It’s launch day for Katerina’s Wish!

I’m so thrilled that my friend (and fellow Coloradoan) Jeannie Mobley’s gorgeous debut novel, Katerina’s Wish, is hitting bookstores today! Last week, we had a launch party over at EMU’s Debuts (featuring a post by yours truly on how to make Czech plum dumplings, which are an important meal in the book), and now the book is out in the world. You should strongly consider getting yourself a copy–after all, it’s received starred reviews from Kirkus and Publisher’s Weekly, not to mention five stars at Goodreads from me. 🙂

Here’s my review.

Katerina's WishKaterina’s Wish by Jeannie Mobley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Quite simply, I adored this book. It reminded me of the very best historical fiction I read as a kid, in that I didn’t feel like I was learning a history lesson at all–I just felt totally immersed in the world of the story and invested in the fate of the main character’s family as forces beyond their control threatened to crush them.

With skeptical-yet-hopeful Katerina, the author creates a wonderful character to guide us through life in a turn-of-the-century coal camp. She concocts various schemes to try to earn enough money to get her family out of the camp and into possession of a piece of land they can farm. But the powers that be at the camp aren’t about to let her have her way so easily.

I hope that this book finds its place both in classrooms and far beyond them, because anyone who enjoys a beautifully-written and tension-filled story will love it.

View all my reviews

You can read the opening pages of the book here on the Simon & Schuster website. Go get’em, Trina!

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Last stop on the MSFV Success Story Blog Tour: Meet David Kazzie and win his e-book!

Well, what was hopefully only the first Annual Authoress’s Success Story blog tour is winding down with today’s post, the last in the series. But last is certainly not least, and I am thrilled to be interviewing author David Kazzie! David is also generously offering commenters a chance to win a copy of his Kindle e-book, The Jackpot (details below).

The Blog Tour
Those of us who have owed our publishing successes, at least in part, to the Miss Snark’s First Victim (MSFV) contests and blog have decided to come together and help cross-promote each other’s work. Every day in the first two weeks of August, a different author has posted an interview of one of our fellow Success Stories. You can find a list with links to all the previous interviews at the bottom of this post.

The Author
David Kazzie is a novelist and lawyer in Richmond, where he lives with his family. His self-published debut novel, The Jackpot, has sold more than 11,000 copies since January and spent nine days on Amazon’s Top 100 Kindle Bestseller List, peaking at No. 34. He is the author of several short animated videos, including “So You Want to Write a Novel,” which have more than 2 million YouTube hits. He is represented by the Ann Rittenberg Literary Agency.

The Interview

1) How did the MSFV blog help you get to where you are now?

I’ve been reading Authoress’s blog for a few years now (long before I signed with my agent) and participated in a couple of her contests and critique sessions. Although I never won a Secret Agent contest, I found the feedback to be super helpful, and I think it helped strengthen my writing. It’s also great to be part of such a supportive community of writers, especially since writing can be such a lonely slog. All writers should be reading her blog and participating in the contests. (Plus, I want to be there the day she reveals her true identity! I’m pretty sure I’ve narrowed down her location to somewhere east of the Mississippi River!)

2) Your first novel, The Jackpot, is a legal thriller that has been a top 100 Amazon Kindle bestseller. Can you tell us a bit about it?

The Jackpot is the story of a young lawyer whose new client has won a gigantic lottery jackpot, and her quest to return the winning ticket to its rightful owner after her financially desperate boss steals the ticket for himself. I thought it was a really cool premise, and I liked watching the characters struggle with the temptation of such a big fortune in front of them, right there for the taking. The story was also conducive to a lot of mayhem, which was very fun to write.

3) I know that self-publishing has been a wild ride for you. For anyone who is thinking about trying it, what’s your most important piece of advice?

Is it OK if I give several? First, work hard to put out your very best product. That means don’t half-ass the cover or the editing or the formatting (for E-book editions). Readers do notice bad covers, bad writing, bad editing, and they (rightfully) punish authors for it. You don’t want to get a sudden burst of sales and then find reviewers slamming you with low ratings on Amazon (I see it happen all the time) because your book is riddled with typos or weak writing or what have you.

Second, don’t expect instant riches or sales just because you saw Amanda Hocking or J.A. Konrath get rich self-publishing. For the first eight months my book was for sale, I sold less than 300 copies. I’ve been to the badlands of the super-low Kindle rankings, and it’s not a fun place to be, but it’s almost certain that you will spend time there. It wasn’t until January 2012 that my book really took off. Also, be prepared to write several books before you see a lot of sales (I’m told that my experience of hitting the Top 100 with a first book was a bit of an anomaly – this sort of worries me in that I may never duplicate its success).

