Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Cover Reveal - Tbinkerknese 101 Book One

Hello, lovelies! Welcome to the cover reveal for author E. L. Thomas Sr.'s new book Tbinkerknese 101 (Book One) Poetic Enrichment for Teens!

Before we get to the good stuff, here's a little about the author:

E. L. Thomas Sr. is a semi-retired construction worker, father, and grandfather born and raised in Valdosta, Georgia. And a United States NAVY veteran (U.S.S. Yosemite A D 19) who served during the Vietnam era. Earl has for a long time had this passion to write poetry, but only recently found what he considered to be a suitable outlet for some of his poems. His hope is, at the least, some of what he’s written will inspire teenagers to confront and conquer some of the immense challenges they’ll face during and after their teen years.

You can find E. L. Thomas Sr. at the following social media sites:
Facebook: Tbinkerknoxx Inc.
Twitter: @Tbinkerknese101
Web: Tbinkerknoxx.com

You'll find an odd quote on the front of Tbinkerknese 101. Here's a little about that, and Earl's vision for the book:

“A teen without the Means is like an orange without the juice.”

If you’ve ever seen an orange that’s shriveled and dried up with only the skin and dried pulp remaining, then you’ll be able to equate that piece of nearly useless fruit—which was deprived of the necessary resources to help it reach its full potential—to a teenager who’s been deprived or denied the opportunity to reach their full potential because of lackadaisical parents, disinterested teachers, or both.

The Tbinkerknoxx slogan implies that the teen who gets their juice (the motivating, inspiring, enabling force or factor) from the Means, will be able to substantially enhance both their physical and mental capabilities. These Means will employ high moral standards and encourage academic excellence, while exhausting all available resources in instructing the teens in proper discipline.

We believe the teens who’ve been provided the necessary resources (the Means and the juice), can become productive citizens in an increasingly competitive society.

Once again we want to reiterate and encourage all the adults who have the opportunity to help and can, within the proper channels, to please help our youth. It has been said by many and believed to be true that: “It takes a village to raise a child.”

Now, for the cover reveal and synopsis!

Title: Tbinkerknese 101 (Book One)
Author: E. L. Thomas Sr.
Genre: Young Adult Poetry
Length (Print): 106 pages
Synopsis:
“Okay, teens, let’s go speak some TBINKERKNESE.”

E.L. Thomas has created this language specifically to break down communication barriers with teens. Quips, like the one above, in this inspiring book of poetry will keep you engaged throughout. Inside, there are 101 tidbits of useful, practical advice for teens, parents, and teachers, all communicated in a fun way while retaining a note of seriousness.

If you’re the parent of a teen, or a young person yourself, you’ll love getting lost in the pages of this book. Hopefully, it’ll open up lines of communication thought to be lost and get you thinking about life. With lines to record your thoughts as you read each poem, it beckons to be used as more than just a casual reading device.

Cover time!
Full Wrap:

This book will be available on Createspace, Amazon Kindle, Smashwords, and you'll be able to snag a coil-bound version on Lulu!

INDIE Books Gone Wild is sponsoring a giveaway to include a paperback, an e-book, or a coil-bound! That's right, IBGW is giving away a copy of each. There will be three lucky winners! Giveaway will run from April 26 through May 12. Enter via the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

What do you think of the cover?

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

Jo

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Why a Free Promotion?

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Today I'm gonna talk with you all about giving your book away for free and why people do it. There are some pros and cons and I'll be going over all of it. So, if you're ready, grab your pens and notebooks and let's get going!

First, let's discuss the stigma surrounding free.
You've just spent six to twelve months writing and editing a novel. Your blood, sweat, and tears have gone into this story on the page, and you're frustrated about giving it away for nothing. Understandable. Believe me, I get it. Anything you spend that much time developing might sting when someone downloads it for nothing. There's also the fear that people will think you can't sell a book and have to give them away (not true, but you can see where they might jump to that conclusion). However, maybe it's time to change the way we look at free and try to see where it begins to behoove us when we give a book away.

We're gonna have a moment discussing free print books.
Now, everyone is probably familiar with the giveaways on Goodreads. Why do we bother giving away print copies of our books (on that site, and in other giveaways)? Because they're signed, and we want people to sort of covet what we take the time to write our names in. Most of all, we want readers to add our books to their TBR list. That's where the key is. We want to be remembered.

Why does that make a difference? Well, sometimes, when a reader is excited about winning a certain book, they'll go on to buy it if they don't win it. Make sense?

