Wednesday, March 28, 2012

WIP Day - Readers are the Best

It's WIP day! *cheers*

As you all know, this last weekend I hosted my first ever free promo for Prison Nation.  It was insanely awesome.  I had no idea what to expect from it, and the results left me smiling ear to ear all weekend long.  (You can read my post wrapping it all up here)

Post promo, sales have been great.
Since PN's release, I have had "okay" sales.  Then along came promo weekend... and people have found me!  Watching all the new reviews that keep popping up.  Reading the kind messages on my Facebook page and in my email.  Seeing my rankings climb.

This is a good week.  And it is all because I have some pretty amazing readers out there.

As of right about... now... My rankings on Amazon are resting at:

CRAZY!  Prison Nation is in the top 500!  
Have I mentioned I love you all?
Really.  I really do.  Readers are by far the best.

As for WIPs:
Needless to say, this has ignited that missing fire under my bum for sure.  ITB, here I come.  I am revved to finished editing that WIP.  Then I get to move on to my next waiting project.  (A post of which will be up in a week or so... Hint: Prison Nation related.......)

My plans for the coming week are simple.
First, finish editing this shoot I did for my sister-in-law.
Second, finish beta reading Keary Taylor's newest novel.
Third, attack my WIP!

And to leave you today: If you have been wanting to know a little more about who I am, go check out my recent post on my photography blog.
20 facts, all about me.  Oh yes.

What are your goals for the week?  Do share!

Happy Writing!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Prison Nation Promotion Weekend Wrap-Up

I feel dizzy.  Dizzy with awesome.

This last weekend I hosted my first free promo weekend for Prison Nation.  I wasn't fully sure what to expect for it.  After a little bit of promotion for the promo (some tweeting, some facebooking, a good old blog post) the weekend started and I held my breath.

And oh my goodness.

After day one:
Prison Nation had been downloaded a little over 9,000 times.
After day two: 
The download number had spiked to over 20,000 awesome readers.

I think my jaw literally hit the floor so many times I should have taken duct tape and secured it back in place.

Waking up this morning, I logged in to check the stats after the final day of the promo weekend.  Ready for the numbers?

Final Download Count: - 29,956
All other Amazon countries - 329
Total number of free downloads - 30,285

*picks jaw back up from ground once again*

During the run of my promo, I also watched Prison Nation climb on the Best Selling Free ebooks lists.  Here are some numbers saw it acheive:

#1 in free Science Fiction
#2 in free Contemporary Fiction
#6 in ALL free ebooks

Seeing it on the main page, listed for all to see... Even though it was for the free section and even though those numbers are gone, for now, it honestly brought tears to my eyes.  This weekend was so much more than I expected.

Not to mention all of the new reviews I saw popping up on both Amazon and Goodreads.  Here are a few little snips:

"This was a great book! Very well written and a unique concept. It was very different from all the other dystopians that I have read this month".
-Jamie, Goodreads

"This book kept me so engrossed that I had to finish it before I could put it down! An awesome read! I would recommend this book for anyone that wants a great read!"
-Melissa Smith, Goodreads

"I would definately suggest this book to anyone who wants to read a VERY good book! The plot of this book really makes you think about how things may turn out in the future! Millie has to learn quite a few lessons that many of us should also learn!"
-Melissa, Amazon

"I downloaded this book this morning and just now finished. I was so caught up from page one I couldn't put it down, even reading as I walked thru the house to do chores! This subject is so unlike anything I have ever read, though some of the themes remind me of today's headlines. The main character, Millie, has such a heart wrenching situation that I found myself rooting for her on nearly every page. I hope this author is busy at work on her next novel as her writing is superb."
-J. Anderson, Amazon

You are all amazing.  Knowing that over 30k people out there now have a copy of my book... it is mind boggling.  Have I said thank you?  No?
Thank you Thank you Thank you.

It will be interesting now to see how sales go post-promo.
If you didn't manage to snag a copy this last weekend (or if you would just love to support this debut author here by purchasing a copy now), Prison Nation is back on sale for only $2.99 on Kindle

Prison Nation is also available in paperback and through the Kindle Lending Library.  Check it out!

