Tag Archives: books

Vicki Baty Reviews Humans In My House

2 Jul

Humans In My House (series book 1) Chapter 4 illustration, art by Victoria Lyons, 2015

Vicki Baty, Co-Owner of Bookends, a wonderful new and used book store in North Myrtle Beach and book blogger at Beach Walk Book Talks, reviews Humans In My House (series book 1). Review republished with permission. Full article of her other Independence Day reads and recommendations at the link.

 

“Humans In My House by Amanda Marsico – There are terrific self-published books for children as well as adults and this one by Amanda Marsico is very enjoyable.  A cat having been dumped by a human, is living his life in an abandoned house.  He has a lovely time living a life of freedom until he meets some special children who teach him what friends, loyalty, love, and home are all about.  The sequel – Humans In My House and the stars above it continues the adventure.  These are perfect middle school reads.”

 

**Personal note: I make a point not to alter my reviewers’ words or thoughts about my books. However, I don’t want readers to be misinformed. Although the review calls these “middle school reads,” I want you to know that the Humans In My House series is marketed for 8-12 years as this is the industry-standard range used for “middle grade fiction.” 12 years is pushing the age where these books may no longer challenge even if they still amuse. My typical customers range from 7-10 years. Humans book 1 is the easiest of the series, followed by book 3, and book 2 in ascending levels of difficulty.

 

 

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~Cover Reveal~ Ontogenesis: Acephalous Book 2

21 Jun

Available on Amazon July 6, 2018.

In book 2 of the Acephalous series, Breena must contend with the results of her previous actions. As book 1 follows her to rock bottom, book 2 sees Bree wake up to reality and make a plan to clean up her messes. It is a long road to Gehenna, and to reconciliation, but she has learned to forge ahead with others’ interests at heart rather than escaping as in the past. While certain conflicts are put to rest, others still seethe beneath the surface. Her new approach to balancing chaos with peace throws tradition to the wind as she takes her role as Queen of Gehenna.

The Acephalous series is a mature young adult (15+) metaphysical drama with an urban fantasy mood. Readers of Cassandra Clare, P.C. and Kristin Cast, and Lauren Kate will enjoy the series.

Look for book 3, the final installment, Winter 2019.

Official Cover Reveal for Nova June: Inventor

13 Mar

This beauty is finally ready!

Createspace - Full Cover - Correct Size - with ISBN - Dark Back - Final - smaller (300 dpi).png

Nova June: Inventor is available for pre-order (kindle only, paperback to follow) on Amazon.

Come see me at an event for a signed copy and a special bonus item for the first 12 people who purchase in person.

A Book-Nerd’s Nightmare (and some complaints)

2 Mar

stress

If you’ve followed me here for a while, you know that I’m working on three books series at once: Acephalous, Humans In My House, and Nova June: Inventor. I give myself deadlines to stay organized, and I typically try to finish one novel completely before cycling to another series. I publish about one book per series per year. But the addition of Nova June is a new experience, and I’ve been working on it and Ontogenesis: Acephalous Book 2 simultaneously.

Nova June: Inventor is a children’s picture book, and I’m doing the illustrations myself. As I expected, but hate to admit, my self-imposed deadlines for this one are hard to stick to. Illustrating takes forever when you’re not really an artist (and no, I’m not saying it’s quick for true artists. I acknowledge the time and effort that goes into artists’ work). I’ve already missed my cover reveal deadline for the book by a day. It will likely be out next week. But, I digress.

One of the hassles that pile on top of these deadlines when you’re an indie author is marketing and publicity. I recently sent off all of my novels to Barnes and Noble’s small press department for consideration for placement in their stores. The books are available online and for special order, but you won’t see them on their shelves.

In a much quicker period than expected, I got my to-the-point rejection letter essentially saying that there are too many print-on-demand books out there to consider. They won’t accept mine only because of that reason. It made me angry because I’m guessing they didn’t even read them, otherwise there might have been some useful criticism. They (probably) flipped to the back of the books, saw the CreateSpace printing address, and sent them to be pulped. I hope they at least donated my books to a charity instead.

