Important Updates Coming

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As promised from my last post, I want to inform readers and followers alike regarding the new changes  affecting my two stories: Before the Legend and Chasing Blue- The Final Saga.

Before the Legend

  • Title Change!- For those that haven’t already seen my announcement on my Facebook Page, my debut book: Before the Legend’s subtitle has been officially dropped for both the print and eBook version. Instead of being listed as: Before the Legend- The Prologue the title now just stands as Before the Legend. Why the change? Originally when writing this book I intended this to be a prologue (prequel may be a more fitting term) to the series, considering the first book I wrote for the series was in fact Roman Identity. However Before the Legend is more than just a prologue and is really a small story in itself with a beginning, middle, and end. After some comments I received on a forum post, I realized I don’t want to give the impression to new readers that this book is nothing more than an “info dump.” Hence after much consideration, a title change was needed. The change is already reflected on retailers such as Amazon, Kobo, B&N, and Smashwords and will trickle across to other retailers as well.
  • New Book Cover!- Since I just dropped the subtitle the cover used for the book will also need an update. This gives me the excuse to flirt with new cover designs which I hope will attract new readers to the book. I hope to work with an acquaintance of mines who works as a graphic designer for a living and has worked with multiple clients in the past to help come up with a new concept. Stay tuned in the weeks to come for new concept covers. For the first look at new cover designs and new updates for Before the Legend and Chasing Blue you can sign up here!

Chasing Blue

  • The newest chapter is out for the fourth and final book to the series. Troy teams up with old characters as they travel to the port city but new members are joining the crew and they plan to shake things up! Read on in “Ides of March.”

Snippet from new chapter…

“Troy, they are getting the cargo ready so I think it might be time to start boarding…” Hyros’ voice trailed. Instantly his eyes darted to Maximus and a band of men who were heading to the boat. “Wait a moment,” he said, walking towards the entry of the boat. “Are these lads lost or something? I believe you have the wrong boat,” Hyros said, sticking his chewing stick between his teeth.

I watched as Maximus stepped foot on the ramp. Hyros met him midway on the incline, blocking his entry. But Maximus kept on walking closer to Hyros.

“I believe you have the wrong boat, sir,” Hyros said, crunching down on his stick.

“Is this boat set to depart before the sun strikes the western skies?” Maximus asked.

“If the winds are favorable, then yes,” Hyros answered.

“Then this is the right boat, sir,” Maximus replied staring at him. Hyros scrunched his brows. Then he looked back at me as I stood on leveled ground looking up at the two of them.

“Since when were you authorized to set foot on this boat?” Hyros mumbled, letting out a snort.

“Since I paid my fare,” he said pointing to a distinguished young man talking to some other crew members. It was Jason! I had no idea he was returning again.

“Oh, no,” Hyros said, shaking his head. He removed his chewing stick. “You cannot possibly be serious,” he said, his tone turning solemn. “I am not letting you or your men get on this boat. Theseus grants me a weighty task in overseeing things and I am not buying your words. Now please just step aside because these kind men behind you would like to bring the foodstuff,” Hyros said pointing to two men carrying heavy sacks filled with grain.

“Let us pass,” Maximus said in a quiet but stern tone.

“Sorry I cannot,” Hyros said crossing his arms against his chest. “Now please step aside. Those men look like they are about to drop their sacks.” Maximus tried to push past Hyros, only for him to block his movements. They were merely inches from each other.

“Please do not test me. I am not in the mood you two,” Hyros warned. As quickly as it happened Sergius reached for his sheath.

“I am not in the mood either to play!” Sergius snarled, whipping his knife out at Hyros throat. Hyros took a step back…

 

My Review on The Giver trailer

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Dystopian storylines sees to be catching fire (pun intended) as dystopian young adult novels are coming to life on the big screen this year. For many that are keeping up with the new Giver movie you may have seen the newest trailer. But already the 1st official trailer is already getting mixed reviews and understandably so. As a big fan of the book myself, I was excited to learn that a new trailer was finally being released. However like many others who were fans of the book I could not help but feel let down. Although I intended to write this post sooner considering I first wrote about my reaction to who was playing Jonas in an earlier post. I now have time to collect myself I hope to present my initial reactions to The Giver trailer in a more objective fashion. Besides the obvious aging up of the characters here were my initial reactions below of some of the changes…

