Indie Author Friday – John Hazen #IndieAuthors #suspense #bookpromotion

 

indie-author

Welcome to my first Indie Author Friday!  Thanks to all who have signed up to be featured – the response has been tremendous and I’m booking into September now.

John Hazen kicks things off for us today.  He’s been pretty busy these past few years – he’s published four books and is working on his fifth.  Suspense lovers – heads up!

Thank you so much, Teri, for having me on your blog. It’s always rewarding when fellow authors are so supportive and provide a platform to get my story out there. Let me tell a bit about myself. I live with Lynn, my wife of 36 years, in New Jersey with plans to relocate to Florida in the not too distant future.

Although writing’s something I’ve always wanted to do, I’m not one of those who will tell you they started writing when they were ten. I guess I was a late bloomer and only started writing novels in earnest in my early 50s. Well, I just turned 60 and I’m very proud that I now have four suspense novels floating around out there and am working on a fifth.

I self-published my first novel, Dear Dad, through Amazon.

Dear Dad ( http://amzn.to/1VYgo2Z ) – A Vietnam War soldier finds redemption 51kfkrjcwxl-_ac_us200_only after he makes a mystical trip back to 1862 Tennessee when he finds himself serving in a Union Army field hospital leading up to the Battle of Shiloh.

My other three books—Fava, Journey of an American Son and Aceldama—were published through the small independent publisher we share, Black Rose Writing.518uhz5f9gl-_ac_us200_

Fava (http://amzn.to/1sqss0b ) – The biggest story of a New York City TV reporter’s career can make her famous, kill her, and/or bring about World War III.

Journey of an American Son (http://amzn.to/1OuVZA5 ) – A young man is framed for murder half way around the 51nhh-l0vol-_ac_us200_globe in 1920 and his wife must race to prove his innocence and free.

Aceldama ( http://amzn.to/1sr15Uq ) – A young woman must battle logic and the Catholic Church to free her husband from the clutches of an ancient curse that is slowing sapping his life away.51r6lb7o-tl-_ac_us200_

What is something memorable you’ve heard from your readers/fans?

There are several comments that jump to mind as the most memorable I’ve received from my readers (It would be extremely presumptuous of me to say I have “fans.”). It’s always great to read: “couldn’t put it down” or “a must read.” However, if I had to pick one, the comment that absolutely stands out is one I received on my book, Dear Dad, which is about a Vietnam War soldier who gets seriously wounded and when he wakes up he finds himself in a Civil War field hospital where he finds redemption.  The comment was: “As a Vietnam Veteran, I particularly related to this story.”

Not being a veteran of the Vietnam War (or of any war for that matter), I was nervous about whether I captured the war and the era correctly. I also wanted to be properly respectful of those who did serve our country, who did their duty when it was not the most popular thing to do. I therefore felt especially proud that perhaps I did it right after seeing that comment.

Any writer of fiction, I believe, puts themselves out there for people to pick you apart but it’s especially nerve wracking when you’re writing about something many people lived through who can come back to you and tell you that you’re full of it. “It didn’t happen that way,” they’d say and, as a result, you’d lose all credibility. I absolutely love J.K. Rowling but at least she did not face the fear of some wizard out there saying: “That’s not how it happened, J.K.! Here’s how that spell should have been cast.”

What do you love most about the writing process?

Creating characters. I love inventing people and then coming up with ways to flesh them out and make them real people to my readers.

Some of my favorite characters are ones who I initially insert for a minor role to help move the story along but then as time goes on, they evolve into major figures right before my eyes. In Fava for instance, FBI Special Agent Will Allen started off as a minor annoyance who is one of the roadblocks keeping the main protagonist, NYC TV reporter Francine Vega, from getting to the truth. But then as I was writing the book, Special Agent Allen kept on inserting himself back into the story until I had no choice but to make him an integral part of the book.

In Aceldama, the character René Bouvil, a captain in the French Gendarmerie (and based on a real person), started off with basically a cameo role and ends up pivotal to the story. Similarly, in Journey of an American Son, Sergeant Walter Jones began as the main character’s squad leader in World War I but comes back later as a major character. It’s almost like these people are a little shy at first but then they gradually gain their voices, demanding to be heard.

