Friday, November 29, 2013

Book Blitz and $10 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway - The Forgotten Ones

Happy Friday, good people of the blogosphere! I have two posts for you today. This first one is a book blitz for my buddy, Laura Howard. She's screaming all over the web about her new book, The Forgotten Ones. I'm giving her a hand because, well, I love Indie authors! Let's get going, shall we?


First up, a little about Laura.

About the Author:
Laura Howard lives in New Hampshire with her husband and four children. Her obsession with books began at the age of 6 when she got her first library card. Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley High and other girly novels were routinely devoured in single sittings. Books took a backseat to diapers when she had her first child. It wasn’t until the release of a little novel called Twilight, 8 years later, that she rediscovered her love of fiction. Soon after, her own characters began to make themselves known. The Forgotten Ones is her first published novel.


On to the book info!

Title: The Forgotten Ones (The Danaan Trilogy #1)
Author: Laura Howard
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Length (print): 197 pages
Published: April 28th, 2013
Links to purchase: Amazon - Kindle $2.99  ~  B&N - Nook $2.99

Synopsis:
Allison O'Malley's plan is to go to grad school so she can get a good job and take care of her schizophrenic mother. She has carefully closed herself off from everything else, including a relationship with Ethan, who she's been in love with for as long as she can remember.

What is definitely not part of the plan is the return of her long-lost father, who claims he can bring Allison's mother back from the dark place her mind has gone. Allison doesn't trust her father, so why would she believe his stories about a long forgotten Irish people, the Tuatha de Danaan? But truths have a way of revealing themselves. Secrets will eventually surface. And Allison must learn to set aside her plan and work with her father if there is even a small chance it could restore her mother's sanity.



Wouldn't you love to read an excerpt? Guess what? I have one!

I caught a glimpse of my mother staring out the den window. She held her violin loosely under her chin, and the bow dangled from her fingertips. Her jaw was slack, her eyes locked on something in the trees beyond me. I knew that haunted expression. I froze.

I swallowed hard as her eyes shifted to me. The violin fell from her chin, and I could see her bottom lip trembling.

I should have been used to that reaction from her when she saw me during an episode. It happened every time. But I wasn’t.

I flew into the house as fast as my feet would carry me. The screen door crashed behind me as I came to a halt outside the den. My mother clutched fistfuls of her blonde hair, garbled words spilling from her lips.

“I have to. I have to go out there,” she said. “He’s waiting for me.”

She stood in the semi-darkness, mumbling, the only other sound the hum of the ceiling fan. I clung to the doorjamb as I watched my grandmother approach carefully. She placed her hands on my mother’s shoulders, and on contact my mother’s body stopped quaking. Gram crooned, rocking her back and forth, as she pulled her into her arms and led her away from the window.

My stomach tightened, and I backed away to leave them alone. If she saw me again, who knew what would happen.

I cringed as the floor creaked beneath me, and she jerked her head in my direction. Her eyes widened when she saw me, and the shaking began again. Breaking away from my grandmother, she stumbled backward toward the window. She raked her fingers down her face and hair as she moaned. “Liam…” Tears streamed down her cheeks, causing thick strands of hair to stick to her face.

I entered the room slowly, desperate not to step on another squeaky floorboard. Her green eyes burned into mine, and I locked my eyes on hers. No matter how many times she fought my attempts to soothe her, I had to keep trying. She was my mom.


For your chance to win, here's the Rafflecopter entry form! Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

I hope you all entered to win and check out Laura's book!

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, write on!

Jo

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Mystic Freebies and Reductions for Black Friday!

Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers of my blog! Today, I'm sharing with you all a little freebie and holiday promotion I have going on.


Yeah, you read that right! For the first time ever, Lily will be free on Amazon. And the other three novellas in the series will be just $0.99! That's a total of just $2.97 for the entire five book starter set. You're saving almost ten dollars so grab 'em while they're hot!

Have I gone insane? Perhaps! But you're the one getting the great deal.

Here are the links:
BRONYA
LILY

SHELIA
MELODY
CORALIE

This sale is for five days only! Get yours starting at midnight tonight!

What do you think about this deal? Are you excited yet?

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

Jo

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Painting with Words

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Today, I'm gonna be talking about art. Not with colors on canvas, but with words on paper. I know you've all heard me go on and on about too much description. Well, today I'm gonna talk about imagery. You can still give great description without going into minute details. Wanna know how? Grab your pens and notebooks and let's get going!


Look at the image above. See how it's all over the place? What works for art, doesn't necessarily work for a book. You could write long passages about the image, but what will your reader see in their mind? How do you describe something so chaotic so the person devouring your text gets a good idea of what the scene looks like? You don't. They can decide for themselves. I bet you're scratching your head, huh? Keep reading!

Let's go for an example or two, shall we?

Using description:
On white canvas that covered an entire 8'x14' wall, splatters and thin lines of black, pink, magenta, yellow, orange, green, purple, blue, brown, peach, teal, cerulean, hunter, and ocher overlapped. In the top left corner, pink, hunter, and magenta were deeply concentrated, set off by large spatters of black. In the center, only thin lines were present, drawing the eye in and allowing for a central concentration of the viewer's mind.

Now, I took an art class (okay, I took many art classes) in college, and that's what they want you to write when you're describing a painting. Note that word: "describe."

If I came across a passage like this in a book, I'd become bored as the writer went into every detail of the scenery. Did you read every color word? Probably not. Rather than tell your reader what to see, leave it to their imagination. Books are good at activating that little node in the back of your brain that paints its own pictures. Let's try again.

Using imagery:
It was a riot of every color in the rainbow covering the whole wall. Colors danced together in thick and thin lines, overlapping like freshly fallen leaves on a snowy lawn. I became lost in the chaos of it all as I tried to ascertain what the empty space in the middle was trying to tell me. Reminiscent of a Pollock painting on steroids, it drew me in and left me breathless.

Now, your reader's brain is activated. They paint the image in their head as they read. You aren't telling them what to see, you're letting them decide for themselves. Is it exactly what you see? Probably not. But, that's what's beautiful about it.

Paint vivid pictures with strong verbiage and allow the reader to feel the scene, rather than just be a bored onlooker.
  • Riot
  • Chaos
  • Reminiscent
  • Breathless
Those are all words that make the second passage much stronger than the first. Needless to say, I got fussed at a lot in design school for my creative briefs. I would launch into something like the second passage and not be succinct enough. They wanted straight and to the point. Blah. Bland. Phooey!

Let's not be bland. How about we strive to be artists of a different kind: Authors.

What about you? What do you prefer when reading?

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

Jo

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Cover Reveal - The Druid's Doorway

Happy Tuesday, good people of the blogosphere! Today, I bring you a cover reveal for Ms. S.G. Daniels, someone I'll be doing an interview with in April, 2014. She's one of the authors who'll be attending UtopYA next year. But enough of my blabbing, let's get going to the visually pleasing aspects of this post!

Title: The Druid’s Doorway
Author: S.G. Daniels
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Cover Reveal Date: November 24, 2013
Publication Date: December 14, 2013
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?

About the author:
S.G. Daniels lives in rural Central Illinois with her husband of thirty-one years, and two spoiled cats, Payne and Jenks. She works full-time in a local medical facility as a patient accounting refund specialist. Most of her evenings she can be found in front of her computer, working on story ideas, or learning the ins and outs of the writing world. On the weekends, if she’s not spending time outside, she’s usually found nose-deep in a book. When S.G. unleashes her inner daredevil, she usually takes off through winding timber trails or country roads on the ATV. Her weaknesses are iced tea and pretzels, especially when she’s working on a story.

Website: http://www.sgdaniels.com/
Facebook: Author Page
Twitter: @SGDanielsAuthor
Pinterest: S.G. Daniels

I bet you're all eager to see that cover now, eh? Okay, okay! Here you go!

Isn't that gorgeous?

Here's the full wrap cover!

I hear the oohs and ahhs! Very nicely done, eh?

Why don't you give this little lady a follow on social media so you can be sure and catch the book when it hits the shelves?

What do you think of the cover?

