Book Worms- Here Are Some Interesting Ways to Find New Reads!

If you’re a keen reader, you can work your way through books at an incredible rate. As a bookworm, chances are you read more in a month than most people do in a year. When you have a love of books, you always have something fun and productive to do with your time which is fantastic- however it can be difficult constantly finding new material to read. While there are always new books being released and ever changing book charts, as a keen reader you’ll know that many of these are far from riveting. People like Youtubers with no writing experience (and often no talent for writing) often make it to the top of the charts just based on their name. Large advertising campaigns and other strategies can mean books can reach the top and aren’t based on any merit whatsoever. For this reason, you’ll want to look a little further out. Here are some more unexpected ways to find books to read.

Look at forgotten books that have been turned into games and movies

When a book has been wildly successful, it will often be turned into a movie- and from there things like games are produced too. Take Final Fantasy for example, this might be best known as a game series, but was actually based on a graphic novel. These days Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire invites you to a new adventure and can be played on your smartphone. Take a look at movies and games, and trace back their origins to the novels they were based on. It can be an interesting way to track down a good book, as you’ll know has a good premise and concept since an entire empire has been built from it. In many cases, all people will know of the novel is the movie and/ or the game- do some research and seek out the forgotten novels they were based on.

Consider older literature

Many of the classics were taught in schools, however, have you ever read them of your own accord as an adult? If you want a more challenging read this is definitely a route to go down, there are plenty of study guides and information about these books online which can help you work through them if you get stuck. When we think of books, it’s often the classics that spring to mind and yet few people have ever actually read them outside of a school setting. Pick up books by Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare and the Bronte sisters amongst others. Find out for yourself what it is that make these so special.

Visit an old bookstore

In this day in age, many of us read right from our phones, tablets or e-readers. We can access hundreds of thousands of titles from Amazon and other places online, and so scouring an old bookshop might not be something you do much- even as a keen reader. However if you’re after an interesting read, go and find an old second hand bookstore and take a look around. Not only is this a wonderful experience in itself but you’re bound to pick up some new reads that you simply wouldn’t have come across online.

Why Won’t Anybody Publish Your Novel?

When you start out as a new writer, you have this romantic idea that you’ll finish your masterpiece and send it out to agents and publisher and you’ll see the offers rolling in. The reality is very different. After years of struggling through and editing every tiny detail until it’s absolutely perfect, you’re met with rejection after rejection. It isn’t always a reflection of your work, publishers get so many submissions that they will often cut the pile down based on the tiniest details. If you’re not getting anywhere with your writing, it might be for one of these reasons.

The Book Is No Good

One of the biggest hurdles you need to overcome as a writer is being able to bin your own work. When I first started out, I was very attached to everything that I wrote. If something didn’t work I would spend hours on it, trying to make it into something worth reading. The truth is, sometimes you just can’t. There isn’t a writer alive that comes out with something brilliant every time they put pen to paper. Everybody writes things that just don’t work. Knowing when to admit this and move on to something else is a difficult thing to learn, but it will improve your writing when you do. Don’t get rid of anything completely, you might be able to do something with it later, but don’t keep flogging a dead horse if the book isn’t working.

The Book Isn’t Finished

It’s basically impossible to know when a novel is finished, and you can never really say that it’s completely done. But you can get it close enough to be published. However, a common mistake that people make is they send it off for publication before it’s ready. Even though you’ve spent endless amounts of time editing, there’s still work to be done. The best way to know is to have as many people as possible read it. They’ll be able to tell you whether you need to do more work on it. If you’ve gone through the entire novel a few times and you’ve made hardly any changes, you’re probably there.

It’s Been Done

Another misconception that a lot of writers make is that their book will sell because it’s similar to other best sellers. Since the release of books like the Hunger Games series, young adult, dystopian novels are all the rage. But that doesn’t mean you can write a carbon copy of the Hunger Games with a few tweaks and get a publishing deal. It is possible for you to capitalize on the popularity of a genre or style, but you need to have something completely fresh and new to bring to the table. Using the same themes is fine but if your characters are predictable and you haven’t tackled that theme from a different angle, you won’t get anywhere.


