My Latest Short Story: Marina

The next installment of my The Eyes of Mictlan Origins series is now available as a free ebook at Smashwords. Additional booksellers like Apple and B&N will have it soon. As with the other ebooks in the series, this short story is excerpted from my novel, The Eyes of Mictlan.

cover_marina

Marina strolls along eerily quiet streets in the foggy slums of Whitechapel, London. Jack the Ripper has just brutally murdered her friend and lover, the latest victim during a reign of terror that has forced many of Marina’s fellow prostitutes into hiding. Any woman walking the streets of Whitechapel alone in the middle of the night is practically begging to become his next victim—which is exactly what Marina is counting on, for she is no ordinary woman, and on this night she is the predator, not the prey.

Also Available

cover_dalton

Old West judge Dalton Freely awakes under a scorching desert sun in a pool of blood-soaked dirt, a noose around his neck, his arms bound behind his back. He turns his gaze upward to find the bodies of his wife and children hanging from a tree. Only then does he begin to recall the horror of the previous evening when a gang of outlaws murdered his family. On the verge of death himself, Dalton desperately drags his broken body back toward civilization, a single thought on his mind: revenge.

cover_xavier

Xavier is an ancient vampire who has wandered the world for over a thousand years in search of a talisman that will give him the power to rule the land of the dead. His quest has led him into the heart of the Aztec Empire as the right-hand man of Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortés. Now in the majestic capital city of Tenochtitlan, Xavier has finally discovered the talisman’s location, but to get his hands on it he must set in motion a chain of events that will lead to the destruction of the Aztec civilization.

And Coming Soon

Caesar: A senator of the Roman Empire discovers the monstrous nature of his friend and colleague.

Jeanette: A Depression-era speakeasy singer struggles to survive the hell of a tuberculosis sanatorium.

For more information on my novels and short stories, visit my author page.

A New Short Story

The next installment of my The Eyes of Mictlan Origins series is now available as a free ebook at Smashwords. Additional booksellers like Apple and B&N will have it soon. As with the other ebooks in the series, this short story is excerpted from my novel, The Eyes of Mictlan, though this version has been slightly modified from what appears in the novel in order to make the narrative stand on its own.

cover_xavier

Xavier is an ancient vampire who has wandered the world for over a thousand years in search of a talisman that will give him the power to rule the land of the dead. His quest has led him into the heart of the Aztec Empire as the right-hand man of Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortés. Now in the majestic capital city of Tenochtitlan, Xavier has finally discovered the talisman’s location, but to get his hands on it he must set in motion a chain of events that will lead to the destruction of the Aztec civilization.

Also Available

cover_dalton

Old West judge Dalton Freely awakes under a scorching desert sun in a pool of blood-soaked dirt, a noose around his neck, his arms bound behind his back. He turns his gaze upward to find the bodies of his wife and children hanging from a tree. Only then does he begin to recall the horror of the previous evening when a gang of outlaws murdered his family. On the verge of death himself, Dalton desperately drags his broken body back toward civilization, a single thought on his mind: revenge.

And Coming Soon

Marina: A White Chapel prostitute takes extreme measures after Jack the Ripper murders her friend.

Caesar: A senator of the Roman Empire discovers the monstrous nature of his friend and colleague.

Jeanette: A Depression-era speakeasy singer struggles to survive the hell of a tuberculosis sanatorium.

For more information on my novels and short stories, visit my author page.

Introducing My New “Origins” Series

I have a launched a new eBook series called The Eyes of Mictlan Origins, a collection of free short stories excerpted from my novel, The Eyes of Mictlan. All of the stories will be available as free eBooks from Smashwords and other booksellers.

I have also launched a new page on my author site dedicated to the series. The first story, Dalton, is available now. Read below for a synopsis.


cover_dalton

Old West judge Dalton awakes under a scorching desert sun in a pool of blood-soaked dirt, a noose around his neck, his arms bound behind his back. He turns his gaze upward to find the bodies of his wife and children hanging from a tree. Only then does he begin to recall the horror of the previous evening when a gang of outlaws murdered his family. On the verge of death himself, Dalton desperately drags his broken body back toward civilization, a single thought on his mind: revenge.

And coming soon. . .

Xavier: An ancient vampire manipulates events during the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire.

Marina: A White Chapel prostitute takes extreme measures after Jack the Ripper murders her friend.

Caesar: A senator of the Roman Empire discovers the monstrous nature of his friend and colleague.

Jeanette: A Depression-era speakeasy singer struggles to survive the hell of a tuberculosis sanatorium.


In related news, there is just over a week left to download my full novel, The Eyes of Mictlan, for free at Smashwords.  Just enter the code SFREE at checkout.

In closing, I promise to resume posting travel and photo stories with more consistency once this unprecedentedly busy summer is finally over. Stay tuned. And as always, thank you for reading!

