Friday, October 20, 2017

Launch Week Recap

Well, Traitor's Hope is out in the world and doing its thing. The week leading up to and away from the launch were both interesting and I learned a lot from them....Because I don't want this post to sound whiny, I'll start with the good stuff, and move on from there. Honestly, I'm so wiped emotionally from the past two weeks I don't have much energy for this post, but I feel the need to get it down on "paper" while it's still fresh so here goes.

Good things that came out of the whole* launch process:
*Keep in mind that the launch process is ongoing, started long before October 9th and will continue far past today, but those are the two weeks we're going to focus on for the moment.

  • Two amazing reviews of both Traitor's Hope and Blade's Edge by book bloggers who not only loved the books but who are also very thorough and thoughtful reviewers. The reviews on Blushing Bibliophile are wonderful and thoughtful but contain mild spoilers. The reviews on Jena Brown Writes are spoilerless and perfect and so thoughtful they almost made me cry. You can find her review of Blade's Edge here, and of Traitor's Hope here. Honestly, these four reviews make up for everything else that went wrong on launch week. I write for myself, I publish for readers who want to read the same books that I wish there were more of, and it makes me SOOOO happy when readers find my books and it's just what they were looking for. 
  • Traitor's Hope also received a solid and thoughtful review from the talented Nick Bryan, author of the Hobson & Choi books (which I really do recommend, if you haven't read them already). 
  • Readership of Blade's Edge likely more than doubled in the past week. I ran a free promotion on Blade's Edge and over 4000 people downloaded it. Even if only 25% of those people ever read it, that's still a huge increase in audience. Yay! Hopefully, they'll love it and then read Traitor's Hope next! (One can dream.) 
  • Blade's Edge's ranking on Amazon skyrocketed during the free promotion! #67 was its highest in the WHOLE STORE and it was #1 in its top three categories! :-)
  • The Traitor's Hope launch party was in the black! In other words, enough books sold at the launch party to cover the costs of the party with a bit left over! Yay!
  • Traitor's Hope was the #3 bestseller in Winnipeg for its launch week! Yay! 
  • I gained lots of facebook and twitter followers thanks to the blog tour and giveaway, and had some fun interactions with folks on both platforms. Yay!
  • It was so lovely to see people at the book launch at McNally's and hang out with folks before during and after the event! The reading went well and the aikido demonstration was kick ass! Photos will be coming soon, once I get them from my photographer. SUPER YAY!
Less than good things that came out of the whole launch process:

  • Fake reviews. I was surprised and dismayed to find that a handful of the reviewers who signed up specifically to do a review for the blog tour didn't read the book and instead paraphrased existing reviews along with the book's description in order to fake a review. It was like grading high school papers all over again, except I didn't have the gumption to call anyone out on it. I didn't realize this was a thing that happens, but I have confirmed with other authors that it, sadly, is a thing. 
  • Not much sell through. So far, the thousands of downloads of Blade's Edge have not turned into more than a handful of sales of Traitor's Hope. Not that I expected many, but I was hoping for more than this. 
  • The blog tour has generated a lot of entries to win a free copy of the books, but not much in terms of people actually purchasing the books. I had an inkling this might be the case, but had thought at least a handful of people would actually buy the books. Apparently not.
  • Missed posts on the tour. There were a number of bloggers who missed their posts, or posted late, or didn't post what they said they would. The poor organizer had to prod them many times and it left me feeling like almost no one actually cared about the book at all (an overreaction I'm sure, but hey launch week is a touchy week for author feelings). 
That's all I can think of for now, and honestly, I need to go write a bit to put some balm on my soul (yep, I totally just massacred that metaphor, you're welcome). The whole launch process is surprisingly emotionally draining even the second time around, and even with adjusted expectations after everything I learned the first time around. Now I need a definite break from social media (even though that's probably a terrible idea in terms of marketing momentum). 

So, there you have it. A very brief launch week recap. I'll try to provide more details for those who are interested in a follow-up post. In the meantime, I'm off to start new projects and think about other things for a while. I leave you with visuals to some of the highlights I mentioned! 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Traitor's Hope's book birthday is TODAY!

The day is finally here...

It's Traitor's Hope's Birthday!

Traitor's Hope officially joins the world today, and can now be purchased on Amazon in print or ebook formats, and from anywhere books are sold! If your local bookstore doesn't have it in stock (which is likely unless you live in Winnipeg) you can ask for it by name and they can order a copy for you from their regular distribution stream.

