Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Why reviews are the most valuable thing ever

If you're here looking for marketing insight or information about how reviews affect sales or branding or  anything regarding the business part of writing, my fellow SFF Seven folks have got you covered. Just keep reading this week and you'll soak up all the wisdom.

But you won't get much biz wisdom from me. My only thought nugget regarding reviews is THANK YOU. 

Thank you to the people who read my book and said something nice about it. 

Thank you even more to people who read both my books and left reviews for them -- you are my madstone in a very bitey biz.

Thank you to the people who read my books, found something they disliked, and then left a review so that other people who dislike that dislikable thing won't dive into the book and then get disappointed.

Thank you to the people who bought my book and didn't finish it but left a review saying why they DNF'd and at what point. I'm pretty sure you aren't the only reader who was bored or turned off at that spot, and being a reader is like being a writer: it's valuable to know when we aren't alone.

Thank you to that one dude on Goodreads who made some assumptions about my personal sexual promiscuity and relationship with my parents. I'm ... sure leaving that review helped you work through some stuff.

All this to say that yes, reviews are worth it. They are worth your time because they remind me that all this work, all this effort and care and hope and incantation I put into a story is being received. I've shouted my existence into the stars, and someone has replied.

Yes, I heard you and loved your message, you might have said. 

Yes, I heard you and think you're full of crap, you also possibly said. 

Yes, I heard you and you aren't alone, you always, definitely said.

And that has value.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Reviews: Don't Confuse Marketing with Sales

I'm loving the topic this week of "Reviews: Are they worth it?" Mostly because I keep hearing Missy Elliot, and now I want to put my thing down, flip it, and reverse it. (I'm sure if I did, I'd pull my back and break my hip.)

As readers, it likely comes as no surprise that authors are under pressure to amass reviews on leading retail sites and in reader communities (eg, Reddit and Goodreads). Whether it's in hopes of improving our odds at being discovered through word-of-mouth or triggering algorithms to have our book(s) surface at the top of search results, we're all eager to make that next sale. Our great fear is that someone will happen across our book, see it has no reviews, assume it's horribly written, thus not buy it.

Of course, our worst nightmare is that we'll get reviews, but they're mostly negative. 
That's enough to send us rocking in the corner, sucking our thumbs. 

It is too easy to lose sight of reviews being a marketing tool. Marketing not Sales. Big difference. Marketing = Spaghetti Against the Wall. Sales = Revenue. Marketing trends are ever-changing. The current fad is reader-reviews (ten years ago, the trend was blogging). There are many authors who give away their book for free trying to hit a magical and moving target number of reviews that the elusive "they" have defined as being effective. Note: It's a different goal from those authors who list "first in series free" in hopes of enticing new readers to pay full price for the rest of the books in the series. Still marketing, but repeat customer is the goal there not reviews (though reviews are still nice).

Bless the readers who post reviews. We love you. Really. 

So, to the question of the week, "are reviews worth it;" the answer is "depends on the size of the ulcer you're giving yourself trying to gather them." It's okay to ask for reviews, just don't let it become your primary marketing message. Put a "please review" reminder at the end of your book, put it in your newsletter as a footnote, post it monthly-ish on your social media feeds. However, never lose sight of SALES being your primary goal.

As many of us have said over the eight years this blog has been around, the best thing you can do to drive sales is Write the Next Book. Building your backlist is like stocking your store with inventory. The more items you have available, the more opportunity you have to make money.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Book Marketing, et al.

This will be a short post.

Why? becasue I SUCK at book marketing, branding et al.

I'm on Facebook, Twitter, here and on  and I have genrefied. I have an Amazon page right here and I'm on Goodreads  right here.

I often report what I'm working on. I also post political rants against the current POTUS/Anti-Christ and lots of cute animal pictures.

Here's all the information on my next book:

preview scene:

So, here's the first scene from BOOMTOWN:



