Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Writing Caves or Coffee Shops - Writer Groove

Happy Tuesday, good people of the blogosphere! Today, I'm gonna chat about the different ways writers get their novel creating groove on. Similar to NaNoWriMo, but when every day should be about words. So, grab those pens and notebooks and let's get going!

What's a writing cave?

Well, a writing cave is your zen space. Think of it as the place you go when you need to bang words out on the keys of your laptop, bringing yourself to a place of complete relaxation and creativity. When you enter your writing cave, it should feel like it's begging you to create.

Many writers have a bookshelf in their writing cave. What's on those tall, dark, handsome slabs of wood varies depending on what tasks the wordsmith takes on when in the room. For example: Mine is a short table with design how-to and editing books stacked on it. My issue of the CMoS is right on top, staring at me. It inspires me to do more and be more, and it's a handy reference shelf I access often.

Some writers have novels lining their shelves. Others have mementos, photographs, or other items to spark their creativity. It depends on the mood you're trying to set.

What else should be in your writing cave?
  • A visible schedule
  • Nail clippers (yeah, ever tried to write with a hangnail?)
  • Notebooks (for those ideas you get)
  • Pens 
You might also want to have a printer for those scenes you need to work out. Trust me, stepping out of the writing cave with scene in hand can make a huge difference.

I know one writer who prints images of her characters and a snatch of their bios, then hangs them on the wall where she can see them as she writes. When I asked why, her answer was: Because they speak better when I'm looking them in the face.

If you write romance, light a candle or two. Paranormal? Try some posters of otherworldly things.

Or, maybe you prefer to write at a coffee shop. Does the hustle and bustle, or conversations of other people, get your spark moving? Here are a few things to watch out for when choosing to write in public:
  • Fluffy chairs (they tend to make typing difficult and staying awake even more of a challenge)
  • High-traffic areas (you don't want to get bumped a lot)
  • Wi-fi (if you don't need it, turn it off so you aren't distracted by social media or e-mails)
  • Bad coffee (yeah...)
  • Chatty people
Regardless of where you choose to write, make it your zen space.

Whatever you do, be sure the mood is right for you and your process.  It's your book, and you need to make sure your surroundings are conducive to the creative side of your brain.

Where do you write?

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

Jo

Monday, March 30, 2015

Featured Author - Inger Iversen - Publication Spotlight

Happy Monday, everyone! Today, I bring you the publication list from my featured author, Inger Iversen. She has some amazing books on this list, and I urge you to check them out. Get your clicking finger ready, and let's get going!

Title: Few Are Angels (Few Are Angels #1)
Genre: New Adult Paranormal
Length (print):  308 pages
Buy Link: Amazon Kindle FREE

Blurb:
After a fatal hit and run accident, Ella Monroe fears that she’s lost more than her beloved parents. Horrifying visions of a past life and a disturbing voice in her head have psychiatric professionals convinced that she’s lost her sanity as well. But when Kale—a dark and handsome stranger with a mysterious pastreveals the true meaning of her visions and the tremendous power she wields through them, Ella must come to terms with the devastating truths of her own past, while eluding an ancient Dark Prince who seeks to control not only her future, but all of mankind’s, by means of abilities that Ella is only beginning to understand.

Enter the shrouded world of an age old battle between an ancient race known as the Immortals and their bitter enemy Laurent, the so-called Dark Prince, who commands an army of half-breed vampires known as Chorý. Both sides have been desperately searching for the prophesied emergence of the Arc, a clairvoyant with unparalleled power to recall the past and a soothsayer with clear vision into the future.

The Council of Immortals has sworn to protect the Arc, whom they have identified as young Ella Monroe, a college freshman from Virginia living quietly and unaware of her powers or her past. But a renegade Chorý has other plans for the protection of a girl he has loved through the ages. Can Kale convince Ella of who she is, what she is destined to become, and what he once meant to her? Is he truly the best protector to shield the world from the devastating misuse of her powers that Laurent is bent on controlling? Or will the forbidden love they share and Kale’s cursed condition as a retched and hated Chorý be used against them both?

This paranormal romance told from the heroine’s perspective builds in intensity and intrigue to a finale you won’t see coming. Heart pounding action mixed with heartwarming friendships and heartbreaking romance will leave you breathless and begging for more.

Title: Awakened (Few Are Angels #2)
Genre: New Adult Paranormal
Length (print):  269 pages
Buy Link: Amazon Kindle $2.99

Blurb:
What must he overcome to protect her?
 
With no clue of what to do next and the responsibility of looking after Alex and Mia as promised, Kale is up to his ears in problems and no solutions. How will Kale save Ella, keep Alex and Mia safe, control Jace as well as control the Bloodlust that creeps beneath the surface waiting to be released? Will Kale be Ella's savior or will he convict her to a fate worse than the one Laurent has already promised her?

What truths will she learn?
 
Ella knows that the choices she makes affects not only her but everyone else around her, but what about the choices made to find her? Ella learns the truth about the death of her parents, learns that the ones she thought she could trust aren't so trustworthy after all.

How will Ella handle these betrayals, and will she be able to sacrifice what is necessary to obtain eternal life?

Title: Immortal Heart (Few Are Angels #0.5)
Genre: New Adult Paranormal
Length (print):  262 pages
Buy Link: Amazon Kindle $2.99

Blurb:
More than a century after the tragedy of Hélène's death and before Ella found Kale bruised and broken on her doorstep, Kale moved through the world in a haze of personal punishment allowing it to consume him. Until his friend, Detective Deacon, a newly infected Chorý calls on him for a favor.

In this prequel to the Few Are Angels series, Kale is thrown into a world of human blood trafficking and is introduced to a Chorý that offers him a chance at happiness— in blood.

Title: Running in the Dark (Running in the Dark #1)
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Romance
Length (print):  208 pages
Buy Link: Amazon Kindle $2.99

Blurb:
Trace’s job has always revolved around death. Trace is a Watcher, a position created assist to the undead to their final resting place without alerting humans of the vampire race. Whether his job is to witness the death of a fellow vampire or deal it, Trace has learned that being a Grim Reaper isn’t what he thought it would be. After years of killing, he’s ready for a new job, a new life, or to just disappear. When Bessina becomes his new target after she witnesses the death of fellow vampires Sam and Hope, Trace is ready to eliminate her—until a strange course of events turns the tables and has Trace protecting Bessina from his boss and running for his life.

Title: Sinners in the Dark (Running in the Dark #2)
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Romance
Length (print):  268 pages
Buy Link: Amazon Kindle $2.99

Blurb:
Depending on who you talk to, the Vampire Nation is either corrupt or a necessary evil. The Sect was formed to eradicate all things vampire, or maybe it’s just their mission to protect humans. Echo has been on both sides. He was once a Watcher for the Vampire Nation, but when he uncovers an ongoing plan to kill chosen Sect leaders to force war, he is driven to make a decision he never thought he’d make.

Echo becomes a Ghost, the name used for traitors of the Vampire Nation. It’s a dangerous way to leave the Nation, but Echo is sick of all the blood on his hands. However, leaving the darkness behind isn’t as easy as he thinks. Choices he made might cost him the one person that could help redeem his soul.

Olivia lost so much at a young age, and she has spent the last four years wading through the blood of vampires. Her goal has always been to avenge her family’s massacre. When she met Echo in battle two years ago, there was instant chemistry. Now, he is not only a part of the Sect but her new partner. Will she be able to set aside her hatred for vamps to expose the V Nation for what they really are?

Title: Goodnight Sam (Running in the Dark #0.5)
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Romance
Length (print):  12 pages
Buy Link: Amazon Kindle FREE

Blurb:
An intimate narrative of the exchange between Samuel and Hope, told from Hope's perspective, this short story prequel to the Running in the Dark series sheds light on a frightening event witnessed by Beth, who later narrates book one of the series.

