Thursday, December 29, 2011

Reviews Can Make Your Day!

I woke-up this morning with a cold so bad that I couldn't (or maybe wouldn't) get out of bed--finally dragged myself up at 2pm feeling terrible until I saw this review over at The Kostiuk Crew . Here's a snippet:

"...She could not put this read down, she even took it with us on our little vacation and the only time she stopped reading is when we are swimming. She had the book done by the end of that night and kept telling K little pieces here and their so he was ready to start reading himself. He started reading it on the car ride home and if you could hear the noises coming from this kid you would have busted up laughing to. He was giggling and huh and the noises just kept coming when he was reading."

Throw in a 5-star review on Amazon and I fell about a thousand times better. Who needs antibiotics when you have book reviewers!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Best of 2011 Giveaway Hop

I'm thrilled to be part of the I am a Reader, not a Writer - Best of 2011 Giveaway Blog Hop. I had a terrible time selecting the "best" book I've read this year. So, I've chosen three great books. The contest winner can pick the one they would like:

The Supernaturalist (hardback) by Eoin Colfer. Colfer is best known for his Artemis Fowl series. While that's a good series, frankly, I think The Supernaturalist is so much better. Maybe, it hasn't found more popularity because it's aimed at male teenage readers (elusive creatures, indeed). Read my Goodreads review here.

Ender's Game (paperback) by Orson Scott Card is an adult book, but the MC is a Middle Grade boy and it's another great book for the teen reader. It's Orson Scott Card's most famous novel and a great choice for any kids who's outgrowing more juvenile, MG sci-fi.

The Tiger Rising (paperback) by Kate Dicamillo proves that DiCamillo is truly an artist. If the other two books made you go, yuck sci-fi then pick this one. It's a magical book about a boy and girl who find a Tiger--but it's really so much more.

Or course the winner will also get a signed copy of Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb. All the books have been gently read, but are in almost new condition. I'll ship the two books anywhere in the US that the postal service will deliver to (P.O. boxes are fine).

A winner will be picked on or around Jan 1st 2012; only the winner's first name and last initial will be posted, but the winner must provide a complete name and shipping address.

Good luck and be sure to check out I am a Reader, Not a Writer for more sites hosting giveaways!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays -- and Lots of Reviews

I haven't updated my blog in quite a while; I've been swamped at work (due to the holidays). But I wanted to be sure to take a minute and wish everyone a Merry Christmas.

I've also been remiss in posting SZJMB reviews and there's a lot of them. Hopefully, I haven't left anyone out:

First, way back in November Kayla Merritt did a great review over at The Bee's Knees Reviews closing her review with, "I would highly reccomend it for young readers over ten and zombie fans alike."

Author (in progress), Loren DeShon says, "SZJMB should be enjoyable to any young adult fan of the genre. " in his review.

The Little Library Muse calls it, "a must read." And even lists her favorite quote from the book.

The Alaskan Bookie did a great Mother-Daughter review. They loved the title and cover, but thought the ending was a bit sad. My reply, don't get too down, wait for book two!

Greta at Paranormal Wastelands asked her son to do the review and then interviewed him.

Alexa Loves Books closes her review with, "It's definitely one entertaining read!"

Wow, that's a bunch of reviews. Hopefully, they will spur sales; last month was great, but things have been dragging in December.

Again, I hope everyone has a great Christmas!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

New Review From Boys and Literacy Blog

Boys and Literacy is a great site to find books for boys. They posted a review last week of SZJMB and I forgot to post it.

Here's a quote:
"For the reader who likes zombie books, MJA Ware's Super Zombie Juice, has action without too much gore, but enough to keep it creepy."

You can check out the site and read the entire review here.

If you are an Amazon reviewer, or have a blog feel free to contact me about a review copy.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Kindle Fire - First Impressions

I've probably played with my Kindle Fire for 2 hours or so. By far my biggest complaint is lack of apps. For example, I couldn't find Google Sky Map in the App store. This is a killer app and I'll be tempted to return if I can't get it.

But that's not the only app that's lacking. I had terrible time finding free apps for my daughter, even just trial versions. Amazon needs to quickly beef-up their app store.

Here's what I've found so far:

-Screen is nice and bright.
-My eBooks automatically showed up.
-Easy to use.
-No lag so far (others have reported sluggish performance).
-Multitasking! On my iPod and iPhone when I exit Pandora, the music stops. On the Fire, I can read, surf, etc and still listen to music.
-Feels well constructed.

-Not many apps to chose from.
-Hard to configure. For example, I can't figure out how to require the password for app purchases (to keep my daughter from buying apps.)
-Lots of fingerprints on the glass.
-Music purchases over 90 days old can't be auto loaded.
-Unlike my K3 Kindle, I can't condense text (which means more page turns).
-No mic, camera or SD slot. You can't even run Amazon's own price-checking app.--No cable to connect to your PC, you have to purchase a micro-USB cable separately.

-Battery seemed to run down fast, but after a recharge, it seems better.
-Heavier than I thought. Might be too heavy to read in bed for long periods.
-Speakers aren't really loud. Couldn't listen in a car or in public.

I need some more time to play with it before I can decide if it's a keeper.

Update: I was able to load Google Sky Map, doing something called "sideloading," but it only works in manual mode (no digital compass). Oh well.

Update 2: Made some more observations in bold.

Friday, November 11, 2011

More Reviews for SZJMB

Gothical posted a 5-star review of Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb (SZJMB) on her blog. Here's a quote:

"...SUPER ZOMBIE JUICE MEGA BOMB was a fun, fast pace, unique read that I look forward to reading more from the author and MUST have a sequel I would sell a blue smurf for a sequel to this book."

Which leads to my only question about this review: I thought all smurfs were blue?