Okay, let's move on to giveaways of e-books.
These work a little bit differently. When you give away an e-book, it's more about what's inside besides the story or what else is coming that matters.

For example:
  • A snippet or two of other books you've written
  • This is the first of a series (to be released)
  • Your social media contact information
  • Giving a sample of your writing to potential fans
If you're running a free promotion, there should be some reason behind it. Either you're trying to build a fan base, you want your rank on Amazon to jump up really high (some hit the top 100 in their genre), or you're hyping up another book that's A. Just been released or B. Will be coming soon.

There are many reasons behind free. Make sure you're deciding what yours are before you jump on the bandwagon. That way, you can have some way to measure your success. After all, you need something to snag a new fan, right? Rafflecopter giveaways can't carry everything. But, like anything, there are cons.

The cons of free:
  • Many people download a free book and never read it
  • If no protection, your book could end up on a pirate site perma-free
  • Your book isn't put in front of those who would enjoy it; rather, it's sent to everyone
  • You make no money off this publication while it's free
  • You may end up with a troll review or two
If you're willing to brave these cons, and put your hope in readers who will get hold of your book and read the heck out of it, you're ready to do free. Like I said above, be sure you know what your ultimate goal is.

Speaking of free and giveaways, come on back to the blog tomorrow for your chance to win a couple of books and some Amazon cash!

How about you? Have you done free promotions? What did you get out of it?

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

Jo

Monday, April 28, 2014

S. G. Daniels Guest Post - Static: A Short Story

Happy HAPPY Monday, good people of the blogosphere! S. G. Daniels is back, and she's entertaining us today with a short story. This is part of my Monday series leading up to UtopYA Con 2014. S. G. is one of the lovely authors attending that event. Grab your coffee and a comfy chair and dig in! So, without any ado whatsoever, I give you Static.



Static
by S. G. Daniels

The DJ’s excited voice cuts off the song that’s playing. “We interrupt this broadcast with an emergency news bulletin. Local authorities located what they believe to be a UFO in the timber area south of the city. There is no confirmation of any life form in or around the spacecraft. We will update you as news becomes available. Remember folks, you heard it first on WKRA-Z.”

Dumbfounded, I stare at the radio for a moment and then glance to my wall calendar. “It’s only March 31st. You’re all a bunch of crazies.”

I return my attention to the mess of unfolded clothes hanging out of my underwear drawer. “Mom, I can’t find my other black sock!”

“Did you check the dryer?” She yells up from the foot of the stairs.

Ah man, I hate going down in the basement. It’s like a dungeon—all damp, dark, and creepy. The bed slides a few inches as I plop down on the corner. Slapping the lone knee-high against my thigh, I wonder if I could go without socks today. One glance at the frost-coated window made me shiver. Nope, that wasn’t going to be an option unless I wanted my toes to freeze off.

My mouth scrunched to the side at the sound of a pan clunking against the stove burner, and I decide to try my luck. “Since you’re close to the basement, will you run down and check for me?”

Several agonizing moments go by before I start to wonder how long she expects me to hold my breath waiting on her answer. “I’m busy fixing your breakfast. You’ll have to go look yourself.”

“Darn.”

I inhale deeply, and reach around the door. My hand slides up and down the wall until I locate the light switch. Click. I stare into the dark abyss leading to the basement and swallow hard. Click-click-click-click. “Double darn.”

Mom calls to me from the kitchen. “I can’t hear you from in here. What did you say?”

Maybe now she’ll feel sorry for me, and I won’t have to go down myself. “The light is out.”

“You don’t need a light to go down. The dryer is behind the steps, and it has a light that comes on when you open the door. Now stop fooling around. You’ll be late for school.”

A shiver quakes through me, but not from the cold. The sound echoes off the block walls as each wooden step creaks from accepting my weight. Palms outstretched in front of me, I feel my way through the murky darkness until I touch the cold metal of the dryer. A clicking noise is coming from inside the drum, but the machine isn’t running.

My palms begin sweating, so I rub them over my thighs, and will my courage to appear. Gritting my teeth, I fling open the door. My grip slips from the handle, and I fall backward landing on my butt. My hair is flying all around me from the static electricity, and I have trouble keeping it out of my eyes. I want to scream, but nothing comes out.

In front of me is a large green lint ball with a chicken face hovering just inside the dryer door…and it has my black sock.

Gripping fistfuls of my flyaway hair I finally manage to say a few words. “Wha…what are you?”