Goodnight Sam reveals the tragic history of Sam and Hope, who have existed as vampires since the eighteenth century. Sam has grown weary of the new world along with the escalating conflicts of his kind and wishes to attain peace in what is know as 'the true death', while Hope desperately desires to pursue a more fulfilling life together. The repercussions of the shocking mutual decision they make, and Beth's role as a witness to it, become the catalyst for the dangers facing Beth in the Running in the Dark Series.

Title: Incarcerated  (Love and War #1)
Author: Inger Iversen
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length (print): 342 pages
Buy links: Amazon Kindle 2.99

Blurb:
One of the few white kids in a rural Kentucky town, Logan Whyte always kept to his own kind out of self-preservation. He never considered himself racist, but that didn’t stop him from falling in with the wrong crowd—who celebrated hate as much as he fought it—or from ending up in prison for eight years on an armed robbery charge.

A successful, educated black woman, Katie Andreassen was tired of being accused of betraying her own race. Her lonely isolation, coupled with her grief over losing her mother, inspire her to create a new pen pal program at Capshaw State Penitentiary, where her father is a warden.

The program brings the unlikely pair together, but Logan and Katie soon find themselves forced to overcome past fears and prejudices. Their friendship doesn’t come easily … threatened by a crooked lawyer with a grudge and a best friend who betrays her promise to help.

When faced with a world that forces them apart, Logan and Katie must show everyone else what they have discovered: that love is, in fact, colorblind.

Title: Inevitable (Love and War #2)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length (print):  318 pages
Buy Link: Amazon Kindle $2.99

Blurb:
Ex-Marine and former combat trainer, Trent Reed has been shot at, he’s been in a coma and placed in war zones behind enemy lines most of his Marine career, but when his best friend calls for a favor, he is faced with one of the hardest decisions of his life—to be the Best Man. His turbulent past with races other than his own have him at odds with his best friend and the man’s new African American fiancée, and not helping matters is Trent’s crazy girlfriend who is on him about getting married too. When Trent accepts the job as Best Man against his better judgment, it’s done with a heavy heart and the understanding that his friend is soon to be out of his life—for good.

Teal Lofton is finally warming up to her best friend’s fiancé and ex convict when she learns that they are expecting just a few short months before their wedding. If that’s not enough, as Maid of Honor, Teal had to put up with budget issues, a sobbing and hormonal bride, juggling her Katie’s secret pregnancy and not to mention, Trent, Logan’s jerk of a best friend and Best Man who she is strangely, yet wildly attracted to. When the shit hits the fan during the bachelor party and Trent disappears with the wedding rings, Teal flips her lid and chases him off into the night to fix yet again, another problem, but a tragic accident sets Trent and Teal on an inevitable course of self discovery and passion like they’ve never experienced before.

What are you waiting for? Get going! There are a couple of freebies up there to get you started!

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

Jo

Friday, March 27, 2015

Book Junkie: Not so Anonymous - utopYA Con Friday Night Event and Saturday Signing

Happy Friday, everyone! Wow, what a busy couple of days it's been, huh? I totally missed my post yesterday. BOO! But today's will make up for it, I promise. *grin* As always, on Friday, you get some amazing information about utopYA Con 2015. This week it's from Book Junkie: Not so Anonymous. Our dear Ashley has a BIG giveaway of Saturday signing space! I know you're all excited, so let's get going!


From Book Junkie:

Alright, ladies and gentleman! Every time I get to put together one of my official posts, with more information about the conference (which is only EIGHTY-THREE DAYS from now!) I get more and more excited about this year's events! And today, I get to share with you some REALLY exciting information!

First up is an awesome, exclusive opportunity for 225 utopYA attendees...

See the rest here!


Yeah, you know you want to read more of THAT! What are you waiting for? Oh, right! You wanna know how to win.

Well, you have to collect all four parts of the entry phrase then enter them in the Rafflecopter form. But you have to visit all the bloggers' official posts to get the pieces.

Here they are (in order):
Jo Michaels Blog - C. J. Redwine interview
A Book Vacation - Victoria Faye Whit & Ware interview
Paisley Reader - How to create a Google pre-order form
Book Junkie - Special Friday night event and Saturday signing

Now, what are you waiting for? Getcher booty movin'!

Did you enter to win?

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

Jo

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

utopYA 2015 Experience - Write Your own Future

writeyourfutureHave you got a story in your heart simply bursting to be told? Or characters in your head who never stop whispering their secrets? Maybe you're a devoted reader who wants to tell the world about your favorite books. No matter your goals, UtopYA will envelop you with open arms as well as inspire you beyond belief! The book conference brings female writers of contemporary and supernatural YA and NA fiction together with their fans. Book lovers from far and wide, including authors and readers as far away as the UK, Scotland, and South Africa. This year’s expected attendance of 700-1,000 will be its highest ever.

Those who are interested in a thriving book community will enjoy panels and camaraderie. Readers will not only meet some of their favorite authors (and even do karaoke with them!), but they'll attend educational panels to learn about honing their craft. Whether it's writing or editing a book, designing covers, developing marketing strategies, blogging - they've got a panel for that and more!

Keynote speakers Denise Grover Swank, Lauren Miller and Kim Holden will kick off each day followed by educational panels, games, screenings and more. These panels contain expert advice to aspiring authors and book bloggers, plus open discussion for audience participation. Over 100 exhibitors will showcase their work and meet readers; a B&N and indie bookstore are also on site. In addition to the cosplay karaoke on Friday night, the highly anticipated UtopYA Awards will take place Saturday evening, where nominees are honored thanks to their peers and fans. We'll get dressed up and dance the night away as we fangirl over our favorite book boyfriends ;)

In addition, there is a book signing on Saturday that is open to the public - all UtopYA asks is a book donation or $5 to their charity, Book 'Em. In return, you'll meet bestselling authors, plus a chance to discover plenty of new ones! More than a few women have called this event a life-changing experience! The event is already at 75% capacity, so get your tickets here or hurry over for more information at www.utopyacon.com

Want to know who will be there? Here’s a PARTIAL list of authors, experts, models, and vendors who are ready to meet YOU:

Denise Grover Swank • Kim Holden • Lauren Miller • Marissa Meyer • Myra McEntire • Tammara Webber • Rebecca Donovan • Amy A. Bartol • Jessica Sorensen • Ella James • Cameo Renae • Elizabeth Kirke • Amanda Jones • T.A. Kunz • Chelsea Fine • Whit & Ware • Mae I Design • Indie-Visible • Teal Haviland • Kristie Cook • Clean Teen Publishing • CHBB • Timid Monster • Tia Bach and Indie Books Gone Wild • The Paisley Reader • Delphina Henley • Shana Benedict • Book Junkie Not So Anonymous • Michele Madow • Courtney Stevens • C.J. Redwine • #NALitChat • Chanda Hahn • RK Ryals • A.M. Hargrove • B.J. Sheldon • Cambria Hebert • Tessi Conquest • Nathan Weller • Kendra Malcolm • Madison Daniel • Mindy Ruiz • Bryna Butler • Curiosity Quills • P.K. Hrezo • Rysa Walker • Mary Ting • Bella Roccaforte • Raine Thomas • The Rebel Writers • Michele G. Miller • Raye Wagner • Heather Hildenbrand • S.M. Boyce • Rebecca Yarros • Rachel Harris • Tammy Blackwell • Plot Ninja • Helene Dunbar • Lila Felix • Lizzy Ford • A.G. Henley • Toni Lesatz • Nikki Jefford • Katie McGarry • Stormy Smith • Amy Miles • Rick Miles • Jon Miller • Misty Provencher • Kallie Ross • Stacie Wilson • Morgan Wylie and so many more.

Check the web site for full list of authors, exhibitors, panelists and more!

Now if that didn't get you all abuzz, I don't know what will! Get your tickets!

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

Jo

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

YouTube for Bloggers and Authors

Happy Tuesday, good people of the blogosphere! Today, I'm gonna talk a little bit about You Tube and how bloggers and authors can use it to their advantage. Ready? Grab those pens and notebooks and let's get going!

