The Men of Foxwick

Hey, gang! Really excited to share this new release with you! Cherie is a talented author and blogger, and she has really built a great fantasy universe with her Foxwick stories.

I downloaded my copy of The Men of Foxwick the other day and can't wait to dig in... Plus, I think it might have one of THE coolest covers I've seen in a long time. Well done, Cherie! 

Men of Foxwick by Cherie Reich is now available! This fantasy short story collection features five men from the Kingdom of Foxwick.

A blind teen seeks a place in the kingdom. A dragon seer journeys to Wintermill to spy on the queen. A sword master’s worst fear comes true when he fails to protect the royal family. A king falls in love with an herb witch, but will she feel the same way? A hunter will rise to the challenge to hunt down a man-eating monster.

Short stories in this collection: Blind Scribe, Dragon Spy, Sword Master, Courting Magic, and Monster Hunter

An Excerpt from “Blind Scribe” in Men of Foxwick

Dallan counted his steps as his mama and he weaved through the busy streets of Foxwick. Twenty-six, twenty-seven. They’d passed the fruit stand and were now farther into Foxwick than he’d ever been in his fifteen summers. People, just moving shadows, brushed against his shoulder. He scrunched toward Mama to make his lanky frame smaller. The odor of sweat and manure combated the more pleasant scents of flowers and baking bread. A bead of sweat trickled into his hairline, and he longed for the comfort of their small house.

“Keep up, Dallan.” Mama’s skirts brushed against his pants’ legs.

“Where are you taking me?” He clung to her arm and dragged his feet. They’d gone too far. The shadows darkened, as if the sun had slipped behind the horizon, and he had no clue where he was now.

She halted mid-step before yanking him forward. “I do not wish to do this, but we have little c-choice.”

“Do what, Mama?” He wanted to dig his heels into the pavement and halt their progress. Had she decided he was more trouble than he was worth? Times were tough, and he was such little help. He tried to plow straight—despite counting his steps and placing one foot in front of the other—but he often tripped over the rocky soil. He tried cooking, but he couldn’t even boil water without scorching it. Though he wasn’t too bad as a tailor because he could count stitches and feel where he needed to go, he still needed guidance.

She pulled him closer. Rough stone rubbed against his arm through his thin shirt. A sob hitched in Mama’s throat as she emitted a mouse-like squeak. She embraced him tightly and then smoothed his damp hair from his face. “My sweet boy, I’m so, so sorry.”

“What’s wrong?” His heart pounded like a horse galloping across an open field, each hoof beating the ground in a frantic rhythm.

To purchase: Amazon / Amazon UK / Smashwords / Kobo / Nook

Click here to add on Goodreads.

About the Author: A self-proclaimed bookworm, Cherie Reich is a speculative fiction writer, freelance editor, book blogger, and library assistant living in Virginia. Her short stories have appeared in magazines and anthologies, and her books include the horror series Nightmare, a space fantasy trilogy titled Gravity, and a fantasy series The Foxwick Chronicles. She is Vice President of Valley Writers and a member of the Virginia Writers Club and Untethered Realms.

Her debut YA Epic Fantasy novel Reborn, book one in The Fate Challenges, will be released on May 23, 2014.

For more information, please visit Cherie’s website and blog.

Also, Cherie has a special announcement for her email newsletter subscribers. Click here to sign up for her updates and receive a coupon for a free copy of Women of Foxwick.

Over At The NA Alley Blog Today!

Hey, gang! Just wanted to let y'all know I blogged over at the NA Alley Blog today, and I'd love for you to stop by and say, "hey".  :) 

Basically, I've heard a lot of talk recently that maybe New Adult literature has peaked as a 'niche genre'. That perhaps it IS just sexy romance. This was my rebuttal.

Also, thank you to everyone who left comments on my Indie Life post. That was one of those posts I considered not posting, because I wondered if it was perhaps too personal.

Not personal in a TMI kind of way, but personal as in, "Only you feel this way, EJ." As usual, your encouragement and insight proved me wrong. :)

Hope you're week gets off to a fantastic start! (The movers are coming to pack up our stuff on Wednesday and I'm freaking out a little. lol)


Indie Life - The Tradeoff

Hey, gang! It's time for another Indie Life post, which is basically an opportunity (on the second Wednesday of each month) for independent authors to share what they've learned--or haven't--about being an indie. It's also a chance to connect with other independent authors and build our writing community.

