Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Author Interview - S. G. Daniels

Happy Tuesday, good people of the blogosphere! Here we are again with another UtopYA Con author interview. Best of all, I'm back on track to be bringing you these awesome ladies on Mondays from now until the event. I know how excited you all must be to see yet another interview here on the blog and meet yet another fabulous author. If you missed any of the past interviews, I invite you to check them out here. If you don’t have your tickets to UtopYA yet, get them now! You can pick one up here. Let’s get to the good stuff! Grab a chair, add to that a cup of coffee or tea, and snuggle up with your computers to help me welcome Ms. S. G. Daniels to the blog.

Jo: Howdy, S. G.! Welcome to the blog. I know you’re a super busy lady, and I appreciate you taking the time to have a little chat with me today. I’m sure you’ve read some of the other interviews here, and I hope you aren’t too scared at what I managed to dig up on you. *grin* My readers like the juicy stuff, so I’m gonna jump right in. Are ya worried yet?
S. G.: *Peeks out between my fingers* Nah, just kidding. I’m excited to be here, Jo. Thanks for having me.

Jo: It’s okay, I’ll be gentle. *evil laugh* I read that you have a full time job as a patient refund specialist (people love you, huh?) in addition to being an author. How in the world do you manage your time? Do you have a schedule you make yourself stick to?
S. G.: *blows a lock of hair out of my face and laughs* It’s a cool job. Not too many people yell at me for handing back their money.
If it was just me, I could probably stick with a schedule. With a husband and two cats, that’s a no-go. Every day is different. My characters can’t seem to stick to a detailed plan either. They talk to me when they’re ready. There is no forcing them to cooperate.

Jo: Oh, man! I know that feeling well. My characters are always lurking and don't always answer when I call them. What a pain they are, eh? *grin* On a lighter note, I saw you were reading my Mystic series. Yay! I do hope you enjoyed the heck out of it. Is Paranormal your favorite genre to read? Which paranormal author is your favorite and why?
S. G.: Yes, and I’m loving it, but duty calls. I had to put it down to work on my editor deadline, but it’s patiently waiting for me to get back to it.
I like my story genres the same as my menu. I don’t want to eat the same thing all the time. I prefer a wide variety, but I always come back to the paranormal.
*frowns* I would say maybe Karen Marie Moning, uh, JR Ward…no I mean Darynda Jones. *sigh* Can I break a bone or something instead of choosing one? It would be so much easier. I love all of their books, the depth of the characters, and how without even noticing it, I’m sucked into the stories.

Jo: I can't choose a favorite, either. I have so many! During my research of you, I saw an interview where you talked about going to a palm reader. That’s really cool! Besides telling you that you had a long author line and were destined to be a writer, what else did he/she tell you, and what drove you to go see him/her?
S. G.: A special lady that worked in the same office as me, but in a different department, was doing readings for a few others at work, and I asked her about it. She said it was something that fascinated her and she started studying about it. It’s not reading the future, she’d told me, only what the hands can reveal about the past. When she offered to do mine, I was skeptical, but thought I would see what she had to say. I was impressed, so many things she revealed were personal things that she would have had no way knowing anything about. When she asked if I wrote books or poetry, I couldn’t ignore the possibly that I might have an untapped talent. Here I am three years later with my first book out in the world, and three others in the works.

Jo: That's so amazing. Growing up in Louisiana, I must say, I believe in a lot of supernatural stuff. *grin* Speaking of odd things, it's time for the alien question of the interview! Because you went to a palm reader, does that mean you believe in the supernatural? Ever had an alien encounter out there in Illinois? Ever wanted to?
S. G.: Yes, I’m a firm believer in the supernatural. Some things have no other explanation than being supernatural occurrences.
*laughs* The only crop circles I’ve ever seen around my area were caused by deer bedding down in a field. Would I ever want to have an encounter? Hmm, that would be a big fat NO. That would be taking research a bit too far.

Jo: I think I may enjoy an alien encounter. I have SO many questions to ask them! For entertainment purposes, in your best writer-ly voice, tell us how you believe an alien encounter would feel.
S. G.: A constant clicking noise reverberates in my right ear bringing me out of my slumber. Argh, I must have passed out. My brain is doing laps around the Olympic size swimming pool between my temples. I don’t remember getting drunk last night—I can’t even remember having any drinks. Slow, sharp taps continue at my side reminding me of the ones an old-fashioned typewriter makes upon striking a page. Whatever bright light is creating the pink glow behind my closed eyelids will be blinding until my pupils can adjust to it, and I hesitate to open them. I try to bring my hand up to shade my vision so I can look at my surroundings. My heart pounds heavy against my breastbone. I jerk frantically to free my arm, but it’s pointless. The cold metal of the restraint cuts into my skin preventing my forearm from budging. The more I fight against my bond, the faster the tapping becomes until I can‘t take it any longer. Wrenching my head to the side, I snap open my eyes and scream until I taste the coppery tang of blood in my throat. Perched on a wooden stool next to me is some sort of skeletal remains covered in a pea green flesh. Its head, resembling a bowling ball with finger holes for eyes, sits precariously on its shoulders. Spindly tentacle arms move up and down on queue with my pulse. A single slender finger strikes the keys of a Smith Corona. Hundreds of typed pages containing the stories once stored in my mind spew out across the floor. I feel them slowly disappearing from my memory as each word is leached away and transferred onto the paper that’s steadily feeding through the manual machine. I begin to implode as the alien sucks away my dreams.

