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Amy J. Murphy

Author of the Allies and Enemies series.

Category: book review Page 1 of 2

Dragon Award Nominations

Here’s your chance to help the Allies and Enemies series make a little bit of history by making it a three-time nominee for a Dragon Award.

Please consider nominating my book, Allies and Enemies: Legacy for “Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel” in the 2019 Dragon Awards. [It’s the 4th category down on the list. Click the image or link below to visit the nomination page.]

There’s no cost to you and you need not attend Dragon Con to participate in the nomination or voting process. The link to nominate is located here:

http://application.dragoncon.org/dc_fan_awards_nominations.php

Once you register and nominate only one or as many choices as you are comfortable with for the many categories that include comics, movies, games and tv shows. Be aware that you get only one nomination per category. The deadline for nominations is July 19th.

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Cover reveal: Allies and Enemies: Empire

Allies and Enemies: Empire (Book 5) is due out soon. Thanks to some diligent beta-readers, it looks like I’ll be able to publish well ahead of my original target deadline. Look for pre-order info by the end of this week (June 28th). I hate to leave things on a “cliff hanger” but book 5 should be well worth the wait.

In the meanwhile, I’m very pleased to share the beautiful cover art created by Laercio Messias. [Check out his other work here.]

Allies and Enemies: Empire (Book 5) – On pre order soon!

Allies and Enemies: Fallen – Special Price Promotion

While we await the release of the audiobook version of Allies and Enemies: Fallen, I thought I’d do a little price drop on the ebook. It’s newly revamped and updated as well.

It’s now released on multiple platforms like all the other books in the series. So if your flavor is iBooks, Kobo, GooglePlay or good old Kindle, chances are there’s a format for your ebook reader.

Because I’m SO helpful, here are links to all the retailers. (You’re welcome.)

Amazon | Kobo | Barnes & Noble/Nook | iTunes | GooglePlay | Smashwords

Check back soon for updates on the audibook release and a chance to win a free copy!

Murderbots and Other Stuff You Should Read

Hey! This one goes out to indie authors. You’ve heard that advice to read a lot if you’re looking to up your game as an author. It’s a great way to learn your craft as you entertain your brain. (Not to mention support your brethren.) And, I don’t know about you, but I gain inspiration when I enjoy a well-written story. It’s some great advice. I read about 2-3 books a week. Not all of them are fiction. There’s some non-fiction writing craft stuff in there too.

Here’s a shout out to some books that I’ve recently “discovered” and don’t have enough good things to say about.

  • All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries) by Martha Wells – Refreshing POV narrator. Good world-building.
  • Disappearance At Devil’s Rock by Paul Tremblay – Fantastic style. Same author of A Head Full of Ghosts.
  • The Frozen Sky (the Europa Series Book 1) by Jeff Carlson – If Alien and The Expanse had a baby…
  • Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success (Helping Writers Become Authors Book 1) by K.M. Weiland – This writer’s energy and dedication to detail make we want to go take a nap.
  • How To Write A Novel The Easy Way Using The Pulp Fiction Method To Write Better Novels: Writing Skills by Jim Driver – Some good advice here.

Not all of them are science fiction. Reading outside of your customary genre is a great palate cleanser for the imagination. I hope you pick them up and enjoy them as much as I did.

And, just another mention in case you’ve not noticed or seen my earlier posts: Allies and Enemies is now available as a box set. This one includes exclusive content too!

Let’s Celebrate with a FREE Download

As you might have heard, the third book in the Allies and Enemies series, Allies and Enemies: Exiles is due out at the end of this month. It’s available in pre-order on Amazon right now. (Big thank you to everyone that’s pre-ordered already.) To celebrate, I’m offering the first book in the series, Allies and Enemies: Fallen, for FREE on Amazon until 3/19/2017. Chances are high that if you’re reading this, you’ve already read Fallen, but why not send my link for a free download to a friend or three?

Keeping it real

Recently, I was interviewed for the Rocking Self-Publishing podcast by the charming Simon Whistler. (The podcast should air on 3/30. I say should because I’d like to give Simon an easy out in case he realizes what a spaz I am.) This was a fantastic experience for me. Not only was it lots of fun chatting with Simon, but he asked some excellent questions. During the interview, I had the chance to discuss my personal philosophies on being an indie-author and ran through my Top 5 Elements of Middling Success or How to Fail Upwards. (I’m still working on the title.)