If that sounds like something you'd enjoy being a part of, click the button below for all the details.

Indie Life - The Tradeoff

I believe that all true choices come with a compromise. It's the yin yang of the universe. You don't get to have cake and eat it, too. You pay more for what you really want. You go left or right, up or down, but never truly down the middle. 

And that isn't pessimism. It's just grownup reality.

Making a choice about pursuing a writing career as an independent author is no different. It's not the compromise free, soar-with-the-eagles experience many perceive it to be. It is a fantastic opportunity to be sure, but there are concessions, as an author and writer, you must make.

To be clear, this isn't a 'Traditional Vs Indie' post. I've said many times (and will continue to say) that you can--and maybe even should--do both. And others have done a far better job than I ever could of creating the traditional Vs indie pro/con lists.

No, this is a personal list. It's an honest evaluation of what I feel like I've gained and lost by publishing my work independently.

What I've Lost

A Tried & True Plan - Before I published independently, I was zeroed in on the only publication option in my sights. There was one way to get there: write, query, agent, and deal. That's the way it had always been done, and it was the way I'd have to follow, too.

So I made climbing that mountain my only real goal. The result of my focus was that I learned a lot about how that side of the writing business operated. 

I understood that agents represented different things, and were attracted to different things, so I cyber-stalked the blogs, etc. of the ones I thought I might fit with. I practiced writing queries when I wasn't writing fiction, and thought about writing queries WHILE I was writing fiction. 

I knew very well what I needed to do to accomplish my goals--getting there was a different matter, but I had a plan. 

Being an indie is like living in the Wild West. What worked yesterday might get you killed (figuratively speaking... maybe) today. There are certainly best practices to follow when it comes to marketing and such, but it's definitely like the pirate code: they're more guidelines, really. :)

There are many, many different paths to publishing independently, and you get to choose which one to take, and how long to stay on it. As a result, your best "plan" is usually to be flexible and willing to ditch that plan when it doesn't get you to where you're wanting to go.

Pride - It's not easy admitting you're wrong. And it's hard to be proud of doing something most people don't even understand. That's a bit of what I felt when I finally decided to publish something on my own.

I felt like I'd made a mistake by focusing so much on seeing my work published the traditional way. Because when I finally let that go, my writing got better.

It took the process of me deciding to write only for myself and readers to finally understand that I'd been going about the writing--the most important thing in all of this--the wrong way. 

I'd been writing in a way I thought would get me published someday at the expense of writing in a way that reflected what was actually going on in my head. I wasn't even aware of how much I was censoring things, but I was.

I also felt weird about telling non-writing people that I was a legit author. Mostly because I'd have to explain that, "No, my book is not physically in a Barnes & Noble store, and no, I do not do book signings in New York City every other weekend. If you have a Kindle I can thumbprint smudge my initials on the screen or something."

My experience is that people who know the writing business extremely well are still trying to figure out what independent publishing is all about, and the average reader doesn't have a clue. They want to know your name, the title of your book, and where they can get it. That's probably true for any kind of author, but it's tricky when you have to explain Smashwords distribution channels to them.

Relationships - This one is short and sweet. There are still many people out there who feel self-publishing isn't legit. You can throw NYT Bestsellers and indie millionaires at them all day long, and they still see it as a shortcut. Some of those people were my blogging and writing colleagues, people I considered friends in some ways. They don't come around anymore, which is... unfortunate.

What I Gained

Purpose - I said there wasn't a real, easily identifiable plan to publishing independently, and that's true. But what there is, is a direct link between you (the author) and the readers. There are no middle people filtering the types of stories you produce. There's no word count limit other than what is best for the story. It's just you producing the best writing you can produce, and readers deciding whether to invest their time and money into what you do.

You'll never find a purer relationship between supplier and consumer in a business. There are tradeoffs to this--like when reviews get a little negative it can feel REALLY personal (it's not... even if it is, it's not... trust me ;)--but mostly it just gives you a supreme sense of purpose. 

What you write is going to go directly in front of readers. They are going to judge YOU by it. Not your agent, not your publisher, not your cover designer, not the store that carries your book--just you. And when they judge you positively, you suddenly understand your mission: To write the next story and get it out there so more readers can find you.

