Check out the Olympia Heights Comic. Purchase it here for Kindle.

Archives: JL Bryan

Kickstart This: The Indie Guide to Indie Publishing

Kickstart This: The Indie Guide to Indie Publishing

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Starting today, The Indie Guide to Indie Publishing is seeking backers on KickstarterThe Indie Guide to Indie Publishing is a tool, a step-by-step guide to publishing your independent book. Each article is written by an experienced authority from the independent world, and the book includes an index and glossary to help aspiring authors and publishers along the way.

This book will have:

  • Nine (9) writers with experience publishing and promoting independent work.
  • An alphabetical glossary of terms you need to know for publishing success.
  • An index for quick reference and trouble-shooting.
  • A list of useful resources and references for further research.

A couple of the writers are people I have interviewed on this blog before (See Blake Northcott Arena Mode and JL Bryan Latest Work) and a couple more I met at Phoenix Festival (Teal Haviland and Bobby Nash.) All of the writers involved in this book have experience, credentials, and bragging rights that make them indie publishing experts.

If you’re interested in obtaining a copy of this book or simply giving us a dollar to help our dreams come true, head on over to the Kickstarter page. We have rewards at various levels, including copies of the book, t-shirts, Google Hangouts, cover designs, and more. For $60, we’ll all tweet your link to over 30,000 combined followers! Take a look and PLEASE spread the word to every writer you know.

 

Interview: JL Bryan’s Latest Work

Interview: JL Bryan’s Latest Work

urlJL Bryan is a full-time  indie author living and writing in Georgia. His novel Jenny Pox and the subsequent series, The Paranormals, have received praise throughout indie circles as well as over 250 reviews on Amazon.

His latest book, Fairyvision, the fifth book in the Songs of Magic series, is due out this month. Read my interview and be sure to check out the Songs of Magic series, starting with book 1, Fairy Metal Thunder (Free on Amazon Kindle).

 

Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. I’m really excited for Fairyvision!

Thanks for having me on your blog, Amy!

FairyMetalThundersm1. Fairyvision is part of a longer series, The Songs of Magic. Could you briefly tell my readers who may not know the series what it is about?

The story follows a teenage garage band from small-town Wisconsin who steal some fairy instruments, which enchant crowds and make them into international stars.  They find themselves on the enemies list of the fairy queen, Mab, who is trying to keep magic and fairies very secret, so they’re constantly battling dangerous supernatural monsters, like unicorns and teddy bears.  The story also follows the fairy troupe whose instruments were stolen, which lets us spend a lot of time in the fairy world.

2. Most of your published works fall into this series or another great series, The Paranormals. Do you prefer to write books in a series rather than one-offs?

Not particularly, it’s just worked out that way.  I didn’t expect to write any sequels to Jenny Pox at all (the Paranormals series).  With the fairy books, I knew there would be several, because the fairy world is a very rich, fun place full of surprises, and I just love exploring it.

3. I try to be Indie-Friendly at this blog. What advice do you have for aspiring authors who are considering self-publishing?

The best thing is to really spend time to learn your craft.  That will take years if done properly.  If you don’t offer work people will enjoy, the no amount of pretty packaging or marketing will really help you.  It’s also very important to have your books thoroughly edited and proofed.  Finally, I would suggest that you write whatever you want rather than trying to fit into a commercial trend, because you actually never know whether a particular book will be successful or not.  Writing whatever is authentically inside you is your best chance at having something unique to offer.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA4. What is your favorite part about writing the Songs of Magic?

Everything I make up along the way!  I enjoy the settings–sugar swamps, the glitter volcanoes, the Abominable Mountains.  Creatures like werewalruses and saber-toothed ducks.  Muffin-trap plants that offer cupcakes and pastries between their big green jaws.  Sometimes my favorite things are just small, passing details, like the glowing green zombie cows in the Hauntlands.

5. How many books do you plan for this series?

Seven books.  The new one is number five, and then I plan to write two more within the next year or two.

6. You mention in a recent post on your blog that you may be taking a break from Songs of Magic for some new projects. What project on the burner is the closest to reaching readers’ hands?

