Archive for April, 2008

Virtual Book Tours are the Promotion Choice

April 25, 2008

With the price of oil nearing $120 a barrel, and suggestions that it could hit $140 for the summer, it means that it has become impossible for most writers to justify the cost of a physical book tour. Looking at my own situation in Western Canada, I’d have to sell a lot of books in order to finance an overnight trip to appear at a couple of book signings in, say, Edmonton, 350 miles away. That’s a cost of nearly $400 dollars even if I’m going by cheap motel and fast food class. 300 books a day? Stephen King I aint.

If you’re a literary establishment writer – had the admired creative writing program in university, your poems printed in the right anthologies, you could get a grant to cover the cost of a tour. Otherwise, the alternative is to conduct the Book Tour online. You can organize your own and learn as you go along or hire a company to organize and host one for you.

There is probably much to be said for both, but to get the most out of any book tour, the process for each should be very similar. You still have to work diligently at them, and other writers have written how much. A really good article has appeared in this month’s issue of “The Fountain Pen”, by Mayra Calvani. The link is – Have a read of the whole newsletter while you’re there – visit:  The other point I would mention (in addition to my comment at the end of her article) is the warning not to expect the Blog Tour to be a one-off panacea. You’ll do best with another tour for your next book, provided you’ve put in the effort to make the most of them.

I think the final item for me to mention on my Virtual Book Tour retrospective is that of reviews.
When my first novel was published I found it difficult to get reviewers to read it. I know I’m not alone in this because, as a promotion tool, I started reviewing for the Muse Book Reviews  and I know most authors who approach me are really desperate for someone to take a look. (Yeah, I know that doesn’t make my reviewing sound very classy, but then I’m really rough on craft weakness.) Pump Up Your Book Promotion arranged for reviews as part of the tour from new readers who I would never have attracted.

I have my reviews posted on this site (surprise – they’re under ‘reviews’) for you to take a look at. With the Book Tour, I was taken up by three new reviewers – with another one promised (she won the free book promotion give-away and says she’ll post a review). It was especially interesting to find that all three did not normally read my genre, but liked my novels. It’s a bit late, but that tells me that I’m missing a lot of readers by being lumped with the Science Fiction crowd. But there isn’t a genre called “Alternate World Adventure with Kick-ass Female Protagonist in a 17th Century Period Setting”. I tried for SOFT Science Fiction, but the soft always gets dropped.

So you can be the judge. Was the Virtual Book Tour worth the cost just for the new unbiased and objective opinions about my writing and the series? The categories are over on the right – read and see.


I Promised you the Book Tour

April 23, 2008

Well, actually, I promised to write a retrospective of the Virtual Book Tour as a service to other writers, but it seems to me that the tour’s aimed to attract the notice of readers. Does it do this, and how can one tell?

I already posted a short commentary on the topic at the beginning of April as part of the post “And the Winner Is”. That was about the dearth of comments to the posted articles, interviews,  and reviews. It seems to me that this can be taken as an indication of the attention the tour has gained from browsers who don’t necessarily have their own blogs – maybe readers rather than writers with their own promotions. I did check in to other writers’ visits who were also touring that month, but only I and a writer of a historical novel exchanged comments.

I posted announcements about the tour on several writing sites I belong to, but as far as I know the announcements garnered little response. I would have thought some other writers would have dropped by to add support but the only ones who did knew me from other online activities. Not the book tour, I know, but if I’m going to give a thumbs down to promotion on anything here it would have to be online writing groups.

The plus was definitely coming into contact with up to twenty other breathing humans who toil away on the Internet producing copy and commentary. I would never have crossed paths with any of these people if it hadn’t been for the Blog Tour. Now – I think it’s essential that I don’t just leave things at that point. I haven’t gone back to many of them, but that’s just a function of my bear-like denning personality – I must make it a point to visit them and leave a comment or two when I’m not using their blogs for my promotion. (Good point, Chris. Make sure you do it.)

I did two blog talk radio interviews and enjoyed talking with the hosts. I felt really dubious about doing these beforehand. If there is one thing I really detest its “personalities” pontificating to some host on the radio. Why should I care about someone meeting with Salvador Dali while researching a book in Tuscany? I don’t give two hoots about someone’s novel that grew out of ten years as a rag picker in Togo. (I’m making these up, by the way.) But I think my own recorded droning is less a trumpeting of supposed superiority than a sharing of the bunk and junk of getting some novels published. The recordings are still clickable on the sites, and the links are listed on this blog under book tour.

