The New and Improved Magic Appreciation Tour

Things have been quiet at the Magic Appreciation Tour for the past couple of months, and now I’m ready to reveal why. I’ve been busy working on new site software so I can support more reader and author features without having to do a lot of manual page tweaking. Plus, some things just can’t be done without some kind of database behind them.

The new web site looks pretty familiar on the outside, but if you look closely, you’ll see several enhancements for both readers and authors.

New Reader Features

The new data-driven features for readers include:

  • Paging of the book and author listings for improved browser performance
  • Book sorting and filtering features
  • Meet the Author pages that give readers the author bio plus all book listings for that author

Book Filtering The Books and Authors pages now have paging so your browser doesn’t have to load the entire list of books and their cover images. As new authors register for the site, the load time on those pages would have just kept getting worse and worse.

The Books page now lets you sort books by how recently they were added to the site or by author last name. By default, the list is sorted by recency, so readers who return to the site can quickly see what has been added since their last visit.

You can also filter the book list by price range, sub-genre, and book length. Are you only interested in short stories? Do you want to avoid certain sub-genres? The filtering tools let you zoom in on just the books that interest you.

Author and Book listings now link to a Meet the Author page that shows the author bio along with all of the books by that author on the site. These summary pages are great for readers who find a favorite author, and they are great for authors who want to promote their magical fantasy works in one place.

New Author Features

The new data-driven features for authors include:

  • Automated registration with built-in image uploads
  • A membership area that let authors add new books as well as update their author and book listings.
  • Easy opt-in/opt-out to the Magic Appreciation Blog Tours email list.

MAT Profile Editor To be honest, the new automated registration system benefits me, the site administrator, more than anyone. I no longer have to copy and paste information out of an email, manually resize images, and manually update the web pages with new HTML.

However, authors also benefit because they can preview their author listing and book listings as they enter them and see exactly what the listing will look like when it goes live. Authors no longer have to send me a separate email with an author photo and book cover image because the images can be uploaded during registration. Also, the turnaround time from registration to being live on the site has been reduced because all I have to do now is click an “Approve” link to make the listing go live.

The heart of the new registration feature is the new membership area. When you register, you create a login that lets you return at any time and add new listings or update your existing ones. All changes have to be approved before they go live on the site, but after a quick review of the listing, approval is a one-click operation for a site administrator.

The Magic Appreciation Blog Tours has turned out to be a great addition to the Magic Appreciation Tour. Several of our authors have taken advantage of free touring, and many others have benefited from the offers of guest blog posts. Authors can now easily join the blog tours (or unsubscribe from the list) from their profile page.

Existing Authors

One of my tasks with making the new site go live was to enter all of the existing author profiles and books into the new database. While doing that, I created login accounts for all existing authors. I plan to send out an email to each author that includes the new login information, but if you want to go check out the new membership features immediately, just Contact me me and I’ll send it to you right away.

Also, be aware that many of the listings exceeded the 800-character limit I specified on the original registration page. That limit has been expanded to 850 characters, and the new registration page does not let you put in more than that. In some cases, I had to trim down the author bio or book description to fit. Please review your listings and update them (again, contact me for a login) if you don’t like the way I edited them.

So Long Post Exchange

The only major site feature that I eliminated was the Post Exchange. To some degree, the blog tours replace that feature. For authors who just want to do a single exchange rather than a full tour, it is easy enough to simply contact other MAT authors through their blog, as many of our authors have already done.

Future Possibilities

Putting a database behind the site gives me flexibility to add more reader features and author features. I’m open to suggestions, so if you have any ideas for useful tools that could be added to the site, let me know in the comments or send me a message through the MAT contact page.

