Transparency in Self-Publishing Series: Extraordinary Book Bloggers

Wow. I am overwhelmed with how amazing the welcoming group of book bloggers (and reviewers) are.

I don’t even know where to begin with the gratitude I feel toward such a generous breed, but like all good stories, the beginning is usually a good place to start.

An Incorrect Prediction

The past is not always an accurate predictor of the future.

At the writing conferences I attended in 2010 and 2011, several workshops on social media wrinkled their noses at blogging. Back then, apparently something I’d not even become familiar with had already run its course. The prediction and advice with regard to an author blogging was: don’t bother.

Blogging was old hat. Not beneficial for an author’s career. A waste of time and effort.

Boy, have things changed. Rapidly.

Thankfully, I chose to look beyond the dated advice of a few and created my own blog in July of 2012. Meant to be a means for sharing publishing adventures and news about my upcoming books, it has grown into an opportunity to reach readers, other bloggers, and make connections and friends.

Fast Forward to Present day

Book blogging today has become a vast network of readers and reviewers connected by one thing . . . a love of books.

A vibrant community of book bloggers has blossomed, flourished, and continues to grow. Not only are book bloggers a trusted source of reviews and book recommendations for readers (and us authors who love to read), for many readers, book bloggers are the only source of recommendations for both self-published and traditionally published books.

The Brave Solicitation

As the upcoming release of Forged in Dreams and Magick approaches, I’m having more and more interaction with book bloggers. Initially, as a naturally shy person (yes, believe it or not it’s true), I felt enormous relief when I’d secured tour and promotion slots with AToMR Tours to gain reviews and exposure for before and through the release. After all, I didn’t have to ask all these people I don’t know directly. AToMR Tours would do it all for me.

Which they have and did, an invaluable service that I’m immensely grateful for.

But . . . I decided to become the brave warrior I depict in my novel and throw myself out there to solicit book bloggers who might not work with AToMR Tours. I crafted a professional letter, but tailored each email to the individual blog I was soliciting. If their interests in books fell in line with my own, I sought common ground with them in the very first paragraph of the email.

A Humble Approach

My request to the hundred and fifty (or so) bloggers I contacted was very humble. Because I was asking busy people, most who have kids and/or jobs and a TBR (to-be-read) book pile that rivals Mt. Everest, for something very valuable—their time and opinion—I was thankful they were even reading my email. I’d be thrilled for them to request my book.

In fact, after carefully reading each and every site’s review policies and scanning through their blog (which took 5-10 minutes, and I believe is the very least a requesting author should do when asking for hours and hours of their time reading your book and crafting their review of your hard work), I didn’t expect a response from many of them. Some specifically stated they would only reply if they were interested.

In anticipating my book request being among thousands they read through with bleary-eyed apathy, I set my expectation bar low.

The Unexpected Response

Replies began to populate my inbox. And it was not only what the overwhelming majority said but how they said it that surprised me.

First of all, a few responded with a line or two telling me how they really loved the book description, but were too buried under books that they were already committed to reviewing to have the time to review mine. I appreciated their even taking the time to respond.

A couple of the blogs said they wouldn’t have the time to review, but wanted to help me with the promotion of my book.

{blinks}

This was my first clue that I was the new kid on the block. I ask them for a favor, and even with their busy schedules, they want to help me. Incredibly grateful for space on their calendar, I resoundingly replied with excitement that I would love to included in a guest post or interview (or whatever they’d suggested) and thanked them for the opportunity.

Those that did reply requesting an ARC copy to review?

Thanked lil’ ol’ me for giving them the opportunity.

Thanked lil’ ol’ me for thinking of their blog.

And many? Asked me to also provide them with links once the book goes live to share and help promote the release to their social media networks. And they hadn’t even read my books yet.

Again, all I have to say is . . .

Wow. I am overwhelmed.

Above and Beyond

A small group of bloggers I’ve become close to over the last year (about six or so) have always cleared a place on their schedule for me. You know who you are, and I love you for all that you’ve done and continue to do to support my writing endeavors.

With other bloggers, we’d followed each other on Twitter for over a year, and although we’d only talked once or twice, the moment I struck up the heart-racing conversation with my request, they pulled me into their welcoming arms like I was long-lost family.

{takes a deep breath}

Wow.

And now that some of those bloggers have reviewed my book? They’re touting it on Goodreads, Twitter, their blogs, and even on other author’s blogs. And together we chat. And laugh. And commiserate. And swoon. It’s so amazing how coming together through a book can bond book lovers. I’m overwhelmed daily by the generosity of strangers who embraced me so readily as a friend.

Wow.

