Friday, August 29, 2014

Book Review - Iron Pendulum

Happy Friday, everyone! Today, I'm bringing you a book review and a giveaway (because I loved this book that much). If you recall, I did a little giveaway of my five star reads for the year a couple of weeks ago on my birthday. Happy birthday to all of you! *grin* This time, I'm giving away two Kindle copies because I wanna. No special reason other than I think you'll enjoy this book immensely.

A little about the book up for review:

Title: Iron Pendulum (Book Two of The Periodic Series)
Author: Megan Curd
Genre: Young Adult Steampunk Dystopian
Length (print): about 335 pages

Buy Links: Amazon Kindle $2.99

Six months ago, Avery thought the world ended outside Dome Four. Thought she was one of the few of her kind. Thought the war that brought the human race to the brink of extinction was over.

But six months can change everything.

After fighting to escape a tyranny she didn't even know existed, Avery has had to come to grips with all the secrets she's uncovered. But more secrets continue to come to light, revealing how little of her world she truly knew. When evidence starts to show that Dome Four might be under siege, Avery knows what she must do.

Returning to the dome she longed to escape is a challenge for Avery, but now she knows there’s corruption lurking in the shadows. A massive steam shortage leaves half the dome without power, and people are falling ill. Dying.

And they’re blaming Avery.

Six months can change everything. Another month could wipe out all of Dome Four. The clock is ticking.

***Will not appear in review elsewhere: Wow at the cover for this book. I love the monochromatic color scheme. It makes me want to squeal and happy dance. Love what the designer did with the cogs, too. Steel Lily was yellowish, and I imagine Copper Phoenix (book three) will be orange tinted. Keep an eye out for that one, too! If you're curious, I wrote a review for Steel Lily on the blog last year. You can check that review out here.***

Onward and upward!

If you read my review of Steel Lily, you'll know I had mixed feelings about it. There were some errors in the writing that threw me out of the story, and left me sad. But, I wanted to give the author, Megan Curd, another chance to win me over because I was very fond of the story, the characters, and the steampunk world she'd built. I bought Iron Pendulum the day after it went on sale because I was so eager to find out what happened next. Well, I wasn't disappointed! Let's get to the review.

From a Reader's Perspective:
Twists and turns and revelations, oh my! So much was explained in this story that was left dangling in the last one. I was caught by surprise a number of times as the tale unfolded on the page (not an easy thing to do with me because I can see most twists coming). Avery redeemed herself more with every page I turned. Middle of the trilogy blahs can't be found in this novel. You get action, reaction, and scenes that will leave you needing a hankie after you read them. Curd outdid herself with the emotion she threw into the story. Pacing is awesome, and I found myself totally engrossed in the story. If you don't like cliffhangers, beware! There's a big one at the end of this book. Of course, that leaves me frothing at the mouth to get hold of the next installment. If you haven't read Steel Lily, I suggest you do so before picking up this book. There are a few things that tell you the history, but you need to immerse yourself fully in the world so you have that connection with the characters that can only be built over time. Chills and thrills await you!

From an Editor's Perspective:
Nowhere near the issues of the first one. A misplaced pronoun here and there, but that's to be expected. Nothing that pulled me out of the story, and nothing that contradicted the first book. Nicely done.

1 Star for clearing up the love triangle I hated in the first book
1 Star for world building
1 Star for ripping my heart out of my chest
1 Star for pacing
1 Star for lack of errors
Overall 5 out of 5 stars! You'll enjoy this book if you love clean young adult novels that keep you guessing.

See that five star rating? Yeah, now you know why I'm doing the giveaway. Get your fingers ready to do some clicking!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What do you think? Will you check this book out?

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


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Two Days Left to Win

Happy Thursday, everyone! Because we had it a bit messed up the first time (what, you couldn't enter to win The Broken Destiny?) I'm posting the UtopYA Blog Hop giveaways again. Get your clickin' finger ready and let's get going!

Prize pack 1
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Prize pack 2
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Prize pack 3
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Prize pack 4
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Prize pack 5
a Rafflecopter giveaway
I hope I got them all right this time! Let me know if you have any trouble.

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


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Writing Exercise - Word Fun

Happy Hump-Day, good people of the blogosphere! Today, I'm gonna give you a writing exercise. Don't worry, it'll be fun. This is to expand your writerly vocabulary and get you thinking about the words you use on the page to craft your prose. So, grab those pens and printers and let's get going!

Start by printing out the four pages linked to below.

We're gonna use some common cliches for this exercise:
Babe in the woods.
The whole ball of wax.
By the book.
Same old song and dance.

Got those? No? Well, print them. I made them just for you!

Now, take a look at what you have in front of you. Try coming up with alternate endings so your cliches aren't. Step outside the box. Think harder. Fill out column A.

Remember to be engaging, outrageous, and contradictory when filling out columns B and C.

When you're done, fill out the bottom.

I'd be willing to bet you can do it in less than fifteen minutes.

Can't come up with that many? Try using MS Word's synonym tool.
  • Open MS Word.
  • Type in woods.
  • Right click.
  • Go to synonyms and see what you have.
  • Write them all down on your blanks.
  • Choose another word you came up with and do that one, too!