Time for me to duct my jaw back on, find some chocolate, and resist the urge to continuously check my current Kindle stats.  Thank you all for spreading the word and supporting my writing.  I look forward to many more writing days with you!


Friday, March 23, 2012

Special Review - The Hunger Games Movie

I know.  You are probably all like:
"Wait, what?  A movie review?  This is a writing and book blog gosh darn it!"

*Insert angry southern accent*

Last night I went and watched the midnight showing of The Hunger Games with my sisters-in-law.  Got there at 7, sat around for about 5 hours... And after finally settling down in our comfy chairs, after finally watching this movie we have been waiting for, I decided I would write a quick review on it.

It is based off a book.  A book I thoroughly enjoyed.  So there.


The Hunger Games

Based off The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Running Time: 2 hr 22 min
Rating: PG-13

Synopsis: (from Fandango)
Every year in the ruins of what was once North America, the Capitol of the nation of Panem forces each of its twelve districts to send a teenage boy and girl to compete in the Hunger Games. A twisted punishment for a past uprising and an ongoing government intimidation tactic, The Hunger Games are a nationally televised event in which "Tributes" must fight with one another until one survivor remains. Sixteen year old Katniss Everdeen volunteers in her younger sister's place to enter the games, and is forced to rely upon her sharp instincts as well as the mentorship of drunken former victor Haymitch Abernathy when she's pitted against highly-trained Tributes who have prepared for these Games their entire lives. If she's ever to return home to District 12, Katniss must make impossible choices in the arena that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

My Thoughts:
If you haven't heard of The Hunger Games, then you must have been a hermit hiding under a rock for the last few months.  Hype for this movie has been building, and all of the loyal readers of the best-selling trilogy have been on pins and needles to see this story come to life.

Overall, I enjoyed this big screen adaptation.  I felt it stuck true enough to the story to do it all justice.  (Unlike other movies that hack the story to so many pieces you have no idea what you are even watching.)  Naturally, certain aspects of the story were cut to fit it all into a 2 hour movie.  The missing pieces though were more of the nonessential bits.  It all worked out.

I feel the casting for this movie was great.

Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss) is a talented actress who portrayed Katniss pretty dang close to how I pictured her when devouring the book.  Her humility, intense love for family, and drive to survive was evident every second of the film.  Josh Hutcherson (Peeta) didn't fail either.  While I didn't know what to expect (I haven't seen much of this actor) he ended up delivering a believable Peeta, down to the crowd pleasing smiles and ga-ga for Katniss eyes.

My favorite?  Woody Harrelson (Haymitch)  I really wasn't sure what to expect from him in this role, but man did he deliver.  The rest of the cast did amazing as well, but I don't need to list it all. You get the picture.

And I just have to mention:  The Capitol.  Strange, eccentric, creepy, and outright awesome.  Color anyone?

Now, you might be asking why the lower rating?

A major thing that deters me from shows is the shaky camera trick.  You know, when it looks like they handed the camera to a sugar-high toddler and told them to tromp through the woods.  This movie was all over that technique, and I didn't like it.  I want to feel like I spent my money on a professional production.  Not a home-made movie.  There were a few times I literally felt cross-eyed.  Uhg.

Also, and this is just me: I feel like if the viewer hasn't read the book, they will not get the full impact of the movie.  While the acting is good, great at times, it does speed through the story line, making you feel like you need to take a deep breath just to catch up.

Plus, I wanted more action.  Come on, it's an arena where the kids are forced to kill each other.  You can't tame that down.  I have seen Battle Royale.  I can take it.

It wasn't everything I was hoping for.  But it was horrible either.
It was good.  It just wasn't totally great.

Like I said:  I enjoyed this movie.  While it may not be one that I am dying to buy another ticket for and see over and over again in theatres, I will for sure be adding it to my DVD collection once it is available for the snatching.

If you liked The Hunger Games, or are just plain curious about what all this hype is, I say go watch it.

And may the odds be ever in your favor.

My Rating:
(3 out of 5 stars)

Prison Nation Promotion Weekend

Today (Friday, 3/23) through Sunday (3/25) Prison Nation will be available FREE on Kindle.

Yes.  Free.