Speechless in Gratitude

Yep. This writer has gone speechless. The repetitive monosyllabic word “wow” keeps coming out. The medical diagnosis for my condition is “mind blown”, but I’m pretty sure they don’t make a pill for being humbled by such awesomeness, and frankly, I wouldn’t want the cure.

I guess that’s what happens when in today’s self-centered society, a class of people show you their hearts first. In my experience, book bloggers are leading by example, rewriting history about how people should treat one another. With kindness, acceptance, and grace.

~~~

So when eloquent words fail, and you try to describe how you feel the best way you can, sometimes simple words become the best.

Thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for being the generous-hearted souls that you are.

In my opinion? Book bloggers are awesome! You all rock!

Your greatly humbled and appreciative shoe,

~ Kat

© 2013 by Kat Bastion

Up on NetGalley! First day results…

Hello, everyone!

I’m thrilled to share some great news. Forged in Dreams and Magick  was uploaded yesterday on NetGalley to a wonderful first day response!

Enormous thanks go to my friends, Kristi from Kindles and Wine and Annie from Under the Covers Book Blog, for giving me phenomenal feedback on how they each use NetGalley.

In the coming months, I’ll be posting some of my behind the scenes planning and results in my book-publishing odyssey with a series entitled Transparency in Self-publishing. For now, I’ll share a small taste of my research and first day results of my foray into NetGalley.

So far, after 21 hours of the title being active, I’ve had 29 requests from a fabulous mix of people:

3 Booksellers
~ (2 large US booksellers, 1 large British bookseller’s reviewer)
4 Librarians
~ (who read to recommend books and purchase for their libraries)
1 Reviewer for a book-promoting radio station
1 Editor-in-chief from a national best-selling magazine
20 Reviewers of all levels of reach
~ (many belonging to book clubs and book groups)

Without knowing what to expect from taking the plunge and experimenting with NetGalley, I have to say I’m pleasantly surprised. My goal with NetGalley was to reach new audiences through potential influencers in their fields, and it seems my title has interested a wide variety of the very people I hoped to reach.

I’m staying grounded with the results, as their request only means Forged in Dreams and Magick captured their interest. My wish is that they will read and enjoy the book. Should they enjoy the book, I’m hopeful they will review it and buzz about it within their spheres of influence.

We shall see what happens, and I will keep you all posted!

Meanwhile, if you’re a reviewer, blogger, bookseller, librarian, book club or book group participant, media professional, educator, or anyone who enjoys reading books and sharing your thoughts about them with others who enjoy reading books, I encourage you to join NetGalley.

If you’re interested in sensual romance, an epic-adventure romance, Highlanders, paranormal romance, time-travel romance, the enigmatic Picts of ancient Scotland or a fresh and unique story, please check out:

Forged in Dreams and Magick on NetGalley

If you would like to participate in the Forged in Dreams and Magick promotional tour and/or ARC tour please see the sign-up forms in the link below:

AToMR Tours Forged in Dreams and Magick Tour and Promotion Event

I would also love for you to add Forged in Dreams and Magick to your Goodreads shelf here (plus there’s a signed-copy giveaway too!):

 

Add to Goodreads Button

 

Also, be sure to friend me on Goodreads from the link above, follow me on Twitter or like me on Facebook to catch all of the exciting things coming up on other blogs with Forged in Dreams and Magick!

Thank you for all your support, my friends. I cannot wait to share my exciting world of Highlanders and magick with you.

Until next time . . .

Your humble shoe,

~ Kat

© 2013 by Kat Bastion

Morgan Locklear: Wordslinger…Squeegee

I wanted to share with all of you a spectacular piece by Morgan Locklear on editing. … Thank you, Morgan. You’ve eloquently put to words exactly how I feel about editing. It’s where writing magic happens and my favorite part of the writing process.
~ Kat

Bookish Temptations

While I have offered some good advice in my Wordslinger posts, (and we’ve all had a few good yucks in the process) I think that this month’s essay has the potential to do the most good for any and all writers in any and all mediums.

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The Thrill of Discovery

Life IS the Adventure

Have you ever noticed that…

The first bite of dessert is always the sweetest?
The first touch by a crush… the most electric?
The first kiss… the most soul-searing?

It’s the thrill of discovery.

As children, we experience so many things for the very first time.  Our senses are thrown open wide to soak in the incredible world around us.  We aren’t just on the edge of our seat paying attention, we’re standing on it with excited anticipation a split second before taking a huge fearless leap into the sensory overload.

Take the time to see, hear, smell, taste, and feel things you haven’t paused long enough to absorb, and you’ll be rewarded with new experiences.  Sometimes altering one element in your everyday routine incites a riot of new input simply by going off-course from the expected.  A shift to a different position at a favorite restaurant table is a basic example.  You’ve changed your viewpoint literally and your perception in a multitude of ways.  Try it.