Make your own sheets and do this exercise often. You can find a list of common cliches easily if you do a Google search.

What do you think? Was today fun?

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


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Blank Canvas and Page Woes

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I hope you all had a fabulous weekend. You're almost halfway to the next one, so chin up! Today, I'm gonna blast my inner musings and thoughts for you to read; maybe you'll take something away from it, maybe you won't. Either way, it's therapeutic to talk it out! So, grab your coffee, get your typing fingers ready, and let's get going on my not philosophical discussion. *grin*

While browsing through Michael's art store the other day, I came upon a 40% off canvas sale. Well, I usually don't spring for the big ones because they aren't cheap. I ended up buying one that's 24" x 36" and giggling the whole way home. If you didn't know I draw and paint, I have to ask how long you've been following my blog, or if you've ever seen one of my book covers (most notably Yassa and The Bird).

Here are a couple of my artworks:

But, anyway, as you can see, I have no lack of skill. Yet, I find myself staring at the blank canvas, wondering what in the world I'm gonna put on it. I don't want to stop once I've started, and I don't want to hate it halfway through and have to gesso it out and start over.

So I find myself planning.

If you know anything about me, you'll know I'm a strict pantser when it comes to my writing.

When the thought of picking up a brush and going at a canvas makes me cringe, how the hell can I craft a story by the seat of my pants?

Truth: I don't.

I think about the book, plan out my characters, and have the plot (at least a beginning and ending) in mind when I sit down to write. I think a true pantser would sit down with no idea what they're going to do and bang out a book.

Like people say a true artist sits down and bangs out a painting.

But is it really that easy? No. Most of the famous artists in the world never sat down and slapped paint around on a canvas. They had direction, and they had a picture in mind before they ever began. This leads me to believe art rarely comes from nowhere. Even color choices made by the artist who attaches balloons to the wall and throws darts at them is a decision. There's never complete freedom in art. Everything has a plan.

Writing novels is an art form. Sure, you can write whatever you want, whenever you want, and throw it out there for the world to consume. But readers will become disenchanted if your novels have no cohesion, plot, or character building. Just like art lovers will spot an amateur painter if the colors on the canvas clash.

On the same note, there must be some freedom in painting like there is in writing. My imagination is my only limitation as far as situations, characters, and plot go; but I'm bound to certain rules of the written wordlike artists are bound to rules of composition and color usage. Even Jackson Pollock had a specific idea in mind when he tackled a work. But he got to choose the colors. Note my baby pink oak tree up there.

What I'm saying is: We all have freedom in our writing or art,  but knowing all you can know about your craftand using that knowledgenever hurts.

I guess buying that canvas did more for my thought process than I realized.

It's still sitting there, completely blank, waiting on me to make a decision.

I'm knee-deep in my section of the Fractured Glass anthology. It's so much fun giving characters free reign to lead me in the direction they choose. I've had a number of epiphanies while writing. Interesting twists and some mighty creepy situations are emerging as I bang the keys. Not long now. Good thing I had a plan, eh?

Time for you to join in the discussion here! Do you think it's possible to write an entire novel from the hip? Or do you think you must know the building blocks on all sides in order to craft something with no idea where it's going or how it'll get there?

Inquiring minds wanna know.

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


Monday, August 25, 2014

Author Interview - Susan Burdorf

Happy Monday, good people of the blogosphere! You should all be so dang excited! It’s time for another round of unofficial author interviews with some more great ladies of UtopYA con. If you don’t have your tickets to the event, you need to get them ASAP. I believe they go back on sale around Black Friday. Check here often to snag yours! Today, I have the lovely Susan Burdorf on the blog. She’s such an awesome lady. I can’t wait to get going. So grab your coffee, comfy chair, and your screen, and let’s get going!

Jo: Welcome to the blog, Susan! It’s so nice to finally get a moment to sit down and have a chat with you. While we were both at the con last year, I only saw you for a second when you came by the table to pick up my donation for your scavenger hunt. Crazy, huh? How did that go, by the way?
Susan: Not as well as I would have liked. Next year I will make sure to advertise it a little better. I believe only about 10 hunt lists were returned to me, but those who did so got an awesome selection of books to choose from, and I got to chat with some very cool authors, as did they, so it was not a total loss by any means. I always feel like an event like UtopYA is so chock full of fun stuff to do, that any chance to say hello to an author and stop by their table is a win in my book (no pun intended…haha). Thanks for asking, and thanks for donating!