1. What happened to the black and white world?

That was my first reaction as I watched the trailer, which mind you, was all in color. For those that read the book, Jonas’ world is devoid of color with only the sporadic glimpses of color that Jonas is able to see. It’s only later in the story when he meets The Giver, that he gradually can see fully in color. To me it felt like a slap in the face that such an important aspect of the book was being ignored. With color you had choices, something Jonas’ world deemed to be unwise even dangerous. The lack of freedom to allow people to make their own choices was a main theme of the story. If the movie is all in color, mention of Jonas being able to see a rainbow would lose all significance.

2. This is not what I imagined Jonas’ world to be.

The beauty about Lowry’s work is the simplicity. When I read the book I got the impression that Jonas lived in a small close-knit community with some touches of modern technology but mostly living a very simple, ascetic lifestyle. Watching the trailer, I get more of an overt futuristic feel to the movie from the sleek modern interior of Jonas’ home, to the end of the trailer (not sure why they needed to add a spaceship?) Although the book does take place in the future, I am worried that the movie is aping past futuristic/dystopian movies that recently came out.

3. That didn’t happen in the book.

There were several things that I noticed just from the trailer that the movie plans to alter so I’m not even going to take the time to address all of them. Obviously when books are adapted to movies you can’t expect the filmmaker to copy it word to word. Things are bound to be altered or omitted. At the same time you don’t want to change too many things in the story otherwise you might as well as call it a derivative work.

Reality Check

Although I can’t speak for everybody, I personally worry that the movie is trying to emulate other futuristic/dystopian movies (eg. Hunger Games), at the expense of losing its originality and what made the story so compelling in the first place. After I had my little rant, I realized that this is just the trailer and only one at that. Regarding the trailer being in color, they want to make the movie more “marketable” to people who may not be familiar with the book (even though they run the risk of alienating fans in the process). Thankfully, according to one source, The Giver movie will still be shown in Black and white (Thank God someone listened to my request). While I wasn’t blown away, from an objective standpoint the trailer gives the average viewer a gist of what the story is all about without giving too much of the plot away and is visually appealing. Considering the book is filled with introspection this movie looks to ramp up the action to make it more appealing to the mainstream audience. While I am skeptical about some of the actors/actresses selected to play the characters, I am pleased that Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep play their respective roles. The trailer piques my curiosity as to how the movie will play with the concept of “stirrings” considering the characters are older. (you’ll have to read the book to know what I mean by stirrings) Despite my initial disappointments, I’m not writing-off the movie anytime soon. My only hope is that the movie does the book justice. What are your thoughts on The Giver trailer or the movie in general? Despite obvious changes to the book do you still plan to see it? I would love to hear your thoughts.

**********************

 

Stay tuned for my upcoming post where I dish on some important changes for my debut book, Before the Legend. In the meantime check out an emotional chapter to Chasing Blue called “Two-Face.”

Fresh off the Press

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Courtesy of Michels

 

 

Nothing beats a fresh cup of chai latte right off the press on a cold winter day. For others you may have other drinks in mind whether it be coffee, tea or your mouth may be watering for your favorite dish. During this cold dreary winter, I’m still writing in the convenience and warmth of my house. While I have some decisions I need to make with Before the Legend in terms of whether I should drop the subtitle, I’m busy writing Part 2 Chasing Blue, composing the last chapters of the series. I hope to finish the story by this summer and I only have several more chapters to go. Things are definitely heating up as Troy is faced with new challenges and life-altering decisions that will affect him and those he love. And in Part 2 things will continue to intensify as he’s going to be faced with one of the biggest decisions he’s ever made since running away from home.

I have some new chapters hot off the press. Last week I released “Let it Rain,” the kick start to Part 2: Dark Saga (Part 2 of Chasing Blue). In that chapter the characters face the grim consequences of their seemingly innocent excursion around Rome. Julia finds herself way in over her head when she finds herself alone with Clitus causing suspicions to fly. But in this chapter Troy doesn’t return with the rest of his cousins. The drama that unfolds in that chapter was quite entertaining and intense to write and hopefully it delivers. You can read it here.