Confidence - What I've lost in pride, I've gained in confidence tenfold. All it really takes is one stranger to have paid their hard-earned money for something you've written, and genuinely enjoy it, for all the work, time, and heartache involved in this business to be worth it. 

You'll feel validated in your writing like never before. Getting an agent or critique group to say your writing is awesome feels good. Having a reader say it blows your mind. 

You'll feel empowered, because if you're publishing independently, you've jumped through most of the hoops yourself. 

And you'll feel invested in your work like you never thought you could, because it's all you--well, you and a million beta readers, an editor or two, maybe a cover designer, etc., but you get the idea.

Relationships - Again, whatever I might've lost along the way to where I'm at, I've gained back over and over again. There's a tremendous espirit de corps amongst writers in general, but something about the indie experience magnifies the desire to band together with your peers.

You not only want to commiserate and celebrate with them, but you want to help them. If you learn a trick, you want them to know the trick. If you've found success with a platform, you want to share it with them. 

I think it has something to do with the demystification of this writing stuff that happens when you really decide to go it on your own. The formulas aren't so very complex anymore. (see - purpose) Suddenly, you understand that it's really about work ethic, and applying the writing skills you've learned along the way.

It's about using the right tools for the project, and you see that anyone can learn to do the job so long as they know how to use those tools and have the desire.

Those were my tradeoffs. Did you have any with your chosen publication path? Or are you still mulling which way you'd like to go?


IWSG - Marketing FAIL

Hey, gang! My Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG) is once again off the mark of the posting day due to to Rachel's interview on Wednesday. But Rachel rocks, so we're just going to roll with it. :)

Not familiar with the IWSG? It's basically a gaggle of writer types who blog once a month about the less-than-awesome aspects of what we do. Sometimes it's encouragement we offer each other, and other times (like in my case today), we just lament the things we suck at.

IWSG is open to all, and it's a fabulous way to connect with some kindred spirits. Click the button below for more info:

Marketing FAIL

Okay, in this day and age of Internet buzz and general overstimulation of the masses, there's not much more useful of a tool for an author to have than good marketing skills. It seems like you're only as relevant as your last tweet, and more known for your Pinterest board shenanigans than your writing. 

Consequently, you need to be able to network. You need to let people know you exist, and more importantly, that your books exist. Standing out in the crowd isn't necessarily a good thing, it's a must thing. 

Problem: What do you do when you really just aren't that good at, or enthused about, celebrating ME?

Don't get me wrong, I fully understand the premise of marketing. I TOTALLY get why it's a good thing. But 99% of the time I live in this fairytale land where readers find you because other readers like you, and unicorns dance with dragons below a crimson harvest moon.

Maybe it's just my farming roots showing, but I kind of just want to plant a seed, make sure it gets plenty of sunlight and the water nature gives it, and then watch it grow into a big ol' fruit tree. Then, in a few years, I'll stretch out on the porch, eat those damned fine peaches, and say, "I remember when I planted that seed!"

I told you it was a fairytale land... it's like one of those Werther's Originals commercials. Except I'd probably have an adult drink in my hand and be laughing maniacally as my Amazon rank skyrocketed. :) 

Anyway, today I felt like giving an ode to those of us who market to the best of our abilities--and still hate and suck at it. Below, you'll find some buttons I've made for the marketing failures--like moi--out there to wear like the champions of ineptitude we are. Share them and rejoice!

More importantly, have a fantastic weekend. :)


The Faerie Prince Tour & Interview

Hey, gang! Those of you looking for my IWSG post, please check back on Friday. Today, I'm honored to be hosting author Rachel Morgan in celebration of her newest Creepy Hollow book, The Faire Prince.

Rachel and I recently sat down for an interview, but first, a little about The Faire Prince:

Guardian trainee Violet Fairdale is just weeks away from one of the most important occasions of her life: graduation. After messing up big time by bringing a human into the fae realm, Vi needs to step up her game and forget about Nate if she hopes to graduate as the top guardian of her year. Everything would be fine if she wasn’t forced to partner with Ryn, her ex-friend, ex-enemy, current ‘sort of friend’. They might be trying to patch up their relationship, but does she really want to spend a week undercover with him for their final assignment? On top of that, the possibly insane Unseelie Prince is still on the loose, free to ‘collect’ as many specially talented faeries as he can find—and Vi is still at the top of his list. Add in faerie queens, enchanted storms, complicated not-just-friends feelings, and a murder within the Guild itself, and graduation is about to become the least of Vi’s problems.