I’d like to thank Cheryl and Dorothy at “Pump Up Your Book Promotion” for their organizing, hosting and guiding. Cheryl was there just about every day checking if the blogs were up or finding out why if they were not. (With a number of participants who also had lives to intrude sometimes posts were delayed.) Dorothy was a great help getting this blog site up and running. I did think she intended to do a couple more things (eg. no banner ever arrived here) but she was involved in moving that month and so was unable to spend more time with me. This blog is a lot more useful than my two other (now neglected) ones.

The interviews were varied in focus and specifics in many places. They were sent and completed the month before the tour started, but were good at making me focus on some things in my writing life I had been doing, as well as some I’d be better off not. These were among the blog posts that were often least commented on (like none). I think one has to be dreaming if one expects a guest blog or an interview is going to send a new reader scuttling to the bottom of the post to send fan mail. The fact is – book tour or no – nobody is going to hang out on a blog to look for a new author to read. The tour is part of a process that must include satisfying the needs of others. So I have to say that the virtual book tour is not the beginning and the end of promotion, it’s a step along the way.

Now I’ve appeared on the sites, I must go back to visit every so often. If I want to be noticed on blog sites when I’m promoting a novel again, I’d better make sure that I’m better known there. If you think you might want to do a virtual tour – better start planning early enough to ensure you don’t arrive as a stranger. As for the tour paying off in sales – I will probably never know, but if my royalties next cheque are more than last I’ll probably attribute some of the return to the Book Tour.

Springtime & a New Review

April 18, 2008

Springtime in the Rockies — which means it’s snowing. The Crocus flowers, the grass, and even a few fritillaries (Fritillaria pudica) are out, so it’s naturally going to snow on them. At least it means our wet Spring snowfall might come before the leaves are on the trees, so less branches and fewer trees will be brought down.

I received another review today — this one for Deadly Enterprise, the Iskander story before The Wildcat’s Victory. Susan Jensen at Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books asked for a copy to review in sequence. Her review of “Victory” will come soon, I hope from better circumstances than this one. She read DE while waiting in the E.R.

Her site is at
and she rates it as a B, but I don’t know what that means on her rating system.

Deadly Enterprise Offers Perfect Escape From Painful Reality

Alternate realities and gun-toting secret agents usually aren’t my thing, so I was surprised by how much I enjoyed reading Deadly Enterprise by Canadian author Christopher Hoare. I
mentioned that I started reading it in the E.R., and I have to say, it provided the perfect escape from my painful reality.

The story revolves around Gisel Matah, a lieutenant from Iskander, a progressive society on a futuristic Earth. Because of a blip in their space/time travel plans, Gisel’s people find themselves trapped in the 17th Century on an alternate Earth called Gaia. Since it’s impossible for the Iskanders to return to their own land, they aim to improve Gaia with their advanced knowledge and inventions. Not everyone is happy about the plan, especially the ruling Trigons, another people stranded in a foreign land. To help persuade the higher-ups to oust the Trigons, the Iskanders form a partnership with banker Yohan Felger. The young man has contacts in the enemy city of Lubitz, so he and Gisel set out together to appeal to the city’s leaders. Gisel’s reputation (her reckless bravery has earned her the nickname “Wildcat”) makes her a target for all kinds of enemies, so she passes herself off as Yohan’s male bodyguard.

Journeying side by side means that Gisel and Yohan must learn to work together. They are an unlikely pair – Gisel is a hardened military woman, reared in an age when women have as many rights as men, while Yohan is a gentleman from a time when women submitted to men or faced the consequences. While Yohan finds Gisel’s aggressive nature appalling, he also comes to respect her cunning and skill. Gisel teases the refined Yohan about his lack of street smarts, but acknowledges he is the kindest, gentlest man she’s ever known. Predictably, the two discover they are attracted to each other, although they have little time to think about romance. There’s also the little problem of Yohan’s betrothal and Gisel’s ex-boyfriend, who longs for a reconciliation.

