Giveaways: Ghost Story - Jim Butcher + Hounded - Kevin Hearne

ETA: I'm donating to Genre for Japan - a critique and a Tuckerization in my next book.

Please help spread the word about Genre for Japan, (also see my post here) and also this giveaway. For every commentator in this post's giveaway I'll donate a £1, up to a max of 100 commentators. (Currently: 30 commentators approx, so there's plenty room for more comments :-D). So read on, and enter, if you haven't already, and your comment will mean another £1 for Japan, and don't forget to help spread the word. Thank you!

So, we've got to week # 10 of my 16 weeks of giveaways to celebrate the UK release of book 3 The Bitter Seed of Magic (Out Now! And BIG THANKS to everyone who's bought it! You all Rock!) and the upcoming US release of book 2  The Cold Kiss of Death (out 26th April). Thanks to everyone who's following along with the celebrations, and Hello and Welcome to any new blog visitors.

So this week, going by the schedule, the giveaway is Ghost Story (Dresden Files, No. 13)by Jim Butcher! Only the publication has been put back to July 26th, so as an extra special giveaway, there will be two prizes* this week: Ghost Story, and Hounded (US)(UK) the first fabulous book in The Iron Druid Chronicles by debut author Kevin Hearne.

And the good news doesn't stop there!

*Cue Drumroll*

So, especially for all my wonderful blog readers, I managed to back Kevin into a corner and crack the whip persuade Kevin to come over and guest blog *g*. So, a big WELCOME to Kevin, and here he is to tell us all about . . .

The Alpha Reader!

I often hear writers talk about their beta readers quite a bit, but rarely do I hear them discuss their alpha readers. I think perhaps they’re keeping them a secret. Or perhaps they don’t have one. More likely, they do have one but they call them beta readers anyway.

For me, alpha and beta readers serve completely different functions. Alpha readers read my stuff chapter by chapter, providing feedback as the novel is in progress. Beta readers read the whole honkin’ thing as a completed draft and then give me some feedback before I pack it away to my agent.

It’s tremendously difficult to find alpha readers and hold on to ’em. Most people aren’t that great at reading a story in spastic intervals and then providing a thoughtful critique for the anxious author in a short amount of time. I have had the same alpha reader for years now, and he’s worth fifty times his weight in black gold (that’s Guinness, not oil). His name is Alan, and I thank him in the acknowledgments of all three books. Though he doesn’t know it—and you can’t tell him!—he’s going to get a book dedicated to him soon.

What makes a good alpha reader? Someone who’s really well-read in the genre you’re writing, who’s an honest fan of that genre, and who’s also capable of telling you what’s fresh and what might have the odor of shoes in dire need of fungicide. They also need to be willing to work really bizarre hours for nothing more than the occasional beer. Such people are RARE. And priceless.

I had to write three books before the general public read a word of any of them, and I’m here to tell you that’s it’s bloody nervewracking. If people don’t like the first one, it’s not like I can go back and tweak books two and three now. Alan stood in for all of you, assuring me that I was doing all right and making me start over when I wasn’t doing all right. He’s a true Quality Control man, and plenty of authors know they wouldn’t have written nearly so well without someone like him watching over their shoulders. If you have a pint, raise it to Alan, won’t you? And then if you’re in a bookstore around May 3, pick up a copy of Hounded #1 (US)(UK) and see how Alan did! If you turn into a fan of Alan’s alpha reading there, wait until you see what advice he gave on Hexed #2 (US)(UK), due June 7, and then on Hammered #3 (US)(UK), out June 28!

In the meantime, I hope you’ll come visit my website and blog ( and maybe say howdy on Twitter (@kevinhearne) or Facebook (search Pages for Kevin Hearne). Thanks very much to Suzanne for letting me drop by! Cheers!

Great post, Kevin! Thanks so much for visiting, and thanks to Alan too! Can't wait to read Hounded!

Here's the blurb for Hounded!

Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, lives peacefully in Arizona, running an occult bookshop and shape-shifting in his spare time to hunt with his Irish wolfhound. His neighbors and customers think that this handsome, tattooed Irish dude is about twenty-one years old—when in actuality, he’s twenty-one centuries old. Not to mention: He draws his power from the earth, possesses a sharp wit, and wields an even sharper magical sword known as Fragarach, the Answerer.

Unfortunately, a very angry Celtic god wants that sword, and he’s hounded Atticus for centuries. Now the determined deity has tracked him down, and Atticus will need all his power—plus the help of a seductive goddess of death, his vampire and werewolf team of attorneys, a sexy bartender possessed by a Hindu witch, and some good old-fashioned luck of the Irish—to kick some Celtic arse and deliver himself from evil.
Doesn't it sound fab? I can't wait to read it! And if you want a chance to win both Hounded and Ghost Story, then leave a comment telling me whether you've tried 'The Black Stuff' or not, and if you liked it :-D Me? Well, yes, I've tried it, and liked it, but it's one of those tipples I need to be in the mood for :-)

How to enter:

Leave a comment saying whether you've tried Guinness, and if you liked it or not.