Jo: Holy crap that was awesome! *shudders* Great story, lady. Rapid fire question time! Have you given up the oatmeal cream pies?
S. G.: Yes

Jo: Congratulations. Not sure I could. *grin* I read that you like sweet tea and pretzels. Yum! So, crunchy ones or the big, soft ones?
S. G.: I love soft pretzels, but I crave the crunchy ones.

Jo: Gotta love the snap. What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done on your ATV?
S. G.: A group of us riders took a ride on the back roads in southern Missouri. We stopped in a shady spot for a beer break, and I had to jump off so a gigantic 6 ft black snake could crawl over the machine.

Jo: Black snakes are the most awesome. But six feet long? Oh my... I'd probably have a heart-attack! Tell me your favorite Edgar Allen Poe story and why you love it.
S. G.: The Pit and the Pendulum. I love Poe’s first person POV describes what was going through the prisoner’s mind.

Jo: Poe was one of the most gruesome, spine-tingling authors to have ever lived. I understand your love of his work. I see your website/blog is relatively new. What have been your biggest challenges with keeping up a website and blog? How do you plan to integrate that into your writing schedule?
S. G.: Good question. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a blogger. My hat goes off to all those who are. I think for the time being I’m going to use it to showcase fellow Indies. I’m thinking maybe later, when I get more experience under my belt, and feel more confident in giving advice, I’ll put in an author help section, maybe one for reviews.

Jo: Well, Indies will certainly appreciate the exposure you're giving them. You've been married a long time. Congratulations! Where did you meet your husband of thirty-one years and how did he propose?
S. G.: We actually met at work. He was technician at Montgomery Ward, and I was a dispatcher. We went out one night for supper and a drink, and out of nowhere he said, “Do you want to get married?” It was a total surprise. The wedding day story on the other hand… This was a second marriage for both of us, and neither wanted a huge production, so we had the pastor come to our house (at the time was next door the Bate’s Motel) to marry us. It was a small gathering with only the immediate family. The World Series Playoffs were on that day, and I turned the TV off during the ceremony. After the, I do’s, the men turned the game back on. The pastor was also engrossed in the game while he filled out the marriage certificate. He started to write in the date and said, “This is the 8th, right?” I said, “No, it’s the bottom of the 8th, today’s the 9th.” And to this day, that’s how we remember the date of our marriage.

Jo: What a lovely story. Bate's Motel? Oh man. Wish I could ask you yet another question right now. *laughing* I know you’d rather hole up somewhere with a book, but are you looking forward to attending UtopYA Con in June? What do you hope to take away from the event?
S. G.: Yes, this is my second visit to UtopYA. Last year, I experienced the event from an attendee perspective. I was nowhere near having my book finished at that time, so I tried to learn as much as I could from the panels. However, in doing that I didn’t seem to have time to meet and talk with people one-on-one. This year I’ll be at a table with my book, and I’m looking forward to experiencing it from an author perspective. I’ve met a lot of great authors and readers over the last year, and I hope to meet them in person during the event.

Jo: It's awesome that you'll get the visitor and author experience over the span of two years. Genius! Odd question, but what do you find most difficult about using hashtags on Twitter?
S. G.: Remembering to use them! #cantremembercrap

Jo: Sounds like me on a bad day. haha! Well, I’m out of time. As a last question, is there anything you’d like to add to the fray that I didn’t ask you about?
S. G.: I think you’ve about covered everything. *smiles* This was fun! Thank you so much for having me here today.

Jo: I try very hard to give you each a unique experience. Glad I could fulfill that. Thanks for being a guest on my blog. I can’t wait to meet you at UtopYA!

Now it’s time to tell you about the featured book of the week!

Title: The Druid’s Doorway
Author: S. G. Daniels
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Length (print): 334 pages
Buy links: Amazon Kindle  $0.99  ~  B&N  $0.99  ~  iTunes  $0.99  ~  Smashwords  $0.99  ~  KOBO  $0.99

Synopsis: Jake Reese thinks he’s just a screwed-up high school kid living in a small town isolated in the Arizona desert. Traumatized at an early age by his mother’s sudden death—and believing he might have had something to do with it—he’s allowed his guilt and lack of self-confidence to rule his life.

Hailey is the fiery little redhead that sees Jake as more than a just a good friend. When she invites him as her date to a school function, it brings down the walls he's built to protect his heart, and sets off a series of events that threaten not only Jake’s life, but that of everyone around him.

The discovery of a portal on the outskirts of town brings Jake face-to-face with death and reveals a closely guarded secret about his mother. No longer is his memory of her the only thing that haunts him. Something evil from her past has escaped through the portal, and nothing will prevent it from trying to steal Jake’s future.

Can Jake overcome his fears to keep Hailey safe? Will the decisions he's forced to make destroy everyone he knows and loves? And ultimately...is he strong enough to live with those choices?

While your fingers are in the clicking mode, why not give Ms. Daniels a follow on social media?

