November 24, 2012

I'm an international author?

Every month, Amazon provides a sales report for authors who use their Kindle Direct Publishing platform. This month, I noticed something interesting in my October report. I sold two copies of In the Hands of Children in the UK! And I didn't do anything special to promote it there.

This attests to the power of the Internet and an international retailer like Amazon. When I submitted my book to Amazon, I had the option of making it available on all their international sites, so I did since I had nothing to lose by doing so. And when it comes to interacting with authors, bloggers, and other folks on social media sites, I don't know where most of them are located. I've chatted with folks in Canada and the UK, but I wouldn't be surprised if I've come into contact with others around the world without knowing it.

My long-time dream of being a published author came true in early 2011. Now I can say I'm an international author too. :-)

November 17, 2012

Book review: The Paradise Prophecy by Robert Browne

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When God cast the archangel Satan into Hell, ending the War in Heaven, peace prevailed on Earth. Until the fallen angels took revenge in the Garden of Eden. Ever since, mankind has been in a struggle between good and evil, paradise and apocalypse: the fall of Rome, The Crusades, World Wars, nuclear proliferation, the Middle East Crisis... The War in Heaven never really ended-it just changed venues. For millennia, God's angels have been fighting Satan's demons on Earth, all in hopes of bringing about Satan's greatest ambition, the Apocalypse.

The Reality

Satan has never been closer to his goal than right now.

Agent Bernadette Callahan is a talented investigator at a shadowy government organization known only as Section, on the trail of a serial killer with nearly supernatural abilities. Sebastian "Batty" LaLaurie is a religious historian who knows far too much about the other side- and that hard-earned knowledge is exactly what Callahan needs. This unlikely duo pair up for a race across the globe, decoding clues left in ancient texts from the Bible to Paradise Lost and beyond. In the process they stumble upon a vast conspiracy-one beyond the scope of mankind's darkest imagination.

Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)

I have only heard of Milton's Paradise Lost and have never read it myself, but if it's anything like The Paradise Prophecy, then I'm interested in reading it. I don't know how much of what was said of Milton was accurate in the novel, but I'll take it on blind faith because The Paradise Prophecy was damn entertaining regardless of historical accuracy.

If, like me, you're a fan of The Da Vinci Code and other books about Biblical prophecies, secret societies, and the end of the world, then The Paradise Prophecy is for you. I found the book to have a good balance of controversial theories, exciting plot lines, and interesting characters. Although I didn't agree with all of the religious views expressed by the author, I was able to put my bias aside and treat this as a work of fiction, something I often have to do when reading books in this genre.

As a thriller, The Paradise Prophecy fulfills its goals. There were very few dull moments in this 400-page book. The story moves between different characters and story lines, but I rarely felt lost or confused. In the end, of course, all of the story lines converge to provide readers with a satisfying conclusion.

November 12, 2012

Amazon deleting reviews

The indie author community is up in arms over Amazon's recent removal of book reviews without any apparent rhyme or reason. There's a thread on the Kindle Boards about it, some articles about the practice, Joe Konrath weighed in on the topic., and there's a good post by author Renee Pawlish about the issue.

I recently lost reviews for my books from Amazon. Since I didn't have many reviews to start with, it hurt. And the reviews that were deleted were all 5-star reviews. Double ouch!

I sent Amazon an email asking why they deleted the reviews for my books, and I received the same standard response that a lot of authors got.


I'm really sorry for the inconvenience caused. I can tell you that reviews are removed from the website for three reasons:

1. The review conflicted with the posted guidelines, found here: 
2. The review was removed at the request of the customer who submitted the review
3. We discovered that multiple items were linked together on our website incorrectly. Reviews that were posted on those pages were removed when the items were separated on the site

I sent a followup message asking for more explanation but haven't heard back.

Whatever the reasons were that prompted Amazon to scrutinize the reviews posted on their site, I hope they now examine the alleged cure. They're cutting off their noses to spite their faces, upsetting authors who contribute to their book sales and also customers who find their legitimate reviews suddenly gone without explanation. I don't expect that Amazon will ever restore the reviews I've lost, but I can hope that they don't delete the few reviews I still have or the future ones I'll get. If so, it may be time to move my books to another platform.

November 10, 2012

Happy birthday, George!

One year ago today, George and the Galactic Games hit the virtual bookshelves. It was the first novel I ever published. In fact, it was the first novel I ever finished writing! Although sales of George and the Galactic Games have been modest at best, the book still holds a special place in my heart. It won't matter to me how many copies of the book I sell. I'll always be proud that it's out there.

November 3, 2012

Book review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

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After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

Last month, I reviewed Graceling and gave it 5 stars. I was hoping Throne of Glass, another YA fantasy novel about a woman skilled at killing, would be just as good. Unfortunately, it fell just short of the mark.

There was a lot to like in Throne of Glass. The idea of the tournament to find the next King's Champion was interesting to me. I usually like stories where a tournament/competition forms the main plot line, e.g., The Hunger Games and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The scenes revolving around Celaena's training and participation in the tournament were my favorite parts of the book, not only because they were more exciting, but because they described the assassin part of her character that I wanted to learn more about. The subplot regarding the mysterious deaths of the contestants was also interesting if predictable, and it was nice how the author tied the two together at the end of the book.

What disappointed me about Throne of Glass was the romance between Calaena and prince Dorian. The relationship felt forced the entire time, as if the author put it in there just so there would be a love triangle. Every YA novel does not need to have a love triangle! Whenever I started to read a scene between the two of them, I found myself hoping it would end soon. They only detracted from the rest of the book. Not that I think romance is bad, only romance that doesn't make sense. For instance, the budding relationship between Calaena and Chaol was enjoyable because that one felt natural.

Ill-conceived romances aside, I found the rest of the book to be an entertaining read. If you throw out the pages with Calaena and prince Dorian, it'd be worth 5 stars. Or if you're the type who must have love triangles in your YA novels, you'd probably enjoy it more than I did.