The chicken faced lint ball starts flying around inside the dryer. If I’m fast, I can grab my sock, and slam the door shut trapping that thing inside. I jerk my hand back…bad idea, I think, and rub at the sting. “Hey, you pecked me!”

“My name is Owlbi. I come from the galaxy Hootonia. A magnetic field disabled my ship forcing me to land not far from here.”

I sit and watch the little creature fly around inside the dryer again…with my sock. “This can’t be real. Wake up, Emma.” Static discharges with a loud snap, throwing blue sparks into the darkness, and I yelp in surprise. Owlbi squawks menacingly at me.

Okay, I’ve had enough of this, and kneel in front of the little alien keeping my hands on my hips so I won’t be shocked again. “What are you doing here in my dryer with my sock?”

Never letting go of its bounty, the alien perches on the lint filter. “I need an electrical charge to run my ship.”
The emergency flashlight skitters across the concrete away from my foot as I try to get up off the floor. Quickly, I remove the batteries. “I’ll trade you these for my sock.”

Twenty minutes later, I’m standing in the snow waiting for the school bus. I want to kick myself because my feet are freezing. What was I thinking? Naturally, Owlbi would need a way to carry the batteries back to the ship. Besides, the little alien wasn’t about to give up my sock once it was fully charged with static. Nobody is ever going to believe this story.

The bus’s brakes squeal as it stops in front of me and the doors swing open. Something lands on my head and falls to the ground. All of the kids standing around me start to giggle and mumble. I stoop to pick up my other black sock. Nope, not a soul is going to buy this story, but at least I’ll have one warm foot today.
~ S. G. Daniels

How awesome was that? Super fun story to get your Monday rolling, eh?

Now that you've had some fun, why not give S. G. a follow?
On Goodreads
Or on Pinterest

I hope you enjoyed this short story.

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

Jo

Friday, April 25, 2014

Friday Funday - Part 3

Happy Friday, everyone! Because these posts have gone over so well, I'm bringing you another awesome post about things you can do with your family to keep your writer brain engaged and still have a ton of fun. I enjoy weekends with my husband and kids, and I love anything that lets me do that while keeping my creative side going. My first post was about free games you can play, the second was about word board games, and this one will be about getting to know those around you while creating new storylines or characters. Ready? Grab your pens and notebooks and let's get going!

Game #1 - Whodoneit? For four players (if more, increase the numbers accordingly)
Write down three personality types on tiny pieces of paper and put them in a hat. Write down killer, not killer, and not killer on three more. Put those in a hat. Have each person write down a motive for murder and put those in a hat. Have each person choose one slip of paper from each pile. Play detective and interview each participant. Make notes of their quirks, how they speak, and their body language while you try to solve the crime. Not only will this keep you all rolling on the floor laughing, you're getting some great research done!

Game #2 - Interview with the...? For two or more players
Dress up like an interviewer. Grab a clipboard, paper, and pen. Have the other player(s) write down on a sliver of paper one paranormal creature. They'll need to keep these slips in their pocket, so make sure they're small pieces of paper. Don't cheat and look. Now, you have to ask questions of the person to try and determine what paranormal creature they are. When you win, swap places. Reason for the piece of paper? So they can't change their mind halfway through and mislead you. *grin* This game can also be played with super powers. On your notepad, be sure you're writing down how vague you can be when identifying a creature. This will help you in your writing. You'll learn quirks, habits, and body language.

Game #3 - Fear This! For four or more players
Grab some paper and pens. Sit down with the other players in a circle. Round 1: Have each person tell about a scary incident that happened to them. Write down the key phrases they use as description. Try and psychoanalyze what's on the page. Ask questions about how things could've been done differently and what the possible outcome of those actions may have been. You can use fictional situations, but you won't get as visceral a reaction. Whoever comes up with the most alternative directions for the scenario, wins round 1. That person gets to throw out a scenario first in round 2. Now, for round 2: All players close their eyes except the winner of round 1. That person asks the others, one by one, to describe an encounter with something (spider, cockroach, creepy zombie, etc...). When they're done, everyone but the asker rates the story from 1-5. Tallys are kept by the asker. Winner of this round moves into sudden death with winner of round 1. Sudden Death: Round 1 winner must step out of the room. Round 2 winner will then spin a tale of what they believe it would be like to die. Answer is rated by remaining players (1-10) and round 1 winner is then allowed to return and do the same. Person with the highest score wins. I'm sure you can guess how this helps your writing.

