Vandelize Your Inbox

In case you missed the announcement last week, my YA novel Into the Fire will be published in 2015.

I’m working hard to get Into the Fire ready for release this spring. I’ve also been working on ITF’s sequel Among the Flames.

My true love has always been fiction, and I’ve dreamed of being a published author. Now that my dream is happening, it’s time for me to step away from blogging and focus on writing fiction full time.

That means I’ll be moving to a newsletter-only format. If you haven’t done so already, be sure to sign up for my new and improved author newsletter—“Vandelized.” That’s where you’ll get the latest information about Into the Fire, Among the Flames, and future books. Vandelized subscribers will also be the first to get a look at ITF’s cover and read the back cover blurb.

2015 is going to be a great year. I’m excited to finally be able to share Into the Fire with you!

Vandelized header 2 copy

 

Top 10 Ways to Show Goodreads Love to Authors

gToday’s guest post is by Amanda G. Stevens, debut author and Goodreads ninja. 

If you love books, you’re probably already on Goodreads. It’s the most obvious social media platform for book lovers, and it’s a great place to show love to your favorite authors—in both obvious and not-so-obvious ways.

Top 10 Ways to Show Goodreads Love to Authors:

 1. Rate books. This is a straightforward process. Add the book to your “read” shelf and give it a star rating.

2. Review books. Goodreads reviews vary a lot in length. You can post two sentences or ten paragraphs. Reviews can be text only, or you can get creative with gifs. Be engaging and detailed. So you loved the book—why? What makes this book different from others in its genre? What makes this a book you will remember forever? How did it make you feel? GR Post (Review)

3. Recommend books. Do this thoughtfully: don’t recommend one book to your entire friend list. Choose the friends who read similar books, who would most likely enjoy this one. The more reliable your recommendations are, the more friends will trust them and check them out.

4. Talk about the author and book in discussion groups. If you haven’t joined a Goodreads group yet, why not? This is where you get to chat with people about the stories you all love. Be sure to use “add book/author” when you comment, so readers can click on the book rather than having to search for it. Update your reading progress. Every time you do this, the book shows up in your friends’ news feeds. And don’t post only the page number you’re on. Include an intriguing comment. Make fellow readers curious about the book. Tell them why you can’t put it down (without giving spoilers).

5. Update your reading progress. Every time you do this, the book shows up in your friends’ news feeds. And don’t post only the page number you’re on. Include an intriguing comment. Make fellow readers curious about the book. Tell them why you can’t put it down (without giving spoilers).

GR Post (Reading Progress)

6. Become a fan of the author. Again, this shows up in your News Feed and on your profile page and gives the author a nudge of visibility. And it’s easy. Go to the author’s page and, under their picture on the left, click “Become a Fan.”

7. Interact when you see someone else reading the book. Like their progress updates and ask questions relevant to where they are in the book. Let them know how much you enjoyed it.

8. Vote on lists. In Listopia, you’ll find everything from “Books With Boys on the Cover” to “Sigh-Worthy Kisses” to “Greatest Literature of the Twenty-First Century.” Voting a book onto (appropriate) lists is especially helpful if a few of your friends will vote, too. One vote won’t help a book stand out, but five or six can make a surprising difference. GR Post (Listopia)

9. Share the book’s Goodreads page on your other platforms. Goodreads makes this wonderfully easy with their “Share This Book” feature, which includes Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, and Pinterest.

10. Create fun stuff! Goodreads allows readers to create quizzes and trivia questions. This is a fun way to engage other readers of the book, and again, when you take a book quiz, your results show up in your News Feed.

One of the most helpful things you can do for an author is simply to remind fellow readers that this book is out there, and you read it, and you loved it. Now it’s your turn: how have you shown Goodreads love to an author?

stevens-LR-4As a child, Amanda G. Stevens disparaged Mary Poppins and Stuart Little because they could never happen. Now, she writes speculative fiction. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in English and has taught literature and composition to home-school students. She lives in Michigan and loves books, film, music, and white cheddar popcorn. Amanda’s first novel, Seek and Hide, will be available September 15, 2014 from David C Cook. She can be found online at her website, on Twitter, and of course on Goodreads.

Congratulations to Amanda on her debut! Be sure to add Seek and Hide to your Goodreads “Want to Read” list today! 