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

Jo

Monday, November 25, 2013

Megan Curd Author Interview

Happy Monday, good people of the blogosphere! As you all know by now, Mondays are reserved on the blog for the lovely authors who’ll be attending UtopYA Con 2014. If you don’t have tickets yet, be sure and click the name to pick yours up today. They go fast. Between now and then, these ladies will tell you about themselves, give you little tips and tricks for writing, publishing, and marketing, and we’ll have a ton of photos for you to look at so you’ll know them at a glance when you meet them face to face.

Today, I have with me Ms. Megan Curd, author of a number of YA titles. So grab your coffee (she’ll appreciate that one), pull up your favorite comfy chair, and let’s get going!

Jo: Hiya, Megzie! Okay, I won’t call you Megzie again; I just always wanted to say that. Sorry. *grin* Backing up! Hiya, Megan! Thanks for joining us on the blog today and agreeing to this interview. I do hope my research on you doesn’t freak you out too badly.
Megan: Hiya back! And no, it doesn’t freak me out…I think! We’ll have to see how in depth you got before I give my final verdict. *smile*

Jo: My readers are like rabid animals (please don’t feed them or poke them with sticks), and we don’t really want to take too long to get to the meat of the interview, so I’m gonna start off by asking you something they can sink their teeth into. I see you’ve lived in Wisconsin, Kentucky, Minnesota, Ohio, and South America (those are the ones I could find). I mean, South America? Wow. I’m impressed. You move around some. I can’t imagine living in so many places. Tell us why you lived in each place, if I missed any, and what your favorite thing about each was.
Megan: Oh, wow, you really HAVE done your homework! Most of my friends forget half the places I’ve lived, haha! Well, I was born and raised in Fairborn, Ohio. When I was 18, my grandparents took me on a missions trip to Quito, Ecuador with them, and right then, I knew I wanted to do something with missions work. I went on another trip to Ecuador as a short-term missions worker, but then when I went to college (in St. Paul, Minnesota!), I was given the opportunity to intern as a missionary and have it count toward my degree! So I went down to Quito, Ecuador for a semester, and then also had the opportunity to spend an additional three months in Cochabamba, Bolivia and Buenos Aires, Argentina. Those were amazing experiences, and I wouldn’t trade them for the world. Then, after finishing college, I married my best friend, and we lived in Wisconsin for a few years, before his job moved us down to Kentucky, where we now reside. Lots of moving, as you said! :) As for my favorite things, Ohio will always be home (GO BUCKEYES!), but I really loved living in Wisconsin. There’s so much to do outside, and the people are so kind. I love snow, so I was the weirdo that loved when we got loads of snow. However, if I was ever given the chance to go back to Ecuador, I would in a heartbeat. I loved the people, the way of life, the fact that they aren’t focused on the next big thing. They’re content, and that is just such a wonderful feeling to experience. Plus, my mentors live there as the missionaries, and I would love to spend more time with them. I miss them very much. (Phew, was that enough for you? Ha!)

Jo: *grins* I like to dig around for info on my authors. You’re lucky to have been able to visit and live so many places. Oddly, I’ve been to almost all of the fifty states; but never to any of the ones you’ve lived in. Haha! Onward! You’ve published four books since 2009. From what I’ve read, you can crank out between 2k and 3k words in a sitting. Is there a reason you’re only up to four or do you have a ton of partials (like so many of us do)? If so, what are they?
Megan: Ha, I have a few partials, but I also didn’t take writing seriously until this past year. It was more of a hobby, something I enjoyed and I loved sharing with others, but I wasn’t sure I could do as a career. When I attended UtopYA, I realized just how much I loved the writing community, and just how possible a career could be if I put my mind to it. So, I do assure you, there will be quite a few more novels in the future, and it won’t be one a year. :) But you asked what the partials were, right? I have one NA Paranormal Romance about the Grim Reaper (sitting at around 30k), I have Steel Lily’s sequel, IRON PENDULUM, which will hopefully release around Christmas, that is sitting at 66k, and then I have an idea that won’t leave me alone, whose main character is a very handsome pirate. But…that’s all I can tell you about those. :)

Jo: That sounds awesome. I can’t wait to wrap my eyes around your pirate story! What degree do you hold from Northwestern College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and what led you to pursue that particular vein of study?
Megan: My degree is in Intercultural Studies with a minor in Bible. After I started participating in missions work, I knew my heart was there and that I wanted to serve cross-culturally. I still do, and I hope at some point that I will be able to go back to Ecuador or another South American country and serve with my family.
 
Jo: Sounds like an honorable mission. It looks like you haven’t updated your personal website in a little while with links to your new books. Is there some reason for that?
Megan: Yes – because I have been running like a chicken with my head cut off! It’s about time for a personal assistant, ha. But thanks for reminding me! ::jots down on to-do list::

Jo: When you get a PA, lend him/her to me for a week or so, mkay? *grin* So, according to an interview I read, you say you can’t cook. What made you realize that? Was it some embarrassing moment? *crosses fingers* Did you ever have a desire to cook?
Megan: Oh Lord, there were an array of embarrassing moments, but one that sticks in my mind was when my husband and I were dating, and he came to visit me at my college. I wanted to make a good impression, so I attempted to make spaghetti…which SOUNDS easy. Problem is, with me, no cooking is easy. I burnt the spaghetti to the bottom of the pan and set off the fire alarm. I think that was the moment in time he knew that if he married me, we were either going to starve, or he would have to cook. :) I personally don’t really care to cook, and I’m glad he loves it. Every once in a while I’ll get a surge of domestication and try something, but it’s not often, and people are probably happy about it. Last time I tried something, I forgot to take the toothpicks out of the bread holding the whole piece together…and then had to warn everyone to be very careful about their sausage rolls, since they might be booby-trapped. Luckily everyone knew the fact I had even tried meant I really liked them, lol.

Jo: Oh my… Thanks for being brave enough to share that one with my readers! You say your husband is a science guy. Expand on that, please. Tell us what it is he does and how that could relate to your writing.
Megan: When we first met, my husband was a high school science teacher. He taught AP Bio, Biochemistry, Anatomy & Physiology, and a touch of Chemistry. He has a master’s degree in Biology as well. He taught for 11 years, and I can tell you this much: anytime we went outside on a date, if we hiked or anything, it was a science trip. :) I love watching him with our 2-year-old son. Now, he’s a pharmaceutical rep and he’s really enjoying that as well. For me, I always ask him the science-y questions for my books, but I also ask him for his opinion with “guy” stuff. He’s a very straightforward answer type of guy, so he is always honest with his opinions. It helps me know if I’m on the right track with an idea or not.

Jo: Wow. Sounds like a super intelligent guy. Your son is the cutest little man! Okay, I’ll be honest with you. I went through almost every review on every one of your books. Some people rave about them, other people can’t stand them. It seems no matter what, you never respond. I understand that you feel it isn’t really your baby anymore once it’s published; but, I’m wondering if people ever contact you to see if you saw their review and what you feel inside when it’s a less than stellar write-up.
Megan: First off, I will say that I strive to read EVERY review on GoodReads and Amazon about my books. I appreciate every review, no matter what the opinion! I do have people contact me about their reviews via other routes, and when they do, I always thank them for their time, no matter what the review was. It takes time to read a book, just as it takes time to write a book! In my mind, like you mentioned, I feel that once I press the publish button, it’s out of my hands. I’ve done what I can, and now it’s up to the people who are reading the book. Will there be positive reviews? I sure hope so! And when those come, I do a little fist pump, touchdown dance and what not. Will there be negative reviews? If I didn’t expect those, I would be fooling myself. Not everyone will love every book, and that’s a GOOD thing. It means the book industry is diverse and giving people options. Does it hurt to read those reviews? I would be lying if I said no. It bums me out to a degree, but I also know that I’ve read books that I didn’t like, and others absolutely love. It’s a matter of opinion, and I think the best thing about books is that they elicit emotions in the readers. Not everyone will like a book, but if I’m giving them some emotion about it, then I feel as though I’m on the right track. :) I also want to say that I strive to be extremely accessible through Facebook and Twitter. If they would like to chat with me, I’m definitely around, I just choose to allow the reviewers their space to review, without them needing to worry about me censoring their opinions one way or the other. I appreciate everyone who takes the time to read and review my books. That’s how I know if I’m on the right track with the books or not. :)