You wouldn’t think that the formatting really has anything to do with you, but it could stop you from getting published. When you’re submitting samples to publishers, they often have very specific and strict guidelines on how to submit the work. Not following them will probably get you struck off straight away. If you’re a bit of a technophobe, consider taking a few Microsoft Word training classes so you can get the specifications exactly right. If a publisher opens the document and you haven’t followed their advice, they probably won’t even read it most of the time.

Plot Synopsis

Most submissions ask for the first few chapters and a plot synopsis. Writers will focus on going through those first couple of sample chapters with a fine tooth comb until every detail is perfect, but they’ll neglect the synopsis. If the publisher likes the sample chapter, then they’ll read the synopsis but if it’s confusing and disorganized, then they might not move forward from there. It can be difficult to describe the entire plot of a book in a succinct way, but you’ll just have to practice. Decide on what the main themes and plot points that make up the essence of the novel are, and focus on them. If you get bogged down in the backstory of every single character, things will get muddled and publishers will be put off.

Choosing The Wrong Publishers

Writers often think that the more publishers they send their work to, the more likely they are to get somewhere with it. I wish it were that simple, but it isn’t. Publishers all have a specialty and they’re usually pretty specific. If you want to be successful, you need to spend a little time researching publishers and find ones that work with genres and styles that are similar to yours. Most publishing companies will have a page that shows information about exactly what they are and aren’t looking for. Not reading them is only going to waste your time and theirs because you’ll be sending people samples of a novel that they’ll never be interested in.

Your COVER Letter

Before they even get to your sample, publisher’s will read your cover letter. If they aren’t impressed, they’re likely to move on without even reading the sample. The function of a cover letter is to give the publisher more information about you and your work. You need to sell yourself. Start out with your credentials, and don’t leave anything out. Any creative writing qualifications you might have, and any work you’ve had published in the past, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction. From there you need to tell them why your book is going to sell. Who is your target audience and why is your novel going to stand out from all of the others on the market? You also need to include a lot of smaller details which people often forget, like the word count and some contact details for yourself. People often leave these things out and publishers will see it as a bad sign if you do.

You can follow all of these steps and still get rejections. It’s just part of the process. The important thing is that you don’t give up and you’ll get there in the end.

Book Review: “Long Night Moon” by S.M. Reine

Long Night Moon by S.M. Reine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

SM Reine does it again! Long Night Moon is a great next chapter in the “Seasons of the Moon” YA urban fantasy series that Reine has built, and as with the other two novels, I was HIGHLY entertained.

In terms of plot, “Long Night Moon” wasn’t nearly as suspenseful as its predecessors, BUT the book certainly develops the larger world of the werewolf in a wonderful way. We get to see, bit by bit, who is actually a part of this world, and it’s not JUST werewolves! We also get to see all the challenges that werewolves, especially Rylie, has to deal with, especially in terms of dealing with the human side vs. the wolf side.

Reine does an excellent job of bringing a lot of humanity to her characters, and she’s also great at following human logic and natural reactions to the weird happenings around town. She’s also not afraid to trouble the relationships and loyalties of her characters, and that always makes for super engaging, never predictable dynamics surrounding love, loyalty, duty, and friendship.

Long Night Moon, as well as the “Seasons of the Moon” series in general is a great YA series, and I’m super excited to pass it on to my daughter when she gets old enough!



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Rock on, read on,
<3 Colby

Why You Think You Can’t Write A Novel – And Why You’re Wrong!

Calling yourself a “writer” is something that makes a lot of people nervous. It can feel like you’re asking to be called pretentious, or worse. If you’ve ever had the experience of meeting a distant relative at a family gathering and they ask what you do, you know how it goes.

“I’m a writer.”

“Oh! Anything I might have read?”

© Copyright 2010 CorbisCorporationAnd the answer is almost invariably “no,” and so you know in their heads they’re thinking “Not a real job, not a real job.” It’s enough to cause a crisis of confidence, which of course contributes to the dreaded Writer’s Block. And when someone reads some of your writing and says “This is superb! Have you considered writing a novel?”, it’s easy to answer “no.” Because writing a blog post or an essay is one thing – a novel is a whole other ball game.

