July 19, 2017

Putting the Readers Back in Charge of Publishing

Hello to any aspiring YA authors out there. This guest post was sent over to me by Sarah at Publishizer! This is a really neat opportunity for you to get your book ideas out there and get people interested. Enjoy!

Imagine a YA publishing process without gatekeepers. One where editors and agents read the manuscripts that readers love, not vice versa. One where anyone with a knack for writing, a passion to succeed, and a little flair for self-promotion, has a fair shot at being published.

All too frequently, this isn’t the case. Books often get rejected for reasons beyond authors’ control. One editor turned down an ultimately successful book by saying, “The girl doesn't, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the 'curiosity' level.” The book in question? The Diary of Anne Frank. Furthermore, according to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, only about 10% of all YA books accepted for publication feature “multi-cultural content.” Clearly, there are some blind spots that need addressing in the publishing industry.

It’s with this vision in mind that Publishizer is launching its YA book proposal contest called Plot Without a Cause. Publishizer is a startup seeking to fill a hole in the publishing industry through crowdfunding. It works like this:

You write the book proposal. You know the book proposal I’m talking about. The one you’ve been daydreaming about for years. The one that just popped into your head last week and you haven’t stopped thinking about since. The one for the manuscript that’s been dearly loved by you but maybe not so much yet by the publishing industry. That one. Then you register (for free!) on Publishizer’s website and post your proposal in the Plot Without a Cause section (again—for free!).

Now this is when you’ll have to start hustling. Crowdfunding runs on pre-orders, so you had better start promoting that proposal. Reach out over social media, post on your blog, email your old roommates—whatever it takes to start building buzz. If you get the most preorders by the time the contest ends, you’ll win $1000 dollars. And if you don’t have the highest number of preorders, don’t worry—you’ll still be queried to major publishers who fit your proposal.

Previous Publishizer contest participants have gotten interest and landed deals with a variety of traditional publishing companies, including Harvard Square Books, She Writes Press, and Weiser. Publishizer takes a small commission on pre-orders when you choose a publisher at the end.

Every year, thousands of books are rejected by the publishing world for reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of the book—they’re too mainstream or not mainstream enough, too similar to books already being published or too different from books already being published. Or the literary agent just doesn’t stand to make much money on the deal so they pass on a perfectly good book! Imagine how many brilliant YA manuscripts go unpublished every year thanks to frustrating rejections. Imagine how many hugely talented authors quietly give up on their dreams, just because the gate to a traditional publishing path isn’t open to them.

With their new YA book proposal contest, Plot Without a Cause, Publishizer is seeking to level the playing field. Publishing decisions shouldn’t be based solely on a literary agent’s judgementor how many friends you have in the industry. They should be based on quality of writing and how many readers the book attracts.

Great books get overlooked all the time, and this is an opportunity to show acquiring editors that yours is worth paying attention to. Not to mention the readership and funds you could gain in the process. Crowdfunding (or crowd-publishing, in this case) is growing in popularity and brings a personal touch back to book sales—for readers and publishers. Are you in?

July 11, 2017

Those Girls by Chevy Stevens

Life has never been easy for the three Campbell sisters. Jess, Courtney, and Dani live on a remote ranch in Western Canada where they work hard and try to stay out of the way of their father’s fists. One night, a fight gets out of hand and the sisters are forced to go on the run, only to get caught in an even worse nightmare when their truck breaks down in a small town. Events spiral out of control and a chance encounter with the wrong people leaves them in a horrific and desperate situation. They are left with no choice but to change their names and create new lives.

Eighteen years later, they are still trying to forget what happened that summer when one of the sisters goes missing and they are pulled back into their past.

This time there’s nowhere left to run.

As much of a thriller as it is a deep exploration of the bonds among sisters, THOSE GIRLS is an unforgettable portrait of desperation, loyalty, and evil.
As much of a thriller as it is a deep exploration of the bonds among sisters, THOSE GIRLS is an unforgettable portrait of desperation, loyalty, and evil.

Wow. My initial reaction to Those Girls is ‘Wow’. I feel like that is really all that you can say after reading a book that packs that many emotions into less than 500 pages.

Those Girls deals with a lot of heavy topics. It is hard to take a lot of it in at once because sometimes you just need a break to unpack your brain. We are talking about child abuse, alcoholism, drug use, rape, abduction . . . this book does not take you on a light ride as you travel through its pages. If you are able to handle reading about these topics, it is definitely worth it. If it is hard for you to deal with any or all of them, I would say it is best to skip this one. It is pretty graphic.

The writing is very gripping and really allows you to get sucked in. The book never runs flat, and it moves along at a pretty quick pace. That said, attention to detail is not sacrificed for the pace.

Jessica/Jamie – To me, she was the main character. You could argue that all three sisters together were the main characters, but moreso Jamie. Therefore, she was the deepest of the characters.

Courtney/Crystal – Man, she was frustrating at times, but she was also the most damaged. Sometimes the most frustrating characters are also the ones that you feel the worst for. You root for her until the end, but sometimes that isn’t enough.

Dani/Dallas – She played a good middle ground between the three sisters. It seemed fitting that the epilogue was written from her POV. The sisters were always looking to her for guidance, but we never really got to hear how she felt about anything until then.

Skylar – I was kind of surprised with her half of the novel. I didn’t think that it would jump ahead in time and examine what happened to them down the road and how the story played out. It was a pleasant surprise and definitely added a lot more to the story. She was a good character to get to know. I wasn’t sure how Jamie having a daughter would play out, but I am glad that it worked out okay.

