This Week in Indie Publishing

Author Don Massenzio


This was a relatively popular feature on my blog and I’ve decided to resurrect it. I will try to curate four to five interesting stories each week related to Indie Publishing. I hope you find them useful and enjoyable.

5 Tips for Self-Publishing a Book

Have you always wanted to see your words in print? Publishing a book used to be a drawn out, complicated process that was left only to the pros. Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to get your words out there thanks to self-publishing.

In the Kindle Store, 31% of all e-book sales were for self-published books. Those are good stats if you’re hoping to earn a living from writing alone. Whether you’re experienced in the world of publishing or this is your first project, here are 5 tips for self-publishing your book in no time.

1. Don’t Skimp on Editing

Editing your book is what…

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How You Can Grow with Self-Publishing

Story Empire

Happy President’s Day to all the Story Empire readers! Best wishes to everyone and enjoy the day if you have time off.

Being a writer is lonely and being a self-published author can be trying to the nerves as you constantly juggle writing, publishing and marketing. The latter can challenge even the most stouthearted among us. The question can often linger in our minds if we’re actually doing anything useful, but we manage to keep going just because we enjoy the creation of a book and we love books!

Our view can often be myopic as we’re just too close to what we’re doing to notice how the writing changes us. But there are changes and there are affects that make a difference. Let’s zoom out from that up-close view and take look at the bigger picture. Here are some ways that self-publishing can benefit you as an author:

  1. You…

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How to Get Book Reviews: The Ultimate Manifesto

How To Ebook

how to get book reviews

How to Get Book Reviews: The Ultimate Manifesto

In this blog post we will detail how to approach getting quality honest reviews for your book, and legitimately—in ways that won’t risk getting your Amazon account suspended.

In this article you’ll learn:

  • How to get Amazon book reviews
  • How to get blogs to review your book
  • How to get video reviews of your book
  • What to do with book review services (which ones to use and which ones to avoid)
  • Endorsements 101
  • What NOT to do
  • And other unique strategies to get more reviews for your book

This is without a doubt the most comprehensive guide you’ll find on how to get your book out there, and into the hands of people that are willing and able to give it a read and share helpful feedback with you.

A few caveats before we get started:

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Character interviews –  Shado the raven


 Anna: Today we’re joined by a very special guest, Shado, from Raven Flight. Thanks for being here, Shado.

Shado: Blackberries! Where are my blackberries? You promised I would have blackberries, if I did this interview, Ronne!

Ronne: Behave yourself, you crazy raven! You’ll get your berries afterward! Sorry about this, Anna. Shado was being a bit stubborn doing the interview. I promised he would have blackberries if he did it.

A: That’s all right. Maybe you could help by answering a few questions for us, Ronne.

S: What? This is my interview! Ronne already had her turn.

R: Then stop acting like a lunatic, settle down and answer Anna’s question. Ok?

S: Humph! Ok. Ask your questions, Anna.

R: It’s about time.

S: Ronne, shut up.

A: Thank you for joining us, Shado. First off, I am surprised you are a bird. Hearing you talk is unusual to say the least.

S: It shouldn’t be surprising. We are descended from Huginn and Muninn, Odin’s raven’s. Among Corvids, ravens are the most intelligent. In a number of ways, we are much like humans. We take care of the hurt and senior ravens, we mourn our dead, and we have a sense of humor.

A: This may be a silly question, but what do the names mean?

S: The names are from Old Norse. Huginn means ‘thought’, and Muninn means ‘mind’ or ‘memory’. We still debate that when we get together.

A: Are there many more like you?

S: We keep our numbers secret, but there are more of us than anyone realizes.

A: What are your abilities?

S: For one thing, we can speak just like a human, we can quickly learn other languages, we have shared memories from the past, and we can speak mind-to-mind with the human we are paired with.