You Tube. I bet most of you have watched a video or two hundreds of videos from this little channel, either via your Facebook feed or by browsing for something you were interested in, right?

Well, I invite you today to expand your horizons and look beyond browsing and watching; let's go into making.

If you've never made a video, you're not alone. There are hundreds of thousands of people just like you in the world who either don't have time or have no idea how to get started. So, first, I'm gonna walk you through a quick lesson on creating and uploading that video, then we'll get to how you can use the platform to your advantage (what you might consider recording to share).

You'll (possibly) need the following equipment:
  • Something to record yourself with (this can be an iPhone, iPad, computer camera, or other camera that captures video)
  • A video editing tool (on Windows, you have Movie Maker - FREE, and I'm not sure about Mac, but I believe they come with something similar)
  • An image editing tool (Paint will do fine)
  • A noise cancelling microphone or headset (if you plan to only speak)
  • This link for music (if you want to add some beats - these are FREE for YouTube use)
Now that you have those things, we're ready to create an awesome video. Here are the steps:
  1. Create a script (this is what you want to say once you're on camera) so you aren't stumbling all over the place
  2. Set up your recording device on a stable surface so there isn't a ton of camera shake (if you're only doing audio, this is where you strap on your headset or affix your freestanding mic to something)
  3. Get your screen grabs (if you're doing a walk-through to show someone how to do something, you'll want to go step-by-step through the screens - Use Ctrl+PrtScr then open Paint and use Ctrl+V to paste the shot in - be sure to save them with labels like Screenshot1_tutorial1, Screenshot2_tutorial1, etc...) You can skip this step if you plan to record yourself talking.
  4. Get to recording. Lay down all audio and video tracks now
  5. Open Movie Maker and create an intro section (it's pretty self-explanatory), then drop in the other images you plan to use and set their run times.
  6. Add your audio where you want it and tweak the video where necessary. Be sure and save your project often in case of a crash.
  7. Render it (again, it kinda walks you through it), and save to your hard drive.
  8. Go create a YouTube Channel.
  9. Upload your video, add tags, and click publish.
You're done!

I bet you're thinking: That's awesome, Jo, but what the hell do I have to record that people will give two craps about?

Everyone has a skill, and most people know something they can share with or teach others. If all else fails, read a portion of your novel so people can have a taste of it, or do a book review. You can also create a cool book trailer. Once you graduate from Movie Maker, you can get into more technical editors that might cost a little money, but produce studio grade results. But cut your teeth on something easy to use first.

Here are a couple of little videos I did with Movie Maker:




So, you can see the possibilities are there. Crafts, books, technology, marketing, allathat and more!

What are you waiting for? Get going!

Do you have a YouTube channel? Share the link!

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

Jo

Monday, March 23, 2015

Author Interview - Inger Iversen

Happy Monday, good people of the blogosphere! My guest today will knock your socks off. She's the one and only Inger Iversen! I'm super thrilled to have this lovely utopYAn for a visit. You can meet Inger at the con, but you have to get your tickets. It's not too late! UtopYA has been expanded to a four day con this year, with a full Saturday signing. Dates are June 17-21, 2015. Get your tickets here. You don't wanna be the only one left out of the party, do you? Anyway, grab a cup of coffee and let's get going!



Jo: Welcome to the blog, Inger! I’m so excited to have you here and have so much to ask you! Here’s hoping we don’t get too lengthy! You ready?

Inger: I am super ready!

Jo: Awesome. Let’s get this party started! So, I know you must have music on while you’re writing (kudos to you for being able to do that, first of all), and I have to know: What does it do for your creativity? How do you think it’s shaped your books?

Inger: When I first started writing I noticed there would be times when my creativity would lag or I just wasn’t in the mood to write a scene that really needed to be written. When I was writing Few Are Angels there was a scene between Kale and Ella that needed them to connect on a more emotional level, but I was just NOT in the mood to write a romantic scene (totally PG-13). So, I put up the laptop and threw on some headphones. I listened to Lili Hayden’s Come Here. It is super romantic and BOOM the emotions and creativity I needed was there in spades! And from then on out I used music as a muse.


Jo: Great track! I can see music as a mood setter/muse. That's a great story, and hopefully it'll help someone if they're stuck. Thanks for sharing! I know you do a lot with audiobooks. Would you mind sharing a little? What avenue did you use, what are some of the struggles you’ve faced with narrators, and do you market the audiobooks differently than the e-books or paperbacks?

Inger: This is a great question and it seems a lot of authors are now curious about it! I used ACX or Audiobook Creation Exchange. ACX is an Amazon platform used to create Audiobooks for iTunes, Amazon and Audible. The first step is making sure you have the audio rights and then you add your information to the site. On ACX you are trying to snag a producer to narrative your novel into audio. That being said, there are a few struggles I faced while working to get my novel turned into an audiobook. Here were my main two issues.

1. Cost. You can pay two ways: PFH (you pay a set amount per finished hour) or royalty share (split your earnings). All of the narrators that I fell in love with had high PFH. One told me her starting rate was $375 and my book was 8 hours long. That would have cost me $3,000!! So, it took me a while to find a narrator that I was happy with that would agree to share royalties with me.

2. Time. It takes about 60 to 90 days with some narrators and it seemed all the narrators I hired needed between 60 and 70, that wasn’t too bad. However, if took the narrators of Few Are Angels nearly seven months due to issues with her equipment.

Jo: Wow. That's amazing information. $375 PFH? Holy... *recovers* Talk about an investment, huh? So, you do a TON of author events each year. Where will you be over the next twelve months? How have those events helped you in your career? Is there one you love more than the others? Why?

Inger: I do seem to attend a lot of events! I really enjoy them. I honestly think that attending events helped my career. They are helpful even if you don’t sell out of books. As an author it is important to interact with your fans as well as other authors. Doing so helps you feel good about the indie community and helps keep you motivated to read and write more. And YES UtopYa is and will always be my favorite event. UtopYa is the first event I ever attended and I learned so much. I met authors who have become my best friends online and offline. The event changed my career for the better after I attended a few of the classes, too. Meeting Cameo Renae, Christy Foster, and Dan and Rachel from Timid Monster was amazing. All because of this event I had a trailer created and made lifelong friendships.

Jo: I agree 100%. I so wish I'd seen you last year, but there were so many people there, it was hard to meet everyone you wanted to. I'm hunting you down this year. *grin* You’re a voracious reader in addition to being a writer. Do you write in the same genres you read in? Which author do you feel has impacted your career in the biggest way? Why?

Inger: I don’t get to read nearly as much as I used to and that’s a shame. Oddly enough, I write New Adult Romances, but I don’t read New Adult stuff that often. I read a lot of contemporary romance and I hold true to my paranormal romance. I will never in this lifetime or the next tired of reading about vampires!

Jo: I know the feeling. Paranormal, eh? Great genre! Time for rapid fire questions! Cats or dogs?

Inger: Cats!

Jo: Pink or Blue?

Inger: Blue!

Jo: JFK or Reagan?

Inger: JFK


Jo: Now I’m gonna ask the time travel question! Because utopYA 2015’s theme is time travel, I’ve been asking folks random questions focused on that. Here we go: If you could go backward in time and talk to your younger self (without them knowing who you are), what would you say, and what impact do you think it would have on the way your life is now?

Inger: Wow, great question. I would tell myself to stop second-guessing my choices and never live with regrets of things you cannot change. I’ve spent a good portion on my life regretting time not spent with family I’ve lost or second-guessing every choice I make.

Jo: Thanks for the compliment! Wonderful advice for many. I heard you were looking for an author assistant/publicist not too long ago. Did you ever find one? What all do you need them to do? Basically, I’m trying to show folks what all an Indie author has to do besides write and why we need assistants haha!

Inger: No, I never found one. I don’t know if people understand the amount of work that goes into writing, publishing, and then promoting a book all while working fulltime or raising kids. I think a good assistant would be an active leader on the author’s street team, willing to post in groups, help host release parties. It doesn’t seem like much, but authors could produce more books if they weren’t constantly online gathering new readers. I know we have to be online promoting ourselves, but it is a lot of work to juggle. A little help never hurt anyone!