Chapter 30 “Stay Alive is the newest chapter out. Things really intensify as readers find out what actually happened to Troy after his confrontation with Maximus in the alley and believe me it’s not pretty! I don’t want to give much away so you’re just going to have to read it to find out  in Chapter 30.

To get the sneak peak on the newest chapters and what I’m working on sign up here.

Post Free Era

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My free book promotion for Before the Legend is officially over as of this week. What was supposed to be a “Free Promo Week” turned more into a month long promo filled with free print giveaways, author interviews, guest spotlights, and of course free eBooks! It was encouraging seeing a significant jump in readers adding my books to their virtual shelves in Goodreads, to new reviews being added on Goodreads and Amazon. I realized after reading David Gaughran’s book, “Let’s Get Visible” I needed to have a free run of my book to give it the exposure it otherwise wouldn’t have gotten. Although there were some hiccups along the way it definitely was a learning experience which I am grateful for. Here are some things I took away from my free run.

  • Timing is everything. Well it’s not everything but it is very important. What time of year are you planning it? How long will your free run last? These are some of the biggest questions to ask yourself when scheduling a free run. For those who choose the option to publish exclusively through KDP Select, you have control over not only what month or week you plan to set your eBook free but also exactly how long it will last. You can either use all 5 days within a 90-day period towards your free run or split it up at a time, maximizing on an extra chance to boost downloads and sales. The time you change the price from free to its regular sales price is also critical because you want to capitalize on your book’s exposure  while also changing the price just at the right time so you can still reap potential sales from the tail end of the increased traffic to your book.

However if you’re like me and not signed up for it you have to do what we call price-matching. The best way to achieve a uniform price across retailers is to set your book for free via Smashwords, choose Amazon as a distributor, and wait for the other retailers including Amazon to adjust their price to match accordingly. However the time it takes for the price change to occur across all the retailers is very unpredictable which can alter your free run time-table you meticulously planned out. Hence this is why I had to keep extending my promo week. This leads to my next point.

  • Expect the Unexpected. What I mean by this is if you aren’t in KDP Select expect delays when your book is set free as well as when you set the price back to its regular cost. Delays are inevitable if you choose price-matching. If you have multiple distributors opted in through Smashwords when you attempt a price-match, the first place that you’ll see your book go free is on Smashwords. But for the actual retailers/distributors involved in can take up to a week or even two weeks for the price to be adjusted accordingly. For Amazon it can even take a few days longer for them to price match and even then it’s up to their discretion. This can frustrate your plans especially if you were planning for a short free run or for a spotlight on a host blog where you hoped to inform readers when exactly your book will be free till. Despite temptation to quickly announce to everyone your book is going free the day you changed the price on Smashwords, it is best to gradually spread the word as the price change takes effect across the many retailers.
  • Let the Big Guys Know. It’s important to let others know about your free run so you can get as many downloads in those first few days. To amplify your results, it’s highly recommended to notify certain sites that advertise free or discounted eBooks to it’s large reader audience. The big ones, “Let’s Get Visible” mentions includes BookBub and Pixel of Ink, with the latter being free. Another great one I personally discovered is FreeBooksy. Although I would have loved to use BookBub (although it’s not cheap), they have higher criteria in what books they advertise so I had to settle with FreeBooksy. Overall I was pleased with FreeBooksy. For $50 I garnered a featured spot on their front page for a few days with a link to my work and a post on their Facebook page. Was the advertising offer worth it? I would say so. My downloads jumped to 30-something to over 600 the day it was featured! Also on Amazon my book was #1 for free in its respective categories of Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Children’s eBooks > Fairy Tales, Folk Tales & Myths > Greek & Roman and was #2 in Alternative History before jumping to the #1 spot briefly.
  • Be Realistic. Setting goals is important and helps us to stay focused on a fixed objective as an older post of mines, “Reaching the Goal” elaborated on. You want to set a goal for yourself so that at least you will put some effort into promoting your work, otherwise how do you expect it to do well? For me I like the set the bar low (but not too low). That way if things don’t happen as I would have liked I’m not too disappointed. However when the actual results exceed your previous expectations then you feel that much more thrilled. To many others my results may not seem like much but to me it was a modest success and am learning to take in stride each day in this process.

