August 2016 – Page 2 – Andy Peloquin

Andy Peloquin

I am an artist – words are my palette

Month: August 2016 (Page 2 of 2)

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What You Need to Know About Instagram Stories

Today’s post is a bit different…

Instead of doing my usual, I’m going to look at a new tool we authors (and anyone) can use for marketing. It’s an expansion of one of the current marketing tools: Instagram.

Instagram is one of the hottest social media platforms, one used by more than 400 million people! With 60% of users logging onto Instagram daily, it’s a platform that guarantees a wide reach. Instagram–like Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms–can be used to promote just about anything: products, services, events, and the list goes on. If you know how to use it correctly, it can be one of the most effective tools in your arsenal.

Now, Instagram has launched a new product that may make it an even more valuable tool. That’s right, we’re talking about Instagram Stories!

What is Instagram Stories?

Instagram “Stories” is a feature that allows Instagram users the ability to share updates–as many as you want. Instagram will stitch multiple photos and videos into a single slideshow. That “Story” is available for exactly 24 hours after sharing them.

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Instagram Stories vs. Snapchat

If Instagram Stories sounds so familiar, it’s because it’s pretty much exactly what Snapchat offers! It’s the same “disappearing content” model, one that promotes greater sharing among users.

The reason it’s so familiar is due to Snapchat’s success. Unlike the eternally available content on Instagram, Snapchat’s content disappears after a short amount of time once opened. This makes it easier for users to share all manner of content, secure in the knowledge that it will be erased from their history.

So why is Instagram Stories the better option? Well, if you look at Snapchat, you’ll find that it’s fairly limited. It can only access other Snapchat accounts, and it has no access to outside social media websites. You can’t post content from your Snapchat to your Facebook or Twitter, or vice versa.

But with Instagram, all of the platforms are integrated. Content from Instagram can be seamlessly posted to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and other social media sites, and content from social media can be shared to Instagram easily. For people who share content across multiple media platforms, Instagram is the smarter of the two options. The fact that it’s as easy as clicking one button to share everything is one of the major perks of Instagram–and now Instagram Stories.

Another benefit of Instagram Stories is the fact that the app itself has been around for longer. While Snapchat has only become popular in the last couple of years, Instagram has been going strong since 2010. The year after being purchased by Facebook in 2012, it grew by a staggering 23%!

For those who use social media as a marketing/publicity tool, it’s very likely that your Instagram following is significantly larger than your Snapchat following. Most people are accustomed to regular interaction with their followers on Instagram, and their followers tend to be in all age ranges. Snapchat, on the other hand, is one of those apps used primarily by teenagers and young adults, so the audience reached is much younger.

Combine the wider audience range with the comfortable, familiar platform and greater interaction between social media platforms, and you can understand why Instagram is the better option. While Snapchat will remain a trendy app among the youth, the truth is that Instagram may have just taken over the Snapchat “sweet spot” by adding the Stories feature.

How You Can Use Instagram Stories

For years, you’ve been leveraging your social media accounts to promote events or book launches, so how can this latest Instagram update work in your favor?

The answer is simple: FOMO.

FOMO means “fear of missing out”, and it’s a fear that social media has only helped to increase! More and more, people are jumping on new bandwagons (apps, services, products) even if they don’t need them, simply because they see so many other people using them. They participate out of fear that they are missing out on something awesome. After all, if so many other people are doing it, it has to be great, right?

All of the content posted to Instagram Stories is ephemeral, and it will fade away after just 24 hours. Once the content is posted, people have a limited time to view it, else miss out altogether. This means they are far more likely to follow your content more closely just to be 100% certain they consume it before it disappears.

Let’s put feet to this concept:

You have an event (for example, my Lament of the Fallen Book Launch Party) coming up, but you want to add an element of “exclusivity” to it. All you have to do is post to your Facebook, Twitter, etc. a message saying, “Watch out for a Story with all the information you need to join the event”. If ONLY those who view your Story are able to attend, it will be a way to create that exclusive feel to your event. Plus, it will help to drive more people to your social media accounts, leading to growth in your audience and better engagement.