Game #4 - Make Me Laugh! For two or more players
You're all familiar with the old game show, right? Same idea. Only you need to have a tape recorder or video recorder on. This will give you funny sayings, facial expressions, and other fodder to use in your books.

What do you think? Will you use any of these?

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

Jo

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Book Review - Falling for Autumn

Happy Thursday, good people of the blogosphere! I realize tomorrow is Friday, so I'm gonna keep it short and sweet in order to retain your attention. I know mine goes the way of the wind near the end of the week. *grin* Today, I bring you a book review from one of my favorite authors. This one won't be included in the Indie Fever reviews for 2014 because Heather Topham Wood isn't new to me. You don't wanna miss this review (or this book, for that matter). Grab a cup of Joe and let's get going!

First, a little about the book I'm reviewing today:

Title: Falling for Autumn
Author: Heather Topham Wood
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Length (print): 221 pages
Buy Links: Amazon Kindle $2.99  Paperback $8.99

Synopsis:
Autumn Dorey had no problem leaving her hometown of Newpine and the friends there who’d betrayed her. Everyone thought they knew what happened the spring night Autumn’s world fell apart. Vicious rumors about the incident circulated, and she had to be homeschooled the last year of high school to escape her tormentors. All she wants now is to get away from it all and start over at Cook University. She leaves everything but the memory behind—something she swore she’d never forget—and sets off to rebuild what was broken.

Blake Preston is precisely the type of guy Autumn wants to avoid. He’s gorgeous, arrogant and the college’s beloved football star. As much as she believes he’s someone she should steer clear of, avoiding him proves to be impossible. He shows up everywhere around campus, offering her a no-strings attached friendship.

Autumn can’t deny Blake stirs up emotions she thought fled years ago. But things he’s been hiding begin to emerge and collide with her past, leaving her heart ravaged in their wake.

New Adult Romance-Ages 17+ Due to Strong Language and Sexual Situations

**Will not appear in review elsewhere. Allow me to say I adore the cute cover for this book. Colors are pleasing and the girl looks exactly as I pictured Autumn as I read. I would like to see a stronger font for the title, as this one gets lost when scaled down to thumbnail size. But pleasing to the eye and fits with the author's branding from other books.**

I was chomping at the bit when I heard Heather was releasing another book. Boy, was I in for a surprise. I'm not a romance fan, and was astonished to find she'd written something along these lines. Once I learned the genre, those niggling little doubts began to form in the back of my head: Would I like it? Should I read it? So, I bit the bullet and snagged a copy on Amazon. I'm so glad I did. Enough of my rambling, let's move on to the good stuff.

From a Reader's Perspective:
I hate bullying. Let me begin by saying that. This book re-created some of the true-to-life teens I had to deal with in high school and it really struck a chord with me. I felt for Autumn, and could see myself in her shoes. Though I made different choices about who my friends ended up being in the long run, I understood why she made the decisions she did. I read through this book in two days. Usually I'm pretty good about being able to see where the story is going, but I missed the mark big time on this one. Blake was your typical ladies man who was misunderstood, but that's what the genre calls for. I liked him. He reminded me a lot of my husband. Pacing was fast and the plot was a great one. I loved the scenes where the author showed Autumn's past and didn't shy away from getting inside her head or giving the gritty details about the incident. I do have a favorite quote (this is also very odd for me) which I'm sharing with you now: "There was no phoenix that could rise out of the ashes left behind by his betrayal." *swoon over the language*

From an Editor's Perspective:
I found a couple of little things; but nothing that threw me out of the story and the errors weren't super troublesome. Probably not things the normal reader would even pick up on.

Rating:
+1 Star for giving me a main character I could relate to in so many ways
+1 Star for pacing
+1 Star for holding my interest so tightly, I read the book in just two days
+1 Star for the rich language that made me favorite a sentence
+1 Star for lack of errors
Overall, 5 out of 5 stars. Wow. Highly recommended for anyone who's looking for a wonderful, captivating read.

I hope you all check this book out. It's very high in the Amazon rankings (#9 for college romance) for good reason.

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

Jo

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Spring Book Fling - Huge Giveaway

Happy, happy Wednesday, everyone! Yay! Hump-day is here and we're speeding toward the weekend with the velocity of a train. I hope you're all doing well this morning, because your clicking finger is about to get a workout. *grin* Without further ado, I give you the Spring Book Fling!

Let's begin with an awesome graphic showing you the authors who are participating and the dates the giveaway is running.


