Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Your First 100 Words

Good Tuesday to you all! Today, we're gonna talk about the first 100 words of your novel, why they matter, and what you can do to help them out. No jabbering today on my part; grab those pens and notebooks and let's get going!

I know you've heard it a million (billion?) times: Your first 100 words are everything.

No, they aren't, but they're a crucial part of the whole.

Think about it. When a reader picks up your book on the shelf, the first thing they read is the back, right? Before they pick up a sample digitally, your synopsis is what they read. Once they're past that hurdle, they'll flip the book over, open the front flap, and read a couple of paragraphs. Or, in the case of a digital book, they'll download the sample, open it, and read the first couple of paragraphs.

If they enjoy it, they'll buy. Look at caviar. People like it, they pay a LOT for it.

So, your first 100 words are important, yes, because they're what will get you the sale.

I guess you could say they're one third of your most important elements. Yeah, the other two are your synopsis and last 1k words (I'll go into the last 1k sometime soon).

So how do you beef up those first few paragraphs to make them something readers are dying to get more of?

Move the reader. Give them a wow moment.

Engage the five senses, and use powerful words.

Let's try a little exercise. In this, I'll try to set the tone, hint at the genre, give a great example of my writing style, set the POV, and give a bit of a setting.

My eyes opened to find total darkness.
All my limbs began to tingle, and my breath came in ragged gasps. There was no light for my pupils to adjust to.
Not one tiny speck of illumination.
Those nightmares I had when I was younger were in my face; all too suddenly a grim reality.
I tried to sit up, to get away from the oppressive inkiness, but my head hit something that felt like wood.
Automatically, my hand moved to touch the spot, and I scraped my knuckles across the timber, making them itch with a thousand splinters.

~98 words~

Okay, now we'll have to edit this to read a little more powerfully. Ready?

My eyelids lifted, and darkness assaulted me. Oppressive, thick, suffocating. Even after a moment of lying still, not one speck of illumination could be harvested to penetrate my pupils and assist my sight.
Nightmares I'd had slammed into me full force, and I tried to rise. Something wooden smacked my head, forcing me to remain supine. My hand moved to comfort my battered forehead, only to end up itching with a thousand splinters as my knuckles scraped the timber.
I shook, wondering what I'd done to deserve my mother's punishment again, aware of the tears that were ruining my mascara.

~100 words~

Notice I got more description and feeling into the second pass. If I went over it again, it would probably remain pretty close to what I have here.

Things you know or can safely assume:
  • This is a young person in a dark place (some kind of box?), with at least a piece of wood that's so close she can't sit up.
  • She's lying on her back.
  • This isn't the first time she's been there.
  • She's afraid of creatures from nightmares or total darkness.
  • First person, past tense.
  • There is zero light to be had, which conveys the person is buried somehow, and it leaves the reader wondering.
  • This is a punishment for misbehavior - But what?
  • She's old enough to wear makeup.
  • She's crying
  • Probably a contemporary thriller or horror story.

From the first attempt to the second, I condensed passages, used better (stronger) words, and gave you more lead-in.

Read them again and see if you can pick up on the things I changed while conveying the same tale.

Flow wasn't sacrificed, and the sentences are more varied in the second part.

Would you want to read more?

That's the idea. You must convey to the reader many things, but it has to sound natural and leave them wanting to turn the page for more.

So, your first 100 words aren't everything, but they're crucial.

Try this exercise on your own, then go here and copy/paste your text to see if your word count hits the mark.

Post your results below! I'd love to see what you come up with.

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


Monday, October 20, 2014

Author Interview - Christina Mercer

Happy, happy Monday, everyone! Today, I have the lovely Christina Mercer on the blog. Can I get a shout out of love for this awesome lady, please? I met Christina at the Friday night signing event at UtopYA Con 2014. I was lucky enough to get to sit right next to her (we were arranged alphabetically); and, me being me, I struck up a conversation. Her first image below is her at the signing. Awesome display, huh? She's one amazing person. If you don't have tickets to UtopYA 2015 yet, they go back on sale in November. You can get one here. Grab your pajamas and a cup of coffee, relax, and read on to the end where you'll have a shot at winning a book!