The closest is probably this dystopian story with a dash of time travel, since it’s fully outlined and several chapters are already written.  I’m really enjoying it.  It’s a bit dark and more of a serious story, closer to Jenny Pox than the fairy books.  I like to go back and forth between different tones and genres.

You can read the first Paranormals book, Jenny Pox for free on Kindle as well as Fairy Metal Thunder. To read my reviews of some of JL Bryan’s books, head on over to the reviews section of this blog. Look for Fairyvision this month. Happy reading!

JL Bryan Tweets at @jlbryanbooks

10 Great Fiction Books for Teens

10 Great Fiction Books for Teens

This is not a list of best selling books for teens; a walk down the YA isle at Target could provide that. Instead, this list includes books that are great both in their craft and in their importance. Here you will find novels with heart and depth. This is a list of books that will impact the lives of teens beyond TV remakes and desktop wallpapers. Some of these novels are popular, but all of these novels are great.

10 Great Fiction Books for Teens

10. Jenny Pox

This is the only Indie novel on my list, partly because most of the Indie novels I have read are definitely genre fiction. This novel, Jenny Pox, by JL Bryan, is a fantasy novel, but it is also an important piece of literature about identity, guilt, and the gullible nature of our society.

Jenny Morton is a high school student in rural Georgia who is isolated from her peers by a deadly power. This curse, one that took her mother in childbirth, leaves Jenny lonely and plagued with guilt. When she meets Seth, a popular boy with a similar secret, she connects with another human being in a very special way. It’s the villain, however, that makes this novel impossible to put down. The wicked, manipulative Ashleigh shows a ruthless side of humanity and shines a spotlight on how easily we allow ourselves to be manipulated.

The Paranormals series is fun and addictive, but book one, Jenny Pox, is a work of art.

9. The Perks of Being a Wallflower

In the 11th grade, a friend recommended I read The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. It was the first novel I had ever read that acknowledged the realities of twenty-first century teens and celebrated the outcast.

Charlie is an introvert who writes letters to the reader telling the story of his first year of high school. Several months before, Charlie’s only good friend, Michael, took his own life. Charlie doesn’t think he can rely on his family for support because he believes that they just don’t understand him.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is at times funny, at times sad, and nearly always profound. It tells a story of abuse, drugs, sexuality, coming of age, and simply how awkward it is to be a teenager. The story is packed with references to movies, music, and books, and Charlie’s selections are all great. If for nothing else, read TPOBAW to make an excellent reading list.

8. Stardust

Stardust, by Neil Gaiman, is a difficult book to categorize. There is a trade paperback that is simply a novel, but the best edition of this book is the version that includes copious illustrations by Charles Vess.

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Stardust, made into a movie in 2007 starring Michelle Pfiefer and Claire Danes, tells the story of Tristan Thorn, a young man with a strange origin who promises to venture over the wall to the world of fairy to fetch a fallen star for a girl he thinks he’s in love with. When he finds the star, however, he learns that she has a seemingly human form. Tristan journeys across the world of fairy with Yvaine, the star, and meets witches, pirates, and magical creatures.

The important part about Stardust isn’t the beautiful art or Neil Gaiman’s wit. Like with every great book on this list, it’s a coming of age tale. Tristan has to strike out on his own to find out what kind of man he ants to be. It also makes an important statement about the adolescent infatuations that we often mistake for love.

7. The Books of Magic

This is a comic book. There, I said it. The Books of Magic is a Neil Gaiman comic book/graphic novel about a young boy who looks like Harry Potter before Harry Potter and has the possibility of becoming a powerful sorcerer. It features four excellent artists (including Charles Vess!) and a whole bunch of DC Universe Cameos (like Zatana and Constantine).

BoM4mages

The boy, Timothy Hunter, goes on an almost Christmas-Carol-Like journey to become a well informed participant in his own fate. He is to be shown the world of magic before deciding if he wants to embrace his powers or reject them. It is a powerful story because, though everyone seems to have a strong opinion about what they want for Timothy, the decision is ultimately up to him.

It’s an important statement about our own fates: adults may all have grand plans for us, but when we come of age, the choice is ours. To find out what Timothy choses, you’ll have to read!

