2016 Reading Challenge: MY BOOK

I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that I’m in the midst of a mad dash to complete my 2016 reading challenge. I finished two more books over the weekend to see if I can ultimately complete it.

But today I’m talking about MY BOOK. I wonder if I’m making history right now by reviewing my own work. Hm. Anyway, let’s go.

Divided Within is set in and around Houston and follows Andrew Banks as he works his first case as a private investigator. His first client happens to be a teenage girl who suspects there’s something really wrong between her parents that they aren’t telling her about, only it’s much worse than she could have imagined.

A little history before I get into the good stuff. I wrote the book over the course of the first months immediately after I graduated from college in 2013.

Although it’s my own work, I still had problems with it. The first thing I noticed is I obviously forgot how to use commas. Seriously. I’m not sure what was going on. There were commas where there should have been periods and then there was nothing where there should have been commas. Ugh.

The other thing I didn’t really like after my reread was the language. It was unoriginal. It’s a crime novel, but I felt I used cussing at weird points in the story. I don’t feel like it worked.

The other thing that I definitely recognize, though I still don’t have a problem with is the story. I won’t get into the specifics because some of you all might actually want to give it a read now, but one of the complaints I received when I first published the book was that the story was unbelievable. And it is. But I’ll keep saying it over and over again that I don’t read any fiction to read something that’s entirely realistic. If that’s what I want then I’ll watch the news.

After more than three years my favorite aspect of the book is still Andrew and Sydney. I found a few points in which I didn’t like their dialogue, but their relationship is great. So many detectives have a new love interest every other book, but not Banks. You know that just from reading this first book.

I still find it crazy that I wrote this thing, but I did and it’s mine. It satisfied the requirement to read a self-published book for my 2016 reading challenge.

Have YOU read it!? Have you ever tried to review your own work?

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Books You MUST Read

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I’m sure you’ll recall that last week I wrote about several books that I would never read under any circumstances. If not, you can read that post here. Immediately after writing that post I thought it only fair that I write the opposite post. So now you guys get a few books that you absolutely positively must read. Ready? Off we go.

1. The Diary of a Young Girl

I was lying in bed trying to come up with a short list of books to include on this list and this one was a given. It took about eight seconds for me to come up with it. Any person over the age of probably 12 who has studied any bit of world history knows something about the story of Anne Frank. I learned about it in high school and I’d already known a bit about it before. The thing is that when you’re being taught about the happenings of her family in the middle of a curriculum that is already overloaded with information you get to spend so little time on specific topics. Which is why her diary is a must read. You get EVERYTHING. From her. Fear. Hope. Depression. Happiness. Everything. You should have read this by now. I wrote a post about this book as part of my journey to read the Amazon 100 books list that you can read here.

2. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

This needs little to no explanation. My reasoning for naming the first in the series is because I’d never recommend reading any series from a middle book, and especially not one as great as this. I’ve also written a post about this book for the same reason as Anne Frank that can be read here.

3. Dracula

This was another easy pick for me. I surely hope you’ve read it by now because this is definitely one of my favorite books that I somehow don’t own! But seriously, when I think vampire I think Dracula. When I think evil I think Dracula. When I think monster or man vs monster I think of this book. It makes no difference that it was published over a hundred years ago. This is one of those books that will remain for all time. At least I hope so.

4. The Hunger Games

You didn’t think I would write a post like this and leave my favorite series ever out of it, did you? No. I couldn’t do that. Honestly, I like Catching Fire just a bit more than the first in the trilogy but again, I can’t recommend that you begin a series with the middle book. That’s crazy. I stated in my post about my favorite series that Suzanne Collins had me crying within the first chapter of the first book of her series. The rest of the book was just as well written, paced, and truly fantastic as that opening chapter. If you don’t want to read this, fine, leave my slice of the blogging world. Leave now!

5. Divided Within

Did you catch what I did there? That’s MY book! Ha. No, I don’t think my book is anywhere near any of these others. BUT I would love for you guys to read it. It’s my baby. I’ll stop short of demanding that you buy it as soon as you read this post because, quite frankly, I’m not that worried about it at this point. If you’d like to read it thennnnn please go ahead. If not, I still like you. Okay, I like you a little less now. Can’t be helped.

A little note about this list. I only included books I’ve actually read. So I’m sure some of you guys will wonder how come none of the all-time greats are listed. That’s why. Because I haven’t read them. Remember, that’s the whole point of my tackling the Amazon list. One book that I almost included on this list was The Great Gatsby. But I read that book so long ago and so many since that I just don’t remember hardly any of it. And I haven’t read LOTR. Yet. So don’t yell at me that my list is flawed. It can always be updated.

What do you think of my little list here? Like? Dislike? Want to throw me out a window? Let me know!

Question: Which book description is more enticing?

Photo Credit: Writers and Artists

I love that more of you guys are Liking, commenting, reading, and following my blog. Obviously, right? Well, now I’m going to ask for your input on a relatively important issue I’m facing. My book’s description on Amazon! This will likely be the third time I change it, and I’m counting on you all to help me out a bit. Sound okay? Okay. Also, you should know that I’m not really worried about the book description selling more books. My book came out almost six months ago and I rarely tell people about it in person anymore because I’ve already told just about everyone I know.

Now all I’m going to do is have you read the current description and another I have written out. For this to be a bit more blind, I’m going to remove the description from the My Book page. I ask that you NOT click on the Amazon link before you make a recommendation, because I obviously can’t change that one just yet. So just tell me what you think! Here we go:

Option #1

A teenage girl walks into the office of Houston area private detective Andrew Banks a day before the office is set to open. But Mercedes is sent home before she’s able to disclose anything about why she’s there in the first place.

As instructed, she returns the following day after taking the night to think about why she needs a private detective, but still, she’s unable to give Banks any concrete information about her problem. All she knows is that her parents appear to be more combative than she’s ever seen them, and not much else.

Banks agrees to take her on as his first client thinking it’ll be a walk in the park, until he meets her parents. Alejandra is a stay-at-home mom who often buys herself things for all the work she does at home. Carlos is a banking manager who can no longer afford his wife’s constant buying.

Just when Carlos is on the verge of financial collapse, an old high school friend makes his way into his life. Carlos is offered a job that pays $10,000 a month and all he has to do is drive a car. That is, from Houston across the Mexican border and back again every two weeks with drugs being his only company during these long trips.

Now Carlos Vega wants out. Banks is ill-equipped to handle the case on his own, but he’s given no choice. Police intervention isn’t an option and an entire family entrusts him to get them out alive. He vows to do his best, but even that may not be enough.

Option #2

Houston area private eye Andrew Banks is hired by sixteen-year-old Mercedes Vega to determine what’s dividing her parents. As soon as he meets the rest of the Vega family he realizes that the situation is only one step from becoming dire. He puts the safety of the family over everything else until the case hits much too close to home and it becomes a race against a wealthy restaurant owner that ultimately turns deadly.

Okay, those are your choices! Don’t go on Amazon and cheat, please!

Officially Entered into the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest

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I knew quite some time ago that I wanted to enter my book, Divided Within, into the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. As I’ve stated in at least one previous post, this is easily the most lucrative writing contest there is. And a great opportunity for new writers. Most of the other major writing contests strictly prohibit previously self published books, but this one has no such limitation. Now, a little about the contest.

The Contest

The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award is a free to enter annual writing contest that allows for unpublished and self published entries. Entries must fall within one of the five genre categories which are: General Fiction, Mystery/ Thriller, Science Fiction/ Fantasy/ Horror, Romance, and Young Adult. Entries must also fall within the word count limits of 50,000-125,000. And the contest is judged from now until the winners are announced in July. The contest is limited to 10,000 entries, which no other contest would even come close to reaching. For instance, I’ve been told by an author who won the Best Private Eye Novel competition that is sponsored by Minotaur Books and Private Eye Writers of America several years ago that in a recent contest there were only a couple hundred entries. And this contest regularly goes years without awarding a winner.

Expectations

In anticipation of submitting my entry I read my book all the way through for a fourth time. I had many things I went back in and corrected. There were no major rewrites or chapters eliminated but there were plenty of individual words changed or taken out, and some small details altered as a result of what I’ve been told by some of my readers. With that being said, I don’t think I’m actually going to beat out 9,999 other writers to win the top prize, or even to be crowned the winner of my category. I’ve said over and over how much I love my book and the characters I created, but 9,999 other writers is a lot. I’d be happy making it to the second round of judging, in which the excerpts of 2,000 entries will be evaluated. Then it’s down to 500. Then it’s down to just 25. Then it’s down to the top five, who will all receive a publishing contract with Amazon Publishing, one of which will be awarded the $50,000 grand prize.

In about two weeks the top 400 from each category will be announced.

If you’d like to wish me luck, then feel free. If not, that’s okay too.

100th Post!

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Wow. How in the world did I manage to reach 100 posts? When I started this blog all the way back at the beginning of June last year I did so because I wanted an outlet to discuss the ups and downs of writing my first book. I loved sharing that experience with every one of you who happened to follow along. And now it’s growing faster than I can churn out relevant posts. Before I continue, I would just like to say thank you for spending your precious time reading this thing. I write my posts for me, but I love knowing that there’s always someone out there who will read them.

So, let’s see what the heck I’ve dedicated these 100 posts to.

80 – the number of posts about my own book/writing! Holy crap! I honestly didn’t know it was quite that many. What the heck are y’all doing reading so much about that? Can’t be that great.

15 – the number of posts about reading, publishing, or books in general. These have pretty much all come in the last month or so. And a few of them are way up on my list of most popular posts ever.

5 – the number of posts about miscellaneous topics. I can actually think of all of these off the top of my head.

The most popular post by far, and I mean it’s gotten like five times the number of views as the next on the list was Print vs. E-Book: Which side are you on?

The longest post in terms of its word count was A Valentine’s Day Duel: Ron & Hermione vs. Katniss & Peeta at 966 words.

The second, third, fourth, and fifth most popular posts were:

2. My Book, Divided Within, Available N0w!

3. Amazon’s List of 100 Books Everyone Should Read

4. Self Publishing with CreateSpace: My Experience

5. Cover Art Revealed: Divided Within

I’m currently at 131 WordPress followers and I’ve had 254 Likes on this bad boy.

So that’s it! 100 posts down and oh so many more to come! Thanks for reading! It’s been a blast so far.

Chapter Four in the Books

Divided Within (Andrew Banks #1)

I’d promised to tell you all about a new chapter either this past Sunday or Monday. Well, obviously I didn’t, BUT I have some extraordinary news for all of you! Really.

I’m sure most of you will remember my offering my book for free a couple of weeks ago. It was my attempt to get my book into the hands of as many new readers as possible, and I thought it was wildly successful. At the time. As we all know, this past Monday was Cyber Monday, one of the biggest online shopping days of the year. I’ll get back to that in a second.

After my one free day a couple of weeks ago I read a book called Winning with KDP Select: 5 Steps to Hit #1 in the Amazon Free Store. This was after I’d sold what I thought was a good amount of books during my free day, 206. This book outlines several sites that really promote Kindle free days, usually for a minimum fee or no cost at all. After reading this book I decided to offer my book for free once again on Cyber Monday because of what I now believed to be a lack luster attempt at utilizing KDP Select my first time. Well, although I chose not to use every tip listed in the book, I used most of what was offered and I managed to sell 6531 books during my two free days! I’ve read stories of authors selling far more and I believe it, but that number is fantastic for me. My goal going in was 1000. I think I reached that around noon the first day.

For those of you wondering what KDP Select is, it’s a program offered by Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing that allows authors to enlist their books in the program for 90 day periods. Each period the author is given five free promo days that he or she can choose to use or not. The drawback is that the eBook must be exclusive to Kindle during those 90 days.

Andrew Banks Book Two

I do have a new chapter to talk about with you guys. I mentioned last week that Andrew and Sydney were planning to add to their small family. I won’t elaborate further, but that plays heavily into the chapter that follows. The two of them are literally running around with these giant smiles across their faces and telling any person who will listen. Andrew also comes to realize the importance of the job ahead of him. He’s set to attend a major event with his client and it’s nothing but money, politicians, and celebrities attending.

That’s all I have for now!

Don’t forget that my first book is permanently $0.99 in the Kindle store if you haven’t taken advantage of any of my free days! Get it here! And free for Kindle Owners with Prime memberships!

I’ll have that picture I promised from Andrew’s office for you guys soon!

Lastly, I’ve now come up with the title for the second book! But like I did with the first one, I’ll be revealing that a little later in the writing process. Stay tuned!

Alas, A New Chapter

I must first apologize to you guys. I just checked and realized that I hadn’t told you all about a new chapter since October 26. I’m sorry for that. Unfortunately I’ve been doing everything possible to get the word out about my first book, Divided Within, and I’ve fallen a bit behind schedule writing my second. That’s okay. The book will be written and you’ll soon be reading about Andrew and Sydney once again.

I don’t have anything new to tell regarding my first book, so I’ll just go ahead and dive into the new chapter I’ve finally completed.

As you probably don’t recall due to my lack of posting, Andrew Banks’ new client is a prominent activist. That’s what we learn in the opening chapter. The second gives him a chance to discuss the new client with Sydney. And now in the third he does more bouncing ideas off Sydney, but there is one interesting aspect of the chapter that I kinda sorta want to share with you guys. As you may or may not know from my posts or if you’ve gotten your hands on the book, Andrew and Sydney are approaching four years together. They’re both done with school and financially stable. So guess what they’re going to do?! Add to their small family! That’s all I’m saying for now!

Also, for those of you who have gotten the book I’ll be posting a picture from Andrew’s office soon. So be on the lookout!

AND the Kindle version of my book is permanently $0.99, so that’s reason enough to take a look at it if you haven’t already!

AND you can get 30% off the price of my book on Amazon from now until Sunday by using promo code BOOKDEAL. What are you waiting for?!