Jo: Welcome to my little piece of Heaven, Christina! I’m so excited to have you on my blog today. I loved researching you for this interview; you’re quite the interesting lady! Ready to get into it?

Christina: I am so ready and sooo happy to be here!

Jo: Awesome! Let's jump in there. I'll start with a book question. *grin* Your books have gotten some serious attention in the competition world. Arrow of the Mist has two significant awards (Semi-Finalist in the ABNA, and an Honorable Mention in the Writer’s Digest 21st Annual Indie competition), and Honey Queen was awarded one (Best-in-show at a California SCBWI Regional Con) so far. Congratulations on those huge achievements. I have to ask you how it felt when you were notified.

Christina: The ABNA contest was my first novel award and it really helped give me the validation I needed to keep going, keep writing, keep persevering toward author-dome. Positive acknowledgement in any form is huge for writers because we are constantly wondering if our stuff is “good enough,” so I was/am utterly grateful to have had my work honored in these competitions.

Jo: Yup, I've felt the exact same way you do about validation. Sometimes, it's just awesome to hear someone say how much your work moved them, eh? I know you’re a beekeeper, and I ran across some interesting tidbits about them on your website, but I have to know the exact moment you formulated the idea for Honey Queen.

Christina: Honey Queen came to me the beginning of the summer in 2011. I was tossing the idea around with my teenage son and he actually came up with the title before I’d written a word of the story. The book is a mix of my passion for writing young adult stories and my love of honey bees. And I’d never read anything else like it!

Jo: I've never heard of anything like it, either. I already bought it, and it's on my early 2015 TBR list! *grin* Why are you driven toward Celtic lore? Irish roots?

Christina: My mother’s side is Irish, but more than that is a life-long fascination with mythology. Celtic countries in particular revered nature, trees, herbs and also the unicorn (my child-hood obsession). Many of our nature-based paths today stem from Celtic traditions that speak to me on a deep level. I will also say that Greek mythology provided my imagination with visions of Pegasus and beautiful oceanic goddesses, and so where my first two books honor my love of Celtic mythology, Honey Queen showcases inspiration from Greek myths.

Jo: Um, what little girl doesn't dream of having a unicorn? *giggles* Guilty! I love mythology. Took a class in college for the heck of it. We should talk about it sometime because I'm not as familiar with the Celtic lore. Your books all have awesome reviews on Amazon. That rocks! Are you nervous about what every author dreads (the low rating)? What do you think you’ll do?

Christina: LOL. I’ve already had that first “bad” review (though not on Amazon), and it put me in a total funk for a day. Then I realized that every author gets them, even the big players. It’s bound to happen because our stories simply won’t appeal to everyone the same and everyone has a right to their opinions. Constructive criticism is good because it helps us grow, and I appreciate a well-thought-out review, even if it’s a “low-rated” one. But I do take comfort in the fact my books have received mostly great feedback! :)

Jo: Explains why I didn't see it. I love that outlook. I remember the first low review I got for I, Zombie, and it was well thought out and concise. I appreciated the reviewer taking the time. Plus, she was super sweet about it. Let’s talk about your brain child, Indie Visible, for a moment. What’s the goal of IV, where did the idea come from, and what are some of your future plans for the group?

Christina: Indie-Visible 1.0 actually began in the fall of 2012. I joined the group a couple of months after its inception and worked alongside some super dynamic women. We had a good routine for blog posts and book reviews, with our overall aim to eventually provide a site where Indie authors could gain advice and referrals to Indie publish their books. A variety of factors contributed to the re-launch of Indie-Visible 2.0 (watch for it on February 1, 2015!) with three of us from the original group plus a few other awesome additions to comprise the core crew, along with a list of bloggers and freelance experts to make up our larger membership. Our greatest mission is to provide a one-stop, extremely interactive site where Indies can build their publishing teams and where readers can find quality Indie books while having fun with the authors they love.

Jo: I'm super excited about it. IBGW is so honored to be part of your group. Indies banding together? We may take over the world. *grin* So, you say you’re naturally shy, so how do you force yourself to open up and meet people? Do you put that shyness trait into any of your characters?