The Trapper

“There’s something wrong with the world when it’s cold enough to freeze a waterfall.” The trapper spoke to himself, or just possibly his horse, but neither of them responded. The proof of his comment lay above him and to his left, a frozen wall of white ice that only two days before had still been running water.
The cold was all-encompassing, a living thing that seemed to thrive on sucking the heat from the world around man and stallion alike. He called his horse Stomper and it was a massive thing, meant for hauling wagons. The black beast barely seemed to notice his weight or the burden of the sled behind it, but the cold sent plumes of steam from its muzzle with each breath. Covered in the thick coat he’d sewn for it, his stallion looked more like a locomotive than it did an animal. He wouldn’t see his beast of burden and closest living acquaintance killed by the elements if he could help it.
It wasn’t the elements, however, that had done most of the killing in the area. If he had to guess it was Indians. Someone must have driven them half mad if they were responsible for the bodies he kept finding.
The idea had been, as it always was, to shoot enough bison and foxes and wolves to load his sled with furs. Instead, he’d been gathering the dead for the last two days. He didn’t have it in him to leave them frozen to the ground for animals to feast on. His mother would surely rise from her grave and beat his fool head into a new shape if he ever got that callous.
Didn’t much help him get his work done, but there was enough money set aside and as a trapper and hunter it wasn’t overly likely that he’d starve any time soon.
The latest body showed itself on the left side of the trail, and he nodded his head and tugged the reins. Stomper came to a halt and snorted agreeably.
The trapper slid from his saddle with practiced ease and walked over to the latest grisly find. Nine bodies so far, each one cut, shot and in different stages of undress, depending on the sex. There were two women who had likely been of marrying age among the dead. There was also a little girl child and an old woman who should have never headed from the east to the wilds. Only the crone had any clothes on her by the time the murdering dogs were done. The others had been treated as poorly as the whores in San Francisco, and that was poorly indeed.
The man in the snow stared with dead eyes behind thin spectacles. The frost on the lenses hid the color of his eyes and made him look blind as well as dead.
That he was dead was obvious. Even if he’d not been frozen to the ground there were lacerations on his skin and shreds of meat and flesh peeking from under his tattered clothing. Like the waterfall a short way back the trickles of blood had frozen into twists of crimson that hung suspended from his wounds. If he had to guess, the trapper would have told anyone curious that he suspected the man had been dragged behind a horse for a while. His shoes were torn apart—a pity that, as they could have fetched a few cents—and his clothing, thin and fine and no doubt very expensive, had peeled half way from his body during the long trip. Ropes still bound his hands and cut into the flesh of his wrists and forearms. He’d very likely fought hard to get away before his attackers had finished with their job.
“Well, sir, I’m sorry to meet you this way.” He looked the body over again and frowned. Someone, his killers or otherwise, had turned out the man’s pockets and taken everything that might have value. The cloth of his vest was split where his watch fop had been torn away. The derby he’d likely worn at one time was nearby and judging by how clean it was, he guessed it had been dropped by the killer after the fact.
“I reckon we should get to work, old boy.” The wind let out a moan from the nearby trees and sent an additional shiver through him. No one else bothered to reply and he reckoned that was for the best.
He took the axe and pick from the bundle he kept on Stomper’s flank and got to digging. The night before had seen a hard, freezing rain and the body was stuck in a thick caul of ice and mud.
Ten minutes later he had a rope wrapped around both wrists—new rope that had not frozen into the ground—and he tied that to Stomper’s sled before urging his horse forward. The ground gave up its prize reluctantly, and for a moment the trapper thought the corpse would break like a sapling before it finally came free with a crunching sound.
Once uprooted the dead man slithered stiffly across the ice and bounced off two aspen trees before coming to a rest. He slid the body across the ice until he could wrestle the weight onto the back of the sled.
He had leather aplenty and he used it to lash the body on top of the other corpses. 
“Well, sir. You’re the tenth and I pray the last. Let’s see about getting you to Carson’s Point. Might be we can arrange a funeral for you.”
The rain started again, dropping from the sky in a half-frozen state and solidifying as soon as it touched the ground. The sound it made as it rattled to the earth was not unlike a dozen sets of teeth chattering away.
“I’d never wish a good man to hell, sir, but I reckon it just might be warmer at either end of the journey than it is here.”

Cover art and back cover text:

Later today I'm even supposed to have a release date. 

I'm not very good at this self-promotion thing, but I'll keep winging it 

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Book Marketing, Author Branding and the Long Game

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is reviews: do they really do any good?

Serendipitously enough, this topic dovetails with something I'd already noted on my list of Things to Discuss, which is author branding and the long game. I'd been thinking about it since I was interviewed last week on the Science Fiction and Fantasy Marketing Podcast. Since it aired, I've received a lot of great feedback and appreciation for my "down-to-earth" marketing strategy and advice.

I found that description kind of amusing - because I don't think of myself as "down to earth" in general - but I also get why they say that. I think it's partly because a lot of my marketing strategy is grounded in author branding and the long game.

I'm also thinking, as one does days later with these things, that I didn't say exactly that in the interview and I wish I had.

What does this have to do with reviews and if they do any good? Well, reviews do three things: they increase your visibility (thus discoverability), build your reputation and author brand, and give you a place in the community of readers.

Now, I'm talking about reviews from real people who actually read books. Not the solicited (sometimes paid-for) reviews intended to elevate Amazon ranking. That's the same short-term thinking that leads to spending tons of money on ads to convince people to try your book for .99 cents or "free" on Kindle Unlimited. Authors focusing on that are looking to boost sales for that day or that month, to maximize income before the book becomes stale and no longer makes money.

You may have seen some authors - particularly self-publishing authors who can aggressively track sales or page-reads - talk about how books peak and then trail off to nothing. I can tell you that my books not only DO NOT trail off, they tend to gain sales over time.

That's the long game at work.

