Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Another year almost wrapped up and in the books

2015 is knocking on the door. I, for one, am looking forward to waving bye-bye to 2014 as it recedes in my rear view mirror. This year was a rough one on many levels. Car accidents, major surgeries, flooded basements, etc, etc, and the list goes on. You name it, the Schiariti household dealt with it. I spent most of my free time revamping, fixing, editing, Funeral with a View. When I didn't want to, I worked on it. When my head wasn't in the right place to be doing much of anything, I worked on it. When it got to the point where I thought it would never be up to my standards and I felt like burning the damn thing, I worked on it. I've estimated that I'd spent about 1,000 hours fiddling with the manuscript between January and the end of September. That's a huge time investment. Did it pay off? In ways it did. In other ways it didn't.

Funeral with a View, after all the trouble, second guessing, and times when I just wanted to give up, turned out better than good. It turned out great. From cover to blurb, prologue to epilogue, I couldn't be more proud of what became of all that hard work. Busting my balls shows in a fantastic final product I can present to the world with my head held high. I did it. So, on a personal level the book is a win. That's not to say things are all sunshine and roses, though.

Similar to the months following the publication of Ghosts of Demons Past, I spent a great deal of time promoting my contemporary romance. I took a different approach this time: paid advertising. I bought spots, ads, a blog tour, hosted giveaways, contests. This promo blitz is just ending now, as the book is on sale for $0.99 through tomorrow. But here's the thing. None of it has really worked. It's moving in dribs and drabs, picking up killer reviews at a good rate, but it's still not getting into the hands of a lot of readers. Why? No idea. I've heard it's the lack of a large 'back list' on my part. I've been told that it may not be 'commercial enough.' This is really all supposition. Nobody can know the whys or hows of a book's success or failures. It simply is what it is. And that's okay. At least, I see it that way now. There was a period when I wasn't okay with it.

In the midst of all this promotion I fell into a profound funk. No matter how many messages I got from readers telling me they loved it or how many good reviews showed up on amazon and good reads, the piss poor performance tainted my perception of everything. Long story short, it made me feel like shit. A lot of that's my own fault, and I freely admit it. See, I'd gotten sucked into the numbers game. Sales numbers, ranking numbers, charting in categories, all that jazz.  I was in this mode of thinking where numbers were a sort of validation. If the numbers suck, that could only mean the book isn't as good as I thought it was.

I'm done with all that now.

Fact: no matter where you go there's always going to be someone bigger, smarter, stronger, faster, more successful, whatever. But ... that has no bearing on my work or what I do, not anymore.  I'm lucky enough to have a good group of readers who like what I've done and what I'm doing. That's awesome. And they're there when this new "Happy Matt" starts to regress back to "WAHHH Matt." Can't thank them enough for that.

All this numbers bullshit? It overshadowed the real reason why I do this stuff to begin with. I write because I like it and to have fun. It's not my job, and it's not my life's dream to be a best seller with millions of adoring fans ... although that would be groovy! As I've said before, I write for ME and publish to SHARE. Moving forward, it's about time to get back to having fun with it, because there's more to me than just books. Writing is something I've involved myself in, but it doesn't define me. Some folks are consumed by it. And that's okay! If that's what they want to do, good for them. Although I fed into the 'must be a success!' monster, writing is a hobby. Don't think that I don't take it seriously when I put something out there for public consumption. I do take it seriously. If my name's on the cover I'm going to make sure it's good. No half-assed stories coming from my computer, that's a guarantee. Still, there's more to life than books and writing.

Since this epiphany of mine, I've rediscovered other things I love to do that fell to the wayside, namely playing guitar. Up until a month or so ago, I hadn't touched any of my axes in almost a year. Oh, they gave me dirty looks when I took them out of the cases and plugged them into my amps, but they quickly forgave me once I spent some quality time with them. Out of all my hobbies, guitar is the longest lived. Been playing for about 23 years now. It was a crime that I took so much time off from them. For shame on me! Like writing, playing is something I like to do and something I'm good at.