Christina: Boy, it has been a slow process overcoming my shyness. Publishing my first book and having my first signing was a big step (it helped that lots of family and friends were there). The more I actually put myself “out there” with signings and interviews, the easier it became. Public speaking is perhaps the truest test and when I had my first speaking gig at a high school, I surprised myself in how calm I felt. I believe the camaraderie I have found within the writing community and the support given from those who enjoy what I write has done wonders for this once painfully-shy girl to overcome her fear.

Jo: I would've never guessed you were shy! So, you're doing a great job. Time for some rapid fire questions! Circles or squares (you can’t say hexagons! LOL)?

Christina: No hexagons? Okay, then Circles :)

Jo: Disposable or reusable?

Christina: Reusable

Jo: Vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry?

Christina: ALL! Oh, all right, Vanilla

Jo: Time travel question! I love these. So much fun to see what people say. Here we go: If you could go back and change one major event in history, what would it be and what impact do you think it would have on the world? I know, I’m tricky. *innocent grin*

Christina: Oooh, that question could generate an entire essay from me! Everything in history has had a domino effect in causing the next big event, and the next after that, so that the true roots of events causing devastation actually stem from things set in motion way, way before the events take place, so choosing one thing, one root thing is HARD! I mean I could go back as far as the time of Christ or Constantine or when the Black Death hit or less far back to Slavery in America or the Stock Market Crash or when Hitler became Chancellor of Germany or the Vietnam War or 9/11 . . . And I’m not even going into the fact that out of many horrific events, great things have also been born (inventions and human interactions that might not have happened otherwise). So, changing history is VERY TRICKY indeed!

BUT in keeping with the question, I’ll stick to the 20th Century and go back and abolish WW I as the major precursor to events (the biggest one being WW II) that caused massive devastation and forever changed our modern world.

Jo: Sweet answer. I'm a tricky type of person. *evil-laugh* I know you and Chelsea Starling are very close. How did you guys meet, and what makes you work so well together?

Christina: We actually met right after the launch of Indie-Visible 1.0 in 2012 when I jumped on board with the group. We really got to know each other soon after that when Chelsea created my web site and the cover for my first book. We “clicked” right away, as if we’d known each other forever, and when I learned her birthday was the same day as my husband of 27 years, it made perfect sense :)

Jo: She does some awesome website work. I love her designs! Isn't it funny how there are those people you just mesh with? Well, before this post gets too dang long, I’ll have to end it here. Is there anything I didn’t ask that you wish I had, or any little nuggets of shame you’d like to share with my readers?

Christina: I’m honored to be here amid such a fantastic audience!

Jo: We're honored to have you! Thanks so much for joining me today. I can’t wait to see you at UtopYA Con 2015!

Christina: Thank YOU for having me!! And I am counting down the days until UtopYA 2015 :)

Jo: Aren't we all?

Now, it’s time to reveal the featured book of the week!

Title: Honey Queen
Author: Christina Mercer
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
Length (print): ~185 pages
Buy links: Amazon Kindle $2.99 ~ B&N $2.99 ~ Kobo $2.99 ~ iBooks $2.99

Synopsis: Love is honey sweet, but it comes with a fatal sting . . .

Melaina Maris needs wings to fly the gap between loving Sam and her family’s ancient curse that forces carnal love and then kills the male lovers. She won’t let the same fate that killed her father befall another. She refuses to allow her goddess-created bloodline to continue. But there’s no easy way out, especially after the curse turns her into the Honey Queen—savior to honey bees—intensifying her charms.

To help her fulfill the curse’s demands in the least harmful way, her grandmother takes her to mate with terminally ill Boyd. But Boyd’s gay. And an expert in mythology. Instead of having sex, Melaina learns how she might summon the goddess who created the ancestor bee-charmer and cursed her bloodline. Melaina's magic—tears to save honey bees from endangerment—could be enough to persuade the goddess to end the curse. But an unexpected discovery soon changes that hope, spinning Melaina into a swarm of love, friendship and death.

While your fingers are in the clicking mode, why not give this lovely lady a follow on every social media platform I could think of when writing up the template for these interviews (plus some)?

Twitter: @cwritebuzz
Facebook: Christina Mercer Writes
Pinterest: Christina Mercer
Website: Christina Mercer
Blog: Christina Mercer
Goodreads: Christina Mercer
Google +: Christina Mercer
LinkedIN: Christina Mercer
Instagram: cmercerbuzz

Christina has been so kind as to grace us with a GIVEAWAY! Holla! Enter with the Rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you have any questions, pop them into the comments below! Christina will be happy to interact with you.