What do you do to get book reviews?

Begging and groveling are my two primary strategies.

Seriously, as most writers know, it’s tough getting reviews. A part of me is still naive enough to believe that my books are so interesting and topical that readers will be drawn to them and the reviews will be forthcoming. But since this groundswell of support is not going to happen on it’s own, I’ve had to push myself out there.

I’m quite active on social media to get my name and my work out there. More than a few comments have come as a result of masterly constructed and clever Tweets I’d put out there. I’ve also participated in review swaps with other authors and I have sent inquiries to various blogs that highlight that they do book reviews.

Through Black Rose, I was able to get my book, Fava, into a free give away promotion through BookBub that has resulted in over seventy reviews for that book. But the participation did cost me a fair amount of money, so it was a trade-off.

I must say I was impressed that you’ve been able to gather 18 reviews for Sarah in just over a month. I should be asking you for tips.

If you could be any character in fiction, who would you be?

Without question it would be Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird. He had such quiet dignity as he stood for what was right, even when it was not popular. He was a learned man who loved knowledge surrounded by the uneducated, but he didn’t flaunt his intellect and instead used it to help others. The one thing I admired most is that he treated everyone, regardless of their class or color, with respect. Plus, it wouldn’t have hurt to be played by Gregory Peck in the movie.

What book would you want with you if you were stranded on a desert island? 

I have a fair number of  “favorite” books (including my own, of course) so this is a tough question to answer but there is one that stands out in my mind. That book is Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. It has everything: great characters, great writing, an uplifting story and classic themes. It’s long, so it would occupy my time. There are also the full panoply of human intentions and emotions ranging from the absolute unabashed goodness of Cosette and the Bishop through the more nuanced personalities of Jean Valjean and Javert to the absolute despicable evil of the Thernadiers. It is also a book that captures the endurance of the human spirit even in the most degrading and oppressive of conditions, which would be appropriate for being stranded on a desert island.

If you were an animated character, who would you be and why?

I have always had a thing for Thor. I remember watching a Saturday morning cartoon called The Mighty Thor and being fascinated by him. I loved that hammer. He was a champion for good but he had his flaws, namely arrogance that needed to be reigned in. It would be neat to have everyone think of me once a week (Thursday) as well as whenever there’s a thunderstorm. Plus, who wouldn’t want tounnamed-1 be a god?

So, thank you again, Teri, for having me here. If any of my newfound “fans” want to learn anything more about me, I invite them to see my website www.johnwhazen.com or follow me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/john.hazen.92?fref=ts or on Twitter @john_hazen .

Frostblood (Frostblood Saga #1) by Elly Blake #bookreview

Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a fireblood who must hide her powers of heat and flame 27827203from the cruel frostblood ruling class that wants to destroy all that are left of her kind. So when her mother is killed for protecting her and rebel frostbloods demand her help to kill their rampaging king, she agrees. But Ruby’s powers are unpredictable, and she’s not sure she’s willing to let the rebels and an infuriating (yet irresistible) young man called Arcus use her as their weapon.

All she wants is revenge, but before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to take part in the king’s tournaments that pit fireblood prisoners against frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her and from the icy young man she has come to love.

Fast-paced and compelling, Frostblood is the first in a page-turning new young adult three-book series about a world where flame and ice are mortal enemies—but together create a power that could change everything. – Goodreads.com

Isn’t this a gorgeous cover?  I looked into this book because of it.

In reading other reviews of Frostblood, this book was compared to the movie, Frozen.  I may be one of the few remaining people on the planet who hasn’t seen the movie, so I can’t offer any comparisons.  The world-building is fantastic and fascinating and the author lays some groundwork in explaining the history between frostbloods and firebloods.  The characters are very relatable and the way Ruby is welcomed and offered help by some of the monks, in spite of the general feelings and attitudes toward firebloods, is highly admirable – and a timely message.

Did I like this book?  Yes – it held my interest and contained some unexpected twists near the end.  That being said, there seem to be several other books out there with similar story lines and many of the plot developments were expected.  But the twists made a difference for me.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the digital ARC.