I'm also not talking about reviews like Kirkus or Publishers Weekly. I think those can help, but they tend to be aimed at the industry, not actual readers. An exception is Library Journal, which I think a lot of librarians read and then decide to add the book to their collections and recommendations.

I'm mostly talking about the readers and book bloggers. Those who take the time and personal effort - for free and out of love - to review books on their own sites, on BookBub, on Goodreads, and on the retail sites. These are the people who read and discuss books - and recommend them to other readers. We talk about how word of mouth is still the most effective promotion? THIS is one of the key virtual word of mouth marketplaces. Do these reviews do any good?

Yes, yes, and YES.

But, an author has to be willing to build their brand over time, which means putting out quality work that pleases readers. Writers begin their lives as readers (or should, if you're not a scammer), and thus we all know that we associate our reading experience with the AUTHOR. Despite valiant efforts of publishing houses, we don't buy books by the imprint. Arguably, some authors in subscription programs like Kindle Unlimited are counting on the "free reads" brand to bring in readers. But any author who's in the business because they honor storytelling first will know that their reputation as an author is critical - and they invest in making it clear and recognizable.

So, yes - reviews do a lot of good, but only if they build your author brand.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

This Difficult Character Drives Other Characters Insane

I think the most difficult character I’ve had to write so far would be the Mawreg, who are the alien Big Bad in my Sectors series. They’ve been present since my first published scifi romance Wreck of the Nebula Dream. I didn’t describe them in too much detail and it‘s been an accepted part of Sectors canon that it drives humans insane to even look at a Mawreg with unshielded eyes. So far, so good.

The Mawreg are the apex predators in the Sectors galaxy and have a number of ‘client’ races serving them, so I’ve been able to describe the Chimmer, the Shemdylann and the Betang as they take part in the action in various novels. The Mawreg remained ominous, mysterious and unrevealed.

But eventually one does need to lift the curtain on the enemy to some extent – and readers had been asking when they might see more of these deadly sentients in the books – so when I had the right plot, in Danger in the Stars, Miriell (who isn’t human) encounters one. Here’s the description:

Miriell swallowed hard and forced herself to endure her first glimpse of a Mawreg.

She could understand why humans might find this creature hard to look at. It was like a hybrid of several beings, or perhaps a group of parasites emerging from a single host. The body appeared to be turned inside out in places, with unpleasantly pulsing, dripping organs and vessels slathered with slimy goo and leaking pustules emitting a foul odor. In another segment of the entity’s structure–the head perhaps?—there were what might have been numerous, giant, faceted eyes, but the components or lenses moved and twirled and morphed so fast Miriell found the effect dizzying and nauseating. She couldn’t get her eyes to focus on the Mawreg’s hindquarters at all. Her vision blurred with each attempt to glance at that part of the alien.

But what fascinated Miriell and drew her away from any thought of the Mawreg’s disconcerting and disgusting physical form were the colors of its being. Unbidden, her power sprang to life and showed her plates of colors in the Mawreg’s aura, sliding across each other to form new hues. Indeed, some of the colors were nothing she had ever seen before, could not begin to name and had no idea what their presence portended. The display, visible only to her, exerted a pull on her senses, and she took a step forward before she’d even realized she was moving.

Later in the book Miriell does battle with a Mawreg in her own fashion, using her empathic powers.

I was satisfied I’d done the best I could to bring these aliens to life. In The Fated Stars I offered a bit more backstory on this issue of humans going insane when looking at a Mawreg.

Larissa swallowed hard. “Another fact you should probably know—most humans can’t even look directly at Mawreg. There’s something about them that can drive a human insane.”

Samell stared at her, even as Pete and Donnie nodded. “When we go on sorties into their camps to rescue people or take the entire operation down, we have to wear helmets with special filter goggles and even then a few guys have lost their minds. Mawreg are bad ass, spooky.”

“And we haven’t got any of those helmets here,” Donnie added. “Not a piece of tech I can whip up from spare parts either.”

“Are you serious? I find this concept hard to grasp—how can merely gazing upon the alien can make a person lose their mind?” Samell’s voice was polite.
“First encounter between our kind and the Mawreg was a peaceful scientific expedition, all excited to have met another spacefaring race,” Larissa said.
“The Peronelle. Learned about it in school, in Sectors history class.” Pete confirmed the tale. “Hundreds of years ago. Luckily the humans already had a few interstellar allies.”

“The Peronelle survivors the Mawreg spared to tell the tale described in gruesome detail how their comrades went insane when forced to watch their hosts. The ship’s AI had vids to corroborate. The vids also showed the Mawreg eating people alive, and conducting horrific experiments on others. Apparently the aliens thought it would frighten us into surrendering and accepting their rule, but all it did was make us determined to do battle every chance we got. No truce, no quarter given.” Larissa sighed. “And the war’s been raging ever since.”