R: Which can cause all sorts of problems. Nothing like listening to some jackass bore you to death with what he’s saying, and there’s a voice in your mind cracking jokes and making rude comments.

S: Oh, but it’s so much fun, Ronne! Now keep quiet, this is my time to shine.

R: Fair enough, bird.

A: Shado, how did you ravens become joined with humans in this way?

S: I need to go back in history to explain this. Lady Raven’s responsibility is the Court of Passage and the land of the dead. She sees to it the spirits of the dead pass through the archway to reach her land. We have always served as messengers for her and spies if you will. Letting her know when there is war, plague, or famine that would bring many spirits to the Court and her land. Before you can ask, I will not tell you what that region looks like. We are bound by oath to say nothing of the land.

A: Fair enough. What about the Court of Passage? What purpose does it serve?

S: When a person dies, their spirit passes through an archway that leads to the Court. As far as we can tell, this area has no end. Upon entering across the way is another archway that leads to the land of the dead. Most spirits head right for that arch and disappear. As it should be. Some spirits, those that are very strong  and stay in the Court for a while. Sometimes they return the way they came and return to life. They are the ones who were considered clinically dead. In certain cases, Lady Raven intervenes or a high ranking member of the Raven Council. In Ronne’s instance, Lady Raven spoke to her directly. That’s the highest honor a spirit can receive, an invitation from the Lady herself.

Last of all there are the Shadows. Sometimes, for whatever reason, a spirit doesn’t pass through to the land of the dead. Instead, they become trapped in the Court or return as a ghost to the land of the living. Ghosts aren’t bad really. The Shadows, however, are bad news. They are evil, and corruptive. They have always existed, coming from a place called the Spawning Ground. There’s an archway that goes there, but no one in their right mind goes through it. If enough Shadows gather, they can prevent spirits from going to the land of the dead and eventually that spirit turns into a Shadow.

A: Now, about you special ravens and your human companions.

S: Ronne, she’s as bad as you.

R: Just tell her, Shado.

S: Very well. About six hundred years ago, there was a sudden increase in Shadows in the Court of Passage. We still don’t know whom or what was responsible for that Then some of the Shadows started passing through the archway to this world. At first, they only killed a few people here and there. We ravens believe they were scouts. Then around the year fourteen hundred and fifty, more Shadows began entering this world and they are organized. Dmitri Basarab is the one responsible for this influx and for the creation of the Order of the Shadow Dagger. The Order is still in existence today and we believe it’s run by Evan Basarab who might be a direct descendant of Dmitri.

When Lady Raven decided to take an interest in these Shadows and what they were up to, she came up with the idea of recruiting humans who managed to cross the Veil yet not cross into the land of the dead. Since ravens already had the ability to cross through the Veil, she recruited the most intelligent of us to become companions to these humans. Morgan Byrne was her first recruit and Cail was her companion raven. That much we know for sure. In turn, Morgan recruited the first Raven Wyng and gave her a unique ring from the Lady.

Usually we join the human when they make their first voluntary crossing through the Veil and into the Court. Sometimes we join them afterwards. The bond between us goes beyond death and our human is able to draw strength from out sprit when they need help.

A: What happened to the ring that Lady Raven gave to the first Raven Wyng?

S: It’s still around. Unfortunately, we don’t know who has it now. Something got screwed up somewhere. That’s one of Ronne’s tasks; finding the current owner of the ring. There are things she needs to know.

A: Shado, thank you for an interesting discussion. I hope you will join us again. Ronne, thank you for bringing him here today.

S: Thank you for having me, Anna. Ronne, I want my berries now.

R: I better get him out of here before he really raises a ruckus. Thanks for having us here, Anna.