We're halfway through the blog tour and it has been a ton of fun, and there's still one week of interviews, reviews, and guest posts left! Don't forget to check out all of those tour stops (links gathered conveniently here).

Tonight is the actual launch party at McNally Robinson, and I am both excited and nervous. Much like last time, I'm not nervous about reading or speaking in front of people (both things I'm used to) but I'm nervous that no one will show up even though I have good reason to believe that plenty of people will be there. Oh well, fingers crossed!
A preview of Traitor's Hope
THE BACKHAND CAUGHT Kusuko by surprise and the sting alone brought tears to her eyes. She blinked, and the open, sparsely decorated room regained some of its focus. She wondered if the dizziness was more to do with the slap, or with the injuries she hadn't quite recovered from fully. 
She stared at the large wooden beams that spanned the ceiling above Mamushi-san's head, ignoring his sharp features, greying hair, and dark brown eyes, and tried to dismiss the tears before they could raise his ire.
“That,” Mamushi-san said, calmly folding his hands over his midsection so the sleeves of his kimono lay neatly atop one another, “is for drawing a sword against the first Rōjū without orders to do so.”
The second backhand wasn't a surprise, and Kusuko took it stoically.
“And that,” he continued, “is for almost getting yourself killed for your troubles. If that female Kisōshi had not saved you with her incredible display of power, you would be dead along with everyone else caught in that blast of wind. That is unacceptable.”
“I am sorry Mamushi-san,” Kusuko replied, keeping her chestnut eyes downcast. She would have to adjust her face paints after this meeting, but for now it was better not to remind Mamushi-san that he'd been “forced” to hit her. “I did not attack the first Rōjū. It was that hifu. She was drawn to the freedom offered by Kuma-sensei and his allies. She was drawn to their bravery as well.”
“That may be, but if the skins you adopt for your various assignments cannot follow orders then they have lost their usefulness.”
“Is it not useful to you now that the Rōjū are deposed?”
“Hmph... as if you could have known the outcome of that battle.”
“I did not. My hifu at that time seemed to think the outcome was inevitable, however.”
“Luckily for you she was right. I can still make use of you even though the Rōjū no longer trust you.”
“Do you still serve them?” Kusuko asked before she could stop herself. Luckily, Mamushi decided not to hit her again, he merely glared as he answered.
“They still see fit to pay me. They seem to think that they can regain power given enough time and information.”
“And what do you think?”
“I think that you would serve me best by serving your new allies.”
“They are not my allies, Mamushi-san. You are my only ally. They are the allies of my hifu and nothing more.”
“As you say. You will do well to remember that.” Kusuko didn't flinch the next time that Mamushi-san reached for her, but this time it was a light caress of her cheek. Kusuko glowed at the rare show of affection.
“You will be of great use to me still, little one, if you can continue your guise with Tsuku-san and her allies. Though the New Council purports to have no interest in dealing with spies and assassins, I believe Yasuhiko-san and his wife are more practical than that. They may even maintain my former contract.”
“What are my instructions, then?”
“For now, simply learn as much as you can and gain their trust.”
Kusuko nodded and Mamushi-san stood and crossed to the far side of the room.
“In time, depending on what the first Rōjū plans, and the information I receive, I will send along further instructions.” 
Kusuko rose to take her leave, sensing her dismissal. 
“And Kusuko-san,” Mamushi said, just as she reached for the shoji that would allow her egress into the hallway. “Take care.”
“Yes, father,” Kusuko whispered, as she opened the shoji and left the room. 

Buy Traitor's Hope
Blade's Edge FREE promotion

In celebration of the Traitor's Hope launch, for the next five days, you can get the Blade's Edge ebook for free. This makes a great opportunity to share the series with someone else, so feel free to share this linkaround the internet! 

Radio silence commences now...

While I will be promoting the book for a while yet, and thus may be poking things on Facebook and Twitter occasionally, I won't be sending any more announcements out for a while. The end of October will be spent getting ready for ComiCon and a few other in-person events, as well as prepping for NaNoWriMo, and just taking some time off to enjoy my family. I'll be back once November wraps up and I have a shiny new first draft that I can start polishing into my next book. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Book (Blog) Tour Underway!

Well, folks, the Traitor's Hope blog tour has officially started! As Monday was Canadian Thanksgiving, I wasn't around to shout it from the rafters, but the shouting starts now!

First up was an interview with Two Chicks on Books that you can read here! (Ever wondered if I have any phobias, or who my "book boyfriend" is? Neither had I until this interview, and my answers may surprise you!)

