Tuesday, November 23, 2010

To Darkness Fled Trailer UNLEASHED!

It is finally done! Many kudos to Robert Treskillard, Leighton Hajicek, Adele Hajicek, Ness Hajicek, Christian Miles, and the author, Jill Williamson. The trailer is finished after an unbelievable amount of work put forth by the people mentioned above. I played the evil prince in red.

Turn your speakers up and double click to view full size.

Monday, November 22, 2010

My Skin is Blue... And You Can Too! (Hurry)

My Skin is blue. My hair is green. Why?

To win stuff, of course!

Brock Eastman is putting on a contest to promote his upcoming book, Taken (Coming June 11th.) If you digitally dye your skin blue and your hair green, you'll be entered to win...


Click here for details on how to enter
, but HURRY, today's the last day. I lost track of time and entered really late.

(More blog posts coming...)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Moonbeam Awards Finalist!

I just got word that Kestrel's Midnight Song is a finalist in the 2010 Moonbeam Awards! The category is "Young Adult Fiction - Fantasy-Sci Fi," and four finalists were chosen, instead of the standard three, meaning this category received a particularly large number of entrants, and there will be a tie between two of us.

The gold, silver, and bronze medals will be handed out in mid-October, but honestly I'm just giddy to be a finalist. (Flapping-my-wings-around-the-living-room-giddy.)

For those of you familiar with Curse of the Spider King, by Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper, it won the silver medal in the same category last year, and the silver seal is now prominently displayed on the cover. I wonder if I can just have the publisher buy copies of the actual medal to melt on there... Just kidding Scott!

Anyway, congrats to all the other finalists. Click here to check out the full list.

Unfortunately, I won't be able to attend the awards ceremony in Traverse City, Michigan. (The Traverse City Children's Book Festival)

Fortunately, I may be doing something that is even cooler...


The Costco in Clarkston, Washington has invited me to a booksigning in November. The final date hasn't been nailed down yet, but it looks likely that it will be November 13th, the day of the Book Festival.

This is an opportunity so huge... it has to take place in a Costco Warehouse. And I'm looking forward to it. In my next blog post I'll bring everyone up to speed on what I've been up to (with lots of pictures,) including how the Costco signing came about. But for now, a call to arms!

If you've read Kestrel's Midnight Song, and would like to help, consider posting a review on Amazon.com. Reviews there really, really help. They don't have to be over-the-top, glowing. Just post your honest thoughts. I would really appreciate it!

photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/scaredykat/2729912657/sizes/o/in/photostream/

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

In Which I Receive 1,500 Copies of My Book! (Pictures)

Since my last post, I've been a busy beaver.I mounted my $150 canopy on my $1,500 pickup and drove to Spokane, WA to pickup 1,500 long overdue books. (Due to an overrun, I actually picked up 1,594, but saying that would ruin the number scheme.) (That's my dad making a cameo appearance in the picture above, helping me mount the canopy.)I signed books, crisscrossed the county delivering books, packaged books, shipped books, and dreamed of books. If you entered in the HUGE ONLINE PARTY and/or ordered a book from me, expect to receive a package in the mail very soon. And if you don't, let me know.

This morning I walked into the post office to ship out 149 packages.

"Hi! I have roughly 149 packages to ship!"
"...Come again?"

And each and every one had to go through the system. All told it took about an hour. And when it was done, I received what the ladies told me was the longest receipt they'd ever had.

That's right.
I own the record for longest receipt at the post office in my county. I'd like to thank everyone who ordered and the post office ladies for making this dream possible. I couldn't have done it without you. There is no 'i' in 'team.' But there are sure a lot of 'i's on that receipt.

The Nez Perce County Fair starts a week from tomorrow. I am excited about this because it's a much larger fair than my first one. I sent out press releases to all media in the area, and a reporter from the Moscow-Pullman Daily News replied that they'd do a story if I toured nearby Moscow, Idaho. I immediately called the Hastings at the Palouse Mall in Moscow.

And lo and behold, despite the fact that booking anything up to this point has been a real chore involving multiple phone calls, (seriously, the other night I was overjoyed to receive a real-life returned call. Then I woke up) they were happy to book a signing with me literally FOUR DAYS from the date I called.


My previous bookings have been 1.5 months+ in advance. So I am really excited to sign books this Saturday at the Moscow Hastings, my first official book signing, the day after the story mentioning the event is supposed to release to a metro area of 50,000+.

From there I will continue south to the Nez Perce County Fair. No word yet on if any media will pick up the story there. But stay tuned.

In my next post I want to show you a picture of the seven foot tall banner I ordered, and the hilarious (read: embarrassing) story behind it. Or maybe I'll just take a picture of my setup at the Hastings signing, and you can see it then.

Books Sold to Date? Ummm... 300... or so. (Not counting online or physical bookstore sales.)
Miles Traveled? I really need to be keeping track of this stuff...
Events Total? Does that Post Office record count as an event? Because that was pretty cool.
Jacob's IQ? Hahaha! Wait, what?
Marriage Proposal Success Rate? You know, I think it's time to wrap this post up. ::Clicks "Publish Post" repeatedly::

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Western Montana Mini Book Tour

There's so much to share in this post! I got home last night from quite the five-day road trip.
EurekaI drove to Eureka, Montana for the Lincoln County Fair on Thursday, sold 12 pre-orders on Friday, 22 on Saturday, and left early Sunday because it was pouring rain and I had nothing to cover my booth.