6. Ender’s Game

Ender Wiggin lives in a world that has survived an alien invasion. The the “buggers” are gone, the threat of their return little more than a spooky story to sell masks for kids. At the start of this Orson Scott Card masterpiece, Ender is chosen for battle school on a space station. The government needs him, and so Ender is whisked away at age six to train for military service. From the beginning it is clear that Ender is an extremely gifted child.

Whereas most of these novels are more traditional coming of age tales where a character learns what he/she is made of, Ender’s Game is a bit more complicated. Ender Wiggin grows into a leader of men, but his entire education is a manipulation by the military, shaping him into exactly what they need.

Oh. And Harrison Ford is going to be in the movie.

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5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian

Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian tells the story of Junior, a boy who lives in a reservation, surrounded by alcohol-fueled deaths and apathy. When Junior gets his mother’s textbook in class and realizes that his text book is that old, he gets angry and throws the book at his teacher. This action leads to Junior going to a public school off the reservation to receive a better education. As a result, he is an outcast in his white school for being a Native American and an outcast on the reservation for being a deserter.

Junior’s story is both tragic and hilarious. For reluctant readers there are also cartoons to break up the text.

4. Looking for Alaska

Looking for Alaska by John Green is set in Birmingham Alabama. In fact, as I write this post, I am sitting just up the road from the real-life boarding school that Green attended and based his setting for Looking for Alaska on. It is John Green’s first novel, and if you intend to read it, you had better buy some tissues.

Miles “Pudge” Halter lives in Florida, but decides to go to boarding  in Alabama. He is a bit of a loner, but his room mate is a trouble-maker who will not let Miles blend into the background. It’s when he meets a girl, Alaska Young, that his life is changed. Alaska is the definition of a free spirit and Miles is in love. Miles and company stumble through school, tangling with drugs, sexuality, practical jokes, and social drama.

And then something bad happens.

If I go any further and explaining why this novel is important, I’ll give it away. Read it and find out what happens.

3. Blankets

This is another comic book! Craig Thompson’s autobiographical graphic novel is a story of guilt and growth. Craig Thompson grew up in a conservative Christian home, being told that his art wasn’t important by Sunday School teachers and having guilt drilled into him. With different adults in his life preaching their own interpretations of the bible, Thompson, a child, is confused. A hilarious scene mid-book shows Thompson and his little brother getting into a pee fight (yes, it’s as bad as it sounds) that turns suddenly sad as they end the night washing off their shame.

As a senior in high school, Thompson took a trip to visit a girl he met at church camp, and through the story of these weeks and intermittent flashbacks, we see how Thompson was crippled by guilt, lost his faith, and found it again in more loving, accepting, and moderate terms.

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2. Speak

Trigger warning- this book is about rape.

Melinda Sordino is entering high school as a pariah. At an unsupervised summer party, Melinda called the police. Melinda’s friends never stop to ask why, but join the rest of the school and openly shunning her. Over the course of the novel, Melinda slips into depression and self-neglect before clawing her way out of the darkness and coming to terms with her assault.

Speak is a book about very serious matters, but it is not without humor. Melinda’s insights on high school are biting and hilarious.

Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak is an important piece of young adult literature because rape is a very real problem that students need to be taught to approach with compassion. Most importantly, it teaches victims that the only way to take back power is through speaking out about sexual assault.

1. Paper Towns

That’s right, TWO John Green novels! I believe that John Green is perhaps the most important young adult writer since SE Hinton, and he’s loads more talented.

I firmly believe that Paper Towns is the standard of meaningful Young Adult literature. The characters are real and flawed and the high school drama– the stuff we hope to leave behind as adults– only serves the themes.

So much of fiction is filled with the paper girl, the indie head-f*** girl who is only flawed in a good way, and the wooden boy who only becomes a real boy through her off-beat shenanigans. This novel is about that flawed, sometimes dangerous fantasy. We see other people as animals or Gods, but Green wants us to see them as people. We may never be able to walk a mile in their shoes, but we can open our eyes and see.

 

Help! What Books Should I Put on my New Kindle?

Help! What Books Should I Put on my New Kindle?