Overall in addition to the big sites, I spread the love through Facebook, my blog, and Goodreads. Was I successful? Well it depends on what you measure success. In terms of exposure I definitely achieved that goal even if it was fleeting. But in the days after the free run is when I can truly say whether it was a success or not and right now it’s still too early to say. However in the post free era I’m left with the question: What do I now? Well in the meantime while I reflect on the direction of my book Before the Legend, I am turning my attention to my latest story Chasing Blue, which was currently on hiatus. The story is about to awaken with new drama as big decisions fall on Troy’s shoulders. For my loyal followers here’s a sneak peak at the newest chapter from Part 2 of the book: Dark Voyage. In this chapter the characters must face the consequences of their evening excursion as drama unfolds. Everyone is accounted for except one… For those that haven’t read the previous chapter you can read it here. It will give you a better understanding of what’s going on in this chapter I’m getting ready to publish on Wattpad. I will be posting a longer snippet on my page Chasing Blue page.

“Let It Rain”

The rain was falling faster; the drops growing heavier. They trickled down her face, as she forced her eyes open. Her breaths were heavy as she sucked in water and air.

“Clitus…” He nibbled her lips before she could find the words. His hands caressed her shoulder as his grip tightened around her waist.

“I think we should stop,” she blurted. A weak smile escaped her lips as she noted his lips parted from hers. She saw that same glimmer in his eyes which appeared more greenish the more she gazed. It was the same glimmer in his eyes when they arrived together; alone. Her smiled quickly faded, assuring herself that she meant what she said. After all she tried to be firm. He charged forward to kiss her lips again. It was no use. She let his warm breath infuse into the air she breathed. She felt his hands grip creep across her body but she could other hear voices in the distant_

Julia.”

“Um, yes,” she said jolting upright in her seat, dropping her half-eaten bread on the plate. She barely could face her father as he called her name from her wandering mind.

“Your mother was asking you and your brother why you separated from their company. You had Julian and Tiberius worried about you,” her father said before sipping a cup of wine. “If Troy was here, I would be asking him the same question,” he replied briskly.

“I am so sorry, Father. I got distracted,” she said looking down at her plate.

“You seem awfully distant dear. What is going on in that mind of yours?” her mother asked, staring directly at her. Her body went numb at the words.

“Clitus,” Tiberius coughed. Julia flashed him an angry glare.

“Oww!” Tiberius muttered as Julia delivered a kick to his leg. Her cousin banged his knee against the table, rattling the dishes.

“What is wrong?” the mother asked with a frown.

“Nothing.” He lied. Julius’ cheeks swelled with suppressed laughter. Any moment he was about to burst into a laughing fit, but there was nothing funny to Julia.

“May I please be dismissed,” Julia uttered in a rueful voice.

“You have not even finished your main course,” her mother said with a concerned expression.

“Maybe the child is ill,” the grandmother chided. Without waiting for their final word, she got up from the couch and scampered off into her room where she buried her head in the pillows. The scene was playing all over in her mind…

To be the first one to receive new works I’m working on or to get news on major promos sign up here. There I will post excerpts and possibly full chapters before I post it anywhere else!

Spotlight on the Author

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You need to get noticed.

That’s the sentiment that echoes in my ears. The goal of increased visibility for my book, Before the Legend is an on-going challenge as I enter the final week of my free promo week which ends this Saturday (you don’t want to miss it). Check out the “Buy Now” page under the tab “Before the Legend” to see the most up-to-date info on participating retailers.

I’m generally a reserved, private person, so the general thought of being in the public eye is something I shy away from. With a new book out though, I can sure use some added exposure. That being said author interviews are a great way for readers to get introduced to and get connected with new authors and readers. Learning about the author can be the first step in piquing a reader’s interest in your works and establishing a loyal fan base. I’m pleased to say with the right persistence I have been able to land a few author interviews including my latest interview with fellow author, Megan, who was kind of enough to ask me some questions about myself and my work, including things you won’t find on my About Page. You can read the full interview at Megan’s Blog .