Jo: I’m the same way. I go so far as to thank every reviewer, too. As a fan of great coffee, I have to say I admire your Starbucks mug collection (over 100!). I have a couple of very special ones myself (yes, they’re from SB). Have you been to the first Starbucks store in Seattle? In your best writerly voice, tell me what you think it would be like to go there. If you’ve been, tell me what it was like.
Megan: Oh man, you have mugs too?! You need to show me which ones you have sometime! I’m up to around 175, if they all show up! My husband is starting to get a bit concerned (I think he was long ago, but now he’s *really* concerned, ha!). I haven’t been to the first Starbucks store in Seattle—yet—but I hope to get to go sometime in the future! That’s like the mecca of all things coffee. I have heard the store isn’t as big as some people imagined it to be, but I don’t really know much else besides that. I would love to experience it. That’s also where the Starbucks Headquarters is, which I think would be neat to see. One of my favorite mugs is the Pike Place Market icon I have–a long, very hilarious story is behind it, but it’s best saved for another day. If you’ve been there, please show me pictures!

Jo: Yes, I was there. If you go, you’ll be shocked. It’s packed! Wall-to-wall people. That’s a lot of mugs, dear! I have nowhere near that many! Quick! What’s your theme song?
Megan: Ha! I’ll be very honest, lately I’ve been in a writing funk, and I keep listening to Imagine Dragon’s “Amsterdam,” since the lyrics are, Your time will come, if you wait for it, if you wait for it, it’s hard, believe me, I’ve tried. I think a lot of times it’s the patience and the continuation to drive forward, even when the words aren’t flowing as easily as they do other times. I am hoping to get back on track this week.

Jo: If your passion is writing, let nothing derail you from that dream. In your photo on Twitter, your website, and Facebook, you have blonde hair. Is there a major reason you changed it?
Megan: Ha! Does it look blonde? I’m going to have to look at that closer. They’re actually highlights. I’ve always been a brunette…and I think I’ll stay that way. :) I used to do highlights quite often, but I got tired of having to go touch them up, so now I’m all brown, and in the summer, it looks almost black. The Native American/Spanish genes kick in during the summer, which is okay by me!

Jo: It does look blonde. Haha! Interesting to know. You write with a pen name. Any particular reason why?
Megan: It’s actually my maiden name, and I began writing before I got married. When we got married, I thought about switching it, but then I realized I’d have to build up my audience again under my new name, so I just kept it as Megan Curd. The only time it gets confusing is if I’ve signed a lot of books, then try to write a check or something. Then people give me strange looks as I scribble out my last name and put my married one. Oops!

Jo: Ahhhhh I know the feeling. I use a pen name to protect my anonymity. My books are kind of controversial and I don’t need people knocking down my door. Haha! I know of your distaste for the whole querying and long waiting process thing. I agree; I’d rather be writing and letting folks read my work than waiting! What would it take for you to take the leap to a trad publisher?
Megan: I would never be opposed to a traditional publisher, if the offer was right. It would be nice in many ways to not have to be a jack-of-all-trades. I love having creative control over my covers and over my pricing, but I would love to have the opportunity to be in a brick-and-mortar store. I’m happy with being an indie right now, but I would never go so far as to say I would never go traditional. It’s a bridge I’ve yet to cross, so we’ll see what happens in the future. :)


Jo: Amen to that. You can still get your book into brick and mortar stores, it just takes money. Time to ask the alien question of the interview! You know the theme for UtopYA Con 2014 is aliens so we just have to! Are you planning to wear or bring a costume to the event? Is there something special you’re gonna do so we know who you are at a glance?
Megan: I don’t have a costume planned, but I’m pretty sure anyone can tell you from last year, I’m a jeans and a t-shirt kind of girl no matter what the occasion! I love being comfy, so I will definitely be in jeans and a t-shirt all of next year, too. I’m actually plotting my awards outfit, though, and I’m thinking I’ll spice it up a little bit…and put a jacket-vest over my t-shirt…you know, maybe bust out a fedora. You never know, ha. I’m pretty simple, though. I can count on two hands how many times I’ve worn a dress!

Jo: I love my jeans, too. Time for you to tell us about your featured book of the week! What’s the title, why did you write it, and why does it hold a special place in your heart?
Megan: STEEL LILY! This one is near and dear to me because of the effort that went into it. I wrote it in two months, but then between querying, revisions, then having to part ways with my agent, revisions, book cover, etc., it was nearly a year and a half before it released. (Hence that delay in books coming out, ha!) This book was close to never coming out. I had become jaded with the system, and I’d decided that I was fine with not doing much in the writing arena. Then my very good friend (and amazing author—just wait until you read her debut!) Mindy Ruiz pushed me to go to UtopYA, and it changed my life, quite literally. I was renewed and excited about writing, and I realized how much it meant to me. I released Steel Lily two months later, and now we are here today, with me almost finished with the sequel and planning a third for early next year. :)

Jo: Anything I didn’t ask that you wish I had?
Megan: I must say, you are the most in-depth interview I’ve had, and I loved it! I think you covered everything.

Jo: That’s all the time we have for today. Thanks for stopping by and chatting with us, Megan! I look forward to meeting you in person at UtopYA Con in June.
Megan: Thank you so much for having me! I’m honored to get to be here today, and get ready for your tackle hug at UtopYA Con! :)

Jo: I’m so ready to be there already. LOL

Now for some information about the featured book!

Title: Steel Lily
Author: Megan Curd
Genre: Dystopian with hints of Steampunk
Length (print): 314 pages
Links to Purchase: Amazon—$2.99 Kindle  B&N—$2.99 Nook  Kobo—$2.99


Synopsis:
AVERY PIKE is a commodity. No, more than a commodity. Her existence is guarded at all costs.

She's a water Elementalist, the strongest of her dwindling kind. She creates steam to provide energy to fuel Dome Four: the only thing standing between humanity and an earth ravaged by World War III. No steam, no Dome. No Dome, no life.

Or so she thinks.

That is, until a mysterious man offers her a way out of having to donate steam. A way to escape the corrupt government of Dome Four. While the offer seems too good to be true, Avery is intrigued. But when she arrives to her new home, she realizes the grass isn't any less dead on this side of the fence. Instead, the lies are just hidden better.

...Which means digging deeper.

When Avery enlists the help of her friends to uncover the truth, she learns that while some secrets are better left concealed, humankind was never meant to live in a cage. And when you can control the most sought after resource, you can learn to control anything...including the fate of your world.

You can pick up a copy at the links above. While you’re here and clicking on stuff, why don’t you give this little lady a follow on her social media platforms!
Twitter: @MeganCurd
Facebook: Author Megan Curd


I do hope you all take the time to pick up one of Megan’s books. She’ll be featured on the sidebar of the blog for the next two weeks so if you didn’t get to take all this in today, come on back tomorrow.

Get on down to the comments and ask her a couple of questions. Seriously. Do it now.

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

Jo

Friday, November 22, 2013

Common Editing Errors

Happy Friday, good people of the blogosphere! Is it the last day of school for your kids, too? I sit here, cringing with the knowledge mine will be home all next week. Why? Because that means work comes to a screeching halt and I have a zombie novel to edit. About that, I got the most awesome bookmarks in the mail last week. Take a look:

These will be available exclusively at UtopYA Con 2014. 

If you don't have tickets to that event yet, you should. YA authors from all over the world will be there with their wares. You can get your tickets here:
www.utopyacon.com

But that's not the topic for today. I'm gonna talk to you about common editing errors in the hopes it'll help you avoid these pitfalls. So, grab your pens and notebooks and let's get going!


Learning to edit a book is like anything else, it takes practice (along with a handy reference guide to what works and what doesn't). Over at INDIE Books Gone Wild, we give editing tips now and then. If you follow them, your book will cost less to have edited by one of us.

Today, I'd like to go into some of the things to watch out for when you're doing those edits.

