Saturday, April 25, 2015

You like free stuff? I like free stuff.

I wonder how I can
 get more free books.
Free stuff is fun. Especially, though not only, when it's something you actually want. Well, I have a 
chance for you to get some free stuff. And I hope it's something you actually want. It's my book. My new book. My fresh off the presses first shipment just arrived book. My book called Kisses and Lies: A Shalan Adventure. You want that? I hope so. Want a chance to get it free? Well today may be your lucky day. There are two websites giving away copies. One is up and running right now (in fact, they've already given one of the five away) and the other should be up any day now. Maybe even today. Here's the info: 

  • Amazon is giving away five copies. Let's be honest here. I'm giving away the copies, but you go to Amazon to get them. It's pure luck of the draw. Every hundredth person wins and you have no idea whether you're the one until you click the button. So it's like a game and a chance for free reading material. Bonus. 
  • Goodreads will be giving away five more copies. It's all set up, but if you know anything about Goodreads, they are, despite the fact that they are now owned by Amazon, a little slower on the draw when it comes to getting these things online than their parent company. But it really should be soon. Here's what do do: 
    • Go to Goodreads.
    •  If you don't already have one, it's free to create an account and it's a cool website for book lovers. So many fellow book nerds sharing the titles they love. 
    • Click on Explore. It's up at the top of the screen. 
    • Choose giveaways. 
    • Scroll down until you see Kisses and Lies
    • You won't know if you won until the whole shootin' match is over on May 2. The good news is that if you win, it comes straight from me and I'll sign it for no extra charge. Actually no charge at all, since it's free. The only requirement is that you follow me on Twitter. And why wouldn't you want to do that? I'm a nice guy. I put out only wholesome, organically grown tweets with never any preservatives. 

  • Theres' one other way you can get free stuff, and you are guaranteed to be a winner. Everyone on my mailing list gets freebies from time to time,such as:
    • Free preview of upcoming books. 
    • A short story or poem I write that you get to see months before it hits my website for the public. 
    • Links to discounts and sales.
All you have to do is click in the box at the top right of this page and put in your email address. You'll get an email asking you to confirm. That's only so some dastardly villain can't sign you up for stuff without you knowing it. After that, you'll hear from me once or twice a week. You'll get a link to my blog (y'know, the thing you're reading right now) and then anytime there's something big I think you ought to know. But don't fear--I'll use my power only for good. I don't sell or give away my mailing list and you won't receive junk from me. You can believe me when I say that too, since my strength is as the strength of ten because my heart is pure.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Rejection Hurts!

icre cream, cone, fail, mess, spill, sad, woman, girl, brunette, pavement, ground, people
Last Friday I asked for people who would like to review my newest book to leave a comment on this blog. The next day I heard from a couple of folks on Facebook that they had tried to comment but were not allowed. I thought maybe some others of you had the same problem. 

If you had this situation, I would appreciate it if you would let me know. I'm trying to find out what the problem is and just how widespread it is. If you would email me at, it would be a great help. 

And don't forget--my newest book, Kisses and Lies, is available on Amazon. I'm working toward getting this, along with Shalan Adventure #1, Harsh Prey, into bookstores in the next couple months. Please also remember to come see me on May 16 for the launch party for K&L. There's plenty of information on my website,

Friday, April 17, 2015

Want a free book?

It's here! Search for it on Amazon and you'll find it. A box of copies should be in the mail any day now. Five people ordered it the first day. Kisses and Lies is officially published now. It's a tiny bit less exciting than with Harsh Prey, but only a tiny bit. And I feel like I know what I'm doing a little better this time around.

Speaking of knowing what I'm doing, I have a proposal: I will give a free copy of Kisses and Lies to the first five people who contact me and agree to write a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. You don't have to write a glowing review. You don't have to give it five stars. All I ask in exchange for the book is that you agree to write an honest review and rate it in a way that you believe to be accurate. 

Here are the rules, so to speak. If you sign on for do this, you're agreeing to the following: 
  • Once you send me your email address, I'll email you a .pdf file of the book. You'll read it and write a review that you publish on Amazon and/or Goodreads. An honest review. If you love it, say that. If you hate it, say that. If you're in between, say that too. 
  • In the interest of full disclosure, please mention in your review that you are not being paid to write this but that you have received a free copy in exchange for an honest review. 
  • Everyone who follows through and writes the review will receive a free autographed copy of the paperback. 
  • Don't share the .pdf with anyone. If you like the book, please tell others, but don't give them the book for free. I am trying to make a living at this, after all. 
  • Please email me a copy of your review so that I can use it in publicity. I won't use your name unless you say I can, but I'd appreciate it if I could quote you. 
  • Finally, when you email me, I would like permission to add you to my mailing list if you aren't already on it. If you would rather not, just say so in your email and I won't add you--promise. 
So all you have to do is comment on here. First five commenters win. 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Another Book Already?!