Facebook: S.G. Daniels - Author
Twitter: @SGDanielsAuthor
Blog: SGDaniels.com

I hope you all enjoyed this interview. If you have questions you'd like to ask S. G. Daniels, drop them in the comments below!

Well, that’s all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!


Friday, April 18, 2014

Book Review - The Druid's Doorway

Happy Friday, good people of the blogosphere! Today I bring you another book review from my list for the Indie Fever 2014 Reading Challenge. If you haven't joined up yet, I invite you to do so. You can find the signup page here. Just add your name to the Linky thing with the level you wish to sign up at, snag the badge, and get to reading. I have to brag on this group for a moment. Last year, we reviewed over three hundred Indie books (almost made it to four hundred)! I'm hoping this year beats that number. We're already at one hundred sixty! Add one for the review I'm about to write. How amazing is all that love for Indie authors? Okay then, moving on!

As always, I'll begin by giving you a little information about the book up for review:

Title: The Druid's Doorway (The Reese Brothers - Book One)
Author: S. G. Daniels
Genre: YA Paranormal/Urban Fiction
Length (print): 342 pages
Buy Links: Amazon Kindle $0.99  ~  B&N Nook $0.99  ~ Smashwords $0.99

Synopsis: Jake Reese thinks he’s just a screwed-up high school kid living in a small town isolated in the Arizona desert. Traumatized at an early age by his mother’s sudden death—and believing he might have had something to do with it—he’s allowed his guilt and lack of self-confidence to rule his life.

Hailey is the fiery little redhead that sees Jake as more than just a good friend. When she invites him as her date to a school function, it brings down the walls he's built to protect his heart, and sets off a series of events that threaten not only Jake’s life, but that of everyone around him.

The discovery of a portal on the outskirts of town brings Jake face-to-face with death and reveals a closely guarded secret about his mother. No longer is his memory of her the only thing that haunts him. Something evil from her past has escaped through the portal, and nothing will prevent it from trying to steal Jake’s future.

Can Jake overcome his fears to keep Hailey safe? Will the decisions he's forced to make destroy everyone he knows and loves? And ultimately...is he strong enough to live with those choices?

Pretty, huh? On to my inner musings!

***Will not appear in review elsewhere. I did a cover reveal for this book when it first released. All I can say is wow. I love the color, the font, and the imagery. I do wish the author's name were a bit bigger, but that's my marketing brain kicking in. This cover made me eager to pick up the book when it released, and I snagged my copy not long after it hit the virtual shelves. I'm a huge YA fan, and I love anything paranormal, so I was eager to wrap my teeth around the story in this book.***

Okay, that being said, let's get to the review!

I bought this book over on Amazon not long after the release. Being a foaming-at-the-mouth kind of YA fan, I was eager to read something that promised me druids and portals. It was certainly a step away from vampires, and I appreciated the different paranormal aspect.

From a Reader's Perspective:
I adored Jake's character. He's such a sweet guy, but messed up enough so he doesn't have that "perfection" aura surrounding him. While he tries to do the right thing, he sometimes ends up bungling the whole scenario. All in all, a guy I could really root for. Hailey, on the other hand, was a little too perfect. She could've used a little bit of bad girl or naivety to really round her out. There were a few jarring places in the book where time skipped forward without letting me know what was going on. I had to turn back and be sure I didn't miss something. Pacing in the beginning of the book is slow, but it picks up toward the end. Speaking of the end, there's a huge cliffhanger and an unexpected twist that kind of left me with my jaw dangling. I won't ruin it for you, you'll have to check it out on your own. World building and descriptions were well done, and the author rounded out the main character well.

From an Editor's Perspective:
I'm a huge stickler for pronoun usage. There were so many pronoun errors in this book I became frustrated and put it down often. I don't usually give examples in my review, but this one calls for at least one. "His dad started laughing so hard he had to bend over to grasp his knees. It was contagious, and he started to laugh right along with him, and it lifted the load off his shoulders." Now, the author means Jake in the second sentence up until the use of the word him, then it should be Jake's dad, and then Jake again when the word his is used. There were other errors as well, but I'm not going to detail them all out here. I mentioned above about the jarring time shifts.

+1 for giving me a well rounded main character I could root for.
+1 for the twist at the end that left me a little sad
+1 for an awesome cliffhanger that I didn't see coming
+.5 for descriptions that were well done
-.5 for jarring time shifts that left me scratching my head a few times
-1 for need for an editor to correct pronoun usage, time shifts, and other little things
Overall, 3.5 out of 5 stars. But I round up, not down. Highly recommended if you want something to take you away from the world for a little while and if you want a very different kind of paranormal read.

I hope you all enjoyed this review. If you've read it, what did you think? If not, will you pick it up?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Pronouns - Round Two

Happy Thursday, everyone! I know you're all excited about the approaching weekend, but stay with me today. I'm going over one of the most common errors in writing (again). Why am I bothering to write about it now if I already wrote a post about it last year? Well, because that one got a little buried in the sand (archives) and it's something every author needs to be aware of. Misuse of pronouns is the thing I find most often when editing or reading; and, I'm sorry to admit, the one error I make consistently when writing. Ready? Grab those pens and notebooks and let's get going!