  1. Watch for homophones. I know that seems like an obvious SMH thing, but they're more common than you think.
  2. Use commas with care. In these two sentences: I went to the window and Bob moved to my side. I went to the window, and Bob moved to my side. You can see the one without the comma flows more easily. While they're both correct, common sense tells you to nix the comma on that one for readability.
  3. Adverbs can be cut if you use stronger verbs. Do a search for ly endings and eradicate by pumping up your prose. Here's a post that goes into that.
  4. Pay attention to pronouns. This is one of the most common errors I find when editing. See a post here about how to see if you're using the right one.
  5. Use contractions! Again, something I find a lot of when editing. We speak in contractions and read them more easily than we do when the words are broken out in two pieces.
  6. Watch out for the big words. Your reader knows you're a writer with a gargantuan vocabulary. Be careful not to shove it down their throats.
  7. Repetition in word use or information given. Okay, you told us his eyes were blue. Either find a new way to describe those peepers or cut the repeated information altogether.
  8. Hunt down your ize and ization words and kill those, too.
  9. KISS your reader. Keep it Simple, Silly. Use shorter words and smaller sentences (but remember to create variation, too) because readers can process information better when you do.
I hope that helps. I'll be working my way through I, Zombie today in an attempt to eradicate my own writing errors.

What do you think? Did you know to watch out for those?

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

Jo

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Abigale Chronicles - Book Blast and Reviews

Happy Thursday, good people of the blogosphere! Today, I'm gonna talk a little bit about my Middle Grade series The Abigale Chronicles, tell you a little about my special offer for the first three books, and share some of the awesome reviews they've gotten. Let's get going!

First, a little, personal story:
I wrote these books with a ton of input from my little girl. She has a wild imagination and thought how great it would be if she could be sucked into her books' world. Not into the story, but into the world behind the story. And what if she became the main character in that land. Perhaps someone who'd gone missing. So, I sat down and went crazy. Then it came time to design the book cover. What you see is the handwriting of a thirteen-year-old girl who lived next door to us. I couldn't have expected more authenticity and was thrilled. Each cover tells a little about the story to be found on the inside. I hope you all enjoy getting to know these books.

The Abigale Chronicles
by Jo Michaels
Book One Synopsis:
Abigale Fontenot is a twelve-year-old girl living in West Bluff, Louisiana, who believes she is perfectly ordinary. When she is threatened by a bully on her way to school one day, what happens causes Abigale to begin a new journey. She has to ask herself, "Is it real or is it all just a dream?" As Abigale learns in Book One, things are rarely exactly as they seem. Friendships are formed with unlikely people: a wizened old woman and Abigale's arch nemesis, Emmett, and with their help Abigale learns she is far from ordinary. Book One of The Abigale Chronicles will leave readers itching for more to find out for themselves just what in the World is happening to Abigale.

What reviewers are saying:
"I found this book very interesting. It puts the imagination into action. There is something for everyone no matter the age." ~ sweet pea

Book Two Synopsis:
Twelve-year-old Abigale Fontenot is struggling to figure out whether her adventures are real or imagined. After an adventure with Amazonian women in book one, Abigale and Emmett have formed a bond through mutual trust and secrets, but Kristy has turned against Abigale because of it. Now, Abigale again finds herself in a precarious situation with a city full of talking cats. Emmett is once more by her side as she faces down a vicious cat queen in an attempt to avoid certain death and restore the leadership of the city to its rightful owner. Will they succeed, or will they be roasted alive? What will happen when Kristy overhears the discussions about the adventures with Ada?

What reviewers are saying:
 "I enjoyed the 2nd book in the series better than the first, there was more action, and even though I don't usually like books with talking animals, I found this one fascinating." ~ Crystal Lee

Book Three Synopsis:
Abigale Fontenot is turning thirteen. Just when she thinks her birthday couldn't possibly get any worse, a new adventure takes hold. Abigale and Emmett are whisked away to a world of fantasy where knights, dragons, and princesses are the order of the day. Abigale is kidnapped by an evil prince in a nearby kingdom, and it's up to Emmett to rescue her. But Abigale finds that escape is not the most important thing; restoring the evil prince's kindness that has been locked away in a magical book by a wicked sorceress must come first. While Emmett is trying to rescue Abigale, she is trying to free the prince from his curse. Will she succeed in her quest before the evil prince kills Emmett, or will she fail and lose her new best friend? Will death matter if the whole thing is a dream, or are the adventures real and truly dangerous?

What reviewers are saying:
"Nice quick read. Written for somebody a little different from me, althought I still enjoyed it My niece just starting to read chapter books would probably love it." ~ Ray

Where can you get these books?
Amazon, Smashwords, B&N, iBooks, anywhere fine books are sold. They're just $0.99 each. You can find the links here: My Published Works

But wait! Last year, I released a special edition box set that has all three books and priced it at $2.99. For a limited time, this set will be just $1.95 on Amazon. The reduction was made recently, so be sure and check the price before you buy.

Here's the link for the 3 in 1: Gimmie the books!

If you prefer paperbacks, they're $5.99 each over at CreateSpace. They make great stocking stuffers for kids. Here are the links for those:
Book One
Book Two
Book Three

Remember, these books are geared toward those who are on a third grade reading level or higher. I wrote these books for my daughter and she simply loves them (she's eight). However, I also had a review on Smashwords from a young man who was fifteen and he loved them, too. So, I'd say the age range between those two is pretty bang on.

I hope you get a chance to grab a sample.

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

Jo

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

EnneaApp - Awesome New Tool

Happy Hump-Day, everyone! Today I'm gonna share an awesome app with you that'll have you lurking in your characters' heads in no time. The best part is, it's free right now! Bonus: You can tweet or post to facebook about it and unlock the full version for a limited time. Sit back, grab your iDevice, and let's get rolling!

You can find out more about it via this link which will take you to their website.

But let's move on to why I'm mentioning it and how it can help you as a writer, shall we?

If you're a long-time follower of the blog, you may remember these posts I did on using the Enneagram to type your characters. That link will take you to the conclusion post which has links to all the others for each type of person.

Now comes the fun part.

If you use the app as your character, and answer the questions from their POV, you're gonna have a wealth of knowledge on how to anger them, please them, or incite them to action. This is an extremely valuable tool to have in your writing arsenal.

When you're filling out the character bio section of this PDF, you'll have answers to the questions asked when you type your character with this app.

I've been keeping an eye out for something that would help authors get to know their characters on a deeper level. I'm so glad I found this so I could share with you all.

Give them a follow over on Twitter to keep up with awesome news. @EnneaApp

What are you waiting for? Go get it!

Have you used the Enneagram to type your characters? What insight did it give you?

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

Jo

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Measuring Your Novel's Pace with MS Word

Happy Tuesday, good people of the blogosphere! Today I'm gonna let you all in on a really cool tip having to do with MS Word. This tip will help you adjust the pacing throughout your novel in snippets. According to what I've seen, you can use up to twenty-two scenes to see how your story maps out. Are you dying to know how to do it? Well, grab your pens and notebooks and let's get going!

I'm going to use a scene from I, Zombie where Trixie finds her dog.

Every scene has three parts: Beginning, Middle, and End.

You can graph the pace of a single scene by using a three-point scale that ranges from forty-five to one hundred and a nifty tool you have in MS Word. I'll get to that in a moment.

Go ahead and make your graph now. It might look something like this:

Choose your scene from beginning to end within your novel and copy it out to a new document so we don't have to worry about screwing anything up.

Now, mark the scene between the beginning and middle and the middle and end with a couple of asterisks or other symbol of your choice.

You'll need to get two numbers: The Flesch Readability score and the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level score.

Here's where MS Word has a feature you may not know about that will give you those two numbers. Do the following:
  • Click the Microsoft Office Button, and then click Word Options.
  • Click Proofing.
  • Make sure Check Grammar With Spelling is selected.
  • Under "When Correcting Grammar in Word," select the "Show Readability Statistics" check box.
  • Click Ok.

Each readability test bases its rating on the average number of syllables per word and words per sentence.
  • A Flesch score will be between 0-100.
  • A Flesch-Kincaid score will be a decimal. It tells you the grade level someone should be on to comprehend the document (a nice gauge for all you children's book writers, eh?).