In addition to my interview with Megan. I also was featured on Free Booksy, a site designed to promote free eBooks especially Kindle books. It’s a great site for readers to find free Kindle versions of the books they like, and great for authors who want to promote a free run their doing for their books to encourage more downloads. You can find my full feature spotlight at this link: http://freebooksy.com/freebooks/2014/1/15/before-the-legend-free-kindle-book

Important Note: My giveaway has come to an end. Congrats to the five winners, which can be found on my Facebook Page. However the Free Run of my eBook is still available for 3 more days. For those interested in the print book you can enter the following promo code to get the print book for 50% on Amazon! (Note: promo codes only work on my e-store: https://www.createspace.com/4471979

promo code: WHCSAV2U

(available all this month)

Want to receive this and other promo coupons? Interested in learning about my upcoming projects? Sign up below to learn more by signing up here!

The Reviews are in…

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The wait is almost over. Like so many writers out there, I’m eager to find out what others think about my work. It didn’t take too long after publishing my book, Before the Legend, that I realized just how important reviews can be. Reviews, especially positive ones, can sway an unsure reader to take a chance and read your story. However their is a but. A review that simply says “Good job.” “I like this. Keep writing,” may be positive but they don’t tell a reader why the reviewer likes the book. It may in fact appear that the author’s friends or relatives wrote biased  or cheap reviews, which is not the impression an author wants to make. Although by all means it’s great to have the support of family and friends, an honest constructive review carries more weight. At the other end of the coin, having no reviews can be just as bad as getting mixed or all negative reviews. And if you want to garner the spotlight on your book, some sites such as Bookbub factor in the number of reviews you have when deciding to advertise your work to their readers. After all they want to make sure that they are promoting quality books to their followers.

Considering that getting reviews has not come easily for me, I was thrilled to receive a glowing review from a reviewer on Goodreads who also posted it on their blog. Here’s a snippet of their review. The whole review can be found on: “The Bookworm Who Never Stops Reading” as well as on my Goodreads page.

…This story was wonderfully written. This is seriously my first favorite book this year of 2014. The grammar was perfect and the style really brought me to the times. Not to mention I like stories about the Roman times!
The story begins with Troy’s nightmare. He dreams that his parents are being swallowed by the earth. Because of this nightmare, he turns to his Mom for comfort during the night. But his Father says that he needs to learn that nightmares aren’t necessarily true and turns him away.
He wonders if either his Mother or Father love him. But during this conflict of matters, a great incident comes (withheld in this review so you can pick up this book to find out!) and the consequences prove worse than they had imagined.
This book calls for more to it! Yes, the book has a satisfying ending, but it leaves you begging for more!…

In addition to the new reviews I received, check out the spotlight for my story on the blog Pick Your Poison where you can also sign-up for a chance to win a free print copy of my book, Before the Legend, for a limited time only. Also check out my guest appearance with Deborah who hosted  me as part of Self-Published Sunday on her blog  “Novel Notions.” There you will find an exclusive excerpt to my story and learn some random facts about me.

*****

Earlier I made a statement regarding getting no reviews. But I want to turn this question to my followers and new visitors alike: Is having no reviews really just as bad as having mixed or all negative review? I want to hear your thoughts! Leave a reply below.  I might post a poll later too if people prefer that.

Important Update: Check out the page: Before the Legend, for the latest price changes and availability. Before the Legend is now free on Amazon and Kobo Books along with other major retailers. Full list of retailers can be found on the “Buy Now” page under the navigation link, “Before the Legend” at the top nav bar.

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Rethinking “Free”

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“You get a car. And you get a car. Everybody gets a car.”

Who remembers this scene from Oprah? Maybe you’re a fan of Oprah and her show (or maybe you never watched her show and don’t care too) yet many people have heard of this unforgettable TV moment by Oprah a couple of years ago after she gave away free cars to all her guests. Just imagine being an audience member when you see the person next to you jumping up and down because they got a key in their box only to find out that you also have the keys to a brand new car. It’s no wonder why her largely female audience went hysterical.

Why am I talking about Oprah? What relevance does she have with self-publishing or even my own stories I blog about? One word.

Free.