First off: What's a pronoun?

A pronoun is a word that's used to replace a noun. He, his, him, she, her, hers, it, its (no apostrophe), their, they, they're, and theirs are the ones to watch out for.

When should you become hyper-aware of pronouns?

Anytime you're following up naming a person or thing by using a pronoun.

Examples of misplaced pronouns:
Larry looked into his dad's eyes. He noted the sadness there, and wondered if his mind was on the task they were doing. His hands dug into the soft dirt like they had for the last thirty years. Would he ever get used to seeing him this way? Grabbing a handkerchief from the toolbox, Larry used it to wipe his face.

Quickly! How many misplaced pronouns were in that paragraph?

I'll give you a moment to look it over.

Done yet?

Answer: Four out of ten are incorrect.

To find the ones that are wrong, we replace each pronoun with the last person or thing named. I'm going to number the pronouns so we can discuss after, keep the ones that refer to Larry's dad as "Dad," and break it down once I'm done. Errors are bold.

Larry looked into (1.his)Larry's dad's eyes. (2.He)Dad noted the sadness there, and wondered if (3.his)Dad's mind was on the task (4.they)Dad's eyes were doing. (5.His) Dad's hands dug into the soft dirt like (6.they) Dad's hands had for the last thirty years. Would (7.he) Dad ever get used to seeing (8.him) Dad this way? Grabbing a handkerchief from the toolbox, Larry used (9.it)the toolbox to wipe (10.his)Larry's face.
  1. His - Right. Because we're talking about Larry's dad. Larry was the last person named.
  2. He - Wrong. It's Larry who noted the sadness in his dad's eyes.
  3. His - Right. We are referring to Dad, even though Larry should've been the last person named.
  4. They - Wrong. Eyes can't dig in the dirt and they were the last plural noun.
  5. His - Right. We are talking about Dad's hands.
  6. They - Right. Dad's hands had dug in the dirt for the last thirty years.
  7. He - Wrong. We should be referring to Larry, not Dad.
  8. Him - Right. We do mean Dad.
  9. It - Wrong. This should be the handkerchief, not the toolbox. I can't imagine wiping my face with a toolbox.
  10. His - Right. We do mean Larry's face.
Ugh! Right?

So, how do we fix it? There are many ways. Here's one:
Larry looked into his dad's eyes, noting the sadness there, and wondered if his mind was on the task at hand. His fingers dug into the soft dirt like they had for the last thirty years. Larry wasn't sure he'd ever get used to seeing the strain staring back at him from those eyes. Grabbing a handkerchief, he used it to wipe his face.

If you have to include the toolbox, do so before the word handkerchief: Reaching into the toolbox, he grabbed a handkerchief and used it to wipe his face.

It's all about wording and construction. I know you probably think pronouns are the least of your worries, but a little bit of attention paid to this tiny thing will help your book tremendously in the long run.

These are rules that can't readily be broken without seriously confusing the crap out of your reader. Now that you know what to look for, scroll back up and read the first paragraph again without the breakdown.

Heck, I know I miss a couple when editing my own work or the work of other people; that's to be expected. I find errors like that in traditionally published books, too (though few and far between). But four in one paragraph?

How about you? Have you become pronoun proficient? Or did this post teach you something new?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Shying Away in Your Writing

Happy Wednesday, good people of the blogosphere! Wow! It's hump day. We're halfway to the weekend and have a ton of awesome stuff done already, right? Well, you have just two more days until you get a couple off to lounge around and soak up some sun (don't forget your sunscreen!). Today, I'm gonna be talking about those hard to write scenes and why you should write what you feel; not what you think your readers want to read. Ready? Grab those pens and notebooks and let's get going.

As you probably know, I review a good number of books here on the blog (at least twelve a year by Indies, and that number tends to go up as my favorite authors - both Indie and Traditionals - release new works). One thing I notice in the books I read is the author holding themselves back from writing a scene that may seem too graphic for their audience. No, I'm not talking about sex. I'm talking about violence, gore, and death.

If you're writing Young Adult, you do have to keep it toned down. That's not the genre I'm talking about here. However, you may reconsider your target audience if you come upon a scene you know will launch your story into a whole other realm. You feel me?

Most writers I know see the story take shape in their head as they put the words on the page. Things happen, characters act in their own way, and unexpected situations arise. Remember: A book isn't prime-time television, and you can write what you're seeing in the moment.

Let your fingers communicate what's in your head. If you see it on your inner-movie reel, put it on the page.

I can't stress this enough.

Here's some examples of lead-ups to scenes that you may shy away from writing:
Tiffany spun around the dark room; her eyes searching in the inky blackness for a visual to accompany the sounds her ears were picking up. Shuffling, grunts, and heavy breathing assaulted her most active sense. Arms out, she waves her hands through the air like she's swimming. Her heart is pounding, and she can smell metal. Something hard, cold, and rough is found. A wall. It must be a wall. Feeling her way along, she finds what she hoped for and pushes the switch to the on position. As the light fills the space, and her eyes adjust, her hands fly up to cover her mouth and muffle the scream building behind her lips.