Jo: You’re very welcome. I love trying new and exciting things, and I’m always willing to help out another author with a donation! Well, let’s waste no time jumping in here. I have a slew of questions for you. Ready?
Susan: Bring it! :)

Jo: Cool. Let’s do this. UtopYA Con being in Nashville is pretty awesome for you, right? Have you been to the con every year? If yes, how has it changed/improved for you over time?
Susan: UtopYA has been a very unique experience for me. I grew up in the Buffalo NY area and for years was involved in a writer’s group that was very active and participated in writer’s events in both Niagara Falls, NY and Toronto, Ontario Canada where well known traditionally published authors (there was no Indie author world back then, only Vanity Press self published novels and those were not as well done as our Indie Authors books are today) like Anne McCaffrey, and Orson Scott Card, and Lois McMaster Bujold, and Terry Pratchett, among many others who were popular guests. There were panels and so on, but UtopYA, for me, was a totally different experience. I got to be part of the beginning with UtopYA. For the first two years I was the person who helped get the volunteers for the event. In the first year we had less than 100 people (the majority were authors, with some fans). The second year was better, with nearly 300 participants and a nearly equal amount of readers and authors and fans. This past UtopYA, 2014, was double and more again the number from the year before, and the influence of all those authors was absolutely amazing. Leave out the fact that I met new friends, made connections to authors and fans I had never had any connection to before other than on Social Media, and also got to hang out with some of the most funny and smart and honest and sincere people in the world and you pretty much sum up the UtopYA experience for me. Where else would I get to hobnob with people from South Africa, England, Scotland, Canada, etc? And all this happened because UtopYA happened. I could go on forever with this question but then I would never get to the rest of the awesome information you want from me, so I am going to end with this: UtopYA is like Candyland and Twister and Boggle all wrapped up into one.

Jo: Wow. It sounds like you’ve been on quite a journey with Ms. Janet Wallace (founder of UtopYA). Hey, at least the con is getting bigger. I have no idea how I’m gonna meet everyone that shows up next year. It’s gonna be huge! Speaking of meeting folks, who are your favorite UtopYA peeps and why?
Susan: Oh boy. This is a hard question because, to be honest, and this is not a cop out to the question – I have no favorite because I love everyone equally. Let me explain why – most people come to UtopYA with the idea that they might get to meet that awesome author whose books they have been salivating over for the last year or two; or they might have a desire to meet their “book boyfriend/girlfriend” from the cover of their favorite book; or they might want to hang out with someone they have never met and talk about writing and covers and editing and all the tons of information available at UtopYA just for the asking. For me, everyone I meet has something of value to share with me – whether it is their journey as they publish their first book, or their ability to market like a madwoman and I want to know how they do it; or they might have the key to setting up a tax account to keep the IRS at bay…there is so much that I have to learn from everyone I meet that picking one person who matters more is impossible without insulting someone else…so, I decline to actually answer that question and will only say–EVERYONE who ever comes to UtopYA is someone I want to add to my friends list, or chat with online, etc. Be warned people, I will find you and befriend you! (it is okay, I promise to feed you once a day…maybe…).

Jo: Yeah, just watch your fingers when feeding the authors. *wink* You’re a yet unpublished author. What’s the title of your first book, and when can we expect to see it released?
Susan: Okay, so, while I do not have a book of my own published yet (it has been in development for a year now and should release in late 2014 and the title is: “A Cygnet’s Tale” which is loosely based on the story of The Ugly Duckling) I have for many years now been a prolific short story writer and I am published in numerous anthologies. I have stories about everything from Angels to Zombies out in anthologies. My favorite genre is currently YA Contemporary, which is what “A Cygnet’s Tale” is. I also have an NA Paranormal novel called “Harlequin Rose” which should be releasing late 2014 or early 2015.

Jo: Anthologies rock! It’s totally mind boggling to have one book that’s all your very own, though. I can’t wait to see you next year, buy a copy of your book(s), and get it signed! So, what’s the most terrifying thing about clicking the publish button for you?
Susan: Clicking the Publish Button. Seriously, my Lizard Brain keeps telling me not to do it, but my heart tells me I have to do it…it is a constant battle for me. But it will be coming out this year, I have promised myself this. I have a beautiful cover by Marcy Rachel Designs (she has stopped that part of her business and is now part of a business called Backstrip Publishing and she is still doing designs. I strongly urge folks to check her out. Her work is beautiful. My book, “Harlequin Rose” cover is by Desi’s Art Designs and is also amazing).

Jo: If your hand doesn’t shake, I’ll say you aren’t human. LOL! I saw that you attended a character building course. When? Where? And what did you learn from it? Any nuggets of wisdom to share with us?
Susan: I wish I could share it, but I signed an agreement to respect the work of the author/instructor who put it together. I strongly urge anyone who is suffering with a lack of character development to check out this course by author C. J. Redwine (also a UtopYA participant this past year), but I will tell you, and I don’t think she will be mad at me for this, that the course really makes you dig deep into your character and put the best and the worst of the character out there. You cannot have a fully formed character if you are not willing to examine all sides of the character. No one is all good or all bad. There is always something redeeming about everyone, even your villain – you just need to find that. Maybe your villain hates women and enjoys torturing them, but goes home every night to get milk for his cat. Maybe your hero is a police officer who every night puts his life on the line to save the citizens of the city he is sworn to protect, but his dark side makes him prowl the streets at night for people he can beat up in bar fights. We are all two sides of the same coin. Making sure the reader understands this makes your character more believable to them, and more interesting and then they will want to invest their time in reading your book.