Been wanting a copy but couldn't get that $2.99 rounded up?  Here is your chance!  Just head on over to Kindle, and get the copy for free!  This ends Sunday though.  I can't keep it free forever.  So don't delay!  (Or do... and support me by buying a copy later... your choice.  *wink*)

And of course, spread the word!  I think it is about time I tell more people about this novel of mine.  And I need your help!

  • Send out a tweet with the hashtag #PrisonNation
  • Share it on Facebook (Feel free to tag my FB page!)
  • Blog.  Text.  Whisper in ears.  What pleases you.

Your help means so much to me.  And your support is priceless.
Thank you!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

WIP Day - Lending and Snapping Away

Today's post will be a short one.
It's one of those days.  You know?

1. PN is now part of the Kindle Lending Library.  If you have a Kindle, you can now "borrow" it for a good read.  *cheers...*

2.  In celebration of PN now being a part of the Kindle Select Program, it will be available for a free download this weekend.  That's right.  Friday through Sunday you will be able to get a free copy of PN all for yourself.  Spread the word!

Now here is a question:  
Would you, my awesome readers, be interested at all in me posting short writing prompts every so often on here?  Share more of my writing?

I used to on my old blog, but didn't bring it over when I started this bad boy up.  Now I am missing it.  I want to know what you think.

So... tell me!

Totally not writing related...
I finally am working on my photography website.  The portfolios are slowly appearing, the blog is making its way to fully existing, and I am having fun.  What with two weddings on the horizon, along with hopefully even more shoots in the future, I figured it was about time to get that site in gear.  It is still majorly under construction, but it is getting there!

Have a moment?  Check it out!

A self portrait.  Of me.  Because I always shoot with my camera on my head...

Like I said, short post for today.  Now I am off to be mommy.  Work a bit more on my site.  Prepare to beta read for the awesome Keary Taylor (I have to say: Pretty excited to read this completely new story of hers!  Check out its page on Goodreads) And of course... write.

Happy Writing!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Prison Nation, now Select

I finally came to a decision.
Ready for this?

Prison Nation is now enrolled in the KDP Select program.


What does this mean you ask?

First:  If you are a Kindle owner, you can now read PN via the Kindle Lending Library.  Do it!  Check it out!

Second:  Due to the rules of Select, PN is no longer available via Nook.

This was the hardest part of the decision for me.  I love having my book available to any reader possible, and taking it off Nook was like ripping off a band aid.  I finally decided it was worth the try.  If all doesn't go great, I can always go back.

So, if you are a Nook reader... Use a Kindle app.  Or just get a good old paper copy.  *smiles*

And Third:  In celebration of this new change to PN...

Starting this Friday, March 23rd, Prison Nation will be free for a limited  3 day period on Kindle.  
Yes, free.
From the 23rd to the 25th, hop on over to your Kindle store and download a free copy of Prison Nation.  This is only a 3 day promotion, so don't miss it.  

Spread the word!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

To Do KDP Select, or Not

I have been having a hard time making a decision.
So now... I come to you.

KDP Select
Have you heard of it?

If you an avid e-reader, or indie author, no doubt you have.  It is Kindle's newest platform.  Through KDP Select, ebooks are available in a lending library.  A fund is set each month, and depending on how many times your book is borrowed, you get a portion of that fund.  There are options to set your book to free for promotional periods, and Select helps to publicize your book more than before.

Sounds great!

I think the only downside is that if you choose to do KDP Select, you cannot e-publish your book anywhere but Kindle.

The only other location you can digitally get PN at the moment is Nook.  And to be honest, I make much more sales via Kindle than Nook any day.  It wouldn't affect me much in that way.  But I could lose some potential Nook readers.

So, should I do it?

As I said, I may lose potential Nook readers.  But at the same time, I could pick up many more Kindle readers in the process.  Decisions... decisions decisions decisions...

I am looking for your opinion.  Please... do share!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Encouraging Words

There are three teachers in my life who have made the largest impact on who I am today, as a writer.  Recently while digging through some old boxes, I was reminded of one of those amazing people.

It was my fifth grade teacher, Ms. Bordi.  Red curly hair, nonstop energy, and absolute love for her job and students gave her the very appropriate nickname of "Ms. Frizzle."  Most of my elementary school life is a blur of art projects, recess, and singing time.  Yet my fifth grade year always remains clear and crisp in my mind.  Because of Ms. Bordi.