One of the elements on my list (#5) is “Don’t give up.” I think it goes hand-in-hand with the concept that you can’t judge your success by the what you see around you. Success is an internal measure. I think that’s where a lot of folks fall down. It’s easy to find reasons to give up when your self-pubbed book is not an overnight sensation like The Martian or Wool. Let’s get real. Before these two books became best sellers, they started out as ideas. They’re the result of a lot of hard work. They were not magically generated overnight. That’s crazy-think, right there. It’s pretty bricky to think right out of the gate you’re going to have a best seller on your hands without having to get those hands dirty.

You have set realistic goals. Ambition is great. It gets your motor running. But know where you’re motoring. If you continue to establish unrealistic goals, you’re heading for a cliff. So, there’s a method for figuring out your goals called the SMART technique. (What can I say? I’m a sucker for clever acronyms.)

  1. Specific – Be specific about your goal. If you’re never written and/or published a book, instead of saying “I’m going to become an author”, a more specific goal would be “I’m going to independently publish a science fiction novel by the end of the year.”
  2. Measurable – Decide on a way you can measure your success. For instance, “I’m going to write for 30 minutes a day.”
  3. Attainable – Here’s where you ask yourself what’s actually physically possible. Don’t tell yourself you’re going to write 5,000 words a day when you know you struggle for the time to even write 500. Aim for what you know is possible for your steps along the way. Don’t say “I’m going to sell 100 books this week.” when you have no control over what other people will or won’t buy.
  4. Realistic – Be honest with yourself here. It’s easy to say something fantastical like, “I’ll write a book a month.” (OK, I know there are people that really do that, but I’m pretty sure they’re cyborgs or genetically enhanced.) Try saying, “I’m going to self-publish on Amazon at the end of October.”
  5. Timely – Making a deadline keeps it real. You’re making an appointment with yourself, be it 30 days or 300 days. Make yourself keep that appointment.

So, Murphy, you say, what’re your goals if you’re such an expert on this?

First of all, I’m many things, but not an expert. I only know what’s worked for me.

My goal is easy. Aim low. Well… not low, but I’m realistic. My motto: “Mid-list, at best.”

It was easy to get caught up in the excitement when my first book, Allies and Enemies: Fallen, caught some good traction. I never thought I’d be the next Weber or Scalzi. But my books have (temporarily) shown up on lists with their books which is/was pretty awesome. It’s also quite humbling. It made me realize how much harder you have to work to stay there.

And I’ll likely never receive a Nebula or a Hugo. But I am now a member of SFWA which was a goal I’ve had for quite some time.

Be real with yourself. Know what you can do to get to what you want to do. It’s not going to happen overnight. But, hang in there, kitten. It’ll happen.

 

 

Spin City, Baby

I don’t remember doing this. (That’s one of the charming side effects of life with ADD.) But I guess I submitted a copy of  Allies and Enemies: Fallen to the Midwest Book Review.

How do I know this? Yesterday, I got an email from their editor telling me my book is included in their February issue of MBR Bookwatch.

Yay! Right? Err…. maybe?

While I am grateful for the coverage (MBR has a pretty solid reputation), it’s not the most glowing missive. It does produce some pretty nice “sound bites”. In our present world of spin doctoring and fake news, it’s a boon of sorts. However, I do have to recognize that it’s the opinion of one person. Like a Jackson Pollock or one of those weird 3D prints from the 90s, not everyone is going to see the same thing. Consider

Consider The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. This book is beautifully written and seamless. This is my favorite book. I look to it for inspiration in writing style. But the subject matter is easy to consider depressing. I mean, it is the story of an oppressed woman, Ofglen. A lot of terrible things have happened to her and continue to happen to her. That’s the 20,000-foot view. Look lower, under that cloud layer, and you see the so much more than that. You see a spirit that refuses to be shaped by her new reality, a warning, a cautionary tale, a disconnected love story. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not comparing myself to Atwood. She’s got the 120 pack of crayons with the built-in sharpener on the box. I have the cheapo pack of 3 that they give you with the kid’s menu at Denny’s. My point is everyone has different viewpoints.

“…a solid SF tale. It has a nice layered storyline with a relatively fast paced plot… Fallen has everything you would want in a SF suspense space opera.” [Midwest Review]

So do I imagine hearing the above “sound bite” in some gritty movie trailer voice? You bet. 🙂 Will I take the full review’s comments to heart? Not sure. But it did give me pause to reflect on the nature of professional reviews and the roles they play in the world of self-publishing. They’re meant to help potential readers make a decision about what book they want to read next.