So many good writers shy away from the idea of writing a novel when that friend might really be onto something. If you think you can’t write a novel, you’re wrong. It may take time, and you may have a few false starts. But if you are ready to put the work in, you can overcome any obstacles – including the ones you put in front of yourself.

Excuse #1: “I know I can write, but I can’t write people.”

Writing characters is maybe the toughest part of writing a novel, it’s true. Even those of us who don’t think we’re creative can set a scene, can sketch out a narrative, but writing people is hard. Most successful novels will have at least one character who’s a lot like the author. Why is that? Because it’s easy to write yourself. Other characters are harder, of course. You can base them on your friends, but you want your friends to read the book and still like you, so that’s tricky.

What you need to do is sit and set out a profile of your characters. Their name, age, what they do for a living. Their personality. Refrain from making them too amazing – readers these days can spot a Mary Sue a mile away, and prefer someone relatable. Read over your profiles, and if they remind you too much of anyone, change the details until they’re their own person.

Excuse #2: “I know I can write, but I can’t handle rejection.”

lettersEvery author on the face of the Earth has received at least one letter of rejection from a publisher. J.K. Rowling famously received numerous rejection letters before one publisher picked up Harry Potter. One of them told her that she should get a day job because she was unlikely to make a living in children’s fiction. If writing is what you want to do, then you need to have a thick skin. You will get rejection letters – but they make the non-rejections worth so much more.

If you don’t want to leap straight into the lions’ den with publishers, then consider self-publishing to begin with. Book-printing experts such as Steuben Press will put your book together for you. You can then sell online or at book fairs, or give your books out as gifts. If you get good feedback from those, that should up your confidence. Never give up on the idea. Where would we be if Suzanne Collins had taken her first poor feedback as a sign to give up?

Excuse #3: “I know I can write, but the good ideas have all been had.”

We’ve all sat in front of a laptop, racking our brains for ideas, and the moment a good one comes up our internal editor rejects it. “No, already been done. There are enough books about vampires/wizards/astronauts…”. It is true to say that it gets harder to be original the longer time goes on. So the first thing to say to that is … don’t worry about having a truly original idea.

J.K. Rowling wasn’t the first author to write about a wizarding school. Stephenie Meyer definitely didn’t get to vampires first. And there have been more novels about a dystopian future than anyone could read in a lifetime. What you do need is a hook. Something that makes it a bit different. Play around with the lore a little; there is always something you can bring to it. A new setting, a unique power, a different threat. If you try to be 100% original, you’ll just end up with a book no one understands.

Excuse #4: “I know I can write, but I don’t have the time.”


Authors and actors alike have the same issue that stands in the way of their success. In the beginning, it doesn’t pay. And so they need to hold down a full-time job while finding ways to indulge their creative side. Where authors have an advantage over actors is the fact that an actor usually needs to break through while they are young. The film industry is very ageist. And sexist. And shallow.

On the other hand, when you’ve got your work backed up, you can take as long as you need to finish your first novel. If you snatch a few pages each lunch break, take a few hours at the weekend and some in the evenings, you can let it come together at its own pace. In fact, you may benefit from taking a little longer over it – this allows you to refine what you write and really consider where the story is going.

You can come up with all these reasons and more not to put your writing to the ultimate test. There are dozens of reasons not to try – but in the end, all you need is one reason to give it a go. If it works out, you’ll have the chance to make money doing something you love. And there is nothing better than that. Sure, when you’re on novel number 10, you’ll still get writer’s block. But it beats the hell out of doing a job you’ll never like, let alone love, for just enough money to keep your house warm.

You just need to stop making excuses.

Stay indie, and rock on, write on,
<3 Colby

Book Review: “Mockingjay” by Suzanne Collins

mockingjaycoverMockingjay by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Let’s start with the real…

For about 50% of this book, I was really annoyed and, dare I say it, bored as hell. I felt as though a lot of the story dragged, mostly because Katniss spent a lot of time being a head case rather than pushing the action of the story. This fact was only underscored by the fact that The Hunger Games has always been a first-person narrative, and when our hero is stagnated, so are we, unfortunately.