Virtually everybody likes free things. This is especially true if those free things are things that the intended user would want or need. When it comes to self-publishing you have spent considerable time and effort writing, editing, and rewriting your book. Why? Because you want to produce your best work so others would want to buy it. After all the work you might have poured in for editing, formatting, and creating the book cover (unless you handled most of that on your own) you expect to actually see results of your labor. So naturally you decided on a sale price that will still generate a reasonable profit after you factor royalty rates.

But for self-publishers starting off  it can be very hard to get your work noticed in those first few weeks your book goes live for distribution. If your book doesn’t crack the New Release list (for example on Amazon) or fails to be featured on other lists you risk falling by the wayside, losing visibility. If your book isn’t visible, people can’t find it. If people can’t find it they won’t buy it!

Costly Lessons

This is a lesson I learned all too well in my very first launch. One of the strategies I tried to utilize was what I now called the “Free Promo.” When I first released Before the Legend I set the book for free for a day (more like half a day). To get some downloads I even texted some of my friends and posted about it on my Facebook Fan Page. While the # of downloads weren’t impressive on Smashwords it was notable considering I didn’t tell a huge audience about the free release and it was last minute. The next day I decided to end the free run and raise the price back to the sale price I preferred which was $2.99 the very next day. Big mistake! The downloads I obtained as well as the elevated page views for my author page dropped off sharply. From there I tried other ways to get noticed such as by paying for ads on Facebook and later Goodreads. Although I was getting some interaction and clicks I felt more and more disappointed at the lack of sales.

What went wrong? A lot of things now that I take a step back and take an objective look. Some things are merely out of my control. Some authors simply had a stronger fan base to begin with or bigger  marketing platforms to their disposal to catapult their book to the prime spotlight. Obviously I’m an indie author with a limited budget for marketing and advertising so I lacked the fire power that my competitors had. A critical mistake  on my part though was rushing to get my book published before it was even ready or even strategizing my launch plan. There were no big platforms that were supporting my work. I had nothing playing in my favor.

Back to Basics

Was my initial strategy wrong? Not necessarily. The principle that free things attracts reader is mostly accurate. Personally I love free things and when a blogger broadcasted he was setting his book for free for a limited time I couldn’t help but jump at the offer before it expired. What I failed to realized was just how powerful the label free can be and I failed to maximize on it to gain more exposure to my work that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to achieve setting it to the standard price. After reevaluating my own missteps  and reading Let’s Get Visible by David Gaughran, a guide for increasing visibility for self-publishers, I realized I needed to seriously rethink my strategy and even go back to the basics. That meant stopping the ads I was running until I could come up with a more effective approach. That meant going back to get a clean edit of minor punctuation errors. It even meant polishing up on the formatting. (which is never fun when you have to go back and revise your eBook!)

In David’s book he mentioned the different launch strategies one can use amongst many other helpful insight such as choosing the right keywords, understanding Amazon’s algorithms to make the ranking system work in your favor to garner more visibility. One of the best ways to garner publicity for a new title or one that needs a little boost is to run a sale whether it be a 99 cent eBook or free. I hope to combine my free run with the approach he calls “spreading the love” which basically means spreading out the time between the launch and when you actually tell people. I highly recommend his book for all self-publishers and I’ll be discussing more about it (once I finish it) in later posts so stay tuned!

I’m Rethinking Free

So does free still catch your eye? I hope so. Now imagine in that picture at the top of this post that instead of saying you get a free car… you get a free book. So you get a free book and you get a free book… EVERYONE GETS FREE BOOKS (don’t mean to get carried away lol)! I officially announce the start of my Free Promo Week. This week only I will be making my eBook, Before the Legend free on Smashwords where you can download in multiple formats including ePub, Mobi, PDF and more! It’s also free on major retailers including Amazon. Check out my Facebook fan page in the days to come (to your left).

Also starting this Monday I started a free giveaway of my print book. Only 5 copies remain for a limited time only! Click here for more details. These next three weeks anticipate free promotions, giveaways, and more. See the spotlight for my book on Pick Your Poison which showcases my book summary and the special giveaway I’m running these next few weeks. So stay tuned as I rethink my launch strategy and rethink free.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Before the Legend- The Prologue by J.U. Scribe

Before the Legend- The Prologue

by J.U. Scribe

Giveaway ends January 13, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

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