Jo: I don't think readers know, and I wonder if they'll ever care. Most don't seem to realize we aren't J. K. Rowling and don't make billions off our books to support our writing full time. haha! I noticed a little disclaimer on your Goodreads page concerning librarians and changes to your novels. I gotta know what prompted that and if the note has done any good.

Inger: Ugh! I don’t understand Goodreads. I can’t become a librarian because I am an author, but I constantly have to change incorrect information on there about my books. Luckily, I have Stephanie who is a librarian who updates and adds my books to the site. I haven’t checked Goodreads lately, but last time I checked my release date was right and the synopsis wasn’t wrong. I’ve had that happen twice now.

Jo: Oh my. Well, I'm hoping they worked out the kinks in the system. Librarians rock! *grin* What are you working on right now, and when can we expect to see it hit the market?

Inger: Right now I am writing the last book in the Few Are Angels series and that is due out June 17th. After I finish that I start working on a short for Hot Ink Press. The story for HIP is a short that follows Teal and Trent’s from my newest release, Inevitable. I am also working with Dan from Timid Monster and Regina Wamba from Mae I Design on a little project for Incarcerated! I can’t wait to see what we all come up with.

Jo: EEP! So it's a utopYA release, eh? That's so exciting! I can't wait to see what you all come up with either. How cool! Is there anything I didn’t ask that you wish I had?

Inger: Hmm… I think I want to send a shout out to my awesome readers. Thanks for being so supportive. You guys rock. :D

Jo: Fans are lifeblood! Great exit, Inger! That’s all the space we have for today. Thanks for visiting with me! You rock! I can’t wait to meet you at utopYA in June!

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

Title: Incarcerated
Author: Inger Iversen
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length (print): 342 pages
Buy links: Amazon Kindle 2.99

Synopsis: One of the few white kids in a rural Kentucky town, Logan Whyte always kept to his own kind out of self-preservation. He never considered himself racist, but that didn’t stop him from falling in with the wrong crowd—who celebrated hate as much as he fought it—or from ending up in prison for eight years on an armed robbery charge.

A successful, educated black woman, Katie Andreassen was tired of being accused of betraying her own race. Her lonely isolation, coupled with her grief over losing her mother, inspire her to create a new pen pal program at Capshaw State Penitentiary, where her father is a warden.

The program brings the unlikely pair together, but Logan and Katie soon find themselves forced to overcome past fears and prejudices. Their friendship doesn’t come easily … threatened by a crooked lawyer with a grudge and a best friend who betrays her promise to help.

When faced with a world that forces them apart, Logan and Katie must show everyone else what they have discovered: that love is, in fact, colorblind.

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

Pinterest: kris10inger
Blog: ingeriversen.com
Google +: Inger Iversen
Facebook: Inger Iversen
Twitter: @KRIS10INGER
Goodreads: Inger Iversen
Website: IngerIversen.com
Amazon Author Page: Inger Iversen

If you have any questions, pop them into the comments below. My lovely guest will be around to answer and/or respond!

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

Jo

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Paisley Reader - utopYA Con 2015 Walkthrough on Creating a Pre-order Form

Happy Friday, good people of the blogosphere! Today, as with every Friday, I'm bringing you a snippet from one of the utopYA Con 2015 blogger's posts. It's Maria over at The Paisley Reader. Grab a cup of coffee and let's get going!

Don't forget to go get part three of the phrase you'll need to enter the giveaway for Saturday signing space at utopYA con!


Hey Authors, this one’s for you!

A big question you might have before going to utopYA is, “how many books should I bring,” and let me tell you, it is an important question to answer. Take too many, and you’ll have to ship some back home. Take too few, and you’ll sell out quickly, leaving you sitting at a table with no books.

So how can you begin to know how many books you should take to utopYA?

Pre-Orders.

By creating a pre-order form, you’ll know how many books to bring for definite sales. You can also have people prepay via PayPal...


Why are you still here? Get going! Learn how to create a beautiful pre-order form, and collect the third piece of that phrase so you can enter next Friday!

As you can see, the lineup changed due to circumstances beyond our control, but Maria's post is a must read!

What do you think? Did you check it out? Find it helpful?

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

Jo

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Beta Readers - When, How, and Why

Happy Thursday, everyone! Guess what? Tomorrow is Friday! Woot! One more day until the weekend and kicking your shoes off for some relaxation time. Hope that made you smile. Today, I'm discussing beta readers per a request by my featured author next week, Inger Iverson. Oh, yeah, you're gonna love her to pieces. Yes, you do have to wait until Monday. Enough rambling by me! Grab those pens and notebooks and let's get going!


Whazza Be-ta Reed-er?

Well, to put it simply, a beta reader is someone who reads your novel and sends you feedback about characterization, plot, and structure. They'll tell you what they liked, what they didn't like, and point out any holes in your storytelling.

A good beta reader will take your great novel and make it an awesome one.

A fantastic beta reader (these people are usually paid) will make inline comments, guide you on structure, give you tips on where they feel you can draw out more emotion, and make sure they can nail the plotline by the end of the book. This kind of beta reader will make your great novel into a bestseller.

I know many authors that use more than one beta reader. Those writers feel they need more than one opinion. It's a preference thing.

How do you find a beta reader?

This question comes up more than I can mention. One of the biggest problems plaguing the Indie author community right now is theft. Sadly, it's often someone who's volunteered to be a beta reader that steals. When speaking with a few of my author friends during our coffee meeting, one of them mentioned she had a friend that send a novel to a beta reader. That person uploaded the work to Amazon and sold it as their own. That author was screwed.

It's SCARY.

So, it's really best to use people you know (and I don't mean randomly via Facebook interactions, but in real life) or trust (this level of trust usually includes a contract - with or without pay).

If you aren't passing your novel off to friends or family, USE A FLIPPING CONTRACT! Protect yourself, please! I can't stress that enough. Even if the contract is for zero dollars, sign it; that may be the only proof you have of ownership if your novel gets stolen. 

Why you should use a beta reader.

Like I mentioned above, they can point out weak parts in your storytelling. Yes, you're too close to the story by the time it's written, and you're likely to think things are properly communicated when they might not be.

When someone says, "I got ABC from that." but you meant XYZ, you'll understand.

When do you need a beta reader?

You should seek out betas once your novel has been through at least two edits by your own hand, before it goes to an editor for pricing. Why? Because your word count could change dramatically between points A and B, based off feedback from your beta readers. You may change a character's name, or you could delete or add entire scenes out of necessity.

As an editor, I can say I hate when I've done a round one edit and the author adds five chapters because of beta feedback. Not only does it screw the pooch on my price (based on grade and word count), but I then have a whole section (or sections) needing a round one level edit. Round one is different from round two because the first time through takes more time nit-picking sentence structure and grammar. On a round two check, there should be minor changes to pan through. Make sense?

Can your editor be your beta reader?

YES. However, your editor should beta read and offer fixes before round one of editing begins. They should also work it into your editing contract (with dates). Usually, an editor will charge you for this service.

I've been through this exact scenario. I had an author with a book that read like a draft, and beta read it with a lower score for editing. That person still got the two rounds of edits and the proofread, but there were no major additions once we'd been through the beta read.

Not every editor offers that service. Be sure you ask if you feel it's something you may want to do.

Above all else, be sure you trust the person you're sending your novel to. At the very least, use a contract if you're not sure. CYOA - always.

Do you love your betas? Where did you find them?

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

Jo

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

BookBub and Favorite Authors

Happy Wednesday, good people of the blogosphere! Today, I'm gonna talk about something I got in my e-mail yesterday that might just flip the way BookBub does things on its head. If you're ready, grab those pens and notebooks and let's get going!


Are you a subscriber to BookBub? If not, why is that?