Now, this can be a myriad of things:
  • People being eaten
  • A group of men ready to attack her
  • A group of women ready to attack her
  • Zombies
  • Vampires
  • Rats
  • Giant spiders
  • Clowns
I think you get the idea. Whatever happens next, you've built up that tension for a reason. Readers are waiting for what Tiffany is surprised by. Give it to them, and don't be shy. Go into detail about what she sees, smells, hears, feels, and tastes. If she's murdered, go into how. Torture? Give it raw. Write it exactly as you see it in your head.

Clark walked through the flower field, letting his hands graze the soft tops of the tall blooms. A breeze tickled the back of his neck and caused the tiny hairs there to stand on end. He's lost with thoughts of Delia to pay too much attention to the fact that the sun is setting, but the clearing is getting brighter by the moment. His ears pick up a whisper on the wind, and he freezes in place. Delia fades from his mind as a beautiful woman steps from the treeline and holds out her arms to him. Icy puffs of breath come from his mouth as it falls open. Heat spreads through his body as he takes in her form, and his fingers twitch to touch her alabaster skin--around which long, black hair twists and flows like a silk sheet in the breeze. Red lips that need no lipstick, blue eyes the color of the clear sky, and a Romanesque nose sized to perfection all beckon to him with promises of fantasies come true. If only he'll step into those open arms.

Again, you can take this in a million directions:
  • Death by haunting vixen
  • A quest
  • Ghostly encounters
  • Witches
  • Vampires
  • Myth and Lore
You get the picture, eh? Again, this is a tense scene. You've told your reader something big is coming because you've painted with your words. Bring it on. Don't leave them hanging and frustrated. Go where the wind takes you (hey, there's another idea!).

What I'm trying to get across here is: Don't let the audience dictate what you put on the page. If you end up with a novel geared toward an older, more mature audience, let it go. However, if you think Clark will end up whisked away to a land of fantasy and the story is supposed to start there, let it be so. But if another idea strikes you, let it come out. Write it two ways if you must and choose your favorite.

Whatever you do, don't shy away from the gore, death, or violence if the story calls for it. I'd be willing to bet that your YA brain already went with a quest (if that's what you write). Listen to your inner writer.

Have you ever ended up with a book totally different from the idea you began writing?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Author Interview - C. A. Kunz

Happy Tuesday, good people of the blogosphere! I’m so excited to be bringing you another unofficial UtopYA Con author interview. If you missed any of the past interviews, please go catch up here. I know we’re all hoping to have a ton of people visit us at the con. So, if you don’t have tickets yet, you can get them here. Get on it before the spaces are all full! Let’s get this party started! Everyone grab something to make noise with and welcome authors Carol and Adam Kunz, part of the writing duo C. A. Kunz, to the fun!

Jo: Hey, hey! Welcome to the blog, Carol and Adam. It’s a pleasure to have you both here. Since there are two of you, I’m gonna ask a few questions of you both, then break off and ask you questions individually. I do a lot of digging around, and I hope you aren’t too scared of what’s coming. My readers like the juicy stuff, and I try to feed them on a regular basis. *wink* Ready?
C&A: We’re sooooo ready! Oh, and also super excited to be here. Thanks for having us!

Jo: Yup. That's what they all say (at first). *evil laugh* I’ve read that you guys are in need of a virtual assistant to help you keep up with everything social media wise. Have you thought any more about that? Who have you looked into (and have you considered just making a schedule)?
C&A: Yeah, we could definitely use an assistant with social media. We’re getting a little better at organizing ourselves, but not as much as we’d like to be, hahaha! We’d love to have someone to just help us keep all our ‘selves’ straight. But seriously, we spend so much time on social media. Keeping up with four Facebook Pages (Adam Kunz, C.A. Kunz, Amanda Jason, and our street team), two Twitter accounts (C.A. Kunz and Amanda Jason), three E-mail Accounts (two gmail accounts and one AOL account), a Blog (which we kind of avoid like the plague now), and a website (soon to be two, one for Amanda Jason and one for Adam Kunz). We have trouble keeping track of everything to say the least. Plus, we have to find time to write on top of all this. We feel there are people out there that think we ignore them, but that’s not the case at all. Adam has a full-time job outside of writing (which keeps him busy) and I take care of my parents (which is also a time investment) so it would be awesome to have an assistant so we wouldn’t miss anyone, because everyone is important to us. We have taken a step toward getting help though. We hired a publicist who helps A LOT with promoting our books and he comes up with unique ideas of how to pimp our books and ourselves. Rick Miles from Red Coat PR is an AWESOME publicist, and though not an assistant, he’s the next best thing, seriously!

Jo: I hear a street team can help with your Facebook pages sometimes. You just ask a fan to run the page for you or just keep up with posts and marketing stuff. *shrugs* I dunno. I know of Rick and Red Coat PR. They pop up everywhere! Glad you found some help. Moving on! I poked around and read a lot of your blog entries (as you can probably tell). But your blog went quiet around July 2013. Care to share with my readers why?
C&A: We have Blog? Adam must have forgotten to tell me. Okay so we know we have a blog, but all it has in it are crickets and cobwebs. At first it was a novelty for us to have one, but we found traffic to our blog was spotty at best no matter how we advertised it. Not to mention, keeping up with a blog while writing and doing social media just seemed like too much for us. So, we spent more time on Twitter and Facebook in order to push our brand. When people ask us to post on our blog (like cover reveals or release day posts for them) we tell them the truth, that if they want exposure, our Blog is not the place to post.