—I was camped out at the Rexford Bench Campground. The first night the wind blew so hard I was afeared a tree would fall on me. I would have escaped to my pickup, but I'm pretty sure the tent would have rolled away.—The Rexford Bench Campground is, in theory, located on Lake Koocanusa [Random Factoid: The name Koocanusa comes from Kootenai (the tribe) plus Canada (the country) plus U.S.A (Unidentified Smoldering Asteroid)]

The campground had no showers, so I jumped in my swimming trunks grabbed shampoo, soap, and a towel, and tore off down the path labeled "The Beach."The sun had set at this point, so I was racing against darkness, which is when spooky things like rabid ninja rabbits come out to devour lonely campers. The plan was to run to the lake, take a quick bath, and run back. But when I mounted the first hill, there was no lake in sight. The second hill revealed more wilderness. At this point, I started muttering "You have got to be kidding me!" over and over again as I ran as fast as I could.Finally, I reached a parking lot, but that only led to another parking lot, which finally descended into the lake. My estimate is a half mile from the campground. I dropped everything (except my shorts) and plowed into the water. It was colder than I expected for August (A local seemed pretty surprised when I later told him that I'd gone swimming in the lake.) But I felled myself and took the fastest bath of my life. Plunge-glunk-scrub-plunge.

Then I ran back, dripping wet with my computer-dust-filled lungs tiring. But I made it before nightfall.—I love it when teachers stop by at the fairs. A teacher from Kalispell, MT ordered a book, and I gave her four signed posters and a ton of bookmarks. She said she likes to read part of a book to the class, enough to get them hooked on the story, and then tell them they'll have to find the book to finish it themselves. How awesome is that?

—It was pretty cold in the mornings. I didn't bring a jacket or coat of any kind, so I invented a new style. Two dress shirts. Be on the lookout next Fall's release of my new clothing line, Parkquoir. (Pronounced like the urban freerunning sport, but with more of a French twist.)
—"The Western News," a newspaper out of Libby, Montana (an hour away) ran a story about me. Several people mentioned that they'd read about me there, and one person said she made the hour drive JUST to order two books, (that made me feel good) so it definitely contributed to sales, but I think it was too far away to have the kind of impact that the newspaper stories did at my local fair.


On Sunday morning I took down my tent in the pouring rain, threw it in the back of my pickup and set off for Kalispell, Montana. My only stop was at the Borders there (pictured at the top of this post.) I talked to a manager, handed her a bunch of materials. Not only did she decide to stock KMS, she wants to use the poster to make a display for it! And, depending on how well it sells, may even contact me about setting up a book signing.

Apparently they like to promote regional authors. I was quite a ways from home at that point, so I didn't think I'd have the "local" advantage. But regional works for me! As I've been telling people, by the time I reach Connecticut, I'll be introducing myself as an American author.


I have family in Ronan, so I stopped by for a few hours and participated in a Birthday bash/dinner for my cousin. I also got to meet an online friend in person.

I think now is a good time to introduce... The Mystery. Back at the Eureka Fair, several people not from Libby mentioned that they'd read something about me. Nobody could remember where, and nobody could remember details about the story. They were all from the Kalispell/Missoula area. Some guessed "The Daily Interlake," and some guessed "The Missoulian." Both are newspapers with a large distribution. Getting a story in either would be a tremendous boost. At this birthday dinner, another person said the same thing, and again, she couldn't remember the details or where she'd read it.

The plot thickened when a boy at the dinner said he had one of my bookmarks already. Where had he gotten it? At the local bookstore! I'd never heard of this bookstore, and all bookmarks had to have gone through me since I'm the only one with the ability to order them. Weird, huh? A look through the archives of all newspapers in the area turned up empty. I have yet to talk to that bookstore.

I hit Missoula late Sunday night. One of my friends is a student at the University of Montana there, so I crashed on a couch in his apartment. Coolest thing about the apartment? The 3x3 mule deer buck in the parking lot.The next morning I visited five bookstores:
The Bird's Nest
Fact & Fiction
The Book Exchange
Barnes & Noble

The Bird's Nest only sells used books, but they told me to cross the street to Fact & Fiction. The lady there told me they get a LOT of authors that come in and do exactly what I do. In fact, she said I was the third person that day. That's an impressive number when you consider that the store had only been open for an hour! What makes this even more curious is that it's a small bookstore located downtown. I was the only non-employee there. None of the other bookstores I've visited mentioned getting a lot of authors who stop in. I noticed that a large percentage of the books are marked "Montana Author." So that might explain some of it. If they have a reputation for stocking Montana authors, that would tend to attract small Montana authors.

But anyway, back to the story. She seemed skeptical at first, but after I poured gifts upon her (more on that later) and she looked through the book, and I told her it was named to the Highlighted Listings in Independent Publisher Magazine and a Book Trailer Pick of the Week in Foreword Reviews Magazine, she decided to stock it.

The Book Exchange is kind of set up where you trade your books in while paying a small fee. This place was recommended to me, but the clerk told me they don't stock new fiction, however, she got the manager, and he seemed really impressed. I mentioned that the clerk said they didn't stock new books, and he said something like, "Well... we used to. It's just... You know, I'm going to show this to the fantasy guy." If they don't end up stocking it, at least they agreed to hand out the stack of free bookmarks I left with them, and I left a signed poster too.

