my three dogs and my kitten, or with a few friends just making memories.

Music is a part of my life, what about yours?

Ah yes! For me, music is like air, I can’t imagine my life without it!

Care to share any of your favorites?

I love pretty much all music, with the exception of heavy metal. However, my favorite is Contemporary Christian music. I really appreciate how positive and uplifting the songs are. The thing about music, is that it can very quickly affect one’s emotional state. It has the ability to transport a person through time and space almost without effort. The way I see it, there is already plenty of negative going on in the world, so I like to find ways to funnel in as much positive into my life as possible. I get that through listening to Christian music.

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like music or get some sort of emotional benefit from it. Are you ready for the lightning round?

Let’s do it!

Great! Here we go.

Favorite city?
Sedona
Pet Peeve?
Rudeness
Least favorite food?
Anything seafood
The Late Show or The Late Late Show?
Is there a difference??
If there is, it’s negligible…
Last binged show?
Grey’s Anatomy

Well, that all the time we have today, Thanks for participating. Anything you want to plug?

Feel free to check out my website at www.tjchristoff.com

I just did.


Book Review: Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

Have you read The Martian? Then you’ve read Project: Hail Mary. Kinda

It’s not verbatim, that would be…well, not a good idea for an author. Authors have their own unique writing style and trope preferences, and Andy Weir is no exception.

Spoilers after this point. Just sayin’.

Man stranded: Check
Man uses science to survive: Check
Man makes mistakes using science: Check
Man almost dies: Check
Man doesn’t die: Check
Man makes life or death decision: Check
Man becomes a teacher: Check

That last one was disappointing. In The Martian the main character ends up teaching at NASA (in the movie for sure, I don’t remember if the book ended that way). In Project: Hail Mary the final paragraph is him teaching a class of alien children. This would have been a great ending if I hadn’t read the previous book. It only made sense that Dr. Grace would go back to his chosen career.

Did I like it? The concept was well thought out and believable. Some of the science was confusing at times, but I find that with most sci-fi books. So yeah, I liked it. Kinda.


New Promos (StoryOrigin / BookFunnel)

New Authors: Poetry

Eight poets offer free samples of their work

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.

Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.
www.linesbyleon.com

Purchase paperback directly for the author!

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!

Bad Luck Free Book Friday the 13th?

Are you superstitious? Did anything bad ever happen to you on Friday the thirteenth? I’m not superstitious, but I won’t walk under a ladder – that’s just dangerous. Here are a few common ones:

  • The Number 13: With the exception of the horror movie(s), nothing bad happens in Friday the 13th, does it? Some hotels don’t have a 13th floor, but will have the pool there instead. Isn’t that inviting disaster?
  • Itchy Palm: Shouldn’t have picked that poison ivy, right?
  • Walking Under a Ladder: Like I said, just not safe.
  • Breaking a Mirror: Bad luck? Well you do have to buy a new one…
  • Finding a Horseshoe: Bad luck for the horse.
  • Opening an Umbrella Inside: Not wise because how are you going to get out the door?
  • Knock Twice on Wood: Always funny when you knock on your buddy’s head.
  • Tossing Spilled Salt Over Your Shoulder: Just a waste of good salt.
  • Black Cats: Cats are just jerks anyway.

Onto the books:

I gained 50+ newsletter subscribers through my BookFunnel promotions. So far, so good. Most downloaded the free sample of my sci-fi book, and one downloaded my poetry book.

I decided to put my sci-fi book on sale for the week:

Featured Author

Current promos are here: Discover New Authors and Free Books

That’s it for this week!

Leon

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.

Speaking of free, do you want to review either of my books? Drop me a message telling me why (and the format).


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: BookFunnel makes its debut!

Similar to StoryOrigin, BookFunnel allows authors to advertise their books to each other’s audience. I decided to give it a try because all exposure helps. I have connected with some authors through StoryOrigin and have already done the same on this new platform. Coming on Monday, don’t miss a conversation with poet/writer/composer Abigail de Niverville.

I hope you take a look at them and find something you like. You can let me know what your experience is between the two.

Reads From BookFunnel:

Searching for your next favorite story? August – Big Fiction eBook Extravaganza – clean eBooks, any genre, $4.99 or less

Discover New Authors

Free Books

Sci-fi Kindle Unlimited: StoryOrigin

Current promos are here: Discover New Authors and Free Books

That’s it for this week!

Leon

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.

Speaking of free, do you want to review either of my books? Drop me a message telling me why (and the format).


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: The Olympics – Part 5 Records

I remember reading The Guinness Book of World Records as a young boy. Now, many of the records that fascinated me were the weird ones (some aren’t allowed anymore for obvious reasons), like the guy who ate an entire bicycle, the longest fingernails, and many others.

Physical records are often broken during the Olympics, but are the athletes reaching the limits of potential? The 4-minute mile was once thought to be impossible, now the record is around 3:43 I believe. The 2-hour marathon is the next breakthrough, although it was broken, but not recognized because it was not under race conditions (indoor, climate controlled, pacers, and drafting behind other runners). How much weight can one person lift? (A lot).

World records may not be as important as personal bests. If an athlete can better their previous achievement, you can’t really ask for anything more.

-Leon

Free Poetry Offering:

Kindle Unlimited Titles

Current promos are here: Discover New Authors and Free Books

That’s it for this week!

Leon

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.

Speaking of free, do you want to review either of my books? Drop me a message telling me why (and the format).


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: New giveaway platform

After waffling for months, I finally decided to join BookFunnel. The biggest obstacle was price. It’s not expensive, buy I’m am already using StoryOrigin, so It’s kind of like paying for cable and Netflix. And I’m cheap. Well, maybe thrifty, or money-conscience.