Jo: Interesting take. I’m of a different school when it comes to villains. Not gonna go on and on here, but you can check out the post on that topic if interested. There’s another Susan Burdorf who’s an author. Did you know that? Are you planning to use a pen name, or write with your name? Why/why not?
Susan: I have struggled with this question for a while. I was not aware of another Susan Burdorf who is an author…are you sure it is not me? I have been around for a while and have published things before stopping to raise a family and have now gotten back into it. You will need to let me know about this one…I may have to call her up! I think the only time I might do a pen name is if I get a following in one genre, say YA and then possibly would start writing in Erotica or something totally at the other end of the spectrum. I used to think pen names were for cowards or arrogant people, but talking to authors at UtopYA has changed my mind on this. I might just do that depending on the circumstances.

Jo: LOL! I’m not sure it’s not you, but I was curious. *grin* Yeah, two opposite spectrum ends like the ones you mentioned could get squirrely. Rapid fire questions! Black or white?
Susan: Black. Always black.

Jo: Pickles—sweet or dill?
Susan: Sweet (as in pickles, although I haven’t eaten any since my last pregnancy many years ago).

Jo: Favorite car?
Susan: I had a 1966 Malibu Ragtop (my first car as a teenager) that I loved. I called it “Bumblebee” cause it was black and yellow.

Jo: Look at you doing the Transformers thing way ahead of their popularity! Time travel question (because that’s the theme for the con in 2015)! If you could go back in time and change one thing, what would it be?

Susan: Two things: 1. when I was 10 a friend asked me to join her bowling team and I declined – I wish I had said yes, because that started a pattern of me declining to do things because of fear. Had I faced my fear at that age I think I would have been a braver and more adventurous person later. I missed out on a lot of things by saying No, instead of Yes out of fear. 2. I would have asked Inkslinger PR to represent me at the first UtopYA. Now they are too busy and I am sorry I did not talk to them about it then.

Jo: Interesting answers! Very well thought out. Do you have big plans for your visit to UtopYA Con 2015 (like what you did last year)?

Susan: Yep. I have a table, I have games all planned out, I want to do a scavenger hunt again (come to my table and get your sheet and win some awesome prizes people!), and I want to participate more either from the audience or on panels. I have a lot to share if people want to listen. Mostly I want to say – DO NOT BE AFRAID!

Jo: I second that. Put me down for a donation! *grin* How long have you been a reader?

Susan: I have been a reader since I was 3. I started reading books when my brother went to school to keep myself entertained. Of course, I probably had no clue what I was reading, but my mom swears I used to read all day long. Every time she put me down for a nap she would find a book under my pillow when she got me up. I think the fairies left them for me…

Jo: Me too! Love books. My mom used to come in and remove them from my face after I passed out. Sweet moms we had, eh? What’s your favorite book to date and why do you love it so very much?

Susan: Anne of Green Gables is my all time favorite book series! I absolutely love that series of books and would not know what to do with myself if I did not have Anne and her freckles to keep me grounded. (Quinn Loftis kind of reminds me of her…what do you think?).

Jo: I didn’t get to meet Quinn this year, but I saw her from afar and I’m not sure she’s as awkward as Anne was. Looks wise? Yeah, Quinn is a good representation. So, anything I didn’t ask that you wish I had?

Susan: You know, I would like to share this with everyone: I am just like you. I get up every morning, brush my teeth, get ready for work, earn my paycheck, and then at the end of the day I write…sometimes a few hundred words…sometimes it is a good night and I write a few thousand, but no matter the word count I am always thinking about writing or just writing. If you have that fire to write do not keep yourself from doing it. Find a writer’s group in your area and get together with people who love it as much as you. Or, if you don’t have one in your area then start a group. Go to conventions, go to wherever you need to go to be inspired. If you don’t want to write, but you love taking pictures and want to be a cover artist then do it. If you are good at seeing other’s mistakes, become an editor. Get noticed. Stand up and stand out, as Janet Wallace, founder of Social Deviants and founder of UtopYA is fond of saying. Just be whatever you want to be to be happy. And if you are at UtopYA 2015 STOP BY MY TABLE! I want to meet you. I am super shy so you may have to do all the talking, though!

Jo: Wonderful advice! Thanks for joining me on the blog today, Susan! I can’t wait to get to spend more than a moment with you next year.

Susan: Yay! At least one person will stop by my table. Word of advice to anyone who is a newbie to UtopYA 2015 – make a list of everyone you want to meet and then do it. Time slips away so quickly and everyone is rushing around that you might miss someone you want to meet so make it to my table for my scavenger hunt sheet and go find us all! Everyone there will want to meet you too!

Now, it’s time to tell you all about the featured book for the week. Since Susan isn’t published yet, we’ll put up one of her choosing.

Title: Lucky Number Four
Author: Amanda Jason
Genre: New Adult
Length (print): 369 pages
Buy links: Amazon Kindle $4.99 Paperback $12.59 ~ B&N

Synopsis: Read the synopsis on the Amazon page. I think this book is so awesome because it is funny, and sweet, and written by my amazing friend, Amanda Jason (aka Carol Kunz who gives the most amazing hugs!!!)