I also had two great kid reviews over on Goodreads. One by an eight-year-old and another by a fourteen-year-old. I was a little surprised that the younger boy seemed to enjoy SZJMB more and his review has to be my favorite so far:

"Nate & Misty are bestfriends. They decide to run away after they get grounded for sneaking out. When they come home they see the town is full of zombies. They are really smart and move in to a Walmart. By accident they find out that zombies can be killed with lemons and different things that have acid in them. They meet a genius named Kali that help them kill the zombies with a really cool firetruck.
Awesome book." 5-Stars

There's nothing like a review from a target reader to make your day!

If you haven't picked up your copy of SZJMB yet, the ebook is on sale now for 99¢ at Amazon and on my website (in 3 formats).

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Happy Release Day -- My Royal Pain Quest

I wanted to let everyone know that my good friend, Laura Lond, has just released her latest MG/YA book: My Royal Pain Quest.

I had the pleasure of beta'ing not only this title, but the previous book in this series, My Sparkling Misfortune.

Besides having awesome covers, both titles are great reads that, I think, will appeal to both young fantasy enthusiasts as well as reluctant readers.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

And the Winner is...

The Second Zombie Survival Kit Winner is:
Aeicha M.

Thanks to everyone who helped promote the contest; we had well over 100 people enter, most with multiple entries.
If you didn't win, don't despair, you can still win a print copy of Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb over at Great Minds Think Aloud. Plus I have a couple more contest in the works.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Zombie Survival Kit Winner Announced Tomorrow

Just a quick note to let everyone know I'm running behind on drawing the winner. I'm just now finishing up work and my brain is a little (maybe a lot) fuzzy. I want to make sure everyone gets the correct number of entries, so I'm going to figure them out and draw the winner tomorrow.

Next time, I think I'm going to try a different contest system to make the number of entries easier to calculate.

Sorry for the delay!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!!!

First a reminder, Halloween is the last day to enter the giveaway for the final Zombie Survival Kit. There's tons of other great contests to be found over at I Am A Reader, Not A Writer's Spooktacular Giveaway Hop.

I'm also going to take Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb (SZJMB) off free tomorrow. It will probably take Amazon at least a few days to change the price (they won't change it until it changes everywhere else first). So if you'd like a copy, better grab it in the next day or so.

Check out the photo of it ranked #55 on Amazon's Freebie Bestseller List, right above Dracula and bellow some book called The Holly Bible. You better watch out J.C, I'm right behind you! Actually, there's zero chance of people skipping their Bible study in favor of reading SZJMB; as soon as the price returns, it will go back to a more normal ranking.

Last, blogger David Stantos posted a great review of SZJMB yesterday. Here's an except:
"We aren't told what the kids did while they were gone. It turned me away a bit. I thought, well if this book is going to jump or skip 'scenes' it's probably not going to be very good."

Here's another:
"Anyways at first the two main characters Nate and Misty were kind of dull, no real personality."

Sounds bad, huh? Well, he goes on to say that it turns out he liked it so much he read it in one sitting--he gives it 5-stars. David actually warned me before I sent the book that he's a really frank reviewer. Hey, you know the critiques are going to come; it's a lot easier to swallow then they love the book!

Now I just have to wait for that 1-star critique--I don't mind waiting.

Have a happy and safe Halloween!!!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Free Copies of My eBook For EVERYONE!!!

This year, rather than passing out candy, I'm giving out free copies of my debut novel Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb (SZJMB). It's a great way to get into the Halloween spirit!

I'm running this promotion until Halloween, so if it looks like something you might want to put in your 'To Be Read' pile, better grab a copy now.

Speaking of SZJMB, Ken over at Paperless Reading, just posted a great review; here's an except:
"Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb is targeted at all ages so it is not as horrific as The Walking Dead but has enough gory scenes to satisfy zombie fans."

Happy Halloween!!!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Spooktacular Giveaway Hop

I'm excited to be part of I Am A Reader, Not A Writer's Spooktacular Giveaway Hop.

As part of this hop, I'm going to be giving away the last Zombie Survival kit.

This is a kid friendly kit that induces not only a copy of my book, Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb, it also includes the following items to help you survive the coming Zombie Apocalypse:
  • A high-powered water gun
  • Lemonade mix
  • Zombie snot (decontaminated)
  • Recipe for making your own zombie snot
  • LED flashlight
  • Duct tape
  • Personal first aid kit
  • Rope
  • Misty’s strawberry flavored lip-gloss
  • Emergency glow stick
  • Water balloons for making zombie juice bombs
Enter by Midnight October 31st PST. A winner will be picked by random on or around Nov. 1st. His/her first name and last initial will be posted online shortly thereafter. The winner will also be notified via e-mail and will have 30 days to claim their prize. Unclaimed prizes will be given to charity, re-listed, or disposed of.

Contest valid in the continental US only and void were prohibited by law.
The winner will be required to provide a valid US shipping address. E-mail addresses will not be disclosed, except as required by law. I will not use your e-mail as part of my mailing list, give it away, or anything like that.

Update (11/24): The winner of last week's kit is: Cathy R. I think only one Cathy R. entered, so if that sounds like you check your inbox for an e-mail from me.

The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly (aka Sales Update)

The Good:
Kitty at Great Minds Think Aloud posted a great interview with me on their blog. A review and giveaway should follow sometime in the future.

JJ, an Amazon top 500 reviewer, gave SZJMB a great 5-star review. Here's a quote:
"The humor was excellent as was the light horror, and I absolutely loved every second of reading it."

Last, SZJMB is currently number 75 on a Goodreads list of The Best Independent Novels. Thanks to the reviewer who nominated me (hope it's okay that I also voted for myself :-)

The Bad:
I know my blog is read by a lot of other authors, so I've made a commitment to myself to post the ups and downs of indie publishing. I've been reporting increased sales month over month, with the last two months both breaking over 200 books sold.