Jo: Kudos to you for being honest. It takes a long time to build a following and sometimes it's really not the thing you need. I know you guys live in Florida, and are friends with some of my most favorite people in the world. Would you mind sharing the details of a public event you do with authors from your area (and who they are)?
C&A: OMG, yes, we have so much fun with our author friends here! We love going to schools, local book fairs, and signing events as a group. We hope we don’t leave anyone out, but here’s our list of AWESOME author friends we do things with here in Florida: Raine Thomas, Sarah Ross-Abernathy, Tiffany King, Michelle Madow, Heather Dencker, Tawdra Kandle, Kristina Circelli, Toni Sinns, Rachael Wade, Heather Allen, and Kaitlyn Ballenger. We’re always open to others joining, because the more the merrier.

Jo: I've interviewed a couple of those ladies. They're so awesome (and knowledgeable!). How many conferences do you guys attend in a year and which ones are they?
C&A: This year we’re attending a lot more conventions than we have in the last three years. In January we were in Daytona Beach, FL for Coastal Magic Con and in March we went to Wicked Book Weekend in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.
  • May: We’re going to the RT Booklovers Convention in New Orleans.
  • June: We’re going to UtopYA (of course) in Nashville.
  • August: We’re going to the Indie Book Fest in Orlando.
  • August: We’re going to the Believe, Hope, and Live Con in Maine.
  • September: We’re going to Penned Con in St Louis.
  • September: We’re going to the Chapter by Chapter con in New York.
  • October: We’re going to the Queen’s City Author con in Cincinnati, but only as fans.
Jo: Wow. You guys are busy! UtopYA will be fun. I have a very good friend, Tia Bach, who wrote a book with her mother (and survived… with battle scars). What’s your writing process like? Does it ever cause arguments between the two of you?
C&A: Our first book was tough, but we worked though the trials and tribulations and were finally able to finish up The Childe in about nine months. Our 2nd and 3rd books were easier since we had learned so much from working on the first and were able to avoid making the same mistakes. Before we begin writing a book, we have to make a very strong and detailed outline. Then Adam typically tackles the first two chapters, me the next two, and so on until we have the first rough draft. Then we spend hours in my office editing until we feel it’s ready to go out to beta readers.

Jo: It must be lovely bonding time when editing. Time for the alien question of the interview! Do you ever think about the Bermuda Triangle and wonder if there might actually be something else “out there” for us to discover?
C&A: We both feel that there are so many things in this life that we can’t explain. Carol saw her first ghost at age 8, and has been curious about all aspects of the ‘paranormal’ since then. Adam has had some strange occurrences happen to him as well that he can’t explain. We most definitely don’t believe we’re the only ‘beings’ in this vast universe, and wouldn’t be shocked if proof was found. The Bermuda Triangle is one of Carol’s favorites and she’s read many books and watched many documentaries and believes there’s so much more to discover out there.

Jo: I couldn't agree more. I've always said you must believe in what you can't or haven't seen. Time to break away and ask you individual questions (don’t worry, the other won’t see your answers, so you can be open and honest). *giggles* I’ll start with Carol. I have to have an answer to this, because it cracked me up when I saw it. I read in one of your interviews that Adam was the best stomach flu you ever had. Care to explain that comment?
Carol: Before I knew I was pregnant with Adam, I was working in a neurologist’s office, and everyone in the office was coming down with the stomach flu. I thought when I became ill that I was just getting what was being passed around the office, but little did I know, I was pregnant. After being sick for a while (a lot longer than anyone in the office) my husband Bob decided that maybe it was time we should name my little stomach flu.

Jo: That's hilarious. I've had many bouts of the stomach flu (five kids). *grin* What do you feel was your biggest struggle in writing with your son?
Carol: Getting used to being writing peers, not just mom and son.

Jo: That would be hard. My mom is great, but I don't think I could see her as anything but my mom. Kudos to you guys for making it work! You were born across the pond in New Ferry, England. In your best writer-ly voice, share with us an experience there (and help us visualize where you’re from).
Carol: At the age of 8, I saw my first ghost outside my bedroom. We lived in a little village called Raunds in a house that was part of a new development. I was sitting in our living room with my best friend, Sandra, and we were having a tea party. My American dad, who was in the Air Force, was sitting on the couch reading the newspaper and my younger brother was playing outside. To make a long story short, the door to the living room kept opening by itself, the door handle would go down, then up and fly open. It did it three times. My dad said it was because I hadn’t shut it properly. Then when he left to pick up my English mum at the hairdressers, the door opened again by itself and Sandra and I climbed out the living room window, grabbed my brother, and ran to her house. Her brother laughed at us and led us back to the house. Sandra and my brother stayed outside, while her brother and I searched the house. My bedroom was the only room upstairs and we climbed up and when we turned the corner we saw it. A tall, broad shadowed shape coming our way. We half fell, half slid down the stairs, locked the front door, and ran back to their house. Of course, my parents didn’t believe me, which when I became an adult and heard my English, maternal great-grandmother was a spiritualist and used to chat with spirits constantly, baffled me. My mum now admits that I could have seen it.