I walked up to the book counter in Hastings and asked to speak with the manager. The guy said, "That's me." Oops. His name tag even said "Books Manager." But he was a nice guy. He ordered copies of KMS to stock, put my booksmarks out to be taken by customers, agreed to hang the poster, and even invited me to call if I ever wanted to set up a book signing.At this point, I realized that this whole getting KMS into stores appears to be easier than I thought. The managers have all been nice people, and excluding Fact & Fiction, I haven't even given much of a sales pitch. The cover grabs them, they look it up on their computer, see that it's returnable and agree to stock it. Those two things appear to be all that they look for: A great-looking product and a fully returnable book through a national distributor. KMS is set at a standard 40% discount for bookstores, but that topic hasn't even come up yet. The retail price, however, I did discuss once. The manager didn't know how I'd managed to get it so low. Further talk revealed that actually "Well... it's an OK price." But he was initially comparing to self-publishing services, where he said they jack up the retail price if you want to get it set up with a national distributor.

From Hastings I drove to Washington Middle School, I was just going to talk to the Librarian and drop of a poster and some bookmarks. But when I got there and saw all the kids running around, I felt this desire to share my story with them. So I signed and left one of my author copies too. The librarian wasn't there, but I left a note.

Then I drove to the biggest Barnes & Noble I have ever set foot in. The manager was, again, nice. And, again, once he saw that it was returnable, he was all for stocking it. He also set the bookmarks out, and would have put the poster up, but it had "solicitation" on it. ("Go to SongLore.com to win yada yada") in small print. So for future B&N visits, I will black that out. I will do so for Borders, too, just in case.

Here is the package I hand to the managers: I plop everything on the table, and explain what each item is as I hand it to them, starting with the info sheet, then the book (just to look at), then I list off the book plate stickers, signed by author stickers, bookmarks, and signed poster. The book plate stickers say "Hastings, Missoula, MT! 08-30-2010 "Signature"

I stopped by the local Borders on the way home. I'd done so a couple times previously, but the manager wasn't there either time. Not so this time! And when he found out it's distributed through Ingram, he agreed to stock it and set me up for a booksigning on a Saturday in mid-October. I had dropped off the standard package I hand to managers over a week before that, and he mentioned that he'd seen it on his desk, but hadn't looked through it. What did I learn from this? It's important to actually speak to the manager. Just dropping stuff off and waiting for the phone to ring won't cut it.

I had a great time. My success rate is 100% when I speak to a manager in person. Now if only I can duplicate that success over the phone.

Now, about the ForeWord Reviews Magazine thing. Here's a snippet from their latest newsletter, under the title "Book Trailer Pick of the Week."

Many of you responded to a question I posed last week, and overwhelmingly the response was “Yes!” tell us more about what’s hot (or cool if you’re from an older generation) in Young Adult fiction. So here’s a suspenseful, animated book trailer for Kestrel's Midnight Song, a YA fantasy novel written by teen author, J.R. Parker. Take a look!

How cool—I mean hot—is that??

One last thought. At the fair, several people mistook me for Christopher Paolini. That led me to think about how strange the similarities are between Christopher Paolini and I. We were both homeschooled. We're both teen authors. Our home states, Montana and Idaho, are right next to each other, much like our books will be in the bookstore. No really, P-A-O, P-A-R. The uncanny similarities don't end there, but I can't give any more away without revealing the exact location of my home. Here's hoping these similarities extend to sales figures. :)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Independent Publisher likes KMS!

Independent Publisher is one of the review publications I sent an ARC to. Go to this link, read the top, then scroll about halfway down the list. :)

Also, I just got word that my copies won't be arriving until September 3rd. That's a bummer, especiallly considering I told everyone they would be arriving any day. Sorry to everyone who pre-ordered a copy from me thinking I'd be the quickest source to receive it from. But part of that is it hit the bookstore system much faster than anticipated. You can buy it on BN.com right now for $11.51 and Amazon.com for $15.99, and you can order it from any bookstore.

P.S. Still working on emails, so don't panic if I haven't responded.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pictures and Video! (The Fair Day 4)

Sorry for the delay on the final post for the fair. I was waiting for a video interview to show up. More on that later...
The cool thing about Saturday is that I sold...
62 books! Then I sold 2 more the next day during clean-up. And thus I passed both my day and week goals. 64 (60), 141 (100) Speaking of numbers, my brain was so tired on Day 3's post that I forgot how to perform addition. AND NONE OF YOU NOTICED IT! Hahahahaha! ;)

The other cool thing about Saturday is that word-of-mouth started to really pay dividends. For example, a grandmother walked in and told me that her grandson's friends had told him about the book, so she had come to buy one for him. It doesn't get much better than that.
Also, I performed a spontaneous video interview. Filming literally started seconds after I knew I was about to be interviewed, which made it that much more fun! My interview skills aren't the greatest. I need to cap off all my sentences, inject some humor, stop moving around, and stop stuttering. But I was grateful for the opportunity, because now I see where I need to improve and I can learn from it. You can watch it HERE. Oh, and I messed up in one of my responses. The "There's a word for a writer..." thing is actually from the bio on J.A. Konrath's blog. It popped into my head, and when I'm at a loss for words I tend to spew whatever's in my brain.

This habit could end up being rather dangerous someday... ("Your wig is shaped like Abraham Lincoln!")

What I learned: This is kind of a combination of what I learned at the fair and in the past few days. It's rather important, so those of you with books coming out in the future, heed my words of wise wisdom. *Drumroll* Fairs are good.

But it's more than that. Sure, the newspapers were the biggest difference-maker. But the fact that I was at the fair was equally important. If the newspaper had advertised a store signing, my numbers wouldn't have been near what they were because people would have had to make a special trip. With the fair, everyone was planning on going anyway. Plus, the traffic is waaaay better than you get at bookstores.