Recently, Amazon changed a couple things in the way they promote books and my sales tanked. I can't even giveaway books on Amazon anymore (I went from giving away 4-5,000 books a month to less than 500). It happened mid-month, so my monthly sales don't look as bad as they could have. My sales on were down about by about 2/3rds, but thankfully my sales on other sites were up. So for August I sold just over 170 books.

In October, my sales on Amazon are up a little, thanks mainly to my Monster Mashup Short Story Omnibus finding it's way onto several "also brought" lists. Assuming my Apple sales remain the same, I'll be between 175 and 200 sales for the month--if SZJMB gets a few Apple sales, I might get back to 200 sale in October.

The most interesting takeaway from all this: sales now total less than 50% of my total ebook sales.

Now for the UGLY:
My debut novel SZJMB has sold a grand total of 12 copies this month (and it's still priced at just 99 cents). It's a little hard not to get down about this. But the truth is it's getting great reviews running between 4.25 -4.5 stars on both Amazon and Goodreads. It just takes time to get the word out and I'm sure the sales will pickup thanks to everyone who's participated in my blog tour, left a review, or even just picked up a copy--Thank You!

Last, try as hard as I might, I can't seem to keep from posting on controversial topics. On top of that it seems I don't do a good job of tempering my words.
My last blog post about the toddler in China has apparently angered some living in that country. I do apologize to anyone I offended.
The message I was trying to get across is that the Chinese are, at their core, exactly like you and me--they are a good, moral people. However, by trying to control all forms of media (especially the written word) the Chinese government has fostered the profound and disturbing apathy shown in that terrible story. My words are meant as a warning, not just about censorship, but about the unintended consequences of trying to control the way a people think.

Oh, and on a lighter note: Don't forget today's the last day to enter to win the second to last Zombie Survival Kit.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

What the Hell is Wrong With China?

You may have seen the story about the little girl in China hit by a van, whose driver stopped, then after realizing he hit someone, sped away, in the process running over her again, and who--after about a dozen people walked pass her tiny broken body, ignoring her cries and the trail of blood--was ran over again by a second vehicle, only have another half-dozen more people walk past her before a 58-year old woman who makes her living (if one can call it that) by picking up discarded rags and other pieces of cloth (which are then cleaned and re-used as stuffing in teddy bears and such) finally stopped and moved her out of the path of traffic before getting help.

Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly given the extent of her injuries, she died early this morning (Friday the 21st).

I was unwilling to watch the internet video showing the girl being hit, but I did watch the CNN after accident clip which, except for tiny sporadic movements, almost seems to show people walking around a small sack of bloody clothes. Only, of course, it's a human child and not a sack of soiled clothing. Which led me to ask: What the Hell is Wrong With China?

Having made at least 9 trips to China, and in fact, having shopped in the same industrial city where this little girl died, I find myself in the somewhat unique position of possibly being able to answer this question.

The first thing one needs to understand is that Foshan is Poor (with a capital P). Small children, like little Wang Yu, wander the streets in pants without backsides because thier parents can't afford diapers (yes, they can't even afford cloth diapers). While most toddlers eventually learn to use the gutter, this makes for quite the hygiene problem--if you ever visit Foshan, or anywhere in Guangzhou for that matter, always watch where you step. The child's parents were almost certainly working at the time of the accident. It's quite common for parents to take their kids to work, even in factories and, since the parents are working, no one is around to watch them--at least not very closely.

Tragically, little Wang Yu probably slipped unnoticed out the front door of a small business (it's clear from the photo that the street is a (one-way) back or side-ally--the kind of place Westerners avoid after dark.

My first thought was that China's mentality--one of the whole over the self--simply tolerates this sort of death--a blind eye to a single child's plight. While this is true of China as a society (think of Mr. Spock's 'the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few') it doesn't explain why so many people could simply walk or drive around a child we know from eye witness accounts was crying out and moaning in pain.

In fact, the more time I spend in China, the more I get to know individual Chinese, the more I realize they are just like you and me. They love their children just as much; they routinely sacrifice much more than we in the States can even imagine, just for a shot at something better for their kids. And it's not just a generation unemphatic youth. I know young Chinese who put off buying their own homes, so they can first buy one for their parents to retire in.

Could you imagine 20-somethings in the US, saying, "Oh, I can't buy a house, I haven't purchased one for my parents yet"?

So, what is it that could cause such callous behavior? Could it be that this sort of thing might happen anywhere, in the US, maybe Europe? After all, the proverb of The Good Samaritan is, well it's proverbial. But to ignore a dying child? And by so many people over and over--No, we wouldn't do this.

What is it in China's makeup that allowed this to happen. After much contemplation, I'd like to offer my opinion: it is a lack of Faith. And no, I'm not talking about Christianity or Monotheism. It's much deeper, it's a lack of Spirituality. In the US even most atheists consider themselves spiritual--especially when compared to the average Chinese.

All of the Chinese I know are Buddhist, but they aren't Buddhist like the people we might know who belong to that religion. In fact, they aren't even like Christians who only go to mass on Christmas and Easter; they lack even that level of faith.

Buddhism is just something someone stamped on their ID cards when they were born--they have no real connection to it.

But it's not for lack of interest. I can't tell you how many times I've been asked about Jesus, or God, or prayer. But here's the problem: it's always once I've gotten to know someone, and always in private, or in hushed whispers in the corner of a restaurant.

The Chinese people aren't free; not just free to vote and determine the course of their lives. They aren't free to determine the course of their souls. If the Chinese government would let people find God, Jesus, Mohamed, Buddha, whomever, then China would find her own intrinsic morality. China can't force Buddhism on its people, or even tell them what type of Christians they can be.