What made her so special to me?

It wasn't just her Ms. Frizzle-ness.  No.  It was because she was the first teacher who read my writing and said, many times: You can do this!  Even when I was only a surly 11 year old who refused to do her math homework and talked back one time too many, she believed in me.

And that hit home.

Her words of encouragement, her shoves of "just do it," and her praise of even the silliest poem has stuck with me to this day.  While there are many things I have forgotten or blurred from my childhood, this one thing I have not.

Someone believed in me.  Someone wanted me to write my book.

What did I find in my box you ask?
It was my 5th grade memory book.  I flipped through it, reading memories of my last year of Elementary school.  Looking at my old school photos. Then I landed on a message signed by Ms. Bordi.

Dear Jenn,
I cannot wait to open my Time Magazine and my TFK and find a big article about the award-winning artist/author Jenn L. Mason!  Your writing has been like eating yummy chocolate all year - I love it!  Fortunately, unlike chocolate, your writing has been for for me!  Your sense of humor, persistence, and quick intelligence have been a pleasure!  Don't forget to come back and visit me, ok?  Otherwise I may track you down... and wrap you in a homemade straight jacket!
Love, Ms. Bordi

She gave me the realization that I just may have something in there other than a little story.  She made me promise her a book.  And when I published Prison Nation, I thought of her.

Teachers.  Friends.  Family.  The words of encouragement they say can stick with you longer and more intensely that you ever thought.  Too often those words of belittled.  Looked down on.  But not by me.

They are chocolate, but so much more healthy.

Take a moment today and admire the talent of the people around you.  Give them a thumbs up.  A "you can do this" message.  A hearty slap on the back.  Your words can create the difference in their life.  I know those words have changed my own.

You can do it.  I believe in you.  Keep going.

Ms. Bordi gave me one of the first pushes.  Others pulled me along the way.  And here I am today. How can you thank someone enough for that?

Thank you Ms. Bordi.  You will always be the best Ms. Frizzle, ever.
I hope I make you proud.

Happy Writing!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Super Cleaning...Joy?

I need superpowers.  Badly. (image source)

Today I am in a mad cleaning frenzy.
Partly because I have two of my closest friends visiting me this weekend.  Partly because I have finally gotten to the point that this exploded home is barely recognizable.  And a smidge part because I almost want to.

Closets are jam packed with junk, laundry is still waiting to be put away, the boys' bedroom... don't get me started on the disaster zone that once was the bedroom of my two boys.

My, what I would give right now to have time freezing powers, never ending energy, super speed...

Because of this, I seemingly have no time for 'me' today.  I know busting out a great blog post shouldn't take much time at all, but at this moment I am wrestling one boy away from the drawer full of utensils.  Telling the other that no, he in fact may not have candy no matter how much he dresses up and insists it is Halloween.  And in the back of my mind, that laundry pile taunts me with horrible insults.

If I find time later, I will write a proper WIP day post.  If I survive that is.
And off I go... *plays epic superhero music in attempt to rally energy*

To all of you who get the chance: Happy Writing!

Monday, March 5, 2012

BE a Writer

Photo of yours truly, by Vince James Photography

Photographer and awesome friend of mine, Vince James, has just revamped his website and blog.  Yes, the very Vince James who did my author photos (and my couple shoot, and my family photos and yet another shoot coming up this weekend... Can you tell I love his work?)

He is currently taking an online Pro class from yet another amazing photographer (Brooke Snow) and has redesigned his entire site in preparation for the weekly posted assignments.

(First assignment of which he should be posting anytime now.  I had the chance to video this shoot and let me tell you: it was too much fun!)

A few days ago Vince wrote a post about 5 things he has learned in regards to being a photographer.  Though it is written with a photographer in mind, every thought he wrote can easily (and perfectly) be applied to all us creative types out there.  It has literally been stuck in my head since first reading it.