Karen & Patrick – They were just angels. The girls met them once they got to Vancouver, and they changed their lives for the better.

Gavin & Brian – Scum of the Earth. The fact that there are people out there like them is truly terrifying.

Owen & Allen – Angels on the level of Karen and Patrick. I was glad to see Owen later in the novel too.

The investigation – Luckily, I have never been involved in a missing persons investigation. But, my goodness, could these cops have sat on their hands any more than they were? I understand that they need to follow their protocols, but they are a major reason that the ending of this book turned out the way that it did. I was so frustrating every time Jamie and Dallas talked to the cops, I just wanted to throw the book across the room.

The ending of this book is pretty tragic. It could have ended a lot worse, but that almost doesn’t bring any comfort. It was a good ending, just very tragic.

5/5 Stars

Click To Purchase!

July 9, 2017

A Poisoned Mind by Andre Gonzalez


It started as a subtle whisper. It grew into a roaring, laughing maniac. The voice inside Jonathon Browne’s head grew so loud that it took him over, both mentally and physically. The worst part is he knows who the voice belongs to, but can do nothing to stop it. His mental intruder hijacks his body, takes it to his top-secret government office, and spills blood. With a looming battle within, Jonathon must get control and escape from his own team before they execute him. Will a life in exile be his only choice? Or worse?

Short stories are interesting because they have to move quickly in order for anything to happen. I used to read a lot of them, but I haven’t read one in awhile and I forgot how it was.

You always find yourself saying “how convenient. . .” when there is less conflict than in a full novel.

A Poisoned Mind is a short story spinoff from Andre’s full-length novel Followed Home. I didn’t know this, but I think it fits fine by itself as a stand-alone story.

If you are in to aliens and government agencies, pick it up. You can get it free or super cheap, so there is really no risk to it. It is free as an ebook on Amazon right now.

It is a quick-moving story that you can use to kill some time. It is well written and moves fast.

I am not the biggest fan of extraterrestrial stories, but it was a fun read.

3.5/5 Stars

Click to Purchase!

July 8, 2017

“I” Is For Innocent by Sue Grafton

When David Barney was acquitted in the shooting death of his wife, Isabelle, a good many thought that justice had not been served - including Kenneth Voight, Isabelle's former husband. Now, five years later, Voight is the plaintiff in a civil suit in which Barney stands accused of Isabelle's wrongful death. The stakes are high - Isabelle's estate is worth millions - but time is running short: the statue of limitations will cut Voight off in only a matter of weeks. Enter sexy, savvy ex-cop turned P.I. Kinsey Millhone, brought in by Voight to gather the necessary damning evidence. It doesn't take long, however, for Kinsey to find that while a lot of people hate David Barney, a lot more hated Isabelle. Suddenly a simple civil case becomes a deadly hunt for someone who once got away with murder . . . and may again . . .
Why do I read crime novels? Why do I read the Kinsey Millhone series? The answer to both of those questions is – I read them for books like this. I love any book that keeps me guessing until the final page. I love thinking I have the answer and then changing my mind every few chapters.

“I” Is For Innocent had so many twists and turns, it is incredible that the book didn’t fall right out of my hands.

The one downside I found with it is that there were so many different characters involved that I found myself getting confused at times and not remembering who was who.

Other than that, it was everything you look for in a crime thriller.

Kinsey was her typical badass self. Despite her doubts because of softening up after getting fired, she is still a badass – increasingly more so as the novel progressed. Her sense of humor is one of biggest things that got me hooked to this series. I find myself chuckling out loud often while reading these books and it adds to the joy of the experience.

Henry and William added even more comedic relief to the book. We all know and love Henry as Kinsey’s landlord and friend. When his brother comes to visit, things go to hell for him pretty quick and I found myself laughing a lot at them too.

For the actual crime solving, the case went from trying to put away the “known killer” to Kinsey trying to piece together a seemingly botched investigation by the previous PI (RIP). With so many people tangled in this messy web and so many loose ends to tie up, it seemed like it would never be solved. Of course, Kinsey comes through once again, and while it may not have ended as everyone would have hoped, it ended with the right person paying for their actions.

At different parts of the novel, it seemed like everyone involved was guilty. That is what kept me guessing, and I honestly couldn’t figure it out until it was revealed. The only thing I wish from the conclusion is that we would have gotten some answers, but sometimes you just have to be left guessing. The final scene had my heart racing.

For being the 9th book in the series, it is one of the best. I really enjoyed the ride it took me on.

5/5 Stars

Memorable Quotes:

“Let’s face it, life is trivial, and my guess is that dying imparts very little wisdom on those in process.”

“It’s hard to have faith in your fellow man when you’re forced to look at some of his handiwork.”

“Unplug yourself often and you risk losing touch with your feelings altogether.”

“The dead are mute, but the living still have voice with which to protest their innocence. Often their objections are noisy and pious, impossible to refute since the person who could condemn them has been silenced forever.”

“There’s no point to anything if you get right down to it. We could all blow out brains out, but we don’t.”

“Growing up had made her crabby, which happens to the best of us.”

“I’m not cute at all. I’m a very cranky person.”

“What I wanted was to bang by forehead against the steering wheel till it bled. Maybe the self-inflicted pain would help me clear my thought process.”