Faith would look different for each person, but it would be something they truly believed in--believed in deeper than they can now even comprehend.

Sure, it would vary in each person, some literally wouldn't hurt a fly. A few might push an old lady aside to get a seat on the train. But I doubt a single individual would rush by a dying child--they'd have a connection to something inside of them that wouldn't let them.

Without the freedom to look inside themselves, to question their existence, and to find their own answers, China will forever walk with a blind-eye past by all of its dying souls.

Update (10/23):
It seems this post has apparently angered some living in China. I do apologize to anyone I offended.
The message I was trying to get across is that the Chinese are, at their core, exactly like you and me--they are a good, moral people. However, by trying to control all forms of media (especially the written word) the Chinese government has fostered the profound and disturbing apathy shown in that terrible story. My words are meant as a warning, not just about censorship, but about the unintended consequences of trying to control the way a people think and while I didn't mean to offend anyone, I do stand by them.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Second Zombie Survival Kit Winner!

The Second Zombie Survival Kit Winner is:
Amy E.

The good news is that if you didn't win, your entries will be carried over for next week's zombie survival kit.
Also, the number of entries have been lower than I anticipated, so the odds of winner good.

If you haven't entered the contest yet, there's still 3 chances to win. Just enter below:

Also, I'm giving away 5 more print copies via goodreads. Enter here:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb by MJA Ware

Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb

by MJA Ware

Giveaway ends October 21, 2011.

See the giveaway details

at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Sunday, October 16, 2011

SZJMB Review and Upcoming Guest Posts

Angela Fristoe, on her blog Turning the Pages, has given a great review of SZJMB. Here's a couple quotes:
"This book was the perfect blend of 'B movie' humor and the zombie gore I love, and I say that with all the positive feeling I can. I loved this book!"

"I was surprised by the ending, and had thought it would end a bit differently, with a perfect happy ending that most lighthearted children/middle grade/YA novels do, but Ware gave us a happy ending that is still sad... I would definitely recommend this for ages 9 and up, particularly boys."

Visit Turning the Pages to read the entire review.

Tomorrow is the last day for the second Zombie Survival Kit, be sure to enter and spread the word. Enter until midnight, PST. Remember, if you've already entered, all non-winning entries carry over to the next week.

This week I am going to be doing guest posts and giveaways over at Dragon Views with my list of the best books to get you into the Halloween spirit. And also the Teenage Reader with a list of Killer Zombie Movies You Haven't Seen. Be sure to check out both sites!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Sheila Deeth's Flower Child Blog Tour

I’m thrilled to be hosting author Sheila Deeth. Sheila is an author, blogger, and book reviewer, who graciously takes her time to review tons of book (including several of mine). I can only imagine how much time she devotes to helping other authors get the word about their books out. So, I’m honored to be part of the blog tour for her new book Flower Child. I’ve asked her a few questions about herself and her writing; after reading the interview, I hope you take a few minutes to read a sample of her book (links below).

What Inspired you to write Flower Child?
That’s a question with lots of different answers. Our local writers’ group held a contest to write something inspired by music. John Denver’s Rhymes and Reasons, in particular the line “the children and the flowers are my sisters and my brothers,” reminded me of a childhood memory, which inspired a first paragraph, which inspired a character. Then other memories and questions took over, but by then the story’s protagonists were in charge.

How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing stories ever since I could hold a pencil. I used to tell stories before I could write, and I remember sitting in front of strange classes in elementary school, keeping the older kids quiet while the teacher stepped out.

What (one) genre do you write in?

Hmm. Choose one genre? I’ll go for spiritual speculative fiction (a fairly expandable genre). I’m not sure it covers my children’s Bible stories, but I think it works for my ebooks. I have a “real” book—paperback, the sort of thing you can thump on a desk and hear the noise—coming out next summer. I suspect that one’s more in a contemporary literary genre.

For you, what's the hardest part of writing a book?
The writing’s not hard—I can’t help writing; it’s getting the finished piece to a place where I still like it that I find difficult. Sometimes I edit too much and all the characters start to sound like me. Then I throw away page after page and try again.

What's the best piece of advice you have for other writers?
Keep writing, keep editing, and don’t be afraid to throw stuff away.

About Flower Child: When Megan miscarries her first pregnancy it feels like the end of everything; instead it’s the start of a curious relationship between the grieving mother and an unborn child who hovers somewhere between ghost and angel. Angela, Megan’s “little angel,” has character and dreams all her own, friends who may or may not be real angels, and a little brother who brings hope to her mother’s world. But Angela’s dream-world has a secret and one day Angela might learn how to be real.

Where to find Flower Child:
Her website

About the author: Sheila Deeth grew up in the UK and has a Bachelors and Masters in mathematics from Cambridge University, England. Now living in the States with her husband and son, she enjoys reading, writing, drawing, telling stories, running a local writers' group, and meeting her neighbors’ dogs on the green.

Sheila describes herself as a Mongrel Christian Mathematician. Her short stories, book reviews and articles can be found in

VoiceCatcher 4, Murder on the Wind, Poetic Monthly, Nights and Weekends, the Shine Journal and Joyful Online. Besides her Gypsy Shadow ebooks, Sheila has several self-published works available from Amazon and Lulu, and a full-length novel under contract to come out next year.

Find her on her website:

or find her books at:

UPDATE: Sheila graciously offered to host the SZJMB blog tour today.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

First Zombie Survival Kit Winner & more chances to win!

Sorry, I'm a day late on making the announcement. Adding all the extra entries along with a last minute rush of entries make it a little more difficult to count the number of entries.
The Winner is:
Jeana K.

