Thursday, 20 September 2018

Book reviews of classic apocalypse novels - I am Legend by Richard Matheson

Reading old classics apocalypse novels

I felt the need recently to read a few dystopian/horror/sci-fi classics, especially after I read “A Canticle for Leibowitz” by Walter M Miller Jnr and I absolutely LOVED IT. I straightaway downloaded to my Kindle “I Am Legend” by Richard Matheson, "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy (eve though this isn't an old classic by any means it reads like one) a “Philip K Dick” collection, and “Lucifer’s Hammer” by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle.

First up is I Am Legend

I saw the movie with Will Smith before I read the book. The concept is the same as the book: A lone survivor of a vampire plague who can’t venture anywhere further than a day’s round trip drive from his home. He’s driven mad with loneliness. He’s also intent on wiping out as many of these vampires as he finds. 

This is the only point on which the movie and the book agree upon. I was pleasantly surprised to read the book and discover a new ending, new characters, and a new story line. Had it been exactly the same as the movie I might not have enjoyed it so much. The book contains subtle humour as Robert Neville is constantly harassed by his neighbour, Ben Cortman in the book. By the end you begin to feel sorry for poor old Cortman. Especially his tragic demise at the end.

There’s something about these classics that makes for compelling reading. I Am Legend was published in 1954 and it's a compelling read. We hear so much about 'show not tell' but compelling reads like this show us what storytelling is about. 

Which version did I like better? I liked the movie but I LOVED the book. I’m looking forward to reading a few more classic sci-fi stories.

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Marketing my #scifi novel “Earth Quarantined” #marketingtips

Marketing my sci-fi novel “Earth Quarantined”

I really wish I could write a detailed tutorial on how I’m marketing “Earth Quarantined”, but the truth is that I’m flying all over the place like a cat chasing a laser dot. I’m cherry-picking bits from here and there and using what works for me and also some new ideas. I have a clunky spreadsheet that could benefit from being tidied up, but who cares? It’s just a database. I’ve printed off checklists from tutorials and websites that I could collate and print out neat little documents. Who has time? I searched the net everywhere I went and emailed myself a bunch of links and websites to check out. Again, who has time to compile all of these together?

So apologies that this blog isn’t a neat ‘how to’ guide. All that takes time that I’d rather spend writing and promoting. But this is the rundown of what I’m doing to promote “Earth Quarantined”.


Basically, most of my planning at this time is geared towards gathering an army of readers, followers, bloggers, and anyone else who will talk about the book.

Pre-launch checklist:

A few months ago, I signed up to do an online author tutorial by Alessandra Torre on marketing. There was a downloadable checklist for marketing 6 months in advance which I’ve used. I can’t share this documents, but here is the link to the site. It's a very valuable marketing course. The checklist starts at 6 months out, then 3 months out, then two months, one month, two weeks, one week…you get the drift. Once this book is released, I’ll see if I have time to make this tailored to me.

Create a swipe page:

I need to be able to grab all the information about me and the book quickly. So I’ve created a ‘swipe page’. Never heard of it? A swipe page is a word document where I store all the links and blurbs and bios for a book, because every single promo site will want different information, or the same, and this saves you having to type it over and over. So you open this document and you ‘swipe’ the information and copy it to the source. Here is a link to my website for you to download a blank swipe page. Copy and paste a link every time you create one, so you don’t have to keep going back and forth. Trust me, this is a timesaver. Update this document as you go and create a new one for each book.

TIP: Much of this information will also go into your Media Kit, which is a lovely word document that you will send to your bloggers with book details and purchase link so they can copy and paste to their blog. They will not appreciated having to find this information themselves.


Every writer points to the newsletter as their number one way to directly link to their readers. I have a small newsletter, they’re loyal readers who have been with me since 2011. But I know the importance of increasing the subscriber numbers, so I have an ongoing Facebook ad where I’m giving away 3 free reads (these are not novels, these are a deleted chapter, a fun read, and a short story collection) to sign up to my newsletter. I use Mail Chimp for my newsletters. Once you know what you’re doing, it’s pretty easy to use. 

