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COVER REVEAL FOR S.M. STEVENS NOVEL HORSESHOE AND HAND GRENADES

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Brief description of book:

Fragile but practical Shelby Stewart and ambitious, confident Astrid Ericcson just want to start their PR careers in 1980s Boston and maybe find a nice guy to hang out with. But long-buried memories of incest at the hands of her local hero stepfather keep interrupting Shelby's plans, affecting her health one way after another. And when will she actually date someone her friends think is good enough for her?

Astrid thinks she wrote the book on How to Get Ahead by Flirting but is forced to re-visit her career advancement strategy when her boss Brad takes the innuendoes to a whole new, scary level, threatening her job and her safety.

Suddenly, instead of taking charge of their lives, both women find themselves spinning out of control.

In this fast-paced story for the #MeToo generation, the women reach new highs and lows in life, work and romance, while struggling to make sense of the abusive relationships that haunt them.

Publisher: TouchPoint Press
Genre: New Adult/Upmarket
Format: Paperback and ebook
Release date: Sept. 27, 2019
ISBN-10: 1-946920-71-1
ISBN-13: 978-1-946920-71-3

Pre-order links:
Amazon: https://amzn.to/2K5CuzO
TouchPoint Press: http://bit.ly/2K8nMYY

Author bio:

S.M. Stevens began writing during back-to-back health crises: a shattered pelvis and ovarian cancer. She has self-published Shannon's Odyssey (Middle Grade) and the Bit Players series (Young Adult). When not writing, she provides marketing and PR to solar energy companies. She lives in New England.

Author website and social links:

Website: https://www.AuthorSMStevens.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorSMStevens
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/SMStevens17
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/s.m.stevens/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/s-m-stevens-303623180/

Author Interview with Michael Sahno, the author of Whizzers

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Q: What got you into writing?

A: I was always a writer, even as a youngster. People who knew me in high school or college will remember me as Class Poet, or editor of the literary magazine. When I got into my late teens, I started writing more fiction, some short stories. Then I started my first novel when I was about twenty-five. Once I finished the first one, I launched into writing the next one without ever looking back.


Q: Tell us about your new novel, Whizzers?

A recovering alcoholic, Mike, discovers his six-year-old cousin, David, travels through time as a whizzer to bring comfort to those in need. Mike soon finds himself along for the ride, and while he gets the opportunity to bring solace to some of his greatest heroes, he must also confront his own greatest demons.


Q: Is any of this based on your own experience, or is it strictly fiction?

A: A couple of characters from my previous novels bear a slight resemblance to real people, but very slight indeed. However, Whizzers is a different story: the narrator is a fictionalized version of me, and he meets up with a variety of people, including some fictionalized versions of relatives. And yes, all the standard legal disclaimers apply. I think if you or someone you love has ever been bullied; faced addiction or alcoholism; or wanted to give or receive comfort, you’ll like it.


Q: Who would you say have been your greatest influences?

A: The biggest influences on my fiction were probably John Gardner, Kurt Vonnegut, and Hunter S. Thompson. Then Balzac, Faulkner, Fitzgerald--lots of others. Balzac and La Comédie Humaine will always top the list for me. I’ve read maybe 30% of his work, so I’ve barely scratched the surface, and he gets me every time. He really knew all levels of society and human nature.


Q: When is Whizzers coming out?

A: It's available July 21st from all your favorite online retailers: Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and so on. You can find it here or here.

Street Teams: What To Do & What Not To Do

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It has been a while since I have written a blog post that pertained to anything writing related. For the past few months, I have been preparing for the release of my debut novel Augur of Shadows: The Destined Series Book 1. Now that the book is out into the world, and people are purchasing it and reading it, I have a little more time to do a few other things. Well, when an author releases a novel, the real work starts: ACTIVATING YOUR PROMOTIONAL/MARKETING SKILLS.

However, this blog is not about how to promote your novel, what marketing plan is the most effective, or how much should you spend on hiring a PR person. What this blog is about is Street Teams. Street teams are a way of promoting/marketing, but their stage in the release game and tactics are different.