Another excellent use of Instagram Stories is to share content of your event AS IT’S HAPPENING. Seeing as the content will only be available for 24 hours after it’s uploaded, people who want to avoid “fear of missing out” will stay glued to your Instagram feed to find out what’s going on. When they see just how much fun your event was, they’ll be much more engaged the next time you host an event.

The more people want to stay abreast of your disappearing content, the more they will access Instagram. This leads to better engagement with your audience, and greater visibility for your content. Even if there are no Stories to see, the followers will be on Instagram and thus have a better chance of seeing the content you are posting.

 

And yes, I WILL be posting a Story on the 18th, with exclusive content available ONLY to those who see it for the 24 hours it will be live. Definitely not something you want to miss out on…

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Book Review: Sowing by Angie Grigalunias

After many weeks of dueling to the death, the Hunter needs a break. Which means it’s Book Review Wednesday again! Today, we’ve got a dystopian fantasy novel you’ll definitely want to check out…

Sowing

People are dead, slaughtered like animals in the night.

The reigning power, the Hulcondans, blame rebels. Rabreah, a rebel, knows it’s a lie. Her younger sister, Ariliah, doesn’t; like the majority of the townspeople, she believes those in authority, swallowing their words with complete trust. Besides, she’s too busy fighting her own silent war at home. While Rabreah dedicates herself to truth and freedom, Ariliah is just trying to survive their mother’s abuse.

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But as unknown forces threaten to rip their world apart, the line between friend and enemy blurs. All is not as it seems.

In fact, nothing may be.

My Review: 4 Stars

I’m going to start off with the good:

I have only the highest of praise for the world-building in this book. While we don’t get a glimpse outside the city, we know everything there is to know about the culture, technology, and political situation of this one city. I felt like I got a very clear glimpse at every element of the small world in which these characters live, and it was very complete.

Character development was also very on-point! While Arililah’s character bothered me a little (too “wimpy”, dare I say?), Rabreah was a strong woman recovering from being broken. The story didn’t focus too much on her emotional state as a result of her past, but there was enough to make me care about the characters. The other supporting characters (including the male protagonist/potential love interest) were well-developed and interesting. If these were all that mattered, this would be a five-star story.

Sadly, there is one element I felt the story lacked: action. I understand that this is a very character-driven story, but it still needed something to make me interested in those characters. I felt like it ended right at the end of the second act, when it could have been amped up a bit to some glorious climactic ending of some sort. I didn’t get those heart-pounding, blood rushing final climax moments I was looking forward to.

That’s not to say nothing happens throughout the book. There’s plenty of drama and emotional highs and lows. It just felt incomplete, like the story ended before it was truly complete.

Here’s a Taste:

“What?” he asked, tilting his head to the side as if actually interested. “He’s been by your side frequently enough to assume he truly cares for you, but then he abandons you when it comes time to dance? What, is dancing with the only girl he seems to have eyes for too intimate for him? That’s a great man right there. Or, you know what, perhaps he’s simply been trying to seduce you this whole time, and he finally realized the futility of such a plot.” His expression darkened, a smirk tugging at his lips. “It looks like he’s found a willing partner in your sister, though.”

Heat tore through my body; it was everything I could do not to lurch out of his grasp and punch him right in his leering face. Producing a verbal response was out of the question.

He straightened his neck, gazing at me as we twirled in slow circles, and scowled. Even that was mocking. “You have no comment on that? Really?” He shrugged one shoulder. “Maybe I’ve misjudged you. I thought you were more protective than that. Letting your little sister dance with a Hulcondan you met only the day before yesterday… I’m truly surprised.”

My voice came out in a hiss. “Ariliah’s fine. She’s not going anywhere with him. She’s actually smart, you know.”

“I never said she wasn’t.” His tone matched mine. Ice crept over his face, hardening his features. “But I am curious as to why you don’t seem to be the least bit concerned about his intentions toward her. Unless, of course, you already know his intentions and find nothing dangerous about them.” He thought for a beat and winced, the movement calculated. “Though, that, of course, would imply you’ve discussed your sister with him at some point, which seems unlikely to have come up in conversation in the short time he’s been here. Unless you’ve known him for longer than the duration of this festival. Then it would make more sense.”

