Happy August. How has your summer been?
I am at the end of an experiment per se. I booked a review slot with Hidden Gems.
Like some authors it hasn’t been easy for me to get my readers to post reviews. I really wish I understood why this simple request is so difficult to fulfill. Then I think about myself. I have read quite a few books and am guilty of the very thing my readers haven’t done…post a review.
As a writer, I have become more aware of the importance of leaving reviews.
Last month, I enlisted the review service Hidden Gems. I heard great things about the service, but was a little apprehensive because of a past experience with a different review service. After asking around, I settled on them and I’m glad I did.
I choose their entry level plan, 50 reviews with my book A Southern Gentleman Vol One. I was very nervous. The nine reviews weren’t representative of the sales. This is my best selling title. When I do signings or book club events, the book is well received. Many have said how much they like the hero Jeremiah. However, the majority of them have yet to write a review.
Working with Hidden Gems was me walking into the lion’s den to face fifty readers unfamiliar with me or my books.
When the first reviews came in, I was good. Then a bad one appeared and I was fit to be tied. I know I’m not Jane Austen, Nora Roberts, Danielle Steele or Debbie Macomber, but I can tell a story. However, I get a little pissed when people say they couldn’t get passed the first chapter. A thing like that can shake a writer’s confidence.
I think what stopped me from replying to that first bad review was the fact the review misquoted several things. Here’s a review tip…if you’re going to leave a bad review, know of what you speak. As I re-read the bad review for the fifth time, I came to the conclusion this person was looking for a reason not to like my book. Oh well, their loss.
As the reviews came in, I was surprised to see how my book was viewed. Let me clarify. I thought of it as sweet & sexy. However, the reviews came back as just sweet. There was the occasional rushed storyline. Some were upset I didn’t mention the faith element. Overall Jeremiah has been well received.
A bonus during the review period was an increase in sales across my library.
I’m glad I tried the service. It was well worth the money. Will I do it again? Yes. I have to be honest, I wouldn’t have done this if it hadn’t been for the fact that I want to apply for a BookBub Featured Deal. I’ve heard of authors getting a BookBub Featured Deal without a lot of reviews. However, the two times I’ve gotten featured deals was with my book that has 30+ reviews. Using that as a measuring stick, I wanted to make sure I set myself up in a positive light. We’ll see what happens when I apply.
As of this post, my Amazon average is 4 out of 5 stars for A Southern Gentleman Vol One. I’m hoping to keep it there or higher.
I also think I’ll be adding Hidden Gems to my release plan. I know it’s costly, but if it will help make my book launches more successful, then it’s well worth the money.
If you’ve tried Hidden Gems or another service, what was your experience?
See you next month.
Vicki Crum writes contemporary and paranormal romance, creating tales full of love and laughter and discovering one’s soul mate in the most unlikely places. Her published works include Loving Luc, Once in a Blue Moon, Moonspell, and Blood Moon (Eternal Moon Series). Vicki resides with her husband in a charming seaside community in Southern California. She has two grown daughters and two adorable grandchildren who light up her world.
We’re spending time today with contemporary and paranormal romance author Vicki Crum. Vicki’s third book in her paranormal romance Eternal Moon series has just been released.
Jann: Your Eternal Moon series is about werewolves. What drew you to this genre?
Vicki: A few years ago, my friend and critique partner, Mandy Baker, urged me to try my hand at writing a paranormal romance. I had only written contemporary romances prior to that, and one contemporary romance with futuristic elements. I tried to think what I could write exploring the paranormal world that would hold my interest. I wasn’t really a “vampire” kind of girl, so I settled on a werewolf. I’ve always been fascinated by wolves, and so I figured, why not? I could still create characters that were sexy and mysterious, and they could be awake during the day and eat whatever they wanted!
Jann: You received great reviews for Once in a Blue Moon and Moonspell. For this series, did you start with plot idea, a character or a theme?