Okay, now, go to MS Word and click on the Review tab. Highlight the text in the scene from the beginning to the first break and click the "Check Grammar and Spelling" button in the top left corner. Go through the prompts. It'll ask if you want to continue with the rest of the document. Click "no."

Be amazed at what pops up.

Write down the numbers next to "Flesch Reading Ease" (mine was 86.8) and "Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level" (mine was 3.6). Subtract the second number from the first (mine comes to 83.2).

Add a dot to your graph. Like this:

Wash, rinse, and repeat for the other two sections. Connect the dots. You should have something like this:
As you can see, my scene has an end peak. This heightens tension when moving into the next scene. A peak at the beginning isn't good because you go in with tension and folks can get bored. Chances are, those scenes will drag. Try for a middle or end peak.

"So what?" you ask. "How will this help me?"

Well, the real measure comes when you do a bunch of these scenes and compile them together. You'll get an idea of the pacing throughout the story rather than just one scene. Because, after all, a story is a group of scenes all put together.

If you take the time to do a set of congruent scenes, make sure your novel has nice highs and lows (not below forty-five) and isn't a flat-line of death. It'll help show you where your work needs improvement.

I'm just giving you the tool. It's up to you how you use it. You may want to add some graph paper to your writer's toolbox!

What did you think of today's little lesson? Did you know about this measure?

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

Jo

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Guest Post by N.L. Greene

Happy Monday, blogospherians! In keeping with our regularly scheduled program with the authors of UtopYA Con 2014 here on the blog, I bring you a guest post from N.L. Greene. If you read her author interview from last week, you'll know she's part of a writing team! Today, she's going to tell us a little about that. I love this post and I think she brings a unique perspective to the process of writing. Now, coffee, pen, and notebook in hand, I open the floor to Ms. Greene.

Co-writing VS. Solo-writing

by N.L. Greene

Hi Everyone! I want to start off by saying thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to read my post. I also wanted to say a huge THANK YOU to Jo for not only having me but also for putting this whole UtopYA Author feature together!!

So I’m going to be totally honest here and tell you all that this is the first guest post I’ve ever written. I usually just do interviews where all I have to do is answer the questions and then I’m done. I know it’s lame but safe. *winks* I not only hope I don’t totally fail, but that you actually find my post helpful. So here goes...I wanted to talk a little bit about Co-writing and Solo-writing, since I’ve done both and learned that just like everything else in life, they both have their pros and cons but both can be successful.

I started my writing career about three years ago and did it as a co-author. My best friend and I both wanted to write but were terrified of doing it alone. We were scared that after spending months of pouring our heart and soul onto paper, we would be told that we weren’t good enough or that people would make fun of what we wrote. The fear of being vulnerable and exposed and then to be rejected was just too much, so neither of us tried. But then we came up with the idea of doing it together, under a pen name, and suddenly it didn’t seem so terrifying. From then on, it seemed much easier. We were each other’s cheerleader and support team, both equally emotionally involved in the book and both understanding the importance of what we were doing. On top of that, there was someone that could take over when the other was stumped, there were two people giving out ideas that, even if they weren’t great, sparked a new ones, and there was someone always there that just wanted to help you.

Like I said before though, everything has its pros and its cons. Though we didn’t have many issues, there were some that we had to work through. Being BFF’s for so long gave us an advantage over some other writing teams. Neither one of us had a problem being blunt or honest. In my opinion, that can make or break a writing duo. If you want your book to be good, you have to be willing to listen to someone when they tell you it isn’t as good as it can be and be willing to change it. The work load can also be an issue. Undoubtedly, at times, someone will do more than the other. The key is recognizing this as it happens and dealing with it accordingly. Everyone has different strengths and weakness and sometimes one will have to do a little more than the other if it means better success of the book. You have to push your pride away and do what is best for the team.

In the end, I think if the writing team is good and they work well together, the pros will always outweigh the cons and they will prove to be successful. I also think sometimes, writing as a team will give that push to someone that may not have ever put their words and thoughts to paper had they not had that other person to lean on, like we did.

All that being said, I also decided to become a solo-author. Why, you ask, since I seemed to be just fine co-writing? Well one other con to co-writing is that sometimes you aren’t both interested in actually writing the same thing. Angela is YA Paranormal all the way. It’s the only thing she reads, therefore the only thing she is interested in writing. Which is totally understandable, but not true for myself. I love all genres of books and really wanted to try writing in something other from what we had already done. It wasn’t easy though. Writing by myself made me realize a whole new set of pressure. Everything was on me. If I got stuck or lost, there wasn’t really anyone to pick up the story and run with it or straighten it out for me. I had to be creative and come up with ideas all on my own. And the vulnerability that I felt when the book came out was double because everyone knew that I wrote the whole book and if they didn’t’ like something, that was on me.

However, the sense of accomplishment and the pride I felt when I published my very own book was different than before. I had done something all by myself and it felt so good to know that I had set my mind to it and finished it. I also realized that I worked much faster by myself. Not having to rely on someone else to go back and check your work or having to rewrite a portion of the story because you both didn’t agree with what was happening gave me a freedom I hadn’t had before. The lack of pressure of having to hurry because someone wasn't waiting on me made me more relaxed and since I wasn’t so stressed, the story flowed much quicker.

So now that I have completely contradicted every statement I made throughout this post, I’ll say this. All of the above were my personal experiences and every individual is different. But my main point is this: If you enjoy writing or have someone in your head whispering stories that are just awesome, figure out how to get them on paper. I gave you two different examples of how to do that and what my experiences were, but there are tons of ways to achieve your goal, you just have to find what way works for you. And in some ways, like with me, more than one will work.

Well…I think that about covers it! I hope you found something helpful in what I had to say and that I didn’t completely bore you! Thanks for taking the time to read my post! Bye!!

~ N.L. Greene

Wow! I hope you all enjoyed that! Just in case you missed it last week, here's the information for Ms. Greene's book, Twisted, that'll be featured on the sidebar of the blog for the next week:

Synopsis:
Growing up isn’t always easy. But for most teenage girls, they can rely on their best friend to help them get through the process. A BFF is something that is truly treasured and completely irreplaceable. You share all of your secrets, and are loyal and honest with each other, even when you’re acting just a little bit crazy. You have each other’s backs no matter what and you form a bond that is virtually unbreakable.

At least that’s what normal teenage girls experience.

Nat and Mel have been bestie’s since childhood and Nat has followed her blindly ever since. But as Nat’s friendship with Mel begins to lead her down the wrong path, she starts to question the sincerity of their relationship. Nat starts to see Mel’s manipulative, deceitful ways become more focused on her. Will Natalie hold on tight to the friendship she’s had her entire life, no matter what it cost her? Or will she let her heart lead her to a relationship that’s not so twisted.

Buy it on
for $2.99

Author Bio:
N.L. Greene, who is 1/2 of the author duo Riana Lucas, has decided to venture outside of the Fantasy world that she and her best friend created with Poppy and The Deadly Flowers Series to write a few books on her own. While she loves working with her best friend, writing solo has allowed her to explore interest that had solely been her own. She spends a lot of time reading her favorite authors which range all over the place and in every genre, but spends just as much time with her husband and two daughters, traveling, shopping, and playing video games. Nichole was born in Pennsylvania but grew up in Florida, where she and her high school sweetheart live with their two children.


Give N.L. Greene a follow on Goodreads or her Author Blog



I hope you all enjoyed this post and learned a little bit, too! Do you think you'll ever co-author a book?

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

Jo

Friday, November 15, 2013

On Writing Scenes

Happy Friday, good people of the blogosphere! Today I'm gonna talk about writing scenes. If you remember, a while back I wrote a post on Showing vs Telling, When Telling is Okay. If you haven't checked that post out, I invite you to do so now. One of the comments that popped up on that post was a question by another writer about specific examples of how to use this technique. Well, grab your pens and notebooks and let's get going!

A collection of scenes in a novel are what bring the story together. Image a spiderweb where each thread is heading toward a central location (your epic ending). Choose one or two of those threads and follow them inward. Now, everywhere they meet at a cross-thread is where a scene occurs. Notice how those scenes gain in number as they reach the central core.

