Looking for a UF Read?

After several days of staring at my crowdfunding campaign I decided I needed a book break. I happened to download an urban fantasy book by one of my favorite authors and thought I’d share my review of it.  If you are looking for a new read in the urban fantasy genre, I highly recommend anything by Jasmine Walt. I first stumbled upon Jasmine Walt’s work in the Shadows of Salem Series written with Rebecca Hamilton (for more information see here).

I don’t typically do a lot of reviews, in fact I have never put one on this blog before. This book and these authors deserve one heck of a shout out, so without further ado, here’s my review of  Jasmine Walt & Debbie Cassidy’s latest book Marked by Sin.

Marked by Sin is a roller coaster ride and one of the best books in the urban fantasy genre I’ve read in recent years. The book introduces us to the world of Malina, a London-based assassin with the Brahma Corp’s Assassin Guild. An assassin who is one kill away from Ascension which occurs after fifty kills and is also known as a raise, better apartment, and better rank within the Guild. Malina has spent all of her life in the Assassin Guild. Her adopted father raised her and trained her to be the best.

When Malina’s fiftieth mission is complete, even though it doesn’t go quite as planned, she is ready to Ascend. During the ceremony where she receives her mark to confirm her kill the bottom falls out of Malina’s world. The fifty kills she’s has made have left a taint on her soul, because each of the fifty were innocents. Searching for answers, Malina navigates the new world and discovers her place within it, and maybe a potential romance.

What works: Malina. She’s strong, very loyal to those she cares about and is genuinely upset when she finds out how the world is not as she believed it to be. The vast supporting cast is all well-developed and serves to keep the plot moving forward. There is minimal bad language (okay this may be wrong, but I didn’t notice it). Also, having a UF book with a different take on the supernatural (i.e. using the Hindu pantheon) is very refreshing.

What doesn’t work: While personally, I wish the book were longer, I can’t really find anything that doesn’t work.

I will be preordering book 2 and any other books these ladies put out. If you’re interested in checking the book out for yourself it is available at Amazon.

Rating:  Five Dragons (a.k.a. stars)

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Desperate times = Crowdfunding

Desperate times = Crowdfunding

I haven’t been completely honest. When I published Golden Opportunity I was a bit on the naive side of life. I thought I’d found a great editor who happened to also be my proofreader (big mistake on my part). I paid $1500 for both copyediting and proofreading. On the day Golden Opportunity went live I received a message from a person I went to high school with. She felt my book was comma heavy and a little lacking in certain real world information. Here’s what happened next.

  1. I went and proofread my book. It was comma heavy. In 87,000 words I used nearly 5,000 commas.
  2. I used ProWritingAid and Grammarly to help fix the worst of the problems. Yes, I’m admitting it I had to use programs to fix some of my book’s issues. It may sound awful, but I was already out $1,500 for editing and proofreading and it didn’t help. I had to do something to make it up to my readers.
  3. I spent months tweaking and fixing every line.
  4. Finally, I realized I couldn’t fix it by myself. I needed a good editor. One who wouldn’t tell me the book was “perfect” even when it isn’t.

When I finally admitted it to myself I cried for several hours. I’m almost forty-nine years old. I’m about to start an MFA in creative writing program in the fall. I write every single day without fail (and I mean that). I live with autoimmune hemolytic anemia with both warm and cold agglutinins, fibromyalgia, degenerative disc disease, and I have IBD. I spend most of my time at home. I don’t go out, because who’s going to want to date an old broad who can’t stray too far from a bathroom or who spends her time worrying that her body temperature is going to go below ninety-nine degrees risking a full flare of my autoimmune disorder and requiring massive blood transfusions. I live on SSDI because I can’t work outside the home. My family uprooted themselves so I could find someplace to live with a more moderate climate to keep my health under control.