A New Page and a New Trip

I haven’t been as active with this blog lately because I’ve been busy with author related tasks, including launching a new home page dedicated solely to the novelist portion of my online presence. You can view my new page here: michaelrappa.net. There is also a link to the new page in this blog’s top menu called “My Author Page.”

My Author Page Banner

On the new page you can read my author bio and sample chapters, and order my books, including some upcoming free short stories. The new page also links back to this blog, as this is where I will post news and updates in addition to my usual travel stories and photos.

Speaking of travel, I am in the early stages of planning a road trip to Canada this summer, either in late June/early July or late August/early September. My original idea was to head up to Quebec City for a few days and then drive out to Nova Scotia, but after reading up on Cape Breton and seeing photos of its stunning beauty, I now want to organize my entire trip around that–driving the Cabot Trail and hiking in the Highlands National Park both sound amazing!

Cape Breton: What’s not to love?

So now I’m thinking I’ll save Quebec for another trip and just focus on the Nova Scotia area. I would like to visit all of the main points of interest in Nova Scotia, Cape Breton, and Prince Edward Island.

Have any of you visited this region of Canada? How many days do you like to spend on each of the islands and what is your favorite time of the year to visit? Any travel advice would be much appreciated. 🙂

As always, thank you for reading and I promise to resume my travel blogging very soon!

Story Cartel and the Search for Reviews

cover3bOne of the biggest struggles for an indie author is getting people to review your books on Amazon and other book retailers (I even have trouble getting people I know personally, and who have given my novel extremely positive feedback, to leave reviews). Without reviews (positive, negative, or indifferent), it’s nearly impossible to get strangers interested in your book because it gets lost in an endless sea of unreviewed, self-published books available to the masses.

As indie authors, we take steps to try and remedy this situation: launching giveaway contests, making our books available for free with coupon codes or by reducing the price to zero for a period of time, promoting the books on blogs and social media, and so on. For most unknown authors, I imagine the results are as middling as mine have been, so last month I decided to try something new.

My search for reviews led me to a few sites that offer authors the chance to give their books away for free in exchange for honest reviews. Some of these sites are more expensive than others and, as I was unwilling to risk spending a lot of money on something that was not guaranteed to work, I chose the site with the cheapest rate: Story Cartel.

For $25, you can post your novel on Story Cartel in various formats for three weeks. Anyone can download it during this time for free. As added incentive, those who leave reviews are entered into giveaways for prizes such as Kindle eReaders, Amazon and Barnes & Noble gift cards, and bestselling print books. I figured that for $25 I didn’t have much to lose, and if it helped me get a few reviews, all the better. After all, I’d read articles in which people had claimed to get 50+ reviews out of it.

My results, I’m afraid to say, were not quite so amazing. In fact, I’d have to label the entire experiment a failure, for in the end, I only got one solitary review for my $25. It was a very nice, 5-star review (for a total of two reviews on my novel’s Amazon page), but overall it was not worth it for me. Does that mean it won’t work for you? Perhaps, perhaps not. I think the success rate might be higher for an author with more of an established following than one like myself who is still trying to build one. The reason for this is that the onus is on you to promote the giveaway. I did my best to feature it on both social media and this blog but, again, I believe it comes down to how big (and dedicated) your following is.

As for the publishing process at Story Cartel, the interface was easy enough to use, though I would like to have seen a longer description field, as well as a place for me to enter a list of searchable tags (I feel that being limited to just two genres did not make the book searchable enough). It also might have helped if I could have made the book available for longer than three weeks.

I could have opted for Story Cartel’s more expensive option that features the book more prominently, but there’s no guarantee that would have helped get me more reviews. At least $25 wasn’t a huge amount to spend on a failed experiment–I’m just glad I didn’t try one of the more expensive sites that would have taken more than $100 out of my pocket.

I think the lesson from all this is that there is only so much you can do to drum up sales as an unknown author. A lot of it comes down to luck–you can have a great novel that never gets read by anyone, or a lousy novel that becomes a best seller [cough 50 Shades cough]. Most of us fall somewhere in between. That doesn’t mean I will stop trying (see below), it just means I’m being realistic. I was never under any illusion that I was going to become a best seller and have my novel turned into a movie. I’m just gratified that I was able to get it out in the world and that those who have read it have really enjoyed it.


In other news, you can now download the entire first half of my novel for free from Smashwords, and it’s only 99 cents to read the rest. I believe this 50% sample size may also apply to some of the other booksellers in the Smashwords distribution network, such as Barnes & NobleKobo, Oyster, Scribd, Inktera, Apple, and OverDrive (though not Amazon). I also intend to make more of my novel available for reading on this blog.