Following that was a fabulous review by the Blushing Bibliophile which you can read here! (Warning: contains minor spoilers.) I couldn't be more pleased with Chloe's reaction to Traitor's Hope and Blade's Edge.

And that was just Day 1 (Monday)! On Tuesday Traitor's Hope will be reviewed on Bibliobakes and also be featured in a spotlight on

Every blog over this two-week tour will have links to the Rafflecopter giveaway that we're running featuring signed copies of Traitor's Hope and Blade's Edge as well as three chances to win ebook copies of both books.

Below is the full schedule for the two-week tour, as well as the giveaway! Please check back frequently for new posts on the tour. I had a lot of fun writing guest posts, selecting excerpts, and answering interview questions, and I'm really looking forward to seeing how all of the reviewers respond to Traitor's Hope.

In the meantime, I'm madly prepping for the physical book launch here in Winnipeg where I'll be reading an excerpt from the book, doing a brief Q&A, as well a book signing AND there will be an awesome martial arts demonstration to top the whole thing off. If you're anywhere nearby you should come. There'll be free wine and snacks too. :-) (7pm at McNally Robinson on the 14th of October)

Blog Tour Schedule:
Week One:

10/9/2017- Two Chicks on Books- Interview
10/9/2017- Blushing Bibliophile- Review

10/10/2017- Guest Post
10/10/2017- Bibliobakes- Review

10/11/2017- Kati's Bookaholic Rambling Reviews- Excerpt
10/11/2017- Ashley M. Delgado- Review

10/12/2017- A Dream Within A Dream- Excerpt
10/12/2017- Don't Judge, Read- Spotlight

10/13/2017- BookHounds YA- Guest Post
10/13/2017- Adventures Thru Wonderland- Review

Week Two:

10/16/2017- Novel Novice- Excerpt
10/16/2017- Nick Bryan Dot Com- Review

10/17/2017- Books at Dawn- Guest Post
10/17/2017- YA and Wine- Excerpt

10/18/2017- Fire and Ice- Spotlight
10/18/2017- A Gingerly Review- Review

10/19/2017- My Nook, Books & More- Excerpt
10/19/2017- Jena Brown Writes- Review

10/20/2017- Seeing Double In Neverland- Interview
10/20/2017- Ramblings From An Alternate Reality- Review
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, October 2, 2017

We interrupt your regularly scheduled book promotion... explain why racism is bad..., wait to explain how gun control might actually help stop mass shootings..., wait to mourn the loss of Tom Petty--No, wait, he's still alive--to send healing thoughts to--No, wait, he's dead...

Oh, f@&k it. Today (Monday) can take a long walk off a short pier.

But seriously, this week was supposed to be about getting psyched for my book launch, and my upcoming blog tour... And then, I realized that I really needed to say something about how important the #takeaknee movement was. Then, this morning happened and... well, it's kind of hard to know where to start.

My home country is going to hell in a handbasket and there is a small handed, toupeed, orangutan at the helm, shouting, "Look at me! Look at me!" all the while.

So, where do I begin? Something needs to be said because... well, I can't abide what's happening in silence. Many people are speaking up, and doing so more eloquently and insightfully than I will manage, but I can't keep quiet, lest anyone think that I don't think there's anything wrong. I don't have much of a platform, but what little platform I have I will use to try to help spread words of sanity. And some of you will say, "But, Virginia, you're a fantasy writer, stick to writing fiction, don't alienate potential readers by getting political." To which I say, "If you think that my fiction doesn't get political I think you must not have read it, and if you think that artists need to be quiet during political turmoil, then you don't know what art's true purpose is."

When I see the world around me turning into a dystopia of fantastical proportions, it is my duty to speak up and do all I can to steer us clear of the same fate as my fictional characters.

There's so much to cover though, that it's a bit overwhelming.

So here we go. Social justice bullet points. This is what the world has come to.

  • Racism: Let's be clear here, racism in the United States is pervasive and systemic and has been so for as long as people of European descent have been present there. But, ignoring the past six hundred years, let's just focus on now. If you don't believe that the United States is currently suffering from pervasive, systemic racism then you are either not paying attention, are willfully ignorant, or you don't understand the definition of racism. If you are being willfully ignorant then there isn't much hope for you, but if you simply haven't taken a good look around, or you don't understand what racism is then there is still hope.