New attitude going into the new year. No resolutions, no promises made that I can't live up to, but a different outlook. I'll write when I feel like it, publish when I'm ready. No forcing myself to do anything I'm not in the mood for, no getting sucked up in the popularity contest that is the world of independent publishing. Will 2015 see a new book from Matt Schiariti? Yeah, I think I can manage that. I've already started a couple WIPs. One's a romantic suspense that I've mentioned before either here or on my FB page (so hard to keep track of what I say, where I say it, when I say it). Another is the follow up to Ghosts of Demons Past. Then I have a bunch of short stories I'd like to revisit and polish up for publication in the meantime. Who knows how long it will take to write those other two novels? I don't know. And I don't care. It'll take as long as it takes to get them done and to get them done right.

I'm still getting used to this Happy Matt outfit. Fits nicely despite the, ahem, holiday weight. Will he be around 24/7? No way. He'll have his bad days like anybody else. However, he's more prominent than he was a couple months back and I have a good feeling he'll be around even more in 2015.

Happy New Year, everyone! If you've made it this far you have once again won a no prize. If you should ever heard a loud "KERRRANG" emanating from somewhere in the north east, do not be alarmed. That's me rocking out in Madison Square Basement, smiling.

Catch ya in 2015!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Hearts in the Storm by Elmer Seward: Guest Post + Giveaway

Title: Hearts in the Storm

Author: Elmer Seward

Published: May 2014

Word Count: 35,400

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Content Warning: Mild profanity and “off camera” sexual situations

Age Recommendation: 18+

Struggling with loss and regret, Trista sets out for North Carolina’s Outer Banks, hoping to find peace in her stormy life. Fate and an old golden retriever set her on a path toward healing with an unlikely hero, the man that the locals call “Duck.” Despite his careless and irresponsible behavior, Trista is drawn to him.

Trista discovers that Duck is haunted by the ghosts of his own shattered past. Desperate for help, she is faced with the necessity of placing her hopes and her life in the hands of this man that many blame for the death of his best friend. As Hurricane Renee bears down on the Outer Banks, Trista and Duck drive a wave-battered boat into the teeth of the storm. Each one hopes to conquer the tempest that rages around them and the tempest that rages within.

He dragged out of the seaside door onto the long, wooden deck. Standing for a moment, he looked out at the ocean. The waves were crashing and churning, whipping up foam as they battered the beleaguered sand. Shells, rocks, and other debris were dragged out as quickly as they were deposited. The water was in constant motion. There was a storm off shore, and the beach was catching the brunt of its fury.
He took a long, slow sip of coffee, hoping to clear the cluttered remnants of last night's bender. Shirtless and wearing a tattered pair of shorts, he stood watching the eastern sky. It was gray and ominous, but the thickly filtered daylight still hurt, and he watched the waves through squinted eyes at first.
He laid his cup on the deck railing and leaned forward, straining to glimpse the pelicans riding the rolling waves just beyond the break. They would appear as they crested the top of the roller coaster waves and then disappear as they glided down into the valleys between them. Occasionally, one would take flight, circle for a moment and then dive, disappearing beneath the water for a brief moment.
The beach was deserted – only him and the pelicans. As he watched, something odd caught his attention. Just beyond the birds, another dark object in the water appeared and disappeared. At first he thought it was one of the pelicans, but there was something unusual about the shape. Maybe it was a fin. It was common to see dolphins just off shore. It could be a shark fin. They prowled just off shore more often than the local tourist rental companies or local city officials wanted to announce. It crested into view again. No, it was too far out and in the sunless water, too dark to identify . . . but not a fin. It disappeared again. He watched closely, waiting for it to crest. There it was, but it was taller. It was moving. It was . . . an arm. A head and a waving arm being tossed in the tumultuous water.
The sound of the waves roaring and crashing was all consuming, but faintly he could hear another sound almost imperceptible. He strained and was sure he heard a voice in the intermittent roar and crash, a voice crying for help.
He searched frantically up and down the beach. There was no one. He had to act quickly. He grabbed an old cork safety ring that hung as a decorative prop on the deck of the cottage and jumped down the steps into the deep sand. As he ran, his feet sank into the loose, shifting sand. It felt like he was lifting leaden legs as he struggled forward. Finally reaching the firmer wet sand, he sped up only to hit the water. Again, each step was like moving an anvil. He moved into the waves, diving into each one to avoid being knocked backward. As he wrestled with the waves, he tried desperately to find the person who would rise and then vanish with the rolling action of the water.
Swimming now, fighting against the current determined to rush him back to shore, he was becoming exhausted. The water was battering and pulling him, but he pressed on, trailing the safety ring in his wake.
He was close now. He could see the figure. It was a girl, maybe in her mid-teens. She was flailing her arms, desperately trying to keep her head above water. She wasn't being successful. Alternately, she was choking, gasping, and screaming as her head broke the water. Then she was sucked down again.
As he swam to within feet of the struggling figure, the girl disappeared and did not reappear. He looked frantically for her. He dove hoping to find her. The dark, churning water was murky and obscured his vision. Then he saw her hand just below him. He swam deeper, his lungs burning. She saw him and was reaching toward him. Her eyes were wide with panic. He extended his arm as far as he could. His fingers were inches away. In the next instant, she was swept away in the shifting current. He peered through the darkness, his lungs about to burst. She was gone.