If you didn't win, don't dispair, your entries will be carried over for next week's zombie survival kit. Thanks to everyone who entered and everyone who posted the link, which is what really made the contest a success!

If you haven't entered the contest yet, there's still 3 chances to win. Just enter below:

Monday, October 10, 2011

Blog Tour Update

I was planning on posting something on the 8th, which happened to be World Zombie Day. However, I was in bed with a case of the flu that had me thinking I might actually be turning in to a zombie myself.
Anyway, I'm well on my way to recovery (and no cravings for brains), but I've been remiss in updating the blog:

First, today is the last day to enter to win the first Zombie Survival Kit. And, in answer to a reader's questions, it's a enter once contest, so if you don't win the first week, there's no need to re-enter. You (and your extra entries) will automatically be part of each of the four giveaways. I'll post the name of the first winner tomorrow.

Second, last week Rebecca and Scarlett at Everything To Do With Books posted a great review and giveaway (yes, there's still time to enter).

Also, you might have missed my guest post with Zombie Survival Tips over at Death, Books and Tea where there's another chance to win the book.

Tomorrow, they'll be yet another chance to win a copy over at: Guerrilla WordFare.

And later this week, Angela at Turing The Pages is going to be doing a review and giveaway.

That's about it for this week. I just want to thank everyone who has participated in the blog tour, has reviewed, or read SZJMB!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Win a Zombie Survival Kit

Okay, I've finally got the link for the first Zombie Survival Kit ready. Only your name and e-mail address are required to enter.

There are 3 opportunities for getting more entries:
-Plus 1 for following this blog.
-Plus 1 for "liking" my Facebook page.
-Plus 3 for posting a link on your website, blog, twitter, Facebook, or Goodreads account.

I really want to try to get the word out, so I'm including two chances to get 3 entries for posting a link to the contest (6 entries total). Link here: (a link is okay).

A winner will be picked by random on or around Oct. 10th. His/her first name and last initial will be posted online shortly thereafter. The winner will also be notified via e-mail and will have 30 days to claim their prize. Unclaimed prizes will be given to charity, re-listed, or disposed of.

Contest valid in the continental US only and void were prohibited by law.
The winner will be required to provide a valid US shipping address. E-mail addresses will not be disclosed, except as required by law. I will not use your e-mail as part of my mailing list, give it away, or anything like that.

Finally, after they read the book, your kids might be inclined to put lemonade in the squirt gun; don't let them--you'll end up with crying kids and red eyes!

Good luck and help me spread the word!

Don't forget to enter to win a copy of the book at Jackie B's blog!

Update: In answer to a reader's questions, It's a enter once, contest, so if you don't win the first week, there's no need to re-enter. You (and your extra entries) will automatically be part of each of the 4 giveaways.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Blog Tour List

I just got back from Disneyland late last night and I still have a bit of a Disney hang-over. I have a question about that place: If it’s really the happiest place on earth, why is there a kid balling his eyes out like every twenty feet?

I’m going to try to get entry for the first zombie kit up tomorrow. But as promised, here’s the list of sites hosting the SZJMB blog tour. This includes the giveaway dates for the Zombie Survival Kits too. I might add a couple other sites, or add another contest or two. All the sites are doing giveaways, most are giving away a copy of the printed book, so they’ll be lots of chances to win!

Blog tour:

Oct. 3rdJackie B’s Housewife Blues & Chihuahua Stories
Oct. 5thDeath Books & Tea
Oct. 9thEverything To Do With Books
Oct. 10th – Zombie Kit Giveaway #1 (here)
Oct. 11thGuerrilla WordFare
Oct. 14th – Sheila Deeth, Author of Flower Child
Oct. 16thTurning The Pages
Oct. 17th – Zombie Kit Giveaway #2 (here)
Oct. 18thLady D’s Dragon Views
Oct. 19thTeenage Reader
Oct. 23th – Zombie Kit Giveaway #3 (here)
Oct. 24thManga Maniac Cafe
Oct. 26thM.Pax, The Wistful Nebulae
Oct. 30thFantastic Adventures
Oct. 31st – Zombie Kit Giveaway #4 (here)

Let me add a big Thank You to all the sites that agreed to host me!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Blog Tour Giveaways!

This weekend I’ll be kicking off my blog tour. At each site I visit, I’ll giveaway an ebook or printed copy of SZJMB (a printed copy at most stops). I’ve got 10-12 sites lined up and I’ll post a schedule soon.

I’m also giving out a zombie survival kit each week. The kit consists of survival essentials, especially those that appear in the story:

  • A copy of Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb
  • A high-powered water gun
  • Lemonade mix
  • Zombie snot (decontaminated)
  • Recipe for making your own zombie snot
  • LED flashlight
  • Duct tape
  • Personal first aid kit
  • Rope
  • Misty’s strawberry flavored lip-gloss
  • Emergency glow stick
  • Water balloons for making zombie juice bombs

Good luck to everyone. These have some great toys (not to mention great reading) and are the perfect way to kick start your Halloween!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

SZJMB Featured on Blog Talk Radio's Journal Jabber

I just found out SZJMB was featured on tonight's episode of Journal Jabber. They were doing a special feature on boy books, though they said SZJMB would probably appeal to both sexes. You can listen right here:
Listen to internet radio with JournalJabber on Blog Talk Radio
In other news, I got a short, but killer review on iTunes, " I could not put this book down I really hate reading but this book I could read it 1000 times if I could"
Because of lack of punctuation (often, teens writing on iPhones skip the punctuation, for the sake of speed) and the hyperbole, I'm assuming it was written by someone in the MG or YA age groups. Which, to me, is sooo much more important than an adult review; it means (at least one person from the) target audience gets it!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Proof Arrived This Weekend & Contest Reminder

Just a quick update. CreateSpace has been super slow to work with, so I had to go over to to get a proof made. It came in the mail Friday & I spent the weekend reading it. Seeing it in print was not only cool, but reading it this way reminded me how much I enjoy the book (which, of course, is why I wrote it). In a way, I'm glad I'm publishing the book that I love, rather than the book an agent or editor thinks the public will buy.