And stay tuned for a series of upcoming new releases: free short stories excerpted from my novel, which will be downloadable at booksellers and also posted here. The series of stories will live under the title, The Eyes of Mictlan: Origins. I hope you will enjoy them, and as always, I thank you for your support!

Get My Novel for FREE This Month

cover3bIn honor of National Novel Writing Month, I am making the eBook version of my novel, The Eyes of Mictlan, available for free during the entire month of November, and also giving you the opportunity to be entered into a monthly drawing to win prizes.

There are three ways in which you can obtain a free copy:

  1. Story Cartel – For the next three weeks, you can download a FREE copy of my ‪novel from Story Cartel (registration is free) and, if you leave an honest review on your favorite book site or your blog, you will be entered into a monthly drawing to win a prize. I believe you also get an additional entry just for downloading the book, regardless of whether you leave a review, so a review is by no means required, but would definitely be appreciated. 🙂

    From the Story Cartel web site:
    “Every month, we give away Kindle eReaders, Amazon and Barnes & Noble gift cards, and bestselling print books to the Story Cartel community. Our giveaways are just a small way we say thank you for reading and reviewing books on Story Cartel.”

    If you do not want to register for an account at Story Cartel, you can also obtain a free copy via one of the methods below. However, only those who download the book from Story Cartel will be entered into their monthly drawing.

  2. Smashwords – You can download a free copy of my novel from Smashwords using the following coupon code: GH76V.

    You can also read a free sample without registering, which is roughly equivalent to the first seven chapters.

  3. If you do not have a Smashwords account (or do not wish to create one), you can message me on Twitter at @njrappa and I will send you a link to download a free copy in either mobi, epub, or PDF format.

There are no strings attached and the book is yours to keep, but I would be most grateful if you could take a few minutes to leave a review on your favorite book site (such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Goodreads). And as always, I thank you for your support!

My Smashwords Interview

When you join Smashwords as an author, you can post an interview based on auto-generated questions to help your readers get to know you a little better. I thought it might be a good idea to post the interview here as well.

And don’t forget that there’s still time to enter my Amazon Giveaway to win a free copy of my novel.

Interview with Michael Rappa

Who are your favorite authors?
Stephen King, Frank Herbert, J. R. R. Tolkien, Richard Matheson, Edgar Allan Poe, George R.R. Martin, Douglas Adams

What are your five favorite books, and why?
Dune – Frank Herbert’s masterpiece is my all-time favorite novel. It has often been called science fiction’s answer to Tolkien’s Middle Earth books and for good reason. I’ve read the entire Dune series as well as most of Herbert’s standalone novels. I was fascinated as a child by his use of journal entries and quotes for chapter heads, as well as the glossary he included in Dune for his numerous invented words. He was a brilliant writer and a huge influence, not so much on my first novel, but much of my writing owes a great debt to Herbert.

The Shining – My favorite Stephen King novel and the greatest ghost story I’ve ever read. My next novel is going to be a haunted house story and to say that ‘The Shining’ is an influence is a major understatement.

1984 – George Orwell’s dystopian nightmare has proven to be eerily prescient. The ending still haunts me. Unfortunately, what he originally intended as a cautionary tale seems more often these days to be used as a “how-to” manual. One of the stories I’m working on is a Negative Utopian tale in the vein of 1984–I even named the main character George in tribute.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Hands down the funniest book ever written. Douglas Adams was a genius.

The Dark Tower – This Stephen King series was the biggest influence on my first novel. Its blending of horror, fantasy, western, and sci-elements while seamlessly jumping between our world and Mid-World was masterful. My favorite individual books in the series are ‘Wizard and Glass’ and ‘The Gunslinger.’

Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
It was probably Call of the Wild, which I read repeatedly as a child. Besides contributing to my lifelong love of dogs, it made me want to read more and to create stories of my own.

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I wrote a haunted house story with a couple of my childhood friends. It was quite macabre for the minds of second graders, as I recall.

What’s the story behind your latest book?
I first put pen to paper (yes, pen and paper) back in 1997 when I wrote the first chapter and outlined the rest of the novel. The idea for the novel originally sprung from a text-based online role-playing game I was considering playing on AOL back in the days of dial-up modems (kids, ask your parents). As part of creating a character for the game, you were supposed to come up with a back story for your character. I never ended up playing the game, but I liked the character I created, so I decided to turn his story into a novel.

My original intention was to write it as an experimental serial novel, in which I would post a new chapter at regular intervals. In fact, the first chapter has been available online in one form or another since 1998. However, when I realized that there was enough material for a full-blown novel, I altered my plans. It took many years to complete—as any aspiring writer will tell you, one of the biggest obstacles to completing a novel is finding the time between your job, housework, and various other adult responsibilities—but eventually (and with the help of a period of unemployment) I finished the first draft in early 2009. Subsequent drafts followed and I finally had a draft that I deemed worthy of submission in the winter of 2012.