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


Friday, October 17, 2014

Length of Novels - It Matters

Happy Friday! Welcome back to the humble ablog! Exciting things coming for you next week! Here's the current lineup: Monday - Author Interview with Christina Mercer, Tuesday - Your First 100 Words, Wednesday - Book Review: The Fly House, Thursday - Crypt Keeper Tour K. A. Young, Friday - Fractured Glass Cover Reveal. Yeah, so you wanna come back for all that.

Also, I'll be putting together the official reading list for UtopYA. A page will be dedicated to that endeavor. Be sure you check that out, as well as voting for the official poster design (coming soon)!

Today, we're gonna talk about the length of your novel and why it matters. Remember that post on genre from yesterday? We're keeping with that theme. So, grab your pens and notebooks and let's get going!

Let's begin by thinking about why page count plays into your novel writing. If you write epic fantasy, your books will be really long (think LOTR) because you'll be taking time to explain things and build characters and worlds so the reader can see and feel them. You can't label a book that's 100k words in length as epic fantasy and not expect backlash from fans of the genre. In contrast, you don't want a contemporary romance to end up with a 300k word count, either.

So how to know?

Your research lies in the best seller list. Go look at the most popular books in your genre and see how many pages they have. I'll get to the math on factoring an approximate page and average word count in a moment. Write down the top three best sellers and navigate to their Amazon pages. See how long they are.

Now for the math.

I'm gonna use some numbers I grabbed really quickly from the Young Adult list here:

320 pages: If I Stay by Gayle Forman
337 pages: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
306 pages: Where She Went by Gayle Forman

See a trend? Yeah... So, we now have a page count that we'll average. Add all the numbers together:

320 + 337 + 306 = 963

Divide by three:

963 / 3 = 321

For every four pages, you have about 1k words. So, divide by four:

321 / 4 = 80.25

Multiply by one thousand:

80.25 X 1000 = 80,250

Now, I don't know about you, but I've heard Young Adult books range from 35-75k. Our number is slightly more. Go figure.

So, you can gather readers of Young Adult enjoy a length of around 80k. 

This matters because you don't want to try and sell a 300k word novel to a crowd that enjoys, on average, 80k words. You won't do well. After all, you write so others will read your work, right?

I hope this helps you in some way.

What do you think? Did you try it for your genre?

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


Thursday, October 16, 2014

What's in a Genre?

Happy Thursday, everyone! I bet you're all sighing with relief that the weekend is right around the corner. I know I am. Today, I'm gonna talk with you all about genres. Ever wondered where your book fits in? Grab your pens and notebooks and let's get going.

Why does genre matter?

First off, there are many readers who know exactly what they like and don't like. If they're in love with young adult books, for example, they'll want around 50-100k words, language they don't have to look up, no curse words or sexual situations, and a certain amount of teen angst. If they prefer epic fantasy, they'll be looking for 200-300k words (probably a trilogy of such beasts), massive world building, and a more complex makeup of plot and language.

It matters that you understand the genre you write in. Fans like to know what kind of story they'll get beforehand.

So, if you're swimming in uncharted waters, do some research to find out what readers will expect from the genre label.

Moving on!