I found 2 errors (both were introduced by me, not missed by the my two proofreaders) and I made 2 minor formatting changes. The cover came out slightly dark, so I've adjusted the brightness and contrast for the final version.

CreateSpace finally approved it and I'm having their proof sent next day air. Just in time, to get copies sent to the winners of my GoodReads contest.

If you haven't entered, it closes in 2 1/2 days. So, if you'd like a copy of the print version, then be sure to enter.

Speaking of GoodReads two more great reviews came in. SZJMB is holding steady at 4.5 stars!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Happy Release Day: Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb!!!

Well, it's finally here: The official release day for Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb. I have two reviews up already and a few more on the way.
The ebook is available at Amazon, B&N, SmashWords and Apple (or my website). I have it on sale everywhere for just 99¢, except B&N, until the end of the month.

If you are short on change, I'm giving away 6 copies over at GoodReads. The contest ends 9/22. Speaking of giveaways, I'm going to be doing a blog tour and giveaways all throughout the month of October. Each stop will have a print copy of the book (so, they'll be lots of chances to win). Plus, I'm giving out five zombie survival kits (more on those later). I'm still looking for a few more blogs to host the tour, so e-mail me ( if you are interested. 

If you like to actually hold your books, the print version should be available right around October 1st.  Don't forget, you can read a 5 chapter preview with my free ebook Monster In The Mirror (for kindle, B&N)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Exposing Yourself, Not Quite What I Expected

I remember reading something a few years ago about Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) doing a play with a nude scene. I wondered how anyone could put themselves out there like that; on a stage, completely exposed to the world.

I had no idea that this would be what it feels like to publish. Yes, I'd published my shorts, almost all of them in fact, and I even have my omnibus out too. But this in no way prepared me for putting SZJMB out.

I've found the process simply overwhelming. Not to mention emotionally draining. No one tells you this about publishing your first novel. Maybe, the effect is more pronounced when you are going it alone, but it's been quite an eye opener.

I've posted SZJMB to Amazon and B&N and am working on the print version as part of getting everything in place for the blog tour and official release date. A handful of sales have started, and every night I dream about the book. Crazy dreams like waking up to find that I've sold 1,000 copies. Or perhaps more likely, finding twenty 1-star reviews.

I guess, when you put so much of yourself into your writing (like all of us writers do), you can't help but feel like you are standing naked and alone (except maybe holding your book) on stage in a huge auditorium.

Speaking of reviews (not the 1-star kind) I just got my second review last night:

"A great zombie book for the YA audience!!!
Want to save the world? Want to eradicate the living dead? There is a way to do it if you just have the tools, or in this case ingredients. head on over to your closest grocer and pick up everything you need to survive the zombie apocalypse.


Yes. You read that right.


You know how the old saying goes, when life hands you lemons, you squirt them at zombies. Wait, no, well, it was something like that.

Misty and Nate run away for a camping trip after being told they can no longer hang out with each other. On their return, their small town is a ghost town. There was no one to be found anywhere, oh - if only it could have stayed a ghost town, that may have been easier to deal with. Misty and Nate are faced with an adventure that no kid should have to go through alone. A fight for their lives ensues and what happens to them will really surprise you.

Finally a zombie book for the YA audience that has the perfect balance of creepy but not too much for the younger reader. It has great horror elements in the plot and loads of zombie action. This book is a great way to let your budding horror fan indulge while knowing the content will not be too "adult".

This book will catch your attention from the beginning and make you want to keep reading until the very end. Adults and YA audiences alike will have something they can enjoy with this book. The cover is amazing, the characters are vividly depicted, the heroism in the book is admirable, and the zombies are scary. This is coming out perfectly timed for the Halloween season, and I will be passing this onto my two daughters for their Halloween reading." - Amy @

In my last post, I mentioned how the reviewer gives out lots of 4 and 5-star reviews. Not so with Amy. She's fair, but calls them like she sees them, even giving out 1 or 2-stars when appropriate. Plus, she's an editor and we all know how tough they are (just joking). To get such a glowing (4-star) review from her has done a lot to calm my nerves.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

SZJMB Final Cover & First Review

I just got the first review in for Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb (SZJMB). It's from Reader's Favorite Book Reviews & it's 5 stars! Okay, I admit, they give out lots of 5-star reviews, but they've been known to give out 3 and the occasional 2-star as well.

Here's the meat of the review:
What happens when your town is over run by zombies? Well you barricade yourself in the WalMart and come up with a plan to get rid of the flesh eating monsters of course!

The descriptions the author used easily had me envisioning not only the action but the smells that the characters described! I really found myself laughing out loud on several occasions, Nathan was often quite funny whether he was trying to be or not! I loved the bantering that went on between Nate and Misty and even though they figured out what would kill the zombies they didn't formulate a real plan until they hooked up with Kali the town nerd, who actually turned out to be quite heroic! Because parts of the book took place in WalMart I doubt that I will ever walk through WalMart again without thinking about this story!

A real page turner filled with zombie killing action and laugh out loud humor that kept me wondering what might happen next! I would easily say this book would be appropriate for anyone from ten to one hundred!

Also, I just finished the cover layout, myself. That's right, I had to do the layout myself--just part of being an indie author, I guess. Anyway, I think it came out good and it only took me a mere 3 days (or about 20 hours work).