Here are a few things I’ve been considering:

  • Group promotions: MAT authors would sign up to participate in a group promotion on a specific date or range of dates. The site would give us a “hub page” for the promotion with links to the participating author blogs and book listings.
  • Giveaways: MAT authors could sign up for a giveaway that the site would manage for them. This feature would be similar in concept to a RaffleCopter giveaway.
  • RSS feed: Readers could sign up for a book registration feed, so every time a new book is added to the MAT, they’d be notified. Readers could subscribe to this feature through an email notification as well as an RSS reader.
  • More buy links: The site currently supports a single buy link for each registered book. That means authors have to choose one retailer and one format for promotion on the Magic Appreciation Tour. I’d like to make it so authors can add multiple buy links that specify different vendors, different formats, and different prices.

Check out the new site and feel free to let me know what you think. I look forward to new opportunities to make the Magic Appreciation Tour a more fun and useful tool for all magical fantasy readers and authors.

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Emotobooks on Tour

Cynthia Ravinski was the first Magic Appreciation Tour author to take advantage of our new Magic Appreciation Blog Tour feature. Thank you to all of our authors who graciously offered to host Cynthia on her tour.

Cynthia’s goal for her tour was to get the word out about a new form of publishing called “emotobooks.” Emotobooks combine fast-paced writing with colorful abstract artwork. This combination stimulates multiple parts of the brain for an immersing and saturating reading experience. This new medium of fiction was created by her publisher Grit City Publications.

If you would like to learn more about this fascinating concept, you can still follow Cynthia’s tour using the links below. She toured with six guest posts (one of which includes an excerpt from her book) and one interview. Enjoy!

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Announcing: Magic Appreciation Blog Tours

One of the main goals for the Magic Appreciation Tour is to help authors connect with other authors who write in the magical fantasy genre. I think the MAT achieves that goal. We’ve engaged in conversations with one another, we’ve read each other’s works, and we’ve shared our blogs.

The seasonal Post Exchange has helped facilitate our efforts. I originally wanted to give our authors a way to do some kind of virtual blog tour, but at the beginning, we just didn’t have enough authors to do a credible job. The Post Exchange was a baby step. It gave us a way to exchange single posts with each other.

Well, we now have 34 authors who have listed a total of 52 books with the Magic Appreciation Tour! Granted, not all of them participate in the social networking aspects, but many of them do. I’m sure that everyone who has participated would say that we have a friendly, supportive, and motivated group of authors to work with.

At this point, I think we can take virtual blog touring to the next level. That’s why I’m introducing Magic Appreciation Blog Tours (MABT) starting with the Fall 2012 Tour in September (yes, beginning next week).

Here’s an overview of how it works:

  • Everyone who wants to participate will be added to the Magic Appreciation Blog Tours list. You can unsubscribe from this list at any time if you change your mind.
  • When you are ready to schedule a blog tour, send me a list of tour dates. These are the dates you can commit to providing a guest post or interview.
  • I’ll send your request out to the authors who are subscribed to the MA Blog Tours list.
  • Participating authors review your tour dates, and they email you with the dates they can offer on their blog.
  • You review the responses you get and finalize a schedule with the authors who contacted you.

Now you may be wondering how much this is going to cost. After all, scheduling a blog tour through a service that specializes in such things can be spendy. Well, don’t sweat it. The Post Exchange was a free service, and so is the MABT. All I ask is that you do your best to help each other out by offering your fellow writers a spot on your blog when they need it.

For the moment, I’m going to keep the Post Exchange going for authors who want to do one-off exchanges of blog posts rather than doing a full-on “blog tour.” But eventually, I see replacing the Post Exchange with this facility because it is a lot easier for me to administer. It is so much easier that I can keep the MABT running all year, allowing our authors to do a blog tour whenever it is convenient (or timely) for them.

Besides, one of the nicest things about the MABT is that you get to decide how many dates you want to include in your tour, regardless of how few or how many that is.

I already have two authors who have expressed interest in doing tours, so I’d like to get everyone who wants to participate on board before September 1. You are welcome to join after that too, but you might miss some of the early opportunities to participate.

Guidelines

Just so everyone knows what to expect, I’m including some participation guidelines. I want to keep the process as simple as possible and to avoid inundating MABT participants with emails. I will only use the MABT list for the initial request for tour dates. After that, communication is private between the touring author and the authors who agree to host dates.

In the guidelines below, a “TOURing” author is the author who is doing the blog tour, and a “HOSTing” author is an author who is hosting a tour date on his/her blog.

  • A “tour period” begins on the 1st of the selected start month and spans one full month or two full months.
  • TOURing authors may not schedule concurrent tour periods (in other words, pick a schedule and stick to it). If plans must change, please give HOSTing authors at least three days advance warning.
  • The tour dates offered by the TOURing author within the tour period represent the date posts should be published on the HOSTing author’s blog.
  • The TOURing and HOSTing authors work out the details of when the post will be delivered and what time it will be posted on the HOSTing author’s blog.
  • TOURing authors should include the following in their tour requests: Name, email address, goal for the tour, the month(s) of the tour, and specific tour dates. You should also indicate whether you want to do interviews, guest posts, giveaways, or are open to all of the above.
  • For now, the MABT is open to Magic Appreciation Tour authors only.

I hope the majority of our authors choose to participate. For hosts, it’s a good way to get some free, interesting, and relevant material for your blog, and it’s a nice way to help out your fellow authors. For touring authors, it’s a good way to get the word out about your latest release or to drum up new interest in a prior release.

Sounds good! Where do I sign up?

Magic Appreciation Tour authors who are interested in participating should contact me through the Magic Appreciation Tour Contact page. For now, all I need is your name and email address to put you on the MABT list.

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Summer 2012 Tour Week 4 Retrospective

The Summer 2012 Magic Appreciation Tour completed on June 30, with a few posts going live in the first week or so of June. Although we got off to a slow start, things picked up in the second half of the tour. This retrospective covers weeks 3 and 4 of the tour.

The Post Exchange

Three people posted flash fiction pieces in response to the Summer Tour challenge, and we had several author interviews and guest posts. Please visit our author blogs and feel free to add your comments!

  • 5 Things I’ve Learned from J.K. Rowling
    Christopher Kellen guest posted on Will English’s blog “Random Musings of a Summer Dreamer.” He shares some of his author takeaways from J.K. Rowling’s career with the wildly successful Harry Potter novels.
  • Author Spotlight: Harrison Davies
    Katharina Gerlach interviews Harrison Davies on the “Independent Bookworm” blog. Harrison answers questions about how he got started, why he focuses on epic fantasy, and his greatest writing obstacle.
  • Magic Appreciation Tour Flash Fiction – “Final Exam”
    This was my entry for the MA Tour flash fiction challenge. It features the lead character from my Vaetra Chronicles series, Jaylan Forester.
  • Some days, I wish I had never met that woman
    Author Scott Bury took advantage of the MA Tour flash fiction challenge to add to his projected novel series about “The Witch’s Son.” Check it out!
  • Magic Appreciation Tour: Interview with Daniel R. Marvello
    Will English interviewed me for his blog “Random Musings of a Summer Dreamer.” I answer questions about what inspired me to become a fiction writer, who influences my work, and what started the Magic Appreciation Tour.
  • A World within a World
    Will English guest posted on my blog “The Vaetra Files” about how fantasy authors can learn world-building techniques from video games. Fun read!
  • Interview with Katharina ‘Cat’ Gerlach
    Harrison Davies interviewed YA fantasy author Katharina Gerlach for his blog “The Aduramis Chronicles.” Cat answers questions about her writing style, coming up with book titles, and much more.

The Post Exchange is closed for now, but it will open again for the September tour.

New books on Tour

Two new authors, Kevis Hendrickson and Tracy Falbe, joined the Magic Appreciation Tour over the past couple of weeks, registering five new books between them. That brings our total count of magical fantasy books to 46! That’s a lot of great reading material.

Please welcome Kevis and Tracy to the tour, and check out their books:

  • The Fall of Ithar
    by Kevis Hendrickson
    The Fall of Ithar recounts the events of the great war fought to protect the last kingdom of Men from the dreaded hosts of the Shadow-Kings. It is a tale of epic heroes, daring deeds, and fearsome villains. Journey to a time when the gods walked among Men and heroes lived and died by their courage! [more…]
  • The Grey Elk
    by Kevis Hendrickson
    A man of nature searching for wonders. A land of magic and splendour. A tale of love and hope and sorrow. The Grey Elk recounts the wondrous tale of the magical guardian of the woods. [more…]
  • The Blue Witch
    by Kevis Hendrickson
    The Blue Witch retells the legend of Prince Kòdobos, his knights, his love for Enolia and the great war that was waged to rescue her from a jealous king. It also tells of the coming of a menacing witch and the fall of a great kingdom. Hearken to a tale of mighty warriors, lusty maidens, and foul treachery. The Blue Witch awaits you! [more…]
  • Rys Rising (Rys Rising, Book I)
    by Tracy Falbe
    Outlaw warlord Amar seeks to help his friend Onja free her people from their hated masters, but Onja knows that her magic and Amar are not enough to liberate the rys. [more…]
  • Savage Storm (Rys Rising Book II)
    by Tracy Falbe
    Filled with righteous rage, Dacian and Onja spread violent chaos across two realms. In the tribal kingdoms of the west Onja sees a whole civilization that she must harness if the rys are ever to destroy the hated tabre of Nufal. [more…]

Don’t forget, you can register as many magical fantasy books as you have written. Just release a new title? Get it listed!

Next Author Tour – September 1-30, 2012

The Summer 2012 Tour ended on June 30. Our next tour is the Fall 2012 Tour, scheduled to run from September 1 to September 30. Questions? Contact me.

The Summer Tour may be over, but we are always accepting new book registrations. If you are a fantasy author and you are interested in registering your books to be listed on the Magic Appreciation Tour, don’t be shy. It’s fun and it’s free!

Register your book to be listed on the Magic Appreciation Tour site now!

Not a fantasy author, but know someone who is? Send your friend to the Magic Appreciation Tour web site to get a free book listing.

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Winner of the Summer 2012 Flash Fiction Contest

by Daniel R. Marvello

We have a winner! Christopher Kellen’s entry “Sorcerer’s Price” was selected by our judge to win the grand prize. Many thanks to Scott Bury for his entry as well. My wife Susan (our judge this round) said it was a tough call because she enjoyed both entries.

Sadly, we didn’t get much participation in the flash fiction contest this tour, but I think I’ll keep a writing challenge in the mix for next time. If anyone has suggestions for a prompt or for contest parameters, feel free to pass them along to me.

In the meantime, here are links to all of the entries from the authors who participated:

Chris won his choice of any book from the Magic Appreciation Tour book sale, up to a value of $10. So, not only does Chris win, but some lucky MA Tour author gets an extra sale. 😉

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Summer 2012 Tour – Week 2 Retrospective

Well, it must be summer. Fantasy authors everywhere are out dancing among the trees in the forest, running across the flowery meadows, and paddling the blue waters. Sitting in front of a computer holds little appeal compared to that kind of fun in the sun. Consequently, the Summer 2012 Magic Appreciation Tour got off to a slow start, but I have some action to report this week. We have two more weeks of the Summer tour to go, so don’t be shy, submit those Post Exchange requests!

New Books on Tour

First I want to announce the latest additions to the Magic Appreciation Tour. We are up to 41 books now, and the book page is starting to look impressive. I’m confident that any fan of magical fantasy can find many hours of excellent fantasy reading. Thanks to all of you who have taken the time to register your books with the site.

Recently added…

  • Amadi, the Phoenix, the Sphinx, and the Djinn
    by Katharina Gerlach
    Amadi, a young thief apprentice must rely on her training to avoid an assassin and a jackal-headed god while she tries to avenge the murder of her Helping Hand.
  • Heritage Avenged cover Heritage Avenged (Enchanted Bookstore Legend, #2)
    by Marsha A. Moore
    Questioning whether Dragonspeir magic was responsible for her aunt’s death, Lyra McCauley resolves to learn the truth and accepts the Imperial Dragon’s appointment into the Alliance sorcery training. Becoming proficient in magic craft is the only way she can bridge the gap between her mortal human world and the magical world of her immortal wizard lover.
  • Crystal Warrior (Legend of the Crystals, #1)
    by Mike Cooley
    Larissya’s life changes forever when her Grandmother gives her a magic crystal that shows her glimpses of the future. Hunted by mercenaries and an evil group known as the Triad, she is rescued by a large brute of a man named Talos and his band of diminutive followers. She soon discovers that everyone thinks she is the one referred to in legend as The Crystal Warrior.
  • Legacy (The Arbiter Codex, #2)
    by Christopher Kellen
    The Arbiter’s Tower has fallen. Less than a month after defeating the great evil inhabiting the southern city of Calessa, D’Arden and Elisa must face an even greater challenge: reclaiming the ancestral fortress from an unimaginable darkness.
  • Eolyn
    by Karin Rita Gastreich
    Sole heiress to a forbidden craft, Eolyn lives in a world where women of her kind are tortured and burned. When she meets Akmael, destined to assume the throne of this violent realm, she embarks upon a path of adventure, friendship, betrayal and war.

If you know any other authors of magical fantasy who would enjoy touring with us, please send them to the MA Tour site to register.

The Post Exchange

A couple of MA Tour posts went live over the past week. Please feel welcome to visit the post links and leave your comments. We appreciate your feedback and support!

  • Interview with author Will English
    Christopher Kellen interviews Will English on his blog “Eye of the Storm.” Chris talks with Will about his writing influences, writing short fiction, and going independent to publish his first book.
  • Flash Fiction Challenge – Sorcerer’s Price
    Chris Kellen was the first of our authors to post his response to the MA Tour flash fiction challenge. Come see what he did with the prompt, “Some days I wish I had never met that woman.”

Magic Appreciation Tour authors are welcome to submit more offers to the Post Exchange. It’s a great way to get more traffic to your blog and to get to know some of your fellow fantasy writers!

Click to Exchange a Post

And don’t forget to enter the Flash Fiction challenge! Post your entry on your own blog and notify me through the MA Tour Contact page by the end of June.

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Summer 2012 Tour Challenge #2 – Flash Fiction Prompt!

by Daniel R. Marvello

And now for the moment you all have been waiting for: the first Magic Appreciation Tour flash fiction writing competition!

Several MA Tour authors expressed an interest in writing to a flash fiction prompt when I asked them about it, so I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with. This is my first time running one of these, and as always, I would greatly appreciate any feedback you would be willing to share regarding how the competition can be improved.

Entry Guidelines

  • Story length: 500-750 words
  • Entry must begin with the sentence, “Some days I wish I had never met that woman.” You may use it as it stands or as a quoted line from one of your characters.
  • Genre: Magical fantasy (big surprise). Include some form of magic, but you can mention it in passing; it doesn’t have to play a big role.
  • Don’t use an excerpt from your WIP or published book. Your entry should be original material, although it’s yours, so you can obviously reuse it later in a published work.
  • Post your entry on your own blog and send me an email when it is ready (use the Magic Appreciation Tour Contact page if you don’t have my email address handy.)
  • I must receive notification of your entry by the end of June (e.g. before July 1, 12:00 AM).
  • The winner will be announced on July 2, 2012.
  • The competition is not restricted to MA Tour authors. Anyone may enter as long as the blog post containing your entry includes a reference to the Magic Appreciation Tour site.

Prize

  • The winner receives a free copy of the Magic Appreciation Tour book of your choice (max value $10).
  • All entries receive a mention on the MA Tour blog.
  • Entries will be judged by my wife (my entry won’t be included in the prize competition).

For the Fall 2012 tour, I’ll be more organized about this and get more prizes lined up beforehand. This time, I had to punt. If you are interested in donating a prize to this round or for a future tour, please let me know and I’ll sweeten the pot with it. It would be nice to have 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place prizes.

Likewise, if you would like to help judge this or future competitions, please let me know.

If you have any questions or suggestions, you can always contact me via email or through the Magic Appreciation Tour Contact page.

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