A lot of the war against the Capitol actually happens off-scene, and Katniss hears about it second- and third-hand from various sources. In the meanwhile, though, she’s stuck in 13 being traumatized and useless, and we get to be stuck with her. GRRR.

Now with the awesome…

Then, as seems to be Suzanne Collins’ style, Act III EXPLODES with action, where we face mounting odds, higher body counts, and the unthinkable losses of some our favorite characters. I was tormented, honestly. Digsuted. Shocked. Riveted. And just broken. As we sped towards a super climactic ending, I couldn’t stop myself from zooming through the pages. It made the first 60% of the book worth slogging through.

In the end, though, the harrowing consequences of all the loss and strife hit us over and over. The war is won. The vicious Snow has expired, and the methodical, cruel Coin exterminated by Katniss’ impeccable aim. And Katniss? We see a girl deeply scarred and disjointed at a soul-level, who is trying to hold onto and rebuild her reality all at once. She is pretty much alone to swim in her grief and trauma, imo. Pot-war, she’s been abandoned by both Gale and her own mother, who are off dealing with their own lives, demons, and emotional backlash. The only one truly by Katniss’ side, as usual, is Peeta, who seems healed of his brainwashing by the Capitol but who is still healing the scars from the war as a whole.

The ending of Mockingjay is not truly a happy one but merely a blank slate upon which the current survivors try to rebuild. As they stumble towards something resembling peace and prosperity, the specter of war haunts them all, certainly, and us, too. A cautionary lesson. One that will probably never truly be learned.

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Write on, rock on, and READ on,
<3 Colby

Book Review: “Gerard’s Beauty” by Marie Hall

gerard's beautyGerard’s Beauty by Marie Hall
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

BRUH. BRUH!!!!!!

Talk about a HOTT n’ sexy story!! I have to say (once again) that Marie Hall’s Kingdom series was an instant favorite of mine. And I have to say (once again) I’m not a romance reader by any stretch. Though I’m obviously becoming one, thanks to Hall.

I’m not going to summarize the story as the synopsis does that pretty well. But wow, can this woman write some damned good romantic tension. I pretty much highlighted a turn of phrase on each page of this titillating tale, so that I could savor her use of language. Love it! So sultry! So passionate! The manuscript could’ve used a final scrub as there are very minor errors (missed apostrophes, etc), but they do not distract from what is a superbly-written tale of love, lust, and all the grays in between.

Some heartwarming parts give this story a surprising level of emotional, NON-romantic depth and realism. Hall addresses issues surrounding genetic disorders AND gives us a great look at geek / cosplay culture, which brings a surprising and delightful twist on an otherwise “normal” leading lady. And, of course, the promises of incredible, mind-blowing sex with French jilted lovers drip from each page. The last chapter is definitely worth our long and deliciously agonizing wait.

Hall has definitely brought an awesome twist to the genre of fairy tale retells and romance, and I’ll definitely be picking up the other books in the series!

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Write on, rock on, and READ on,
<3 Colby

Book Review: “The Descendant” by Ally Capraro

thedescendantThe Descendant by Ally Capraro
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Great premise and interesting storyline with tons of potential!

The Descendent is a solid first act in a sci-fi romance series, with an interesting premise, an eternal battle, and a tender romance that will intrigue your mind and touch your heart. I look forward to seeing more of Ally Capraro as the series, her voice, and her craft all develop. Let loose, dear writer! We want to see your spirit and hear your authentic voice as you release the stories inside of you. 🙂

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Write on, rock on, and READ on,
<3 Colby

Book Review: “Catching Fire” by Suzanne Collins

Catching_FireCatching Fire by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A lot of people criticize this middle book of the Hunger Games series because they believe it “lagged”, “nothing was happening”, or “Katniss was too whiny”. And it’s true, a great portion of the book (at least the first 50%) is not necessarily filled with the action-packed, high-octane, nail-biting suspense that we experienced and loved in the first book.

But taking the series as a whole, Catching Fire is a perfect middle portion to a saga about oppression, revolution, war… and a frightened teenager unwittingly caught in its crosshairs.