Vicki: Oddly enough, I had started a contemporary romance that wasn’t really going anywhere, so I revamped it into what would eventually become Once in a Blue Moon by making the hero a werewolf. Only Jake was meant to be a werewolf in the beginning. I didn’t even know his love interest, Casey, was a werewolf until Jake did! A rare breed of werewolf with a case of latent genes, even Casey doesn’t know about her true heritage until Jake comes along. I can tell you I had some fun with this one!
In Moonspell, I give Casey’s handsome older brother, Reed, his own love story. Due to their odd family genetics, Reed is not a werewolf, but Marin, the woman he ultimately falls for, is. Each book in the series is connected by siblings. In Blood Moon, Austin is Marin’s brother.
Jann: Blood Moon, book three made its debut recently. What can you tell us about your characters Austin and Kat and their journey?
Vicki: Of all the characters I’ve ever written, I think Kat and Austin are my favorites. They completely captured my imagination and took over my life for a while. I love the way they relate to each other, their good-natured sparring, the immense and uncharted chemistry between them that sweeps them along, almost against their will, on an ultra-passionate adventure. The story takes place in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where Austin serves as Kat’s outdoor adventure guide. Lots of beautiful scenery, wild animal encounters, and plenty of passion-filled nights. And did I mention Kat’s stalker ex-husband, who refuses to take no for an answer? A showdown at the end exposes Austin’s werewolf heritage in a sudden and violent way, causing Kat to reexamine her feelings for him, and what a future with him might look like.
Jann: What do you want the readers to take away from this series?
Vicki: I want them to have fun, to be entertained above all, to be carried along on a fantasy, passion-filled adventure as the characters meet and fall desperately in love, then struggle with how, despite the odds against them, to forge a future together.
Jann: Will there be a fourth book? If so, can you tell us a little about it?
Vicki: The next book (as yet untitled) takes us to Nashville, and yet another sibling of Marin and Austin’s. Ethan Sawyer is a popular country music star who falls for an extremely independent woman, one whose father was a famous, and very troubled, rock star. Due to Skyler’s scarred past, getting involved with a musician is a non-starter for her. She is also half Shawnee, which according to her full-blood grandmother, makes any kind of union with a shapeshifter forbidden.
Jann: Your first book, Loving Luc, is a contemporary romance. Do you have any plans to write another contemporary romance?
Vicki: Loving Luc is a contemporary romance with futuristic elements, as Luc hails from a planet in another solar system that just happens to be very similar in size and scope to Earth. But yes, I’m thinking to finish my Eternal Moon series with Ethan and Skyler’s story, and then I have several straight contemporary ideas I’d like to work on. Also, my daughter has expressed an interest in us writing a book together, so we’ll see where that idea leads.
Jann: Do you find yourself returning to certain themes in your stories?
Vicki: I would have to say the main theme in most of my books has been the tried and true “love conquers all”. I’ve paired lovers from two distant solar systems and given them their happy ending, and three of the Eternal Moon novels feature couples with incongruent genetic lines, human and werewolf. You can imagine what kinds of difficulties they might face trying to create a life together! I love the idea of discovering one’s soulmate in the most unlikely and unexpected places, wherever that may be.
Jann: Are there any words of inspiration on your computer, in your office or in your mind when you write?
Vicki: Honestly, the quote that has always inspired me the most, and I’m sorry I can’t remember who said it, goes like this, “It makes me sad to think of all the truly talented writers who eventually gave up and went away.” When I’m feeling down and discouraged, this quote gives me heart. Never give up your dreams!
Jann: Do you have a website, blog, twitter where fans might read more about you and your books?
Vicki: You can find my website at: vickicrum.wix.com/author, and catch me on Facebook at Facebook.com/vickicrum.author
Congratulation Vicki on the debut of Blood Moon!! It’s been fun getting a peek into your world of werewolves here on A Slice of Orange.
Sometimes what you think is going to be a great idea for a novel turns out to be a whole lot of work! That’s what happens when you realize the idea you are now in the middle of isn’t going to work the way you thought it would.