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Shado and the Sausage


Shado and the Sausage

“Ronne, let’s go out and do something. You’ve been working on those journals for the past three days.” Shado hopped onto the desk and pecked at a pen
She leaned back and stretched her arms above her head. “I know, but there’s important information in these.”
“Let’s go to the park or something. It’s a beautiful day outside.”
“All right. We’ll go to the park for a couple hours. I can always bring a book to read or something.” She gave the raven a hard look. “Stay away from any shinies you might spot. Your collection is large enough.”
“All right.”
The mouth-watering aroma of sausages and onions altered Ronne’s course. She made her way through the crowd to the Sausage Stand, pulling out her wallet along the way. Shado rode on the top of her pack, greed filling his eyes.
*Don’t forget the mustard on mine,* he sent to her.
*I won’t forget. Extra mustard and no onions. Just the way you like it.* Ronne gave her order, accepting two sandwiches and a bottle of pop. She made her way to a shady spot away from the crowds near a tree and some bushes. *Wish I had a beer with this.*
Shado hopped to the ground and waited. *Hurry up! I’m starving.*
*Didn’t anyone teach you to be a little patient?* She set the sandwich on the ground.*Enjoy, bird.*
Before Shado could take a bite, a brown streak bolted from the bushes, grabbed the sandwich, and ran across the grass. Shado gave a shrill call and took flight after the thief. The dachshund weaved through the feet of people and Shado had to climb higher to follow the scoundrel. *Ronne! He stole my sandwich! Do something!*
Ronne wiped the tears from her face from laughing. *I’m not chasing after a wiener dog that stole your sausage. I’ll buy you another one.*
The dog dashed under a car and began to growl when Shado landed. When the raven poked his head under the car, the thief snapped at him. *Why isn’t this dog on a leash? I thought dogs in this park are supposed to leashed!*
With a shake of her head, Ronne opened the bottle and took a drink before she began to eat. *He might be a stray. Is he wearing a collar?*
Shado peeked under the car. *No collar and he does look a bit thin.* He shook his head and took to the sky. *People who don’t take care of their pets should be locked away.* He returned to Ronne and settled at her side. *Hurry up and eat, so you can buy me another sandwich. This time I want you to stand guard until I’m done eating.*
*Sir, yes, sir!* Ronne finished her sandwich. *That was good.* She returned to the cart and bought two more sandwiches and a small bag of chips. *Coming to the park was a good idea, Shado. I’m glad you suggested it. Good food and wonderful entertainment.*
*Watch it, Ronne. I may forget myself next time I fly over you.* Shado ate the sandwich as fast as he could.
She settled back against the tree and pulled out a book from her pack. *While I read you can look for shinies if you like.* Ronne glanced at the bird over the top of her book. *Try and keep out of trouble, this time.*
Shado pecked at Ronne’s shoe before taking to the sky to see what treasures he might find.

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The Archivist– Lenara Lenquil Adventures– Chapter 2



Chapter 2


“Here we are. Home sweet home.” Lennie unlocked the door to her apartment. “Bathroom is at the end of the hall; towels and washcloths in the cabinet under the sink.” She set several bags on the floor.

“Wow! You have more books here!”
Lennie smiled. “Feel free to read any of them, but use a bookmark. You’ll sleep in the spare bedroom. The other spare room is my study. Go take a shower and put on your new clothes. After that, we’ll go eat, maybe do more shopping.” Lennie kicked off her shoes.

Nickie rooted through the bags. “Thank you, Lennie.”

“You’re welcome, Nickie. Now hurry. I’m getting hungry.” Lennie headed to the study; mail and bag clutched in one hand. Among the bills and ads, a light blue envelope caught her eye. She ripped it open and pulled out a new ID card. “Looks like Brant came through for me!” She placed the card in her wallet. “Now I can access the Artifact section of the Archives.”


Nickie stepped into the shower as the steam filled the air; tension drained away. The water sprayed on her face, and she closed her eyes. Oh! This is wonderful! I can’t remember the last time I took a shower.

Clad in clean clothes, Nickie felt human again. She grabbed the old stuff and headed to Lennie’s study. “I’m finished in the bathroom.”