So there I am trying to figure out how I can afford another one to two thousand dollars for editing when I’m already nearly two thousand dollars in the red on the book. Oh and let’s not forget I have book 2 needing edited, book 3 needing edited, and in about three months books 4 and 5 will be needing edited as well. That’s $7500 that I can’t afford. I earn a whopping $12,000 a year on SSDI. Having to realize you’re no longer able to work is horrible. Having to see the look on people’s faces when I they recognize my government issued debit card is even worse.

My goal through all my writing has only ever been to earn enough to keep me writing the next one. That means paying for the editing, covers, marketing, and the miscellaneous stuff that each book costs. I’m not trying to get rich, I’m just trying to get my stories out there. My education is what is designed to help me earn a living, not my writing.  Although it would be nice if it did.

So here I sat working on a budget so I could figure out where to squeeze every extra dime so I could have the money I need for covers and editing. It’s just not possible. Covers…maybe. Editing…can’t do it. The funds just aren’t there anymore. Plus I need a professional website and several other tools to speed up my work…as with everything else the funds aren’t there. Today I received an email about crowdfunding and the various platforms. I went a checked out a few websites. I looked at Inkitt and others and finally realized I could use Indiegogo. I’ve created a campaign that will run for two months. I’ve been open and honest about the costs associated with the books I want to publish. Maybe I can get a few donations to help offset the cost of the books.

If you, or anyone you know is willing to spread the word and help an old broad get her stories out in the world please feel free to share it on your Twitter, Facebook, heck any social media account you can think of. I’d really appreciate it. I figure I won’t get any donations, but if I do it will be a nice shock. My campaign is here.

Thank you for your time.

V. L. Cooke

Judgments

Judgments

Hello My Loves,

There was a post on Facebook today by an author I follow. I won’t share the author’s name because I don’t have permission. It was the content of the post that bothered me. She was basically apologizing to the people who follow her for talking about a vacation she’s planning on taking. A trip she’s been planning for over a year.

This author is an amazing lady, and I adore her books. She’s also a workhorse when it comes to writing. She writes non-stop and turns out four or five books a year. She makes enough self-publishing, so she no longer has to work at anything other than writing. She’s living the dream so many of us share, yet she felt the need to apologize for taking a couple weeks off…why? Seriously, why? And who the hell had the cajones to get snarky about a woman’s vacation strictly because they like her work? Sorry, I love writing, and I love meeting my readers, but if any of you were to do that to me, you’d get an earful of blistering blue language that will peel the skin off your ears.

Untitled designEarlier this week a woman I know from school wrote about how people were judging her for going to Walt Disney World with her children. The trip in which she’ll be staying at a value resort she and her husband had paid for before her husband lost his job. Yes, they’re struggling right now, and she could have canceled the trip and recouped some of the money she’d spent, but she feels her children deserve the trip. Yet, people feel they have the right to judge her for keeping a promise she made to her children because her husband is without a job? If her bills are paid, and there’s food on the table, what right does anyone have to judge how she spends her money? Is it because they think they know her life and have a right to comment on it? Or is it that they never got over being mean girls from high school?

I’ve seen other authors post about trips they’re planning for research, yet no one questions how they spend their money, and I have to wonder how much of this is because they are more famous and traditionally published. If it’s alright to judge either of my two examples, then you should have the right to judge everyone equally, am I right?

How about if you see an obese woman buying a dozen donuts, are you going to give her a lecture about wasted calories, junk food, and healthy eating?  Or are you going to talk behind her back? What about someone getting a five hundred dollar tattoo? They could probably make a car payment with that kind of money, why should they defile their skin with ink? No, I don’t really feel that way. I love tattoos and donuts. What is going on in the world that we no longer respect peoples’ right to privacy?

GUILTY!I am guilty as anyone else when it comes to this. I have made judgments and comments I had no right to make. Some political in nature, some personal, all wrong. I’ve been the woman buying donuts, I know how she felt. I’ve been a person judged for doing something as simple as buying an expensive gift for a family member as a way of saying thank you, and it didn’t feel good. I learned from it. I learned how to quash my judgmental nature and accept people. I think we need a little more of that in the world, don’t you? So share your triumphs, whether it be a book, a trip, a hot guy, or even just a weekend of Netflix and chill. I will cheer for your successes, just like I will cry when things don’t work out the way you intended. I’m always here for you. If anyone says anything negative feel free to send them my way, I’m trying to expand my creative cursing and could always use a willing victim.