But here's the kicker. My hope was to begin touring in early September, but when I started making the calls to get it scheduled, libraries and bookstores didn't want to talk about it until they could see my book in their system. Now that it's in their system, they are booked for over a month. This means over a month of down time. If I'd known fairs were such great places to sell books, I would have filled the first two months of my book's release with fair events. They don't need to see the book in their system, but as I've learned through many fruitless phone calls over the past few days, the sooner you sign up, the better.

Moral of the story: If you have a small publisher, late July is a good time to release a book. As soon as it releases, call bookstores/libraries and set up your tour. While you're waiting, hit all those fairs you signed up for ages ago.

Notes: Partially to drive my above point home. I just finished a phone call with a librarian in which I scheduled my first booksigning! It will be on... October 27th. That's two months plus four days.

The future:
I had hoped to get into a nearby fair, much bigger, where I'm still technically local and could therefore possibly get another story in the newspaper, but I was much too late. This bummed me at first, but now I accept that when God closes one door he opens another. So I'm looking for other doors. I might have managed to sneak into a small fair in Eureka, Montana this weekend. I'm waiting for a call on that. If so, I'll loop through Kalispell and Missoula, meeting managers and sales personnel, and handing out sales sheets and posters.

The nearer future: Catching up on email... Some of my emails came over a month ago, so it is time. I just thought I'd add that for those of you awaiting a response.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Stream of Consciousness (The Fair Day 3)

I accidentally left my notes at the fairgrounds, and I'm rather tired, so for today's post I'll just mention things as they pop into my head. Invariably I will leave stuff out. I can fill in the blanks on the next post.

48 pre-orders sold today! More than Wednesday and Tuesday's totals combined. Altogether, that's 87. Reaching my goal of 100 total shouldn't be a problem at all. In fact, I expect Saturday to be my best day. Why?
1. Everyone's off work, which means more traffic.
2. The best events are saved for Saturday.
3. In the first three days, many, many people opted to wait until Saturday to purchase a copy in the hopes that the books would arrive by then.
So my goal for Saturday is now 60 pre-orders.

I got some invitations from teachers and school librarians to speak at schools. I'm looking forward to those. Each of them bought at least one book and took signed posters to hang in their library/classroom too.

The girls from post... 1 (I think?) came back and brought another girl. "He's the author of that book. No really, watch this." And she grabbed an ARC and repeated the test that I passed on day 1. This time she kept going, but she held the book too far forward like a novice poker player. So I just read each chapter title when she turned to it. She didn't catch me until chapter six. :)

Those same girls came back later and asked for a dollar to buy a toy. I told them I'd give them a dollar if they took a stack of bookmarks and handed them out to people where the food tents are. (Matt has been busy with 4-H.) They were (predictably) very good at it, and enjoyed it so much that they came back for a second round, free! Not only that, but at least one sale resulted because of it.

The newspaper articles continue to be, by far, the biggest difference maker. Community support also continues to be a huge factor. (Thanks everyone!) In doing a little bit of experimenting, I found that some people passed my booth with nothing but glances up to seven times before walking up and placing a pre-order. I wonder though, if I'd stopped these people the first time by, would they have placed a pre-order? I think the steady build-up of curiosity was in my favor, kind of like how I talked about several small attacks being better than a siege in my last post.

I made friends with the kirby vacuum guy. He has pre-paid for my last ARC, to be given to him at the end of the fair on Saturday. His plan is that if I hit it big, the ARC will be worth a lot more money.

I'm fascinated by human age progression. I love seeing the people you see around town, how they've grown, and to imagine them at previous/future stages of their life. We grow pretty fast. Life's remarkably short.

I met a retired publishing professional today who graciously gave me a list of names I should contact. This could prove very valuable.

I also met quite a few more aspiring authors. One, my neighbor actually, said he started a book three weeks ago, but hit writer's block. Then he saw the article in the paper and thought, "If he can, why can't I?" He promptly wrote three more chapters in his book. This news made me feel good. :) We talked a bit about his story world, which sounds satisfactory detailed. And I can tell he has the required passion for his story.

There are a lot of nice people here. As an example, the mail lady for my neighborhood bought two pre-orders, and since she'd heard the books hadn't arrived yet, offered to go and pick them up right then, at about 7:00 pm! But the books are being delivered truck freight, so although it wouldn't have helped, the gesture is much appreciated.

Hmmm, I just realized Saturday is my last day to get pictures. I'll try to remember to grab the camera on the way out Saturday morning.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Talk of the Town (The Fair Day 2)

Today was interesting, because it gave me some idea of what it's like to be a celebrity. Stories about KMS and me hit both local papers today, so a TON of people stopped with remarks like, "You're the author!" "I read about you!" "So you're the one!" A popular local hairdresser told me that everyone has been asking her about my book and whether or not she's read it. As I'm sure you know, the barber/hairdresser is a classic hub for news in small communities, so this was good news.

The posters arrived about midday, so in select cases where a sale was made, or someone was strongly considering it, I gave them a signed poster. It's really heartwarming to watch a kid walk away staring wide-eyed into a signed poster. The posters really boosted my sell-through rate. They get people excited almost like the flip of a switch at times.

I sold 17 pre-orders today, bringing my total to 29. I estimate I would have sold 60 or more today if I'd had books on hand. Many, many people chose to stop in Saturday in the hope that the shipment of books will arrive by then. Several others opted to buy a copy from the local bookstore, so they can support a local author and a local business owner at the same time. Which brings me to the first thing I learned.