It's been said that one BookBub ad can launch you from zero to hero overnight. But they're picky about the authors/genres that get featured. I know authors who've taken this route, and they say it changed their career.

Now, it seems as though there's yet another way to get "in" if you haven't already.

I'll get to that in a moment; first, I'm gonna tell you what BookBub is if you haven't heard of it.


If you like free and discounted books that have great Amazon reviews and an author with a strong backlist of titles, BookBub delivers that to your inbox once a day.

Readers can find e-books like Prey by Michael Crichton (I've read this and it's an awesome book), for just $0.99 rather than the $9.99 it usually costs, without having to hunt those deals down or make guesses, with a free subscription. This is one of the deals I saw on the site today. You tell BookBub your favorite genres, and they tailor your e-mail to your tastes.

Authors can be included in the daily e-mail for a fee, after they submit the book and get approval by the BookBub team.

Here's the link to sign up as a reader: Join BookBub.

A team of folks at BookBub research every book submitted to see if it'll be an excellent fit for their reader base. If yes, they notify the author and the book is included in the ad. If no, they decline the offer and move to the next title on the list.

But what if an author has a huge fan following on the site? Don't you think that might just influence those folks doing the choosing one way or the other?

Now, you can follow your favorite authors on BookBub. There's a simple search and follow system (I sought out a number of Indies to see if they were on the list, and I found them with relative ease).

You see where I'm going with this, don't you?

If you're considering a BookBub ad, you might want to cinch the deal by having your fans (who are subscribers to the daily list) go add you as a favorite author. Why? Well...

Say I have a novel that's usually $3.99 on Amazon, and I want to discount it to $0.99 for three days. I've published twenty books to date and most have at least ten reviews above three stars. But another author who has the exact same deal and backlist stats also submits a book to be included in the ad.

How do the folks doing the picking make a decision between the two?

If I have two hundred people who've added me to a favorite author list, and the other submitter has only fifty, which author do you think will win that tossup?

Yeah...

So, it may behoove you to ask people to add you to their BookBub favorite authors list. Now. Before the site is flooded by others doing the same.

Here's an easy, step-by-step list to share on your own blog or social media that can help you guide your readers to listing you as a favorite author (feel free to share this snippet, and shoot a link back to this post for your author friends):
  • Sign up for BookBub here
  • Decide your preferences
  • Go here and add your favorite authors
  • Click save

Did you add your favorite authors yet?

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

Jo

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Publisher's Weekly Calls for Information

Happy Tuesday, all you beautiful people of the blogosphere! Today, I'm gonna talk about Publisher's Weekly. If you remember, there were a couple of people who got their publishing news from this outlet. Missed that post? You can check it out here. Anywho, I'm not just gonna discuss the publication, but hone in on a specific part: the Call for Information articles. Ready? Grab those pens and notebooks and let's get going!

In every digital issue of PW I get, there's a little article in the front titled: Call for Information.

What is it?

Well, it's the curators of the magazine searching for news. Last week, it was all about wanting books on how-to information for camera phones, Instagram, and books with lots of pretty digital photos in them. They also asked for goodies from publishers on upcoming inspirational titles.

Why does this matter?

You're a publisher if you're an Indie author. There might just be a chance for you to submit your own stuff and be included in this amazing publication.

This week, they're asking for books on the environment and sustainability coming out this spring, as well as health and fitness books about to hit the market.

But I have a special surprise for you! Each week, all you have to do is click this link to see what the PW editors are looking for.

Consider it my easy button gift to you. *grin*

What are you waiting for? Get on over there and check it out!

What do you think? Will you use it?

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

Jo

Monday, March 16, 2015

Featured Author - K. C. Neal - Publication Spotlight

Happy, happy Monday, you gorgeous readers of my blog! Today, I'm bringing you more information on my featured author. A publication roundup. Since Ms. K. C. Neal strictly writes YA, I'm gonna leave that part off the genre descriptions. Grab a cup of coffee and let's get going!

Title: Pyxis: The Discovery (The Pyxis series book 1)
Genre: Coming of Age Fantasy
Length (print):  238 pages
Buy Link: Amazon Kindle $2.99 

Blurb:
Corinne lives an average teenage life working at her dad’s cafe, hanging out with her best friend, and trying to forget a falling-out with her almost-boyfriend Mason. Then she discovers she and Mason are haunted by the same nightmares. Pursued by a woman who wants to take over Corinne's mind--and has the supernatural ability to do it--Corinne discovers that her own family holds the key. In her quest to unravel her family’s history, she learns she's destined to protect this world–-and the dark world of her dreams. She races to find the answers she seeks before her nightmares break free . . . 

Title: Alight: The Peril (The Pyxis series book 2)
Genre: Coming of Age Fantasy
Length (print):  242 pages
Buy Link: Amazon Kindle $2.99 

Blurb:
When Corinne learns who the second Guardian is, she must find a way to make peace with the last person in the world she wants to deal with. As she struggles, her nemesis unleashes an otherworldly evil, and a mysterious illness strikes Corinne s friends. Faltering under the weight of her destiny, Corinne escapes to the dream world. There, she meets Zane, who has a revelation that binds them together and alters the path of Corinne s life. She throws herself into fighting for everything she loves, but just as she s certain she will prevail, she s robbed of what she needs most.

The Pyxis Series is for readers who enjoy teen & young adult science fiction & fantasy fantasy paranormal & urban, teen & young adult science fiction & fantasy fantasy coming of age, magic magical telepathy telepathic dreams colors, teen & young adult romance paranormal & fantasy, teen & young adult romancecontemporary, teen & young adult literature & fiction action & adventure, children's ebooks science fiction fantasy & scary stories fantasy & magic. 

Title: Arrival Day (Helia's Shadow Prequel - Starlight Age Series)
Genre: Sci-fi
Length (print): About 100
Buy Link: Amazon Kindle $0.99 

Blurb:
When alien boy Kalo first arrived on Earth with the rest of his people, he never imagined a future with anything other than the Universal Mission. The Mission had carried them through the universe for millennia, finding and studying intelligent species, always with the end purpose of enslaving them. But lately, something unfamiliar has taken root inside Kalo—the desire to break free of the Mission and his leader, Tal-Reku. And he’s not the only one. He and the other alien rebels must learn how to be revolutionaries within a society that’s never strayed from their practices, and under an all-knowing leader who will stop at nothing to complete the Mission on Earth.

Meanwhile, Earthborn boy Gordon conducts his trades in and out of Haven so he can pay for extra medicine and food for his sick mother. He may be only 12 years old, but he knows Haven’s underground better than most grown-ups. When he gets an unusual opportunity to help a young couple start a new life outside of Haven, he learns of an underground resistance—citizens who want the seemingly-benevolent aliens gone. Intrigued, he can’t resist the pull of the organized rebellion and the dark-haired girl who’s already part of their ranks.

Title: Helia’s Shadow Part One (Starlight Age #1) 
Genre: Sci-Fi 
Length (print): 300 pages
Buy links: Amazon Kindle $2.99

Blurb:
Sixteen-year-old Helia wants two things in life: to step out of her over-protective mother's shadow and become an engineer, and to stop hiding her relationship with alien boy Kalo. But the world definitely isn't ready for a human-alien romance. And worse, the human-alien partnership is crumbling. Humans are arrested without explanation. Some of them are never seen again.

When the alien leader imprisons her mother on a false charge, Helia discovers the aliens never intended to help humans at all. Now, she must join forces with alien rebels. If she succeeds, humans have a chance at survival and she has a chance at love. If she fails, the dwindling human race dies out in slavery.

When the aliens arrived, they were hailed as the saviors of a dying Earth and dwindling human race. But the aliens didn't come to help. Now, one human girl's ingenious invention and one alien boy's awakened heart are humanity's last hope...