“You look much better.” She eyed the old clothes. “We’ll toss those in the trash.”

“Okay. Should I put away the rest of my new clothes, or can we eat first?”

Lennie turned off the computer. “Let’s eat. I have a craving for a burger, fries, and a chocolate shake.”

“That sounds good.” A rune-covered piece of paper on the desk caught Nickie’s eye. “What’s that?” She pointed.

“Some runes found in an abandoned building in the old part of the city. I haven’t been able to figure them out.”

Nickie followed her to the kitchen area and tossed her old clothes in the trash. “I saw runes like that in one of the buildings I bedded slept in.”

“Where was this?” Lennie put her shoes back on. “Don’t forget to put on your new high tops.”

“Oops!” She found the bag and put on the shoes. “The building is on Harbor Street. I think it used to be a workshop. There are old pieces of machinery in there. Not a bad place when the weather is hot, but not good when it’s cold.”

“Maybe we’ll check it out after we eat. That’s one of my jobs as an Archivist. Wait here. I need to get something from my study.”

“All right.” Nickie leaned against the wall. I could kill for a cigarette.


Lennie grabbed her fieldwork bag, before she retrieved her Glock from the wall safe. She recalled the nicotine stains on the younger woman’s fingers. I better grab some cigarettes.

In the living room, Lennie tapped Nickie on the shoulder. An old map on the wall enthralled the young woman. “That’s a possible location for the ruins of Atlantis,” Lennie said. She held out the cigarettes and lighter.

Nickie accepted the items and lit a cigarette. “Thank you.”

“No problem. Tomorrow we’ll buy a couple cartons and a better lighter.” She headed for the door. “Let’s go to the diner. After we eat, we’re going that building you mentioned.”

“Okay.” Nickie followed her down the stairs.


Lennie parked at the diner, a smile on her face. “Good. We’re here before the dinner crowd.” She waited for Nickie to snuff out the cigarette.

Behind the long counter, a small man with jug-handle ears watched them enter. “Hey Lennie! You’re early.”

She stopped at the counter. “Hi Pete. Got off work early. My friend and I are starving. Need three burgers with everything, two orders of fries, and two chocolate shakes. Is there any pie?”

“Yep. Apple and cherry. Take your pick.” He dumped the fries into the deep fryer. Three burger patties slapped onto the grill.

“I’ll take a slice of apple. Nickie, which do you want?”

“Apple, please.”

They sat in a corner booth. “There’s no smoking in this diner.” Lennie pointed to a sign when Nickie brought out a cigarette.

She sniffed the air. “Those burgers and fries smell great.”

“Pete is a wizard when it comes to cooking. I eat here a lot.” She grinned. “I’m not a good cook, so I often get take out.”

“If you don’t cook, you don’t have to clean up the mess.”

“That’s a good way of looking at it.” Lennie leaned back and drummed her fingers on the table. “How long ago did you see those runes?”

Nickie scratched her head. “I think it was four days ago, but I can’t be sure. There are gaps in my memory. I wish I knew why, since I don’t remember hitting my head.” A waitress approached with the two large milk shakes. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome, sweetie. Food will be up in a couple minutes.” She winked at Nickie and returned to the counter.

Lennie rolled her eyes as Nickie’s cheeks flushed. She took one of the shakes, eyeing the young woman. “I take it you have no interest in boys?”

Nickie met her eyes. “Not in the least. Although a group tried to make me think otherwise.” She drank some of the shake. “That’s delicious.” She turned her attention back to Lennie. “What about you?”

“That is none of your business,” Lennie answered, cheeks red. Just my luck to be unattached now. I hope this won’t complicate things. She recalled the look on Brant’s face when he said she was the only suitable female available. Is he trying to fix me up? She sensed Nickie watching her, and her face grew hot.

Nickie snickered. “You answered, Lennie.”

“Never mind.”