If you want to check it out, you can get a 5 chapter free preview from Amazon or an even longer one at SmashWords.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

5 (Plus 1) Tips for Indie Writing Sucess

Okay, so it might be a little weird that I'm posting success tips, when I haven't actually found real indie success myself. However, once I add my SmashWords affiliate sales I'll be right around 200 sales for August, so that's not terrible either. So, here's what I've learned in the last year or so:

1. Use a professorial editor and then at least one professorial proofreader (I've started using two) - Indie books get a bad rap for being poorly edited--that's because many are. However, with one exception, every successful indie author I know goes to great lengths to produce an error free manuscript.
2. Get a great cover (see examples: & - You don't have to spend a lot of dough. Here's two low-cost cover artist I recommend: XXXXXXX and  Rebbecca Weaver. Rebbecca does great photo manipulations and she even does the cover layout too.
3. Get reviews (if most are not positive your probably DOA) - This one is a harder than you'd think because a lot of bloggers won't review or even deal with indies. This week I've e-mailed two dozen reviewers, asking for a review or even just an announcement of my upcoming release and I offered to give away a free print copy of SZJMB to their readers. However, only five have replied (I'm sure more will) and only three of those are going to review (the other two graciously offered to promote with a giveaway).
4. Write a great description - Your cover gets a reader to click on a title, but the description gets them to purchase (or at least download a sample). Make sure their are not grammar errors (this means have someone else check it for you) and keep tweeking it until it sells.
5. Marketing and promotion - Besides reviews you need to start a blog, Facebook, or Twitter account. But don't do all of them just cause you have to. For example, I don't do Twitter well, so I skip it. But I just opened a Facebook page(Got a minute? I only have three 'likes'). Believe it or not commenting on other blogs and posting on message boards helps sales too (the messages get indexed by Google and show up in search results). Just make sure you stay civil.

And number 6.... Keep writing, of course.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Happy Release Day: Wolf Storm

Fellow absolute write forum member Dee Garretson's MG novel Wolf Storm is available starting today.

Congratulations Dee!

I also noticed her previous novel (which I recommend) Wildfire Run is on sale for only $6.80 for the hardcover and $5.99 for the ebook.
I can honestly say that the fact Dee has volunteered to read SZJMB, has nothing to do with this post. I've been anticipating this book for awhile.
If you haven't read any of Dee's work, check it out. Her MG stories are great for boy reluctant readers. But she also writes great, strong females into each of her books too--making them ideal for readers of either sex.

Friday, August 26, 2011

SZJMB ARC's, Blogfest, & Giveaways -- Plus Cover Preview!

SZJMB in-process cover
I have edited digital ARC copies of Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb (SZJMB) ready. You don't have to commit to giving it a review, just consider doing so. You can post to your blog, or review sites like Amazon, B&N, GoodReads, etc.

I have them in PDF and Kindle format; if you'd like one, just let me know (

Also, I'm working on a blog tour for the month of October. I'd like to fill up everyday, so if you have a blog, please consider participating (it doesn't have to be a big blog).

I'm going to be giving out a Zombie Survival Kit each week (complete with zombie snot and water guns), as well as printed and e-copies of the book. 

For the blog tour, just let me know what you'd like to do; I'm planning on interviews, book excerpts, guest posts, posting one of my shorts, even just an announcement would be appreciated.

I'd like to get as many people participating as possible, so if you have other ideas, or like to be involved in some other way, please just let me know!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Hide-n-Go-Coffin 4.5 Star Review on Red Adept

If you haven't heard of Red Adept Reviews, they are one of the most respected review sites that reviews both traditionally published and indie published ebooks. For some time, I've wanted to submit my Monster Mashup omnibus, but I've been waiting until I have it proofread.

So I was surprised when, earlier this week, I was contacted by Michelle at Red Adept reviews with some interview questions for one of my short story collections, Hide-n-Go-Coffin. Even though I hadn't submitted it, she'd purchased a copy and was doing a write-up. They don't give you any clue as to whether the review will be positive or not (which I can understand) and while all my stories get professionally edited, this one had only been proofread by a friend. So, I was understandably nervous that she might not just dislike it, but she might tear the grammar apart too. I even stayed up really late, as I knew the site often posted reviews early East Coast time.

Turns out the worrying was for nothing, as it earned 4.5 stars! Here's a quote from the review, "I enjoyed it and it appealed to my inner kid sitting around the campfire – these could be urban legends in the making."

Seems she did find a few editing errors; honestly any more than 1 is too many in a short ebook like this (I'm going to start having everything professionally proofread twice) but she really enjoyed the book.

If you haven't read it, you can get a copy for 99¢ at Amazon, or better yet, pick it up for free at SmashWords. Speaking of Smashwords, I just realized Hide-n-Go-Coffin also received a 5 Star review from The Book Gremlin today. Here's a quote from that, "I really enjoyed reading them actually. I loved all three stories."

Two great reviews for the same book in one day--how lucky can one guy get!

Thank you Michelle and Rebecca (and to everyone who reviews my books) for taking the time to read my work and write-up honest reviews.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Operation Backpack Fundraiser & 200 eBooks Sold

A lot of my post recently have been downers. From the Dropbox terms fiasco to my inability to find an agent, seems all I've been doing is complaining. So, I'm happy to make a couple positive announcements:

First, I'm thrilled to be participating in the Operation Backpack fundraiser by Bards and Sages Publishing. If you are not familiar with Bards and Sages its a great independent fantasy publisher ran by Julie Ann Dawson.

In conjunction with Volunteers of America, they are selling a great collection of $50 worth of indie ebooks for just $10, with all proceeds going to buy school supplies for kids in foster homes and shelters.

There's 17 ebooks (including my Monster Mashup Omnibus); everything from Horror to Westerns, even some Paranormal Romance, so there's something for everyone. Plus, each title is available in both Kindle and PDF format, so if you don't have a kindle you are still covered. I just bought my copy, take a look at the flier and consider doing the same!