Much of the first part of Catching Fire is spent in Katniss’ head as she witnesses and hides from her worst fear: growing rebellion in the Districts. I think Collins’ portrayal of her fear, angst, and indecision is spot on. Having Katniss feel anything else or act in any other way would have probably come off as disingenuous. Remember, Katniss is a mortal girl. Not an X-Man. Not a superhero. She is very much human, someone who can be tortured, killed, wounded, someone with people she loves, who could literally be annihilated at any point. She is a mouse before the giant that is the Capitol. So she walks a fine line; she understands that her actions now have some VERY far-reaching and painful consequences. As would anyone, for a while, Katniss tries her best to remain still and ineffectual. She wants to placate the Capitol, even though she hates it. But as she realizes that she has already set the match to an already combustible situation, she is finally forced to turn and face her fears. Even THEN, though, we see her wavering. And I love it because it’s just so damned HUMAN.

I think this is what I adored most about Catching Fire, and it’s why I gave it a higher rating than the first book, The Hunger Games. I LOVED Katniss’ humanness, flaws, and fallibility. I love that Collins’ DIDN’T buy into the teen immortality mythology, and that she kept Katniss grounded in a firm reality. This grounding always kept us aware of just how palpable Katniss’ situation was! So when the fast-paced action FINALLY popped off in Act III of the book, I felt emotionally fulfilled and was able to enjoy the action and suspense as it unfolded in the arena (which was brilliantly designed). And just like in the first book, Collins delivered.

Big time.

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Write on, rock on, and READ on,
<3 Colby

Book Review: “Her Mad Hatter” by Marie Hall

hermadhattercoverHer Mad Hatter by Marie Hall

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

YO! I haven’t picked up a romance novel since I was 10 years old, and I’m so glad I chose this one to reanimate my romantic adventures! “Her Mad Hatter” wasn’t perfect, not the most polished novel I’ve ever read. Some parts made me laugh because they came off a teeny bit cheesy, BUT. But but BUT!!

I couldn’t put it down. I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. And towards the end, I was dying because I literally couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. It got emotional, ya’ll. And I got desperate for a happy ending. (No spoilers, though. You’ll have to read it yourselves!)

What I really loved about the book is the series’ premise. I LOVE how Marie Hall sets us up in this world where fairy tales are retold in ways we’ve never seen, where characters have hidden secrets, dark sexy desires, and soul-wrenching journeys that pull us in and don’t let go.

And of course, hot naughty sex with the tortured, broken, muscle-bound man-gods.

Like I said, I’m not much of a romance reader, but I think I’ve become officially converted. Am definitely making space in my action-adventure-thriller-sci fi-fantasy-dominated bookworm life for Marie Hall’s Kingdom series. Well, for Marie Hall’s EVERYTHING. She. Is. EVERYTHING.

So thanks so much, Ms. Hall, for helping to reopen my mind to the world of romance and erotica. I hope you come back to the world of writing soon. “Her Mad Hatter” was a lovely, tantalizing ride. And by the excerpt I read from the next book in the series? This is a ride I won’t be getting off of anytime soon.

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Write on, rock on, and READ on,
<3 Colby

Book Review: “Supercharge Your Kindle Sales” by Nick Stephenson

This is a book review BACK POST, fam! Because I’m relaxing on my Xmas vacay in Florida, and knocking out some of my book list! Here’s the latest review on a great non-fiction book that’ll totally ramp up your Kindle sales if you follow the advice! A great and necessary read for indie fiction authors wanting to make a living.

superchargeyourkindlesalescoverSupercharge Your Kindle Sales by Nick Stephenson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

AWESOME advice, paired with some amazing actionable steps. And the greatest part? The book is short, sweet, and low on “fluff”, which helps us to get to the meat of the material and apply the advice ASAP.

Nick Stephenson knows his stuff, and he provides some wonderful insight into the issues of keywords, categories, lead magnets, and other book selling hacks that can really raise an author’s sales and profile on Amazon. Highly, HIGHLY recommended. Plus the book is totally FREE!

Also, check out Nick Stephenson’s amazing “Your First 10,000 Readers” course. There is a free mini course for you to try before you can then upgrade to the major course. I’ve taken both, and I can’t recommend Nick’s courses highly enough. I feel so confident about my author career for this coming 2016, and I have Nick to thank for it!

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Write on, rock on, READ on,
<3 Colby