About the Author
Elmer Seward was born and raised along the Chesapeake Bay in southeast Virginia. Growing up, the cemetery behind his house was his playground. The metaphorical theme of death and rebirth that figures prominently in his novels is probably influenced in some way by the time that his mother heard, through the screened window, a small voice crying for help. Rushing from the house and through the yard, she discovered her all-too-curious six-year-old son at the bottom of a freshly dug grave. In that moment, he discovered that trouble is much easier to get into than it is to get out of. Sometimes we need help getting out of the hole that we jump into willingly.

He is blessed to have a blended family of six children and four grandchildren. He is also the reluctant servant of two crazy dogs, a Maltese and a Japanese Chin. All of these strongly influence the characters and events in his novels; however, his beautiful wife, Mitzi, is the true inspiration for the tender hearted but determined women in his stories.

Amazon Author Page | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads | Website

Guest Post
Talk about your writing process. Do you have specific rituals? How do you get into each character's mindset?

I have a rather unusual writing process. I write while I'm exercising. I walk and run for about an hour each morning. For me, that's when the heavy lifting of writing occurs. I develop characters, dialogue, setting, and plot, all in my head. This continues for days, maybe even weeks. Once I'm comfortable with the details of a chapter, I sit down after everyone has gone to bed at night and begin to type.
I say that I develop all of these story elements, but I'm afraid that it is more a case of setting the characters in motion and watching as they create themselves and the plot. I believe that great characters write themselves and then help write the story. I hate to admit it, but with both of my novels, Dreams of the Sleepless and Hearts in the Storm. I started out with a very simple story and rather flat characters. Very quickly, the characters took on lives of their own and started driving the plot to places that I hadn't planned. This is especially true for my favorite character from Hearts in the Storm, Sissy. Early on, she developed her own persona. She became this fiery, tenacious woman who tries, sometimes unsuccessfully, to hide her tender caring side. Because of her fiery nature, her behavior is sometimes aggressive and unpredictable. Duck is her younger brother. Duck's world has collapsed, leaving him stumbling through life. As a result, she finds herself acting as both sister and mother to this broken man. Sissy battles conflicting emotions. She loves Duck and tries to protect him from himself and others, but she quickly becomes frustrated with his self-destructive behavior. She is often torn between wanting to kill him and wanting to save him. As the story progresses, she struggles with another dilemma. She realizes that in helping Duck's attempt to free himself from his crushing remorse, she may lose him forever in the approaching storm. At a critical point in the story, she must choose. As the author, I simply create the havoc of her life and then set her free to deal with it as best she can. This is true for each of the characters. In the interplay of their fears, emotions, and desires, the plot travels in directions that I hadn't planned.


Friday, December 5, 2014

The New Pioneer Series by Deborah Nam-Krane: Giveaway

Title: The Smartest Girl in the Room

Series: The New Pioneer Series, Book One

Author: Deborah Nam-Krane

Published: March 29th, 2013

Page Count: 291

Genre: NA Contemporary Romance

Nineteen year old Emily wants her college diploma fast, and she’s going to get it. But when the perfect night with perfect Mitch leads her to a broken heart, Emily is blind to her vulnerability. When the person she cares about the most is hurt as a result, Emily’s ambition gives way to more than a little ruthlessness. She’s going to use her smarts to take care of herself and protect the people she loves, and everyone else had better stay out of her way. But shouldn’t the smartest girl everyone knows realize that the ones she’d cross the line for would do the same for her?


