A Grand Send-off for Heralds of the Crown: Poison

PoisonTourBannerJuly2014

At long last, the final day of the Heralds of the Crown: Poison Tour has arrived. And now, on this last stop on the tour train, The Writing Network team would like to take a moment to show our appreciation and gratitude to the author, and also give Poison the send-off it deserves.

It has been an absolute pleasure to host the ever-talented Ashley Bazer these past two weeks. This tour has certainly been a great deal of fun and we look forward to running more tours with Ashley in the future. So, thank you for having us!

For those of you wanting to read more in the Heralds of the Crown universe, the adventure will continue in Heralds of the Crown: Fusion!

Poison Cover 300DPI

Synopsis:

As part of a sect called the Strages, Marcella is ordered to execute fierce assaults on the Logia—gifted believers in the triune deity known as the Crown. After receiving a vision, she begins to question her allegiance and finds herself seeking counsel from a leader in the Logia faith, whom she was sent to annihilate.

When her mentor, Thaed, uncovers her betrayal, he orders her to do the unthinkable—kill the Logia leader who has become her friend. Her choice will result in either the destruction of the Logia or her own death.

The series of Strages attacks call the Logia to prepare for a major battle. In doing so, Gaultier Lassiter is enlisted. When he discovers an unconscious young woman buried in a snowdrift, his world is turned upside down. She has no memory and no ability to speak—only a strange symbol carved into her chest.

The question of her identity leads to a journey of legendary proportions. Between his own personal struggles with his estranged brother, his unmet potential, and the murder of a close friend, Gaultier fights to cling to his faith. And once the mystery is solved, will Gaultier be prepared to face the truth?

Heed the Crown’s Call–pick up your copy of Poison today:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords

About the Author:

headshot Ashley Image

Ashley Hodges Bazer is often decked out in bellbottoms and grooving out on the lighted dance floor. Okay, not really, but she does have a thing for the BeeGees. She lives in Colorado with her husband and three children.

After earning her bachelor’s degree in theatrical stage management from Arizona State University, she went on to work for Disneyland in that capacity. A love affair with books led her to work for several different bookstores.

Currently a producer for an international daily radio program, she’s learning to balance working, writing, and momming duties. Her debut novel, Asylum, was traditionally published by WestBow Press in 2012. When she’s not writing, she’s crocheting or belting out Broadway show tunes. And she’s a real duchess!

Connect with Ashley and stay up-to-date with her upcoming projects:

Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Google+ | Official Site

 

Heralds of the Crown: Poison Book Tour

PoisonTourBannerJuly2014

 

Author: Ashley Hodges Bazer headshot Ashley Image

Title: Heralds of the Crown: Poison

Synopsis: As part of a sect called the Strages, Marcella is ordered to execute fierce assaults on the Logia—gifted believers in the triune deity known as the Crown. After receiving a vision, she begins to question her allegiance and finds herself seeking counsel from a leader in the Logia faith, whom she was sent to annihilate.

When her mentor, Thaed, uncovers her betrayal, he orders her to do the unthinkable—kill the Logia leader who has become her friend. Her choice will result in either the destruction of the Logia or her own death.

The series of Strages attacks call the Logia to prepare for a major battle. In doing so, Gaultier Lassiter is enlisted. When he discovers an unconscious young woman buried in a snowdrift, his world is turned upside down. She has no memory and no ability to speak—only a strange symbol carved into her chest.

The question of her identity leads to a journey of legendary proportions. Between his own personal struggles with his estranged brother, his unmet potential, and the murder of a close friend, Gaultier fights to cling to his faith. And once the mystery is solved, will Gaultier be prepared to face the truth?

Purchase Links:

Amazon

Kobo

Barnes & Noble

Smashwords 

buttonpoisonjuly2014tourAuthor Bio: Ashley Hodges Bazer is often decked out in bellbottoms and grooving out on the lighted dance floor. Okay, not really, but she does have a thing for the BeeGees. She lives in Colorado with her husband and three children. After earning her bachelor’s degree in theatrical stage management from Arizona State University, she went on to work for Disneyland in that capacity. A love affair with books led her to work for several different bookstores. Currently a producer for an international daily radio program, she’s learning to balance working, writing, and momming duties. Her debut novel, Asylum, was traditionally published by WestBow Press in 2012. When she’s not writing, she’s crocheting or belting out Broadway show tunes. And she’s a real duchess!