A few months back, I sat on the ground examining a new transplant in our yard out of concern for its welfare (I’m a horrific plant parent) and found more than the plant alive before my eyes.  Caterpillar Surprise

What a treasure it is to stumble across something beautiful happening right under our busy noses.

Writers, Readers and Discovery

As a writer, we express our three-dimensional adventure onto the page, tempting the reader to get lost in the vivid world we’ve created.  Our goal is to take them along for a ride they’ve never experienced. 

If because of our efforts they…

Feel the abrasive surface of the jagged stone wall…
Squint at the brilliant sunset before it fades below the horizon…
Savor the taste of a tart cherry pie…
Inhale the sweet earthy aroma of a pine forest…
Hear the pop and crackle of a roaring fire?

Mission accomplished.

There is actually a phase in the writing process called discovery.  Some define it as the exploratory period in which we seek new topics and do research.  I recall an article I read over a year ago that described it ideally.  It appeared in a past issue of the RWR (the Romance Writers Report, a trade publication through Romance Writers of America) and described the discovery process as a time of rest and recharge between writing projects.  

The holiday from “work” should be a time to immerse ourselves in the outside world, separate from the isolated writing caves we’ve sequestered ourselves within most of the year.  Music, art, outdoor adventures, and civic events all become opportunities for us to turn our thinking brains off and amplify our learning.  Surrounding ourselves in melting pots of activity allows us to observe human behavior from a relaxed vantage point.  Wandering into a different solitary activity, like painting or reading a new book, maybe even in a genre outside our norm, helps expand our horizons. 

When the time is right, maybe after a few days, perhaps after a few weeks, our rested and recharged brains are stocked full of creative new ideas from a variety of sources.

Self-Discovery

Interestingly, layers of discovery happened while writing my latest manuscript.  The stories in my series are about self-discovery.

At the exact moments my heroine flew high with happiness and achievement, circumstances ripped away her newfound joy.  When she stood again from the pile of surrounding rubble, she learned something about herself.  She found strength because she’d tasted heavenly bliss and then plummeted to crushing heartache.  From a new perspective, she discovered what she truly wanted in life…and it was not what she’d originally thought.  Once she realized the ultimate prize within her reach was threatened, she discovered the one thing worth fighting for above all else… those she loved.  The ones in her world who relied on her suddenly had all her focused attention.

As my heroine’s discovery unfolded on the pages in true pantster-style writing, her realization provoked my own.  Everything is about the journey.  Life happens along the way from here to there, and if you aren’t paying attention you’ll miss it. 

How funny that my own character in a story taught me how to shift my focus from self-centered to selfless.  But then, I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me at all.  When we write, pieces of ourselves shine through onto the page and are expressed to some degree in many of our beloved characters.

Life IS the Journey

Treat your life as a rare adventure.  Look at each mundane activity as an opportunity to seize a new experience with a subtle shift of perception.  Channel the child within you, living every precious day you’re given as a sparkling gift.  Unwrap your treasure with unbridled excitement and embrace… the thrill of discovery.

Enjoy your world, my friends.  I wish us all the most spectacular time as we step from our ordinary lives into the world of the extraordinary.

Your humble shoe,

~ Kat

© 2013 by Kat Bastion

The Lure of The Great Alpha Male Re-Blogged

Since I’m writing about Great Alpha Males in the Highlands, and everyone seems to be drawn to this page, I decided to share with you again what seems to be on all of our minds… I hope you enjoy. 😉

Talk To The Shoe

The Lure of the Great Alpha Male

© 2012 by Kat Bastion

We all want him.  Not just any alpha male.  
We all want the Great Alpha Male.

The Alpha Male…

An alpha doesn’t walk into a room.  He commands it.  Without effort, he could defeat every male there.  The intangible vibe pouring off those broad shoulders announces the danger louder than a bull horn.  Every other wise man in the room heeds the warning.

Every single woman responds to the dominant presence.  Instinctually.

Something primal takes over.

Our hair gets fluffed without thought.

Perfectly glossed lips get licked.

Shirts are pulled down lower, chests stuck out further, hips swayed another degree right and left in an unconscious effort to gain the spectacular male’s notice.

The mating dance has begun. 
He surveys the group of potential females. 

Each woman hopes for a chance to be the one…
The female above all…

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Beloved Beta Readers

Hello, everyone.