Miranda had a recurring dream. She was sleeping in a bed in a small room when her beautiful, blonde, green-eyed mother walked in and sat on the bed with her. She was wearing a black dress. They would talk for a few minutes and sometimes her mother would stroke her hair or tickle her, but she was always smiling. In the dream Miranda knew her mother was happy to be with her. As Miranda grew, the conversations were different, but they didn’t matter. The dream always ended the same way. Her mother would kiss her goodnight and tell her that she loved her, then turn off the light and close the door.
Sometimes Miranda would wake up crying for her mother, even now, although not as loudly as she used to. Sometimes she would wake up but close her eyes tightly, to try and hold onto the dream. Because Miranda didn’t remember her mother except for that dream, and she couldn’t be sure if her mother’s hair had really been that thick or her eyes that green. The only thing she could be sure of was that her mother had loved her, but that wasn’t something she remembered, it was just something she knew.
Miranda’s first real memory was a rainy day in a tiny garden. There were drops of rain on white honeysuckles. A sad older woman with white hair and green eyes smiled as Miranda put the flower to her mouth and sucked out the nectar. She remembered thinking that it was the best thing ever, and that now everything would be alright. But she didn’t remember what had been wrong in the first place.
When she was a little girl she had often asked Alex about the garden. Alex would smile and say that someday he’d take her there again. But she could tell it made him sad like the old woman, so she stopped asking by the time she was twelve. Now, every once in a while, she remembered the garden and the old woman and made a note that she’d have to ask Alex to at least tell her where it was.
Miranda’s first memory of Alex was from when she was five. She remembered that she was wearing a light beige dress with small pink flowers and a sash that tied in the back. He was sitting on a chair in a living room, across from the old woman, who was sitting on a couch. The couch and the chair had flowers, just like her dress. Those were the things you noticed when you were five.
She couldn’t take her eyes off of him. She thought he was the most wonderful thing she’d ever seen. His hair was darker back then, and he had been wearing a dark red sweater. Burgundy. She had taught herself that color, because it was Alex’s favorite, and it became her favorite on him. She loved the way it made his brown eyes stand out.
She had walked over to the old woman and taken her hand, then looked down at the floor while she talked. She didn’t remember what was said. But she did remember Alex’s voice. “Would you like to come and live with me?” he’d asked. And then she’d looked up, and she remembered that she’d smiled. He smiled too; he hadn’t been smiling before. Even as a small child, she knew that they were going to love each other forever.
She remembered hugging the old woman goodbye. She didn’t remember because she wanted to. She remembered because she couldn’t forget. It was a forever goodbye, which she knew even though no one had told her. She remembered that she cried, and that she had cried in the car. But Alex had said that she could use the phone at her new house to call the old woman whenever she wanted to, and they stopped to get some ice cream before he took her to her new home, her forever home.
Years later, she’d put it together. Her mother had died. The old woman was her grandmother, and Alex, her mother’s friend, had come to take care of her. But that wasn’t what was important. What was important was that she had loved Alex from that day forward.

Title: The Family You Choose

Series: The New Pioneer Series, Book Two

Published: September 28th, 2013

Page Count: 290

Miranda Harel has been in love with her guardian Alex Sheldon since she was five years old, and Michael Abbot has despised them both for just as long. When Miranda finds out why she wants both men out of her life for good and questions everything she believed about where and who she came from. Finding out the truth will break her heart. Without family or true love, will her friends be enough to bring her back?

Title: An Engagement: A New Pioneers Short Story

Series: The New Pioneer Series Short Stor

Published: March 7th, 2014

Page Count: 20

Annabelle Hendrickson always knew Alex Sheldon couldn’t be trusted, but even she couldn’t have guessed how far he was willing to go to get what he wanted.

No one was as decent as her brother Jim, but Stephen Abbot had a kind soul behind his mischief. She could accept his reprobate father- he’d be dead soon anyway- but she would never accept his longtime friendship with Alex, her father Gerald’s ambitious employee. Annabelle knew it was just a matter of time before he stepped on someone she cared about.