    Let's talk about what racism is then. Because you may be one of the people who looks around and says, "What do you mean, Virginia? It's not like the KKK is lurking around every corner and lynching people left, right, and center. That kind of thing isn't allowed anymore. I don't even know any racists, so what can you possibly be talking about?" There are lots of people who wonder the same thing, so let me explain. Racism isn't just lynching, burning crosses, and using the n word. (Though sadly, that kind of thing is making a comeback, so keep an eye out for that bullshit too.) No, racism is also: not hiring someone because of the color of their skin, saying sentences that start with the words, "but black people...," dismissing violence against black people as being somehow deserved, defending cops who kill unarmed black people, saying "all lives matter" when someone tries to say "black lives matter," not listening/believing when numerous people of color share their experiences with you, and making any generalizations about an entire minority group whether they are positive or negative. (Yes, that's right, saying that Asians are good at math, or that black people have great rhythm is racist. Sorry.) This is just a tiny portion of the kinds of things that make up everyday racism, and we haven't even touched on how skewed the justice system is. Consider for a moment how many unarmed black people have been killed in the past few years by police officers, and then consider how many of those police officers have been prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. If you want to read up on it, I suggest checking out articles written by Shaun King.
  • #TakeaKnee -- For all the reasons listed above and far more, a number of athletes lately have been peacefully protesting the pervasive racism in the US, as well as the lack of justice, by kneeling during the national anthem. Ignoring the fact that kneeling is actually a sign of respect and that these athletes are all well within their constitutional rights to protest this way, a bunch of angry white folks (including the angry white folk in chief) have been outraged by this act. If you agree with the angry white folks, you might take a moment to consider the fact that thousands of veterans have taken to social media to side with the #takeaknee movement because:

    "As a combat vet, I fought Nazis of WWII. Today I #takeaknee, once more, in solidarity w/my brothers&sisters still fighting 4 equality&justice." (Quote from Norman Lear on Twitter.) In other words, plenty of people who fought for American freedom take offense at all the people trying to quash people's right to peacefully protest severe injustice.

    As Randi Mayem Singer wrote (also on twitter) "Rosa Parks was not protesting the bus. Gandhi was not protesting the food. Players are not protesting the anthem. It's the injustice, stupid."

    So, yeah, for football fans who are getting all up in arms, or sports fans in general now that the movement is spreading, no it's not about sports, and yes, this is the time and place to protest the injustice. It's about raising awareness and making people discuss and acknowledge what's happening. How many football fans were thinking about racial inequality before players started taking a knee during the anthem? A tiny fraction of the ones discussing it now I can assure you.
  • Gun control -- Just another mass shooting in the US, NBD. Wait, WTF? 58 people (and counting) dying at the hands of an American terrorist should not be something that people just shrug off. It is also a big fat reason to talk about gun control, no matter how much you hate that. Yes, it's a tragedy. Yes, it makes me unspeakably sad. I know people in Las Vegas. I know people who are into the music scene in Las Vegas. Luckily, all of the people that I know are safe. The whole thing is terrifying and awful, and I cannot fathom how terrible it must be for all of the survivors, and the families and friends of the fallen. That does not mean that we shouldn't talk about how we could possibly prevent it from happening again. In fact, it is a very good reason to talk about how we could possibly prevent it from happening again. That isn't politicizing a tragedy, that is trying to react to a tragedy with productive legislation that might stop it from ever happening again. I'm not saying "Get rid of all the guns!" Almost no one is saying that. Most people are just saying, "It's time to talk about how to keep assault rifles and automatic weapons out of the hands of people who might use them to mow down a crowd of people." That is an important conversation to have. I can't believe I have to say that to people.
  • Tom Petty: It makes me sad when humans die, including singers. However, I'm far more
    concerned with the 58 lives lost to an American terrorist than I am about the one famous guy.
I wanted to talk about Puerto Rico, and helping out, and not letting the buffoon in chief stand by while people die, but... but that's all the energy I have for the day. I spent today (and most of the past week, and let's face it every day since November) being horrified, shocked, sad, outraged... and I simply don't have much left. I apologize for all the things I've left out, and for however much of this is poorly written, and I imagine a lot of it is, but it's all I can do for now. 

No. Wait. I can do one more thing.

I'd like to ask a favor. Just a little one. As you go about your life this week, please, be kind to other people. Be kind to the people you love, and be kind to the people you don't even know. We need more kindess in the world, and small things matter. Smile at people. Say hi. Hug. Just, you know.... Be nice. Thank you. I appreciate you.

I'll be back later in the week to talk about my book and stuff.