Please leave a way to contact you (email in comment: Please remember to replace @ with [at] to forestall spam - or your twitter name - no way to contact you - no entry).

Giveaway is international and closes end of day (GMT time) 24th March 2011
(ETA: original end date  was wrong initially - so much for being organized *sigh*)

Full General Terms and Rules at the bottom of this post here.

And don't forget to check out the Giveaway Schedule here. And so you don't miss out on a chance of winning any of the wonderful books in the coming weeks, why not follow me? (following is not a condition of entry).

Please note: My usual blog policy is that I try to reply to all comments on the blog, but for ease of admin I won't be replying to any comments made on any of the giveaway posts during the 16 weeks. Sorry, but it makes it much harder to sort out the winner. However I do read and enjoy all the comments, and will, of course, continue to reply to comments on any other post, so if you have a question for me, leave it on one of those, thank you :-)

All book links lead to Amazon (UK/US) or the Book Depository, and contain affiliate links. I've decided to go affiliate as I love giving books away (and not just as a way of shameless self-promo), but boy does it get expensive.

x/posted to LJ. Comment here or there. One entry per person.

*Both books will be pre-ordered for the winner from The Book Depository, and will be sent when the books release. Sorry, these are not early copies, much as I'd love them to be.


Melissa said...

I have actually tried guiness and to me it looked disgusting as kinda knew i wouldn't like it from the moment i saw it in the glass, but i had to taste just to see what it did infact taste like due to the fact my father drinks it and always says it tastes amazing and that its good for you, i tasted it and really it tasted horrible and swore never to have it again even if it is good for you (whether it is or not i do not know) but yeah i don't like it at all but you never know unless you don't try and there's no harm in trying new things!! so from now i will stick to my lager and vodka!

Qwill said...

I've tried Guinness. I absolutely love Guinness.

I like on its own.
I like it in a Black and Tan.
I like the lovely foam.
I'd even drink it from a can.

(No coffee = bad poetry)

It's my stout of choice though some rabble rousers I know pefer Mackeson. They are simply very very wrong.

aht QQwill on Twitter

Anonymous said...

Hm-m.. How come giveaway closed on the 17th of March, but we've got this post on the 18th? :))) Hope i'm not late, but if i am, oh well. Anyway, didn't try Guinness as I don't like beer at all. But the covers are just gorgeous. I will have to read these books regardless! And i'm just starting Butcher, got the first book from the library.

Sweet Vernal Zephyr said...

I tried Guinness a long time ago and have vague memories of it BUT I have been promised a six pack on my safe arrival home tonight.

I must say that you are gifted to have an Alpha reader and I appreciate you sharing your secret to keeping him around.

Happy Friday! Miranda
mdwartistry at yahoo dot com

evilqueen21 said...

I've never tried Guinness, I'm not much of a beer drinker and I've been told that it's a very aquired taste :)


Vins said...

Of course I tried Guinness and I did like it, but I have to agree with you on the fact that you have to be in te mood for it since it's not a light drink :)

Best regards


Desa said...

Never seen this in my country and I don't like beer as well, so I haven't tried!
Thanks for this giveaway.


Twitter: desapd

van_pham said...

Never tried Guinness, and probably will never...not the beer type person haha. Thanks for the giveaway!


Preternatural Reviews said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Preternatural Reviews said...

Tried it and loved it. Most especially for the reason that when I turned 21 (the legal age to imbibe here in the States) I could keep it in the apartment that I shared with my best friend without worry. I can still here, "UGH! How can you drink this beer syrup?! I'm going to the store to get my own beer..."

Good times...good times.

Apologies. Forgot email/

preternaturalpaperbacks at gmail dot com


rissatoo said...

Guinness is one of my favorites - both to drink (when in the mood for non-wine), and to cook (I lurve Lamb Shanks braised in Guinness! Yum!)

Great prizes, wonderful alpha readers blog! Thanks, Suzanne & Kevin!

rissatoo (on twitter)

Robin K said...

I have never tried. Never tried much of anything actually. :)

robin [at] intensewhisper [dot] com

donnas said...

I have not tried it. But I really am not much of a beer type drinker. Actually I dont drink that at all. When I do drink, I stick mainly to the fruity drinks! Have to make it better for you someway with that fruit juice added. :)

bacchus76 at myself dot com

Falcata Times said...

Hi Suzanne,
Yep I've drunk Guiness and to be honest I prefer the slower draft method that Irish Pubs tend to use.

Unfortunately the real good stuff doesn't travel so well so the closer to the brewery that you drink it the better.

I do tend to use it when I cook stews as I think that the silkiness alongside the bitterness adds an extra dimension. (Obviously you could use any stout or porter but its like wine. If it's not good enough to drink on its own, its not worth cooking with. LOL)

Anonymous said...

Yup, I've tried guinness; it's okay but not my fav.
Thanks for guest post by Kevin Hearne.

patgail [at] npgcable [dot] com

pattepoilue said...