I’ve seen CreateSpace books on their shelves before, so at some point, they were giving us little names a chance. Their online guidelines for making these submissions said NOTHING about not accepting print-on-demand. If they don’t want to consider them, they should give authors the advance notice (like Books-A-Million does). Getting the materials ready to submitting was a time consuming process. To make matters worse, print-on-demand does not mean the books cannot be purchased at wholesale, but big book stores care that print-on-demand makes it more difficult to return overstock for a refund (but Ingram does this via CreateSapce direct, so that reasoning for their rejection is moot).

book vortex

All the print-on-demand books swirling away into the pulper. (*facetious*)

I won’t bore you with additional ranting about the ins and outs of the publishing industry. In fact, I didn’t realize I was still so riled up by this whole thing. My point in telling you all this is to lead into the stress-induced book nightmare I had the other night, which I find hugely amusing in concept now that it’s over.

Picture it. Sicily: 1912. (Just kidding.)

I receive a package with a paperback copy of Acephalous and a rejection letter from Barnes and Noble. Their reasoning for not accepting the book is the same as in reality: no print-on-demand books. The letter additionally includes notes about how poorly formatted it is, that it is unreadable. I scoff and make some angry comments about them then decide to flip through my book to see just what they mean.

To my horror, the book is indeed as illegible as they claim, and at this point the dream turns to black and white. It’s grainy like an old TV. Every page in the book has multiple fonts and sizes of text. Some of the words are huge, dark, bold. Many of them are tiny, grey-scale. The pages aren’t even in order. I go to the table of contents to see if it could help me read the book in the correct order, but the table of contents (which my book doesn’t even have in real life) is just a list of random words from throughout the book and arbitrary numbers beside them.

tv

If you’ve ever had one of those elevator dreams where the button doesn’t take you to the floor it says, or one of those “dial 911” dreams where the numbers on the phone are in the wrong place or don’t dial as the number you press, the table of contents part was just like that. Totally useless. As if looking for the word “the” in the TOC would be descriptive enough. Come on, subconscious.

And even though there isn’t the slightest bit of scary material in this dream, it still woke me up as if it was a nightmare. For a book-nerd, an author, editor, publisher, it was truly horrific. No one should see their brainchild mangled up like that in dreams. (I’m being dramatic. I really find it funny, now.)

Amazingly, until this dream, my Red Ink Enthusiast-related work had NEVER crept into my sleep. And that’s really saying something considering how much better I work under some stress and a deadline. Looking back on it, I’m certain the dream was expressing my lingering irritation with Barnes and Noble, essentially saying that unless my books looked as bad as it did in my dream, there was no reason not to accept them.

I can’t stand knowing the only reason they were rejected is because there are too many others. It would be easier, almost, if they just thought my writing was bad. That I can improve. But it’s not. Especially Humans In My House. I really thought they’d bite with that one, and it’s my dream to see that series in the kid’s section. But, I can’t do anything about the amount of other writers out there trying to do the same thing as me. So, I’ll plug on, hunt down the (dwindling) indie stores, shmooze with the people who make decisions, and try to compete in the current market while many of my methods are still stuck the 1900s–in person, with a small budget. 

Here’s to getting discovered.

Smashwords Interview

28 Feb
Smashwords Ace 1 front page

I’m still on the front page for the Young Adult and Teen category on Smashwords. Oh, and did I mention Acephalous has a new cover? I’m in love with it. Official cover reveal coming soon!

Yesterday I joined Smashwords so that I can offer ebooks through more retailers. So far, it’s been a smashing experience. (Cue the groans that always come after a pun.)

Acephalous is now available for download on Apple iBooks, Barnes and Noble Nook, OverDrive, Kobo, Gardners, and more. It is still available on Amazon Kindle as well. I plan to add Ontogenesis: Acephalous Book 2 to these retailers when it publishes. Due to the nature of the image files that comprise my children’s books, they will only be available in print and ebook via Amazon.

Read my Smashwords author interview below and visit my Smashwords author profile to purchase Acephalous on these new platforms.

Interview with Amanda Marsico

When did you first start writing?
I was writing creatively before I could even spell. It was simple, silly, but I did it for fun and the habit continued. I always had journals and filled so many pages between the ages of 12 and 19. In addition to my daily journaling, I wrote poetry everywhere. On napkins, school papers, you name it. I don’t journal anymore, but this doesn’t mean I don’t write daily. I still have bits of poetry pop into my head at random times, too. Those I type out on my phone and finish later.
My first professional writing experience was a freelance job interviewing artists for a gallery and writing editorials for their website. I was 20. Since then, I’ve accumulated a large list of published pieces, but none of them felt so surreal or exciting as the first novel, Humans In My House, that published in 2015, and Acephalous, the story I started at 14 years old and finally finished in 2016. That one tops the list of most exciting moments of my career.
 
What’s the story behind your latest book?
Ontogenesis: Acephalous Book 2 follows the story of Breena and Atlas as Breena tries to clean up the messes she made in book 1 and Atlas tries to win her back. In book 1, Breena is a selfish, annoying person. She uses her dreaming to escape reality, and she yearns to be someone else. This inward focus causes her to steamroll her friends and family. She sees what she’s doing to them, but struggles to pull out of the addictions and relationships that keep her in such a mindset. I painted her in this light purposefully because, first, not every character in a book, not even the main character, has to be likeable all the time; and second, in order to redeem herself in books 2 and 3, she had to start at a low point. She needs room to grow, and heroic, likeable characters have less room for realistic development if they start out that way. They’re changes become caricatures, larger than life traits that paint them as perfect. Breena was never meant to be perfect. In book 1, Breena makes terrible decisions and struggles to put others first. While book 1 focuses on Breena’s downward (or maybe more appropriately, INWARD,) spiral, book 2 sees her accept reality, embrace her identity, and set out to take responsibility by sacrificing her way of life. Without giving too much away about books 1 and 2, I’ll simply say that Breena is going use her power and influence for others rather than herself. Some of the main mischief-makers of book 1 will get what’s coming to them, and those who still get away with their evil will see justice in book 3.
 
What are you working on next?
I’ve been working on Ontogenesis and a children’s picture book called Nova June: Inventor simultaneously. Nova June will publish first, and I’m aiming for April 2018. Ontogenesis will be out by summer. After those are finished, I’ll take a break for a week or so and then dive into Humans In My House and the Animals Beyond It (#3 in its series). In it, Kepler and his humans will take a family vacation and visit the San Diego Zoo. The book’s educational focus will be wildlife conservation.
 
How do you approach cover design?
Covers are usually one of the lasts things I take care of before publishing. One practical reason to wait until the end is because the word count and page count need to reach their final numbers in order to create the correct spine width in the cover image. Making the cover first would cause a lot of do-overs as the book grows (or shrinks) during editing. Practicality aside, I like the cover to convey a sense of the book in images, and I often don’t have a full sense of the book myself until at least the draft is done. I’m not a planner when I write, so to choose a cover image before the ending has resolved would be short-sighted.
 
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
In-person events are always my biggest successes. There are fewer books to compete against than any marketing done online. Paid ads and blog posts get some results, but not always enough for the time or monetary investment, at least not at this point in my career. I’m still unknown, so people often disregard what they see because they haven’t already heard of me or enjoyed my work. It’s like shouting into a void. The upside is that if they see my name once and ignore it, they might take notice if it keeps popping up again and again. It’s important to show you have a consistent presence in your line of work. It builds legitimacy. Even so, marketing online is like shouting AT people that may or may not become readers. Doing conventions and signings is like speaking WITH people who are in attendance specifically to be readers. At the very worst, they aren’t at the event to spend any money but to browse, and you still get to make an impression and have your work seen.
 
Describe your desk:
My desk is whatever I set my computer on for the day. Right now, I’m standing at the kitchen counter writing this because there’s no glare on the screen and I’m so sick of sitting all day every day. It’s just unhealthy. My real desk, which I rarely use for writing work, is in a dedicated office room in my house and often littered with post-its, book illustration originals and concept art, and other works in progress. I use it to spread out when I’m packing swag bags, boxing merch and displays for events, etc. Nothing fancy, it’s a simple 6-foot, white, fold-out table like you’d use at a yard sale. It gets cleared, folded, and packed away for the rare outdoor events that I do (which is risky when you’re inventory is entirely paper).
 
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
I watch more TV and play on my phone more than I should, but it’s a mindless activity that is sometimes needed after writing or reading all day. My favorite activity is hiking, though, and I try to get out of the house as frequently as I can. When you work from home, you have to make a point to go places. Even grocery shopping is a night out when you realize you haven’t left the house in 3 days.
 
What do you read for pleasure?
When I’m not steeped in my own characters or those of an editing client, I love to read fan fiction written by the talented authors on Tumblr and Archive of our Own. I’m also part of a local book club, so I read the monthly selection even if it’s not in my preferred genre. I think it’s important to read widely, and even when I didn’t like the book, I always get pleasure from the club meetings and discussion regardless. And as if I don’t strain my eyes enough, I have a stack of to-read books that I pick up on impulse almost any time I cross a discount book bin in stores. I’ve been reading a lot of those (various genres, but mostly memoir and non-fiction–it wasn’t a purposeful choice to stock up on nonfiction, just how it turned out) in order to surpass my GoodReads goal of 24 books in 2018. As of this writing, I’m at 9 books and it’s the last day of February. I’m well ahead of schedule.
 
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I was using a Kindle Paperwhite until my water bottle leaked into the bottom of my bag and drowned it. Now I use my phone or ipad.
 
What are your five favorite books, and why?

I like all of the Cassandra Clare novels, starting with City of Bones. Aside from loving the story and subject matter, these books have a huge cast of characters, and they’re all fully realized people with unique personalities, flaws, and dreams. I’ve always hoped to be as good at characterization as her. If you like these books, Acephalous is probably right up your alley.

I really enjoyed Lauren Kate’s Fallen series. I rarely read something more than once, but I read the series 3 times. Again, the characterization and world-building are outstanding. The subject of fallen angels is a great one in YA lit. If you enjoy these books, I’m sure there are at least a few elements of Acephalous that you’d like, too.

From high school to grad school, Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea kept popping up in assignments. It’s a favorite not only because of the hours I poured over that book studying, dissecting, and researching it, but because the wild abandon of the setting drew me in, and the wild heart of its main characters kept me there. This book will always be on my shelf, with index cards of the notes I took over the years still stuffed between the pages.

I read The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Bradbury years ago, but it’s intelligence sticks with me. The characters are brilliant because the author is brilliant. The intersection of the characters’ lives makes for odd pairings and situations worth writing about.

The last on my list hearkens back to childhood. Corduroy was and still is my favorite book. I love it for its cute illustrations and its hopeful plot. My favorite line I still think about often. As Corduroy approaches (what he is unaware is) an escalator, he says, “I think I’ve always wanted to climb a mountain.” The little bear has the ideal metaphor for life.

 
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Breakfast.

 

Published 2018-02-28.

 

International Book Giving Day 2018

14 Feb

What’s better than giving valentines and chocolate? Giving BOOKS!

February 14th is International Book Giving Day. The goal is to get books into the hands of more children and to make them excited about reading. This is a volunteer-led initiative that anyone can participate in.

Some of the ways to participate include:

  • Gift a book to someone you know
  • Leave a book in a waiting room for children to read as they wait
  • Donate to local libraries, hospitals, shelters, and other organizations that can get the books to children who need them. (This includes international organizations!)

To top it off, “Publisher Book Island will donate one book to their hospital programme [sic] for each book sold via their website (14 – 28 February)” (International Book Giving Day 2018), so go buy some books!

Today, I got involved by donating a class set of Acephalous and Humans In My House to my local Boys and Girls Club in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where the books will find a permanent home in the media rooms at their Club (elementary age) and Teen Center (middle and high school age). I’ll be volunteering to lead a book club on the books later on (if they read them before we move back to VA).

Here’s a photo of my visit!

0214181155

After delivering books, Amanda Marsico holding #Kepler in front of the Boys and Girls Club of the Grand Strand.

Follow this and other adventures on my Instagrams @KeplerSeesTheWorld (Kepler & kid-friendly book news) and @RedInkEnthusiast (Acephalous & Teen+ book news) and use #bookgivingday in your posts. Don’t forget to follow @BookGivingDay, too.

How to Babysit Your Author: A Guide

12 Feb

couch

Staying in on a Friday night? Parking it on the couch for the weekend?

If you love an author, you might be stuck in the house with one of these bleary-eyed, curmudgeony, hand-cramped word-herders. Here are some surefire ways (in somewhat chronological order) to babysit your author successfully.

  1. Say goodbye to the corner seat of the couch.
  2. Turn on the coffee maker; put on the kettle. It’s only a matter of time. Whether your author wants coffee, tea, or hot chocolate, the hot water will be in demand.
  3. Hand over the remote. Watch some mindless, guilty-pleasure TV. Don’t feel guilty.
  4. Those little bitty decorative throw blankets? You can do better. Pull the comforter off the bed and throw it over the couch.We want our feet and our shoulders covered.
  5. Place cat in lap.
  6. Intersperse a few good puns throughout conversation. Hint: The best puns are the ones that make your author comment on how bad they are.
  7. Make a cheese plate, except with chocolate instead of cheese. Actually, the plate isn’t even necessary. Just hand over a stack of chocolate bars. Your author will know what to do with them.
  8. No nap-shaming. If you don’t want to sleep while your author does, read their draft. If it’s not ready to read, mute your phone/computer/video games, and don’t load/unload the dishwasher. Please.
  9. Wake your author only if you’re dying or dinner’s ready.
  10. Breakfast for dinner.
  11. Offer a neck and shoulder rub or a hand massage. Typing is easy, but it’s still strenuous work.
  12. Even if they already have plenty, surprise your author with a new journal, date book, note pad, or pen. Post-its are also a practical option. Your author might not have time to journal every day, but random thoughts worthy of a post-it crop up constantly, and they make great bookmarks.
  13. After reading and writing for work, authors often don’t make time to do it for enjoyment. Give your author a few hours of uninterrupted read-for-pleasure time to work on that To-Be-Read pile. It’s getting dangerously tall.
  14. Your author’s eyes might be too tired to read for fun. Give them a cold rag or gel mask to relax. Save the cucumbers for some hummus.
  15. Make hummus.
  16. Listen to your author’s anxiety-riddled plot-hole repair plan. Don’t just nod and smile. Give real feedback by telling your author the things that will actually help the story, even if it’s not what they want to hear. Your author would rather screw up in front of you and then put in more work than publish something iffy under the impression that it’s great.
  17. Remind your author that it’s fine they aren’t writing right that second. Rest is essential work, too.
  18. Did I mention cats? More cats. Also, refill hot beverage of choice. Your author has run out by now.
  19. Stay up late with your author, even though they napped and you didn’t. Remember to nap with them next time.
  20. Run a bath.

These are just a few ways to babysit your author. This list is not exhaustive, nor does it cover the preferences of every author. That means your author might be easier, or harder, to please. If the latter, I apologize on behalf of my temperamental, wordy kind and wish you good luck.

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