One of the problems all authors face isn’t just getting new subscribers, it’s keeping them. Last month, I decided to do a monthly giveaway of a $5 giftcard exclusive to my newsletter subscribers. A few months prior to this, I was getting 3-4 unsubscribes after every newsletter. I don’t have a gazillion subscribers, so it hurt to see this number decline. Since doing the giveaway, I haven’t lost a single subscriber.

Bloggers for new release blast and reviews:

They say the key to success is ‘word of mouth’. This is why I’m a huge fan of book blogs. My number one reason why I always, always, always! do a blog tour is that these are run by passionate readers and reviewers. Who better to promote my book than someone who loves promoting books? You can only badger your family and friends for so long, and you can only write the same message on your social media sites for so long before people zone out. And too much self-promotion can put readers off.

Many bloggers review books. They love reading and reviewing, however, it’s not always possible to get reviews because their reading piles are enormous, but they will always post an excerpt of the book, the cover, buy links. Search Google for ‘blog tours’ and you’ll get lists of sites that can do the work for you in setting these up. You can also save money and contact the bloggers yourself. This takes time but it does give you an advantage.

For Earth Quarantined, I decided to contact every blogger myself. Here’s a few reasons why. 1) I had done a blog tour recently and I wanted to reach a new audience. 2) I wanted to target sci-fi bloggers and reviewers. 3) I also wanted to give them a personal email from me.

To give you a comparison. For WTTA trilogy book blast – I ended up with 30 stops over 3 weeks (Mon to Fri) by using a third party at a cost of $90 USD. A ‘stop’ involved a showcase of each book plus an excerpt. Contacting bloggers myself, in one week I have so far landed 10 release posts and 4 reviews. I still have many more bloggers to contact and two months before the tour starts.   

TIP: I always run a giveaway where the criteria is to join my newsletter. Use Rafflecopter, it’s easy and free.

How to find bloggers:

Here are a few sites I’ve used that have a list of bloggers. You will need to check their review policy and check if they have contact details listed.

Book Blogger List

Book Sirens
Published to Death

TIP: check when they were last active. Bloggers do come and go so don't bother with sites that haven't published in the last month.

How to capture data for the blog tour:

I created a document in Google Drive for everyone to sign up. They’re already familiar with these forms so that’s why I went with this option. I’m offering two giveaways – one to readers and one to blog hosts of $15 giftcard each. Be sure to put a condition of the giveaway is that everyone must subscribe to your newsletter.

Getting reviews:

Paid for reviews:

I no longer wait until the book is out to start getting reviews. One month before release, I’ll send out my Advance Reader Copies to my blog reviewers, and I will pay a third party site to upload my book to Netgalley. Netgalley is a preferred site for reviewers because this is often where publishers post books for reviews. There is a cost to load a book for review to Netgalley. But there are a few author services sites that  will upload the book for you to their account. I’ve done this twice now, both times for my previous sci-fi novel “Welcome to the Apocalypse”. The first third author service site got me 6 reviews. The second site got me 16 reviews, plus the company emailed me the download report where I could send friendly reminders to the readers about leaving a review.

I use BooksGo Social. Sign up to their newsletter to get alerts on how to do this.

Advance reviews can be quoted on Amazon and Goodreads in the editorial review section of the book, as well as put on my website and social media banners.

Here are a few sites to contact reviewers:
Published to Death

TIP: check when they were last active. Bloggers do come and go so don't bother with sites that haven't published in the last month.


Goodreads is full of readers. There is nothing else promoted on the site and that why I’m becoming more active on Goodreads. I will create blog posts and send events to friends and fans when the book is released. Nearly all reviewers will leave a review on Goodreads because it’s free. Join groups and communities. Some groups will put up read and review requests where authors sign up and readers review the book. In the past I’ve gotten 10-14 reviews of books using this method.

