Feel free to give it a listen. The full audiobook will be available for sale later this summer.
I hired the talented Stephen Carlock to narrate 30 Red Dresses, and he just sent me back the first 2 chapters. They are quite good. Like, really good. It's been over a year since I last read the book (right before I published it), and he breathed new life into the story and even made me cry a little.
Feel free to give it a listen. The full audiobook will be available for sale later this summer.
If you're looking for a great Historical Non-Fiction, something with amazing stories about women you've probably never heard about, who's lives on the frontier were way more epic than any fictional tale, who's stories could be turned into blockbuster movies and are nothing short of fantastic, adventurous, and inspirational, then have I got the book for you.
This past week my wife and I finished listening to Frontier Grit: The Unlikely True Stories of Daring Pioneer Women by Marianne Monson. As my wife said, "It might be the best book I've read all year."
I agree. It is the best book I've read all year! If I ever write historical non-fiction, I want to write like Marianne Monson and write something as compelling as Frontier Grit.
I read and listen to a lot of books each year. Granted my wife reads more books than I do and she's my book critic/suggestion guru. She knows my reading tastes pretty well after 13 years of marriage. She'll finish a book and say, "I think you'll like this." Or she'll give me the thumbs down and tell me to move along.
She listened to Frontier Grit first, and after hearing a bit of the book and listening to her high praise of the stories, I downloaded a copy for myself. We listened to the audiobook on Hoopla through our library (the narrator was very good), but you can also pick up a copy on Amazon.com, local bookstores, or request a copy at your library if they don't already have one.
The women and stories she shares are truly amazing. Their frontier experiences, tales of adventure, and amazing determination will make you think you're listening to wild fiction--but it's all true and equally inspiring.
I can't recommend it enough. If you're looking for a summer read/listen, I highly suggest Frontier Grit.
We're getting close, my friends. Very close. I have the concept art back from my cover designer, Sky Young, and he just needs to add details to the face and suit and the cover will be ready. (see concept art below)
As for the book, I'm almost ready to send it off to my editor. What does that mean? It means you can expect Traitors to be released sometime in August. (Exciting, I know!) And if you thought books 1-2 were a fun-filled adventure thrill ride, just wait until this book. When your own heart gets pumping and you're excited to read your own writing like I've bee with this book, you know it's going to be a great story.
Stay tuned and be sure to join my Reader Club to get the latest updates. I have a few more fun announcenements to make later over the Summer months.
(Imagine this scenario with any other service industry, like say at an auto shop. I share a fun example at the end.)
I threw my back out 3 weeks ago. I was in severe pain and could barely move, so my wife took me to the ER at Baylor Scott & White Lakepointe hospital. There were a number of people in the lobby and we asked how long it would take to be seen. They said they were not sure, but that we could check-in and get "triaged."
The triage consisted of taking my temperature and blood pressure (3 minutes tops). Oh, and they asked my pain level, which I told them was a level 10. Which if you've ever seen the Brian Reagan comedy routine about ER's, that means I was right up there with childbirth and having my femur bone cracked in half.
They said, "great" and sent me back out to the lobby.
Ah, the ER lobby. A place of pain, coughing, fevers, moaning, and wondrous delight. It was here that we waited, and waited, and waited for 2.5 hours in the lobby. No one, and I mean not a single patient, was admitted into the ER to see a doctor during that whole time. All of these poor other folks and myself just sat in the lobby watching reruns of Bones and practices our bad lip reading skills since the volume was so low no one could hear the show. "I love tacos, Bones, and the Senator died of Chicken Fizz at high noon. No it was monkeys and bread. Definitely monkeys and bread." (My skilled lip reading interpretation.)
A handful of other patients, who'd been waiting a few hours (yes, I said a few hours) longer than we'd been waiting, got up and left the ER to go seek care elsewhere. We asked the front desk (where we were triaged) how much longer they anticipated the wait would be and they said 3-4 hours!!! Seriously! So now you know the wait time?
We told them we couldn't wait that long and we left to go to an urgent care facility. They said "okay, no problem" with a friendly smile as we left.
But now I imagine them tapping their fingers together and saying, "excellent" like Mr. Burns from the Simpsons as soon as we, and all the other patients, left the ER lobby to go elsewhere. Why? Because 3 weeks later we get a bill for $250 from the ER!!!
Yes, that's no typo. They charged me $250 for taking my temperature and blood pressure, oh, and for making me making me sit in writhing pain for 2.5 hours.
