Feeding the Amazon Addiction

Hi, my name is Kay, and I’m an Amazon one-click addict. And I’m glad to know I’m not alone! If you’re reading this blog post, chances are you are, too. Now, there’s tons of free books available daily, and I couldn’t even begin to list them all. I have a Kindle that’s full to bursting, and I have the Kindle app installed on my phone, tablet, and laptop. Needless to say, reading is a beloved hobby of mine. 

But books aren’t my only passion. I enjoy online shopping. There’s lots of things cheaper online, as I’m sure many of you know. And with my health, I don’t particularly care to be outside my home if I can avoid it, especially as shopping can be draining. (For more on my health, check out a previous blog post:  http://kayglassauthor.wordpress.com/2012/12/13/a-peek-into-pain) Amazon gets costly, however, and I’m always seeking better ways to spend my money… or even better, earn gift cards! So here are some tips I’ve accumulated on earning Amazon gift cards! 

1- MyPoints: One of my favorite websites, MyPoints is a way to earn points by shopping, reading emails, and taking the occasional survey. I have the MyPoints toolbar installed, so if I go to a website to make a purchase and they are a MyPoints site, a reminder pops up so I never miss an opportunity to earn points. Some of their sites include Walmart, Avon, and Julep, but there are hundreds. Want to sign up? https://www.facebook.com/authorkayglass/posts/539519256168171?stream_ref=10

2- mPoints: Same idea as MyPoints, but mPoints are mobile apps. Again, these are apps I use on my cell phone as well as my tablet. There are a bunch of mPoints apps being added all the time. The quickest way to find them? Go to your store for app downloads and type mPoints into the search bar. Some of my favorites are Nexercise (a motion-tracking app that helps with fitness), Office Zombie, MovieFone, Scramble With Friends, and the Weather Channel app. There are many others available, and there should be something that meets your needs. You can earn up to 1000 points a day, which is easy if you have enough apps that you play when the mood strikes. 25,000 points earns a $10 Amazon gift card! 

3- Crowdtap: Crowdtap is a website where you answer survey questions to be entered in sweepstakes to win gift cards. Last month I won $15 in Amazon gift cards, the month before I won $5 for Amazon, $10 for Walmart, and $10 for Sephora, and the month before that? $30 in Amazon gift cards. Just answer a few questions here and there when you find the time, and voila! It’s that easy! If you’ve won anything that month, they’ll send you an email on the 3rd of 4th of the following month. Win for April? Get your gift cards before May 5th. See? Easy! And even better? Sometimes they do sample and share, so you’ll get free products, too! http://www.crowdtap.com 

4- This one is rather unrelated, but it’s a way to earn MyPoints, which again can be redeemed for gift cards. BzzAgent is a site where you answer survey questions and they match you with companies. Those companies will send you free merchandise in exchange for an honest review. Some recent companies I’ve been matched with? Dr. Scholl’s insoles, Quaker Oats Warm & Crunchy Granola, and Starbucks Coffee. To sign up, just go to http://www.bzzagent.com 

 

I hope these sites help you as much as they helped me! And if you have any suggestions or any comments, please feel free to leave them on this post! 

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Amazon: What You Can Do

I’ve seen the petitions flying around Facebook these days about changing Amazon’s policies on book returns. A lot of authors, disappointed with returns, want the return window changed from 7 days to a mere 24-hours. That is something I disagree with, as both an author and a reader. But that’s not the point of this blog post, and frankly, I couldn’t say it better than Lisa McCourt Hollar does here: http://www.lisamccourthollar.com/2014/03/e-book-returns-my-thoughts.html

The point of this blog post is simply to make some suggestions that will benefit readers and authors alike. 

Kindle lending library: Many authors, myself include, allow lending for their books. After all, when I read a good paperback or hardback, I usually lend it to someone I know will enjoy it. I treat my Kindle books the same way. I know not everyone can afford to shell out their money, especially if they’re not sure how they’ll like a certain author. There are even groups you can join for lending. This cuts down treating the Amazon website like a library- buying a book, reading it, and returning it so the buyer isn’t out any money. One huge way to support your favorite authors? Don’t do that! Returns may save you money, but they do hurt your favorite authors. 