Now, while your fingers are in the clicking mode, why not give Ms. Burdorf a follow on social media?

Twitter: I have a twitter account but never use it. I started it on a dare from a fellow author and think it is @susanburdorfauthor
Facebook: Susan Burdorf
Pinterest: Again, I have an account but never pin a thing
Website: In development
Blog: None at this time. Will have one when the website is completed
YouTube: I am actually getting one set up asap
Google +: Susan Burdorf Author
Other: Amazon author page

If you have any questions for Susan, pop them into the comments below! She’ll love hearing from you.

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


Friday, August 22, 2014

Scheduling and Planning for Maximum Efficiency

Happy Friday, good people of the blogosphere! Today, I'm sharing with you a little tip I read over on The Book Designer. If you aren't familiar with that blog, go check it out right now. Joel is a wealth of information on self publishing, book formatting, book covers, and typography. It's worth your time to browse around.

Anyway, one of the posts last week was about planning your blog posts (they were talking to market a book, I'm talking just planning). I used to do this, and seem to have fallen off the wagon since the move. Actually, everything has kinda been bananas around here since the move, UtopYA, and changing the kids' bus times and stuff around. I've been in headless chicken mode.

Why? Because I didn't take the time to re-schedule my life. To be fair, the kids did just go back to school a couple weeks ago, and I didn't know what time buses would run, etc...

I don't have that excuse anymore.

So, scheduling it is! You all know how much I love schedules. I've written about scheduling your day down to the minute so you're able to be more productive, and there's a post here about scheduling your social networking time so you can hit everything in a week. I even went as far as restructuring my schedule here once I got where I wanted to be search-wise.

That schedule has now been printed off and will be used to create a schedule like the one I shared on ChaBooCha (first link above). I'll also be scheduling in my editing/proofreading on a separate sheet so things are interchangeable when I have a job to do on that end.

Here's hoping.

How about you? Do you schedule like that? Would you like to? What's stopping you?

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


Thursday, August 21, 2014

My UtopYA2014 Experience Blog Hop

Happy Thursday, everyone! Today, I'm participating in a blog hop and huge book giveaway from the authors of UtopYA. No, this isn't official! It's just a bunch of us that got together and decided to talk about our experiences at the con, and reward readers/followers with some awesome books. If you'd like to, you can join the Facebook event for the hop here. Now, sit back, relax, and let's get going!

My UtopYA 2014 Experience
by Jo Michaels

I was as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs about attending UtopYA Con 2014. I did a couple of things along the way to ease those fears (like my author interview series), but I still felt my knees knocking when I walked through the doors of the Millennium Maxwell House in Nashville, Tennessee, on the Thursday afternoon before the con began.

Those nervous moments didn't last long; there was too much to do/see. As soon as I walked in, I spotted the ever awesome Eva Pohler. Not long after, I spied Toni Lesatz, C. A. Kunz (both of them), and an hour or so later N. L. Greene, Kelly Risser, and Casey L. Bond arrived.

Then, I spied Carlyle Labuschagne. That's when the squeeing began.

There were many hugs, lots of "I know you! So good to put a face with the name." going around, and many, many business cards changing hands. This crazy (yes, I do mean bonkers) "moment" kept going all afternoon.

At six, Tia and I snuck out to the pool area with Kelly Risser, N. L. Greene, and Casey L. Bond. We worked from six until about nine on ideas we had for our YA anthology. There were lots of great things flying around that table, let me tell you. We'll be bringing you something never done before. Keep your eyes out for that.

Because I drove up to Nashville, I'd been up since around 5am. At this point, I was ready to pass out. After hauling our books down and setting up our table, Tia and I excused ourselves and ducked back to our room for some much needed sleep. We knew the next day would start earlier than we really wanted to get up.

At 6am, it began again. Breakfast took longer than it should've and we were late for the keynote speech. *facepalm* Yeah, next time, I get up at 5. After that, we literally talked non-stop, marketed our books, and met authors until 10pm. I also had the Friday night fan invasion to attend. With Sylvia Day there, the line was humongous. Moving books and swag off my regular table and out the door to another one (and back again later) was fun in a strange way. I chatted with the authors near me and made some new friends. Don't judge, I'm able to befriend darn near anyone. Yeah, we sang Baby Got Back in the hotel bar, but the networking never stopped. My face hurt from smiling so much. By 11, we were back in our room. Tia spent the nights working on an edit for a client of INDIE Books Gone Wild (now that's dedication), and I read a book in bed while decompressing from the day's craziness and trying not to have a nervous breakdown from being so on edge all day.

Saturday was just as nuts. I face-planted in bed after the awards and dance party. No, I only had one drink (it's good to be responsible) so that wasn't it. My throat was killing me, and I'd been running all day. If there was a moment to breathe in there, I missed it--or maybe I was moving so fast I got caught in a time-warp continuum and the moment came later than it should've.

By this point, I was missing my husband and my own bed fiercely. I left Sunday morning (early). While this guaranteed I missed out on some of the super fun stuff going on at the con, I couldn't help it. Remember, I had a pretty good drive ahead of me.