What I Learned:
-Support. I received some great support today in the form of friends, family, my fourth grade teacher, opting to buy a book. People like to support their locals. "Are you from here?" is the second most question asked to "Are you the author?" The latter would be solved if my banner would get here. Today, I got excited because I got a package from the banner printer. But it was just the banner stand with carrying case.

-My location isn't terrific. Nice people on both sides of the aisle, but everyone is, like me, selling/promoting something. I started off the week by standing in front of my booth, stopping nearly everyone who walked by and offering them a free bookmark, then telling them about my book. But that just caused people to avoid me like the plague. So I tried staying in my booth and waiting for people to pause with interest, and that worked better. The majority still plow through there with only short glances to either side, not wanting to give the salesmen any indication of interest. Today, most of my customers were looking for me because of the stories in the paper. And several mentioned having trouble finding me. Oh well.

-Several small attacks are better than a siege. When I talk to people who have never heard of Kestrel's Midnight Song, even if I hand them bookmarks, posters, newspaper articles, and give them the whole spiel, it's not as effective as if someone handed them a bookmark, then someone mentioned it to them later, then they saw the story in the newspaper, and finally happened upon my booth over the course of a couple days.

-Not many people know what an ARC is. My tongue is getting a bit tired of saying "ARC" and explaining to people that they can't buy the ARC because it's just for display until the books arrive, when really all I want to do is hand them a book so they'll be happy. On the bright side, my hometown could become the most publishing-world-literate in the world by Sunday. :)

-There have been a few special cases where I parted with an ARC, such as an airplane flight that night, or a language barrier where I couldn't explain what the deal was. This morning, a man walked in, handed me ten dollars for a book, no questions asked. Apparently his son had gotten an ARC the day before, and they'd read some together later that night. They really liked it, so he had come to buy one for his nephew.

-As I mentioned before, it's really, really fun to watch small kids walking away staring up into a signed poster half as big as they are with wide eyes.

-Almost before I went home, a couple of ladies walked by rather quickly. One spotted my poster and said, "Oh, that's that movie," to the other. She had a definite prophetic air about her. ;-) Any guesses as to what movie she was thinking of?

-The proof copy arrived today (from the printer.) It's absolutely gorgeous. I kept taking it off the stand to look through it. And just in time. I was down from five ARCs to two.

Long day again tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Man Cannot Live on Hot Dogs Alone (The Fair Day 1)

Today was the first official day of the local fair. I manned a booth all day, selling books and handing out bookmarks. (I hope to post a picture of the booth later, after I have my banner, posters, and uh... hopefully books.) And I ate two hot dogs (lunch and dinner) in the process!

I sold 12 pre-orders, which I think is pretty good for a low traffic setup day in a small community. I handed out a TON of bookmarks, and got many assurances from people that they would come back and buy a copy in the coming days. Tomorrow, stories about KMS will hit the local newspapers, so I expect that to be a big boost, and I think I'm on track to hit my goal of 100 copies sold by Sunday.

I made some new friends with my neighboring booth-mates, as well as a kid named Matt. He wanted a copy of KMS but couldn't afford it, so I told him I'll give him a copy for free if he roams the fairgrounds handing out bookmarks and directing people to my booth. This arrangement has proved quite beneficial thus far. He's really good at it.

Some things I've learned:

-Nothing seems to grab people's interest more than seeing someone else in front of my booth talking to me.

-Some people (more than I would have thought) think all authors are rich and famous. I'm starting to wonder if a joke I made in my acknowledgements will backfire badly.

-There are a lot of aspiring authors out there.

-Eleven hours is a long time. Sixteen will be longer.


-Some teens asked me to sign bookmarks for them. One of them kept coming back for replacements because he kept losing his. I said, "I think you're just stashing them somewhere so you have more to sell on eBay," and handed him a new one. He said, "Yeah, I am. See you tomorrow."

-Some smaller kids didn't believe that I was really the author. I asked how I could prove it to them, and they looked into the ARC and told me to name the first chapter, when I did, they asked me to name the second chapter. When I did that, they believed me.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Calling All Kindle Users

First, an update...
I think it's safe to say that all editing of Kestrel's Midnight Song is done. In a matter of days, a truckload of books will stop by my house. Very exciting. :) Right now I'm planning out the national book tour, which is coming up fast. If you'd like to help organize an event at your school or homeschool group, send me an email.

Now for the real news...
Kestrel's Midnight Song is available on Kindle RIGHT NOW! So for those kindle users out there, consider buying an e-copy now, and then getting a shiny physical copy in a few weeks! Check it out at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/tags-on-product/B003ZDOW1C/ref=tag_dpp_cust_edpp_sa

And be sure to post a review when you're done reading!

Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/43602175@N06/4069260433/

Monday, August 2, 2010

Live Online Party! (Finally)

Hello everyone. For those of you who haven't heard through other outlets, the Live Online Party will be TODAY (Tuesday, August 3rd) at kmsparty.blogspot.com at 4:00 pacific time. Due to the abundance of technical difficulties and ill-timed commercials that the video format caused, this time it will be a simple text chat in which I will announce who won which books. Then you can ask me anything (unless it involves the underwear incident.)

I think it will be a fun time to interact with other fantasy readers/writers/broomstick-jedi-warriors. I hope to see you there! Oh, and Thadior might make an appearance...

Monday, June 28, 2010


I am happy to report that, so far, I have received two endorsements for my novel, Kestrel's Midnight Song. The second of which just arrived this morning. (Note: Receiving a novel endorsement is a great way to start your day.)

The first is from Jill Williamson, who recently WON A CHRISTY AWARD!