In the same vein, does the phrase “New York Times Bestseller” compel someone on Amazon to pick that book over another? Or does it simply place that book in a higher spot of prominence so that the consumer is less likely to dig deeper beyond the first few results? Personally, before I got wrapped up in this indy publishing journey, I never really noticed the “NY Times” bannered books. But then… that’s just me.

 

Book Three Coming Soon!

Your wait for book three is drawing to a close.

I’m very happy to say that the third book in the series Allies and Enemies: Exiles is going to be available very soon. My stalwart editor is hard at work doing her thing to my manuscript. Before long I should be hard at work putting her edits into action. Then it’s ebook city, baby!

There are other authors out there that seem to churn out a book a month. I am not one of those, try as I might. However, in my defense, I will say that my first book took ten years to write, so I think I’ve shown incredible improvement if you’re judging current me against my prior glacial record. I have learned a valuable lesson when it comes to writing a series: Finish all three books first.

Here’s a sneak peak at the cover art created by the fantastic Alex Winkler. Look for pre-order on Allies and Enemies: Exiles in the days ahead exclusively on Amazon.

It’s not too late to sign up to receive an advance reader copy (ARC) of Exiles a week before the book is released into the wild. All I ask in return is your honest feedback on Amazon and/or Goodreads. Click here to sign up.

Thanks!

 

Write a @$%*! Author Bio, already.

dogYou stare at the blank screen. The little cursor is blinking away—you swear it’s mocking you.

You have to be witty, charming, appealing. You have to write your author bio.

Sure, you can talk about your book for hours, but when it’s time to talk about you, your muse clams up and slinks off to a desolate corner of your little mental cocktail party or maybe goes to bury herself under the thick pile of winter coats in the master bedroom.

You need a good author bio. It may seem unimportant: why would anyone care if you live in Montana? You write about Vikings for cryin’ out loud.

Believe it or not, there are readers out there that actually want to know about you. It’s your chance to make a connection with your readers. Also, you need one for your website, your book jacket, and your Amazon author page (and don’t forget Goodreads). It doesn’t have to be an arduous task. You can have a bit of fun with it. (And, it’s ok to make stuff up—kinda. Just check out Peter Clines’ bio. You’ll see what I mean.)

There are few tips on writing your bio. Maybe they’ll help you come up with a really entertaining one:

  1. Keep it brief. It doesn’t need to be War and Peace. Aim for 200 to 250 words. Some spots limit you to 50 (ie a by-line).
  2. Use third person to talk about yourself and present tense whenever possible. ( ie. “John likes to scavenge thrift shops in his spare time for vintage bowling shirts.”
  3. Be relevant. Try to zero in on facts about yourself that make your expertise relevant to the subject matter of your books. For instance, if you write about genetic engineering run amok with killer species of watermelon, you might want to share that you’ve got a Ph. D. in genetics.
  4. Here’s your chance to tell people how awesome you are when it comes to writing. Were you a finalist in a literary contest? Did you book rank in the top 100 on Goodreads in the “underwater basket-weaving category”? Great. Throw it in there.

If you’re still not feeling it, here are some great author bios that may inspire you:

Peter Clines

https://www.amazon.com/Peter-Clines/e/B0039LGSLW/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1484146012&sr=8-1

Chuck Wendig

http://terribleminds.com/

Steven Campbell

http://www.belvaille.com/bio.html

 

Have fun!

(Also, you might have noticed there’s no longer the ability to leave comments after posts. I disabled it. You can thank the porn-viagra spam bots for that.)

Meet Me At Arisia 2017

arisiaArisia, “New England’s Largest and Most Diverse Sci-Fi & Fantasy Convention” has just announced its programming for 2017 and I am delighted to be on two panels. Taking place from January 13 – 16, 2017 at the Westin Boston Waterfront hotel, this con seems to grow bigger every year. I’ve been attending religiously, but this is my first chance to be part of a panel as a legit author (the second panel is about costuming).

This year’s Guest of Honor is Ursula Vernon.

If you’re attending Arisia, why not stop by and say hi?

Marketing Your Book in a Digital Age
Faneuil (3W), 8:30am – 9:45am
Tracks: Writing
Types: Panel
Anna Erishkigal (moderator), Timothy Goyette, Constance Burris, Amy J. Murphy
Ebooks now constitute 30% of the book market, with some genres (such as romance) approaching 89%. How do you market these books? What opportunities does digital provide? What’s a reader magnet? And how do keywords make your book more visible? Come learn how to use MailChimp to build an email subscriber list, leverage your website, and reach out to readers without appearing spammy.

#SFWAPRo

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