I opened my mouth, dread rising. He waited in his arrogant way, and I cleared my throat.

“I – I don’t really know him, Lord Masrekah. And he’s a Hulcondan.” I struggled to calm my shaky tone. “I don’t exactly have any right to tell him who he can or cannot dance with. If he wants to dance with my sister, he can. And I can’t begin to tell him otherwise.”

He nodded, his eyes never leaving me. “Indeed. That’s a good, respectful answer. It’s too bad it’s all a lie, but that’s beside the point.”

“What’s a lie?”

“What, besides all of it?” He tightened his hold on my waist and leaned closer. His gaze flicked from my face, and he lowered his voice, his lips scarcely moving. The stench of ale on his breath turned my insides. “Tell me, since when did someone being a Hulcondan mean anything to you, let alone elicit your respect? Because in the last three and a half years, I haven’t seen the slightest hint of a change in you.”

Icy fingers swept down my spine. Three and a half years. All that time of watching him, and he’d been watching me too.

And there had been so much to see.

“Oh, you may have changed your behavior, which was smart of you. But while you may have fooled everyone else in to thinking you’re some disgraced whore who wouldn’t dream of stepping out of line, you and I both know what you are when you’re pushed.”

“What?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know how strong your memory is, Rabreah, but mine is outstanding. I remember every detail of what happened between us.”

I swallowed hard. My voice came out as a whisper. “Nothing happened.”

“Really?” He crushed my hand, his eyes locking on mine. “‘You have no right to refuse,’” he said in a quiet snarl. “‘It’s against the law.’”

My lips parted as memories washed over me. Him saying that exact thing in that fierce voice. His fingers digging into my arm to keep me in place, his lips almost against my ear…

I begged myself not to scream, not to shove him back.

“‘I. Don’t. Care,’” he finished, making his voice higher to mimic mine.

I tensed at my own words, my own defiant response to his declaration of authority. Over three years later, and he still remembered the tones we’d used.

He withdrew enough to look at me. “Now, does that sound at all familiar?”

I sucked in a gasping breath. “Yes, sir. My Lord.”

“Oh, good. You do remember.”

“Yes, I remember.” Panic constricted my throat. I shoved it back and focused on him, keeping my tone as even as I could. “I was defiant, and I shouldn’t have been. I-It was wrong. I know that. I’ve lived with the consequences of that mistake for three years.” I bit the inside of my lip. “What’s your point, my Lord?”

“Simply that such fiery defiance doesn’t cool under the strain of silence and oppression, Rabreah. No, it erupts into an inferno.” His eyes flashed, traces of dangerous emotion streaking through them, and he leaned down so we were almost nose-to-nose. His voice came out somewhere between a hiss and a plea. “Watch. Yourself.” He straightened. “And watch your sister as well,” he added, his tone detached again. “We don’t want some random stranger from Lusitha to get any ideas about carrying her off somewhere, do we?”

“No, my Lord. We don’t.”

He smiled, pure ice. “That’s right. No, we don’t.”

About the Author:

Angie Grigaliunas (grig-ah-loo-nas) is a fantasy writer and blogger. She loves Jesus, the woods, the stars, and has always wanted to be a superhero with a secret identity. She lives in Ohio with her husband, their goofy dog, and their four crazy cats.

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30364237-sowing

Find it on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sowing-Purification-Era-Book-1-ebook/dp/B01H1AMBNA

Connect with her on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/angiegrigaliunaszewriter

Read her thoughts on her blog: http://www.angiegrigaliunas.blogspot.com

Check out her Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/angiegrigaliunas

Tweet at her: @Angie_ZeWriter

 

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Awesome Resources for Creative Writing: Book Review Websites

I’ve pointed you to a lot of creative writing resources OUTSIDE my website, but today I’m going to talk about a resource I’ve got right here. If this feels like shameless self-promo to you, sorry about that! I’m just posting another epic resource that can help you out–it just so happens to be on my site.

Book Reviews are the lifeblood of every author, but they are doubly important for indie authors. Reviews are the best way to spread word of our books, and whether they’re a 2-star or a 5-star review, they help future customers make informed decisions.

The question is: where do you get reviews from? If you’ve already pestered everyone in your social media circle, friends, and family, now what?