When the pair finally reach Lubitz, they find a town in confusion. Gisel knows the tide of opinion can be turned in favor of Iskander aid if only she can speak to the right people. But, Lubitz is under siege by the formidabble Trigons, and no one knows who to trust. Her new mission is fraught with danger. Can Gisel convince the right people before it’s too late? Will her disguise keep her safe from her enemies? Most importantly (to me, anyway), will Gisel and Yohan find happiness together? Or will their differences keep them apart?

Deadly Enterprise moves along steadily, with a plot driven by constant action. The characters are likeable, if not super original. Gisel makes an appealing leading lady, with her tough exterior and compassionate heart. Yohan suits her, although their companionship is sedate and lacking the fire one would expect from a woman as passionate as the Wildcat. The supporting cast is large and thus, confusing, with few members really standing out. Still, action rules the day in the book, and that’s what makes it such an entertaining read. When I first read the book’s description, I thought it was a sci fi/techno type thriller, but it’s really more of an adventure story. Fans of both should find something to their liking in Deadly Enterprise. Iskander enthusiasts (of which I am one) will want to follow Gisel on her next adventure in Wildcat’s Victory.

So, if you’re planning a trip to the E.R. anytime soon, you might as well take along a book that will keep your mind off your own reality. I recommend Christopher Hoare’s Deadly Enterprise.

Lisa Heselton’s Review

April 14, 2008

Hi All:

Had to post this new review from Lisa, who I only met online when she reviewed Deadly Enterprise last year. I will check later to see what sites she posts this review on — she had the DE review all over the Internet.

The Wildcat’s Victory

Written by: Christopher Hoare

Science fiction / Fiction / Time travel

Rated: Very Good (****)

Review by: Lisa Haselton

Gisel Matah is back! Still in her early 20s and now a Major, she’s still an Iskander operative to be reckoned with. Her hands are full with balancing a love life, dealing with an operative’s murder, and preparing soldiers for battle.

The Iskanders have an alliance with the Felgers, a Gaian merchant and banker family. Yet there are still areas where the trust wanes. Gisel’s engagement to Yohan Felger hasn’t helped matters. Each has to balance duty to their people with their desire to be honest with each other. The challenges they face on a daily basis test their limits. How can she fully trust Yohan, when he’s loyal to the Baron who has yet to accept her? What drew Yohan to Gisel is now the same thing he has the hardest time accepting, especially when her newest assignment has her directly reporting to her former lover.

Life on Gaia has improved and progress is being made, but with the murder of an undercover operative and a radical movement that needs tempering, Gisel is not bored. In addition, she is asked to command a cavalry to support the rear of a battle line which has recently lost its commander. She hesitates to accept, but is pulled into the role and quickly learns the challenges ahead of her. A sadistic Skathian prince uses the battlefield for his own enjoyment and strives to learn how to defeat both sides in order to obtain total control.

The story is engaging and intriguing. I liken it to an intense chess match. It’s interesting to see how actions cause reactions and know that there is a third party lingering on the sidelines about to blow all the strategies off the board. Gisel trains her young cavalry men as best she can with the limited time they have. At the climax, their lives hang on her quick thinking, negotiating skills and ability to remain calm under pressure.

Christopher Hoare’s second novel, The Wildcat’s Victory, picks up eighteen months after Deadly Enterprise. The strong female protagonist, Gisel, is solid and well-crafted. The author manages to keep the character’s voice true to a young female officer with a lot of responsibility in a male-dominated field. She comes off feminine yet also a strong warrior. The tight writing and focused attention to detail keeps the reader engaged.

I recommend reading The Wildcat’s Victory, especially if you are a strategist, chess player, or war enthusiast. The battle scenes are succinct, yet detailed enough to appreciate a commander’s skill needed for success. The pacing is quite in tune with the scenes so the reader feels part of the action, whether it’s calm or full of motion.

Title: The Wildcat’s Victory

Author: Christopher Hoare

Publisher: Double Dragon Publishing

ISBN: 978-1-55404-539-6

Pages: 320

Price: $16.99

Changing a world:

April 11, 2008

There’s a whole lot of world building behind the Iskander stories, and ‘behind’ is where it mostly belongs except where an action or intention of one of the characters brings it into the story. I’ve always been interested in world building, especially in better methods of world building than we experience in our lives, but a story written around it could hardly fail to be boring.