Ms. Amy Evans will be on the blog in two weeks with an author interview, and Casey L. Bond, Bethany Lopez, and Carlyle Labuschagne have already graced us with their presence. Go find out about a couple of the books up for grabs by reading their interviews here.

Now, some eye candy (also known as book covers)!


How pretty are those? Imagine them on your Kindle, waiting to be plucked up and read! It'll make it pretty if nothing else, eh?

Are you foaming at the mouth for the rafflecopter entry widget yet? Okay, okay! Here you go:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I'll leave you all to it. Clicking finger ready? Up and down and enter!

Good luck.

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

Jo

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Author Interview - S. G. Daniels

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jo

Friday, April 18, 2014

Book Review - The Druid's Doorway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pretty, huh? On to my inner musings!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jo

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Pronouns - Round Two

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


First off: What's a pronoun?

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

When should you become hyper-aware of pronouns?

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

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

Quickly! How many misplaced pronouns were in that paragraph?

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

Done yet?

Answer: Four out of ten are incorrect.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jo

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Shying Away in Your Writing

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

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

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

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

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

I can't stress this enough.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jo

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Author Interview - C. A. Kunz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kenley Grayson is all too familiar with these questions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I hope you all enjoyed this interview.

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

Jo

Monday, April 14, 2014

Spotty Blog Posts

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

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

Why?

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

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

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

Bear with me, please.

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

Jo

Friday, April 11, 2014

Scrivener Output to EPub and Mobi

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

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

Exporting your e-book with Scrivener

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Did you know the program could do that?

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

Jo

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Back and Playing Catchup

Happy Thursday, everyone! I know it seems like I've been around, but I've been on vacation since last Wednesday. I'm stunned at the response my post on MS Word and Scrivener got last week. I can see how passionate you all are about the topic. As you probably know, I had a guest post slated to go live today, but it never appeared in my inbox so I'm having to skip it.

That being said, since I've been out for a week, my inbox is overflowing. I'm planning to spend today playing catchup and I'll be back with awesomeness for you all tomorrow. There were some great questions raised on that post last week, and I'm gonna do my best to get them answered tomorrow.

Until then, I'm taking a moment to give you all a huge shout out and a thank you for sharing and discussing my post.


You guys rock!

I'll be back tomorrow with that post and responses to the comments that were left on the last one.

Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Monday, April 7, 2014

Monday Morning Musings

Happy Monday, everyone! I hope you all had as fabulous a weekend as I did (though I doubt that's possible). Anyway, moving on! Today, I'd like to talk with you all a little bit about writing; as I so often do here on the blog. It's time for a bit of Monday Morning Musings. What are Monday Morning Musings? Well, it's time to reflect on your weekend and consider new avenues to take your work to the next level of publishing, sales, and other such fun stuff. Ready? Grab your pens and notebooks and let's get going!

As you're all very aware, I'm a meticulous scheduler. I like to plan my writing day down to the minute. This helps me stay focused (and off Facebook), and allows me to know when I need to call upon the most awesome muse in the world (mine). With that being said, I'm considering changing things up a little. I dominate Google searches for my name now, but that's not enough for me. I want to dominate the world.

Okay, that's going a little far, but you see where I'm headed with this, right?

My social media schedule needs tweaking. I need to drop focus on some things and use the time to aim my dastardly glare in another direction. Let's look at where I was putting my time, shall we?

Monday - 20-30 minutes for a blog post. You should have something integrated so your posts are automatically sent to your social networks when you click publish. I have the buffer button and all I have to do is click it after I post. 20 minutes to schedule posts across all media for the next two days. 10 minutes browsing Twitter and re-tweeting things you find interesting.

Tuesday - 20-30 minutes for a blog post. 10 minutes to answer a single question over on Quora. 10 minutes to share interesting things others post on Facebook. 10 minutes to visit and update your GoodReads page. Make sure you're clicking like on any reviews you've gotten.

Wednesday - 20-30 minutes for a blog post. 20 minutes to schedule posts across all media for the next two days and make sure it's all running smoothly. 10 minutes to record a video you'll use later.

Thursday - 10 minutes to upload video to YouTube. 20-30 minutes for a blog post incorporating said video. 15 minutes to create a Squidoo lens (can be about and incorporate your video as well!). 5 minutes to pin a couple of things over on Pinterest.

Friday - 20-30 minutes for a blog post. 30 minutes scheduling everything to update until Monday and coming up with blog post ideas for the next week and make sure everything is running smoothly.

Saturday - 20 minutes sharing on Facebook. 20 minutes re-tweeting on Twitter. 20 minutes to visit other blogs and pop in a comment or two.