 Social Media Links:

Twitter: http://twitter.com/duchesswriter

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

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/duchesswriter

G+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/115495024106657895693/posts/p/pub

You can find her next stop and the chance to win a free copy of Poison at http://KPWrites.Net tomorrow! 

You can find the rest of her tour stops below! Hope to see you over the next two weeks! Make sure to come back here at the end of the tour to enter to win a grab bag of goodies!

http://thewritingnetwork.com
http://kpwrites.net/?p=142
http://www.osierpublishing.co.uk/
http://jenleigh8.blogspot.com
http://iwassociation.com
http://www.lizaoconnor.com/
http://readersretreat.com
http://cheekypeereadsandreviews.blogspot.co.uk/
http://thewritingnetwork.com

Marketing Monday: Blog Tours

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Virtual blog tours are a very popular method of promotion for authors, independent and otherwise. This is for good reason. The ability to guest spot, or visit another website provides an author with new venues to reach readers they might not have reached otherwise. This is a fantastic plus for any author. The success of a tour is often reaped for weeks after the tour, but there are some things to keep in mind.

What authors are typically looking for is a quick sales pick-me-up. This isn’t what a tour will provide. They provide you resources for meeting new readers, and avenues to build your personal connections with a new potential fan base. Cultivating your tour, before, during and after the event encourages lasting growth. The longer your tour is, the more likely you are to see a larger ‘during tour’ boost.

I’ve experienced this through a variety of tour developments, companies, and events. This has been the same through each new contributor, and book. The longer tours increase visible sales, however the shorter tours help grow readers in the long run if they are cultivated correctly. Because there are many ways to cultivate the tour prior to, during and after I’ll provide a short list of suggestions.

Many tour companies provide images prior to the event. A good tour company will have the images at least a week before the tour begins. Use them to talk up the event beforehand. By sharing the images provided on social media you’re able to develop a connection for your current readers. The given image on the proper background means it’s your tour. When someone else shares the image, or a link to your tour, your readers will recognize your image on the page.

If you’ve got a giveaway with the tour event, discuss it with every opportunity at each stage of the tour. Give people enough time to support you, and win something fun.

Make sure to keep your own blog, or website up-to-date with all of the tour links. This provides a one stop spot for those who do follow your work, and a place for them to share all of your stops for you.

Respond to every comment, and engage potential readers on every single blog as professionally and honestly as possible. Then share your comment, with a link to the tour stop through your most engaged social media outlets.

 

As  I said, this is a short list but it proves valuable for maximizing the results of your book tour.

When is the best time to go on tour? Any time you want to expand your readership, and notability. A book launched on tour may result in a slight boost along side the rest of the tour prep. A book that’s been on the market for a while may reach a new audience through visiting a variety of book stops. A book that’s been on tour every day for the last month, can still reach new people with new stops, and new posts.

Basically, blog tours are your long term investment in your creative future.

Protecting your Virtual Real Estate

baby-working-on-a-laptopA URL is your virtual real estate. Your claim to the world you operate in. This is something that needs to be protected, especially when associated with your brand. This is how readers, customers, and businesses find your services, and locations. For an author, this is the foundation of your marketing platform. You can’t take risks with it.

Years ago I had a company offer to handle registration, hosting setup, and provide me with easy FTP. While I was learning the industry, and how to function online, I used them and paid them well to do what they offered. When I was ready to move the brand I had been building for well over two years, I asked them about transferring my URL. At which point I was told the URL wasn’t mine. I just paid for it, but was not entitled to it.

Since then, this company has continued to operate without repercussion and TheWritingNetwork was born out of need to build a new brand. While The Writing Network is a much broader brand than my original, and has served well to support others, I still invested time, money, and effort into building the original. Thankfully, at the time, I was able to contact clients and arrange for adjustments. There are situations that arise where that would not have been possible.

If you have a domain that you love, want, or need for your use, or to build your company, please purchase it from some place like http://domainerserver.com or another location that will be separate from your hosting location, OR is an actual registrar. Anything and anyone else is going to pave the way for your needed service, name, and brand to be absconded.