I'm not going over every genre out there, just the most popular ones.
  • Children's - Books for kids age 7-12. Should be easier to read and not as long.
  • Young Adult - This has everything to do with the main character's age. They should be 13-17. Typically deals with coming-of-age type stuff.
  • New Adult - Again, it's about age. Usually 17-23ish. Deals with those college years or the first time a character sets out on their own. Can contain more sexually explicit material than young adult.
  • Chick-Lit - Books for women. Most commonly contemporary, but has elements of love and sex like a romance. Women empowering.
  • Mystery - Deals with solving something.
  • Horror - Scares you so badly you have nightmares or soil yourself as the antagonist terrorizes those around them.
  • Thriller - Keeps you turning pages because you don't know what will happen next. Deals with possible world issues (biological, political, etc...).
  • Fantasy - All about other worlds. Fantastical creatures and magical powers abound.
  • Historical - History that can fall into the realm of fiction or non-fiction. Never set in the present unless involving time travel.
  • Romance - Usually from the woman's point of view. Centers on two people that eventually fall in love and end up together.
  • Erotica - X rated fiction. Very explicit scenes.
  • Western - This one is all about setting. Usually the old West (American).
  • Legal Thriller - Suspenseful story centering around a trial of some sort.
  • Dystopian - These novels deal with the creation of a different society.
  • Hen-Lit - Novels for older women. Contemporary, but very little sex (although there may be romance).
  • Contemporary - Set in this day and age.
  • Science Fiction - Usually futuristic, always deals with some kind of technology. Can include other planets and all that encompasses.
  • Literary - Centers on theme rather than plot. People walk away with a changed mindset.
  • Urban - Setting is a city, but focus is more about the underground (hidden) section. Usually has a lot of profanity, violence, and sexual situations.
  • Time Travel - As the name implies, commonly deals with messing with the natural order of things via time travel.
  • Paranormal - Werewolves, vampires, and other creatures that go bump in the night. Or with special abilities of the characters (think X-Men).

Now, these genres almost always cross in some way. You can have a young adult science fiction mystery, dystopian romance, or children's western. Fractured Glass, the anthology I'm working on with four other amazing writers, is young adult sci-fi paranormal horror fantasy magic romance. Yeah, try that on for size. *grin* Basically, you can throw your hat into more than one pile because of the story elements. Just do your research and get on it.

What are you working on? What genres does it fall into?

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


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Book Review - The Elect

Happy Wednesday, good people of the blogosphere! How about a new book review? *grin* I'm barreling my way through my TBR list, and only have a few weeks left in the year to get to them all. I won't be doing reviews in November, so you'll get the rest of these in October and December. Yeah, it's a big task, but I'm getting there! Without further ado, I bring you my recap!

Elle Todd The Elect REVIEW BELOW
Molly Taggart Off Target REVIEW HERE
Gloria Piper Finnegan's Quest REVIEW HERE
Skylar Hamilton Burris The Strange Marriage of Anne de Bourgh REVIEW HERE
Tamar Hela Feast Island REVIEW HERE
Rebecca Trogner The Last Keeper's Daughter REVIEW HERE
Scott Marlowe The Five Elements REVIEW HERE
L.K. Evans Keepers of Arden: The Brothers Volume 1 REVIEW HERE
Sarah Mäkelä The Witch Who Cried Wolf REVIEW HERE
Felicia Tatum Masked Encounters REVIEW HERE
David T Griffith The Bestiarum Vocabulum REVIEW HERE
Thaddeus White Sir Edric's Temple REVIEW HERE
Heather Topham Wood The Memory Witch REVIEW HERE
N. L. Greene Illusions Begin REVIEW HERE
J. A. Huss Tragic REVIEW HERE
Pauline Creeden Sanctuary REVIEW HERE
Casey Bond Reap REVIEW HERE 
Casey Bond Devil Creek REVIEW HERE
S. G. Daniels The Druid's Doorway REVIEW HERE
Misty Provencher The Fly House Amazon Kindle $3.99
Peprah Boasiako The Hitman Amazon Kindle $0.99
C. S. Janey Surrender To You Amazon Kindle $2.99
Morgan Wylie Silent Orchids Amazon Kindle **FREE** ~
Laura Howard The Forgotten Ones Amazon Kindle $0.99 ~
Christina Marie Morales Ambience Amazon Kindle $2.99

Title: The Elect
Author: Elle Todd
Genre: YA Paranormal Urban Fiction
Length (print): 355 Pages
Buy LinkAmazon Kindle $3.99

Allison Noble never liked the Baileys. They were too good-looking, too popular, too charming to be legitimate. For most of their high school career she avoided the pair, convinced their outward affability was just a ruse to disguise their true character. Okay, yeah, she’s a little neurotic. Even so, she never suspected that what they were hiding was dangerous. It never occurred to her that they might have abilities based more in fiction than reality. Why would it? People can’t produce fire with their bare hands. There are no such things as mind control and telekinesis. Except, she discovers, there are.

The Baileys are Elect, gifted with supernatural powers Allison is able to not only sense, but use herself. In the history of the Elect, there has never been one such as she, and with good reason. Because she wasn’t born to such power, she has a difficult time controlling it. Accidents happen, putting them all at risk. As others draw near—some who wish to protect her, others who want to destroy her—she is forced to uncover the secrets of her past, and face the consequences of being what her own kind refers to as an abomination.