As your characters meander toward that center, there are what I'll call sections of Getting There Prose. These sections aren't intense and the reader gets a good sense of who your character is by what they're doing between scene A and scene B. Sitting and drinking coffee, for example. In these scenes, you're giving your reader a little break from the tension and action. They're also commonly used to lead into the next rise in momentum.

Here's the key: Leave out description. Dull down the five senses ever so slightly.

If Joan is sitting and drinking coffee with her bud Lisa, Joan can look over and notice the girl appears tired without going into a long description of how she looks tired.

Example of telling:
Joan blew the steam off her coffee and looked at Lisa, noticing the dark circles under her eyes. "Girl, you look exhausted."
"I am." She nodded and slumped.

That's dialogue to cut out description and give a coasting feeling to the scene. Your reader expects light conversation to follow and friendly terms.

Let's go the other way. Say this coffee scene isn't what it appears to be. Joan is poisoning Lisa.

Example of showing:
Joan blew the steam off her coffee, inhaling the heady scent of the special Colombian beans she ordered for this encounter, hoping it was strong enough to cover the distinctive almond of the arsenic. She tilted her head up slowly, peering over the rim at her adversary, noting the dark circles under Lisa's eyes and the way she gripped her cup with both hands. "Girl, you look exhausted." It was difficult for Joan to keep her tone light because of the nervous energy radiating through her limbs. Blinking rapidly, she gave a wan smile.
"I am," Lisa croaked out, slumping in her chair and letting out a huge breath in a whoosh. She pushed her too-hot ceramic cup back and stood.

Now, you've engaged all the senses. Smell: coffee, Sight: Lisa's dark circles, Sound: light tone and whoosh, Taste: almond, Touch: too-hot and nervous energy. This is also a place where you don't want to describe the room around them. You should've already put that picture in the reader's head before the ladies ever sat down. When you use description leading up to a tense scene like this, use short sentences. It indicates something's coming.

You've pumped up the scene and the reader expects what?

Either A) For Joan to go bananas because Lisa didn't drink the poisoned coffee, or B) For Joan to pretend to be friendly and hide her anger while trying to get Lisa to drink the coffee.

Either way, it's gonna be a tense situation. We've made it so. Can you cut a lot of that description and get to the same place? Yeah, but the tension is lost.

Example:
Joan blew on her coffee, waiting for Lisa to take a sip of the arsenic-laced concoction. "Girl, you look exhausted."
"I am." Lisa slumped and let out a breath before pushing her cup away and standing.

Same outcome. You know something should happen afterward but the resulting action won't have the same punchy effect on your reader. You haven't built up the tension quite enough.

To fill your novel with scenes that show everything all the time, you're reader will either get too hyped up or they'll start skimming. Skimming is bad. It means your reader has disengaged from your story. Very few writers can pull off a book like Dean Koontz's Intensity.

Remember to vary your sentences and your word usage. Not sure how to do that? I wrote a post on Variation, too. If you missed it, check it out.

Don't forget to pay my featured author of the week a visit! N.L. Greene, author of the highly rated book Twisted, graced me with an interview. You can find that post here.

Thanks so much for stopping by.

Are you familiar with this writing technique?

Next week, I'm going into how to use MS Word to rate your book's tension. Betcha didn't know you could do that, huh? So, come on back for that.

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

Jo

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Bird - Book Blurb and Reviews

Happy Thursday, everyone! Today I'm gonna talk about my NaNoWriMo 2012 fantasy novel, The Bird, and share some of the wonderful reviews written about it. If you missed Monday's post, my interview with author N.L. Greene, please go check it out here. Now sit back, grab a cup of coffee or tea, and join me!

Note: This book is appropriate for those 13+ for the use of a foul word or two. Newly available on Smashwords, Nook, and iBooks.

Paperback: $12.99
Kindle: $1.99
Smashwords $1.99

Synopsis:
Stormy Terrabonne's life is about to be changed forever by a bright red cardinal. She soon finds herself being whisked away from all she's ever known to save an entire race of people known as Trobodytes. When she's presented to the Queen, Stormy learns how she's expected to help: By killing an evil wizard named Bordash Bladeslinger and stopping him from cutting down the sacred trees that bind Trogon to Earth.

Now, there are only two trees left. One of the trees presents a double dose of jeopardy: It's also tied to the renewed life of Stormy's mother. While Stormy learns more about the gifts she gained by becoming a Trobodyte, someone manages to poison that all important tree.

It's a race against time as she faces a legion of fairy tale creatures she never knew existed, learns to harness the power within herself to battle Bordash Bladeslinger, and tries to find a way to heal the dying tree before it collapses and takes her mother with it.

What folks are saying on Amazon:
5 Stars - "Be prepared to be dropped into a whole other world.

Stormy is visiting her dying mother in Missouri where she meets an interesting little Cardinal. The Cardinal seems to want her to follow him into the woods. Once deep into the forest, the Cardinal turns in the handsome Trobodyte Prince. He takes her into the Earth and shows her the world of the Trobodytes. Stormy learns she is the one person who could save the Trobodytes from the wizard Bordash. In return for her assistance, her mother gets a second chance at life (becoming 13 again) and Stormy gets the body of an 18 year old..." ~ Dev


5 Stars - "I'm normally not a fan of fantasy novels. Blame it on my ADD, but I have a hard time keeping all of the characters and world building straight. The Bird is a fantasy novel, but I never felt overwhelmed by information dumps or elaborate back-stories that were hard to follow. It was a great read and I thought it was creative the way Jo worked in themes about feminism and nature into the narrative.

The Bird has parallel plots going on. The first plot centers on a woman named Stormy and her quest to bring down a wizard in an alternate world. At the same time, Stormy's mother is given a second chance at life and is reborn as a thirteen year old. I liked the way Jo tied the two worlds together..." ~ Heather's Book Chatter

To see the full review and more, click the word Amazon.

Since this book has been out a year, I reduced the price! Woot!

I do hope you all take a moment to enjoy the loveliness that is The Bird. It twisted in a way that surprised even me.

What are you reading?

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

Jo

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Being an Indie Author - Why I Love it

Happy Wednesday, good people of the blogosphere! I do hope you all enjoyed N.L. Greene's author interview from Monday. If you missed it, click here and take a look. She's an awesome Indie you should all get to know! Today, I'm going to point out a few things I love about being an Indie author and a few things that drive me batty. Strap in and sit back, this may get hairy!

Things I love about being Indie:
  • No sick days needed! I don't have to take sick days if I need a break
  • I can write whatever I want, whenever I want
  • There's no boss breathing down my neck because my deadlines are self-imposed
  • My covers are exactly the way I want them because I have the freedom of choice
  • Friends I've made via the Indie network (you know who you are)
  • Being able to take every weekend off and have time to spend with my family or coming up with new ideas
  • Dust bunnies tremble in fear of my weekdays off (I call them mental health days), and my house is clean as hell
  • My office, where I can do whatever I want and post stuff on the wall at my leisure
  • Changing up what I'm doing on any particular day just because I feel like it
  • Having promotional freedom
  • Keeping more of the money from my sales for myself
Now, with all that said...

Things that drive me batty about being Indie:
  • No signings or fabulous book stores that know my name
  • Not having a team of people to do things when I just don't have enough hours in a day
As you can see, my pros far outweigh my cons. Does that mean if a traditional publisher approached me about my MS I'd turn them down? I don't know. But I do know it would have to be a major press to even tempt me. I can say with 100% assurance I'd have to keep one foot in the Indie doorway no matter what. It's being able to write what I want that would keep me self-publishing.

My Mystic series has an agenda. Probably one no publisher would touch with a fifty-foot pole. I wrote it because I hoped people would read it and understand things aren't always binary. They need to walk in someone else's shoes to truly understand what those people go through. If just one person tells me someday that one of my books changed the way they looked at the world and the people in it, I'll be happy as a lark.

Riches aren't my goal with my books. Telling a great story that moves someone is what I'm after.

VIVA LA INDIE AUTHORS! I love you all so much!