Jo: Holy Moly, Batman! I would never have slept again. Super creep factor! Well told. Now, tell me about a book you’ve written alone, why you decided to write it, and how you came up with the idea for it.
Carol: Well, when I decided to write my own novel I wanted it to be a light New Adult romantic comedy that would make the reader smile and laugh while falling in love with the characters. It’s the story of Pandora Phillips and how she finds herself in a pickle with her current living arrangements and ends up reluctantly having to move in with three hot models. Of course my imagination went into overdrive because I never had such luck in real life … I mean experience. I went from my parent’s home to living with my husband. I had to use a pen name since I didn’t want my NA to be associated with our YA books. Amanda and Jason were my twins who only lived for a short while after being born, and I felt it was a perfect way to honor them by making my pen name Amanda Jason.

Jo: I've seen the Facebook buzz surrounding that book. I'm gonna be checking it out. For those readers that don't know about Amanda Jason's book, it's titled Lucky Number Four and is $4.99 on Amazon for Kindle. What an awesome way to honor your babies. I interviewed Ms. Kristina Circelli and asked her for a good interview question (I know, my deviousness knows no bounds!). She told me to ask you what you did with your very first paperback proof of The Childe. I’m seriously intrigued. Mind sharing? *grin*
Carol: Devious you are, my friend. I slept with the proof on my pillow the night I received it.

Jo: Oh my... Totally sounds like something I would do. Haha! I’m gonna move on to Adam now. I read that you’re a Harry Potter fan. Right on! Which book in the series is your favorite and why?
Adam: I’d have to say that my favorite book (and movie) from the series would have to be The Prisoner of Azkaban, simply because it A. had professor Lupin in it who was a werewolf (I love me some paranormal creatures) and B. this book introduced us to one of my favorite characters, Sirius Black. Plus, I just LOVED all the plot twists that J.K. Rowling threw into this one.

Jo: That one was my favorite, too. Though I hated the way they butchered the movie. *frowns* What’s your birthplace of Newport New, Virginia, like?
Adam: Well, considering we left when I was two or three, I don’t really remember what it was like. I haven’t even had a chance to go back and visit, but I do plan on it one day.

Jo: Here's hoping your experience is a great one when you do visit! I’m positive I could never write anything with my mother, so I totally commend those who can. Not that I don’t love my mom, but she has some pretty strong opinions. *grin* What was the hardest thing about working with your mom on a book?
Adam: I have to agree with my mom on her answer of having to remember that though we are Mom and Son, we’re also writing peers, and have to be able to take criticism as such instead of taking it personal.

Jo: *gasp!* You weren't supposed to read her answer! Kidding... Sort of. Moving on! I read somewhere that your book, The Childe, won a gold medal (First Place) in the 2011 Readers Favorite Award Contest - Young Adult Fantasy Category. When you got the news, how did it make you feel?
Adam: It pretty much floored both of to be honest. We were up against some stiff competition, and to see our little book do so well had both of us in tears on the phone with each other and squeeing like little school girls, hahaha!

Jo: Was it anything like the time you landed the four star book review from RT Book Reviews? What was different?
Adam: This actually happened a week or so after we found out that we won the gold medal from Reader’s Favorite, so we were still coming down off of that. It floored us as well, and we were shocked by the news since we had no idea that RT even reviewed independently published books. To say that these two things made out year is a huge understatement.

Jo: I can't imagine. Hurrah for you both! Tell me about a book you’ve written alone. Where did the idea come from, what’s the title, and how long did it take you to write it?
Adam: The first novel I wrote by myself was a crossover mature Young Adult/New Adult thriller entitled One Tiny Secret. I was inspired to write OTS by my love for horror/thriller films and R.L. Stine books. I was a huge fan of the Fear Street series and the Goosebumps series when I was younger, so I knew that my first novel would have to be a book like those. It took me about two and a half months to write the first draft of the novel, but then a month more after that to get all the edits and beta reader feedback incorporated.

Jo: Sounds very King-like. *grin* I adore a good thriller and will have to check that one out. For my readers, you can find it on Amazon for $0.99. It was lovely having you both on the blog. I can’t wait to meet y’all at UtopYA Con in June! It’s right around the corner now. Thanks so much for stopping by and putting up with my questioning. *grins*
C&A: Thank you so much for having us Jo, we can’t wait to meet you too. P.S. we’re HUGGERS, just a little warning :)

Jo: It should be a good time! That’s all the time we have for today. Read on to find out about C. A. Kunz’s featured book of the week!

Title: The Modified
Author: C. A. Kunz
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian/Sci-Fi
Length (print): 303 pages
Buy links: Amazon Kindle $2.99  ~  B&N $2.99  ~  Kobo $2.99

Synopsis: What would you sacrifice to save the ones you love? To save the one who holds your heart? To save the world?

Kenley Grayson is all too familiar with these questions.

After Earth is thrust into its first intergalactic war with an unknown race called the Bringers, our military forces begin to suffer heavy losses. Desperate for a solution, the Allied Federation issues a worldwide draft for every able seventeen year old to enlist. As Kenley turns seventeen, she finds herself thrown into the very war that took her older brother's life.