I believe that the main reason for today’s problems are a lack of understanding. These are easy to document in past times – they’re analyzed and dissected in history – but it’s not so easy to pick out the losers and the loser world views in contemporary society. The biggest reason for this is all the drum beating and blarney spread by those who benefit from faulty world views or who are too frightened to honestly consider their ignorant acceptance of them.

Lest you think I’m about to pontificate about my own opinions – sit down and relax. I’ll try to remain fairly neutral – the divine Middle Way – by looking at this from the point of view of the world of Iskander.

In exactly the same way very few people in our world examine the ways in which their views of reality control what they do and believe, both the Iskanders and the people of Gaia unconsciously do things in ways conventional to their beliefs and upbringing. Many of Gisel’s passionately held beliefs come from what must be normal in Earth at the time she came from. (Which I loosely call the early 23rd century.) It was to confront these kinds of mind sets with those of completely different people that I started work on these novels. I guess such an interest comes from my own lifetime characteristic of being an outsider, as well as the four and a half years I spent working in Libya.

If the Earth of Gisel’s time is well enough organized to produce colonizing starships and crew them with a fair cross-section of the peoples of the world, it seems to me there must be some prerequisites. There must be a viable economic society; not one that has been destroyed by nuclear wars or catastrophic global warming. A well functioning system of international cooperation and organization must exist, and the Iskanders be well disposed to reproduce it on the world where they find themselves.

It is essential that the education of young people is widespread, and has sufficient homogenous elements that all races can participate effectively in the economy and administration. It seems to me that the issue whether the ‘interstellar’ colonizing projects are conducted by an International organization, a National organization, or a Corporate enterprise is beyond the scope of the Gaian end of the novels. We have yet to prove our capability in any of them. However it seems inconceivable that there would be a monetary economy aboard the starships, or on a planet under development. Even the settling of the west was mostly a subsistence business.

Looking at similar self-contained organizations in our world, such as military (particularly submarine patrols), or space sciences (voyages to the Moon), or journeys of exploration ( Lewis & Clark, Magellan), it seems the ‘rewards’ phase is abstracted in order to function efficiently in the present. The payback comes when the ‘project’ culminates. At world scale, which is open ended, some form of economic, self-interest bargain is struck that protects the interests of all, equally. This suggests that the Iskanders operate on a median path between a cashless, commune society and one which rewards the kinds of devotion that most of them have transferred to their common task of creation. It has to be familiar to them and accepted as fair and efficient within the project, with no defect of creating a group that grows rich on the exploitation of others made poor. It might take another 200 years for us to develop that.

This by no means exhausts the consideration of the effects of 23rd century Earth thinking, but next time I’ll consider the effects of the history and world view of the Gaians, and their input into the kinds of social structures that can result from the interaction. If you have comments on this so far, I’d love to see them.

Work in Progress

April 9, 2008

I have to apologize for not posting here regularly since the Book Tour ended, but the sequel to “The Wildcat’s Victory” is taking shape and when the scenes land in my mind I have to set them down. I will do my best to keep everything moving in future.

The sequel follows on from The Wildcat’s Victory a few months later. Gisel is the new military governor of Skrona, a city often mentioned in the stories, but not visited by readers before. While many people think she was rewarded with the position for her services, it’s no sinecure. The city is the focus of every nations’ military spying and industrial espionage – throw in an incipient ethnic cleansing as well and you can see Gisel has a rough time. Then there are enemies who just want to have her killed.

The other thing is that she’s unable to gallop about freely and take the initiative, which makes it a difficult story to write. Without the chance to pre-empt her enemies’ actions she has to wait patiently to catch them in one of her devious nets. From a writing point of view it has required me to introduce a number of new characters to the series, who do have more freedom to move, and whose interactions produce the intelligence Gisel’s agent network slowly gathers. I also have some of her previous cast partners, friends and foes, who haven’t been in the pages for awhile.

There is another complicating factor that I won’t mention, but if you’ve read The Wildcat’s Victory you will know what I mean.

Did you visit the J Kaye Book Blog to see the review? This is the link –  And I also have it posted here under ‘reviews’. I’m awaiting another, from Lisa Haselton, who plastered good reviews about Deadly Enterprise all over the Internet. I hope she likes this one as well.