What else I’m trying and testing:

Back matter: Don’t worry if you don’t know what this is. I didn’t know what it was called. It’s the ‘blah blah blah’ at the back of the book to encourage readers to sign up to be notified of the next book in the series. I also created a landing page on my website which is an online version of the back matter. I updated the back matter of WTTA to include a sign up to Earth form, then I discounted WTTA ebook to 99c and paid a small fortune to get it sent out of blast emails. I didn’t do this to get a return on my money spent, because at 35c royalties a book, I knew I wouldn’t get my money back. I did this to get it into the hands of as many readers as I could. I ended up selling over 50 copies, which is well under my target. I wanted 200 copies sold. Still, that’s 50+ more than I had a month ago. But so far no sign ups to the Earth alert. I’ll wait to see what happens with this.

The Facebook sign up form: I’ve paid to have an ad running with the giveaway of 3 books, but so far this has slowed right down after the initial ad. We’ll see how it goes long term. Maybe over 6 months I might get enough subscribers to call this worthwhile.

 Bookbub followers: I was part of a giveaway to gain followers on Bookbub. I got well over my expectations on this. I thought I’d get 180 followers. I ended up with 289. So when Earth is released, Bookbub will then send out a new release alert to all these followers. I won’t know till November if this is effective or not.

Amazon followers: There’s no way of knowing how many followers authors have, but one way to get followers is to do a giveaway. The criteria is that they follow you on Amazon. Then when your book is released amazon will send out a new release alert.

That’s it! These are just some of the major marketing ploys I’m using this time around. Some are new, some are tried and tested. It’s a lot of work, enjoyable but exhausting. I’ll know if this has been worth it on November 15 when Earth Quarantined is released.

D L Richardson links mentioned in this post: (You didn't think you'd get to the end of the post without an attempt to get you sign up, did you? I'd love for you to join me, and you can get free books and win $5 giftcard.) 

Sign up to D L Richardson’s newsletter
Swipe page

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Writing and marketing tip - the swipe page.

I'm two months off releasing Earth Quarantined, my new sci-fi series. And my number one tool for any release is a swipe page.

What is a swipe page? It's a word document where I store ALL the book info:

Buy links
Author pages
Review quotes

I do this so I can 'swipe' the links and text at any time to copy and paste the URL into an email, a Facebook or Twitter post,  or to use for banners and ads.

Trust me, this will save you time. I've already used my swipe page to create this post.

I store everything on my swipe page. It becomes my 'go to'. Here's a sneak peak at a couple of pages.

Sample of Earth Quarantined swipe page

This is an evolving document too. Each time I create a new link, it gets added to the page.

Why it's my number one tool is because it stops me having to go into this site or my book marked internet sites or opening other documents to quickly grab this information.

I can't tell you how many times I've found it easier to 'swipe' my email address as opposed to typing it. Do you know how long it takes to type

(Too long, I coped it from my swipe page)

also use my swipe page to write quick posts to sign up to my newsletter or to create a quick banner, or to use a review quote. It's currently at 7 pages. I can also email it to my work computer so I'm never without it.

So for all you writers out there, I have created a blank swipe page on my website for you to add in all your links and excerpts and one-liners. I guarantee this will save you time. 

Monday, 3 September 2018

Spotlight on #iBooks pre-order for Fantasy collection #RitetoReign

Something wicked this way comes…to IBooks

Willful witches, supernatural sorcerers, cruel queens, and powerful priestesses fall out of favor and rise to rule in this highly sought-after collection of spellbinding stories!
More than 20 award-winning and bestselling authors have come together to curate this bewitching boxed set collection of the best PARANORMAL ROMANCE and URBAN FANTASY books in the genre, each brimming with stories of royal magic.
Journey through worlds of danger and mayhem, where witches and warlocks battle for influence and wizards fight for unrestricted power.
But reader beware: the highly addictive stories in RITE TO REIGN will put you under their spell. One click to secure your limited edition copy today!
Avail for pre-order on iBooks
Expected Release Date: December 11, 2018

Including stories from…

Heather Marie Adkins 

Teresa Roman 

JJ King & Candace Osmond 

SJ Davis & P. Mattern 

Scott Hungerford 

Shawna Romkey 

Ash Krafton 

Christine Ashworth 

Anna Santos 

Melissa Winters 

Colleen S. Myers 

Andie M. Long 

Alex H. Singh 

Sabrina Ramoth 

L.C. Ireland 

Louisa Bacio 

Grace White 

Helen Scott 

Carma Haley Shoemaker

Kyndra Hatch 

Mirren Hogan & Stephanie Barr

E.B. Black 

Elle Middaugh 

Kat Parrish 

Tanya Dawson

Thursday, 30 August 2018

10 things about spies you never knew

Writers get so busy with marketing their new releases that their back catalog of books can get forgotten about. I thought I'd put together some of the things I've leaved about spies while researching for Resident Spy, a YA supernatural novel that I thoroughly enjoyed writing and doing research on.