The main reason to bite the bullet was to reach new readers (along with connecting with other authors). I joined my first campaign and created my first poetry promo which immediately received 2 participants. I’ll do a comparison between the two platforms in the future.

Anyway, time to pour a second cup of coffee and finish watching the Olympic athletes procession.

Free Sample from Shane Shepherd

Featured author

Current promos are here: Discover New Authors and Free Books

That’s it for this week!

Leon

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.

Speaking of free, do you want to review either of my books? Drop me a message telling me why (and the format).


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!

Monday Musings: Author’s Comments

I recently ran a promo with Itsy Bitsy Book Bits which gave their pool of reviewers free access to my poetry book. I unfortunately did not see any sales, but the reviews that I received put my BookBub total to 21, Goodreads to 37, and Amazon to 14. This made me ponder the appropriateness of author’s commenting on reviews.

There was a post about this a few months ago. I posted two questions in some Goodreads groups, but have had little feedback.

Authors: Do you comment on the reviews that you receive?

Readers: Do you like when authors respond to your review?

I have replied to many of my reviews in the past. My thinking that it is a personal touch that connects the two parties. In some reviews there have been questions or comments that I thought deserved a follow up. I have “liked” some reviews in the past, but maybe that’s bordering on arrogant?  

I don’t think that it is appropriate if an author retaliates for a poor review. It has probably happened, though I have never seen it. If a reader pans an author’s book, they are not expecting a scathing retort, they are voicing their opinion—which is the purpose of reviews.

The other dilemma is if you comment on one and not the other, does that hurt a reader’s feelings? If you are an author, you probably re-read your reviews, but as a reader, do you post and forget or do you look at other’s reviews after the fact?

Just some thoughts to mull over. What do you think?

-Leon

Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.
www.linesbyleon.com

Purchase paperback directly for the author!

Free Book Friday: The Little Library that Could

Neighborhood Lending Libraries

You have seen them. Those little houses on posts with the glass doors next to the sidewalk. There are several around that I frequent. Since many public libraries were closed during the pandemic, they did come in handy. I always wonder about the etiquette though.

Do I:

  • Return the book to its original home?
  • Put a different book in its place?
  • Put it in a nearby library?
  • Sanitize?
  • Spend some time and organize into genres? Alphabetical order?
  • Leave a note complaining of the lack of reference books?
  • Write a review and leave it in the inside flap?
  • Use them as a dumping place for all the books I don’t read anymore?

Do you make use of these book depositories?

Free Samples from Various Authors

Current promos are here: Discover New Authors and Free Books

That’s it for this week!

Leon

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.

Speaking of free, do you want to review either of my books? Drop me a message telling me why (and the format).


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: July 7 – Is free a good thing?

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.

Don’t give away the farm.

Despite information that free books is a good marketing strategy, I still struggle with the thought of giving away my hard work as a writer. Oh, I’ve done it, but my finger hovers over the button for a long time before I make the commitment.

Book royalties are not very high with self publishing unless you are able to sell directly. I make more/book if I sell my paperback directly to a reader. Much more. And you get it signed by me. Oh, and you get a free bookmark that I designed. Even with shipping – which isn’t cheap, if I sold all my books that way, I’d be happy.

So, most indie authors are making a small amount with each sale, and it is hard to give up that amount when every little bit counts. But if you want to there are several options:

Free books for reviews: There are many ways to get your book into the hands of readers that will hopefully leave a glowing review that will boost your credibility as and author. I’ve had limited success with most, although my review rate I have discovered is typical. I recently started a two week promotion with Itsy Bitsy Book Bits which includes making my book available to their pool of reviewers. My previous forays can be read about in this post: Review Platforms: Take my free books, please.

Free days on Amazon: If you publish with KDP (Amazon), you have the ability offer your book for free. The benefit? If enough readers download your book, it can catapult it into the Best Sellers lists, which in turn increases exposure. I’ve done this as well as $0.99 sales.

Reader magnets: If you have never heard of these, I’ll let you in on a secret— [Tap on shoulder] “What’s that? I can’t? OK. you can leave now.” [footsteps]

Most authors offer up free samples of their books to readers, usually in exchange for their email address. It’s a win/win really. The author gets their writing into the hands of a potential reader (hopefully a potential purchaser), and the reader gets a chance to discover a new author and use their “junk” email address so they don’t have to deal with constant spam from authors. Yes, I know you have one. I’m talkin’ to you doodlepoodle57_hahaABC@yahoomail.crom. I only send out a weekly email that hopefully entertains and informs the subscribers of sales and free offerings that I am participating in. It is also the only way I can direct my parents to my blog without fielding a call like an IT call center. So yeah. Win/win

Writer’s platforms: There are various platforms for budding writers to post their creations. Last month I wrote about them: Free Book Friday: June 18 .

Nothing is guaranteed in the publishing business. Free books do not always equal more sales, and many readers will not leave reviews even if that is the expectation.

I appreciate everyone who has reviewed my books. I get excited when I see a new review posted. I don’t expect everyone to enjoy my writing, but most readers have always said something positive. For the readers who have purchased one of my books, I thank you for supporting me on my writing journey. I’ll leave you with this question: Where do read for free?

Current promos are here: Discover New Authors and Free Books

That’s it for this week!

Leon

Speaking of free, do you want to review either of my books? Drop me a message telling me why (and the format).


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: July 2

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.

My poetry collection is available to read on Wattpad or Inkitt

Free Reads from Story Origin

Horror and Post-Apocalyptic books available for review:

Not technically free, but kinda:

Current promos are here: Discover New Authors and Free Books

That’s it for this week!

Leon

Do you want to review either of my books? Drop me a message telling me why (and the format).


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!