Monday, October 20, 2014

Michelle Muckley - An Author Interview in the HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Michelle Muckley. She is the author of the DAWN Series.



Author Genre: Literature & Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers

Website: Michelle Muckley
Author's Blog: Michelle Muckley
Twitter: @MichelleMuckley
E-Mail: michelle.muckley@gmail.com
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Google+: Check Out Google+
Facebook: Check Out Facebook
Pinterest: Check Out Pinterest


Author Description:
I was born in the town of Warwick in 1981. It is a small historical town in the heart of England, and ? was the fifth child born into a family of boys. I developed a huge interest in the written world from a young age, and with more than a little help from Roald Dahl found quite the taste for anything gross and gory. Book club at primary school only proved to increase my love of escaping into the world of a book.

Whilst six years at secondary school did little to quell the romantic notion of one day sitting in my mountain cabin and smoking a celebratory cigarette as the first novel was born, somewhere within those six years the dream of becoming a writer got put on hold. The question of who actually manages to make a living out of being writer was persistently posed. Who manages to pull that off? Not many, according to most people. Perhaps it was because science was deemed a safer career path, or perhaps it was because they let me chop up hearts, but I found myself spending more and more time in the biology lab and eventually the university applications went in and the next twelve years employment were set; science, hearts, but yet sadly no more dissections. Still resting quietly in the background were those long and lingering desires to once again rediscover those old aspirations to write.

About six years ago, with the smouldering embers of a childhood dream sparking uncomfortably underfoot there was what can only be called an epiphany. Who is it that actually becomes a writer? Is it the people who live in New York? Is it the girl whose aunt works for Harper Collins or S&S, or another beast of a publishing house? It is those people, yes. But it's not just those people. It's the people who write.

It's the people who actually do more than say, 'I have a dream'. Whilst this may sound simplistic, it was the revelation I needed to sit down and type Chapter One. The first book, The Loss of Deference was no longer just a fantasy and slowly became a workable manuscript. It was then sent out in eagerness before it was properly edited and therefore it was duly returned, and along with it I collected a nice set of standard rejection letters.

Six years later, having uprooted from England to settle on the southern Mediterranean shores of Cyprus, the dream to publish the book once deemed nothing more than a pipe dream is now a reality. I am still working as a part time scientist, but I am also writing daily. When I am not sat at the computer typing about the darker side of life, you will find me hiking in the mountains, drinking frappe at the beach, or talking to myself in the kitchen in the style of an American celebrity chef. Just think Ina Garten.


SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

Congratulations on your book: The Dawn: Everybody is Somebody. What do you have on the drawing board next? Rumor has it that you have another book on the horizon called The Dawn: Man in the Middle. Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

Thank you! The Dawn: Everybody is Somebody is the third book in my dystopian Sci-Fi series. Man in the Middle is book number four. The series follows a small population of survivors of a nuclear war. It deals with the concept of courage when it is easier to do nothing, moving past the mistakes you made in the old world, and learning to adapt as life changes. All done under the totalitarian regime called the Republic of New Omega who want to make things ‘easier’ for you, of course.

You have a good following on twitter. How important have your social media relationships been? How did you build your following in your niche? Do you see a carry over to your writing success?

I believe social media is important, but not the most important element of being a writer. I do think it is important for making connections and being in touch with the community of writers, but I think it is much more important to focus on what you are producing. I used to be more prolific on Twitter, Facebook, and my blog, but lately I have cut it down to a bare minimum and focus solely on putting meaningful words on a page. Word count went up, sales didn’t go down. The important thing about SM is being real. On my Twitter page over the last month you will likely have seen my cat, something I ate for lunch, and an article about womb transplantation. I’m not sure I shared anything about a book I wrote. People do not want to read ‘buy my book’ all day long. They know how to use the unfollow button, too.

Do you maintain a reader list? What are the methods you use to find your readers and create the list and the relationship? Do you use social media, forums, newsletters and/or support groups to build your list?

I do, because it is important to be in contact with the people who read your work. I have sign-up links on my website and in my books. I always find sign-ups increase after a promotion, and I try to get a newsletter out every six to eight weeks. These are people who actively have told you they want to hear more about you, and that makes them very valuable. What’s the point in not contacting those people?

You have great covers. They carry a theme and your brand with them. How does your book cover creation process work? Do you hand over the basic theme or do you have more of a hands-on approach? Do you get your readers involved in its development?