Why do you love being Indie?

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

Jo

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Book Review - The Final Omen

Happy Tuesday, good people of the blogosphere! Today, I bring you yet another Indie book review. This one is for Final Omen, book four (and the last) of the Second Sight series by Heather Topham Wood. Grab your coffee (or tea, for those of you in the UK), pull up a chair, and let's get going!

First, a little about the book I'm writing this review for:

Title: The Final Omen - Second Sight Book Four
Author: Heather Topham Wood
Genre: New Adult Paranormal Romance
Length: Approx 185 printed pages
Buy Links: Amazon Kindle $3.99 B&N Nook $3.99 Smashwords $3.99

Description:
Psychic Kate Edwards had seen her death in a premonition. She was given the opportunity to stop her murder from happening and finally reconnect with her love Detective Jared Corbett. However, fate had different ideas…

Kate finds herself trapped between life and death. Her only companion is Rose Corbett, Jared’s long dead mother. Rose offers answers to many of Kate’s long-awaited questions and alludes to what the future could hold. However, before Kate can finally be happy, she must complete a seemingly impossible task: save Jared from his own tragic fate.

The Final Omen concludes the thrilling Second Sight series.
New Adult Paranormal Romance-Ages 17+ due to language and sexual situations.

I just love the covers on these books. I do wish the author's name weren't vertical, but that's my designer brain kicking in. You know, that old "all type should be one way or another" thing. I do appreciate that there are only two fonts. I see too many designers mixing more than two (or two of the same family serif or sans-serif) which just looks like a mistake.

On to the good stuff!

I was the proofreader for this book so I got to see it before anyone else. Of course, I still ran out and picked up a copy when it was released so I'd never ever lose it. I read the first three books in the Second Sight series and fell in love with them. This one blew me away. Ms. Wood has really pulled out all the stops to make it both terrifying and sweet. Let's get to the review!

From a reader's perspective:
I love, love, love Kate and Jared! He's such a sweet guy. I adore the sweet guys and haven't ever really been into the "bad boy" who breaks girls' hearts and is a callous jerk. Enter Declan. He's a player to the Nth degree. I was glad when he finally accepted his lot in the last book and decided to leave Kate alone. In this installment, he's working with Jared as they try to solve Kate's murder. That was a twist in and of itself. *NOTE* This won't ruin the story because the boys teaming up happens in the first few pages of the book. I'm not about spoilers. Kate has always been a character I could root for. She's no different in this book. I was quite the strange kid growing up and didn't bask in the limelight so I can identify with her insecurities and social withdrawal. When I found out who the killer was, I choked. I totally didn't expect the twist and it left me horrified (which is GOOD). The Final Omen isn't bogged down with a ton of description and gives a lot of the meat and potatoes we all love. It was a wonderful and satisfying conclusion to the series.

From an editor's perspective:
The story had great flow, few errors, an awesome twist that wasn't foreshadowed at all, and a wonderful premise. Top marks!

My rating:
1 Star for showing me a damaged girl who learns to love herself
1 Star for a brilliant story
1 Star for pacing and a wonderful ending
1 Star for giving me an awesome twist
1 Star for quality of writing
Overall, 5 out of 5 stars. Ms. Wood's best book in this series! I would recommend to anyone who loves a sappy romance tinged with murder mystery, action, and a great story to hold it all up.

I do hope you pick up a copy of The Final Omen. You won't regret it.

Have you read the series? What do you think?

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

Jo

Monday, November 11, 2013

N.L. Greene Author Interview

Happy Monday, blogospherians! Today, I have with me Ms. N.L. Greene, author of the book I wrote a review for a few weeks back, Twisted. It was a stellar FIVE star review. You should check it out. It's difficult to get five stars out of me. She’s an author planning to attend UtopYA Con 2014! If you don’t have your tickets yet, click the name to pick them up today. In continuing with my Monday features of these wonderful ladies, Ms. Greene will be back in a week to give us a guest post.

Grab your comfy chair and coffee and let’s get going!


Jo: Howdy, Nichole! Good to have you on the blog today. My readers know I’m gonna ask you some off the wall questions; I hope that doesn’t scare you too badly. *evil grin* Do I have you nervous yet?

Nichole: *gives a nervous laugh* Umm, no not at all! I’m happy to be here.

Jo: Glad to hear that! On to my interrogation (err… I mean interview! Yes, interview!) Let’s start with you telling me what it’s like to write with other authors.
Nichole: Honestly, it has its ups and downs, but overall I love it. When someone is as equally as invested in a project as you are, it’s like the finished product is twice as good as it was going to be. There’s someone there during the entire process, by your side, to bounce ideas off of, take over when you’re stuck, or to just be a constant cheerleader that understands what you’re going through. It makes the writing process a continuous flow with less road bumps or complete stops. Plus there are more ideas flowing that can take something that was good and make it great!

Jo: I can certainly understand that. It would be lovely to have someone to hit the keys when I couldn’t think or life got in the way, or someone to talk to when I’m blocked. I see you have two daughters, ages nine and seven. How has your writing influenced them? Do they want to be writers like their mommy when they grow up?
Nichole: Oh yes! They definitely want to be like mommy (although there was a time when my youngest wanted to be “a boy like daddy” when she grew up. But we’ve moved past that). They have both started several books already and their ideas seem to be endless. My oldest even gives me input on my book ideas now and I have to admit that sometimes they’re pretty good. Not only that, they both really enjoy reading now and it used to be a struggle with my older one to just pick up a book. I think seeing either a book in my hands or my fingers flying on a laptop has inspired them and opened their eyes to the world of books.

Jo: Kids are so funny, aren’t they? Mine started writing better since I published, too. Maybe one day they’ll mention us in their own interviews. Haha! So, you were a panelist at UtopYA Con 2013. How did you feel when you got the invite and what was it like speaking in front of so many people? Also, who are the lovely ladies with you in your photograph from the con?
Nichole: Oh my goodness!! That was AMAZING! I was so excited and really surprised when I was asked. I honestly had still struggled with calling myself a ‘real author’ up to that point, but being asked to speak as an author can really change things. Let me tell you that I was beyond nervous! Carol and Adam Kunz, who were on the panel with me, had to reassure me several times that I wouldn’t puke. There were a few iffy moments there, but I made it through and after…I felt like I had just ridden a roller coaster and was totally ready to go again! As for the photo on my Facebook page? From left to right that would be the lovely and talented Author Kristen Day (The Daughters of the Sea Novels) whom I met at UtopYA for the first time and fell in love with! Next to her is my writing partner/BFF Angela and finally Stacy Sanford whom I also met at UtopYA. Stacy is amazing and I instantly fell in love with her too, so much so that she is now my editor! Kristen and Stacy actually helped a lot when I was getting ready for my panel and went to cheer me on! Awesome girls!!

Jo: Don’t you just love it when you click with someone like that and they turn out to be really nice? I’ll be doing an interview with Carol and Adam later in this series. Can’t wait! I love the cover for Twisted, and mentioned my ideas for tweaking it in my review. Who designed it for you and how did you feel when you saw it for the first time?
Nichole: Thank you so much! That means a lot since I actually did it myself. My lovely friend and fellow author Kristen Day gave me some pointers and ideas for Photoshop and after hours of messing with it, I came up with that cover. And actually, since reading your review I did tweak it just a bit :)

Jo: You guys did a great job. It has perfect appeal for your target audience. I’m honored you thought my suggestion was a good one! So, I found your blog and noticed that you don’t post a lot there. Is it something you plan to change or are you happy being an occasional blogger? Why/Why not?
Nichole: I would really like to do more. I’m not that good at it! I know that probably sounds weird since I seemed to be just fine writing books, but I can be kind of long winded so something that is supposed to be short, simple, and entertaining is so hard for me. But I’m working on it!

Jo: There’s no set word count for a blog post. My advice: set a schedule and stick to it; even if it’s only three days a week. Be consistent and you’ll feel more accomplished. I see you do research about querying. Do you think you’ll ever go traditional? Why/Why not?
Nichole: You know, I’ve been thinking about that lately. I actually co-wrote a series under the name Riana Lucas and we are currently going through a publisher with them now. I was really excited and still am, but I’m finding myself really impatient with the process. But at the same time, I know that although the process is long, the book will be better for it. So yes probably, if it was the right situation and circumstances for me and my book.