 

48215_10203599576063825_5868202758901641120_o©2014 Amanda G Stevens and Kim Vandel

A Fictional Vacation

John Lubbock quote

Not everyone has a vacation scheduled for this summer. Maybe it’s due to a shortage of time or money or both. But the lack of vacation doesn’t mean you can’t do some traveling. Books are one of my favorite ways to travel. You can go a lot farther for a lot less money.

Some of my favorite book destinations have been Hogwarts, Alagaësia, and Ravka. Forks, Panem, and Dauntless headquarters. Arrakis and New Beijing. And yes, for most of those, I’m very glad I was only a visitor.

What are your favorite book destinations? What book destinations would you like to visit?

©2014 Kim Vandel

Top 10 Ways to Show Amazon Love to Authors

Amazon Love for AuthorsSocial media is the obvious go-to method when you want to let people know about the books and authors you love. While Amazon might not qualify as social media, it still has some great tools you can use to get the word out. They make it super easy to show love and support to your favorite authors.

Here are my Top 10 Ways to Show Amazon Love to Authors:

1. Buy their books. Obvious, right? But don’t just buy their books. After you make your purchase, you’ll be given the option to share a link on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Share the link and let your friends and followers know about the awesome book you just bought. There’s an added bonus if you share it on Twitter. Your followers can reply with #AmazonCart, and the book will be saved to their Amazon shopping cart for easy purchase the next time they visit Amazon.com. Without leaving Twitter!

2. Share their books on social media. Already bought the book? No problem. You can still share a link and let people know about the must-read novel. Just look for the social media icons on the book’s “product page.”

Amazon share icons

3. Review their books. Tell potential readers what you loved about a book and encourage them to buy it. Reviews will also help a book get noticed by Amazon’s complicated algorithms. The more reviews, the more Amazon will take notice, and the better the chance of Amazon suggesting that book to prospective buyers.

4. Share your review. Once you’ve submitted your review, you’ll be given the option to share a link on social media. Grab the attention of your friends and followers. Encourage them to check out your five-star review.

5. Post a picture. On the book’s product page (under the cover image) there’s a link to “share your own customer images.” Post a picture of you reading the book or a picture of you with the author at a book signing. Be creative and don’t let social media have all the image-posting fun!

6. Vote on helpful reviews. At the bottom of each review, you’ll find the question “Was this review helpful to you?” Voting “yes” on favorable reviews will bump them to the top and give potential readers a positive first impression of the book.

7. “Like” the author’s Amazon page. To find their page, enter the author’s name in the search bar, or you can access it from a book’s product page. You’ll find the author’s name (with a link to their page) directly below the book title. The “Like” button will be on the right hand side of the author’s page.

Author Keller Amazon page

8. Share their Amazon author page. Right next to that “Like” button are the social media icons that make it easy to share the page and let people know about one of your favorite authors.

9. Share notes and highlights. If you’re reading the digital (Kindle) version of a book, you can highlight text or make notes as you read. Highlight your favorite lines from the novel. Make notes about a scene that really connected with you or one you thought was beautifully written. If you’ve linked your Kindle to Twitter, Facebook, or Goodreads, you can share those notes and highlights. They also show up on the book’s product page.

Amazon notes and highlights

10. Start a discussion. You can do this on a book’s product page (below the reviews) or on the author’s Amazon page (under the list of their books). Start a conversation about who you’d pick for the lead role if the book was made into a movie or what makes your favorite author so amazing.

Amazon discussion

What other ways can you think of to show your favorite authors some love on Amazon?

©2014 Kim Vandel

Wanted: Teen Writers

Wanted: Teen WritersThere’s so much to learn when it comes to being an author, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished I started sooner. Writing a book is only part of the process. You also have to market your book once it’s released. I know from experience that helping an author with their book release is a fantastic way to learn what it takes to launch a book successfully.

Multi-published author Lesley Ann McDaniel and launch group veteran Mindy Peltier are starting a YA book launch group, and they’re looking for young adult team members. It’s a chance for teen writers to get a head start on the learning process.

If you’re a teen writer, don’t miss out on this great opportunity. If you know a teen writer, be sure to pass along the news. Visit Lesley’s blog for details about their YA book launch group.

The Testing, The Grisha, and The End

girl with book rageTwo YA trilogies come to a conclusion today, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed. With the exception of Kiera Cass’s The One, book threes have been more than a little disappointing lately.