Marketing Monday: Why FREE is my favorite tool

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Many years ago I had posted a raw unedited version of my story on Blogger. It was free, and I thought it was a reasonable idea to share my words with the world, while I was writing. At the time I had no understanding of publishing, promotion in this industry, or opportunities. Due to my situation, I was fully unaware of the revolution in the publishing industry making cracks around us. Others did though.

When I started to tweet the new posts on twitter, I was contacted by two people very quickly. One called themselves an agent, and the other was a traditionally published author. The author offered to help me learn to navigate the submission process and told me exactly what would need to be done. I was thrilled to hear it was so simple, although a very long process.

I wasn’t able to move forward at the time because my family was in transition. It happens. Life continued, I wrote, role played, wrote some more, all behind the focus first of being a mother. I shared my story as I updated parts on Blogger, and one day another author contacted me and told me about a writing group, and this launched my research into the industry as a whole. Not long after she contacted me, another person calling themselves an agent also followed up with me. And the first agent emailed again. Wow, I thought I could conquer the world. As my research deepened, I realized I couldn’t have been more wrong.

My introduction to self publishing came through these channels.

As I grew in knowledge, and my novel series began to take shape, I became rooted in some theories that have later proven to be the wrong choice for me. The first of those theories we’ll address in today’s Marketing Monday discussion. That original theory was that free was giving away money and I would never give a book away free.

If you know me, you know I keep at least two of my books free at all times. I’ll tell you how that came about and why Free became my favorite tool.

When I got to book 3 in the 4 book series, I wasn’t making sales steadily. I was making sales, but they were sporadic. I also wasn’t getting reviews of any kind – good or bad. As a single mother, business owner, and book author, this drove me nuts. I started considering options. Without much money coming in, I had nothing to reinvest. This made most paid marketing channels difficult.

As a reader, I started searching for my own next series addiction. I found several free books as first in a series and in one case, became addicted enough to keep going. The author had me spell bound in book one and sold the rest of his series because of it. Lightening struck. Book one was my sales tool, not the short stories, or promotional opportunities.

The most crucial thing about this industry, in this current marketplace, is to get out in front of people. You need visibility if you’re going to sell anything, and books are no exception to this. Nothing gets you into the hands of hungry readers on a budget like free.

For an author, a percentage of something is always better than a percentage of nothing. I did what I never wanted to. I made it free. Within months of going free, the first book of my series sold all of the other 7 books affiliated with it, many times over. After additional editing, it got even better. Once I made one of my short stories free it sold the other short stories more consistently.

It is easy to see what made FREE my favorite tool. It was free that put a steady income, and grew it enough to invest in a company growth plan. 

Stop by next week for another Marketing Monday

 

Heroes, Anti-Heroes and the Villian

I compiled this list from the internet, a general guide to writing if you wish to search for it.

                                       Hero:                                                        Anti-Hero:

  1. Idealist                                                      Realist
  2. Conventional Moral Code                Moral Code of their Own
  3. Extraordinary                                       Ordinary
  4. Proactive                                                 Passive
  5. Decisive                                                    Indecisive
  6. Successful at Goals                              Failure, but can be redeemed
  7. Motivated by Pure Intentions        Motivated by Primitive Nature
  8. Wants to Overcome                            Wants to Fulfill Self Interest
  9. Learns a Lesson                                     Often Remains Unchanged
  10. Risk Taker, for Good                          Rarely Risks, unless Self Serving
  11. General Good Manners                      Generally Crass
  12. Conforms                                                 Rebels
  13. Brave                                                         Sneaky
  14. Gets the Girl                                           Loses the Girl
  15. Clean Cut                                                 Sloppy

Most people seem to agree that Superman falls into the hero category, and I would too. The references I found felt Batman was an anti-hero and I agree he is, but if you look closely at the list, he doesn’t fall into the ‘general’ description of anti-hero. Batman is not ordinary, passive, indecisive, crass, sneaky or sloppy. He often gets the girl and also often takes risks to save others. That’s almost half the traits he does NOT possess.

Keeping with the comic scene, let’s look at Harry Osborn from Spider-man. He is a match for Batman in almost every way. He is young, handsome, rich, and looking to avenge the death of his father. What makes him a villain? That he is seeking revenge on our good guy?

Now let’s look at our villain from Superman, Lex. Well, he isn’t passive when it comes to fulfilling his goals and he generally gets the girl, although the girl is usually the ‘dumb blonde’ type and probably doesn’t realize how bad her squeeze is. If you look at the Joker, he falls more into the anti-hero list than Lex, the Joker can’t even get a girl.