10 things about spies you never knew

1. Spies or Spooks? I found out while researching the CIA for my agent who goes undercover in a pharmaceutical factory that 'spying' is what they do, but they call themselves 'spooks', because they don't exist on paper. They are essentially ghosts. But I still called Dylan Black a spy in the book because it's a familiar term. 

2. In addition to tracking nearly 1,500 presidential death threats per year, the Secret Service also investigates credit fraud, financial crimes, identity theft, counterfeiting, and computer fraud. Source

3. Spies ready 'spy fiction' and review them for their accuracy, or inaccuracy, under nom de plumes, of course. Source

John McLaughlin, who happens to share a name with a former director of the CIA, wrote:
"What the public sees and reads is with rare exception, fantasy mixed with a few kernels of truth. This is particularly true when it comes to American authors and directors. We have not yet produced an espionage novelist with the maturity and perfect pitch so frequently found in the work of British masters such as John le Carré."

4. In 1908, the Department of Justice hired Secret Service agents to conduct national investigations. The nine agents formed the Bureau of Investigation, later renamed the Federal Bureau of Investigation. 

5. From Dr. No to Quantum of Solace, James Bond has killed 352 people and slept with 52 women. Source

6. The five pilots flying the planes in Pussy Galore's Flying Circus in Goldfinger were actually men wearing blonde wigs. Source

7. In 2013, the CIA publicly acknowledged the existence of Area 51 for the first time. NO doubt, with the increase of domestic aerial surveillance, they just couldn't keep it hidden any longer. Source

8. The CIA reads up to 5 million tweets a day. According to this article, an example of the work that the centre carries out came when the US killed Osama Bin Laden earlier this year. The CIA turned to social media to build a report that gave the White House a snapshot of the world’s opinion and reaction to the incident. Source

9. In 2009, it was found that Earnest Hemingway was a failed KGB spyThe Rise and Fall of the KGB in America (Yale University Press), revealed the Nobel prize-winning novelist was for a while on the KGB's list of its agents in America. Source

10. The CIA's most highly-trained spies weren't even human. Bob Bailey, the first director of training for the Navy’s pioneering dolphin program, stated in an interview that he never found an animal he couldn't train. Source

Hope you enjoyed reading about spies and spooks. 
If you'd like to know more about my YA spy adventure novel, read on.

Two weeks after Ethan James, Florida Bowman, and Jake Inala finally receive their much-needed organ donations, they're kidnapped by a man who believes that the memories of the host are retained in the organs. Their abductor tells them that they received the organs of a CIA agent who died halfway through a mission to stop the deaths of millions of people.
Now their kidnapper wants the information stored in their organs to continue to mission. It's up to these three to stop this madman, but to do that they'll have to believe that a spy resides within.

The Reviews:
"The climax of the story was great. It really got you guessing and was fast-paced and had several unexpected surprises." -  Sher A Hart

"I was sucked in to the story from the very first chapter." - The Avid Reader
"I loved this book! What an emotional roller coaster ride it took me on." - My Cosie Corner
"While originally written for the YA crowd, I found this to be as exciting as an adult thriller with non-stop action, well developed characters and a fast paced plot." - Queen Of All She Reads


Avail at
Barnes and Noble
ebook and print

Friday, 17 August 2018

Coffee chat with Deryn Pittar, author of Lutapolii, a delightful YA book about dragons

DL: Firstly, since this is a coffee chat, how do you take your coffee (or not as has been the case), and what is your favourite time of the day to partake?

DERYN: Hi Debbie, Thank you for this opportunity to talk to you. As to coffee? I love a long black, with water on the side. Must have sugar! And, always before midday – otherwise I stay awake at night -  plotting novels, which isn’t a bad thing but can be exhausting.