Love you all,

V. L.

Update: Seas of Gold, Camp NaNoWriMo, and more.

Update: Seas of Gold, Camp NaNoWriMo, and more.

I know I haven’t written since the year began. I promise I haven’t forgotten about you, I’ve been going through a few issues and a lot of changes. As promised here’s my update.

Seas of Gold is in the process of editing and revisions, but there is some good news on that front. I HAVE A COVER!!!!!! And it’s beautiful. Stay tuned for my cover reveal. I won’t be doing a cover reveal party like I did with GO the cover reveal will just be me posting it on my social media. However, I promise there will be some event for when SoG goes live.

It’s Camp NaNoWriMo time and I will be there with everyone else. I’m already in a cabin with some of my amazing author friends including my prose ho, Candace Kuhn. This camp’s story will be book three in the series tentatively titled Golden Parachute. There’s big changes on the horizon for Siobhan and the crew of Dragon Hill. I hope you enjoy what I’ve got planned.

Part of the reason I’ve not been able to post is I moved from my childhood home in Oregon to South Carolina. We drove across the country from Oregon in a fully loaded car with two cats and a dog. It was one heck of an adventure, one that I don’t want to repeat anytime in the near future. I’m loving South Carolina, it’s not as wet as Oregon is this time of year and I love the people. I’ve even found the local library where I am currently researching local legends and mythical creatures for potential use in the Custodian series.

I’ve removed GO from Kindle Unlimited. I’m sure the program works well for a lot of authors, but giving exclusivity to KU limits exposure for newbie authors like myself. Because of this, I will no longer be exclusive to Amazon. GO will go live on Smashwords and still be available at Amazon, but now will be available in all digital formats including iBooks.

I’m about to graduate with my bachelor’s degree in psychology. Although my original plan was to continue on to earn my Ph.D. plans have changed. Instead of applying to graduate programs in psychology, I’m applying to MFA programs in creative writing. I swear I never saw this one coming.

That’s pretty much all that’s been going on in my life, what’s going on with you? Leave me a comment to tell me what I have missed out on.

V. L. Cooke

Last night, while laying in bed with my dog and cat, avoiding writing by surfing the interwebs I stumbled across this article. I even commented on it. If you haven’t read it, I suggest you don’t waste your time, it’s really nothing more than an elitist looking down her nose at those of us who choose to self-publish. I highly recommend perusing the comments and finding how many rather famous authors chose to try to enlighten a woman who thinks we who self-publish do nothing more than provide”insult to the written word, the craft of writing, and the tradition of literature”.

facepalmI could go on a rant about how wrong she is but it’s already been done here, and is far better than a self-published, craftless wannabe such as myself is capable of providing on this forum.

What I will do is provide a few facts about Laurie Gough, the “award-winning author of three memoirs, journalist, and travel writer”. Ms. Gough has published three memoirs using traditional publication. She’s a mother, a freelance editor, and according to her website she has written for a wide array of publications. However, I wanted to know more about Ms. Gough’s work. I wanted to see how wonderful these three traditionally published books are in comparison to some of the self-published authors I read. So I went to my favorite online book store and chose three self-published authors that I enjoy (Kristen Painter, Jessie Donovan, and V. L. Cooke [shocking, I know]). I compared the number of reviews each author has and here’s what I came up with:

  • Laurie Gough – 3 books traditionally published – 53 reviews. The three are ranked in the Kindle store at 200,286, 2,081,016, and 1,457,315.
  • Jesse Donovan – Approximately 18 books (I may have miscounted) – 2,186 reviews. I didn’t check each one for their ranking but I did check the one with the least amount of reviews and the one with the most. They ranked at 240,617 (paid Kindle store) and 1,810 (free Kindle store).
  • Kristen Painter – A formerly traditionally published author who chooses to self-publish now – Approximately 25 books (again it’s late and I probably miscounted) – 4,980 reviews. Using the same formula as the previous author the books with the highest and lowest number of reviews placed at 1,272 (free Kindle store) and 518,522 (paid Kindle store).
  • V. L. Cooke – Self-published one book – 3 reviews. 551,396 in the paid Kindle store.