Christmas is just a few days away, or perhaps you are reading this after a post-holiday Google search. In 2011 millions of Americans received an eReader for Christmas, and I have no doubt that 2012 will be the same. If you are one of those lucky, new eReader owners, here is some advice from a Kindle owner since 2009.

Cover Love

You know they say…

You can’t judge a book by its cover.

That’s usually true, but we do anyway. I think that a good cover can attract a reader, but the real impact is a bad cover. As shallow as I feel admitting this, I won’t buy an indie book with a hot mess cover. Too many fonts? Obvious photoshop filter over a licensed photo of a supermodel? Just too dang much going on? Sorry. My 99¢ isn’t worth much, but my reading time is valuable.

M.R. Merrick blogged about covers today (I write this a few days before posting to keep ahead of my busy life) and it got me thinking. What do I love about some covers? What are my favorites? Here are five I love (4 indies, 1 from the Big 5) and what I love about them.

Exiled by M.R. Merrick

One of the reasons I first picked up Exiled was its cover. This image caught my attention with its limited palette and the beautiful, stark tree that takes center. The fonts are well chosen, one grungy, bold title and then a simple, classic font for the author credit. There are no characters on this cover, just elements. We see a tree with fire and water. We know from the presence of these elements in a field that their appearance is likely supernatural. Old, awesome-sauce trees like that usually have some mysticism around them. This is just a clean, simple cover that gives us an idea about the themes without giving anything away. It’s perfect for the book and it lured money out of my wallet. It did exactly what it was designed to do.

Looking For Alaska by John Green

John Green hates the candle. I love it. To me, the candle, which is subtle in dark purple on black, is a hidden symbol. The original design was meant to resemble cigarette smoke, which is certainly a prominent element in the book. As a stark black cover with curling smoke, I’m reminded of the simple, symbolic covers of books like The Catcher in the Rye. That classic book certainly influenced Green.

Now, apparently the publisher was afraid to put cigarette smoke on a YA novel’s cover, so they put a candle under it. That’s pretty silly, as cigarette smoke on the cover is probably the least of concerns for the reactionary-censor-moms. What I like about the candle, is that– at first glance– it is cigarette smoke. Then the candle reveals itself. The candle is a symbol. The candle snuffed out stands for death. Death is a central theme of this book.

So John Green may hate the candle, but I like it. It’s like a great work of art, where things reveal themselves as you look at it.

Jenny Pox by JL Bryan

Phat Puppy Art did the cover for JL Bryan’s Jenny Pox. The cover is simple: a girl, some birds, a tagline and a title. The title itself serves the book so well. What this cover does is set a somber mood that is made surreal by the presence of birds. Jenny’s loneliness oozes from this cover. It’s a beautiful cover for a beautiful book.

Edit May 1, 2013: Dude, those are paper cranes!

Fairyland by JL Bryan

The original Songs of Magic covers were alright. They featured some cute art, but the new photographic covers by Phat Puppy Art are awesome. Specifically I like the cover for book four, Fairyland. What do I love? The light. The color. The composition. The mood. The titles. The simplicity. I love an awful lot about this cover.

We still see Aoide’s pink hair, but the wash of gold light gives a feeling of peace, beauty, and otherness that the fairy world should have. It was worth whatever JL Bryan paid to redo the covers. This cover sells this book. It’s awesome.

Vs. Reality by Blake Northcott

I finish off with an awesome self-made cover by Blake Northcott. This cover was made from a few stock photos, but it does everything it needs to with style and flare. The open mouth, tongue hanging out is provocative. The labeled, electric-blue pills conjure images of silicon valley pharmaceuticals. The powers written on them invoke images of superheros. The clean-then-crumbling font tells us that this is not our father’s superhero book. It’s minimal on text, simple-yet-provocative on image, and full of bright colors that pop off the page. Best of all, it doesn’t look like any other book cover out there. It’s a brilliant original.

Book Review: FairyLand

Book Review: FairyLand

★★★★★

My review of Fairyland, the 4th Songs of Magic book by JL Bryan. I got a sneak peek of this book before release and did some proofing for JL Bryan. This book is amazing, check it out on Kindle!