I won't repost the entire post.  If you would like a chance to read his thoughts, check it out here.  (Do it.  Just do it.)  I do want to share the 5th point he made though.  In Vince's words:

BE a photographer, cherish those unique experiences. Driving home from a shoot with that amazing feeling, knowing that you nailed it. Seeing your photos in print and realizing how much they mean to your clients. Shooting a session for free because the person honestly needs it and cannot afford it. Looking back at your old work and marveling at how bad it looks to you now, but being grateful that it got better. Those moments make everything else worthwhile.  Hold on to them and remember them, for those days when seemingly everything goes wrong.

Now, I know not all of you are photographers out there.  This is a writing blog.  All about writing.  Books.  Literature mayhem.  So let me take a moment to translate me thoughts into Vince's, so you can all see what I read in my hectic mind:

BE a writer.  Cherish those unique experiences.  Finishing that final chapter with that amazing feeling, knowing that you nailed it.  Seeing your writing in print and realizing how much your words mean to your readers.  Writing a simple poem, blog post, email or letter solely to share yourself with the people who will read it.  Looking back at your old work and marveling at how bad it is to you now, but being grateful that it got better.  Those moments make everything else worthwhile.  Hold onto them and remember them for those days when seemingly everything goes wrong.

See?  Even advice written for photography can so easily bleed over into our writing world.  Thank you Vince for your words of awesome inspiration.  One artist to another.

I hope you all take a moment today to BE a writer.  I know I sure will.

Happy Writing!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Book Review - Pandemonium

by Lauren Oliver

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
I’m pushing aside the memory of my nightmare,
pushing aside thoughts of Alex,
pushing aside thoughts of Hana and my old school,
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.
I buried her.
I left her beyond a fence,
behind a wall of smoke and flame.

Lauren Oliver delivers an electrifying follow-up to her acclaimed New York Times bestseller, Delirium. This riveting, brilliant novel crackles with the fire of fierce defiance, forbidden romance, and the sparks of a revolution about to ignite.

Why I Picked This Book:  After enjoying Delirium, I knew at some point I would need to dive back into the world of no love.  As soon as I won a free copy of the book (yay!) I knew it was about time to take the plunge.

My Thoughts:
Pandemonium, book two of the Delirium series by Lauren Oliver, was a read worth devouring.  I can honestly say: I wasn't fully sure if I wanted to read it at first.  While I did enjoy Delirium, I wasn't on pins and needles waiting for book two.  But man, I am happy I read it.

Pandemonium picks up pretty close to where Delirium ended.  (Meaning, if you haven't read Delirium yet, the rest of this review just may be a major spoiler.  Reader beware.)

I love how the POV was written for this book.  Instead of doing what has become the trend (bouncing back and forth between two different characters), Pandemonium jumps back and forth between "then" and "now" while staying in only one character's head.  I loved it.  The way the story unfolded, explaining itself with glimpses into the past, completely pulled me in.

Then - Lena escaped Portland.  Alone.  Sick, exhausted, and spent, she passes out.  When she comes to, she finds that a group of uncureds have taken her in and nursed her back to health.  As she mourns the loss of Alex, Lena must learn to survive in a world completely different than the one she always knew.  This world is all about love, but it is also about fighting to stay alive.

Now - Lena is living undercover in Manhatten.  She was told to stay close to Julian, lead youth supporter of children being allowed to get the Cure.  Now it is his turn, even though the very procedure might kill him.  Little did Lena expect that the day would end in a riot that would land Julian and herself prisoners for a rogue underground movement.

I love the new characters that were thrown in.  Raven, the woman who nursed Lena back to health.  Full of tacks and steel, but hiding pain and love in every word.  Blue, the little girl with huge eyes that tugs at your heart the moment you first see her.  Oh Blue.  And Julian.  I loved Julian.  Though there were aspects of him that did get at me, the overall creation of this new guy was awesome.  Watching him learn that everything he grew to believe was a lie... I am rooting for him.

I think the only thing that did get at me about this book was the love aspect.  Again.  Though I know the entire basis of this series is love, every time Lena does "fall in love" it feels... fake?  Rushed?  Though I know for a fact that is how love can be in the teenage world, I always felt slightly off once Lena declared it was love.

Overall, I very much so devoured this book.  If I did half star ratings, it would have earned a 4.5 in my book.  I can definitely say I enjoyed it much more than book one, and I can't wait to see where book three will take us.  What with how Pandemonium ended, it should be fantastic.

My Rating:
(4 out of 5 stars)


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