***Will not appear in review elsewhere. I adore the cover on this novel. While the type disappears at thumbnail size, the imagery is spot on. I'd like to see that type given an overhaul so it shows up better, but wow. Hullo, fire starter! *grin* This picture is spot on with the story inside.***

Speaking of the story!

I grabbed a sample of The Elect when Ms. Todd pitched it to me during my 12 Days event on my blog. From there, I was sucked into the story and knew when I got to the last page and wanted more, I had to have this novel. So, I grabbed it, added it to my TBR list, and dove in. Let's move on to my thoughts.

From a Reader's Perspective:
Hello? Two girls breaking in to their high school to pay it forward to a girl who's wrecked the life of more than one person? I'm in! So many things could've gone wrong, and the drama of the people those girls find in the school not knowing who they were? Great tension in the beginning of this book. I was turning pages to see what happened next. But then, bam! I had the brakes thrown on me. My resulting whiplash served to annoy the heck out of the brain that kept screaming for more. As a result, I found myself putting the book down more than once out of frustration. What I'm saying is, there's a huge lag of action through the middle part of the story as the characters are built and go through day-to-day operations and interactions. Then, all of a sudden, near the end, the story picks up and rushes to a close. I left feeling like a lot of the potential for plot pacing wasn't realized. There's also a huge cliffhanger, which left me wanting the next book, but also peeved about the dragging on only to rush to an open end.

I loved the characters, and their personalities and abilities were interesting as all get out. They're people I could relate to those in my own life, and I could picture them perfectly. But, like I said, I would've liked to see them built as the action unfolded. World building was phenomenal, Ms. Todd really outdid herself with the infrastructure of this whole Elect secret society thing. It was charming.

Nate and Ryan. Couldn't keep those two straight. They needed more than one syllable to differentiate. But some of the twists were cool, and I chuckled more than once at the teen interactions and speech.

From an Editor's Perspective:
I've started highlighting only those things I think should be pointed out when I'm reading for review. Otherwise, I end up with pages and pages of notes. Pronouns were all over the place, and some things I had to re-read more than once to make sense of them because of those issues. Commas are sprinkled around where they shouldn't be, and they were left out where they should appear. It creates, problems when, reading a sentence. See what I mean? Because of these, I can't give a star for editing.

1 Star for giving me a great beginning and wonderful characters
1 Star for world building, and a unique perspective
1 Star for the couple of twists I didn't see coming and the laughter
-1 Star for nomenclature of characters and a middle that dragged on and on and on
-1 Star for grammar, punctuation, and pronoun issues
Overall: 3 out of 5 stars. Recommended for those that are looking for a different take on young adult paranormal.

What do you think? Have you read it? Do you plan to?

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


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Teaser Tuesday - From Deities by Mary Ting

Teaser Tuesday

Mason let out a soft chuckle. “Did you just call me Mace? It sounds hot coming out of your mouth. I’ll seal the deal with my love shock.” Positioning his thumb near mine, small illuminating sparks flew out from it. They looked like small, glowing branches, yet moved like long spider legs. Slowly, he moved it closer. It sizzled and crackled first, then it wrapped around my thumb. It was the coolest sight. Where our thumbs were touching glowed. The longer the light touched me, the warmer it got in that area. Then it continued to weave from my hand down to my arm, making my arm shimmer.
Watching in awe, I gave him the biggest smile I could. Suddenly, my body jerked and I dropped my hand. “Ouch.”
Mason captured it and rubbed the area. “Shit! I’m so sorry. Sometimes I can’t control it around you.”
I formed my lips into a wicked, sexy grin. “Sometimes, I don’t want you to.”

Title: From Deities
Author: Mary Ting
Series: Descendant Prophecies #2
Publication: October 13th, 2014

A mysterious stranger enters Skylar’s inner circle, throwing her life out of balance. As secrets are revealed, she learns of the New Olympus; a dwelling for the descendants of the Gods. The Grand family must strive to work together with these descendants to discover the key to their rescue from the clutches of the growing evil vultures of Hades. As the threat increases, Skylar must learn to control her newfound powers before it’s too late.