Review from J Kaye Book Blog

April 8, 2008

Monday, April 7, 2008
THE WILDCAT’S VICTORY by Christopher Hoare
Five Stars.

THE WILDCAT’S VICTORY is the second book in Christopher Hoare’s conflict-ridden series starring Gisel Matah, a top Iskander agent. She’s a character readers will love.

DEADLY ENTERPRISE is the first installment of this three part series. Here’s the blurb on

Gisel Matah is the Iskanders’ top agent, but often her commanders’ chief pain in the neck. Sometimes passionate, sometimes tough, sometimes acerbic, she’s clever and always ready to twist their intentions to meet circumstances as she sees them.

Escorting young Yohan Felger across a haunt of outlaws to an enemy city was already a daunting task, but when her commanders changed her mission to include sounding out the leaders to switch sides it became a Deadly Enterprise.

On Gaia, an alternate Earth, the crew of the lost starship Iskander find themselves working for and against the inhabitants of a different 17th Century Europe. Building themselves a place in this world by promoting social change and an Industrial Revolution, they become enemies of the Trigons – also marooned star travelers, who now rule the Empire. But an enemy can be defeated with humanity when the person in charge is a rebel at heart.

In THE WILDCAT’S VICTORY, it opens with the murder of Durden, an Iskander agent posing as a technician with Gisel tracking down the killer. From the start, the story has a Battlestar Galactica feel to it. That said, if science fiction isn’t your thing, don’t shy away from this series. The reason I say this is I don’t usually read books in that genre. In fact, I usually refuse to read them at all.

I’m not sure what attracted me to the book. It might have been the cover. Take a look. (You can click on the cover to enlarge.) Doesn’t it look different? The book is published by Double Dragon Publishing. They carry science fiction, fantasy and horror titles, which this series is a blend of both science fiction and fantasy.

Now that I think of it, I don’t usually judge a book by its cover. That’s not always a good indicator the book is worthwhile. I think it was the blurb that made my decision. Here’s what it said:

Follow Gisel Matah and the thunder of hooves as she strikes back at the Imperial armies that threaten all she has worked for. She must defy every established world power to bring justice to common peasants and workers in societies now ruled by greedy aristocrats. Her covert activities require her to protect her fledgling Radical movement from both friends and enemies.

Risking her life and her love, Gisel negotiates even greater hazards in a wide ranging adventure. Her partner, Yohan Felger, becomes a problem when the Baron has him smuggle a steam engine to the Empire. Gisel knows of the subterfuge but cannot admit it, while Yohan is almost torn apart by the need to deceive her. Faced with removing the pressure on Yohan as he moves his contraband engine, she accepts the offer of General Lord Ricart, an ex-lover, to command a cavalry unit in battle. Her reckless courage is needed to carry out missions against two Imperial armies.

The fight finds her opposed by ever increasing odds until in the final confrontation she must outwit two enemies who vie to dominate Iskander. New friends, allies, and enemies as well as all the old ones fill the pages when Gisel Matah sets out to gain “The Wildcat’s Victory”.

Sounds good, huh? I do want to add that I have the hard copy of this book. If you have an eReader, something I have vowed to get one day, you can head over to Double Dragon Publishing where you can purchase Deadly Enterprise and THE WILDCAT’S VICTORY in ebook format for only $5.99 each.

There’s a downside to this post. I won’t be raffling this book off today. The reason is Steve (the hubby) wants to read this book too. But first, he wants to read DEADLY ENTERPRISE I do too. When I post the review for DEADLY ENTERPRISE, I’ll raffle off both books.

As always with these types of combo raffles, I’ll combine the posts here with the posts for DEADLY ENTERPRISE. But first, tell me, how many of you like SciFi books? Any favorites? I am curious to know.

So until the next review,

Happy Reading!

Review from Sadie’s Storylines

April 4, 2008

A kickass female protagonist leads the charge in this alternate-earth fantasy. The Wildcat’s Victory is the second in a series (the first being Deadly Enterprise) by Christopher Hoare.