What a pity she didn’t realize who that person would be- and who was going to give him the opportunity.

Title: The China Doll

Series: The New Pioneer Series, Book Four

Published: March 27th, 2014

Page Count: 202

Hypocrisy, half truths and lies…

Sick of being treated like she’s going to break, Jessie Bartolome is back to her old ways and calling everyone on their hypocrisy. Sheesh! One little breakdown and even easygoing Martin Shepard thinks she’s too fragile to handle their age difference. Good thing her older and equally yummy teaching assistant Robert Lester thinks otherwise…right?

After spending so long cleaning up after everyone else, Jessie’s cousin Richard has never had the time to start a life of his own. However had he managed to find his girlfriend Zainab? So what is Richard going to do now that everyone else has grown up? Marry Zainab and start a family? Things have never been that easy for a Hendrickson…just ask his cousin Michael.

Richard’s mother, Lucy, is one of the most powerful women in Boston… so when is she going to put a stop to the blackmail ruthless Alex Sheldon has holding over her for years? And if Richard knows more than he’s letting on, why hasn’t he gone after Alex himself? The question is, how much does he- or anyone else- really know?

Welcome to the Bartolome/Hendrickson family.

Title: Let’s Move On

Series: The New Pioneer Series, Book Five

Published: September 29th, 2014

Page Count: 186

Zainab has spent years keeping Emily from going over the edge, giving Miranda a shoulder to cry on and nursing Jessie back to health. They’ll be the first to agree that she deserves whatever makes her happy, especially after the drama Richard put her through. But did she have to choose the guy who threw everyone’s lives into the shredder?

Richard knows he screwed up and he’d do anything to get Zainab back, but first he needs to make sure his company—and his loyal employees—don’t go under. (Who knew kicking your primary investor to the curb would have consequences?) Good thing his family has such deep pockets; too bad he doesn’t want to take a cent from them. Why should Zainab take him back if he can’t get out of his own way?

Maybe Zainab can eat her cake and have it too—that is, until she’s given an ultimatum. The choice isn’t Lover A or B; it’s protecting her friends or letting them fend for themselves. With that hanging over her head, what’s it going to take to make sure she and everyone else can finally move on?

About the Author

Deborah Nam-Krane is a Boston-based writer. She began working on the New Pioneers almost thirty years ago and is excited to see her creations finally ready to strike out into the world on their own.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Aftermath by Sandy Goldsworthy: Giveaway + Blitz

Aftermath Blitz Banner

Title: Aftermath

Series: The AfterWorld Saga

Author: Sandy Goldsworthy

To Be Published: December 2nd, 2014

Publisher: Clean Teen Publishing

Page Count: 361

Genre: Paranormal Romance Action Adventure

Content Warning: Adult language, violence, and sexual content

Age Recommendation: 14+

After losing her father, Emma Bennett moves to her aunt’s small town of Westport to finish out her senior year of high school. Emma wants to forget the pain and loss of the past few weeks, finding relief in the company of Ben Parker—a local boy who she has an instant attraction and uncanny connection with. When Ben seems a little too preoccupied with other responsibilities and has no time for her, Emma turns to the town’s hottest flirt—Lucas Crandon—for affection. Unfortunately, she realizes a little too late that, sometimes, bad boys really can be bad for you.

Life as an undercover agent for the Afterworld’s Bureau of Investigation isn’t an easy job. When Ben Parker finds his soul mate, Emma, in a small town, he finds himself forced to choose between doing his job or rekindling a relationship with the love of his existence. After Ben is notified that a notorious immortal is loose somewhere near Westport, he realizes that his love life will just have to wait. There is a criminal to apprehend before he can have his girl.

When lives are at stake and immortals are on the loose, can two soul mates find their happy ever after?

About the Author
Sandy Goldsworthy was born and raised in a small Wisconsin town. Her passion for writing began when her high school English teacher inspired her to be more descriptive in her work. Today, Sandy is writing the second book of Emma and Ben’s story. When she’s not writing, Sandy enjoys spending time with her husband, Mike, and two children, Brittany and Kyle, or playing with her English Mastiff, Miles.


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