Thanks for that! I take little credit for them. I did create the cover for my latest short story called Containment, but for my full length novels and series I use the services of a great designer. She works with me to develop an idea, we discuss concepts, and work from her early creations. I love the Psychophilia cover, and I also love The Dawn series that she created. She is blowing me away with her work right now.

You have several great book trailers. (See links below.) They look very professional. Do you know how much impact they have had on your book’s success? Tell us about the process that you used to create your trailers?

I created my trailers, so thanks for the positive words. I do not much like the trailer for Escaping Life if I am honest and find it monotonous. That could also be said for The Loss of Deference, but I think for that story it somehow still works. I love my latest trailer for The Dawn, and it still gives me goose bumps! It is an effort to achieve, but I create them with standard software, stock footage, and a lot of patience. I really enjoy the experience, but I’m not sure what level of impact it has on sales. But I have got some very positive feedback, and perhaps it made one person try a new author, so for minimal investment it is a good return. But equally a bad trailer could put me off a book. If it doesn’t look professional, I think it is better not to have it.

What has been your experience in giving your books away free? Have you been involved in any other type of giveaways and how did that work out? What was your main goal in doing this? Did you run into any obstacles?

I verge between positive and negative thoughts on giving away my books for free. I do use the Amazon Select program, and there is no doubt that it has yielded sales and results. I think it is very important to combine free giveaways with good advertising, and this is what makes the biggest difference. Having a perma-free first in a series seems to be a good option for me. The negative is that many people who would never otherwise read your book will download it, hate it, and leave a negative review. That’s the downside, but it can still help with traction. Giveaways for groups who love a certain genre have also provided good results, and I am always happy to throw a paperback at that kind of giveaway.

You have a great blog. You do a great job keeping readers informed, marketing your books and supporting indie authors. What is your primary goal? And where in the world do you find the time to create great novels, take care of the social media and maintain your blog?

Well, the blog has taken a bit of a backseat just lately. I try to use it as a tool to share my work and my thoughts about the publishing world, but at the same time, not make it all about my books. One thing that I like about the world of indie publishing is the willingness to share data with other writers, so I also try to put anything I think might be useful for other writers like stats after promos.

Time management is a major factor, and really it would be possible to never leave my desk and still never catch up. That is one reason I have let my blog take a backseat. Important updates still go out, but I try to focus my energies on my books.

Living in Cyprus creates a unique selling and marketing situation. Where is your biggest audience? Does marketing online help in this situation?

My biggest market fluctuates between the US and the UK. Living in Cyprus does not help either of those markets, but certainly being in Cyprus helps carve out time for writing. But because of my location, online sales are very important.

Being a self-publisher myself, I have to ask this question. How does doing everything yourself work out? Do you outsource much of the process?

Editing and book covers are predominantly outsourced. For the short story I have created my own cover because I do not expect a great return on a $0.99 quick read. Doing everything myself is not possible. Any self publisher who manages the whole load, I take my hat off to them.

What is your method of getting reviews for your novels? Do you seek professional reviews, use social media or do you rely on your reading audience to supply them?

Occasionally prior to release I will seek reviewers from the book reading community and bloggers. If they have expressed an interest in my previous work or similar books, then I assume there is a chance they might like my latest. But other than that I tend to just let them roll in slowly. Real reviews are much better than anything solicited, and I have a thick skin so I can take the knocks as well as the praise. What I don’t do is trade with other authors. I have so many books that I want to read, I cannot spend all my reading time on solicited books, and I will not review something I haven’t read. Plus, I think most people can tell a real review from a fake.



Author's Book List
The Dawn: Everybody is Somebody - The Dawn Book 3
Life in Omega Tower is not what Zack expected, especially now he understands the relationship between the Conservators and the Drifters. He had his chance to make a choice, and now Zack feels a long way from home. But with the help of his new friend Selena he takes his first Renunciation Pledge and vows to become a good citizen of the Republic.

But tensions are rising and rebellions are forming in the Republic of New Omega. Desperate to protect Leonard, Selena promises Zack that she will get a message to him. But when she comes to him begging for help he is faced with another dilemma. He turns to Emily for help, swearing to do whatever it takes to help Selena. But there are others who have invested in Zack, and they have other plans.


Order the Book From: Amazon
The Dawn: Call of Omega
With the roads destroyed and the bridges near collapse, Zack cannot believe what he has learned about The Barrens. But he has a job to do, and so he must try to put things right.