Was it worth it? YES. Will I do it again next year? YES. Why? Because, for the first time in my life, I felt normal. No one looked at me like I had ten heads when I talked about dragons, zombies, or mutated mushrooms that want to kill me. It was accepted, embraced, and even encouraged. Was it overload that'll wipe you out but leave you teeming with ideas? YES.

Do it. If you've been sitting on the fence about attending a writer's con, come to UtopYA in 2015. I can't speak for other cons; but this one treats every author (traditional or Indie) like a rock star. Get your tickets here.

Advice for newcomers:
  • Sleep well before you come. You won't get much rest once the con begins.
  • Bring cough drops or drink a lot of warm tea or coffee. Your voice will thank me later.
  • Pack with intelligence. Remember! You need a dress or some nice clothes for the awards, and whatever clothes you're comfortable in for the other days. Trust me, sneakers are your friends.
  • Don't drink so much you can't walk. I realize you're getting out of the house for the first time in forever, but be responsible; you never know who's watching you and noticing. This is a gathering of professionals. Be professional. Your career is in your hands here.
  • Get to the con early (before Thursday). They'll let you set your stuff up the night before. You can thank me later.
  • Find a friend with wheels. No, I don't mean a car. I'm talking about a wagon, cart, or something else that has wheels. Again, you can thank me later.
  • Use the time every night after the con to decompress. You won't have time to hang out and relax during the day, so set aside some quiet reading time or something before you plan to sleep. Yes, this may mean you leave a gathering just a little early. But your body will be grateful, and you'll be happy you were responsible.
  • Set an alarm. Don't be late for the prize giveaways every morning. If you aren't there, they give what you might have won to someone else. And they give fabulous prizes.
  • Take the time to look at photos on Facebook and author websites or join me here for the author interview series I'm doing. You'll know at least a few people when you arrive if you bother to do this. It makes all the difference in the world.
  • The Con will be here before you know it. Start prepping and buying swag and table decor now. That way, you aren't in a mad rush to get it all before the big day.
  • Set aside boxes and label them UtopYA Con 2015. Put anything you buy for the con directly into the boxes so you don't forget to bring your goodies.
Well, that's all the nuggets of wisdom I have for you. I hope you enjoyed my little story!

~ The End

Now to tell you all about the blogs on the tour, the prizes up for grabs, and give you a Rafflecopter entry form!

Here's the hop list:
Christina Mercer - August 4th - Blog Link
Nichole Greene - August 5th - Blog Link
Delphina Henley - August 6th - Blog Link
Kelly A Risser - August 6th - Blog Link
Nanette Bradford - August 7th - Blog Link
Amy Evans - August 8th - Blog Link
Chelsea Starling - August 9th - Blog Link
Carlyle Labuschagne - August 12th - Blog Link
Anna Cruise - August 14th - Blog Link
Becca Vincenza - August 18th - Blog Link
Raine Thomas - August 19th - Blog Link
Casey L Bond - August 19th - Blog Link
Jo Michaels - August 21st - You're there now
Shelley Custer - August 26th - Blog Link
Nely Cab - August 27th - Blog Link
Chelsea Fine - August 28th - Blog Link
Rachel Harris - August 29th - Blog Link
Amber Garr - August 29th - Blog Link
Heather Hildenbrandt - August 30th - Blog Link
Susan Burdorf - August 30th - Blog Link

Now for the prize packs (there are FIVE!) and each has a Rafflecopter entry form that will follow the image:

Visit Delphinia's blog to enter to win the first prize pack.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

What are you waiting for? Get on it!

How many of these great giveaways did you enter?

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


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Book Review - Resist

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Today, I'm bringing you another book review. No, this one isn't from my review list. I'm working on Scott Marlowe's The Five Elements (The Alchemancer: Book One) in that pile. I think, from this point forward, I'm gonna put all the titles in a hat and draw one every time I finish the one I'm reading. His book, I'm about halfway through. So we're getting there. If you're late to the party, I'm referring to my 12 Days of Christmas review pile that's part of my list on the Indie Fever 2014 Reading Challenge. We commit to reading a certain number of Indie books every year and reviewing them. I love taking part. It's really an awesome thing to give back.

As always, I'll start with a little bit of information about the book up for review:

Title: Resist (Harvest Saga - Book 2)
Author: Casey L. Bond
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
Length (print): About 213 pages
Buy links: Amazon Kindle $2.99

Abby Kelley returns home from the Greater city of Olympus to find that things in Orchard Village are bad, very bad. The Olympian Guard has taken over village affairs. The Lessers are being worked to the bone in the coldest winter Orchard has seen. Villagers are being dragged away for the slightest indication of what they call “resistance.” She needs to keep her head down and her mouth shut. But, it’s so hard to do when everything within you screams rebellion.

Kyan is coming on strong, trying to convince her to take a chance on him. Shocking news of Crew’s activities in Olympus sweeps through the Villages. When Abby is taken away by the Olympian guard, Kyan sends word to Vesuvius for help. But, no one could have predicted their idea of help or what they might expect in return.

Who will be left to pick up the pieces of Abby’s heart?