Graduation Day is the final installment of Joelle Charbonneau’s dystopian series that began with The Testing. Judging from the reviews it’s getting, Ms. Charbonneau has managed to make readers happy while avoiding a too-perfect ending.

Ruin and Rising, the final book in Leigh Bardugo’s fantasy trilogy, also hits bookstore shelves today. The Grisha trilogy began with Shadow and Bone, a book I thoroughly enjoyed. I can recommend it in good conscience because the advance reviews for Ruin and Rising point to a satisfying series conclusion, not one that will make you want to shred all three books when you’re done. Good thing, too, since I gave in to the urge to pre-order a special edition copy from Barnes & Noble. I’d rather not shred it.

Have you been disappointed with any series finales lately?

©2014 Kim Vandel

Why I Stopped Reading Indie Books (and Started Again)

indie readOne of the problems with being a voracious reader is that it’s an expensive habit. If it wasn’t for the library, I’d be broke. My children would probably starve or—even worse—I’d have to go without Starbucks.

Like it or not, price is a factor I have to consider when buying a book, and I want value for those dollars I’m investing. Who doesn’t? Self-published books are generally less expensive than traditionally published books, at least when it comes to digital format. Sometimes they’re even free, which makes them very enticing to a voracious reader like me.

But a pattern began to emerge with some of the self-published books I bought. My excitement would dwindle as I started to read. Three pages into the book, and I’d find myself doing more editing than reading. “Than” and “then” are not interchangeable.

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

After a few poorly (sometimes horribly) written books, I found myself less and less willing to read indie books. I gravitated toward the traditionally published ones, thinking that if it had gone through a publisher, then it had at least been professionally edited. Yes, there are plenty of traditionally published (professionally edited) books that are less than print-worthy. I just figured my odds were better with a traditional publisher.

I admit it. It was pure laziness. I wanted someone to sift through the millions of books out there for me. The truth is that I let a few poorly written indie books ruin it for all the others, and I ruined it for myself in the process. I’m sure I deprived myself of some great reading.

Indie publishing is not what it was a couple of years ago or even what it was six months ago. Talented authors are investing the time and money it takes to produce a quality product. They learn the craft of writing and create a story worth reading. They act as a general contractor for their book, securing professional editing, formatting, and cover art. They build a frame that will make their masterpiece shine.

I’ve seen some fantastic authors emerge, authors who’ve proved that an independently published book can be just as good—or better—than a traditionally published book. A few hard-working authors restored my faith in indie publishing, and they took away my excuse for being lazy. But I’m okay with that. It’s good news for a voracious reader like me because I’m no longer limited by a publishing method. There are more books to choose from, more possibilities. Stories that might never have reached print otherwise are there for me to read. If some of those books cost a little less, then I’ll be able to buy more books and still have Starbucks once in a while. Sounds like a win-win situation to me.

Do you read indie books? Do you rely on the library to satisfy your reading habit?

©2014 Kim Vandel

Jupiter Winds

jupiter-winds-400Award-winning author C.J. Darlington makes her YA debut with Jupiter Winds, and she’s already off to a great start with an endorsement from sci-fi veteran Kathy Tyers (Firebird). Tyers calls Jupiter Winds “A fast-paced, character-driven space adventure that’s reminiscent of science fiction’s golden age.”

THE FACTS: C.J. is the award-winning author of the contemporary novels Thicker than Blood, Bound by Guilt, and Ties that Bind. Her new novel Jupiter Winds is a YA/space adventure/dystopian. She is a regular contributor to various websites. In 2013 C.J. co-founded Mountainview Books, LLC, an indie publisher of Christian fiction. She makes her home in Pennsylvania with her family and their menagerie of animals. You can find her on her website cjdarlington.com as well as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

THE FICTION: In 2160, a teenager becomes the bait to capture her missing revolutionary parents she thinks are long dead.

Grey Alexander has one goal–to keep herself and her younger sister Orinda alive. Not an easy feat living unconnected in the North American Wildlife Preserve, where they survive by smuggling contraband into the Mazdaar government’s city zones. If the invisible electric border fence doesn’t kill them, a human-like patrol drone could.

When her worst fear comes true, Grey questions everything she thinks she knows about life, her missing parents, and God. Could another planet, whose sky swirls with orange vapors and where extinct-on-Earth creatures roam free, hold the key to reuniting her family?