Tactfully, Nickie changed the subject. “What will I be doing while you work?”

“Helping me. We need to get you tested to find out what skills you have. Wonder if I can fit another desk and chair in my office.”

“Here you go,” the waitress set their plates on the table. “Enjoy your meal.” She winked at Lennie who blushed.

Nickie grinned. “You’re just about drooling over her, Lennie.”

“Shut up and eat!” Lennie took a bite of her burger.

It didn’t take Nickie long to finish her first burger. “This is one great burger! The fries are perfect too.”

“Yep. They deliver as well.” She took a mental inventory of what she had in the fridge. Need to do some grocery shopping tomorrow.

“Do you think we’ll find more than the runes at that building?” Nickie wiped her mouth with a napkin.

“It’s always possible. One time I found a small pillar of stone carved with those runes.” Lennie squirted ketchup on her fries. “With all these strange things appearing after that comet fly-by, you never know what might turn up.”

“It would be neat to find something like that. Or a chest of gold.”

“We have found gold and silver coins in two of the ruins outside the city.” They’re still being studied by the people in Artifacts.”

Nickie worked her way through the fries. “Could we get coffee to go with the pie?”

“Sure.” Lennie finished her meal. “Nickie, when we go to the abandoned building, you stay close to me.”

“Okay.” She eyed Lennie. “What about the guards in those areas? Will we sneak in?”

Lennie waved to Lisa. “Two coffees, please.”

“Sure thing.” She ran a speculative eye over Lennie. “I heard you and Diane broke up. She was in here three days ago.”

“Yeah. It’s over between us. I know you’re interested in her.” Lennie glared at Nickie who snickered.

“Maybe I’ll ask her out next time she’s here. Or maybe your friend here would like to go out.”

Lennie held up her left arm and displayed the bracelet. “She’s under my care. Sorry.”

“Too bad.” She poured two cups of coffee. “You two want anything else?”

“We’re set. Leave the bill, please.” Lennie started on her pie.
Lisa set the bill under the sugar container and walked away.

“Who’s Diane?” Nickie added sugar to her coffee.

“An ex-lover, okay? Drink your coffee and eat your pie. I want to reach the building before dark.” She stabbed the pie with her fork.

“All right. You don’t have to get snippy. I wasn’t the one who brought her up.” She sipped the coffee. “You didn’t answer my question.”

“What question?” Lennie kicked herself.

“What about the guards near the abandoned buildings? Will we have to sneak in? I know a couple of ways to avoid them.”

“I’m an Archivist. I have complete access to places others aren’t allowed to enter. That’s another reason you need to stick close: I don’t want the guards picking you up.”

“All right.” Nickie shoved her plate away. “That was a great meal. Do you eat like this all the time?”

“Pretty much, yes.” Lennie finished her pie and coffee. She signaled the waitress who hurried over. The noise in the diner increased with the dinner crowd.

“You two need anything else?”

“We’re set.” Lennie pulled out thirty dollars and handed it to Lisa. “Keep the change.”

“Thanks, Lennie. Take care, both of you.” She gave a wink and a smile to Nickie before she hurried away.

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Shado’s Collection

Anna Dobritt -- Author


Shado’s Collection

Clink. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. Clink. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. Clink
Ronne slammed her hands on the desk and shoved her chair back. “Shado! What the hell are you doing?”

Unperturbed by her outburst, Shado picked up a gold coin from his pile of shinies and hopped to a new pile to drop it. “I’m doing like you asked. I’m sorting through my collection. He glanced at the pile of bottle caps, pull tabs, and other trash. With a few hops, he returned to the main pile.

With a frown, she spun her chair around. “Do you have to make so much noise? Why couldn’t you separate the stuff in the same spot?”

“Where’s the fun in that? Once I get the junk separated, then I’ll move what I’m keeping to a new hiding spot.” He returned to the pile and picked up a ring.

Ronne eyed the…

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