Note– My birthday joke was poorly planned. I didn’t realize when I recorded it that he would get the book out the day BEFORE my birthday. Thwarted! Meh, it was a lame joke anyway.

Awaited Reads (June? 2012)

Awaited Reads (June? 2012)

As I wrapped up edits for my latest novel, Olympia Heights: The Weight of the World, and finalized the proof on the paperback of Kissing Corpses, I was met with some great news. You’ve heard me rave about JL Bryan’s Fairy series and Blake Northcott’s Vs. Reality series. It seems that both of these awesome indies will have new titles coming very soon. Here’s what I’m excited about; I’ll put the shameless plug up-front.

The Weight of the World

We return to Olympia Heights less than four months after the events of Olympia Heights: The Pantheon. Summer vacations starts with the launch of a new gossip blog, Discordia, and what it has to say stirs up some due trouble among The Pantheon. Olympia Heights: The Weight of the World starts with a big surprise for one of our characters and ends with more fights, more romance, less fire, and MORE BEARS!

http://www.olympia-heights.com

Follow @Nimbuschick on Twitter to hear when it’s released!

 

 

Relapse

Blake Northcott’s Vs. Reality was a huge indie hit this summer. Blake was signed on to co-write the novel for a developing TV series and her debut novel has even been picked up by a small production company. Vs. Reality is a comic-esque action novel about a man whose life of failure suddenly changes when he meets a mysterious girl and learns about a drug that can unlock his greatest potential. Blake Northcott says the draft is done and it only needs edits. This is a fun, quick read. Go grab it now for your Kindle so that you can be ready for the sequel.

http://www.blakenorthcott.com/

 

Fairyland

JL Bryan’s fairy series is a family-friendly, campy, hilarious story about a teenager who steals magical instruments from fairies to make his high school band famous and ends up being hunted by a whole host of magical creatures. In book one, we met Jason and the unfortunate fairy he robbed. In book two, we saw how dark fairies could use the stolen goods for ultimate destruction. In book three, we learned just how far the wrong people (and the right people) were willing to go to get those instruments back. Now Jason and his band and divided as they head towards awesome, comedic, epic peril.

http://www.jlbryanbooks.com/

 

Look out these upcoming Kindle releases, this June.

Amy’s Brief, All-Encompassing Review of Jenny Pox, by JL Bryan

Amy’s Brief, All-Encompassing Review of Jenny Pox, by JL Bryan

★★★★★

After reading Fairy Metal Thunder, I was totally up for some more JL Bryan. When a fellow TCR Derby Girl, Molly Mongoose, said “have you heard of Jenny Pox?” the night before Thanksgiving, I decided to dive right in. It tore through it as fast as possible with grad school, derby, and surrendering NaNoWriMo. Here is a summary of my thoughts.

Read More

Around the Web #1

Around the Web #1

I’ve popped up at a few web sites this week, so I thought I’d catch y’all up on my various internet appearances. I have 3 big ones today. Check them out!

Fairy Metal Thunder Review Embed

You may have seen my review for Fairy Metal Thunder. If not, you can follow that link and watch it. JL Bryan is my new favourite Indie author and is quickly topping my list of authors, period. Fairy Metal Thunder got me into Jenny Pox, and 50% of the way through it, last night, I found my eyes ON FIRE because it was two hours past my normal bed time, yet unable to stop.

The review is now embedded in JL Bryan’s Fairy Metal Thunder site. I guess he liked it.  

Blake Northcott’s Social Plug

Blake Northcott, author of Vs. Reality, gave an interview with Ashley Barron last week. In it, she mentioned that I am one of her favorite tweeters. I’m super flattered by this mention. You can read her interview here.

If you haven’t read it already, download Vs. Reality on your Kindle. It’s a great, quick read for a superhero/comic book fan.

 

Indie Frenzie Feature

It takes a LONG time to get a review of a YA book because popular book bloggers have such backed-up reading lists of full-length novels. Though the Book Brunette hasn’t gotten to her copy of Olympia Heights, yet, she was kind enough to post a feature on my book as part of her Indie Frenzie.

The post, which features the sound tracks for my Olympian characters, was very well-received by her audience. Check it out at her blog.