Sunday - 30 minutes sharing on Facebook, 30 minutes re-tweeting on Twitter.

I do all of this between the hours of 8 and 9 am.

But it's just not working for me. So, I give you a new schedule that I think will help me reach more readers alongside the authors I try so hard to help:

Monday - 20-30 minutes for a blog post with an author interview. 10 minutes to schedule posts across all media for the rest of the day. 20 minutes browsing Twitter and re-tweeting things I find interesting.

Tuesday - 20-30 minutes for a blog post. 10 minutes to schedule new posts for the rest of the day. 10 minutes to share interesting things others post on Facebook. 10 minutes to visit and update my Goodreads page if needed.

Wednesday - 20-30 minutes for a blog post with a book review. 20 minutes to schedule posts for the day and post the review to relevant sites. 10 minutes to dink around on Facebook and "like" some status updates, answer people, and share stuff.

Thursday -  20-30 minutes for a blog post with something for another author. 10 minutes to schedule posts for the day and include at least one shoutout for one of my books. 20 minutes to pin a couple of book-related things over on Pinterest.

Friday - 20-30 minutes for a blog post. 10 minutes scheduling everything to update until Monday, coming up with blog post ideas for the next week and make sure everything is running smoothly. 20 minutes to update my Book Reviews magazine on Flipboard (I'm finally up to over 1k readers, yay!).

Saturday - Is my day off. I'll use this day to come up with new story ideas and spend time with my family.

Sunday - Is my day off. I'll use this day to connect on Facebook and Twitter if I want to.

So, this is where I think my time will be better spent now that I'm where I want to be regarding a Google search for my name.

If you don't dominate Google, consider using the first social media schedule for a little while before moving on to the second. Trust me, it works.

What do you think? Do you Google yourself often?

I won't be around tomorrow. Lots to do in my personal life and not a lot of time to do it in. See you all on Wednesday!

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

Jo

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Cover Reveal - Absolution

Happy Saturday, everyone! Today, time for another cover reveal. Seems there are a lot of really awesome books coming out soon, eh? Well, pretty ones, anyway. I invite you to strap in and take a gander at this one!




Absolution 

Confessions of a clone
is book one in The Broken Diaries series of novellas.
Can be read as a stand alone or as a companion novella to 



Expected release date: October 2014
Genre: Upper YA Science Fiction

(Unedited)

So my secret is out you say? That  would depend witch secret you are referring to. That I am a clone? Everyone knows that by now. Or that I have a dark disease pulsating through my veins,
one I am quite fond of? Big deal. It’s exciting, never to have to hold back, unpredictability is a drug. We all crave it.  So what possible secret could I hold that is worth keeping? Imagine me
giving you a sly smirk right now because I have not the misfortune of compassion that will cause me to spill my secrets. Without them there is no hand to be dealt.

Will my secret keep him close? Perhaps. But here is my confession, I have something better than secrecy. I have absolution. With me, he is not bound, it will be out of choice. With me, he never has to hold back. And I would love him for the good and especially in the bad. When I gave my word that I’d stop my tricks – I lied. That’s the thing with obsession. I does not care. It only wants, and it is so fixated on want, that it becomes need, and it shall have all it wants and needs.  And while I have no time to ponder who I am, clone–what a stupid word, I am already on my way to loving him forever. That’s how I play it, because I just don’t care.  Everyone knows I am nothing like my pathetic prime. That with me, it’s all bad intentions and violent, narcissistic adoration. That is not who I am. I am but one thing - in absolution. 


About The Author 

Carlyle Labuschagne is a South African award wining author working her way into the hearts of international readers with her first two books in the Broken Trilogy. Her first young adult dystopian novel "The Broken Destiny" reached top 3 in its YA debut Category. The Sequel Evanescent won YATR literary award for best Sci-Fi book 2013. 
Carlyle loves to swim, fights for the trees, and is a food lover who is driven by her passion for life. Carlyle also writes for IU e-magazine India, an inspirational non-profit magazine that aims at inspiring the world through words. The drive behind her author career is healing through words. Carlyle is also the founder of the first annual book drive – Help Build A Library in Africa Project. And hopes to launch her very own Indie book festival in Johannesburg March 2015.
“My goal as an author is to touch people’s lives, and help others love their differences and one another.

Other Related books:


Follow the author for regular giveaways and news! 

 Thank you for stopping by! 

Carlyle's covers are just stunning. I love this one :)

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

Jo