DL: You write in a mix of genres - fantasy, romance, cozy mystery, Young Adult, Sci-Fi and short stories. Can you tell us why you choose to write across all genres, as opposed to sticking to one genre or as opposed to creating pseudonyms for your different styles?

DERYN: I often get an idea and chase it down the rabbit hole. Sometimes it’s a short story and sometimes a short story turns into a novel later on. Often I am inspired by a premise set for a contest and will write to the prescribed rules. If the premise says ‘creature’ I need to create one. If it says ‘contemporary romance’ I have to oblige. It’s a great way to extend my imagination and discipline my brain, which is inclined to flit and skitter about. However, if there isn’t a set premise I usually revert to, which allows me heaps of freedom without the restrictions of historical correctness.

As to choosing different pseudonyms for different styles: what a nightmare! I actually did that to begin with but have gradually republished and stopped using my pseudonym (Virginnia De Parte). Although Virginnia has a Facebook page and even a blog I found it all became too confusing and a real hassle. I still have to use her sometimes but only for one genre, which shall remain nameless!

DL: You live in New Zealand. I had my honeymoon there and it is an amazingly beautiful place. Can you tell us, are there any myths about New Zealand - aside from Hobbits - that you'd like to set straight?

DERYN: In New Zealand we have Taniwha. (pronounced tanny-far). These are mythical creatures from Maori legends and reside in and near water. There are many pictures of them – all different – and for my Young Adult novel called “A Taste of Gold” I created two Taniwha. Lots of fun and they weave through the story and are most important to the plot.

I’ve never seen a hobbit but we have their village, Hobbiton, which is now a major tourist attraction.

DL: I love the story behind your latest YA book "Lutapoli: White Dragon of the South". How did writing a book for teens differ from writing for adults?

DERYN:  I love Lutapolii too. He is a magical fellow who began life as a short story challenge. (Small dragon flys south. Is caught by winter. Will he survive, if so, how?) After the first chapter I simply had to carry on. I didn’t write specifically for YA’s but as it’s about dragons it seems to fit into that category. Lots of adults have read and enjoyed his story too.

The only difference I ever make when writing for YAs is to leave out graphic sex scenes. Other than that I write as I would for an adult readership. YA’s are adults without the wisdom of years to colour their opinions. As to the mating scene in ‘Lutapolii –White Dragon of the South’,  it is a lot of smoke, noise and frightened sea birds! The rest is up to the reader’s imagination as I have no idea how dragons mate. Does anyone?

DL: And lastly, are you a biscuit or cake kind of person? And what is your favourite biscuit/cake?

DERYN: I’m a biscuit lady. I like the crunch and snap of a biscuit. My favourite biscuit would be a peanut brownie – nice and crisp with lots of peanuts, not to be confused with a chocolate brownie which has become a cake-like square. 

About the book:
Dragons can't swim and they can't catch seals -but Lutapolii can. 
Lutapolii, a puny white dragon, escapes to the south to avoid his mother’s mocking words. He learns to dive, swim and catch seals but winter creeps up on him and he finds himself stranded. With luck on his side he manages to survive, and returns home in the spring, stronger, taller and very handsome – for a dragon.
After discovering he has been declared dead by the dragon queen, Lutapolii considers this absolves him of all loyalty and decides to establish a flight of his own in the southern seas. All he needs is a handful of lady dragons. Can he steal them from the queen's flight? He's matured over the winter and totally magnificent, so why not take the risk? With a bit of luck the queen won't miss them, until it's too late.
Revenge and greed, love and loyalty, this story has them all.
Follow the Author


Thursday, 16 August 2018

eBook 1 of Welcome to the apocalypse ON SALE for 99c

I'm finalizing my round of edits for "Earth Quarantined", getting it ready for a professional editor, and part of my marketing plan for Earth Quarantined is to put the eBook 1 of Welcome to the apocalypse ON SALE for 99c. So it's on sale. That's great for the lucky readers who have yet to start the series. All three books are available.

Grab your copy at all these sites: