Friday, June 29, 2012

SHORT STORIES: "Official" Release Day

Well, I know it's been available for about a week now, but since today is the "official" release day for Short Stories, I thought I'd take the opportunity to blog about it again.

This collection consists of ten short stories, five previously available and five brand new. The previously available stories include "Sergeant Riley's Account," the prologue to Sullivan's War and the very popular sci-fi/psychological horror story "Sleep." The new stories range from hard science fiction tales, such as "The Vast Expanse Beyond," to Lovecraftian tales of terror in deep, dark places like "The Tunnel."

Short Stories has already received 5 glowing reviews on Amazon. If you would like to purchase an eBook version of Short Stories, it is available here:

Amazon’s U.S. Store:
Amazon’s U.K. Store:
B&N's Nook Store:

All Other International Amazon Kindle Stores are linked to from here:

If you would like a signed print copy, order here:

For a limited time, all signed editions will come with a complimentary Short Stories Collector's Pack which includes a signed card and bookmarks.

I do hope you pick of a copy of Short Stories. I am extremely proud of this collection and confident that it will be well-received.

Best wishes to you all!
Michael K. Rose

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

NEW RELEASE: Sketches from the Spanish Mustang
by Benjamin X. Wretlind

With the release of Castles: A Fictional Memoir of a Girl with Scissors, Colorado Springs author Benjamin X. Wretlind asked what madness really was. Now, with Sketches from the Spanish Mustang, Wretlind asks if we can learn to see with broken eyes.

In this literary exploration of the lives of seven people in the mining town of Cripple Creek, Colorado, a woman must come to grips with the failings that cost the lives of her husband and child. Bestselling author Michael K. Rose says: "Mr. Wretlind has penned a tale of such emotional and literary depth it will haunt the reader long after the last page is turned."

With a pencil, a sketchbook and a keen eye for the details of the soul, the woman's lines and smudges, curves and tone reveal the stories behind her subjects. Life emerges on the page — vengeance, salvation, love and death. The artist's subjects fight for survival, only to be saved in the sketches of a woman with a gift . . . and a curse.

International Book Award winner Gregory G. Allen calls the book a "unique journey that rips away the outer layers of people allowing us to stare into their souls where humanity is universal: no matter the genre of writing."

Sketches from the Spanish Mustang is available now at all major online retailers for $14.95. It is also being presented in an electronic format (e.g. Kindle, nook) for $5.95.

Purchase eBook editions from:
Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Purchase a print edition here:

For more information about Sketches from the Spanish Mustang, please visit or contact Benjamin X. Wretlind, e-mail:

About the Author

Benjamin X. Wretlind, the author of Castles: A Fictional Memoir of a Girl with Scissors and Sketches from the Spanish Mustang, has been called "a Pulitzer-caliber writer" with "a unique American voice." Aside from novels, he has been published in many magazines throughout the past 10 years.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

NEW RELEASE: Short Stories by Michael K. Rose

Well, the official release date is the 29th, but everything moved along much more quickly than I anticipated. So Short Stories is now live at Amazon and Barnes & Noble!
Get your eBook copy of Short Stories:

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble

A full description and links to all the international Amazon stores can be found here:

If you would like to purchase a signed print edition of Short Stories, I am currently taking preorders. I've already ordered the copies, so the wait won't be long. Please order here:

Thanks to everyone who has expressed an interest in my work so far and helped spread the word. My best to you all!

Michael K. Rose

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Difficult Decision Regarding Twitter

When I first began on Twitter, I was stunned that there were people out there who not only wanted to follow me but were also willing to retweet my book announcements. I've now reached the point where I have over 5,000 Twitter followers and wake up every morning to dozens of retweets. I get dozens more during the day and what I used to do was thank each person individually, click over to their Twitter stream and retweet something of theirs.

As my list of followers grew, I found that this was taking up more and more of my time. I started a list, "People I like to RT" and would go through that every day. Then I started thanking people in batches for their RTs and mentions.

Now even that is becoming too overwhelming. On top of that, Twitter, for some reason, is really sketchy about sending me the email announcements when someone RTs or mentions me, so I'm missing tons of people in my "thank you" Tweets.

All the time I spend putting people on "thank you" lists, searching for tweets of theirs for me to RT, and just generally trying to manage everything going on on Twitter is just taking too much of my time. So beginning today, I have decided that I am not going to send out the "thank you" tweets any longer. If you do RT or mention me, know that I am, of course, thankful for it.

This is a difficult decision for me because it causes me great distress to think that someone might find me rude or unappreciative. It is simply not the case, and that is why I am writing this post rather than just stopping the thank yous and RTs without notice.

But in compensation, I am doing something now, which you may have seen me Tweet about before. If you want me to RT something specific, just add "#RT @MichaelKRose" to the end of it (without the quote marks) and I will RT it as soon as I see it. I will try to do this without fail to anyone who adds that to their tweet, assuming it is a Tweet relevant to the interests of my followers and not vulgar or crude in any way. I'll also be occasionally sending out this tweet (or one like it) so everyone knows how to get an RT from me:
Writer friends, want me to #RT your book? Just put "#RT @MichaelKRose" (without quote marks) at the end so I'm sure to see it!
I'd like to again thank everyone who has been so helpful and generous. I will, of course, continue to chat with people who tweet to me, and I hope that many of you will add the "#RT @MichaelKRose" tag to your tweets so I can continue to return all the kindness so many have shown me.

Michael K. Rose

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Building An Author's Promotional Package, Part 3

Welcome to Part 3 of "Building An Author's Promotional Package," the final and thrilling conclusion! In Part 1, I talked about writing your book description. Part 2 covered images and quotes. Today, I will talk about two more things you should include, one you can include and one that, in my opinion, is not necessary but is a damned great idea (because I thought of it, you see). Onward!


Once you've told people all about your great book, shown them how cool the cover looks and shared what others have thought about it, you want to get them to a place where they can buy it or at least stay connected with you. This means links. These are some of the links that you can provide:

1. A link to a static page dedicated to your book. This can be a page on your website (like this one for Short Stories) or a blog post about your book. If you book isn't out yet, you want this to be the go-to page where you will provide links to all the various places people can buy the book once it does come out. If your book is out, link to this page but I would also recommend providing links in your promotional package to the most popular stores.
2. Your blog, if you're not linking to it as mentioned above.
3. If you have other books out, your Amazon profile page.
4. Social media links (your Facebook and Twitter accounts, for example).
5. Your book's Goodreads page.
6. Any other places your book is mentioned/featured/reviewed.

Try not to go overboard on links, or people may not know where to start. I'd keep the number around eight, definitely under ten.


The people who are hosting your book announcement on their blog/website are doing you a huge favor. It would be good form to give them a complimentary eBook copy of your book in return. But this is not purely altruistic. There is the possibility they will read the book and like it enough to post a review for you. This will be especially important early on, when your book is new. It is also a good idea to get your complimentary copies out at least a week in advance so they have a chance to read it before the official release.


You may, in your promotional package, include a thrilling excerpt of your book. However, this will tend to make the book announcement rather long-looking, and people may skip over it. I would instead recommend that you post an excerpt on your own blog/website and provide a link to it in your promotional package.


Okay, this is the damned great idea: social media blurbs. What are those? A little while back, I realized that a lot of people are willing to tweet/announce my book when it comes out. The people who are hosting you on their blog/website are especially willing to do this. So I decided that I would try to make doing so a bit easier for them and, in the process, increase the likelihood that they would do it. A social media blurb is simply a pre-written message advertising or announcing your book. Instead of having to write something and copy and paste the link themselves, your friends and fans can just copy and paste these pre-written blurbs. I recommend making some for Twitter, adhering to the 140-character limit, and some for other social media sites, like Facebook, where you have a bit more room to work with. If your book is already out, you can link to the most popular stores. If not, you can link to the static page for your book. I recommend providing 4-6 for each type of site so they have some variety. Here, for example, are the Twitter blurbs I will provide in my promotional package for Short Stories:

Read SHORT STORIES by Michael K. Rose: “…the purest form of literature…” #SciFi #Kindle #Nook @MichaelKRose

Michael K. Rose’s SHORT STORIES is “…as rich as a bottle of Montrachet 1978…” #SciFi #Nook #Kindle @MichaelKRose

Get SHORT STORIES, #SciFi author Michael K. Rose’s new release. “Prepare to be immersed!” #Nook #Kindle @MichaelKRose

#SciFi author Michael K. Rose’s newest release is available for #Nook, #Kindle & in print. Get it here: @MichaelKRose

Michael K. Rose’s SHORT STORIES is “…as tasty as a generous cut of Wagyu beef.” #SciFi #Kindle #Nook @MichaelKRose

New release by @MichaelKRose, “ insightful, compelling writer with a talent for nuance and timing.” SHORT STORIES:

So what elements do we have in common? First, my name and the title of my book. Those are obvious. We also want the link, which you can see is my website page dedicated to Short Stories. Most of them also have a short quote from reviews that I have previously solicited. Finally, I have tried to include two Twitter-specific things: appropriate hashtags (such as #SciFi, #Nook and #Kindle) and my Twitter username so I can see when people post these and thank them.

A social media blurb for Facebook or similar sites could look like this:

Michael K. Rose, author of SULLIVAN'S WAR, releases SHORT STORIES: "If there is an author new to the world of publishing that I would place next to Ray Bradbury, Edgar Allan Poe and Isaac Asimov, it has to be Michael K. Rose." Get your copy today!

The great thing about the social media blurbs is that you can include them in email announcements about your book and send them to acquaintances. So even if someone isn't hosting you on their blog/website, they can still copy one of these and paste them into their social media account. If your book is not out yet, be sure to ask those you send these to to wait until it is or you may end up confusing a lot of people. Alternatively, you can have some "Coming Soon!" social media blurbs to tweet beforehand, and blurbs like those above for after the release.

This brings an end to "Building An Author's Promotional Package." There are, of course, many things you can do and many different ways you can arrange the elements of your own promo package. I'd love to hear your thoughts/reactions in the comments section below. I'd also like to know if you have any great ideas of your own!

Finally, I would like to again say that Short Stories comes out on June 29, 2012. I am actively looking for bloggers who are willing to post a release announcement for me. If you are interested, please email with "BLOG TOUR" in the subject line.

Best Wishes,
Michael K. Rose

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Building An Author's Promotional Package, Part 2

Yesterday, in “Building An Author’s Promotional Package, Part 1,” I talked about writing a description for your book, and a bit about press releases. Today, I would like to talk about the next two elements you should include in your promotional package: images and quotes.


Just as your description can pique a reader’s interest, the cover of your book and any associated images can as well. Always include an image of your book cover in the press package. It draws the eye in a way that a dense paragraph of text can’t. I also like to include an advertising banner, so whoever is helping you spread the word about your book has something eye-catching to put across the top of the page. I’m not going to get into the elements of good or bad cover design; there are many other discussions about that. But here are a couple of my banner ads as an example of what those can look like (my blog displays them too big if I go up a size, so click on them for a better view):

And here are two banners from paranormal thriller writer Micheal Rivers:


You can see that you can use an "abstract" type background, like in the Sullivan's War banner, you can put the actual book cover in the banner, as I have done with Short Stories, or you can zoom in on certain elements of book cover, as Micheal Rivers has done. From these examples you can also see that you can condense your book description down into a single line ("Can Rick Sullivan Defeat His Enemies Before He Defeats Himself?" or "Can You Bargain with the Dead?"). That, along with the book title and your name, will pretty much fill the space in your banner ad. But if you have a little extra room, your website or a quote from a reader, as in Sullivan's War banner, are also great things to put in your banner ad. 

In addition to your book cover and a banner ad, you should include a photo of yourself. Typically called a 
head shot, this will give a face to the words. And make sure it's a good face. The way I see it, there are two main schools when it comes to the head shot: casual and not casual (I don't use the word "formal" because sartorially that means white or black tie, and I don't want you dressing up in a tux or gown for your head shot).

The casual head shot is what most authors will opt for, as we live in a casual society. I have chosen to go with a non-casual head shot:

However, if you decide to do this, make sure it is a real part of your persona. Between the symphony, opera and occasional ballet performances and plays, I end up wearing a coat and tie quite a bit throughout the year. I am comfortable in it. If you feel like you're suffocating when you put on a tie, chances are you're going to look like you're suffocating. Be comfortable, but avoid any clothing that could be seen as objectionable or anything very revealing (unless you write erotica, I suppose).

Even if you do go for casual, try to avoid the common snapshot. Have an actual photo shoot with a friend taking pictures of you, telling you which poses/smile/etc. look the best. You want your photo to look like a professional author's photo (pick up some books around your house to get an idea). You want to exude an air of confidence and professionalism. It's purely subconscious and completely unfair, but if you look untidy, readers might worry that your writing is untidy.


This is where you really have to plan ahead. What you want to do is find some authors or readers who really enjoy your work. I was very fortunate in this, as I didn’t have to seek them out. People began leaving glowing reviews on my product pages at Amazon and from there I connected with many of them via Twitter, Facebook and email.

Once you have a list of people who you feel you can count on for a positive review, people who not only like your work but love your work, you will want to have a review copy of your book ready about a month before you release it to the general public. A review copy is simply a draft of the book (these days it's often an eBook) that is not quite finalized but is complete and close enough to being revised and edited that a reader can get a good sense for the work. Send this review copy out to your short list of readers. If they enjoy it, you will hopefully get a nice quote from them to add to your promotional package. Another thing you can do once you have your cover image finalized is create a book entry on Goodreads and list it as "Coming Soon!" You can ask your readers to leave their reviews there as well as at the Amazon and B&N and other stores once the book is for sale. Great quotes, especially from other authors, can interest a reader in your upcoming book as much as a great description can. Another benefit of listing your book on Goodreads in advance is that you can start getting people entering for a book giveaway, if you choose to do that.

Of course, if other authors send you quotes to use in your promotional material, it is only right that you offer to do the same for them. Be very careful, however, that a quid pro quo isn’t established wherein you say nice things about their book simply because they said something nice about yours. However, unless they are truly bad writers (or you are hyper-critical), there should be something you like about the book. Even if their book may not be your cup of tea, look at it from the perspective of its intended audience and try to see what they will like about it.

Tomorrow, I will conclude the "Building An Author's Promotional Package" series with two more elements you should include in your package, one optional element as well as one final element that I think is a rather novel idea. Stay tuned!

UPDATE: Read Part 3 here.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Building An Author's Promotional Package, Part 1


As I get ready to release my new book, Short Stories, (coming on June 29th!) I’ve decided to put together a promotional package, as I have done in the past. But I realized that I had never given much thought to it. As I pondered the subject, I concluded that there are several things that I think are important to include; these are the things I am going to include in my own promotional package. A lot of this will be common sense for those of us who have done it before, but I hope some new authors out there will get a few ideas to use when they begin promoting their books. Note that this is not a guide on where or how to submit your promotional packages, but briefly, I intend to use mine for the following:

1. To send to those who have agreed to host a book announcement on their blog
2. To post on my own blog
3. To send out to my email contacts
4. To create a Goodreads event

If you want to write up a press release, there are, of course, many places you can post those. Some Google research will be able to tell you more than I can. I’ll address press releases a bit later in the article but the main focus will be on writing your book description.


The first thing to include in an author’s press package is the most obvious: a description of the book. That’s easy enough, right? Actually, no. It’s notoriously difficult to write an engaging description but it is going to be the most important part of your press package. Based on your description of a book, potential readers will decide to either buy or pass. Just so we’re clear, you want them to buy. So how do you do this? My main point of advice is to use the word “thrilling.” I'm only partly joking about this. Read some book descriptions. Every book ever written is “thrilling.” If it’s not “thrilling,” then it is “heart-warming.” Other words readers like to see are “fast-paced,” “touching,” “provocative” and “engaging.” Of course, only use these words if they actually apply to your novel. Do not try to trick readers with your description. A tricked reader is an unhappy reader, which is something you do not want. It would help to have some friends read the book beforehand and tell you how they would describe it. Find out what key words they use and weave them into your book description.

Here’s my back cover blurb for my upcoming book Short Stories. Give it a read then I will tell you what I’ve tried to do with each part of the description:
The science fiction stories of Michael K. Rose can most accurately be described as eclectic. He is best known for his science fiction adventure series Sullivan’s War and in this collection you will find stories that adhere to the strongest expectations of the genre, such as “Sergeant Riley’s Account,” “Sleep” and “A Random Selection.”
But you will also find stories that, while speculative in nature, owe more to literary fiction than anything else. Works such as “Main & Church,” “Inner Life” and “Pedro X.” explore the psyche as opposed to the outer reaches of the galaxy.
Whatever your tastes, you are bound to discover many favorites amongst these ten stories. The first five have been available previously. The last five are new to this collection.
The first paragraph has done a few things. First, I have described my writings as eclectic. This is code for “there’s something for everybody here!” Next, I mention Sullivan’s War. This does two things. It tells the reader I have a track record as an author and, if the reader has read Sullivan’s War, I have reminded them that I wrote it. They hopefully liked it and will pick up Short Stories based on that. If not, they at least know that it is a science fiction adventure series. I then list three stories that have strong science fiction elements. One of these, "Sleep," is a very popular short story of mine that was released as a stand-alone ebook. So if a potential reader hasn’t read Sullivan’s War, s/he may have read “Sleep” and if they enjoyed it, they can expect more of the same from Short Stories. I also mention “Sergeant Riley’s Account,” another story that is available individually. There’s a chance they've read and liked that one as well.

The second paragraph reinforced the eclectic nature of my writing. If you don’t like sci-fi adventure, there are some “deeper” literary stories here as well. I mention “Inner Life,” which was part of the collection Inner Lives: Three Short Stories. If a reader liked that collection, I entice them with the titles of other similar stories, both of which are new to this collection.

The third paragraph reiterates the idea that there is something for everyone here. I exclude no one. Now, obviously, I can’t really be sure you’re going to find many favorites in Short Stories but if hubris is acceptable anywhere, it is in your book description. You are trying to sell the book. Be bold! Be assertive! Readers want to read something by confident writers, writers who have faith in their work. I also mention that half the stories have been available previously. This means that I consider them strong (and popular) enough to include here. The promise of five new stories will hook readers who are already familiar with my other work.

Now, if you are planning to release an “official” press release, you will want to insert some elements at the beginning and end of your book description to fit that format, and may even want to edit the content of your description a bit. I’m far from an expert on this but by way of example, here’s one I did for Sullivan’s War: Book II – A City without Walls

Since author Michael K. Rose released Sergeant Riley’s Account in December of 2011, this introduction to the science fiction series Sullivan’s War has received rave reviews and has been a frequent presence on Amazon’s “Best Sellers in Science Fiction Series” list. The release of Book I in January, entitled All Good Men Serve the Devil, has also made it onto that best sellers list, reaching a rank of #30, and has earned glowing reviews of its own.
Now Mr. Rose is set to release Sullivan’s War: Book II - A City without Walls. In this thrilling new installment, Rick Sullivan must track down the man who’s kidnapped the woman he loves, all while avoiding a ruthless bounty hunter and trying to move forward his ultimate plan: to free his home planet Edaline of its oppressive regime.
Filled with action and suspense from beginning to end, A City without Walls is sure to please not only fans of the Sullivan’s War series but all fans of the science fiction genre.
Don’t miss out on 2012’s hot new science fiction adventure series! Look for Sullivan’s War: Book II - A City without Walls on March 30 at Amazon’s Kindle store and Barnes & Noble’s Nook store.
So you can see how I sandwiched the book description between information about the series at the beginning and release information at the end. There are lots of ways to do this and your best bet, whether writing a simple book description or an “official” press release, is to write it and then re-write it several times. Give yourself a few days to play with it and change things around until you are satisfied with the result. It will also be helpful to read through some press releases to get a feel for the language used in them.

If you have any other ideas or advice concerning book descriptions or press releases, leave your comments below! Tomorrow, in Part 2, I’ll talk about the next two elements that I think should be included in An Author’s Promotional Package: images and quotes.

UPDATE: Read Part 2 here.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Speculative Elements in Literary Fiction
by Benjamin X. Wretlind

Hello, all! Today I am very pleased and thrilled and excited and... all that good stuff to share with you a guest post by my friend, Benajmin X. Wretlind, a truly masterful writer whose new book, Sketches from the Spanish Mustang, arrives July 1st! I have had the opportunity to pre-read Sketches..., and I can tell you, it is a truly a work of brilliance. If you can't wait that long to get your hands on some Wretlind, I also highly recommend his novel Castles: A Fictional Memoir of a Girl with Scissors, a disturbing glimpse of madness... or is it?

I now turn you over to Ben for his thought-provoking discussion of Speculative Elements in Literary Fiction. This kicks off his blog tour for Sketches from the Spanish Mustang. Keep an eye on his blog so you don't miss out!


First, I'd like to thank you Michael for allowing me to write all over your blog.  It's a great place to kick of the Sketches from the Spanish Mustang Blog Tour, and it won't be a surprise to your readers to know that you suggested the first topic: Speculative Elements in Literary Fiction.

I'm going to quote a definition from Wikipedia (the parts that are correct) that I've quoted on my blog before and will likely quote again.  What is literary fiction? 

Literary fiction is a term that came into common usage during the early 1960s. The term is principally used to distinguish “serious fiction” which is a work that claims to hold literary merit, in comparison to genre fiction and popular fiction (i.e., paraliterature). In broad terms, literary fiction focuses more upon style, psychological depth, and character. This is in contrast to Mainstream commercial fiction, which focuses more on narrative and plot. Literary fiction may also be characterized as lasting fiction — literature which continues to be read and in-demand many decades and perhaps centuries after the author has died.

When I asked a few people what they thought of when they heard the term "literary fiction," the responses I received ranged from “Vladimir Nabokov” to “classics, Dickens, Bronte” to “old stuff.” But it's a term, according to the above definition, that wasn't in common usage until the 1960s. (I'll assume that before then, all stuff was "old stuff.") On top of age, there's a whole book of articles that could be written debunking the notion that literary fiction is just plotless words jotted down for the sake of being fancy.  I won't do that here, but I will say: it's not true.

Literary fiction, in my view, is more a kaleidoscopic of work that includes elements of romance, thriller, horror, science fiction, mystery, the American Western, etc. It is cross-genre. Within that kaleidoscopic of genres, then, it's only natural for us to find the speculative elements.

Here are a few titles I think we can (mostly) agree fit the definition posed above regarding literary fiction: MetamorphosisWar of the WorldsA Christmas CarolWuthering HeightsGulliver's Travels, Beowulf. Are there speculative elements in each of these?

As kids, we were fascinated by the supernatural, especially as we investigated the world around us. We've all grown up since, but many of us have never grown out of our desire to know more. It's a part of who we are. Think of the strong beliefs which existed in the time of William Shakespeare.  What of the beliefs that existed in around the time of Nathaniel Hawthorne? Charles Dickens? Do you think, just because we listen to music on iPhones, drive hybrid cars or make our own donuts at home these days, that we no longer believe in the supernatural, the paranormal, the speculative?

In a poll conducted by Gallup in 2010, 71% of Americans confess to having had a paranormal experience of some sort. While only 34% believe in the existence of ghosts, 65% believe Ouija boards are dangerous, 41% believe in extrasensory perception and 37% believe that houses can be haunted.  Let me put that in persepective: if there are roughly 300 million people in the United States, about 213 million people confess to having had a paranormal experience of some sort.


I don't like polls myself, but what I do find interesting is that people generally want to believe there might be more out there. It's this desire to want more which drives people to look for more in movies, television, books.  How many want to believe in sparkly vampires? How many want to think in some distopian future? How many people really think Harry Potter is real?

Combine those desires of what people want with the cross-genre possibility of literary fiction. What you end up with is "lasting fiction" which is peppered with the speculations of a generation.  For me personally, I wrote speculative elements into Sketches from the Spanish Mustang not as a deus ex machina or because I thought they'd be neat, but because they fit the character's personality as much as the story. A Ute who believes in spirits is not uncommon. An immigrant farmer who was brought up in Mexico to believe his grandparents' tales of nahuales is not far-fetched.

What about the claim in that above definition that literary fiction is "principally used to distinguish 'serious fiction' comparison to genre fiction and popular fiction?" Well, let me ask you this: would you consider The Road by Cormac McCarthy to be serious fiction? What about Wicked by Gregory Maguire? State of Wonder by Ann Patchett? 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami? All of these are serious works, and yet they are replete with speculative elements.

Speculation (wondering the big "what if") is as natural for humans as it is to love or hate or laugh or run amok in the water sprinklers on a hot day.  That it finds itself in literary fiction is no surprise.  What is surprising is that so many people shun literary fiction because of the label without knowing what's in it, casting it off as "old stuff" without a modern-day focus.



In Sketches from the Spanish Mustang, a haunting, heart-warming and often brutally direct exploration of the lives of seven people in the mining town of Cripple Creek, Colorado, a woman must come to grips with the failings that cost the lives of her husband and child. Bestselling author Michael K. Rose says: "Mr. Wretlind has penned a tale of such emotional and literary depth it will haunt the reader long after the last page is turned." 
With a pencil, a sketchbook and a keen eye for the details of the soul, the woman's lines and smudges, curves and tone reveal the stories behind her subjects. Life emerges on the page — vengeance, salvation, love and death. The artist's subjects fight for survival, only to be saved in the sketches of a woman with a gift . . . and a curse.
International Book Award winner Gregory G. Allen calls the book a "unique journey that rips away the outer layers of people allowing us to stare into their souls where humanity is universal: no matter the genre of writing."
Sketches from the Spanish Mustang will be available at all major online retailers for $14.95 on July 1st, 2012.  It will also be presented in an electronic format (e.g. Kindle, nook) for $5.95.


Benjamin X. Wretlind, the author of Castles: A Fictional Memoir of a Girl with Scissors and Sketches from the Spanish Mustang, has been called "a Pulitzer-caliber writer" with "a unique American voice." Aside from novels, he has been published in many magazines throughout the past 10 years.

Friday, June 1, 2012

How To Be a Beta Reader

What is a Beta reader? This is a term that writers use for a person who reads through a manuscript before the final editing pass is made. This is invaluable, and writers such as myself who are fortunate to have a handful of helpful, reliable Beta readers know how important they are to the process. But, what does a Beta reader do during and after reading a manuscript? Here are four things that I, as an author, find the most helpful. Should you be asked to serve as a Beta reader for an author, this will, I hope, serve as a handy guide to follow.

1. What did you think? - This is probably the thing that your author wants to know above all else! What did you think? Did you like it? How would you rate it? If you liked it, you can even write up a sample review to help encourage the author.

2. Are there any major mistakes? - You know, things like objects and characters appearing and disappearing, plot holes you could drive a road train through, things like that. One common mistake writers make is losing track of who is speaking. If s/he he isn't using "Bob said" and "Jane said" after every line of dialogue (and s/he shouldn't be!) then a character will occasionally respond to him/herself. It happens. Are there any spots that were ridiculous or didn't make sense? Any stilted or stupid-sounding dialogue? Any unrealistic decisions made by the characters? Were any laws of physics broken? Does anything in the story contradict the internal consistency of the world the author has created? There are all the "big" questions that readers will use to gauge whether or not a book is "good" or "bad."

3. Are there many typos/grammatical errors? - Even in "traditionally-published" books, errors will slip through. It would take an unreasonable amount of time and several sets of eyes to catch everything. However, authors, being so close to the work, often read what they meant to type rather than what they actually did type. Small typos will most likely slip through. Even if the author is going to hire a professional editor, or his/her publisher has one on staff, they can miss things. The more eyes the better, and your author will be grateful for any errors you can point out. Another thing to look for are unusually-worded phrases. If you have to read a sentence a couple of times to understand what the author means then other readers will as well.

4. Which sections are strongest? Which are weakest? - Sometimes a writer can fall in love with a scene and blind him/herself to its problems. If a particular scene doesn't quite work for you, let the writer know, and tell him/her why. You can even offer an idea of how you think the scene can be salvaged. On the other hand, let the writer know which scenes you loved! This information can be useful if the writer is going to be posting an excerpt with which to "hook" readers.

If you have any other things you think Beta readers can look for, please post them in the comments below!