Title: Helia’s Shadow Part Two (Starlight Age #2)
Genre: Sci-Fi
Length (print): 246 pages
Buy links: Amazon Kindle $3.20

Blurb:
Helia’s Shadow Part Two picks up right where Part One ended, with Helia trapped in a transporter on the way to the lunar prison. When she gets there, she discovers that the rumors Gordon heard were true—there are alien cannibals on the moon. It’s more horrific and dangerous than anything she ever imagined. She must survive long enough to figure out how to escape back to earth, find Kalo and the rebels, and take down Reku before he enslaves the last surviving humans.

One human girl’s ingenious invention and one alien boy’s awakened heart are humanity’s last hope . . .

Title: The Naturals: Awakening (Serial Series Complete Episode 1 Box set)
Genre: Sci-Fi 
Length (print): 225 pages
Buy links: Amazon Kindle $2.99

Blurb:
A small town full of secrets. A coming darkness. Teens with supernatural abilities. Think you know the story? Think again.

As Summer ends, the students at Silverwood High are getting ready to go back to school and resume their normal, everyday lives. Too bad "normal" is no longer an option. When these teens get their very first tastes of what destiny has in store, will they embrace that destiny... or flee from it? Will they be selfless... or ruthless? Will they master their abilities... or will their abilities master them?

This is their awakening, the first step of an epic journey. But it's only the beginning of something bigger than they could ever imagine.

The sleepy little town of Silverwood is about to wake up.  

Title: Pretty Little Liars: Better off Dead (Kindle Worlds Short Story)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length (print): 25 pages
Buy links: Amazon Kindle $0.99

Blurb:
For years, ever since beautiful, tantalizingly evil Alison DiLaurentis disappeared and died, surviving victim-friends, Aria, Hanna, Emily, and Spencer have been traumatized by knowing, surgically precise text message revelations from Alison’s alter ego, the mysterious, vindictive “A.” In Better Off Dead, the four liars find strength in numbers, taking in a new girl, Mona – another apprehensive victim of A’s poison-text campaign. Finally they get a break when after some expert sleuthing, Spencer believes she’s discovered the source of A’s cruel power – a revelation that is guaranteed to blow the roof off Rosewood High. After one of the girls is backed into a potentially fatal corner by A’s ongoing maliciousness, Spencer begins a secret investigation that will ultimately cause all of the pretty little liars to re-examine everything they’ve been through, starting with Alison’s unexplained death.

Better Off Dead provides another dazzling climax of the Pretty Little Liars mysteries; one that is sure to find favor with the many fans of the series and People’s Choice Award-winning, ABC-TV show.

Well? Whatcha waitin' for? Go get a new read!

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

Jo 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Cover Reveal - Always Remembered

ALWAYS REMEMBERED

(The final Never Forgotten Novel.)

The third and final installment of the Never Forgotten Series by Kelly Risser will release in digital format on May 19, 2015. We have the official cover reveal here for you. Don't forget to flip over to the book page to pre-order your copy today.

Ebook - Always RememberedALWAYS REMEMBERED:

One clue… what does it mean?
Ken, the leader of the Blue Men of the Minch, has kidnapped Evan. Before they left, Evan was able to leave a package for Meara—her grandfather’s necklace wrapped in a cloth napkin with one word written in blood. Azuria. Unfortunately, Meara doesn’t understand it and neither does her dad or Kieran.
When Dad and Aunt Brigid attempt to rescue Evan, Meara and Kieran begin to train the clan on how to fight and defend their home. A war is brewing, and Meara is determined their people must prepare for the battle. The training sessions are long and arduous, but the Selkies work hard to learn.
Meanwhile, Evan wakes and finds himself in Belle Tresor, the home of sirens. He’s bound to his blue form, unable to transform to human, and Ken has plans to use Evan’s powers to destroy the Selkies. Thankfully, he’s not alone. He befriends a siren named Deanna and several Blue Men. Can he trust them to help him escape or do they have ulterior motives?
As both sides prepare for an ultimate confrontation, the stakes are high and friendships are tested. Some will rise to be victorious. Some will be destroyed. But love and loyalty will be always remembered in this exciting conclusion to the Never Forgotten series.

Pre-Order Your Copy Today Here.


Never-2BForgotten-2B1
ebook-2B-2BCurrent-2BImpressions
If you haven't started reading this series, we recommend you read the first novel today because it's amazing and it's free! Check out Never Forgotten by Kelly Risser.

What do you think? Are you gonna check it out? You should!!

If you recall, Kelly is one of the authors of Fractured Glass. What's better than a free read by an author you already love?

Go get it!

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

Jo

Cover Reveal - Ask Me About My Unicorn

11047057_1543518125898934_1007712503_n
A special thank you to Emily at Timeless Key Photography for making my beautiful banner. They are two awesome teens starting out their adventures in photography and are doing some amazing things. I have the best fans. -Delphina
Coming April 2015
AskMeAboutMyUnicorn_final-highinpaint
Loving a unicorn is easy. Yourself?... not so much. 


Read Where It All Began
Unless you can be aUnicorn_high

Always be yourself That was the last advice Scout's Grandma Nora gave her before she died. Scout has spent her life trying to be anything but, but she has a chance to start anew as she moves several states away to college. She had always thought the glowing aura she saw around some people was a childhood fancy, but when it starts coming back just as she's starting her new life, she learns there was much hidden about who she truly is. Thankfully, she has a motley crew to help her along the way: a spunky bookseller, a trustworthy pub owner, a commanding grandmother, a possible best friend, and a hot rocker boy who only has eyes for her. Bonus: “Witches, and Werewolves, and Unicorns, Oh My!” By Elizabeth Kirke: A More than Magic Series Short Story— Exclusively written for Unless You Can Be a Unicorn

amyunicorns

Friday, March 13, 2015

A Book Vacation - utopYA Con 2015 Interview with Victoria Faye

Happy Friday! Eep! It's time for the weekend, and Shana over at A Book Vacation has something special for you all. As you know, Friday is the day for utopYA Con 2015 posts here on the blog, and I love to give you guys peeks at what the other bloggers are doing. This week, it's all about Branding (heck yeah!) and the special workshop Victoria Faye of Whit and Ware is giving at the con. If you don't have tickets to the con yet, get them here. It's gonna be four days of fun and learning!


Don't forget to collect all four pieces of the special phrase the bloggers will have on their posts. The whole phrase will be needed when you enter to win Saturday signing space!

Want another beautiful infobit? You'll also find out the details of Whit and Ware's giveaway: Dream Like a Boss during the interview. GOGOGOGO!

Here's the schedule:
Week 1 – Jo Michaels hosts C. J. Redwine's discussion on her workshop - Query Letter
Week 2 – A Book Vacation hosts Victoria Faye's discussion on her workshop - Book Branding Blueprint
Week 3 – The Paisley Reader hosts Regina Wamba's discussion on her workshop for graphic designers and photographers
Week 4 – Book Junkie: Not so Anonymous  will be talking about the special Friday night event, will have a list of Saturday signing authors, and will be giving away a spot at the signing

Why are you still here? Get over to A Book Vacation and find out more! Don't forget to snag the partial phrase while you're there!

Are you excited about this workshop? Tell me why.

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

Jo

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Synopsis vs Blurb

Happy Thursday, beautiful readers of my blog! Today we're gonna go over a couple of words and what they mean. I'll be focusing on the words synopsis and blurb and what each means. Grab those pens and notebooks and let's get going!

The definitions!

Synopsis:
A brief summary or general survey of something.
An outline of the plot of a book, play, movie, or episode of a television show. 

Blurb:
A short description of a book, movie, or other product written for promotional purposes and appearing on the cover of a book or in an advertisement.

When you write your query letters, most agents want a summary or synopsis that includes spoilers (the whole plot in a few lines).

However, you don't want those spoilers in the promotional material, so you use the synopsis to create a compelling blurb (which appears on the back cover of your novel), leaving out the sensitive parts.

In addition, a blurb can be a short snippet from a review that entices readers to pick up your work.

So, to break it down in layman's terms:
  • A synopsis is a summary that can contain spoilers.
  • A blurb is any promotional copy that hooks readers.
Does that make it easier to understand?