So there you have it – my most difficult character to write. A close second would be Moratiu, the ancient, sentient tree…but I’ll save that for another blog post.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Difficult Characters

Once upon a time, I played a massive multiplayer online roleplaying game. Obsessively. I managed to create a character with what I thought was a silly, throw away backstory. But from that silly backstory, she took on a life and a legend of her own. In the midst of it all, the game company claimed that the race to which my toon belonged had never been intended to be serious characters in the game - they'd been designed to be nothing more than comedic relief.

I was offended. Then I came to believe the attitude from the game company was a grave disservice to the race. I mean, look around our world. Are the funniest people not the ones hiding the deepest, most intractable pain? Maybe not always. Sometimes silly is just silly. But in this case, I really felt like the game writers were stuck in an idea rut that short-changed them, the game story, and the character potential I saw in this character and her race.

Then the game company just HAD to piss me off by taking pains to inform players that the game company, not the players, owned the rights to any and all characters within the game. No matter how much time and effort players had put into actually creating characters to flesh out what had amounted to a collection of graphics files. It was, 'Hey! We drew pretty pictures for you, so now we own all the hard work you put into actually breathing life into those pictures! Thanks! Suckers.' No, it's not your imagination. My eyelid really is twitching over this. My reaction eventually amounted to a far less polite version of, 'Oh yeah?? Guess what, you jerks.'

I based a book on the character they told me I didn't own. Won't get into details because a forlorn vestige of the company and the game are still out there in the world, but yeah, while so much has changed between game character and book character that I doubt I could be successfully sued, I have zero interest in finding that out. The annoying thing is that the character and voice that grew so organically out of a game, became really, really difficult to write in a novel. The backstory couldn't be silly because the story arc wouldn't support it. Nor would the emotional arc of a romance. This novel is still stewing while I work on other stuff because while I think I have a story that's true to the spirit of my beloved toon, no one (me or the hero or the heroine) can figure out the climax of this book.

I think the biggest issue is that in a game, nothing has to make sense. You kill bad guys. You take their stuff. There doesn't need to be a why. In a novel, I need a why. I never thought I'd be the one saying this because I am usually ALL ABOUT the why - but the damned whys of this novel and this character I so love are making me want to slam my head repeatedly in a door somewhere.

Maybe I'll go slip into game for a little while. Just for old times' sake. Depending on where I adventure in the game world, it will be just like slamming my head in a door. So there's that, I guess.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Difficulty of bleeding on a page

Writers are told all the time to write what they know, to write what they love. Lord knows I hear that plenty these days. I'm in the midst of retooling my career, figuring out where I want to go from here, and most of the advice has been a mix of frustrating and meh.

But recently I got a slice of perfect advice from a fantasy writer I really respect. He said that years ago he was at a crossroads and wanted to write a deeply personal book, but he was worried that at the time he didn't have the chops to do the story or character justice. He was advised to go ahead and write it, to bleed it onto the page, so he did. I gather it wasn't easy, but he's a finisher, and he did the work. Even though he can see the craft flaws in that book now, he is happy with it because he learned, through the process, to be vulnerable.

I haven't challenged myself so personally yet. I've said all along, I write characters who aren't me because, dude, I am a really boring person--maybe even a shitty person--and ain't nobody want to read a whole book about that girl.

But, what if that inside person, the vulnerable me, is interesting because I hate her so much? If I can learn to accept her and love her and make her into a hero, would that journey be interesting to readers who also struggle with self-confidence?

Maybe. Maybe not. Regardless, I need to write it anyway. I need to learn how to open my psyche up and let it bleed on a page. Slice, hurt, learn, grow.

Gotta tell you, this is scary stuff, but also kind of ... exciting? Will let y'all know how it goes.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

That One Character Who...Gah!

Which of my characters has been the most difficult to write? I could give a Top Ten list from books that haven't been published...primarily because I haven't nailed certain pivotal characters, but that might be cheating.

So, I'll give you the character whose reactions to situations I most often have to rewrite.

Feng, the Phoenix from my Immortal Spy series. Feng is introduced as the antagonist to the protag. Feng is painfully righteous, morally pure, and utterly inflexible. As events unfold, things don't go well for Feng. Things go so poorly that even the most gruesome death would definitely be preferable. Alas, to his great misfortune, he survives thanks to the protag. While his body eventually recovers and he finds common ground with the protag, he suffers from horrific PTSD.

What makes Feng difficult to write is that his PTSD doesn't (and shouldn't) define who he is, but it is a factor in his reactions to situations. It is a question of his reliability in a crisis. What will trigger an episode? How will he respond? How do I responsibly write his management of his mental health without pandering or being dismissive?  Yes, I know, I'm writing fantasy...about a dude who is an all-powerful firebird. Yes, the story is told from the POV of protag with her own mental disadvantages. Still. It is some bad shit when your mind is simultaneously your greatest asset and your worst enemy. Now, I'm not saying I get it right. No, no. I am saying what makes Feng so difficult for me to write is my desire to at least be in the neighborhood of respectful.

Monday, February 18, 2019


Do this week's subject is who is the most difficult character you've written, and why?

Not even a contest.

Jason Soulis, who is the lead vampire in the BLOOD RED trilogy of books that I am finishing up even as I write this.

My first rule with writing a vampire novel was No Sparkles. I wanted vampires who are MONSTERS, not romantic leads.  Why? Because when you get right down to the nitty gritty, they are supposed to be monsters. Spectral or animated, they're dead, and they are not kind. Also, I write horror, and in the case of Jason Soulis, he's just plain a bad guy.

A side note: No, I did not pick the name Soulis because it's a play on Souless. That's just a bonus. The fact of the matter is that there was a Lord Soulis back in Scottland who was quite the bad man, and even had a Red Cap (THE Red Cap) as his familiar. And much as I wanted my vampires to be a little different it's a play on the notion that Vlad Tepes became Dracula for Bram Stoker.

But I also wanted him to be charming and to catch the eyes of the ladies and be the envy of the men. I wanted to make him a major league bad guy, too. Powerful, dangerous and utterly without human morals.

I think I did all right, but I never decide these things for myself.

the other thing I wanted to give him was a slightly different motivation.  There is no attempt to find an old love reincarnated. There is no particular desire to leave his homelands. In point of fact, he did that centuries ago.

So I decided to give him a motivation that is cold and calculating. He is the Mengele of the vampire world he likes to experiment on others to satisfy his own curiosity.

I have pointed out before that I wrote BLOOD RED in a fury. It is literally the fastest I have ever written a novel. The first draft was completed in three weeks. The decision to make him a mad scientist of sorts was a not on the plans when I started the novel, but evolved from the rest of the story.

He was rather elusive at the beginning, but, aga9n, I think I got the basics handled rather well.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Jeffe's Most Difficult Character - Not Who You Think?

So, if you missed it on Friday, we finally had the cover reveal for THE ORCHID THRONE

This is the first book in a new trilogy I'm doing with St. Martin's Press. Totally new world, totally new series. My editor there, Jennie Conway, called it:

the magical feminist fantasy romance I've always wanted 😍

Which is now my new favorite tag line ever. You can read more (and preorder!) here. It comes out September 24, 2019. 

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is: Your most difficult character to have written and why. 

This question stumped me. I even asked Assistant Carien what she thought, since she often listens to me whine about these things. She offered a few suggestions, that just didn't "sound" right to me. So, then I went and looked at my publication list.

Yes, I totally use my website to remind myself of my own books, what of it?

Looking over that list, a couple of books stood out. Ones that just didn't come out the way I envisioned when I started. Ones that I'd rewrite, if I could. 

And one heroine, in particular, that I just never felt I really got into her head. 


The book is a contemporary romance, so I haven't talked about it much here at the SFF Seven. But, people, I rewrote this book SO MANY TIMES. And though the heroine, Ava, was clear to me from the start - in fact, she was one of those characters who plagued me to write her story - I never felt I really got a handle on her. I don't know if I could say why. It could be because she was inspired by a real life person (or, rather, a blend of several) and therefore I couldn't find my way into her head in the same way.

It could be because Ava is simply a very complex person, with many layers and secrets, and she's become adept over time at keeping everyone out. Even me.

I could be I'd have to write more of her to really crack that nut. 


Saturday, February 16, 2019

Back List Moment in Ancient Egypt

I'm busily writing a new paranormal romance book set in ancient Egypt and it's a direct sequel to my award winning Lady of the Nile from 2017, so I decided to revisit her today for the week's topic of backlist love.

The blurb: Tuya, a high ranking lady-in-waiting at Pharaoh’s court, lives a life of luxury, pageantry and boredom. Khian, a brave and honorable officer from the provinces temporarily re-assigned to Thebes, catches her eye at a gold of valor ceremony. As the pair are thrown together by circumstances, she finds herself unaccountably attracted to this man so unlike the haughty nobles she’s used to. But a life with Khian would mean leaving the court and giving up all that she’s worked so hard to attain. As she goes about her duties, Tuya struggles with her heart’s desires.

When Tuya is lured into a dangerous part of Thebes by her disgraced half-brother and kidnapped by unknown enemies of Egypt, Khian becomes her only hope. Pharaoh assigns him to bring the lady home.

Aided by the gods, Khian races into the desert on the trail of the elusive kidnappers, hoping to find Tuya before it’s too late. Neither of them has any idea of the dark forces arrayed against them, nor the obstacles to be faced. An ancient evil from the long gone past wants to claim Tuya for its own purposes and won’t relinquish her easily.

Can Khian find her in time? Will he and his uncanny allies be able to prevent her death? And if the couple escapes and reaches safety, what of their fledgling romance?
Buy Links:
Amazon     iBooks     Kobo     B&N 
I shared this snippet from the book on Valentine's Day:

One of my favorite stock photos ever,
from DepositPhoto

Friday, February 15, 2019

Back List Delayed Love

Well this is going to be boring for anyone reading. Backlist? Yeeeeees. I have some books that qualify. And THINGS are happening, (at long last) but I am not at liberty to talk about any of those things yet. I can't even post my former covers because I no longer have the rights to those images. It's -- look. The only books still available are Isa's books. Nightmare Ink and Bound by Ink

Nightmare Ink
The minute I get the all clear, news will show up here. Guarantee. Until then, happy reading!

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Backlist love for The Maradaine Constabulary Series

With A PARLIAMENT OF BODIEScoming out in just a few weeks, I think it's appropriate to look a bit at the backlist and what's led up to this book. Primarily, the first two books of the Maradaine Constabularyseries. Blending high fantasy, murder mystery and gritty urban magic, this series features Inspectors Satrine Rainey and Minox Welling, two detectives in the city constabulary who protect Maradaine from crime, both magical and mundane.

"A Murder of Mageswas another hit for me, a fantastic read from a new talent whose star continues to be on the rise."  - Bibliosanctum

Satrine Rainey: Former street rat. Ex-spy. Wife and mother who needs to make twenty crowns a week to support her daughters and infirm husband.  To earn that, she forges credentials and fakes her way into a posting as a constabulary Inspector.

Minox Welling: Brilliant Inspector. Uncircled Mage. Outcast of the stationhouse.  Partnered with Satrine because no one else will work with “the jinx".

Their first case together—the ritualized murder of a Circled mage—brings Satrine back to the streets she grew up on, and forces Minox to confront the politics of mage circles he’s avoided.  As more mages are found dead, Satrine must solve the crime before her secrets catch up with her, and before her partner ends up a target.

READ AN EXCERPTGoodreads Pagefor A MURDER OF MAGESAvailable at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBoundand more!

Maresca - An Import of Intrique
"Maresca offers something beyond the usual high fantasy fare, with a wealth of unique and well-rounded characters, a vivid setting, and complicatedly intertwined social issues that feel especially timely."  - Publishers Weekly

The neighborhood of the Little East is a collision of cultures, languages, and traditions, hidden away in the city of Maradaine. A set of streets to be avoided or ignored. When a foreign dignitary is murdered, solving the crime falls to the most unpopular inspectors in the Maradaine Constabulary: exposed fraud Satrine Rainey, and uncircled mage Minox Welling.

With a murder scene deliberately constructed to point blame toward the Little East, Rainey is forced to confront her former life, while Welling’s ignorance of his own power threatens to consume him. And these few city blocks threaten to erupt into citywide war unless the constabulary solves the case.

Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBoundand more!

But it would be remiss to leave out novels in the other series that lead up to this one as well! The Imposters of Aventil features Satrine and Minox as they investigate the murder of a constable and the Thorn's involvement, and the events of that book echo into Parliament. Also, as the inspectors team up with Dayne Heldrin of the Tarian Order, it wouldn't hurt to check out The Way Of The Shieldas well. And there may be threads to Streets of Maradaine.

It wouldn't hurt to read them all. I mean, just to be safe.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Your ears can't handle this backlist

This week at SFF Seven, we're highlighting books from our backlist. When I read that topic I was like, "um, what is this backlist you speak of?" Because I have a grand total of two books out. Two.

Wanted and Wired and Perfect Gravity are both sexy cyberpunk romances--I mean, if you like that sort of thing, right--and for the last two years about all I've done is promote them. Constantly. On multiple social media platforms. Until your ears bled. (Sorry, ears.)

So in the interests of vulnerable ears everywhere, I won't bemoan the subject. These are the books. If you haven't given them a look-see and think you might be interested*, I'd love your eyeballs. Either way, your ears can get a break for once.

*(May contain more than one of the following: sex-positive, all-about-consent relationships |  found family | sarcastic, genetically altered cats | nerdy, idealistic supergeniuses | villains with fabulous hair | submarines | space-stations | supercars | sassy AI sidekicks | nanorobotic faeries | futuristic postapocalyptic tacos)

Amazon ebook link 

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

She Did It All For Love...And Revenge: THE BURNED SPY

We're giving love to our backlists this week, so you, dear readers, can spend quality time with a new-to-you book-Valentine. After all, fantasies are our specialties. ~brow waggle~

Last year, THE BURNED SPY introduced Bix the Gatekeeper in the story that launched my Immortal Spy urban fantasy series. Book 5 drops early this summer, so you have plenty of time to get to know Bix and the Berserkers.

The Immortal Spy, Book 1

Gods. Always ready to screw you.

When Bix the Gatekeeper is summoned from exile a hundred and seventy years early by the goddess of the Norse Under World, the former Dark Ops agent knows there’s a catch. On the surface, the terms of the deal are simple. Someone attacked the pantheon’s ambassador to the Mid Worlds and left the ambassador in a coma. In exchange for early parole, Bix must identify the perpetrator and drag their soul to Hel.

It’d be a sweet contract, if not for the details. The ambassador is Bix’s ex-girlfriend, the lead suspect is the key witness from Bix’s trial, and the organization leading the official investigation is the same intelligence guild that disavowed Bix when a covert op went pear-shaped. Undeterred, Bix returns to her old stomping grounds where clues in the smoldering woods of Centralia, Pennsylvania, lead to the waterfront of Washington, DC, and Worlds beyond.

Once valued for her skills creating passageways as small as a capillary or as large as a continent, Bix’s success now depends on the relationships she was forced to abandon. As she squares off against friends who betrayed her and enemies keen to destroy her, Bix follows a trail of secrets, torture, and treason that leads to the very superpowers who banished her. With her freedom on the line and revenge within reach, this highly-trained operative will take on Fates, dragons, angels, and gods to get exactly what she wants.

Hel hath no fury like a burned spy.

The eBook is on sale this month for $2.99!

Buy It Now:
Amazon   |   Nook |   iBooks   |  Kobo

Monday, February 11, 2019

With a Little Love....,

This week's subject: A little love for the backlist, If I'm going with one title it'll be SEVEN FORGES, series because, frankly, that's kind 9f where my career went in a different direction. I've written horror, sci-fi fantasy, and some crime but for the fantasy chops, SEVEN FORGES is where it started. I went in blind and hoped I wouldn't suck.

A few of the reviews said nice things.

Here are a few blurbs:

Seven Forges is an excellent, enjoyable, and thoroughly entertaining fantasy debut into a new world of swords and sorcery, complete with romance, intrigue, and danger.”
– Attack of the Books

“Wow, that twist. In some ways I think I should have seen it coming, and I kind of did, but Seven Forges just lulled me into security and BAM! Craziness!”
– Anya, On Starships and Dragonwings
Seven Forges is a well written fantasy adventure with a very interesting premise and a big world to explore. ”
– Celticfrogreviews
“I thoroughly enjoyed Seven Forges although I was left speechless by the ending and left wondering for days whether there was to be another book in the series. There were so many threads of stories left open that I need to know what happens next.”
– The Bookish Outsider
“Moore does a fantastic job of building worlds and characters in Seven Forges as we hop on board the train that is about to meet its doom.”
– Troubled Scribe
“James A. Moore dedicates Seven Forges in part ‘to the memory of Fritz Leiber and Robert E. Howard for the inspiration.’ That dedication sets the bar high, and caused me a bit of readerly apprehension, because so many writers have imitated badly those two greats of the sword and sorcery tradition. Moore is far more than an imitator, though. He does some fresh, counterintuitive things with the genre conventions. More than once, he startled me into saying out loud, ‘I didn’t see that coming.’”
– Black Gate
“Hell, I couldn’t get enough.”
– Amanda J Spedding

The Blasted Lands is the example of how I want to see a sequel. Slowing the pace down somewhat, focusing on exposing the envisioned world more and more but without loosing momentum and the thread that carries the story. James A. Moore gave rise to many questions in Seven Forges and now starts answering them, he continues to develop his characters and mainly Merros and Andover’s stories were the most interesting for me, they showed so much of the world and the story, I have the same feeling of when I finished Seven Forges, it’s been a few days but the story is still racing through my mind and when I think about one scene, many follow-ups pop up. Few authors achieve to get me so addicted to their works. And well the ending. yes I am going to say it again WOW. There will be war and it wont be pretty.”
– The Book Plank
“Where Seven Forges teased a reader with the Sa’ba Taalor and their strange land, The Blasted Lands goes a long way toward fulfilling their promise, revealing much more about their culture and history as well as hinting at the origin of the waste lands themselves. And while the Sa’ba Taalor are still the stars of this show, Mr. Moore has also deftly turned the Fellein characters into more than cardboard scenery for his master race, as Drash Krohan, General Dulver and Andover Lashk shine in their own special ways. All in all, this novel was a great read, and this series is definitely one to watch for any true fantasy aficionado.”
– Bookwraiths
“From living mountains to the secret behind the veils of a nation, Moore pushes and pulls the story through questions and answers, keeping the reader on their toes. For me, The Blasted Lands is more immersive and thrilling than some of the fantasy masterpieces. Moore shapes a story which appeals to fans of all types, showing how fantasy can be a grand equalizer. The Blasted Lands does this and more, making it not just a sophomore book in a series but a genuinely good story.”
– Literary Escapism
“The end of the book had me on the edge of my seat, wanting more.  I will definitely be reading the next book in the Seven Forges series as soon as it comes out.”
 Avid Fantasy Reviews
“The race of the Sa’aba Taalor are the newest and freshest I’ve read in decades. Where many writers will have gods who are nebulous and unreachable, many of Moore’s gods respond immediately. I think I like his creatures the best – the Pra Moresh. Here Moore’s horror roots allow him to really shine. His descriptive prose and keen eye for the horrific proves that he’s a master architect of the gruesome and prognosticator of fear. I raced through the first two books and can not wait for the third. If you have yet to try these, then do so on my word. You’ll thank me for it”.
 Living Dangerously
The Blasted Lands follows up with action, betrayal, amazing magic, gods and rituals, and a final understanding of why the Sa’ba Taalor hide their faces from those outside the Blasted Lands (and damn impressive this is). War is coming. Not if, but when, and the people of Fellein… well, it ain’t looking good. As a second book, they can sometime fall flat, but Moore just amps it up, and I flew through.”
 Amanda J Spedding
The Blasted Lands builds on the high standards set by Seven Forges, with Moore continuing to develop his intriguing world and tell his story through some epic action set pieces.”
 Fantasy Book Review
“The novel works beautifully as a sequel. I found this an excellent book and I am anticipating the next instalment.”
 Sci-Fi Bookworm