Read the information available to you: This can be broken down into several categories… 

1- Reviews: Read the reviews, particularly the long ones. Those reviews generally highlight the reasons the reader liked or disliked what they read. Maybe the book was compelling, but maybe the characters were flat, emotionless. Maybe the book was well-written, but lacked good editing. Know before you buy! 

2- Description: It sounds silly, sure, but there are many people who don’t even bother. If they see a good sale and the cover catches their eye, they’ll download the book… and many return because the book wasn’t what they wanted. Read the description to make sure the product is what you’re seeking! 

3- A lot of books offer the “Look Inside” option. That’s key for me when I download a book. I like to read the free preview so I know if the writing style and story appeal to me. Very seldom do I return a book now. Most of the ones I download but return are ones with little to no reviews and no “Look Inside” option, so I’m downloading ‘blind’ so to speak. 

Write good reviews: Love a book? Hate it? Write the review so future downloaders know what they’re getting into. Amazon will allow you to review with a minimum of 20 words, but that’s not particularly helpful. What information would YOU have wanted to know before downloading? Was the book good? Does it have a lot of typos and wrong word usage? If that’s information that would have been important to you, include it in your review! You’re helping people choosing what book to spend their money on, and you’re helping the author, too. We do pay attention to suggestions, and those reviews tell us what to fix, what books you want more of, whether to continue a series or not… We listen! 

There are so many things you can do to avoid downloading a book you won’t like, and prevent someone else from doing the same. An honest return is acceptable, but Amazon isn’t your public library. I don’t want to see the policy changed, but a lot of authors feel differently. More careful research from a potential buyer can stop the return issues in a way a policy change won’t. Just a little food for thought… 

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BOOK REVIEW: Hunting the Moon (The Moon Series) by Becca Boucher

Hunting the Moon (The Moon Series) by Becca Boucher

Description

A year after the murder of her husband, Lilly Lawson is still plagued by nightmares that have pushed her back into her adolescent habit of cutting. Even worse, she starts to see and communicate with her husband’s ghost. When she goes to the sentencing for the man convicted of the crime, she finds herself captivated by the killer’s brother.

Daemon Kelly has returned to their small town after a long absence to care for his elderly mother. He also has to face the whispers regarding his brother’s crime and his own alcoholism. When he comes face to face with the widow of the man his brother killed, he feels an intense need to protect her, but from what, he doesn’t know.

When the two fall in love it is anything but easy. Aaron Lawson is intent on coming back and claiming what is his. And the closer Lily and Daemon get to Aaron’s ghost, the more they unravel the truth about why he died in the first place. Piecing together bits of ancient Celtic lore, can they find a way to help Aaron’s soul find rest?

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Review

I love all things paranormal, and I’m always on the lookout for the next series to catch my eye. This book starts off with a bang. I was hooked from the moment I began reading, and I experienced my favorite feeling: anger! Angry when I had to put the book down for one reason or another, angry with one of the characters, angry with some twists in the plot. I love a book that makes me feel something- the more real the feelings, the better.

I loved the main character, Lilly, and her determination to be so strong in the face of her grief. The male main, Daemon, was so… likable. And every time I thought I knew what was coming and why, I was wrong. To me that’s the best part of reading. I get bored when I figure out how it will all end long before reaching the last page.

There were a few typos- wrong word usage (for exactly, ‘roll’ instead of ‘role’) but that did not detract from my reading experience. I definitely loved this book, and the character I love to hate is the star for the second book. I’ll definitely be downloading it! 5 stars, and highly recommended to anyone who enjoys paranormal, Celtic lore, ghosts, hauntings, and visions!

http://www.amazon.com/Hunting-Moon-The-Series-ebook/dp/B00H9P7XW2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1395958146&sr=8-1&keywords=becca+boucher

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BOOK REVIEW: Marked (Hunter Awakened) by Felicity Hunt

Marked (Hunter Awakened) by Felicity Hunt

Description: 

Twenty-one year-old Teal Rhines is a one-time child star turned Hollywood darling. She’s loved by the public and media alike for her tenacity and strength. Orphaned and abandoned as a baby, emancipated at sixteen, she is a role model to many. Now, as her new television show is taking off, her future looks bright. 

But when her new bodyguard, the attractive Elias Bane, shows interest in her, she never dreams that he is a part of the same supernatural world that her mother fled. The mother she never knew. Like many adopted children, Teal Rhines has always wondered about her biological parents. Who they were. Why they’d abandoned her. In all of her imaginings, she’s never gotten close to the truth. 

But when the truth is revealed, loyalties are tested. Love is put on trial. And danger is closer than she realizes. 

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Review

I picked up Marked for free in the Kindle store, and I finally had the chance to read it. The story did hook me from the beginning, as I wanted to know more about this feisty main character who defends herself and stands up for the innocent. I enjoyed her interactions at the party, and the firing of her bodyguard. Teal is a good, strong female lead, and I loved that about her.

Unfortunately, the book contains a great deal of typos that made it difficult to get into, especially as a lot of them were in the first few chapters. I love a good romance, and I love sexy scenes, but there seemed to be entirely too many of them, considering that the vast majority of them were dream sequences. They were hot, they were well-written, but they took up entirely too much of the book and I ended up skipping a lot of those scenes just to get back to the story.

The whole book was written to seem like a suspenseful romance, and I was hooked- until the ending. All of a sudden the book became a paranormal romance, and although I enjoy those, I felt that the paranormal elements should have come into play much earlier. The late introduction of the paranormal element made the contrast jarring and out of place.

I did enjoy this book, even with the things I’ve mentioned above, and I really enjoyed this author’s writing style. I would be interested in reading more of her work, and I may even pick up the rest of the series as I really want to know how the paranormal element will change the main character. I give this book 3.5/5 stars, and I do recommend it to anyone who enjoys romance, adult content, paranormal elements, and a strong female lead.

NOTE: This book is currently FREE on Amazon if you’re interested in picking up a copy. 

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00I8PM066/ref=cm_cr_ryp_prd_ttl_sol_0

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Release Party for Survival Instinct on Facebook!

Survival Instinct is finally complete! The story remains the same, but there have been some amazing edits that truly make the book shine. Also, it has a beautiful new cover, from the talented Thomas Arensberg. 

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And if that’s not enough, Visionary Press Collaborative is having an awesome release party for it over on Facebook! They’ll be games, prizes, and lots of fun to be had. The party is this coming Friday, 3/21, and I’d love to see you there. 

https://www.facebook.com/events/1416361981946306/

So hop on over to Facebook and join now, so you don’t miss out on the fun!

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Book Review- Keldane the Cursed, by Jeffrey Hollar

To tell you about this book, first I need to give you a bit of background. I have two children, as many of you know. I have a six-year-old daughter who LOVES books, and reads constantly. She has her favorites, as most children do, and those will probably be reduced to shreds by the time she outgrows them. 

I also have a son, and at twelve, he’s the total opposite of my daughter. He doesn’t like school, he hates writing, and above all, he HATES reading. It’s considered a punishment when we try to get him to read, in fact. Not by us, of course, but by him. He has some books he enjoys, but in general he can’t be bothered to do anything that might involve learning. 

Discussing this with Jeffrey Hollar and his wife, Lisa McCourt Hollar, I was given a copy of Keldane the Cursed. This is not your typical children’s story, but the hope is that he will fall in love with reading. 

***Note: my son has yet to read this, as I’m having trouble with my tablet, but there will be a second blog post to follow on this topic once he’s done so.*** 

Reading has never been easy for my son. Most things aren’t. If it’s too hard, he just gives up. He has ADHD on top of that, and that plays a part as well with his lack of reading. He just doesn’t like to focus long enough to finish a book. 

Before passing it to my son, I wanted to read it myself to see where it sits for his level. He’s twelve, yes, but he’s a very young twelve. He loved the first Harry Potter movie, but the others were darker and they scare him. But the idea of magic, of wizards, appealed to him. So without further ado, I give you MY review of Keldane the Cursed, by Jeffrey Hollar, with my son’s review to follow shortly. 

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Description

Did you ever wish you had the ability to use magic and cast spells to do anything you wanted to? Well, so does Keldane. Unfortunately, just being the son of the most powerful magic user the world has ever known doesn’t come with any guarantees. It’s not without very good cause he’s known to his classmates as Keldane the Cursed.

Review

Keldane is a ten-year-old boy, with problems that far surpass those of other boys his age. After all, his father is THE most powerful wizard in the world. That in itself is tough to live up to, but it’s worse when you’re Keldane the Cursed. 

Keldane is still learning. He’s in his first year of school, the year where all who aren’t worthy are weeded out. When the wheat is separated from the chaff. And Keldane may very well be the worst of the chaff before all is said and done. 

Keldane tries his hardest, All he wants is live up to the legacy his father has built, but those are awfully big shoes to fill. Keldane can’t do anything right. His every spell goes awry, made harder by the ridicule heaped upon him by Barnabas, a giant vampire bat who’s also the family retainer. It doesn’t help, either, that most of the spells that go awry seem to lead to something horrible happening to Barnabas. 

But this book teaches a valuable lesson. Yes, Keldane makes mistakes. In fact, those mistakes are so huge that a new word may need to be invented just to sum them all up. But no matter how often he fails, no matter how horrible those mistakes may be, Keldane never stops trying. He never gives up. And he wants so badly to succeed, that even as you laugh along with him, and at him, you cheer him on, wanting nothing more than to see him reach his full potential. 

A fantastic book for all children, and for parents who are children at heart. The story is well-told, and the illustrations are beautifully done. I gladly give this book five stars and I’m waiting eagerly for more! If your child loves all things magical but Harry Potter is too advanced for them, then download Keldane the Cursed, and enjoy a good, hearty belly laugh. I did! 

http://www.amazon.com/Keldane-Cursed-Jeffrey-Hollar-ebook/dp/B00A71KR0A/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1393958618&sr=8-8&keywords=Visionary+press+cooperative

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/keldane-the-cursed-jeffrey-hollar/1113870074?ean=2940015794311

And stop by his author page to give him a ‘like’!

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jeffrey-Hollar/241666855888552

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Women in Horror Month- Meet Natasha Ewendt!

To continue with this month’s theme, and introduce you to women who write books in the horror realm, I’d like to introduce you to Natasha Ewendt! 

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1. What genre are your books?

Well, so far I’ve only had the one published, but I write mostly in the realm of the macabre. My first novel This Freshest Hell is a paranormal horror, as will be the sequel and the third book (both WIPs), though the second and third books are very different to the first and to each other, with a few more sci-fi elements thrown in. I’m working on several other dark fiction projects, and strangely enough, a romance – a doomed romance, of course.

2. Where did the idea for your first book come from?

I remember the start date for writing the book, because it’s pretty hard to forget – Friday the 13th of July, 2007. I had an RDO from work, and rather than watch morning TV as I’d rather papercut my eyeballs, I had music clips playing while I went about my morning routine and AFI’s Miss Murder clip came on. I’m not averse to what most people disparagingly call emo music – like most music and social movements, I think it was highly misunderstood and maligned by the mainstream. Watching the clip I was struck with a creative idea: what if there was some kind of spooky entity you could call on to take your life? I grabbed my pen and notebook, and Lily and Maggie burst into life faster than I could keep up with them.

3. What are you currently working on?

The sequel to This Freshest Hell, as well as the third book in the series, and a few even darker books, novellas and short stories.

4. Where do your book covers come from?

My publisher Linda Nix at Lacuna Publishing designed my book cover and allowed me to have input into the process. I wanted something simple with a single “impact” graphic, possibly something in a classic gothic style like a gargoyle to match the gargoyle statue in the book’s island mansion. During the writing process I’d considered using the picture of Arachne from Greek mythology that features in Gustave Doré’s illustration for Dante’s Purgatorio of the Divine Comedy series, as the Arachine goddess/demon character in This Freshest Hell is loosely based on Arachne. I never told this to my publisher, but then one day during the production process I opened my emails to find a cover draft with that very picture. Pretty cool!

5. Where do you see your writing career five years from now?

Two words: Bestseller list. Two more words: I wish!

6. What is your favorite part of the writing process?

When the idea first hits like a bolt and you’re creating a whole other world inside your own head and translating it onto paper/screen, and you just have to hang on for the ride.

7. What is your least favorite part of the writing process?

Editing. Euchhh. The first edit’s not so bad – maybe because with a first novel, you’re editing it yourself (hopefully) before it’s been accepted and you have time to fiddle, or maybe because you sort of have absolutely no idea what you’re doing and you don’t realise just how much chaff you should be tossing out. The second edit’s getting slightly annoying because you’ve done some more research and you’ve come to realise it’s going to be a much bigger job that you thought to make this thing shine. Then by the third edit, you’ve got your literary machete out and you’re mercilessly chopping left and right, because well, you’re starting to get a little bit sick of reading the same book, even if it is yours. Then comes the fourth and however many other edits you want to do depending on how much of a perfectionist you are. Then, the publisher’s edits, which hopefully shouldn’t be too huge if you’ve already edited yourself harshly and had an editor look at it previously. By the end of it all you have absolutely no recollection of why you thought it would be “fun” to write a book, and you’re pretty sure if you have to read it one more time your eyes will fizz and melt. But, it all becomes worth it when you’re holding it in your hands.

8. How do you write? Outlining, a few short notes that become a book, just sit down and write, etc?

In a word, shambolically. I have to admit my “process” isn’t much of a process and it’s lot like everything else in my life – mostly a system of entropy. When I get an idea, I write it down – then at some stage in the future I smoosh all the bits of scribble together, connect the dots and fill in the blanks. I work as a journalist and copyeditor so I don’t often get the chance to just sit down and write. I have to grab on to the inspiration when it hits (usually around midnight, of course), or make time when I have a particular project or passage I have to finish. I have this lingering ideal, as I suspect many writers do, that someday I’ll have a nice old white house on the beach with a big garden and a sunroom where I can sit and write all day and someone will occasionally bring me tea. Someday…

9. What message do you want your readers to take away from your books?

Good question. Mostly my work is about shining a light on the dark side of human nature, and I don’t know that there’s a terribly positive message in that. If I had to delve, I’d say I wrote This Freshest Hell to give the other misfits out there something to relate to, so they know they’re not alone.

10. What do you want to say, personally, to your readers right now?

Sorry for the nightmares! I’m yet to encounter someone who didn’t have nightmares about the vampires, werewolves, ghosts, skeleton thingy or spider-demon-god-thingy. Also, if you want to discuss the book, get in touch with me on Facebook or Goodreads – happy to answer questions or chat.

 

Fun Questions

 

1. If you were only allowed to read one book for the rest of your life, what would that book be?

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde.

2. If you could be any book character, who would you want to be?

Michonne from The Walking Dead graphic novels. She is badass. And I want her sword.

3. If you could be anything at all, overnight, what career other than being an author would you choose?

Rock star!

4. What one item could you not live without?

My notebook – the actual paper real thing – to catch all my crazy little thoughts that turn into book bits.

5. Who is your biggest inspiration?

My mother 

Favorites

Color?

Indigo

Number?

0

Book?

The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Holiday?

Sydney and Byron Bay. There’s nothing quite like the Aussie east coast vibe.

Animal?

Echidna (Australia’s version of porcupine)

Song?

PDA by Interpol. I’ve been addicted to it for years now and it never gets old – especially the go-go rock explosion at the end.

Band/Artist?

Interpol

Month?

November

Season?

Spring 

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Description

Dark secrets shared …

Dark spells invoked …

Death desired and death defied …

Goth Maggie and misfit Lily unite against school, family, society, normality and life itself. But can they fight the darkness within?

When Maggie moves to the small town of Groveside, Tasmania, she and Lily become fast friends, discovering they have more in common than their taste in alternative music: a disdain for all things “normal”, along with psychic abilities and the same dark secret. The girls’ rebellion culminates in a dalliance with the dark arts that could have eternal consequences. When those consequences come to bear a decade later, they are plunged into the demon world. Suddenly the darkness within and blood lust become literal matters of life and death. A new world of darkness forces them to question what they really value — including each other, and life itself.

TFH features all things supernatural from gods and demons to vampires and werewolves. But it’s not just a paranormal horror novel – it’s a powerful exploration of the dark side of human nature and the search for life’s meaning.

 

Buy This Freshest Hell in paperback and ebook format at all online stores, order it from your local bookstore, or download it via apps like iBooks, Kobo and Nook.

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17901427-this-freshest-hell

http://www.amazon.com/This-Freshest-Hell-Natasha-Ewendt/dp/1922198064

http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/NEW-Freshest-Hell-Natasha-Ewendt-Perfect-Book-English-/130921856400

Connect with Natasha at:

Facebook:

www.facebook.com/natasha.ewendt

Goodreads:
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7082805.Natasha_Ewendt

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/NEwendt

 

Thanks so much, Natasha! It was wonderful learning more about you and your work, and good luck with your works in progress! 

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