Third, be willing to take chances and try new things to market your book. You’ll quickly discover what works and doesn’t work (hint: spamming people on Twitter DOES NOT work, ever). My book took off because I took a chance with Amazon’s KDP Select program fairly early on. Don’t wait to see if something works for someone else first, because invariably, if you wait, everyone else will be trying it too, and that hot new marketing tool will be yesterday’s news.

Fourth, understand that there is a portion of the writing community that still looks down on self-publishing. Some people care about this. I did not (although I still do hope to see a book I wrote on a bookstore shelf somewhere. Old dreams die hard).

4) In addition to being a novelist, you’re the creator of the hilarious viral video “So you want to write a novel” (as well as several others). Have you always been something of a humor writer? And does this humor tend to show up in your fiction?

I didn’t start out looking to write humor, but I found that I was probably better at it than some other forms of writing. It’s quite a bit harder to keep it up for a full-length manuscript than in the short script format of the videos, but I do try to include some humorous elements in all my work. Also, I think writing humor taught me not to hold anything back in any form when writing. That’s probably been the most valuable takeaway – it helped me deepen characters, expand plots, and really get into the guts of a story. At least, that’s what I tell myself.

5) According to your blog, you’re working on a new book. Can you tell us anything about it? And when it’s done, do you plan to self-publish again, or will you and your agent try pitching it to traditional publishers this time around?

A boy has to have some secrets, so I will keep the details of the book under wraps for now. As for the traditional/self-publishing route, I will say I am open to all options. I’d love the chance to work with a publisher, if the right opportunity came along. If I self-published, there’s no guarantee that my second book would do anywhere near as well as my first. Also, it was a heck of a lot of work to self-publish The Jackpot. It would be great to get professional assistance with cover design, editing, and marketing. But if no publisher wants to buy the book, then I’m happy that self-publishing will be there as an option.

Thanks so much, David!

The Giveaway
If you’d like to enter to win a copy of David’s novel The Jackpot for Kindle, all you have to do is leave a comment below! (And if you don’t have a Kindle, fear not–you can still read it using a free Kindle ap on your computer, phone, or tablet.) I’ll draw a random winner at midnight EST on Friday, August 17.

The Rest of Us
Missed part of the blog tour? You can find all of the previous interviews at these blogs.

Name Website Twitter Posting Date
David Kazzie wahoocorner.blogspot.com @davidkazzie 1-Aug
Leigh Talbert Moore www.leightmoore.com @leightmoore 2-Aug
J.Anderson Coats www.jandersoncoats.com @jandersoncoats 3-Aug
J.M. Frey www.jmfrey.net @scifrey 4-Aug
Elissa Cruz elissacruz.blogspot.com @elissacruz 5-Aug
Amanda Sun amandasunbooks.blogspot.com @Amanda_Sun 6-Aug
Kristi Helvig kristihelvig.blogspot.com @KristiHelvig 7-Aug
Leah Petersen www.leahpetersen.com @Leahpetersen 8-Aug
Monica Bustamante Wagner www.monibw.blogspot.com  @Monica_BW 9-Aug
E.M. Kokie www.emkokie.com @emkokie 10-Aug
Monica Goulet monicagoulet.blogspot.com/ @MonicaGoulet 11-Aug
Peter Salomon www.peteradamsalomon.com @petersalomon 12-Aug
Sarah Brand www.sarahbrand.com @sarahbbrand 13-Aug
Angela Ackerman thebookshelfmuse.blogspot.com @angelaackerman &
@writerthesaurus
14-Aug
Tara Dairman www.taradairman.com  @TaraDairman 15-Aug

Interview at The Bookshelf Muse!

Greetings, blog readers! Today I’m being interviewed over at The Bookshelf Muse by fellow author Angela Ackerman as part of the ongoing Miss Snark’s First Victim Success Stories blog tour. We talk a bit about writing, a bit about travel, and a bit about food. Come on by!

And don’t forget to check back here tomorrow for my chat with author David Kazzie (featuring a book giveaway)–the last interview in the blog tour!

Monkeying around

Hi, folks! Today I’ve got a new post up at EMU’s Debuts,“A Fly on the Monkey Bars,” that’s basically about spying on kids while they read your book. It also features some handy-dandy, one-of-a-kind, Gladys-inspired computer art by yours truly. Come check it out!

Also, have you been following the MSFV Success Story Blog Hop? We have a new interview every day for the first two weeks of August, and they all feature authors who have found agents and/or a publishing deal through contests held at the Miss Snark’s First Victim blog! You can start here with the first one and follow the links through the days. My interview of David Kazzie will go up here on August 15.

My plans for today include some teaching, some writing, and some birthday-cake-baking. What are you up to?