“The Seven Forges series is epic fantasy the way it should be done, and City of Wonders is no exception. It’s character driven without sacrificing the action, intrigue, and wonder that’s at the heart of all good fantasy. That Moore throws in a dash of horror only makes his recipe better.”
– Adventures Fantastic
“City of Wonders is a deeply immersive book, one that will hook you from start to finish.”
– ZireV
“I just anointed City of Wonders as the novel that catapults Seven Forges into the upper echelon of sword and sorcery fantasy ever written.”
– BookWraiths
City of Wonders is a book that kept me reading long into the night, and has stayed with me days after I’ve finished. I’ve gone back and re-read the ending a few times just to make sure I caught everything, because that ending was so big with so much going on that I’m sure I’ve missed key hints and clues about what’s going to happen next. I have so much anticipation for the The Silent Army, I need to read it right now!”
– Fantasy Book Review
“Moore has created a brilliantly realised world here; his characters continue to get better with each book. It’s still exciting, it’s still fresh, and brilliantly vivid. Fantasy does not get much better than this.”
– Morpheus Tales
“Moore’s writing completely transports, his characters are fantastically fantastic, and the tension he weaves through it all is expertly done. Oh, and the twists? You’ll love those too. There are few authors I read where I wish I could write as well as them, but James A Moore is one them.”
– Amanda J Spedding
“The third installment of Moore’s Seven Forges series is as good as the first two.”
– Scary Monkeys and other Childhood Phobias

“James A. Moore keeps getting better. The cast of characters expands.  Moore juggles them with ease, giving each one some background so that they don’t all run together. And the battle scenes, whether it’s individual combat or armies clashing, are riveting.  Plus the intrigue keeps on getting more complex. This is one is highly recommended.”
– Adventures Fantastic
“The prose is sharp, the pace wonderfully timed with great action tempered with some wonderful lulls to allow you to get your breath back. Back this up with some great characters alongside a world that is delightfully designed all round makes this a series that continues to go from strength to strength. Finally, and this is the clincher for me, Moore gives the characters a depth with their dialogue that not only shows their devotions but also gives them a roundedness that allows you to become fully immersed. Cracking.”
– Falcata Times
“The Silent Army is a book that improves on every facet that made its predecessors great. This feels like a satisfying conclusion to the first arc of a much bigger story, because this book ends a bunch of plot threads that began right back at the start of the first book, but it leaves some big threads wide open begging for more. I need more stories set in this world. Please indulge me, Mr Moore.”
– Fantasy Book Review
“A strong instalment with no shortage of action.”
– The Speculative Herald
“I love this series, I will not lie about it. It has ALL the things that make a great fantasy read. Mr. Moore steadily ups his game with each new installment. I call this ‘dark’ fantasy, it does have epic leanings, great characters, great action and an awesome world, that pretty much wins me everytime. I won’t gush much more, but if you like the fantasies and you like sword swinging and heads flying through the air like so much dust in the wind, give James A. Moore all your money!”
– Shelf Inflicted
“With The Silent Army, Mr. Moore has given us Epic: a world spanning conflict, a struggle to decide the fate of an entire civilization.  And I for one loved every “epic” event which the author threw my way.  Scene after scene of it.  Every titanic clash, every awe-inspiring magical event, every god-like creature, every dramatic revelation, every horrid deed, all of them building into a sword and sorcery feast not to be missed.  The Sa’ba Taalor rising to the forefront of most epic race in sword and sorcery literature.”
– Bookwraiths
“The final installment of a great epic story has drawn to a close and it ended with a huge bang. From the very first page down to the last, James A. Moore does not pull the punches in delivering an action-filled story that’s full of savagery and pumps adrenaline page after page after page. Thank you James A. Moore for such a wonderful and magical journey.”
– Zirev
“On a Goodreads scale I give it five stars (if I could give it ten, I would. Or eleventy-million – either or.)”
– Amanda J Spedding
That's the sort of stuff that makes me happy!