Resist is the second book in The Harvest Saga series by Casey L. Bond. It is highly recommended that you read Reap (book one) before reading Resist.

***Will not appear in review elsewhere. Holy wow at the covers on these books, huh? While the type treatment is weak, the imagery is awesomesauce. I can't wait for the third installment. I must know how this ends! I reviewed Reap and you can see that on my blog here.***

I ran out and bought Resist the day it went on sale. I loved Reap, and couldn't wait to continue the story of Abby, Crew, and Kyan. Casey is quickly becoming a go-to author when I'm in the mood for a great story. Enough of my rambling! I'm sure you're eager to hear about the story.

From a Reader's Perspective:
Let me tell you, there were some major shockers in this book. They had me putting my hand to my mouth and gasping for air. This is an edge-of-your-seat read for sure. Many times, I find the middle book in a series lacking punch. They kind of go tra-la-la to move the plot along, and there's nothing interesting on the pages. Resist isn't one of those books. It'll keep you biting your nails, cringing, and tearing up over and over again. Pacing is spot on, and I wanted more when I hit the last page. As in Reap (book one), the world building is awesome. I love that there are more than one Greater factions in control of the Lessers. It made the twisty plot even more of a page turner. Warning! There is a cliffhanger. It's a big one. So, if you don't like that sort of thing, wait for the last book to come out before you start reading. If you don't mind, pick up these books ASAP.

From an Editor's Perspective:
So many errors in the writing. Mostly punctuation and pronoun confusions, but there were a few oops moments that should've been caught. Example: Even though it was only a rouse, she would be hurt. This should read: Even though it was only a ruse, she would be hurt. Sadly, what would've been a 5 star book, is dropped to 4 because of the errors. I had to turn my inner editor off.

1 Star for keeping me on the edge of my seat
1 Star for awesome twists I was blindsided by
1 Star for world building
1 Star for pacing and wonderful conflict
-1 Star for editing
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars. A fantastic read that'll keep you gripping your chair despite the writing errors. Recommended if you can look past writing errors and really get into a story.

Have you read it? What did you think?

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


Friday, August 15, 2014

Cover Reveal - From Deities by Mary Ting

Descendant Prophecies #2

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


FROM GODS by Mary Ting
Descendant Prophecies #1


About Mary

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

Website † Facebook † GoodReads † Twitter



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Milestone on the Blog

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Wow. I looked at the number of posts I've written here on the blog today and noticed I breezed past six hundred last week. Today, I'll share with you some of the stats for the Jo Michaels blog. This'll be fun; so, strap in and let's get going!

As you all may know, I also have a blog over on Tumblr. It has the same content this one does, but I have different followers over there. Those folks like their information presented differently, so they choose to go that route. I'll share numbers from that blog, too!

This blog has:
  • 70 e-mail subscribers (of which 50 are verified and regularly click through to the posts)
  • 606 posts
  • Approximately 334,000 words (606 x 550)
  • 155,887 page views all time
  • An average of 213 page views per day (last 30 days was 6,394) and that number goes bananas around Christmas (and fluctuates down during the summer)
  • A categorized link list with 180 helpful, how-to posts on writing (and the business of self-publishing)
My most popular post? Human Nature: Situation Reaction with 2,036 views

My Tumblr blog has:
  • 500 posts
  • and no way to get stats on anything else
My most popular post? He Said, She Said, Who Said What? It's been shared so many times I've lost track.

I've been blogging since 2012, and I hope I've build a reputation as a go-to for writers and readers of great fiction.

But, you know what? It's not me who makes this blog worthwhile; it's all you readers of my ramblings who pop by here and say hello or just take in what I have to say that make the difference.

Thanks for being awesome and joining me on my crazy journey through Bloggerland. And, if you've taken a chance on my books, thank you, too. Readers are an author's lifeblood, and I have some of the most amazing fans on the planet.


I'm blown away by the support.

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


Monday, August 11, 2014

Improving Your Writing with a Journal

Happy Monday, good people of the blogosphere! I hope you all had a super fabulous weekend and are ready to kick the week off with a bang. Today, I'm gonna talk to you all about keeping a journal and discuss how it may help you in your writing life. So, grab those pens and notebooks and let's get going!

1. A newspaper or magazine that deals with a particular subject or professional activity.
2. A daily record of news and events of a personal nature; a diary.

As you can imagine, I'm talking about the second definition of the word. But we'll take it a step further and add to that definition. Now, it'll read: A daily record of news, events, and emotions from a singular individual of a personal nature; a diary.

If you take five to ten minutes a day and write down your feelings or news topics that piqued your interest, you'll end up with an invaluable resource for your novels. I've talked about creating a feelings bible before, but this is something different.

Because you'll be writing in it every day, those emotions will be fresh. Feelings you had will still be on the tip of your fingers and ready to be slapped down on the page.

How does one journal feelings?

Think about a particular incident where you were taken aback by the reaction you had, or consider how something might have made you over-the-top happy. Write down what happened, then go on to describe your feelings about it in vivid detail.

Engage all five senses when you write these things down: Smell, Taste, Sight, Touch, Sound.