“Kestrel’s Midnight Song is a solid addition to the fantasy genre. Jacob Parker writes an imaginative tale, filled with adventure, mystery, and unique characters. The storylines intertwine and keep the reader turning the pages, desperate to see how it will all work out. I can’t wait to read the sequel.”
—Jill Williamson, award winning author of By Darkness Hid
The second, the one I just received this morning, is from Wayne Thomas Batson:

"Because of his youth and the genre, people will no doubt compare J.R. Parker to Christopher Paolini. I don't claim to be a prophet, but I think Parker very well could be better. Kestrel's Midnight Song is a wonderful first novel. Parker's language is quite stunning without being wordy. And his opening hook is terrific. Marauders, stolen children, haunting mystery, and ever-present danger make this a book worth reading."—Wayne Thomas Batson, bestselling author of The Door Within Trilogy, Isle of Swords, Isle of Fire, and Curse of the Spider King
Advance Reader Copies have also been sent to various review publications such as Library Journal, Publisher's Weekly, etc. Getting a review from one of those is a long shot for a small press, but it's worth a try, right?

In other news, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel on the editing front. In a day or two I should receive the suggested edits from the editor and will then apply them to the novel. It won't be long now before it's off to the printer.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Why I Canceled Everyone's Orders

For those of you who didn't notice the refund notification in your inbox, I was forced to cancel and refund everyone's Amazon.com orders in full. Why? Well, here's the whole headache—I mean story...

Long before the party and the amazon.com explosion, I sent an email to Amazon support, asking them if I could sell pre-orders with an FBA (Fulfilled by Amazon) Merchant Account. The response was, "If a book it posted as pre-order and it Merchant fulfilled, it would work as intended. If you would want to use FBA for the same, it would not work at all."

So I followed that advice. I set up a Merchant Account (in which I fulfill the orders) listed Kestrel's Midnight Song for sale, and sold pre-orders on the party day. (Thanks everyone!)

Amazon.com has a policy for its sellers that states all products must be shipped within two business days of the order.Obviously, since I sold pre-orders, fulfilling that policy was not going to be possible. But I didn't think that was a big deal.

I was wrong.

There's a nice shiny button you get to press that "confirms shipment." I thought the button sends a message to the buyer notifying them that the order had been shipped and sends a green light to the Amazon.com people watching to make sure I don't steal everyone's money. So I figured if I pressed it, and then sent a message to everyone letting them know that the pre-orders would be delivered on schedule—months from then—everything would be fine.

I was wrong.

A couple days later I got an email from Amazon stating my account was being reviewed. My profits were being temporarily withheld.

I sent them an email stating what happened and that it was all a small misunderstanding.

The response was that my account was now being suspended, and that I'd committed a serious offense.

I'll spare you the details of the back and forth. It all concluded with Amazon telling me to refund everyone's orders. So I did.

I'm not sure what the original amazon.com support person was thinking, but I'm at least partially to blame. My biggest mistake was my false presupposition that the deal-making would take place between me and the customers. I saw Amazon Marketplace as resembling a real marketplace. Amazon.com provides the location; I set up shop and sell stuff. As it turns out, it's nothing like that. Amazon closely monitors and surveys and regulates all transactions.

So, I'm very sorry for the hassle and confusion, everyone. I appreciate the support you showed in ordering lots of copies of Kestrel's Midnight Song. However, there is a bright side in all of this!


As of today, you can re-pre-order Kestrel's Midnight Song straight from my website (done securely through PayPal.) The good part about that is there's no restrictive Amazon.com shipping policy (in which every copy sold must include a $3.99 shipping charge) or fees. So that means the pre-order is now cheaper! $9.95 with a flat shipping charge of $2.38, no matter how many copies you order. So go re-pre-order your signed copies now! And if any new people want to join in, feel free. ;)

All original transaction deals will be honored. So, for instance, if you ordered five copies the first time, and you order at least 5 copies this second time, you still get all the free stuff you would have gotten before.

Please note that the pre-order price is temporary. The low pre-order price on Amazon was intended to be a short-time thing, and this is too.

And... oh, right. The party reschedule! It will be in July. That much is certain. I'm still waiting to hear from someone who—I just discovered—has been on vacation for a month. If you don't know what party I'm talking about, check this out. Mwahaha.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Interviews Galore

First of all, Kestrel's Midnight Song is officially the #2 most discussed book of all time on Shelfari.com! Plus, its trailer is the #4 most popular book trailer of all time on Goodreads.com! How cool is that?

Second, I've been interviewed a multitude of times recently...

Want to know my biggest writing pet peeve and hear about my aversion to ballroom dancing? Go to Writing it Out

Want to know my favorite fantasy book? Go to Endurance and Victory

Want to hear the plot for the first story I ever wrote? Go to Write Big

Want to discover the origin of the Aegre Bird (on the cover)? Go to Teen Inklings

Also, that same interview will be posted on Clash Entertainment on Friday.

And... last but not least (there wasn't any rhyme or reason to the order I posted) here's a link to an old interview I did at Storyteller Journey that I realize I neglected to link to.

Oh, and almost forgot, silly me... this is a link to my interview on Oprah.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Party!

Well... the party didn't go quite as planned. I got to chat with everyone all day, (which was a ton of fun) but come party time, the internet died. The Amazon.com Sales Rank did hit #1,591, though. :)

And, the party will be rescheduled! In fact, I have a good lead on solid internet. But you can get started on the free books and gift cards now! In fact, if you get your entries in before the end of May, you get an extra entry. So GO HERE right now and see what's going on. And again, get your entries in ASAP!

Thanks to everyone who attended. And to those who couldn't make it, I hope to see you at the reschedule.