Jo: A lot of Indies tell me the same thing. They want their books in the hands of readers sooner and the traditional publishing route just takes too long. I wish you luck if you ever decide to take the leap, though! I have to ask: Did you write Twisted from personal experience, that of a friend or family member, or did it just come from the bowels of your imagination? In other words, what inspired you?
Nichole: It was about 75% personal experiences. Most of the characters are loose interpretations of people I grew up with, as well as the situations. Of course some things were twisted or embellished, maybe even jumbled around a little, but pretty much all me. I struggled with whether or not I was going to write the book because it was personal, but I just couldn’t get it out of my head. I felt like a lot of books focus on the obvious abusive relationships (the mean kid at school that doesn’t hide it) or the couple relationships (the lovers, dating, or married ones), but not necessarily a friendship. I feel like people don’t expect that from a friend. I still to this day struggle with how na├»ve I was and regret a lot that I did in the name of friendship. So I wrote it and tried to stay as close to the truth as possible. I felt like it needed to be the raw and unsugar-coated tale of how friendships can be and how to hopefully spot the signs before you’re totally sucked in and it’s too late.

Jo: Wow. I’m sitting here stunned. I can’t imagine what it was like to go through that. I’m happy you escaped and are here to talk with me now! Tell me about the other half of your writing duo. Where did you meet and how did you decide to become partners?
Nichole: Riana Lucas is the pen name for our writing duo and Angela is the other half. She and I have been BFF’s since the 7th grade, we currently live down the street from each other, and often refer to each other as a soul mate. We are so similar in so many ways that it can be scary sometimes. How we stated writing is a good example of that. She convinced me to start reading again and it didn’t take long for us to be going through books like wild fire, chatting about them, picking them apart, and gushing over them. I started getting ideas for books, even wrote down a few, but I was so scared to do it. One day she mentioned that she thought it might be fun to write a book, I said “Oh! Me too! But I’m so scared!” And then she said “Oh! Me too! Let’s do it together!” And that’s pretty much how it happened (and I’m pretty sure those are direct quotes).

Jo: That’s just awesome. Friends like that are gems and we just have to hold on to them no matter what. What’s your favorite genre to read, who’s your favorite author, and why?
Nichole: I love every genre and it changes with my mood, but I think right now I’m really into Contemporary Romance.  My favorite author does not change and probably never will.  I LOVE Kim Harrison!  Her Deadly Hollows Series is the best! I think she does an amazing job at finding romance, humor, mystery, and action without any of it being over kill. She brings her characters to life and I literally get lost in the world she created in her books. I got to meet her at the NYU bookstore a couple of years ago and she was the nicest person, only making me love her even more!

Jo: I feel you there! While Romance isn’t my thing, I can read most any genre other than that. I’ll have to check that author out. Isn’t it great when we meet our idols and they turn out to be amazing? Since the theme of UtopYA Con 2014 is aliens, what kind of alien wear are you planning to have? How will we recognize you?
Nichole: Oh man! I am so not prepared for this question! I have no idea yet. My girls want to come though so they will probably help me and you’ll know who I am because I’ll have two little mini-me’s dressed just like me in tow. :)


Jo: Glad I finally caught you off guard! Haha! I’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for you and your girls. I see you live in Florida. Lots of paranormal stuff happens out there with the Bermuda Triangle and all. Are you a believer?
Nichole: LOL! Ummm… I think so. I really like the idea of there being more to the world than what we can see. I love the idea of magic and myths but to what extent I believe, I don’t know. My inner child insists that fairies are real though. *winks*. My husband is actually a believer in the alien stuff though and I think he has me convinced that we may not be the only ones out there in the universe.

Jo: The Fourth Kind made me shiver. But wouldn’t it be awfully arrogant of us to believe we’re the only ones in the whole big, wide universe? *grin* Favorite candy bar?
Nichole: Whatchamacallit! I have loved those since I was a kid and whenever I see one I HAVE to buy it.

Jo: I love those, too! Yum! Tell me one really bad habit you have that you wish you didn’t.
Nichole: Self-imposed deadlines and I don’t just mean in writing. I feel like everything needs to be done by a certain time, usually now, and I stress myself out over getting them done in time. It could be cleaning the house, paying bills, laundry, and of course writing. I make a schedule and then get upset when they aren’t done by the time I think they should be. I work daily at trying to kick the habit.

Jo: I’m a huge advocate for having a set schedule and being harder on yourself than others are. But letting it stress you out isn’t good, either. *smiles* Mental Health days are necessary, too. I’m curious, where’d you meet your husband and how long have you been married?
Nichole: We are very much the sappy high school sweetheart story. We met in the seventh grade; we were boyfriend/girlfriend for a little while and then became best friends when we broke up. We started dating again our senior year, right before prom, got married when we were nineteen, and have been together ever since. March will be 13 years that we’ve been married.

Jo: If that’s not the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard... Congratulations to you! Okay, now tell us about your featured book for the week. What it is, how writing it changed you or your life, and any other cool tidbits my readers may be enthralled over.
Nichole: Twisted is my featured book. It was just released and as you already know, it’s pretty personal so it was sort of a big deal for me as an Author. Not only did I feel vulnerable because of the content, but also because it was my first book as a solo-writer. Writing this book changed me in the way that it gave me that final burst of confidence I needed to know that I could really be an author, all by myself if I wanted to be. So, I know I’ve already told you a bit about it but basically we follow Nat through her childhood to early adulthood with her best friend. Their relationship started very early and the bond they developed formed quickly and strongly. But we see Mel, the best friend begin to change and in the process she does a lot of things to hurt Nat. Nat is a loyal best friend though and doesn’t see what Mel is doing to her. You have to read it to see what happens, but I will tell you that there are a few hot guys to read about too!!

Jo: I just loved it. I hope everyone else picks up a copy, too! Well, that’s all the time we have. Do you have anything to add?
Nichole: Not really, I think you’ve pretty much revealed all of my secrets for now. *winks* I would like to say THANK YOU so much for the opportunity to do this interview as well as for the wonderful things you said about my book and the support you’ve offered me so far.  I seriously cannot wait to meet you at UtopYA!!  Oh and at the risk of sounding like a musician that shouts out their upcoming albums randomly…I have a NA series coming out Dec/Jan-ish with a little bit of magic and Poppy (YA Fantasy series book 1) by Riana Lucas is slated to be re-released in January. Bye *waves and smiles*

Jo: *blushes* All in a day’s work! I’ll keep an eye out for that next book. I can’t wait to meet you at UtopYA! Thanks for chatting with me today.

On to information about N.L. Greene’s featured book!


Title: Twisted
Author: N.L. Greene
Genre: New Adult Contemporary/Romance
Length (print): 308 Pages
Links to Purchase: Amazon Kindle - $2.99 B&N - $2.99 Smashwords - $2.99


Synopsis:
Growing up isn’t always easy. But for most teenage girls, they can rely on their best friend to help them get through the process. A BFF is something that is truly treasured and completely irreplaceable. You share all of your secrets, and are loyal and honest with each other, even when you’re acting just a little bit crazy. You have each other’s backs no matter what and you form a bond that is virtually unbreakable.

At least that’s what normal teenage girls experience.

Nat and Mel have been bestie’s since childhood and Nat has followed her blindly ever since. But as Nat’s friendship with Mel begins to lead her down the wrong path, she starts to question the sincerity of their relationship. Nat starts to see Mel’s manipulative, deceitful ways become more focused on her. Will Natalie hold on tight to the friendship she’s had her entire life, no matter what it cost her? Or will she let her heart lead her to a relationship that’s not so twisted.


Now that you know all about it, get out there and pick up a copy!


Give this little lady a follow on social media:
Twitter: @AuthorNLGreene
Facebook: N.L. Green Author Page
Pinterest: AuthorNLGreene


Head on down to the comments section and ask N.L. Greene some of your own questions.


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


Jo