I called Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Lake Pointe to contest the bill and they said once you're triaged and they take your vitals, they charge you for it and there's nothing you can do about it.
The amazing thing to me is that all of those patients who left the lobby before me are going to get charged $250 for being "triaged."
I need to get in on this "triage" racket. Seriously, that's what it is--a racket!
Customer service also said, "if you had just asked to see a doctor and not been triaged, you would not have been charged when you left."
HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO KNOW THIS?!? We went to the front desk, and they asked me to follow them behind the door to get checked in and to take my vitals.
There wasn't a sign or warning we were about to get charged $250. They didn't give me a choice and say I could just wait to be seen by a doctor.
Can you imagine this scenario with any other service industry?
Say you took your car in for an oil change.
Customer: How long's the wait?
Mechanic: Oh, we've got people ahead of you, but we'll get you in as soon as we can. Why don't we get you checked in and I'll look at the oil level and check your tire pressure while you wait.
Customer: Okay, thank you
(2.5 hours later)
Customer: So do you have any idea how much longer it will be before you can change my oil?
Mechanic: Actually, like 3-4 hours.
Customer: Okay, well I can't wait that long. I'm going to go head somewhere else.
Mechanic: No problem.
They retrieve your car and hand you your keys, along with a bill.
Mechanic: That will be $250
Customer: What? You haven't done anything.
Mechanic: Oh, we checked your oil and tire pressure
Customer: That took like 3 minutes and I can do that myself from home.
Customer: Yeah, but we have to charge you since you checked in.
Customer: Um, you never said it would be $250.
Mechanic: Well, if you'd asked for "only" an oil change and not had the check-in, then we wouldn't have charged you.
Customer: Well, you didn't tell me any of this up front. I'm not paying.
Mechanic: If you don't, we'll have to send the bill to collections and it will destroy your credit, which means you can't get that new minivan your wife wants, and you'll be stuck renting forever, so your wife will leave you for Antonio who owns that Italian restaurant around the corner, you'll go bankrupt paying alimony, and live on the streets for a year before a buddy of yours gives you a job working at his auto shop.
Customer: Uhmm, wow, okay. Yeah, I'll pay the bill. I love my wife too much. And thanks for the tip about Antonio (I really loved their lasagna).
Can you see where I'm heading with this? I could replay this same scenario with lots of other services and it would be just as ridiculous.
Needless to say, I will never go back to a Baylor Scott & White hospital again. And if you go to an ER, be sure to ask if they're going to charge you for the triage, how much it costs, and if you can just see a doctor instead.
I had a blast hanging out with the sixth graders at Bettye Myers Middle School. They're getting ready to start their creative story projects this week and Mrs. Thomas invited me to talk with them about ways to boost creativity and write engaging stories. After seeing their creativity in person, I know they'll have some amazing stories to share. #futureauthors #creativity#storytellers
To any teachers and librarians in Dallas-Fort Worth area, I'd love to join your class. I offer interactive and inspirational class presentations about creativity, storytelling, the importance of stories, and what it's like to be an author. I can customize the presentation for your needs and I don't charge anything (It's all FREE). Plus, I like to raffle off a few signed copies and bookmarks at the end of the presentations.
If you're interested (or know someone who might be), feel free to contact me to schedule a visit.
FREE EBOOKS & ENTER TO WIN $50 (ends April 20th)I've joined forces with a number of other authors to give away 40+ fantasy ebooks. All of these books have a content rating (kind of like a movie rating), listed below the title. Simply pick and choose the books you want to download.
And feel free to spread the word about these free ebooks with your reading friends who love free stuff. My novelette, The Fourth Law of Kanaloa, is one of the freebies on the list of 40+ books. If you don't already own it, you can grab yourself a free copy!
Did I emphasize FREE enough?
Do you want to liven up your next book club meeting? Let me help with...
Here are some pictures the Tip Top Thursday Book Club sent me after our video chat. One of their members, Helen, reached out to me to let me know they were discussing 4 Years Trapped in My Mind Palace later that week. She was so nice that I offered to do a video chat during their meeting.
The Tip Top ladies were a blast to talk with and I had so much fun that I thought, "Why not offer to do this all the time?"
I had a great time at the Lonestar.Ink Writing Conference last week and I was honored to receive the Rising Star Award. Thanks to everyone who participated at the conference and for the kind recognition. It was a great event.
Looking for a way to spend the rest of your holiday break?
How about books? Lots, and lots of books?
I'm running a special promo with 20 other authors, giving away 21 books for free. Book 1 in my I Am Sleepless series is just one of the free books available. Check them outand download whatever catches your fancy.
Plus, the rest of my books are $0.99
And check out the new cover of The Fourth Law of Kanaloa!
Thanks for reading my books and I especially want to thank everyone for their reviews on Amazon.com and Goodreads. Your reviews help potential readers decide to give my stories a try.
Feel free to tell your friends, family, book clubs, and all of your reading buddies about the free book promo this week. The more the merrier.
Thanks again and Happy Holidays,
I decided to give The Fourth Law of Kanaloa a new and improved cover. Here's what I came up with this past weekend. What do you think?
After having a number of readers tell me they weren't sure what to expect from my original cover, or that they never would have picked up the original book (because of the cover, but a friend suggested the book), I decided to give it a complete overhaul.
The goal was to get across the modern fairy tale and romance aspects of the story. Hopefully, those goals were accomplished. To be honest, I had the hardest time finding an image of an African-American mermaid, since my main character is an African-American jazz singer from the 40's who's eventually...wait, I don't want to give spoilers away.
But stock photo sites just didn't have what I needed, so I had to put my average photoshop skills to work on this one.
I'd love to hear what you think of the new cover. And if you haven't read the story, it's a bite-size tale that you can finish in 1-2 hours (only 5 chapters long). Enjoy!
Are you part of a book club?
If the answer is "yes," then I'd love to hear how you run your book club, your format, and how you decide which books to read. Also, I'd love to join your group for a night via video chat (either to discuss one of my booksor to talk about writing in general).
I want to join your next meeting!
Book clubs consist of some of the most dedicated and well-versed readers out there (my kind of people). If your book club is interested in reading one of my stories, send me a message and I'll send your group free copies of the ebook (and possibly some paperbacks to share, though sending a bunch of paperbacks gets pricey).
Both 4 Years Trapped in My Mind Palace, and 30 Red Dresses are great for bookclubs. They come with discussion questions in the back to kickstart your meeting. And what a better way to discuss the book than with moi, the author, via video chat!
So if you'd like some free books for your book club, and/or your club is interested in chatting with me via video chat, just click the button below to send me a message from my contact page at www.johantwiss.com.
On a much happier and less frustrating note than uploading the wrong book last week (at least for me), below are links to dozens of free ebooks. I've teamed up with different groups of authors to give away books in co-op promotions. Feel free to check them out and find your next reads!
I MADE A BIG MISTAKE! I made a big mistake last week, and no, it wasn't eating the double-fisted burrito from Beto's Street Taco stand. You know when you do something dumb on accident, but have no idea you did it until some kind soul tells you later? (*facepalm*) Yeah, that happened to me yesterday.
If anyone downloaded 4 Years Trapped In My Mind Palace in the last week, I apologize.
I was trying to be fancy and update the book with new book club discussion questions at the end of the book, but somehow I accidentally uploaded a completely different story (my new release, 30 Red Dresses) to the Amazon listing for 4 Years Trapped in My Mind Palace.
Dozens of people who downloaded the book were met with a surprise when they started reading. Instead of getting a YA historical fantasy novel, they were treated to a human trafficking thriller novella. (both books are good, just not what the readers were expecting)
HOW TO UPDATE YOUR COPYA kind reader told me about the mistake and I went to work fixing it late last night. The correct book is now listed on Amazon.com.
And for those who downloaded the book in the last week, click the link below for instructions on how to update the ebook to the correct version (Amazon doesn't update it automatically). Over the next three days, Amazon.com should email everyone who's downloaded the book in the past, letting them know that an updated (and correct) version of the ebook is available. (I contacted Amazon and they are helping get the word out about the update. Go Amazon!)
Thanks for understanding, oh kind readers and reviewers!
Wishing you all the best,
My new story, 30 RED DRESSES, is ready for test readers. It's a short novella (about 1/2 the length of a full novel) and needs some outside feedback before the final edits.
If you're interested in being a test reader, go to the following link and fill-out the contact box. Enter the subject line: BETA READ 30 RED DRESSES.
I'll email you back with a copy of the book and a few instructions. You don't have to be a grammar whiz to beta read. Mostly, I'm looking for feedback on the overall story, characters, where was it confusing or slow, etc...
Plus, there will be a prize drawing for beta readers. I'm giving away Amazon gift cards and signed copies of the paperback (to ship after it's published).
I'll be attending (and teaching) at a number of upcoming conferences and events. Here's what's on the calendar now and I'm sure there will be more to come. If you're in the area, stop by to say hi. Most of the writing conferences will have book signings at the end that are open to the public.
IAH MIDWEST WRITING CONFERENCE
Kansas City, MO - Sep 22-23, 2017
I'll be teaching a class on sensory writing called, Can You Smell the Colors of the Wind?
KANAB WRITING CONFERENCE
Kanab, UT - Oct 20-21, 2017
I'll be teaching two classes at the conference.
1. 20,000 Free Books Under the Sea (How to build our readership with free books)
2. DIY Book Cover Design
LONESTAR.INK WRITING CONFERENCE
Dallas, TX - Feb 2-3, 2018
I've been asked to emcee this innagural conference at the Downtown Dallas Public Library and it's shaping up to be awesome! There will be a number of amazing instructors and I'll be teaching a few classes and signing books at the library.
LDSTORYMAKERS WRITING CONFERENCE
Provo, UT - May 3-5, 2018
I'm submitting to teach at this conference that I love so much and will be at the Saturday evening book signing.
Inevitably, people wonder how to pronounce my name when I meet them. Some call me Jo-Ann, or Jo-Han, and even the occasional Ja-Han. I don't get upset or annoyed with these mispronuciations. Why should I? Their harmless mistakes and I know I've butchered the names of many others myself.
To help clarify, I came up with the following example, which then turned into the banner for my JT's READER CLUB. Now, not only do you know how to pronounce my name, but you can join my Reader Club to extra goodies, freebies, and exclusive stories.
I had a blast attending the Storymakers conference this year. This is my third time at the conference and it's always fun to see familiar faces, attend great workshops, and make new friends.
Here are some pics from the book signing. I had a bunch of other pictures from the conference, but they all came out fuzzy.
Other conference highlights included sitting at the VIP table with authors James Dashner, Sarah Eden, and Dustin Hansen!
I'll be part of a multi-author book signing in Provo, Utah on Saturday, May 13 (5-6pm) at the Utah Valley Convention Center. There will be dozens of other authors across a wide variety of genres, along with many NYT bestsellers in attendance to sign books.
If you're in the area and want to get a book signed (or just want to stop by to say hi), come by and see me!
Plus, I'll have a fancy new banner up behind me to make it easier to find my table.
Frist off, the freebies!
This is a gigantic group giveaway with 40 science fiction and fantasy ebooks available for free. Plus, one of the books happens to be my very own novel, 4 Years Trapped in My Mind Palace (Which is getting rave reviews. Seriously, I'm blown away by the reviews).
THE NEW FREE STORIES PAGE
I've decided to start releasing free stories exclusively to my newsletter subscribers. It's my way of saying thank you for reading and for your support. I'll be adding new content as I go and will post them to the website and newsletters.
My latest release, The Fourth Law of Kanaloa, is the first free story available to you at www.johantwiss.com/freestories. This is the WWII merman story you've been waiting for. Because who's not waiting for a WWII merman story? Am I right?
Q&A with Johan Twiss
Q: How do you handle bad reviews?
A: Like Captain Jack Sparrow
I'm the type of author who loves to read reviews for my books. Other authors cringe and hide away from reviews, but I like to read them all. My wife might say I'm addicted...and she's probably right. But I don't read them for the confidence boost. I read them to improve my writing.
If multiple reviewers are pointing out the same flaws, then I know what I can work on going forward. Or if multiple people are praising the same things, then I know where my strengths are. Sometimes, one reviewer will love a part of my story while another despises that same part, and that's A-okay. But when I see a trend of critiques, I know what needs work.
Luckily, I've really only had one "bad" review thus far. It's a 1-star review for I Am Sleepless: Sim 299, and it's pretty funny. The customer thought it was a self-help book to help with his insomnia. You can check it out here and see what I mean. I feel bad for the guy since insomnia is no fun, but the review still makes me chuckle.
WHERE: Utah Valley Convention Center - 220 W Center St, Provo, UT 84601
WHEN: Saturday, May 13 from 5-7 pm
ABOUT: This is the closing night at the Storymakers Writing Conference in Provo, Utah. Dozens of authors will be signing books, including many NYT best-sellers! I'll be selling and signing books at 5 pm. If you're in the area, stop by and say hello!
I'm excited about the stories in the pipeline for 2017. I'm knee-deep writing the first draft to I Am Sleepless: Traitors & Tyrants (book 3) and plan to release it in December of this year. I also have a crime fiction novella, 30 Red Dresses, planned for a summer release. That will be four titles released in 2017 and I hope to continue the trend with 3-4 titles a year going forward.
I appreciate your support and for helping to spread the word about these books. If you'd be willing to leave a short review (only 1-2 sentences is needed) on Amazon.com and Goodreads for the stories you've read, that would be fantastic.
Your reviews help new readers discover my books and decide to give them a try, for which I am very thankful. They make a HUGE impact and thank you for taking the time to read and review.
All the best,
Lastly, support an author. Leave a review...or sugary treats.
I watched this video of Will Smith talking about jumping out of an airplane and realized that this is exactly how I feel when I start a new project.
A few days ago I was surprised to find myself tagged on Facebook by HowDoesShe (a crazy popular website with a huge social media following of 2 million on Facebook).
They had featured my book I Am Sleepless: Sim 299 for their April reads, alongside The Girl Who Drank the Moon (which won the Newbery Award for 2017).
First, I was surprised and honored for the mention. Second, equally surprised and honored to be put alongside the Newbery winner for this year.
To all my librarian friends, I just received an email from Kirkus Reviews letting me know that my book, 4 Years Trapped in My Mind Palace, will be featured in their upcoming 4/15/17 issue (in the Indie section). Here are a few snippets from the review.
"Intriguing...entertaining...a winning tale...captivating"
(Not too shabby if I say so myself)
For my non-librarian friends who have no idea what I'm talking about, Kirkus is a book review publication sent to librarians, distributors, publishers, and agents. It's one of the places they go to find new books to purchase, or in the case of agents and publishers, new authors to sign.
Apparently, they only feature 10% of the Indie books submitted, so to quote their email, "It's a great honor."
Though, I'm pretty sure they were just trying to butter me up since the second half of the email was spent pitching me on all the marketing and advertising campaigns they have to offer. Still, it's kind of cool to have a book reviewed in an issue of Kirkus.
You can pick up your copy of 4 Years Trapped in My Mind Palace at http://amzn.to/2ob4abH
**NOTE: The error Kirkus mentioned in the review has since been fixed and updated in the book. Good catch, Kirkus.
About a month ago, my wife took me out on a Paint Party date night. If you haven't heard of paint parties, just go on Groupon and you will probably find one in your area. Basically, you go to a restaurant and an art instructor walks you (and the rest of the group) through painting a specific piece. It's pretty simple and fun, plus you can order food. The perfect date night!
My wife is an artist. She's taken art classes and has done some amazing work (including the interior sketches to my I Am Sleepless series). I was a little hesitant about this date night since my art skills, especially with paint, are severely lacking. But I went along since I knew how much my wife loves to paint, and I wanted her to have a good time.
Little did I know how much I would enjoy it...
Since the paint party date, I've been itching to give it another go with a new project. I went to my usual source of "How-To DIY" info--Youtube. There are hundreds of beginner painting tutorials on youtube, and some of them are pretty cool. I went with the one below.
We were nearly out of black paint, and we didn't have any red on-hand, (I was too lazy to go to the store) so I went with a greenish-blue hue and a yellow dress/umbrella instead.
All-in-all it turned out better than I expected. It's still pretty amateur, but I had fun and look forward to painting some more pieces.
And if I can do it, anyone can!
Grab a copy of my latest story, The Fourth Law of Kanaloa, on pre-sale for $0.99. (Release Day April 1st)
Running from her past, jazz singer Maris Johnson finds refuge performing at the Pearl Club on the Hawaiian island paradise of Oahu. Her local celebrity status brings her the attention of many admiring U.S. sailors, but her world is changed forever when Japanese fighters attack Pearl Harbor and a mysterious figure emerges from the sea to save her life.
"Johan Twiss's first published foray into short fiction tells a satisfyingly self-contained story of magic, music, miracles, and true love. I hope he'll write more in this world!" - Heather Monson, Editor
This was a fun, sad, and interesting story to write. I started this as a personal challenge to write a romance story (since half of my writing group are romance authors). Knowing me, it had a fantasy twist with a bit of history mixed into it. It's a quick read—only a 5 chapter novelette—with great reviews from early test readers. I hope you will enjoy it as well.
Looking for something good for your kids to read (and for yourself)! Look no further. Checkout the GREAT MIDDLE GRADE READS free book fiesta. We have 13 books (all clean reads) available to download for free. Did I mention they are FREE!
This is a collection of great middle grade, children, and young adult books from various authors, aimed at the young reader. These are clean reads only, and appropriate for all age groups. This promo ends March 25, 2017.