Friday, May 14, 2010


Before I show it to you, I want to talk a bit about a book trailer contest I entered it in. The finalists get played at Book Expo America!!! (The mere mention of which gives me goosebumps.) And it's only open to books published by independent publishers, so I think I have a shot. What I would like you to do, my dear, beloved, awesome, terrific (Did I mention beloved?) readers, is to vote for the KMS Trailer! The video with the highest votes doesn't automatically win, but getting into the top few is definitely a plus.

So... to explain how to vote, I made this handy graphic, depicting each step and in which order.
1. Click on "Join Group"
2. Click on "Recent"
3. Click on "Kestrel's Midnight Song Book Trailer"
4. Click on "I love it"

Ok, enough with the commercial, here's the real deal:

(If the sidebar is blocking part of the video, just double click on it)

UPDATE: We've driven the KMS trailer all the way to #5 already! Woohoo!

Friday, April 23, 2010


Thank you for your feedback in the last post, everyone. Your thoughts were heard and applied. I think the new setup will work out nicely. If you've already submitted info, no need to do so again. I still have it.

You guys rock!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I Need Your Help

I'm stumped.

The "Huge Online Party" has not been as popular as I'd anticipated. I'm getting 100+ visitors (vast majority of which are fantasy fans) to the site every day, but for some reason or another, people aren't joining the party. Blogs giving away a single book are getting more participation than this multi-hundred book giveaway. This would seem to indicate that something's wrong with my presentation. The problem is, I don't know where the problem lies. So I'm asking you for help, especially those of you uninterested in the "party." A penny for your thoughts? Feel free to answer anonymously if you want to remain hidden. But I'd really like to hear what you think.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

HUGE ONLINE PARTY!!! (Hundreds of giveaways)

Hello everyone!

Big news: The website for Kestrel's Midnight Song is up at www.TeenFantasyAuthor.com AND www.SongLore.com

Somewhere on the site, you'll find a video of me making a complete and utter fool of myself. So check it out for that at least.

And... a HUGE ONLINE PARTY! On May 18th I'm going to be hosting an online party via live streaming video in which I'll be giving away hundreds of fantasy books, all in brand new condition. More details at the site. And there are a couple hidden surprises for those willing to search them out.

This has been in the works for some time so it's very exciting to finally announce it. I hope to see you all there!

Oh, and if you have a problem with the site, such as loading times, bugs, or bad layout, I'd appreciate it if you let me know in the comments section.


There are quite a few giveaways going on lately. I'm going to list some at the top of my head. If you guys know of anymore, post them in the comments, and I'll bring them to the top (if I can remember) because I know I will forget some.

Noah over at noahsreads.blogspot.com is going to conduct a giveaway as soon as he hits 30 followers. If he hits 60, he'll give away two books.

Nathan Petrie at whisperedroars.blogspot.com is giving away a copy of Starlighter by Bryan Davis, and from what I hear, there are more giveaways to come.

Cson is giving away two books: Chosen Ones, by Alister McGrath and The Prophecy, by Dawn Miller at his cool new website: www.hornspoon.com

Seth Skogerboe is giving away the ENTIRE Narnia series at www.sjskogerboe.wordpress.com. How cool is that?

Oh boy, I can't remember the others. Obviously I'm forgetting at least some. Help!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

To Darkness Fled is out!

I should have blogged about The Blood of Kings Trilogy a long time ago. I first read By Darkness Hid, by Jill Williamson, on the train ride back from the summer writers' conference. Jill was the person who originally encouraged me to attend a conference, and I ended up going to one that she attended as well!

She's definitely one of the coolest people I know, and I'm proud to say that By Darkness Hid is the first signed book I ever owned. And recently, she even endorsed Kestrel's Midnight Song. But more on that another day. This post is about Jill and her books.

The story is terrific. It drew praise from VOYA and Library Journal, and is Marcher Lord Press's bestseller by a wide margin.

"In this medieval fantasy debut, idealistic servant Achan Cham dreams of becoming a Kingsguard Knight, while Vrell Sparrow disguises herself as a boy to escape an arranged marriage. She has a supernatural gift of being able to communicate to Achan without words. This thoroughly entertaining and smart tale will appeal to fans of Donita K. Paul and J.R.R. Tolkien. Highly recommended for CF and fantasy collections." —Library Journal
And now the sequel, To Darkness Fled, is out. This time, she got the attention of another major review publication, Publisher's Weekly.

"Williamson pens an action-packed, imaginative second installment in the Blood of Kings trilogy. Achan Cham... [spoiler eliminated] rides with a party in Darkness, the unlit half of the Kingdom of Er’Rets, to free two unjustly imprisoned knights. His party includes Vrell Sparrow, who is Lady Averella Amal disguised as a young boy to flee an unwanted marriage to Esek, who has usurped the identity of Prince Gidon Hadar. All the familiar epic elements and emotions are freshly rendered, with Vrell and Achan especially memorable as they grow during their journey... the pace gallops along, leaving readers hungry for the concluding book.” —Publisher's Weekly

If you haven't already, go buy By Darkness Hid! And if you've already read that, go buy To Darkness Fled! I've already ordered my copy. Can't wait to get my hands on it and fall into the Kingdom of Er'Rets again. You don't want to miss out.