Enter The Ultimate Guide to Book Review Websites. I’ve compiled a list (currently at 501, but I’ll be at 1001 within the next few months) of book review websites, blogs, Facebook Pages, YouTube channels, even Twitter users. The list is organized according to genre accepted, whether they offer author interviews/guest posts/promo opportunities, and whether they accept indie/self-published authors. All of the sites are open for reviews, and have posted at least in the last calendar year. It’s the most comprehensive and up-to-date a list you’ll find anywhere!

For those who don’t have the $$ to spend, I’m giving away a list containing 100 links to websites that accept most types of fiction (and some non-fiction). It’s a good place to get started! Heck, you’ll probably take a few weeks/months to get through that list and submit to every review site. Fingers crossed, you’ll get a few dozen reviews from it.

But, if you want to check out the complete list, it’s a paltry $2 for the entire, organized list. It’s definitely a resource worth considering, and it can help you get more reviews for and spread word about your book!

 

Nicholai

Duel to the Death: Nicholai

I, Andy Peloquin, challenge you, Josh Rutherford, to a duel to the death! But it is not we who will fight, but our characters…

In the black corner, weighing in at 180 pounds, standing a cool 6 feet tall, the Hunter of Voramis!

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Tale of the Tape:

  • Superhuman reflexes, strength, speed–think Captain America, but stronger
  • Thousands of years of weapons training
  • Body has accelerated healing factor–can survive a sword to the heart (can be killed by drowning, iron weapons, beheading, and suffocation)
  • Cannot be killed by anything but iron
  • Accursed dagger that heals him when he kills
  • No magical abilities whatsoever
  • No hesitation to kill if he perceives opponent as a threat/obstacle to his desires–classic anti-hero

In the green corner, standing at 6′ 2″ and 170 pounds lean power, Nicolai of Sarbin!

Nicholai

Tale of the Tape:

  • Since birth, he has been skilled in the blade-fighting art of Zenista – his weapon of choice is the saber
  • Due to a genetic anomaly and his early years spent in the Czarian uranium mines of a gulag, his skin is impenetrable, so that no bullet or blade can pierce him
  • His bones are as tough as his skin — one punch can break your sternum
  • He can be killed by other means – such as poisoning, drowning, and starvation
  • Suffers from amnesia, so that much of his childhood is a blur to him
  • As a refugee, he is very defensive, especially when those he loves are in danger

Two enter the ring, only one can leave alive!

How would Nicholai kill the Hunter? He will start by breaking his bones. A forearm or shoulder to start with, to momentarily disable his stabbing ability. Then a clavicle or a rib or two, to slow him further. He would strike a punishing blow to the Hunter’s throat – thereby crushing his windpipe – before wrapping his arm around his neck, completely cutting off his ability to breathe.

To kill Nicholai: The Hunter would try to overwhelm him with his inhuman speed, strength, and skill. All he has to do is pierce his skin with Soulhunger, and the dagger will consume his oul. Not even someone with considerable magical abilities can survive Soulhunger’s bite–it was created to kill demons.

Who would win?

From the open plains to a gulag to refugee camps, Nicolai has grown up in some tough environments. There is no criminal type or psychopath that he hasn’t come across. He has survived them all and risen to become a hero among his people. Furthermore, his learning curve is awe-inspiring, so that the more he fights, the better he becomes (by leaps and bounds). Soulhunger’s blade would only taste air as Nicolai would duck and block the Hunter’s advances with ease.

Yet could Nicholai’s stamina stand up to the Hunter’s inhuman strength, speed, and skill? Millennia spent training with sword, dagger, and bare-handed fighting have earned him his legend as the immortal assassin of Voramis. The Hunter adapts to his opponent, and once he realizes his weapons cannot pierce skin, he will go for weak spots: nose, eyes, and mouth. His bare-handed fighting techniques are a match for any man’s, and he fights like an assassin: dirty and brutal.