When you attend something like C. J. Redwine's Query Letter workshop, you'll learn to craft a compelling synopsis of your novel for your query letters. From there, your blurbs will grow wings. If you want to know a little more about the workshop, I discuss the finer points with C. J. here.

Yes, she'll have a workshop at utopYA Con 2015, but she also offers them online.

It's worth looking into for the blurb writing ability it'll surely give you. Even if you don't want an agent, selling your book is important, right?

What do you think? Were you aware of these differences?

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

Jo

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Book Giveaways in Your Inbox

Happy Wednesday, everyone! I know you all love books, right? That should be why you're checking out my blog. Today I'm gonna tell you about an awesome service INDIE Books Gone Wild offers their clients and give you a link where you can join in the fun. Get your clicking fingers ready and let's get going!

PROMOTION

Why is that such a scary word? Because Indies promote tirelessly. It's really quite a big job to promote one book, let alone two, ten, or fifteen. For that reason, writers rely on having fans; people who know and love the books these Indies write, and folks who'll seek out more once they've tasted something awesome.

(Sign up for IBGW's newsletter here.)

Think about it: Who are your favorite authors?

Betcha have a list of well-known writers alongside those Indies you love, right?

How'd you find them?

Was it through a friend's recommendation, or were you browsing a bookstore one day and happened upon a novel that captured you?

What if you could've tried that new author you grew to love with zero risk?

That's what we're offering you!

Here's the skinny:

IBGW edits and proofreads a book (or a series). Once that book (or books--if we do them all at once) gets published, we set up and run a Rafflecopter giveaway. Entry options are always to give our author a follow on some kind of social media and give IBGW a follow somewhere, somehow. IBGW purchases the books and ships or gifts them to the winner(s).

This accomplishes two things:
  1. You get the chance to follow an author you might like
  2. Our authors get a little publicity as we build our own audience
We only send out e-mails when one of our authors publishes a new title we've worked on in some way, and an e-mail once a year (in January) as a recap/roundup. While we can't guarantee you'll love every genre and want to enter, or even that you'll love every story our authors produce, we can guarantee you'll find a well-edited (or well formatted, depending on the service we provided) novel. We embed the giveaway form in the e-mail, so all you have to do is click and enter!

When we edit and proofread a book, we give away two digital copies. When we format a print book, we give away one.

So, head on over to our signup form here:


and let the delivery of awesome begin!

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Did you sign up? What kind of genres do you prefer to read?

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

Jo

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Hootsuite vs. Buffer

Happy Technology Tuesday, good people of the blogosphere! As promised, today I'm talking about digital stuff that'll help you on your way to awesome. It's all about Hootsuite and Buffer, and the pros and cons of using each. So grab those pens and notebooks and let's get going!

As you all may know, I wrote a post a while back on the benefits of using Buffer to schedule updates to social media. I love this feature! Sadly, I left Buffer for Hootsuite about a year ago. Let me tell you why, and what brought me back to the Buffer family as a paid subscriber. Let me start with links to the services:


When I first began using Buffer, it was still in its infancy. While on the free version, you can connect up to four accounts and schedule something like twelve updates. That worked well for me for a little while, and it was great for someone with a blog in the beginning stages. One of my biggest issues was not being able to choose which image appeared with my posts.

So, I left Buffer for Hootsuite.

Here was this new interface that it took me a minute to learn how to use, but I felt the time spent was well worth it. Hootsuite's free account will allow you to pull feeds from your favorite social media outlets, connect up to three accounts, and schedule your stuff a few days in advance on any timeline you wish. Your number of posts are still limited, but it's comparable to Buffer's. Here's a link to their plan comparison chart.

All good, right?

Everything was perfect until...

My posts refused to go and there was nothing notifying me stuff was down. I struggled with it for over a week. Page views hit rock bottom, less than 200 per day, and I tried to be patient while wondering in the back of my head if it was only my account having issues.

So, I waited.

And I waited.

And I waited.

Then, I pulled my head out of my rear and hit up those social media platforms to ask if I was the only one experiencing issues.

Guess what? You got it. I wasn't the only one! Relief flooded me at the same time panic set in.

What was I going to do?

A moment of clarity hit me between the eyes like a glass brick.

Why don't I see if Buffer will post my updates?

So, I cruised on back to my old friend. What I found there is nothing short of astounding. Not only could I pay a nominal fee (Buffer charges $10 a month for an upgraded account called the Awesome Plan), but that small amount gave me access to: Connecting up to twelve social media accounts (do you really have more than that?), scheduling up to 200 posts in advance, setting up a custom posting schedule for each day, adding a team member who can also schedule posts and stuff, and pulling RSS feeds.

But that's not the best part! In addition to all of the above, I also have access to a world of easy to understand analytic data.

Hootsuite gives you that, too, but it's only available to paid subscribers, whereas Buffer's is free, and Hootsuite's fee is more than I'm willing to put out of my pocket each month. Plus, their data breakdown just isn't this slick.

Take a look at what I'm talking about:

That's just a shot of how my posts performed. But, at the top of the page, there's a little box with a dropdown menu you simply must check out:


Yeah, that's about as easy as it gets! I know exactly which posts are doing well; thereby letting me know what content my readers and followers may want more of.

Quickly! Scroll back up to the top of my blog and look on the right hand side. See that little Buffer button? Yeah, that makes it super easy for my visitors to share my content on their own Buffer. One little click.

How does this save me time?

Glad you asked! When I publish a new blog post, or want to fill my Buffer with posts I've already created, I just navigate to the page and click the share button.

I don't even have to go to the Buffer main page if I don't want to. It's the same for people visiting my blog.

By the way, both of these services have an app you can download from the app store.

Now for a couple of numbers!

With Hootsuite, I got around 1k hits on my blog per day. Not too bad...

With Buffer, I've nearly doubled that number.

You tell me which one you'd rather have.

Now, there are "purists" out there who believe if you're tweeting or posting to Facebook, you should be present. But what author do you know that has the time to devote to being online as often as it takes to be able to do things like that? You can still be personable with an auto update. Plus, you can't really get all that analytic data without something backing you up.

Do you use either of these methods? Let's discuss!

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

Jo

Monday, March 9, 2015

Author Interview - K. C. Neal

Happy Monday, you beautiful blogospherians! Today, you have the honor of meeting Ms. K. C. Neal. I know you're all over the moon about it (as am I). It's not often I get to interview someone who's been with the con from the first, but they do pop in now and again. So excited! If you don't have your tickets yet, it's not too late! You can grab one here. Sadly, earlybird prices have expired, but that doesn't mean you can't join up. Nothing's worse than being left out of the fun, so be sure and grab yours now! With that said, let's get rolling!

Jo: Welcome to the blog, K. C. It’s so amazing to have a veteran utopYAn with me I can barely breathe. Are you ready to get going?

K. C.: Haha, you make me feel like such a celebrity. : ) Yes, let’s dive in!

Jo: That's because you are! Perfect. Let's do it. I read somewhere that you meditate every day. What got you started, and what do you feel it’s done for you over the long-term?

K. C.: I was going through a challenging time, and I really needed a tool to help me process things emotionally. I stumbled on iRest Yoga Nidra online and asked on Facebook if any of my friends had done this type of meditation before. A couple of people replied and basically said it was amazing, so I decided to give it a try. That was nearly two years ago, and I haven’t stopped since. I attend a weekly class and also practice on my own, and it has changed my life. iRest is really hard to explain, and it’s also kind of difficult to describe what it does for me. The best way I can put it is that it helps me process the ups and downs of life in a way that gives me so much more peace than I had before.


Jo: I'm a huge advocate of yoga and taking the time to center yourself and just friggin' relax for a little while each day. I understand exactly what it does for you. Tell me, how long have you been with StoneHouse Ink, how did you get in, and what are the three best things about them?