 So I propose that the anti-hero list is simply a villain list. The good guy list defines most protagonists and the true anti-hero falls somewhere between.

I think I’ve made my case, but let’s go a little further. A villain developed from the anti-hero list is going to be two dimensional. And while there is always a time and place for this type of character, those times and places should be very few. A serial rapist, who takes women who won’t give him the time of day because he is ordinary, poor, sloppy, sneaky, passive, and indecisive is really nothing more than a bully. Your bad guy needs a moral code of his own, and as a writer you need to clarify why his code is different and how it became so skewed from the conventional.

When I was a child my great-aunt told me that evil was beautiful. It smelled good, it’s taste was tempting and it drew you in by calling to your base needs. Now, she was talking about chocolate cake (while she was eating a slice) but as an adult writer I’ve taken that image with me and put it into my characters.

If you are writing an in-depth bad guy, especially if you’re working on a series with a recurring bad guy, then you’re going to have to get to know him as well as you know your protagonist. There are a few things on the anit-hero list he shouldn’t be, ordinary, indecisive, crass, sloppy. He has to be smart, at least in part. If he was ordinary, crass and sloppy, he wouldn’t have been able to obtain the following he has and surely he has people to do his bidding, right? If he were indecisive he wouldn’t be able to complete a complicated task designed to throw a wrench in the life of our protagonist. People would more likely follow a handsome, young man who radiates power and authority. They aren’t going to join forces with some guy living in his mom’s basement.

Think, mob stereotypes. The mobster who runs a casino, deals in drugs, moves stolen merchandise etc. These characters never indulge in the activities they provide, and when they do they are removed from their position (you know how). The bad guy has to be clear headed, not drug induced. He has to obtain money, not lose it on the horses. He has to plan a theft of merchandise, where he’ll unload it and how he’ll launder the money afterward.

Many people enjoy mob movies and shows. Why? Because the mob consists of handsome men and beautiful women. They dress nice, they’re rich and flaunt it. They are smart and radiate power and authority. People, human nature perhaps, are drawn to these characters. These characters are not ‘good’. They fit more into the anti-hero list than anywhere else. They are self-serving and criminals. They have their own moral code and rebel against authority. They are realists who often remain unchanged throughout life and if they do change, life generally makes them even more cynical.

The list above is really nothing more than the cookie cutter bad guy/good guy that publishing companies and movie makers have forced on the public for years (i.e. Wizard of Oz, good witch, beautiful, wicked witch, even her voice grates on your nerves). While they are an excellent guide, and anything that helps improve the depth of a character is a good thing, they should only be used as guides.

Think back to all the books and movies you’ve delved into. Who’s your favorite bad guy and why? I think mine would be Lestat. In the book, The Vampire Lestat, he’s the protagonist. He’s innocent of the world and then thrown into another world against his will. You root for him, simply because of the point of view the book shows. Then in Interview With a Vampire, he’s the bad guy. This innocent has been shown the monster and embraces it, he revels in the change, and this attitude alters his behavior. I loved to hate him so much because his character had depth. You could sympathize with the child, and hate what he had become. But you knew why he was the way he was and what drove his actions. This is what I strive to create when writing my bad guy.

It’s hard for a lot of writers to explore the bad guy. Keeping the cookie cutter list is safe. The readers expect it, since it’s been a mainstay for years in the creative world. Safe is good, safe is easy and people probably won’t think you’re crazy. Those authors who toss the cookie cutter and begin molding something of their own will challenge readers. They take fear and loathing and blow it up, force the reader to take a long, hard look at it and then walk away. Take John Grisham. His bad guys almost always leave you with the question, what would you have done in my place? They didn’t want to be bad. They were forced to be, by someone else. He implies that the kernel of bad is in all of us and if events are just right, it’ll grow. Lestat begs the question of readers, do we all have the potential to embrace the monster? Is it in all of us and through one event, exposed and released?

So get to know your bad guy. You don’t have to tell the reader everything, you don’t even have to tell your reader most things. But to establish consistency with your bad guy you have to understand his motives. Why he acts a certain way will often tell you what choice he’s about to make. Listen to him, then lock him away so people won’t think you’re as demented as he is.