Purchase The Faerie Prince
Amazon US - Amazon UK - Barnes & Noble - Apple iBookstore - CreateSpace print 

Sounds fantastic, right? Let's see what Rachel has to say about it. :)

EJ: The Faerie Prince is the second book in the Creepy Hollow series. What's the inspiration for the series, and more importantly, how'd you come up with the rocking series title? (Seriously, Creepy Hollow is one of THE coolest series titles I've ever seen.)

RM: I REALLY wish I had an exciting answer for you, but, honestly, the name Creepy Hollow just appeared in my head one day! So it was more about picking the right story (from the tons of stories that zoom around my head all the time) to fit the name, rather than having a story idea first and having to think of a name for it. So I suppose you could say the inspiration for the series was the name itself!

EJ: I read that you intended the series to be several novellas originally, but decided to condense them down into 3, full-length books. What inspired that decision? Were there any challenges in changing the format you didn't expect?

RM: You know how a vision changes along the way? That happened for me! I’d first envisaged this series like a TV series, with shorter individual stories (different assignments for Vi) that all linked up with one overarching theme (one main villain with one big plot). But ... I’ve always been a fan of novels, and that started to show through as I was writing the first novellas. They kept getting longer, and the later ones (that are now in The Faerie Prince) were more closely linked than individual “episodes” should be. I decided in the end that Creepy Hollow would work better as a trilogy of novels.

The challenge in changing the format was that some people who’d read the earlier novellas were confused about whether The Faerie Guardian was a new book, or whether it was the same stuff they’d already read. (It was the same, but with some bonus chapters at the end)

EJ: You're doing a blogfest with the book release where people are asked to share their favorite faerie tale prince or hero. (Can mine be a princess? If so, I choose Merida from Brave. If no, I choose Beast from Beauty & the Beast. He's just the kind of flawed and grumpy/angry protagonist I can get behind. :) ANYWAY, why do you think the prince or princess trope (totally not a negative word here--just means it WORKS) in fantasy is so compelling for readers & writers? (We clearly can't get enough of them. Or at least I can't! LOL)

RM: Yes, yours can be a princess, and Merida is an excellent choice! I think there’s something enticing about royalty, probably because most of us are NOT royal and won’t ever marry anyone who is! The idea of princes and princesses speaks to us of fairy tales and happily-ever-afters and adventure and magical worlds where heroic deeds are performed and no matter how many dark clouds and fire-breathing dragons show up, everything always works out in the end. (FYI – this is NOT what you’re going to get in The Faerie Prince!)

EJ: Last GREAT book you read? Most anticipated summer movie? Must-listen-to-weekly (or daily) music or band?

RM: I read a lot and enjoy a lot, but the last really GREAT book (in my opinion) was Insurgent by Veronica Roth (which means I haven’t read a truly great book in about a year!). Most anticipated move of the YEAR for me is City of Bones (I adored the book, and I really hope they don’t “mess up” the movie!). Music ... hmm, that changes all the time. If we make it more general, on a weekly basis I have to listen to some kind of epic, inspirational movie score. It helps the writing ;-)

EJ: Last question! Why are fans of YA Fantasy going to love the Creepy Hollow books? 

RM: The Creepy Hollow books are not just another fairy tale. They have unique modern twists that I think readers will enjoy. There’s also the fast pace, the adventure, the ‘swoonworthy romance’ (quote from a review of the second book!) and the twists you’ll never see coming ;-) Readers have said you should check out Creepy Hollow if you’ve enjoyed Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely series and Aprilynne Pike’s Wings series.

EJ: Thanks for hanging out, Rachel! I think The Faire Prince is going to be a smash for sure.

Read below to learn more about Rachel and the Creepy Hollow books. There's also a cool giveaway with the launch (Raflecopter below the post), so be sure to enter!

Rachel Morgan was born in South Africa and spent a large portion of her childhood living in a fantasy land of her own making. After completing a degree in genetics, she decided science wasn’t for her—after all, they didn’t approve of made-up facts. These days she spends much of her time immersed in fantasy land once more, writing fiction for young adults.

The Creepy Hollow Series

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Rachel's Links

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