K. C.: StoneHouse published my first book, Pyxis (YA fantasy), back in 2011, and the sequel, Arise, in 2013. I became friends with the owner of StoneHouse and that’s how that happened. Up to that point, I’d been planning to self-publish. Three great things about StoneHouse: large royalties, author input into all stages of the publishing process, and the best thing of all – I left my corporate job three years ago to become the Publishing Director at StoneHouse. It’s a great job, and I absolutely LOVE the flexibility and working from home!

Jo: I totally feel you about the ability to work from home. Congrats on landing the job. That's amazing! I found out you’re a NaNoWriMoer. Such a wonderful thing to have so many words produced in a month by people around the world, huh? How many years have you participated, and what novel(s) have you written? What was the most difficult thing about writing a novel in a month?

K. C.: It is quite the event! During the most recent NaNo, think I worked on a couple of things at once and the total added up to enough words to “win.” It probably seems strange that I can’t remember for sure what I was working on—it was only four months ago!—but I’ve been writing like a maniac since last spring and things run together in my mind! I’ve actually completed a few of my own private NaNos (written 50,000 words in a month) I guess you could say, but they happened to occur during months other than November, which is the official NaNo month.

In general, I’d say the most difficult thing about writing that many words in a month is developing the writing habit in the first place. Actually, the writing habit is going to be the topic of my UtopYA 2015 Idea Exchange talk. I went from writing a book every two years to writing five books in one year (and that’s around a full-time job). I want to share how I did this because it’s NOT about “having enough time,” like we often think. It’s all about mindset, and every writer has the power to change her own mindset. The right mindset leads to the right habit. Then you can optimize your writing habit, and watch your word counts take off! But like so many things in life, it starts with what’s going on in your head.

Jo: *high fives* YES! Developing the writing habit is number ONE! I can't wait to hear your talk. How exciting! So, you’re a utopYA Con veteran—there in 2012—and saw the launch of the amazingness. What was that first year like, and what’s changed about your experience(s) since then?

K. C.: That first year was one of the best experiences of my life. Before the first UtopYA I knew a lot of the attending authors online, but had never met any of them in person. It was like meeting a bunch of famous people! It was a profound experience. My roomies that year—Angeline Kace, Heather Hildenbrand, and Chelsea Fine—remain some of my favorite people and greatest friends. Most of us at the conference were fairly new authors, and it was just so wonderful to connect with everyone. That first year was really kind of intimate. It was a small enough group that we could really get to know each other. That’s probably the thing I miss most—though I’m totally THRILLED that UtopYA has flourished, don’t get me wrong!—last year I didn’t know many of the attending authors.

Jo: I was so scared about going, I developed this interview process to get to know people. *grin* It's worked wonders. I met Ms. Fine last year (she's sweet as pie!), and I'm excited to know more faces this year. Because of my stalking of you research, I can feel it in my bones… You seem like the kind of author that has an unhealthy obsession with office supplies (I can totally identify). How many post-it pads and colored pens do you own? What started your love?

K. C.: OMG I do have a serious obsession! I have Post-It pads in pretty much every room of the house. And probably at least two dozen colored pens. I’ve always liked to make lists and to color-code things, so I think that’s how the Post-It and pen obsession came about. But as far back as I can remember I’ve always loved binders, folders, index cards, pens, pencils . . . there’s nothing like the feel of a fresh notebook in my hands! I know, weird, right? But I figure there are much worse obsessions to have, haha.

Jo: Birds of a feather... Yeah, I totally don't have a billion office supplies *hides hundreds of journals and grins* Rapid fire questions! Chocolate or caramel?

K. C.: Caramel, mmm!

Jo: Computers or paper notebooks?

K. C.: Notebooks—of course!

Jo: Popcorn or peanuts?

K. C.: POPCORN POPCORN POPCOOORN (one of my other obsessions lol).


Jo: I knew that, too. Just wanted to see how many times you'd type it! haha! *wink* Let’s move on to the time travel question. Since you’re such a lover of science fiction, this one should be right up your alley. *grin* If you went to the future, what turn do you see books and publishing taking, and what one thing would you bring back to the modern day with you?

K. C.: I really wish I knew where books and publishing were going! I think as the younger generations—kids who have never known life without iPads and smartphones—grow into adults, paper books will become novelties. And I think books (eBooks) will start to overlap with other media and become more interactive.

I’d probably want to bring back whatever the hot gadget of the moment is.

Jo: Yup. Gadgets will make you billions. haha! Your novel, Helia’s Shadow Part One, has amazing reviews. Kudos to you! What was your favorite part of writing it, and which character do you identify with most? Why?

K. C.: Thank you! The middle part of Helia’s story, where she’s imprisoned on the moon with cannibal prison guards, was actually the first part that I wrote originally, and probably my favorite part. And actually, that’s the first half of Helia’s Shadow Part Two, the sequel. I love writing about aliens and futuristic technology, and imaging life on an earth that’s been destroyed by war and waste. And in general, I just absolutely love writing in the world of this series (The Starlight Age Series). It was a world that developed in over several years, and it’s extremely vivid and rich in my mind. There are SO many stories I could tell in this world. I have about half a dozen ideas for more prequel novellas.

I probably identify with Helia the most, in that she’s analytical and into science and technology. My background is in science (I have degrees in Chemistry and Health Science Research). I love female characters with real smarts, and I’m really proud of Helia as a character!

Jo: You're the second science fiend I've had on the blog in as many weeks! I love you ladies! I'm such a total nerd over science. *blushes* Seems I've found a couple of like-minded people. Since we just talked about part one of your series, let’s discuss your new release! How long did it take you to write Helia’s Shadow Part Two, and how many more novels will be in the series?

K. C.: I actually wrote the entire story—Parts One and Two—before I published the first book. The first draft of the entire story probably took a few months. Then it went through a major, major rewrite—like 90% of it was rewritten. And after beta feedback I probably rewrote about 20% of it yet again. It was quite a process! In addition to the two novels (Helia’s Shadow Part One and Helia’s Shadow Part Two), I’ve also finished a prequel novella called Arrival Day. I consider the series “complete” at this point, but probably will write more stories in this world—I’m not sure I’ll ever be fully ready to leave the world of this series behind. Like I mentioned before, there are tons of fun possibilities for prequel stories. Some of my beta and ARC readers have actually given me some great ideas for alternate point of view stories and prequels!

Jo: I'm so picking this novel up. Die hard reader over here. I adore an excellent sci-fi story, and I love a clean read! Well, I’ve taken up a ton of your time. Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers that I didn’t ask?

K. C.: Thanks so much for interviewing me, Jo! I’m so looking forward to seeing you at UtopYA!!

Jo: I’m stoked to meet you in June, too, K. C.! EEP! Thanks so much for giving us some of your time.

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

Title: Helia’s Shadow Part One
Author: K.C. Neal
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
Length (print): 300 pages
Buy links: Amazon Kindle $2.99 ~ Google Play FREE ~ iBooks FREE ~ B&N FREE ~ Kobo FREE


Synopsis:
Sixteen-year-old Helia wants two things in life: to step out of her over-protective mother's shadow and become an engineer, and to stop hiding her relationship with alien boy Kalo. But the world definitely isn't ready for a human-alien romance. And worse, the human-alien partnership is crumbling. Humans are arrested without explanation. Some of them are never seen again.

When the alien leader imprisons her mother on a false charge, Helia discovers the aliens never intended to help humans at all. Now, she must join forces with alien rebels. If she succeeds, humans have a chance at survival and she has a chance at love. If she fails, the dwindling human race dies out in slavery.

When the aliens arrived, they were hailed as the saviors of a dying Earth and dwindling human race. But the aliens didn't come to help. Now, one human girl's ingenious invention and one alien boy's awakened heart are humanity's last hope...

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

Pinterest: KCNeal
Blog: K. C. Neal's Blog

Facebook: K.C. Neal Fan Page
Twitter: @kcnealtweets
Goodreads: K. C. Neal
Website: Author K. C. Neal
Amazon Author Page: K. C. Neal

Tsu: K. C. Neal


If you have any questions, pop them into the comments below. My lovely guest will be around to answer and/or respond!

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

Jo