But there are those in the shadows who want him to fail, and when Zack learns of a mysterious group who The Conservators refer to as Drifters, he must decide if he is courageous enough to withstand their test. Will he be brave enough to follow his heart, or will he fall under the spell of The Republic of New Omega?


Order the Book From: Amazon
The Dawn: The Bombs Fall - A Dystopian Science Fiction Series
Zachary Christian is Delta Tower resident 8652. He has been stuck inside his tower since the bombs destroyed the world he knew. The reason for the war is still a mystery, but ever since that day the world stands still, trapped by the nuclear winter and the Guardians who patrol the exits. Zachary should feel lucky to be alive, but he is haunted by past mistakes which he never got a chance to put right.

The only way out is the New Omega Lottery. The prize is a place in Omega, a giant glass tower in the centre of their barren world where the new government, The Conservators, rule. Nobody from Delta has ever won. But when Zachary meets Emily he knows she is not from Delta. Convinced there must be another way out, he vows that he will find it. But he doesn't realise that The Conservators have already found him.


Book Trailer: The Dawn: The Bombs Fall

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - KOBO
PSYCHOPHILIA - A Disturbing Psychological Thriller
Plagued with strange memory gaps, Charlotte wants her life back, even if someone has to die for her to get it. She has tried so hard to be what Gregory wanted her to be, and yet still he doesn't love her. Pregnant, miserable, and knowing she is being betrayed by the one person she had left to rely on, she promises herself that she will do whatever it takes.

She must learn the truth about what happened before that day on the lake, but lies can be seductive and easier to believe, especially when they are her own.

Described as one of the most disturbing books one reviewer had ever read, follow Charlotte, our female protagonist through a journey of discovery as she battles to learn the truth about her life.


Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Identity X
Ben Stone has one aim; discover the cure for genetic disease. He watched his father die and promised himself that it would never happen again, especially to his own son. After his appointment as lead researcher in Bionics Laboratories he begins his desperate research. It takes four years, but he succeeds. He discovers NEMREC, a serum able to reconstruct DNA and cure the diseases that have driven him. It should be the beginning of a new future, but by changing the face of the world, he has unwittingly destroyed his own.

His world falls apart .

After arriving at his laboratory to find that it has disappeared, he is sucked into a world of conspiracy and betrayal. The Agency wants NEMREC and will do anything to get it, believing it to be the most powerful scientific discovery in decades. But it wasn't just NEMREC that they wanted. The Agency wanted Ben dead, but somehow he survived. His best friend, his wife, and Ami, the beautiful scientist who he has fallen for at work all offer to help him, but each has a different version of the truth. They all have their own agenda, only one of them wants what he wants, and in a world where you are already dead, how is it that you are supposed to survive?


Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Escaping Life
It's beautiful here. It's a beautiful place to die.

Since the accident claimed her sister's life, Haven has been a sanctuary for Elizabeth Green.She has finally found some of the tranquility that she thought had been lost long ago to the past.Homicide cop Jack Fraser is running away from his miserable life too.But when the discovery of a body on a local beach leads him directly to Elizabeth's front door, it seems her past might not have been left behind her after all. Together they must face their demons, and in the process expose the dangerous secrets that cloud their lives before it's too late.

Running from reality is sometimes more painful than discovering the truth.


Book Trailer: Escaping Life

Order the Book From: Amazon
The Loss of Deference - A Medical Thriller
Will Moreton is one of the lucky ones: he still has a house, thanks to the fact that he has been assigned State Employment. Mind numbing or not, he’ll take whatever he’s given and try to keep the roof over his and wife Molly’s head. He doesn’t want them to end up living in a Shelter like the one where he works. The recession has hit Grafton hard, just like most places, and having a job and a home is a luxury that few can afford. If only he was like Dan, with a good job and a steady income. He never has to worry about money.

Dan Fox is Will’s best friend, and works as a nurse in the local hospital. He needs cash desperately in order to pay for his mother’s care. She is dying and deserves the best in her last years of life. He owes her that, doesn’t he? After what happened? It helps to put things right. He’ll do whatever he is told to make sure he can keep her where she is comfortable. Will is the only one that knows the childhood secret that Dan is keeping. Neither of them wants to think back to the terrible day that binds them together.

But Dan had started keeping new secrets. Secret’s that not even Will knows about. These secret’s are kept locked away in his mind, and hidden behind the Victorian walls of the hospital in which Dan works. Dan thinks that he has covered his tracks. But one winter’s day, when Will can’t find Molly anywhere, he looks to Dan for help. By doing so he makes a discovery that leads him into a terrifying conspiracy. The only problem, he has no idea.

A British mystery which takes you on a journey of trust and betrayal, the reader is compelled to experience the limits of true friendship through a web of disturbing lies and truths. In this medical thriller you must look for hope not only in the strongest of human bonds, but also the darkest corners of life.


Book Trailer: The Loss of Deference

Order the Book From: Amazon
Author Recommended by: HBSystems Publications
Publisher of ebooks, writing industry blogger and the sponsor of the following blogs:
HBS Author's Spotlight
eBook Author’s Corner
Top Shelf Author Advice
Mystery Reader’s Circle

Check out the index of other Spotlight authors. Spotlight Index.

Friday, October 17, 2014

John Dolan - An Author Interview in the HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author John Dolan. He is the author of the TIME, BLOOD AND KARMA series.



Author Genre: Literature & Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers

Website: John Dolan - AUTHOR, POLYMATH, SMARTYPANTS
Twitter: @JohnDolanAuthor
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Google+: Check Out Google+
Facebook: Check Out Facebook


Author Description:
"Makes a living by travelling, talking a lot and sometimes writing stuff down. Galericulate author, polymath and occasional smarty-pants."

John Dolan hails from a small town in the North-East of England. Before turning to writing, his career encompassed law and finance. He has run businesses in Europe, South and Central America, Africa and Asia. He and his wife Fiona currently divide their time between the UK and Thailand.

His mystery novel 'Everyone Burns' is the first book in the 'Time, Blood and Karma' series.


SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

Let’s start with what’s next. Do you have another book on the horizon? Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

Hi, James. My next novel is one I have co-written with Virginia-based thriller writer, Fiona Quinn. It has been quite an exercise in logistics, I can tell you! Fiona and I have never met and the whole project has been done through our contact over the Internet. Yes, I know, we must be mad. It's called "Chaos is Come Again", and is a slightly off-the-wall psychological thriller. It will be hitting the virtual shelves at the end of October.

You have a good following on twitter. How important have your social media relationships been? How did you build your following in your niche? Do you see a carry over to your writing success?

My social media relationships have been crucial. I have some amazingly supportive fellow authors from all around the world. It's heartwarming to see how generous people can be with their time. My primary method of building relationships has been through Twitter (although I do also have a blog) and yes, all these contacts and interactions have delivered both friendships and book sales.

Do you maintain a reader list? What are the methods you use to find your readers and create the list and the relationship? Do you use social media, forums, newsletters and/or support groups to build your list?

I don't maintain a reader list. I'm probably unusual in this, but I feel uncomfortable with hard selling through emails, and prefer to connect on an ad hoc basis. I guess that's my British heritage :)

Do you do any book signings, interviews, speaking and personal appearances? If so, when and where is the next place where your readers can see you? Where can they keep up with your personal contacts online?

Since I live on the Thai island of Samui, book signings are not really on the cards - and the holidaymakers here would have only a limited interest in listening to my burblings. Logistics therefore drive me to be more of an Internet Man, and that is what my business model is based on. I do blog interviews, however.

You have great covers. They carry a theme and your brand with them. How does your book cover creation process work? Do you hand over the basic theme or do you have more of a hands-on approach? Do you get your readers involved in its development?

Thank you. I do all my own covers because I'm a control freak and love messing around with artwork and graphics software. I don't involve anyone in the design. That way, I have nobody to blame but myself if the covers suck. (Which I hope they don't!)

You have written a short story called Jim Fosse's Expense Claim. Can you tell us if they had an impact on the sales of your novels? Are shorty’s one of your styles of writing or are they created to give readers a sample of your work?

It's hard to say what impact 'Jim Fosse' has had on sales, though the short story was designed as a free giveaway to introduce folks to my writing. The first chapter of 'Everyone Burns' is included with it and hopefully tempts some people to buy the novel. I think you might term this the 'Drug Dealer Strategy'. Boy, am I getting cynical in my old age. The Jim Fosse character also appears in my novel 'A Poison Tree'. I like to connect the dots!

What has been your experience in giving your books away free? Have you been involved in any other type of giveaways and how did that work out? What was your main goal in doing this? Did you run into any obstacles?

The free giveaway can work well in introducing readers to a series, and I have done free promos for 'Everyone Burns' using BookBub - each time producing a ton of downloads. I am cautious, however, as to how many further sales these events produce. I assume that only 10% of free downloads ever get read, and of those maybe one reader in four will like my writing enough to buy another book in the series. On that math, 10,000 downloads garners me 250 incremental book sales - although I do see a short-term 'bounce' in sales also as a result of the increased visibility the promo provides.

How do you start your book launch process for a new book? Give a brief outline of the steps you go through to get your book to market. What methods were the most successful?

I try to organise a promo of an existing book around launch time, plus my author and blogger buddies are always helpful with publicising the release. I've tried Goodreads giveaways too, but the jury is out on how successful that is. My launches tend to be phased. If you hope for a 'big bang' with thousands of launch sales, you are likely to be disappointed. I like to remind myself that we writers are running a marathon, not doing a 100-metre dash. Patience.

Living in Thailand creates a unique selling and marketing situation. Where is your biggest audience? Does marketing online help in this situation?

I'd have to say there are pros and cons to this. Living in Thailand gives my writing about South East Asia credibility (I hope!) but, given that my sales/marketing model is Internet-based, it probably doesn't matter where I am. My biggest audience, incidentally, is in the USA. I make three-quarters of my sales there.

What is your method of getting reviews for your novels? Do you seek professional reviews, use social media or do you rely on your reading audience to supply them?

I send out some complimentary copies to interested readers, but generally rely on my reading audience. I don't pay for reviews, ever.



Author's Book List
A Poison Tree - Time, Blood and Karma Book 3
“You kill my wife and I’ll kill yours.” You must admit, as a proposition, it has an alluring symmetry to it.

It is 1999, and as the Millennium approaches, old certainties wither. For family man, David Braddock, his hitherto predictable world is undergoing a slow collapse. The people closest to him seem suddenly different. As desires and aspirations tangle around each other like parasite stems, betrayal is in the air.

And so is murder.

Fans of Braddock will finally learn the sequence of events that drove him into exile in Asia, while for new readers, ‘A Poison Tree’ is the perfect introduction to the ‘Time, Blood and Karma’ series.


Order the Book From: Amazon
Hungry Ghosts - Time, Blood and Karma Book 2
'For the last half-hour my mind has been playing games with me. I keep thinking I see Claire at the periphery of my vision, but when I turn my head she vanishes.

But then of course she would. She is a ghost, after all.'

It is the spring of 2005 and the macabre ‘burning murders’ have ended. Life has apparently returned to normal for the Thai island of Samui. For private investigator David Braddock ‘normal’ means finding a missing drug smuggler, sleeping with the Police Chief’s wife and ensuring his office manager’s latest money making scheme doesn’t bankrupt him.

For Police Chief Charoenkul it means resuming his seemingly-endless wait for that elusive promotion to Bangkok.

However, the peace is destined to be short-lived. Unbeknown to both men karmic storm clouds are gathering and murderous forces are about to be unleashed which could destroy them both ...

‘Hungry Ghosts’ is the second volume in the ‘Time, Blood and Karma’ series. It marks the welcome return of David Braddock, the charismatic anti-hero from ‘Everyone Burns’.


Order the Book From: Amazon
Everyone Burns - Time, Blood and Karma, Book One
'He opens a drawer of his desk, casually takes out a pistol, flicks off the safety catch and points it at my head.

He says almost sorrowfully, "Do you imagine me to be a gangster, Mr Braddock?"'

It is January 2005 and the charred remains of two Europeans have been discovered on the Thai island of Samui.

Local Police Chief Charoenkul, sidelined by his superiors, enlists the reluctant David Braddock, a burnt-out private detective, to assist in an ‘unofficial’ investigation.

But Braddock has problems of his own, including an affair with the same Police Chief’s wife ...

Peppered with irreverent humour and some pithy comments on everyday life in the Land of Smiles, 'Everyone Burns' is much more than a crime novel. It is also a carefully-crafted psychological study of an anti-hero for our time.


Order the Book From: Amazon
Jim Fosse's Expense Claim
Once you've met Jim Fosse you'll never feel quite the same about opening your e-mails ...

A darkly humorous short story of obsession from John Dolan, author of 'Everyone Burns'.

WARNING: Contains sexual references and some really terrible grammar.


Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - KOBO
Author Recommended by: HBSystems Publications
Publisher of ebooks, writing industry blogger and the sponsor of the following blogs:
eBook Author’s Corner
Top Shelf Author Advice
Mystery Reader’s Circle

Check out the index of other Spotlight authors. Spotlight Index.