In other news, yesterday I reached my goal of selling 200 ebooks this month. That's up from 100 the month before (which was also a record month). While that probably won't be enough to pay my electric bill (hey it's hot here in Nor. CA), it's a great start and I'm thrilled to reach it without actually publishing a full length novel. I guess it shows there's a market for MG/YA short stories.

Hopefully, with some hard word and a little luck, once I get my novels out, things will really start to pick-up.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Major Writing Decision: I'm Going Indie--Here's Why

I've been submitting my MG/YA manuscript Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb (SZJMB) to agents for a while now. I've queried some 100 agents and I've had about 10 requests for full or partials. However, no takers.

So yes, I have to admit that I'm going indie because I can't find an agent, plain and simple. However, even if I did find an agent, I was apprehensive about my chances of finding a publisher, simply because I wasn't willing to accept a less than 5k advance or sign a contract with 17.5% eBook royalties (25% of net). 

Even before querying SZJMB I considered self-publishing. Which is why I started publishing my shorts on Amazon and Smashwords. At the time, I decided that the market for kids eBooks simply wasn't ready for prime time. 

I admit that I did give some consideration to doing one more round of queries before moving on, but I've decided against it for three reasons: First, publishers are still offering a measly 17.5% on eBook sales (and once you sign, you are locked in for at least 35 years). Second, in recent months, I've known three agented authors whose agent's were not able to sell their books (two of which I've read and were very good). So, increasingly having an agent is no guarantee of finding a publisher.

Most importantly, I'm approaching 200 eBook sales this month. Now 200 may not seem like a lot. But when you consider that's 2,400 books a year, enough to sell through the equivalent of a first print run in two years and one month (figuring a 5,000 print for a first time kidlit author), it doesn't look so bad.

Add to that the fact that my current eBook offerings are mostly just short stories (and one novellete) it becomes clear that, with good writing and some hard work promoting (which I'd still have to do if I published through one of the Big 6) it's possible to sell a significant number of eBooks, even kids books.

You may be thinking, sure, but the key here is 'good writing.' If you can't even get an agent, then your writing simply isn't good enough; you should spend more time honing your craft.

I can't deny that you my be correct; my writing may not be good enough to be traditionally published (though I believe it is). However, you can't argue with my reviews on Amazon, B&\N, Smashwords, and Apple.

What the reader thinks is far more important than what an agent or some editor sitting in a New York high-rise thinks. Unfortunately, most authors don't seem to get that (I've been guilty of making changes just to appease an agent myself). We all started writing for our readers, not for an editor or even an agent.

I'm going to peer into my reader's mind and answer some of the questions I think might be popping up:

But you'll sell far fewer books by self-publishing.
- I may sell less books, but I'll make more from each one. For a $3.99 eBook I'll make about $2.75 each. With a Big 6 publisher, I wouldn't even have a $3.99 price point--I'd be stuck at $9.99. I can sell my eBooks for $2.99 and make more commission than I would if my publisher sold them for $9.99.

I know several kidlit authors whose Big 6 published eBooks are all $9.99 (except for one at $9.34) and I'm beating the pants off them on Amazon's rankings. Is it because my books are better? No, they aren't. But it's alot easier to spend $2.99 than it is $9.99.

Sure, but aren't most of your books 99 cents?
-Yes, but that's 99¢ for 8-10 thousand words. My short story ominibus is 20k words and sells for $2.99 (it's currently on sale via Amazon for $1.79) and it is outselling all of the traditionally published kidlit authors I personally know.

You'll never get rich selling eBooks yourself.
- I'm not writing to get rich. I'd love to be able to quit my day job and write full-time--that's my long-term goal. But beyond paying the mortgage, I just want kids to read (and hopefully love) my books.
Plus, I only have to sell about 70 copies a month (at $2.99) to make the same amount in 3 years that I would from a 5k advance.

Yes, but you are not counting the cost of formatting, editing, proofreading, etc. Heck, a decent cover costs at least $5k.
-No it doesn't, and I didn't count the 15% agent's commission, the fact that a lot of first time novelists get advances less than 5k, or the other costs that author's have to absorb themselves (like creating your author webpage).
The truth is a decent cover doesn't cost $5k, not even close. The covers below all cost less than $100 (most were in the $50 range).


Even the Big 6 don't pay $5k for most covers. I recently had a cover made by an artist who does covers for Simon & Schuster. It cost less than $500. Now, I'm sure she charges the Big 6 more, but the point is great covers don't have to cost a lot.

Editing is the most expensive part of self-publishing. An experienced editor costs $2 a page maybe less, proofreading is even less. As for formatting, I do my own and it looks better than most of the formatting I see in $9.99 titles.

So you are giving up on agents? After you self-publish no agent will touch you.
-This might have been true once, not anymore. I know 6 writers who have either gotten agents after self-publishing (5 of the 6), or their agents told them to self-publish.

I'm not going to waste any more time searching for an agent. When (okay, if) my books sell well enough, a good agent will find me. And I'll probably jump to sign-up; having an agent is important. There are tons of foreign rights to sell, maybe even mass market paperback and film right--who knows. Plus, feedback and career guidance are just some of the services they provide.

Best of luck, MJ. I'll be watching the site to see how it goes.
-Thank you. I'll try to periodically update the blog with my progress (I've included this as a question, because I know most people reading this post really feel this way).

Truth is, eBooks are creating a great opportunity for struggling (and established) authors. eBook penetration has finally reached the point where you can sell a significant number of  kids books. When Amazon or B&N finally lower eReaders to the magic $99 price-point adaptation will skyrocket.

Disagree with my decision? Considering going 'indie' yourself? Post a comment with your thoughts.