Note: The To Darkness Fled image was shamelessly ripped from Christopher Kolmorgen of my-ink-spot.blogspot.com, where it was, in all likelihood, shamelessly ripped from elsewhere. As such, please direct any paperwork-totin' lawyers in that direction. Thank you.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Our Pet Moose, Lucy

This is pretty indescribable... Good thing I have pictures! :)

A moose has quite literally taken residence in our backyard. Over the past few weeks, we've spotted her from time to time in the driveway, or in the woods. But now she lives in our backyard. She moved in earlier this week. I'm not exaggerating.

Last night she slept directly next to the house outside my bedroom window, a little under eight feet from my bed. She drinks from the water that collects in the tarp covering our firewood (which is stacked up against the house beneath our family room window). She lumbers by, literally inches away from the windows. She even walks up to the windows and peers inside, her head taking up the whole window frame, her nose almost touching the glass (she actually did touch the glass with her nose this morning).

As she peered in at me yesterday, I stood so close that if the windowpane hadn't separated us, I could have reached out and touched her. Easily. (Not that I wasn't prepared to scream and run at her slightest movement)

Here are the pictures, and although they don't do her size or the experience of being so close to such an awesome creature justice, they are definitely worth clicking on to view full size.

And now for some other notes on the matter... We DO NOT feed, pet or approach her in any way. She doesn't seem to fear people, but we haven't tested that theory by actually going outside to her. She's a wild animal, so if she doesn't fear people that's dangerous both to her and any humans she might encounter... Our dog lives mostly outside, but we've had to keep him cooped up inside lately. Last year, when she was younger, Lucy stopped by from time to time (we believe it's the same moose) and during one encounter she seemed to get along with the dog just fine, but we don't want to risk it.

Oh, and so far she doesn't seem to be amused by any of my Rocky & Bullwinkle jokes.

In other news, I'm editing.

And finishing up the tribe-building contest.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Curse of the Spider King Book Trailer

As some of you know, I'm participating in a contest being put on by Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper in which tribes of people compete against each other by completing promotional tasks to earn points for lots of cool prizes, like a real sword! (If you'd like to join my tribe, shoot me an email). The point being to promote their new Christian fantasy book, Curse of the Spider King.

Three teen members of the Nightwing Tribe, Christian Miles, Leighton, and Jon M (and many others), have completed a totally awesome book trailer, where everything from the acting to the editing to the special effects to the music was done from scratch! The following is the product of literally hundreds of hours of labor, so turn your speakers up and enjoy. And if you'd rate the movie (5 stars ;)) and leave a comment on the youtube site, that would be much appreciated, since that would draw in more viewers.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Presenting... THE FINAL COVER!

That was quick, huh? The cover was actually finished minutes after I posted the cover art. But I decided to wait a bit for dramatic effect ;). As such, I'm a bit late to the party. The cover has already been posted in several places over the internet. But for those of you who haven't seen it yet, here it is: (Click to see full view)

I actually ended up doing the cover design myself with GIMP, a free program I downloaded online. I had sent in a preliminary cover with some ideas. The consensus ended up being that my preliminary cover was a better option to go with than the professional cover designer's in this case. So after a few changes to the preliminary, this is what we came up with.

Also, I'm not sure I mentioned this before, but the release date has been moved to September, much sooner than originally anticipated.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


It's here! The final, color version of the artwork for Kestrel's Midnight Song has arrived and now I get to share it with everyone: (Click for full view)

Work on the cover design has already begun. In fact, the final cover should be finished shortly. So stay tuned!

I have other news to share, unrelated to KMS...

First, my friend Robert Treskillard has made the first 11,000 words or so of his book, Merlin's Blade, available to read at Authonomy.com. Authonomy is kind of a cool site where a wide variety of books are available to read online. Readers put books they like on their bookshelves, and the books on the most bookshelves rise to the top of the rankings where publishers see them and review them for publication. Are you interested in diving into a story that asks, "What if Merlin was the blind son of a blacksmith, and the stone that held King Arthur's sword... was his greatest enemy?" CLICK HERE. And if you like what you read, consider signing up for a free account and adding his book to your "Bookshelf." His goal is the top five in the Christian genre.
EDIT: As Mr. Treskillard reminded me in the comments, some of the content on Authonomy is very questionable. So be careful, (especially if you're going to explore some of the other books) and involve your parents if you're still at home.

Second, AMG has agreed to a three book publishing deal with Scott Appleton. Swords of the Six will be republished with this large publishing company after nearly a year of promotion and over 2,500 (probably closer to 3,000) copies sold. Very exciting stuff, and hopefully the start of a trend for Flaming Pen Press authors, hehe. For those of you unfamiliar with AMG, it's the publishing house that published Bryan Davis' Dragons in Our Midst and Oracles of Fire series. You can read more about how Scott's deal came about and what comes next HERE.

P.S. Thanks everyone for all the comments on the cover sketch post earlier. Seeing all of your enthusiasm is more thrilling than seeing the cover itself. :)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Cover Sketch Revealed!

A thousand apologies for the gap between posts. My time has been devoured by editing and other things. But what better way to make it up than to reveal the preliminary cover sketch for Kestrel's Midnight Song? Woohoo! (Click to view full size)

Let me get this out of the way: DO NOT COPY, TRANSFER, OR REDISTRIBUTE IN ANY WAY.

For those interested, that's Micah, the main character, on the back of the Aegre Bird, which is a half bird, half dragon.

The cover art is being done by Halil Ural, under the direction of Kerem Beyit. (Halil Ural is Kerem Beyit's apprentice). If you love fantasy art, you must go check out Kerem Beyit's site at http://theartofkerembeyit.com/ The gallery is good for hours of browsing wonder.

Anyhow, what do you guys think? Personally, I'm holding my jaw up with duct tape. I can only imagine what it will look like when it's completed.