So, taking my egotistical, self-congratulatory inclusion out of the picture, we have two authors, one of whom self-publishes after being traditionally published for years and another who self-publishes exclusively. Both of whom have far more reviews, more books, and better rankings than the one who looks down her nose at those of us who choose to self-publish.

just-stopAlso, she chose to quote an author who says some pretty rude things about wannabes who self-publish and who had to repost an apology that is four years old to make sure that people understand that she was not being deliberately rude, she just didn’t understand self-publishing after having spent her entire writing career in the traditional publishing world.

So what have we learned from my little investigation? 1.) I’m vain and have to include myself in a list of authors I have no right being in because I am too lazy to come up with anyone else to fill the spot; 2.) Some authors are literary snobs who think that those who self-publish damage the written word; 3.) There are self-published authors who will laugh about this author’s views, while sitting in bed working on their next book to self-publish; and 4.) I will do anything to avoid writing when my characters and I have a difference of opinion.

For those of you who read this blog and intend to self-publish please realize this author’s views, while wrong, are held by many in the publishing world. Develop a thick skin, learn to take criticism with a smile, and please find a good editor. Do your best to be a shining light in the world of self-publishing, the author who takes the time (and spends the necessary money) to provide readers with the best possible experience. Perhaps with time we will show Ms. Gough, and others like her, those who choose to self-publish aren’t something to be scraped off the bottom of their shoes, but a force for change in the publishing world.

For those of you who wish to traditionally publish, I commend you. I couldn’t do it because I refuse to give up that kind of control over my work. It takes an immense amount of courage to put yourself out there and I hope you find an amazing agent and get one heck of a publishing contract.

Much Love To You All,

V. L. Cooke

 

 

I’m a realist, which is kind of odd for a creative type person. I spend my free time immersed in fantasy worlds, yet when I’m not writing I understand the harsh realities of life. So when an author on Facebook made a post about what piracy is in the creative world, I kind of ignored it and moved on. I already knew what piracy is. The post made me think about the cost of piracy and what it would do to someone like me.

I do not condone downloading books from torrent sites (not that there are many of those left) or from other piracy sites, the same with movies, music, television shows, or anything else you can download. If I can’t afford it I save up and buy it when I can. That’s how I live my life, but I know others don’t feel the same way.

Imagine my surprise when I searched my book and my name and found that it’s available for free. Why? Is $2.99 for a Kindle copy and $9.99 for a paperback really that much to ask for a book that I spent hundreds of hours and nearly $1,800 to bring to life? Obviously it is, because I’ve made less than $60 in three months, and people are able to download it for free from these sites. I’ve submitted requests to have it taken down and have been ignored, or told that I have to prove I’m the author. I guess paying for a copyright will be of some use after all, but why should I have to? Why do so many people think it’s okay to take away from an author’s livelihood, whether they be traditionally, indie, or self-published?

no-piratesI’ve made it my goal to fight piracy in all forms. If I know someone who does it then they can expect to be called out on the behavior. If I find a site with my book on it, I will send them a takedown request. Fighting piracy is my number two priority for 2017. My number one priority is to get Seas of Gold ready to publish for those who like Golden Opportunity. To me 2017 will always be known as the year of anti-piracy, which is so much better than the year of loss that 2016 was, in my opinion at least.

What is 2017 going to be for you? What change will you create in the world, even if it’s just a minor change? I’d really love to hear from you.

V. L. Cooke