From Gods
(Book #1 in the Descendant Prophecies series)



Mary Ting resides in Southern California with her husband and two children. She enjoys oil painting and making jewelry. Writing her first novel, Crossroads Saga, happened by chance. It was a way to grieve the death of her beloved grandmother, and inspired by a dream she once had as a young girl. When she started reading new adult novels, she fell in love with the genre. It was the reason she had to write one-Something Great. Why the pen name, M Clarke? She tours with Magic Johnson Foundation to promote literacy and her children’s chapter book-No Bullies Allowed.

Website † Facebook † GoodReads † Twitter † Instagram † Pinterest 



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Yeah! What do you think? Sound good?

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


Saturday, October 11, 2014

UtopYA Mindset: Lift as You Climb

Happy Monday, good people of the blogosphere! Today, I'm gonna discuss the heart and soul of UtopYA con. It's something you can feel in the air when you're surrounded by the people who attend, and something I believe in with every fiber of my being. Grab your coffee and a comfy chair and let's get going!

Lift as You Climb

As a saying, this is pretty easy to understand, right? As you move your booty up a mountain, you pull the people trailing you up, too. Why? What's the point? If you've worked your arse off to reach those heights, have the mad skills to do it quickly, and are on the top of your game, why should you help others and/or not step on them or cut them loose?

Imagine this:

You start at the foot of the mountain with fifty friends. Your confidence is high and you begin your climb. Thirty people stay on the ground because they're afraid to fail or fall. There's no time to go back and support any of them or talk them through how to begin.

So, you and twenty are now on your way.

You're climbing, dangling, sweating like a pig, but you pull into the lead. You're laughing, talking, having fun with your friends. Way back in the back, five folks are falling behind. Five behind you stop to pull those people forward so you don't bother. Who has time to pause and give advice?

Still, you're in the lead and only ten people are anywhere near you. A little over halfway, and you're feeling pretty awesome. You chance a look back and see the people on the ground having a cookout, eating steak, having a drink, and laughing together. Sweat drips into your eyes and stings. But you're still in the lead, so you press on.

Someone behind you slips and is dangling from the people above. Those folks stop, throw ropes, drop anchors into the rock face, and proceed to haul that dangler up. However, one person is determined to pass you. (S)He closes in, causing you to regain your focus and resume your climb.

Faster you both go until the unthinkable happens, and you get passed. You sneer, snarl, and start sweating again as you pick up the already unbelievable pace you've set. Sheer will allows you to pass that person. They stumble and slide backward, almost to the mid-point of the climb. Why? Because they asked for your hand and you didn't give it to them when they needed it.

A few more feet and you'll be at the top. You strain, push, give it your all, and arrive with a puffed up chest, exhausted muscles, and the title: best of the best.

But you're all alone. You pace, you peer down from the edge, and you pick your teeth with your nails while you wait.

One by one, the others begin to trickle up to the top with you. This is when the strangest thing happens: They lean over and pull others up, helping them to make it that last few feet.

You walk over and try to shake hands. But no one will talk to you. Though you're surrounded with people who began as your friends, you're now a stranger to them. Those slights of not taking the time to help, rescue them when they needed it, or plant an anchor to give them a chance are remembered.

What did they arrive at the top with? Camaraderie. Friendship. Trust in one another. Willingness to help and to be helped.

Eventually, you go back to the bottom and home. After all, there's no reason to stay if you have none of the above, right?

While you may remain King or Queen of the mountain climb forever, you didn't pay your knowledge forward and lost out on what you could've had.

That person you didn't give a hand to? (S)He goes on to party and climb with these people regularly, is well liked, and enjoys success along with those others who helped and were helped.


Do you get the idea?

Even though you have what it takes to get to the top alone, if you don't help others along the way, what will that success get you besides infamy (and infamy for what)?

I love this idea. It reeks of everything I hold near and dear. There may be people out there I've pissed off along the way with my opinions or openness, but there are far more who I've helped avoid mistakes by speaking out. If I have it or know it, I'm willing to share it.

At UtopYA, you find most people are of the lift as you climb mentality. It's an awesome conference and atmosphere I thrive in. You probably would, too.

What do you think? Have you experienced either being left behind or being the one on top?

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