As you all know, or will now be finding out, I’m a paranormal romance writer that stumbled into poetry accidentally with Utterly Loved.

I’m back in the saddle (my office chair), my fingers flying on the keyboard with a new paranormal romance story.  My new work-in-progress (WIP in writer lingo) is a holiday novella woven into the story lines of the series.  After that, it will be on to writing the second in the series.  I can’t wait to write the amazing stories unfolding in my head.

You’re probably all wondering:  What happened to the first story?

It’s currently a polished manuscript.  I’ve scheduled a freelance editor to edit the piece in the beginning of February.  If all goes well, the book will be published early to mid-summer.

In the meantime?  It’s with four beta readers.

Who are these beta readers?

They are dear trusted friends who love to read.

Collectively, they…
Held my hair in college when I hurled at the bar
Were the first to tell me, “That’s the story you need to write”
Consoled me when I was frustrated
Wiped away the tears
Cheered the successes
Sometimes know me better than I know myself

These are my people.  The ones I rely on.  My closest confidants.

I only decided last week to take each of them up on their offer to read my story.  This  project has been a part of my life for two years.  They are the ones who’ve shared my ups and downs along the way.  

I finally got the courage to let go and give my heart and soul to them.

Why now?

I had an enlightening hour-long conversation with a best-selling author who shared with me the value of her beta readers and why they’re so important to her.  She said they’re the only ones who truly know her.  Her most important goal was for them to be honest with her and, where warranted, tell her, “This sucks.”

We both laughed.  But the impact of what she said sank in.  She further explained how they will see things we can’t.  We writers are too close to our work to see certain things we need to know.  If we want to publish a page-turning story, one the reader can’t put down and thinks about long after they have, we have to know if there are slow sections, missing parts, or extraneous, excellently written fluff.

I decided she was right.  My friends wanted to be a part of the process.  Each of them had voiced that sentiment to me.  I also realized no one else would do.

They will all laugh when they read this blog post.  I impressed upon each of them to please relax, read, and enjoy the story.  But they had better tell me if they hit a slow part.  I demanded they tell me if any part of it sucked.  I have every confidence they will.  If it’s ever really bad, I hope they please break it to me gently over a drink. {laughs}

The really amazing thing for me?  They’re all from different backgrounds.  I’ve got swamp and city.  All are highly educated and intelligent, but some are analytical and some are creative.  Only one of them reads books in my paranormal romance genre.  One tells me they will give me their opinion when they are finished reading.  (I’m dying of suspense.)  Another is telling me chapter-by-chapter her thoughts.

So far? My chapter-by-chapter (non-paranormal-romance) girl is giving me such incredibly exciting feedback, I’m having to repeatedly ask her, “Are there any slow parts? Anything missing or extra?”  She’s replied with a resounding “NO!”

Her texts have said…
“I am speechless…”
“Never saw that coming!”
“You have this supernatural ability to take the reader to the edge of a heightened emotion and then drop them immediately into another.”
“I’m having to force myself to stop reading.  The flow…epic! Just when one scene is finishing up, another one, just as vital, comes into play.”
“It’s the perfect flow of detail and plot movement.”

She’s even dubbed the hero, a Highlander, “Scotty McHotty” … I just… {dies laughing}

I’m very interested to hear my other beta reader opinions.  I value them all. 

Thank you, my beloved beta readers.  I’m so very grateful for your friendship and support.  Don’t go easy on me.  Find me something that sucks…please!

It’s important to mention, that I have a fifth beta reader, my husband.  He read my manuscript months ago.  As my best friend, he told me where it sucked.  He also pulled me up out of my office chair the moment he finished, grabbed me by the shoulders, and stared at me hard as he said, “Anyone who ever tells you that you don’t have what it takes has no idea what they’re talking about.” 

Damn, I love that man, for both telling me where it sucked and convincing me I have talent.  That is why I love my friends.  They excel by having my back in every way needed… The love and the tough love.

My goal is to give you, the reader, the very best story possible.  I hope to transport you into an amazing story filled with medieval Highlanders, ancient Picts, magick, and a few other surprises I’m not yet ready to spoil for you.

Stay tuned for more updates on the upcoming release and my adventures in writing, editing, and publishing along the way.

Your humble shoe,

~ Kat

© 2013 by Kat Bastion

Giveaway Winners ~ Embracing Sensuality

Congratulations, ladies!

Enjoy the Amazon gift cards and pamper yourselves. Might I suggest a little Embracing Sensuality…

And thank you again, Bookish Temptations and Tamie for inviting me to guest post. What a fabulous One Year Blogiversary celebration!

~ Kat Bastion

Bookish Temptations

We have 4 lucky winners today…

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