This year's draft is a little different than in the past though. A new program, known as the Magnus Project, has been introduced, and only the best and brightest qualify. Kenley is amongst a select few whom are chosen to join this elite group of soldiers, and as a part of this project, undergoes a modification procedure that leaves her and her peers endowed with powers beyond their wildest dreams.

As Earth continues in its struggle against the Bringers, Kenley is transported to a high-tech training facility, the Magnus Academy, to prepare for the major battle that lies ahead. It's here that she meets the California heartthrob, and son of a legendary war hero, Landon Shaw. As unexpected feelings toward Landon begin to develop, Kenley wonders if this is the right time or place for romance to bloom, especially when those feelings start to interfere with her training.

With the weight of the world on her shoulders, Kenley is constantly reminded of how important she and the rest of the Magnus cadets are to the fate of humanity. She is one of the Modified, Earth's last line of defense against utter destruction.

While your fingers are in the clicking mode, why not give Mr. and Ms. Kunz a follow on social media?

Facebook: C.A. Kunz
Twitter: @AuthorCAKunz
Blog: C.A. Kunz

I hope you all enjoyed this interview.

Well, that’s all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!


Monday, April 14, 2014

Spotty Blog Posts

Happy Monday, good people of the blogosphere! Well, it's another week and another chance to get things accomplished before the weekend rolls around again. We have five days to go. Hang in there. So, today I'm gonna give you all a heads up about something I know is gonna happen soon. Grab your coffee and let's get going.

Besides the Unofficial Interviews with the Ladies of UtopYA series I have running here on the blog, you all know I strive to bring you excellent writing tips, advice on self-publishing, book reviews, and other awesome tidbits I run across on the web. Well, all but the interviews and guest post might be spotty until after that awesome con.


Because we're getting ready to move. Not the blog (don't worry!). But physically, in real life, my family is relocating. I'm telling you all this so if my blog posts are spotty around that time (it's just before UtopYA), you'll know it's not because I'm slacking or that I abandoned you.

Speaking of UtopYA: Be sure you're checking out the interviews and guest posts by some of the authors attending that event. You can find the special links page here that has dates the posts will go up. C. A. Kunz will be joining me here on the blog tomorrow for an awesome interview (difficult to interview two people in one).

I dislike having missed posts here on the blog, and strive to keep things running smoothly even when I'm away. I'll do my best to keep the great information flowing seamlessly during this difficult transition.

Bear with me, please.

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!


Friday, April 11, 2014

Scrivener Output to EPub and Mobi

Happy Friday, good people of the blogosphere! Well, I'm back (as promised) with a little more information about Scrivener and one of the cool features that program has. I've run across a number of authors lately that didn't know you could upload your book to KDP and then download the .mobi version from the book publishing page. This really neat tool in Scrivener allows you to skip that step and publish your book right out to a .mobi or .epub file. Let me be perfectly frank with you all: I've never tried it. Why? Well, because the learning curve in that program is one I haven't quite hit yet.

But that's not going to stop me from sharing this awesome little video with you all:

Exporting your e-book with Scrivener

In design school, we were taught there's a specific program a designer uses for creation of different things. For example: Photoshop is an image editing program, Illustrator is for logo creation, and InDesign is for layouts of printed material.

Perhaps it's the same for writers. When you have a tool that's as powerful as Scrivener, it's something you should learn, right?

From the comments on my last post Word Processors for Writers - MS Word vs Scrivener, I gather many people gave up on the complexity of Scrivener because of the learning curve. I'm one of those writers. It's not because I don't see the potential of the program; but because I can't seem to carve out the time in my day to sit down and learn how to use it.

Out of curiosity, I popped over to the blog on literatureandlatte.com to find out what the folks behind the scenes are doing to propel the software forward. I found this post, published in April of 2013. It seems that's the last post published on their blog and promises an iOS version of Scrivener soon.

Maybe I'm crazy, but I love streamlined. If I can open a program on my computer, work on a document, save it, close it, head to the DMV to sit for three hours with my iPad in tow, open the same program, and continue my work with no loss of data (because it's in the cloud) or time, that seems like a no-brainer to me. Productivity is everything in this business.

Is the functionality of a program important to me? Yes. So is convenience.

Since I cut my teeth on MS Word, like many of you, I tend to reach for what I know to accomplish my goals. Is that the right thing to do? Hmmm...

I'm not telling you I hate Scrivener or for you not to use it. Quite the opposite, actually. If you know how to use that program and love it, keep going. It's a powerful writer tool.

But, if you use MS Word, don't feel like you're less than those who've taken the plunge. Some of the comments on that other post give you ways to work within MS Word just like you do with Scrivener.

Just like those who love Scrivener for writing because they know it so well, I have a deep love for InDesign for book layout. Can you do most of the same things in Word? Yup. With every program, there's good and bad, like yin and yang.

What's the answer? Only you can decide what's best for your process. Either or, it's always about producing a great book. That's the bottom line.

I hope you enjoyed this post and I hope I answered the question my commenter had a while ago about outputting to .epub and .mobi from Scrivener.

Did you know the program could do that?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!