Yes, as hard as it is to believe, it's that time again. The launch party won't be for a few weeks yet, but I'm making the last-minute preparations for submitting Kisses and Lies for publication. It will be available for Kindle and to order as a paperback by the end of this week. I pushed the timetable up a hair because I will be attending the WV Writer's Fair in Summersville next Saturday.

So, to let everyone know what it's all about, here's the blurb that will appear on the back of the book:

Look for the official cover later
this week!
Alyssa Hillman thinks she may have killed her husband Willy. And she’s not sure how she feels about that. On one hand she loves him and is just too nice a person to be a killer, even if in self-defense. On the other, she also hates him a little because he’s an abusive brute from whose savage rape attempt she’s barely escaped with her life.

So Alyssa comes to Harry and Dee Shalan, private eye team extraordinaire, for help. At first they’re trying just to find out if Willy is alive, but it isn't long before he proves himself not only alive but also quite unhappy and more than a little insane.

In the course of the investigation, Harry and Dee meet Willy’s younger brother Happy, Willy’s opposite in nearly every way. Happy’s wife Marissa is not only Alyssa’s best friend but could pass for her twin sister. Happy is forced to choose between two unthinkable options. Does he help his sociopathic sibling? If not, he risks bringing public shame to his beloved wife.  In this modern re-imagining of the parable of the prodigal son, brothers battle over family honor, respect, and even the women who love them.
Kisses and Lies is the follow up to Joe Stephens’ critically acclaimed debut novel, Harsh Prey.

Look for Kisses and Lies on Amazon later this week!  

PS--If you're in the Summersville area Saturday, April 18, make sure to stop by the WV Writers Fair. There will be workshops and a number of WV authors will be on hand selling their works and answering questions.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

My One Big Fear as a Writer

I see stuff all over writer blogs and forums like Google+ and Goodreads and Pinterest about writer's block. Authors talk about it like it's an STD or something. I have to say I've never experienced it. I sit down to write and I write. Sometimes I think I'm not smart enough or deep enough to wonder about the things that stop writers from being able to write--things like whether my writing is good enough or people will like it or it will add to the collective understanding of the universe and our place in it. In all fairness, I do wonder about those things (even the last one), but not until after the fact. It seriously never enters my mind while I'm actually writing. 

I also don't worry much about making it as an author financially. I would like to, but I'm in a position that I can make it the rest of my life doing what I do for a living, teach, and still have enough time to write to my heart's content. Yes, there are times when I think it would be terrific if I could just write and promote my books full-time, but if that never happens, I can live with it. Some may argue that this attitude will keep me from making it. I'm reading a book by some independent authors who scrapped everything and put all their eggs in the basket of making a living exclusively through writing. They said that this was the only way they would definitely have the drive to do it. Good for them, but that's just not me. For one, I enjoy my other job--a lot. And for another, I have financial obligations that don't change when I have an off month selling books, like the last two months. So it's not even something I consider. I believe it will either happen or not and that's mainly beyond my control.

What if my train of thought ends?
My big fear is a weird one. Maybe. I don't know. It's just my fear. It's kind of like writer's block, I guess, only different. Like I said, while I'm working on a project, be it a novel or a short story or even poetry, I write. My fear is that, once the current project is finished, I'll be finished. I'm just past the rough draft phase of my third novel. What scares me is the thought that I only had three of them in me. I just read the 20th book in James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux series, and there was a preview of book 21 in the back of that one. I want so badly to have 21 books in me, but what if I don't? What if three is it? Could I live with that? Frankly I don't know. The idea makes me a little queasy.

But then something happens. I read an article in the paper or I think about some character from one of the previous books and how his or her fate was kind of left open and how that might make the kernel of a new story and I'm off down the rabbit hole again. So I have all I need to get book four started. It's nebulous and highly incomplete, but it's the beginning of the thread and that's all I need. 

So I guess I have nothing to fear until I finish Shalan #4.