A Cold Tomorrow by Mae Clair #bookreview #TuesdayBookBlog @MaeClair1

Where secrets make their home…

Stopping to help a motorist in trouble, Katie Lynch stumbles upon a mystery as elusive as the Mothman legend that haunts her hometown of Point Pleasant, West 30688152Virginia. Could the coded message she finds herald an extraterrestrial visitor? According to locals, it wouldn’t be the first time. And what sense should she make of her young son’s sudden spate of bizarre drawings—and his claim of a late-night visitation? Determined to uncover the truth, Katie only breaks the surface when a new threat erupts. Suddenly her long-gone ex-boyfriend is back and it’s as if he’s under someone else’s control. Not only is he half-crazed, he’s intent on murder….

As a sergeant in the sheriff’s office of the famously uncanny Point Pleasant, Officer Ryan Flynn has learned to tolerate reports of puzzling paranormal events. But single mom Katie Lynch appears to be in very real danger—and somehow Ryan’s own brother, Caden, is caught up in the madness, too. What the skeptical lawman discovers astounds him—and sends him into action. For stopping whatever evil forces are at play may just keep Katie and Caden alive….Goodreads.com

I grew up in a small town in West Virginia, with everyone knowing each other and their business, local eateries, and the occasional urban legend.  The town wasn’t Point Pleasant, but Mae Clair’s portrayal of small town WV is spot on.

I didn’t read the first book in this series, and having seen the movie, The Mothman, with Richard Gere and the X-files episode featuring the Mothman many years back, I was interested to see this author’s interpretation of the famous urban legend.  And I was very satisfied.  With an exciting mix of mystery, suspense, and paranormal elements, I barely took my eyes off the book to board a plane.  It’s a probably a miracle I got on the right one.  The characters are well-depicted and seem like friendly next door neighbors, making it even easier to become vested in the story.

Although I haven’t read the first book in this series, I didn’t feel like I’d missed anything and A Cold Tomorrow is easily a standalone.  Now I have to hurry and wait for the next one – but at least I have time to read the first book in this series!  Highly recommend this supernatural mystery.

Downsizing the TBR Pile #amreading

Totally off the subject, but is anyone watching A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix?  My son and I started it yesterday and it’s fantastic!  Neil Patrick Harris is 30688152incredible and the series has captured the spirit of the books perfectly.  Completely binge-worthy.

On to the TBR – I finished A Cold Tomorrow and the full review will be posted tomorrow.  If you’re not reading this supernatural mystery series, add it to your own TBR today!

Currently reading

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Up next

No difference in the numbers this week.  I went into a discount bookstore and you can probably guess what happened – at least it was only 1 book, right?  I think that shows incredible restraint on my part.

TBR pile:  103

Read:  1

Bought:  1

Total:  103

The Eighth Day Brotherhood by Alice M. Phillips #bookreview

In Paris, 1888, the city prepares for the Exposition Universelle and the new Eiffel Tower swiftly rises on the bank of untitledthe Seine. One August morning, the sunrise reveals the embellished corpse of a young man suspended between the columns of the PanthEon, resembling a grotesque Icarus and marking the first in a macabre series of murders linked to Paris monuments. In the Latin Quarter, occult scholar REmy Sauvage is informed of his lover’s gruesome death and embarks upon his own investigation to avenge him by apprehending the cult known as the Eighth Day Brotherhood. At a nearby sanitarium, aspiring artist Claude Fournel becomes enamored with a mesmerist’s beautiful patient, Irish immigrant Margaret Finnegan. Resolved to steal her away from the asylum and obtain her for his muse, Claude only finds them both entwined in the Brotherhood’s apocalyptic plot combining magic, mythology, and murder. – Goodreads.com

With a cover like this, how could you not want to read it?  The gargoyle along would have me ripping the book off the shelves just to see what it was about.

The Eighth Day Brotherhood is a beautifully written, dark tale, rich with atmospheric details of Paris in 1888, a time period I’ve always enjoyed reading about.  This suspense-filled story may not be for the faint of heart, as the grisly murders are described in vivid detail, befitting for this type of novel.  It’s obvious the author did her research in regards to the mythological references and Paris itself, as the descriptions made me feel as if I were walking the streets with the characters.

This is a captivating historical thriller filled with references to history, art, and religion that pulled me in from the first page.  I’d love to see more of these characters.

I received a digital copy of this novel from the author.