I do NOT plan to take 18 years to publish my next novel. 🙂

What motivated you to become an indie author?
I tried the traditional publishing route first, submitting queries to agents, but then I began to notice that more and more people were self-publishing and that the self-publishing industry was growing at an astronomical rate, with even established authors beginning to self-publish. I like the idea of maintaining full control over my property and earning higher royalties on each sale, not that I’m expecting to earn much (you don’t really make any money on a book unless it becomes a best-seller). It’s more about the work itself, getting it out there into the world, and self-publishing seemed like the best way for me to accomplish that. The traditional querying process did have its benefits, though—it helped me to hone the marketing of my book, specifically the synopsis I eventually used for the back cover—but I am happy with my decision to go the indie route.

What is your writing process?
I tend to edit heavily as I’m writing. Conventional wisdom says you should plow through your first draft and then go back later to edit, but I guess I’m too obsessive to work that way. Consequently, it takes me longer to complete a first draft, but on the bright side my first draft is more complete and thus needs fewer revisions than the average first draft.

How do you approach cover design?
I designed the cover for my first novel myself. I am not even close to being an artist but I have enough Photoshop experience that I was able to make a cover that looks professional. I had first tried one of Amazon’s online cover templates, but these were too plain and I didn’t want my cover to look like everyone else’s, so I spent a lot of time getting the look I wanted. The front art includes a real photo of mine that I manipulated via Photoshop to depict a scene from the novel. For the back cover (of the paperback) I chose to use an author photo rather than create another image. For future novels I may continue to design them myself or explore the possibility of employing a professional.

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I’ve spent almost my entire life in New Jersey. I grew up in a small town in South Jersey that was essentially a suburb of Philadelphia, as did the character Sam in my first novel. Most of my stories take place in New Jersey. I’ve even created a fictional South Jersey town which I plan to weave into my stories in a sort of shared universe, a la Stephen King’s Derry and Castle Rock.

When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
I enjoy reading, traveling, photography, and cooking. I also play tennis and chess, and once every few years I pick up my saxophone. I spend most of my evenings feeding my TV/Film addiction, with the occasional video game mixed in.

What is your e-reading device of choice?
I own a Kindle but do most of my e-book reading via the kindle app on my phone. I still read physical books more frequently than e-books, especially for my favorite authors, whose books I like to collect.

To learn more, you can visit my Author Page at Smashwords.

More Platforms for My Novel and a New Contest

I am pleased to announce that the eBook version my novel, The Eyes of Mictlan, is now available on more platforms around the world. In addition to Amazon, you can now purchase it for $0.99 at Barnes & NobleSmashwords, Kobo, Oyster, Scribd, and Inktera. By the end of this week it should also be available at Apple, Baker & Taylor (Blio & Axis 360), txtr, OverDrive, and Flipkart.

I have also launched a new giveaway for the paperback version of The Eyes of Mictlan via Amazon. To enter, you just have to click on the link, follow me on Twitter (or confirm that you already follow me), and then you will find out instantly if you have won a copy. The contest is open all week to U.S. residents 18 and over. One note: unlike my previous contest, these copies will not be signed because Amazon is shipping them directly to the winners.

Win a Free Copy!

The Eyes of Mictlan by Michael Rappa

The Eyes of Mictlan

by Michael Rappa

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Every 600th eligible entry will win, up to 4 winners. This giveaway started September 27,2015 3:46 PM PDT and ends the earlier of October 4,2015 11:59 PM PDT or when all prizes have been awarded.

As always, I thank you for your support, and if you enter the contest, best of luck!

My first book giveaway was a success…

Nearly 600 people entered the Goodreads contest to win a signed copy of my novel. Thank you to everyone for entering, and congratulations to the two winners! I just mailed out your books today so you should be receiving them soon.

If you did not win, stay tuned, there are more giveaways (and an announcement) coming in the near future…

The Paperback
My Novel in Paperback

Four days left to win a signed copy of my novel…

The Paperback
Waiting to be signed…

My first-ever book giveaway is entering the home stretch! There are just over four days remaining to enter the contest, available to U.S. residents 18 and older. So far, 245 people have entered to win a free signed copy of my dark fantasy novel, The Eyes of Mictlan, which I will personalize for the winners.

You can enter the giveaway via the button below:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Eyes of Mictlan by Michael Rappa

The Eyes of Mictlan

by Michael Rappa

Giveaway ends August 23, 2015.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

If you don’t win but are still interested in reading the novel, I hope you will consider the eBook version, available for just $2.99–or free to Amazon Prime members (via the lending library) and Kindle Unlimited subscribers. If you do not own a Kindle, you can download free Kindle reading software for almost any computer or mobile device.

Thank you and good luck!