What is a Street Team, you ask?

A street team is a group of individuals an author gathers to help him, her or they to receive an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) and leave a review on the day of your release. Yes, the author needs to have ARC’s ready for their street team. Street Teams are also meant to help promote your work. And, Yes, the members of your street team need to promote your novel. Think of the phrase Street Team…a team on the streets, promoting your work and gaining new individuals who learn of your story and who may want to pre-order your novel.

In my recent experience with my Street Team, I had done everything my research showed. I made a preliminary list of individuals who I thought would consider joining the cause. After my list was constructed, I created a google doc sign-up, and I posted on Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook. I set a time frame for people to sign-up. Also, a Facebook group was created so that the members had a place to discuss weekly tasks and ideas.

This is part of the blog where it gets interesting…

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For Authors & Participants:

1) Do NOT sign up if you aren’t going to participate. The purpose of joining a team is to help the author gain more pre-orders/reviews/press for their upcoming novel. You are effectively affecting their release day. Do not join a team if you aren’t going to be helpful.

2) Authors, do NOT take just anyone just because you feel the need to have an actual team. It is better to have a smaller team who will help you out rather than a large group of people that waste your time. This is about YOUR release day, not their ego.

3) Authors, do as much research for your team prior to inquiring. Having all the information makes your life easier when your team comes to you with questions/suggestions. You should be the pro. Again, this is about your novel’s release day…the day that you want to shine the brightest…so do the work.

4) This number goes with #1. If you’re on a team, DO NOT say you’ve completed a task, etc and not have done it. The author will check up on it. It isn’t because he, she or they don’t trust you, but they are trying to increase the reach of their audience. Why wouldn’t the author double check?

The DON’Ts are quite short and simple. If you don’t want to do the work, DO NOT SIGN UP FOR ONE. I had too many people sign up for my street team, and a vast majority did not participate when the requirements were posted and conversations were had.

Should an Author expect a few of the people to sign up and not participate? Yes, life is tricky and busy. While things happen and people’s lives can change a moment later, it is still vital that all members retain constant communication for sheer respect for one another.

 
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For Authors & Participants

1) Authors, once you give your team members an ARC, be open to their constructive criticism. Maybe they see something that you or your editor missed. It will only help you out in the long run.

2) Authors, tell your team members where you want your book/series to go. Retaining members who love your story/writing style will ease future street teams.

3) Authors, assign weekly tasks so that your street team knows what to do. You can NOT be upset with the team if they don’t know what they need to do.

4) Authors, have your street team speak with bookstores, news outlets, book reviews, bookstagrammers, BookTubers…anyone who has a reach. The more exposure you have, the better.

If you are contacting anyone for a review/book spotlight/author spotlight/blog tour, you MUST be respectful and considerate of the individuals because…newsflash…you are NOT the only one contacting them. DO NOT be disrespectful.

5) Have your street team post pictures with their ARCs (even the eBook version). It’ll allow future readers to see others are truly excited about your story.

6) Have your members add your book on Goodreads (GR). Have them also post updates on their reading status. People do look for those things.

7) The street team should be speaking about your book to everyone.

I am NOT saying that the street team needs to do nothing but concentrate on your book. Come on…it doesn’t take long to post on FB, GR, IG or Twitter.

8) Street Team can also share your blog post to others as well. As stated, getting your name out there is the most important.

9) If you have a giveaway, have your street team share that information as well.

10) Create an “easy-to-use” sign-up sheet/form for your street team.

***Author, you are the manager of the group. If you can’t take the time to do at least the state above, then maybe you shouldn’t form a street team till a time that you are ready***

The above stated is not everything you can do for your street team. These are only suggestions. From my recent experience, I have members who decided to not participate, but I did have members who fulfilled the requirements I posted prior to starting, and I am very much appreciative of their hard work. Because of their and my work, I had a successful launch day. I also have learned what not to do the next time I form a street team. Now, everyone’s street team can be different, but the ultimate goal is always the same—maximum exposure of the author and his, her or their novel.

I hope you find this information helpful, and I wish everyone success with their future book launches.

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Murder on the Rocks Blog Tour!!!!!!


BOOK REVIEW

Title: Murder on the Rocks: A Welsh Cosy Murder Mystery (Jordan Jenner Murder Mystery #1)

Author: J.S. Strange

Pages: 416

Blurb: When PI Jordan Jenner returns to work following the death of his mother, his first case involves a murdered writer...

James Fairview has been killed. As a member of a prestigious writing group hosted by bestselling author Joseph Gordon in the heart of Cardiff, Jordan not only has to cope with solving the mystery, but also deal with press attention. 

As Jordan investigates, he discovers his mother's death may not have been so simple. And when another writer is murdered, Jordan realises the killer could strike again... 

A murdered writer, a mysterious death, and a group with jealousy at its heart, this is Jenner's toughest case yet.

Rating: 4.5/5.0

Cover: B+

Review:
My true rating is a strong 4.5/5.0 for the novel. This genre isn’t my normal taste, but I was approached to give a true and honest review. The author takes us on an adventure (make me think of Clue) on how and why members of a writing group are being murdered. 
Jordan, the protagonist, has a lot going on. His mother passed, his father is mourning and Jordan himself is dealing with all the emotions that come with losing a parent. 
An idea comes to his head, “does my mother’s death have anything to do with it?” He goes on the journey of solving the mystery. 
The story does give a very classic murder/mystery vibe, and I enjoyed it. It maintained my attention throughout the pose. 

The cover get a solid B+.


A great start to the series. I do recommend this novel to anyone who likes thriller/murder/mystery.

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MURDER ON THE ROCKS BOOK BLOG TOUR

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AUTHOR INTERVIEW

Do you have a pen name and why?

I write under the pen name J.S. Strange. It’s because of a few reasons. My name is Jack Strange, but there is already someone writing under that name. And that is their pen name! So basically, they stole my name! But that’s okay because they’re cool. So J.S. Strange was chosen. It is my first name, Jack, my middle name and my last name, Strange. I like writing under the pen name, as I feel it holds some weight.

What makes your writing unique compared to others in the genre?

I have a unique setting for Murder on the Rocks, and that’s Cardiff, Wales. There has been talking that people won’t want to read Welsh fiction, and that publishers won’t touch it. There are other Welsh setting novels out there, and Crime Cymru is champions of that Welsh fiction. It’s time Wales was put on the crime literature map because it’s a great setting and there are great stories to be told. Murder on the Rocks also features a gay male detective, in a bid to improve representation within the crime genre.

What made you choose this genre?

I had been writing horror novels. They were Winter Smith: London’s Burning, and Winter Smith: The Secrets of France. I hit a wall with that series, after originally planning three or four, and I needed to get out of my writing slump. I was a reader of crime and thriller fiction, so I set out to write one of my own. I ended up with a murder mystery novel.

What’s the story behind your book title?

My new book, out now, is called Murder on the Rocks. The name actually came from a misheard Fifth Harmony lyric! I had been writing about a writer that died from poison in whiskey. That whiskey was neat and poured over ice. Instead of whiskey on the rocks, I thought I’d play on words, and Murder on the Rocks became the name. I did find out that wasn’t what Fifth Harmony was singing, but I’m glad I misheard it that way!

What’s the basic plot of your book or series?

In Murder on the Rocks, Private Investigator Jordan Jenner has returned to work following the seemingly natural death of his mother. His first case back is that of a murdered writer, who has died in a prestigious writing group. Jordan begins to investigate, learning along the way his mother’s death is related. Murder on the Rocks is the first in the Jordan Jenner Mysteries series. I’m currently writing the second.

Which is your favorite character and why?

Jordan Jenner himself is my favorite character right now. He’s a complex man. He’s shy, misunderstood, sarcastic, blunt and hurting. He closes himself off from people without meaning to, because he’s worried about getting hurt, or trusting the wrong people. He can come across mean, but he’s not a nasty man. I like writing to him because he offers a lot.

How do you develop your characters?

I’m quite observant of people and their behaviors and personality in real life, so I use a lot of what I’ve seen in my writing. I also like writing backstory and like to invent situations as I write. I like to know their ages, who they’ve been with, what music they like, that sort of stuff. It helps make them real to me.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to write a book?

I’d say just do it. A lot of people say they have a book in them, but make excuses as to why they haven’t written anything. Just do it. Write down your ideas, write down the characters in your head, and don’t panic about how you’re writing and what you’re doing right or wrong. If you want to know how to do it, pick up some books, watch some tutorials, but just write and see what happens.

What are you working on now?

I’m currently writing book two of the Jordan Jenner Mysteries. I’m hoping it will be published at some point this year, but we’ll see. I might hit a dead end again with the curse of book two!


YOU CAN FIND J.S. STRANGE ON:

Publisher: https://www.pantherpubs.com

Website: https://www.jacksamstrange.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JackSamuelStrange

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/jsstrange

Twitter:  https://www.twitter.com/JackSamStrange

Book Trailer: https://www.mybook.to/MOTR

CLICK ON THE BOOK COVER ABOVE TO ORDER YOUR COPY OF MURDER ON THE ROCKS

Book Reviews: How and Why are They Important?

Hello My Amazing Readers!

Now that the holidays are over, it’s time to get back to blogging. I hope you all had an amazing/relaxing time with friends, family or alone. It’s a time of reflection and spending time with those you love.

So, what am I to blog about today? After making a few lists, one particular topic kept showing up: Book Reviews.

This can be a somewhat heated topic with some people, but here at the Writer’s Alley, we believe in a well-structured, FREE, book review, and I am going to get into why.

First off, why even pursue books reviews? Well, the answer is really easy. A book review for any author is paramount. The book review has a few, key reasons: one, someone will read your story. Two, leaving a review on the social media platforms. i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Amazon, Bookbub, Goodreads, will tell a potential reader that your story was read. Also, building a review rating will help your novel more exposure. On sites like Amazon, after a certain number of reviews, you novel will occur more in searches after a certain number of reviews. I don’t want to say it’s 25 reviews because I’ve heard conflicting reports on it. Pursue as many friends, family, book bloggers, Booktubers or anyone else. This is your novel; marketing is part of it.

And here is where it can get tricky. I believe that ANY review is better than no review. I would rather take a 1 star review says more than no star. The person may have hated the story (you should be realistic that not everyone will like your story. Someone will hate it. Someone will bad mouth it. BUT the number of people who like it/love it/reread it is way more likely). Before you start sending your story out into the world, build the thick skin about reviews. You will survive. I’m sure someone didn’t like Stephen King’s novels or JK Rowlings. I mean come on!

Secondly, you need to fully understand what a good review consists of. Here is another touchy/tricky subject, should you pay for a review? My answer is NO. Why should you pay for a review? Well, think about it. How would it look? If you were a reader, and you know the author paid for a review (it’s just an example lol), don’t you think that the review could potentially compromised? I completely understand that as a writer, you want to have as many reviews as possible, but you want authentic, genuine reviews. I reader will understand if your novel has a low rating or a high rating.

Thirdly, another important thing about getting a review: Asking before you send something! There is nothing more annoying to have someone send a novel to you without speaking to the reviewer. That is a NO-NO. Don’t do it. If someone sends me their story without speaking to me, I will not review it.

Now, I love to review novels. I read any genre; fiction or non-fiction. I don’t care what format. I am super approachable. I will make time for a book review. After we discuss what I require, I will find a date, and I immediately respond with a date to the author. I know dates are very important.

Check out my book review policy if you ever want a book review!!!!!

So, what should you take away from this blog:

1) Reviews are very important

2) Don’t pay for a review

3) Ask a reviewer before you send your novel

Contact me if you have any questions about book reviews or suggestions on how to approach book reviewers.

Have a great evening/day!

Love,

Jacob