Go bananas. If you were angry, let it all out. Be real because you'll only be lying to yourself if you aren't.

What you'll find, after a month or so, is that you have a wonderful record of situational impact on a human being's emotional state. You'll know the situation, the players, and the results. Not only that, but you'll be able to recall things that interest you as a person.

You can also go sit in a cafe or coffee shop and journal other people. Yes, you'll have to guess about their feelings; but, chances are, you've been in a similar situation and can get pretty close to the physical fallout of a given situation. If you're an outgoing type (most authors aren't haha), go ask the person how they're feeling and write it all down. Take note of their facial expressions, posture, and vernacular.

Once you have this gem of a written record, put it somewhere you can get to it when you're stuck on a particularly emotional scene in a novel. If you already have a feelings bible, add some of the content from the journal.

I promise, it's never a waste of your time to get in touch with Human Nature (that's a link to another blog post series I did on the Jo Michaels blog that will give you some awesome insight into what makes us tick).

What do you think? Do you already have a feelings bible or journal? How has it helped?

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


Friday, August 8, 2014

Paranormal Transmissions by Bella Roccaforte - Release Day Information

Welcome to Paranormal Transmissions! You are about to embark on the first episode of a novel-length serial--guaranteed cliffhanger-free--encompassing approximately 22,000 words of thrilling paranormal suspense (with a hefty side of humor). Buckle up and get ready to fly!

In Episode I: 

Carl and McNab are paranormal investigators. Carl, a man of principle, has the best of intentions. His job is to keep paranormal beings under cover and out of mischief. McNab--young, impetuous, devil-may-care--will add his talents to Carl’s long as he gets paid.

McNab has a lot to learn--and a lot of growing up to do. But he does come up with a great idea to finance Carl’s exploits--a weekly reality program showcasing paranormal phenomena. To the delight of their cable TV audience, McNab and Carl wade through the seamy, murky waters of the Underside world, helping those in need, saving the blissfully unaware from the ravages of evil, and attempting to redeem their own mistakes--all without causing widespread panic! 

In this first episode we join our heroes in the desert of Mexico trying to bury the body of a chupacabre--and McNab learns his lesson the hard way. After the chaos subsides, Carl notices some suspicious activity in a small North Carolina town--several suicides followed by an odd wave of philanthropy. Both investigators agree--all fingers point to a “pusher.” But what they find catches them both off guard. 

Those readers familiar with Bella Roccaforte’s INK: series will recognize Carl and McNab as favorite characters, but all readers will love their early exploits, which take place long before the INK: series begins. Come and find out what happened before McNab met Shay in Seattle!
Buy Now


Bella's motto has always been that you can choose to watch life pass you by or your can be the one spinning the world. You have to get out and live, life won't come to you!

Bella has always seen things in the world with a different view and has been an avid story-teller. She is enjoying putting her crazy musings into print for others to enjoy.

To her, one of the most exciting parts of writing is getting a chance to interact with readers. It is truly her hope that readers will reach out and tell her what they like and even don't like about her stories. She's looking forward to a relationship with the readers to better write stories they will love.

Please feel free to connect with her via Facebook, Twitter, Email or her website!



EJ Button

Thursday, August 7, 2014

A Guest Post by Me on The Zombie Survival Crew's Blog

Happy Thursday, everyone! Today I'm giving you a little snatch of what I wrote for a guest post over on The Zombie Survival Crew's blog. Then, I'll give ya a link so you can go see what they're all about and read the rest of my crazy ramblings. *grin*

Grab a cup of Joe and let's get going!

Fear Factors
What’s Really Going on in those Zombie Novels
by Jo Michaels, author of I, Zombie

So, I’m sure you’ve all picked up a zombie novel and turned to page one with your breath in your throat and your hands shaking as you contemplated what horrific situations you were about to be treated to, right?

Is it because you’re anticipating the sticky situations people will undoubtedly get themselves into and out of? Or, is it the mindless munching of brain matter by half rotted, animated corpses that gets your pulse racing?

Chances are, it’s a mixture of both. Zombie novels aren’t about the eating of flesh. While that’s a key component in the movement of the plot and something adding to the spine-tingling horror of it all, it’s not what’s lurking behind the scenes.

Deep within the pages of your everyday zombie novel there’s a central theme: survival of humanity and basic compassion. What you’re reading about is the battle—both with the creatures, who used to be thinking, feeling humans, and with the character’s own sense of what’s right and wrong while trying to survive. All around the character there are old friends, family members, and people those characters met along the way that now must be destroyed.

How do you pull the trigger when you’ve had a conversation with the person staring back at you with those milky zombie eyes? What if it’s your child?

Many times, authors of zombie novels go the extra mile to include how a parent tried to keep their feral child safe once it turned; because the parent(s) were unable to do the unthinkable. A neighbor might present a challenge (it depends if they were easy to work with over that property line dispute), but if they mean to harm or eat you, chances are you wouldn’t have much of a problem pulling the trigger, using a machete, or sticking them in the head with a pitchfork (hey, I lived on a farm; don’t judge me).

Read more on the Zombie Survival Crew site!

What do you think?

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