Winner: It’s anyone’s fight!  The Hunter’s soul-consuming blade is useless if it cannot pierce skin and taste blood. But can Nicolai defeat an opponent who moves faster and hits harder than he? Mistress Luck could smile on either warrior…

 

Want to find out more about this gulag escape who would dare challenge the legendary assassin of Voramis to the death? Click here to read about Nicolai of Sarbin…”

 

Who do YOU think would win? Did we get the match-up right? Leave a comment below and let me know…

 

Want to match your character against the Hunter? Click here to enter your protagonist/antagonist in a duel to the death!

 

Adelai

Duel to the Death: Adelei

I, Andy Peloquin, challenge you, Raven Oak, to a duel to the death! But it is not we who will fight, but our characters…

In the black corner, weighing in at 180 pounds, standing a cool 6 feet tall, the Hunter of Voramis!

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Tale of the Tape:

  • Superhuman reflexes, strength, speed–think Captain America, but stronger
  • Thousands of years of weapons training
  • Body has accelerated healing factor–can survive a sword to the heart (can be killed by drowning, iron weapons, beheading, and suffocation)
  • Cannot be killed by anything but iron
  • Accursed dagger that heals him when he kills
  • No magical abilities whatsoever
  • No hesitation to kill if he perceives opponent as a threat/obstacle to his desires–classic anti-hero

In the pitch black corner, we have Adelei, one of the greatest warriors the Amaskans have ever produced!

Adelai

Tale of the Tape:

  • Has killed everything from murderers and pedophiles to Tribor and kings
  • The youngest to ever gain entrance into the holy Order of Amaska
  • Trained in the art of assassination since she was ten
  • Skilled in the use of throwing knives, bow, and dagger
  • Human, so no super powers or magical abilities
  • Very lithe, gymnast-built body, so she’s stronger and faster than she looks
  • Very nimble on her feet
  • Skilled at climbing, tumbling, and what we modern folks would call parkour
  • Fighting style similar to aikido

Two enter the ring, only one can leave alive!

How would Adelai kill the Hunter? Through calm precision and tactics.

To kill Adelei: The Hunter would try to overwhelm her with his inhuman speed, strength, and skill. All he has to do is pierce her skin with Soulhunger, and the dagger will consume her soul. Not even someone with considerable magical abilities can survive Soulhunger’s bite–it was created to kill demons.

To Adelei, the Hunter is an abomination against the Thirteen, and as such, an Amaskan would be tasked with killing him for the good of the Little Dozen Kingdoms. Once tasked with such a job, she will do her best to fulfill it.

Adelei has spent a lifetime of training, but that lifetime is far shorter than the thousands of years the Hunter has fought, bled, and killed–though he can remember none of it. His ability with a blade surpasses hers, and his speed is more than a match for her lithe, nimble grace. Once Soulhunger has tasted her blood, there is nowhere in the world the Hunter could not find her.

Winner: The Hunter. In the battle of the assassins, the immortal killer rules supreme.

 

Want to find out more about this young killer who would dare challenge the legendary assassin of Voramis to the death? Click here to read about Adelei the demon killer…

 

 

Want to match your character against the Hunter? Click here to enter your protagonist/antagonist in a duel to the death!

 

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Awesome Resources for Creative Writing: Best-Seller Article

(Apologies for the day-late post! Returning from a much-needed mini vacation…)

Once you’ve done the hard work of turning your creative writing into a professionally-edited and formatted book, all that’s left to do is publish it, right? Whether you go the self-publishing or traditional publishing route, there’s one fact that remains unchanged: you’re going to have to do A LOT of work to get your book noticed!

With so many books being released on Amazon every year, your book may end up being “just one more”. So how can you make your book as visible as possible and increase its chances of becoming a “best-seller”?

Don’t look at me for advice! I’m learning this just as much as you. But one amazing resource I found to help with the marketing and advertising is an article on OK Dork, titled How to get an eBook to #1 on Amazon.

The article gives an amazingly in-depth breakdown of the book launch blueprint one successful person used for a launch, and explains the tactics they used to launch that book.  Granted, it was a non-fiction book, but a lot of the principles remain the same for fiction books.

I won’t spoil the tips given in the article, but suffice it to say that it’s VERY worth 20-40 minutes of your time reading over the long post and considering each of the 10 tips for book launch success. Whether you’re launching a book tomorrow or next year, it’s a resource worth checking out!

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