THE BIG QUESTION: If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

C.J.’S BIG ANSWER: I’d want to fly! That would be awesome, don’t you think? 🙂

Make sure to add Jupiter Winds to your summer reading list. It’s available through both Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

©2014 C.J. Darlington and Kim Vandel

Top 10 Ways to Show Tumblr Love to Authors

Top 10 TumblrToday’s guest post is by author and Tumblr addict Jessica Keller. 

Tumblr is a place for microblogging amazingness. Not just a place—it’s THE place. One of the best things about Tumblr is that it has outlets for everyone. The blog platform includes photo sharing, written entries, video uploads, music sharing, a platform just for quotes, and the ability to post links. The best part of Tumblr is that it attracts creative people, so books and stories are always welcome and reblogged. Tumblr is great because unlike Twitter, you aren’t limited by a certain number of characters and you can use as many tags as you want.

The one

If you’re an author who writes Young Adult Fiction or New Adult Fiction, you better have a Tumblr account. So many writers are focusing on connecting with readers on Facebook and building Pinterest story boards that they’re missing out on where readers are spending time. All the teens I know are active on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram. We should be too. The latest Tumblr data shows that they host 187 million blogs. Don’t miss out on the fun we’re having over there!

 The Top Ten Ways to Show Author Love on Tumblr

  1. Follow the author on Tumblr and reblog their book news.
  2. Post a countdown to release day for a book you’re looking forward to. This can be as easy as doing a written post that just says “2 more days until BOOK NAME HERE—so excited!” Just like on Twitter and Instagram, make sure to tag your posts with the title, author’s name, genre, and any other fun tags you can think of: #Got to have it, #ya lit, #fiction books, #reading.
  3. Share the book cover. Once you upload a picture, you can click on it and add a clickable link. I always link book covers with their Amazon buy page so my followers can get their hands on a book I post right away if they want to. Make sure to tag it like you did the countdown and then add fun tags like #cover love, #so pretty.Doon
  4. Create memes (did you know the rise of memes happened because of Tumblr?) about the book using quotes or pictures that remind you of the characters. When you upload it make sure to tag the author, the title, the genre and add #ya lit meme.haunted
  5. If you’re an artist then Tumblr is the ideal place to display your fan art. Draw a scene from the book or what you believe a character looks like. Authors love seeing fan art and will always reblog it. With your permission most of us print out fan art and use it to decorate our offices…if I’m being honest!
  6. If the author (or someone else talking up the book) posts something book related, interact with them. Every time you respond that post is shared with your followers.
  7. Upload a video of your reaction to the book. You can address the author in the video or maybe act like you’re talking to one of the characters. Anything goes with reaction vlogs. Tag it appropriately and wait for all the interactions you’ll receive.
  8. If you love music you can make a playlist for the book and post songs that remind you of certain scenes or chapters or maybe a theme in the book. Tag music just like you would the rest of your posts.
  9. Take a photo of you holding the book when you first get it or a picture of you reading in your favorite spot. After tagging the photo with the author’s name, title, and genre, think of other tags like #reading place, #favorite place in the world, #this book is so good.
  10. Review the book. Tumblr doesn’t limit you on words, so you can make the review as long or short as you want. If you read lots of books then you can become a Tumblr reviewer and be known for that. You can come up with your own “star system” of measuring how much you liked a book (but don’t use stars…use something unique, like a kiss-o-meter or jars of Nutella…mmm….I’d do that…this book is worth four jars of Nutella).
Saving Yesterday
Here’s the start of a book review that the FictionCrush posted for my latest release.

Thank you for anything and everything you do to help authors. Without you there would be no more books.

DSC_0025Jessica Keller holds degrees in both Communications and Biblical Studies. She is multi-published in both Young Adult Fiction and Romance, is a contributor to writing focused blog—The Write Conversation, and has 100+ magazine and newspaper articles to her name. Her latest release is a Young Adult Fantasy – Saving Yesterday. You can find her at www.JessicaKellerBooks.com, on Twitter, on Tumblr, or on her Facebook Author Page. She lives in the Chicagoland suburbs with her amazing husband, beautiful daughter, and two annoyingly outgoing cats that happen to be named after superheroes.

©2014 Jessica Keller