In THE CONSPIRACY, I got the idea for a book that started in Texas, moved to the Caribbean, and ended up in Venezuela. With all the trouble country is having, I thought it would be a great setting for a Romantic Thriller.
Unfortunately, after I was well into the book and started doing the necessary research for that segment of the story, I realized the geography I needed, and the rural setting didn’t exist in Venezuela.
I spent days digging around in South America, looking for a rainforest that could be reasonably reached from the Caribbean island of Aruba. Nothing worked.
Finally, I realized there actually was spot that exactly fit the image in my head. (This happens to writers all the time. No one knows why.) The spot was in Colombia, a place I had no desire to write about, but fit the story exactly.
So I went to work researching a remote area of Columbia accessible from Aruba.
Chase Garrett, the hero of THE CONSPIRACY, with the help of Harper Winston, the woman who hires him to find her missing brother, wind up in extreme danger in the Columbian tropical forest. It’s a very unusual place that required hours of research, but in the end, it was worth it.
I had my work cut out for me, finding which animals, reptiles, and birds lived in the area. Reading about the customs of the indigenous tribes, and the politic. Rebel armies inhabit the forest, and they don’t like intruders.
The research made THE CONSPIRACY one of the most challenging books I’ve written, but hopefully it’s one of my most interesting. I hope you’ll look for THE CONPIRACY, the first of my Maximum Security series, and that you enjoy. Until next time, very best wishes and happy reading,
New York Times bestselling author Kat Martin is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara where she majored in Anthropology and also studied History. Currently residing in Missoula, Montana with her Western-author husband, L. J. Martin, Kat has written sixty-five Historical and Contemporary Romantic Suspense novels. More than sixteen million copies of her books are in print and she has been published in twenty foreign countries. Her last novel, BEYOND CONTROL, hit both big lists … NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER LIST as well as the USA TODAY BEST-SELLING BOOKS LIST. Kat is currently at work on her next Romantic Suspense.
In 1995 UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) chose April 23rd as World Book Day and Copyright Day to celebrate books and authors. April 23, 1616 is the date when both William Shakespeare, Miguel Cervantes, and several other authors whose names are not household words all died.
As a lifelong, avid reader, I love the idea of a special day to celebrate love of reading. I recently saw a musical version of Little Women at a community theatre production and was reminded of how much I had loved the book when I was a child. I clearly remember one day when I was re-reading the book and sobbing over Beth’s death. My mother asked in an exasperated tone, “Why do you read that book if it makes you cry?” “It’s so good,” I sobbed. I lost count of how many times I read the book but it had to be at least ten.
Like a lot of authors, love of reading led me to decide I wanted to be a writer, something my parents actively discouraged. I remember coming home in 9th grade with the results of the Kuder Preference Test, which all students were required to take. My results said I had interests similar to teachers, librarians and writers. My folks very quickly made it clear to me that only two of those vocations were acceptable. None of us realized that many writers start out writing around their full-time job.
I decided to become a librarian. At least that way I could be surrounded by books all day. Little did I know my first job would be as a technical librarian, surrounded by books on electronics which I could not begin to understand! It was very odd to preside over a library of books where I could only understand the dictionary and encyclopedia! Later I switched to public libraries and enjoyed my job a lot more.
While I write romance and love to read more romance, my reading tastes are actually pretty eclectic. I belong to a readers group that chooses a topic rather a book every month. This month we’ve been reading books with a Psychology element. I found three good novels to read: Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler; Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick; and I Never Promised You a Rose Garden by Joanne Greenberg. All were excellent. Next month: Historical Fiction, one of my favorite topics.
What have you been reading lately?
Linda McLaughlin grew up with a love of history fostered by her paternal grandmother and an incurable case of wanderlust inherited from her father. She has traveled extensively within the United States and has visited Mexico, Canada, Australia and Europe. She now lives near the ocean in Orange County, California.
Linda writes historical and Regency romance under her real name and spicier romance under the pseudonym Lyndi Lamont.
Connect with her at her website or on Twitter @LyndiLamont.
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