Oh I cannot wait to read Kevin's series. I mean come ON a Druid? I want!!!
Hold on to that Alpha Reader Kevin!! He's indeed a rare find. It looks like a lot of work. And it must be really hard to only read chapters/pieces at a time.

I tried Guiness but to me it tasted like beer...*shocked gasp* I think it has to do with the fact that I don't like/drink beer a lot. Even admitting that is sacrilege in this house. My parents LOVE beer, we have a whole fridge with at least 10 kinds (most from Belgium though).
So i'm a closeted beer-hater lol *whispers* Don't tell anyone


Anonymous said...

I tried Guiness in Belfast and had to spit it back into the glass. BARF! I really wanted to like it b/c its actually sort of healthy for a beer. Its in the same category as marmite...YUCKTASTIC.

email is melanie.sanderson[at] or on twitter as tvteduk

Tynga said...

Don't enter me in the giveaway, already ordered my Hounded copy =P
I just wanted to tell Kevin & Alan they both did a good job! LOVED Hounded. SO much I bought a finished copy even though I already had an ARC ^^
Folks you need to get this book!

Blodeuedd said...

So wanna read this book :D

Ok, can't say, cos I hate hate beer, it taste like, bleh! Perhaps a sip. So not for me.

blodeuedd1 (at) gmail (dot) com

Anonymous said...

No need to enter me in the contest - I'm the Alpha Reader he's referring to in the post. What an honor!

Actually, I think this whole thing is an elaborate ploy to get feedback from the chapter he sent me about five or six days ago that I'm still sitting on. I'm not nearly as punctual as he lets on here... :-)

I realize I'm biased, but Kevin had me hooked on this series from the opening pages. These books are something special. I wish you all happy reading. Cheers!

RachyBee said...

I have tried Guiness, and no, I actually don't like it.
When I do drink, I tend to stick to vodka and sweeter stuff--you know lollie water. LOL.

Great contest!


LSUReader said...

I have tried Guinness and I don't like it. In general, I don't like beer or ale--there's too much other good stuff to drink!

Kevin's Druid Chronicles sound great. Thanks for visiting.

(Email in profile.)

emmad said...

I've never particually been a fan of Guiness. And to be honest only have shandy's even with a light (as opposed to dark) beer.

Katy Came said...

Love me some Guinness! Used to sneak out from high school for a half-pint at lunch. Now I enjoy it leisurely, usually on a patio. Love that you can write your initials in the head and it'll stay there all the way down. yummy!

craig said...

I have tried Guiness but prefer my stout a bit, er...stouter. For some reason I like my beer a bit on the heavy side, but I did enjoy reasonably well the pint of Guinness I had :)

Anonymous said...

Guinness hot is the only way I'll drink it. Absolutely love the old England feeling of drinking it that way.

@jdavidbeatty on twitter.

Llehn said...

I have not tried it.


mariska said...

I haven't tried it. i just don't like beer !

But i do really like to read this book :)

uniquas at ymail dot com

Schoen said...

Once a year or so I think, "Guinness is a fantastic idea," followed quickly with "why the bloody hell don't I have such good ideas more often." So I'll order a glass (but not the raised eyebrow that some server always gives me), take a hearty swallow, remember that it tastes like beer's stout, hairy older brother, and never order it again. Well, at least until next year.


Denise said...

I have never tried Guinness, I'm not really a beer fan :)

Twitter ID:

Julie said...

I really love the Dresden Files!!!

I don't like beer, too bitter... however Guinness is great to cook with. I have this recipe for Irish Steak pie that uses Guinness and... yummm...

phoenixfirewolf at gmail dot com

koisoy said...

I haven't tried Guinness, but I'll probably give it a shot next time I'm out at the pub :)

Looking forward to all the great reads! Thanks!


Stephen said...

I have tried Guiness but find it a bit too heavy for me. Definitely more of a real ale and CAMRA kind of a guy.

Huge fan of Dresden, and Kevin Hearne's books sound really interesting and exactly like my cup of tea.

twitter: cbosteve

Aleetha said...

I have never tried Guinness. So I have never known how it taste. at gmail dot com

Thanks for the chance to win

Jojob said...

My dad is an avid Guiness drinker and from having worked in a number of bars and pubs in my younger years i have been subjected to Guiness for quite some time... And i think its FOUL!.. LOL you could try and tell me its full of iron and good for boosting iron levels but id rather get shots in my bum than drink Guiness... Sorry!!

burridgejo78 at googlemail dot com

Dinda said...

I've never tried Guinness because so I never know how it taste.

Thanks for the giveaway !!!


Renee said...

I'm not a big beer girl, but I like Guinness. I prefer dark beers I can really "taste". I had it when I traveled in Ireland, though I couldn't keep up with my Irish friends. (I had to stick to wimpy half-pints. :-P )

Thanks for hosting the giveaway!

twitter: ReneeRBA

Anonymous said...

I have never tried anything alcoholic and probably never will. I'm just not that kind of person. I don't even need coffee!
Thanks for the giveaway! I am excited to read Hounded.
My email is molly(at)mcsmith(dot)org.

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