Gisel Matah is not only beautiful, she’s strong and smart as a whip.  She knows more than she’s letting on as the book opens.  Through slow reveals we learn the backstory of the novel (for those that haven’t yet read Deadly Enterprise), and see the deception behind every character as they try to protect their own interests as well as the interests of their superiors.

At first I found the book confusing, but within 10 pages I was hooked and reading more to clear up any remaining confusion I felt.  Christopher shoves you knee-deep in intrigue and action and doesn’t let you go until the last page of this spell-binding novel.

See an earth locked in a time of near-progress, hindered by sins of the past and present, a war of wits and weapons.

Get The Wildcat’s Victory and prepare to sit on the edge of your seat, using your own wits to keep up with Gisel’s.

The Reviews are on the Way.

April 4, 2008

The late portions of the Virtual Book Tour will arrive in the next week or two – the book reviews that had to be re-scheduled. In the updated schedule the first one will be the J Kaye Book Blog that is to be hosted on April 7th. I hope the reviewers are okay with the deadlines. I know that Lisa Heselton has received the review copy because she e-mailed me she had started the read. Then Susan at Bloggin’ About Books asked for a copy of Deadly Enterprise so that she can review both novels in order. I’ve not heard her mention of a date for that one. If it takes a couple of months I can used the reviews as a warm up for the release of the third novel, Arrival, in July.

The Iskander series novels as commentary on human development.

In addition to these reviews, I’ve been considering what theme I should present for the continuation of the blog. Since the site is named for The Wildcat’s Victory I believe I should keep up an aspect of Gisel’s objectives in the novel – to promote the advancement of society. Within a novel that has to comply with certain fictional imperatives, these objectives have to be kept as background to the dramatic events of the unfolding plot. I don’t want to change that completely in the blog, and turn it into some dry lecture.

Over the next week or two I will draft a couple of trial entries that approach human and social development from the direction of preventing problems our world has inherited from our past. With engineers and scientists from the future conveyed back to the beginning of the nineteenth century, as it were, what would they do differently than did our forefathers? What changes would they make in the education of scientists and administrators? What changes to an economic paradigm that can rein in the booms and busts as well as reward all people more evenly? What changes to political systems and the selection of politicians to avoid the horrors of world wars and cold wars? I think I will try to ruffle a few feathers, because it would be great to have readers respond, and  the blogs become debates.

And the Winner Is!

April 3, 2008

The draw for the free copy of “The Wildcat’s Victory” drew sixteen entrants – not including myself who appeared on almost every blog, and using only one entry from anyone else who commented on several. It turned out to be fairer that way. My own blog received most comments during the month – four, and a couple of items of spam that I disallowed as moderator. Another blog site had a couple of spam comments as well.

So . . . here we go. The lady wishes to be identified only as Fantasy Girl from one of the blog owners who responded to the comment I had made. I will buy a mailing envelope tomorrow when I’m in town and put the copy in the mail. Thank you all for participating and commenting. The only disappointment I feel is that I couldn’t send copies to everyone.

While on the topic of the draw I will post my observations about the process and offer advice to anyone who wants to run a similar promotion.

Firstly, because some of the sites seemed to need a Special Forces assault team to break in to make a comment, I would recommend that one’s own blog be emphasized as an alternative to commenting on the day’s tour stop. This would also be appropriate for the blog radio sites that don’t have a visible ‘comment’ link.

I think some readers who followed the links were bashful about commenting, and perhaps the requirement to log in or to baffle the machine reader test prevented them from posting. Again point out that they can go to the author’s tour blog where, even though a comment will need approval before appearing, it will be noted and counted in the draw.

Perhaps some people thought the odds of winning were too great for them to bother. I wish the contest had drawn that many entries. If I had counted myself for all the comments I posted in the month I would have had a 50% probability of winning.

Perhaps the draw announcement should be posted at the start and the end of the interviews and guest blogs to make sure people register the information. A short instruction on each site about the draw and the options for commenting might be a good idea.

I might have posted more invitations to participate on writing and networking sites I belong to, but I really didn’t think it would be necessary. The Tour conductor posted on a few sites daily and I had my own blog announcements. I doubt if I’d receive much more response by buying spam software and blitzing the whole Internet. Perhaps that feeling was the reason I didn’t get more response – I feel embarrassed to bug people too stridently. In this world, unfortunately, one has to be obnoxious to be heard.