Thursday, July 30, 2015

Roanoke Author Invasion

Happy Thursday, everyone! Today, I'm going to be talking about an author signing event happening in Roanoke, Virginia, on April 2, 2016. Ready? Grab a cup of Jo and let's get going!


If you missed it, I did a radio interview with one of the wonderful ladies behind RAI, Liz C. Long, that you can catch up on here. It's about forty-five minutes, but we cover a ton of information about the event and surrounding area. Plus, Liz drops some information about next year that hasn't been revealed yet!

So, what is Roanoke Author Invasion?

From the website:

Join 30+ bestselling authors of contemporary and paranormal fiction and more at the Holiday Inn Tanglewood in Roanoke, Virginia, on April 2, 2016 from 12pm-4pm. Enjoy an afternoon of books, giveaways, and more as you get the latest releases from your favorite authors and discover new voices!

It's a mashup of authors and fans from all over who get together and share a love of books.

Here's the official Facebook page:

Roanoke Author Invasion

If you're a book blogger and would like to help promote the event, or if you'd just like to help out, you can volunteer here.

What do you think? Will you be checking it out?

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

Jo

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Free Books for You Today

Happy Wednesday, good people of the blogosphere! Today, I have a short list of free books for you to check out. Who needs a great read? You do! Get your clicking finger ready and let's get going!

Disclaimer: These books are free at time of posting. Please check the price before you one click. Also, I haven't read these titles, so I can't recommend one way or the other. You decide.

Let's GOOOO!

Title: The Dimension Thieves Episode #1
Author: Misty Provencher
Genre: Young Adult Sci-Fi
Buy Links: Amazon  ~  B&N  ~  iBooks  ~  Kobo

Blurb:
Nominated for Serial Series of the Year at UtopYA Conference, 2015.

EPISODE 1 in The Dimension Series. Clean action/adventure read, suitable for ages 13 and up.

The Dimension Series is a series of serial shorts, releasing once a month from January to December 2015. It is a clean, New Adult series also suitable for some Young Adult readers, due to mild language, mild violence. However, readers who do not enjoy exciting cliffhangers, or look forward to the mouth-watering anticipation of month-to-month episodes should be warned...if you lay eyes on this story...THERE IS NO GOING BACK.

Antythera is the new Earth.
Why?
Because that’s what President Baro, ruler of the planet, wants to call it.
And if you don’t agree, the President will have you Droned.

The world has become a much smaller place since the lower and middle classes have been converted to mindless servants.  Free will, granted only to the elite, is in jeopardy of complete extinction.  

But Force Steele, son to one of the President’s highest ranking advisors, can’t live under the thumb of his controlling father, or the President, any longer. Force has dedicated himself to eradicating Droning, but when the President orders the Antidote Gear destroyed—the part of the machine that could free the drones by reversing the program that controls them—all is lost. Lacking necessary materials, there is literally no way in Force’s world to replace the one-of-a-kind gear.

Force’s only choice is to partner with shifty mechanic, Calerbius Brown, and embark on a risky mission that will take Force and his rag-tag crew across the lateral dimensions, where they must often steal materials—even from themselves—in order to fix their own dwindling world.

Title: Haunted
Author: Willow Cross
Genre: Supernatural Ghosts & Hauntings
Buy Links: Amazon

Blurb:
Have you ever heard something go bump in the night and wondered if someone was there? Only to go looking for the cause of the noise and find nothing at all. Or how about unexplainably feeling like you’re being watched when you’re completely alone? Things disappearing for no reason or strange ghostly footsteps in the hall?

This book is a collage of short stories about a few of the otherworldly experiences I’ve had. Although they are not movie worthy, you may find them interesting. All the stories are %100 true. Nothing has been added for dramatic effect.


 
Title: Ta Ta for Now (Stories About Melissa Book 1)
Author: Bethany Lopez
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Buy Links: Amazon

Blurb:
Melissa begins her freshman year with one goal in mind, getting Brian Jackson to be her boyfriend. She will soon learn that things don't necessarily turn out the way you plan them, the value of true friendship, and the importance of family.

The Stories about Melissa series is a coming of age series that follows Melissa, her family, and her friends. Similar to Sweet Valley High, each book is novella length. There will be eight books in the series.

Stories about Melissa reading order:

Ta Ta for Now!
xoxoxo
Ciao
TTYL
With Love
Book 6 ~ Coming Soon!

Title: Patriotic Duty (Duty and Desire Book 1)
Author: C. J. Pinard
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Military Romance
Buy Links: Amazon U. S.  ~  Amazon U. K.  ~  iBooks  ~  B&N  ~  Google Play Books

Blurb:
Newly divorced party girl Cara Reid just wants to have fun. Much too young to even be a divorcee, she and her bestie, Miranda, set off to have fun and maybe a few casual hookups and live life. One night at a military bar, Cara meets Riley Forrester, a hot Army soldier who makes her melt with one look of his deep ocean blue eyes. But Riley is only staying the summer in California and then has to go back to Colorado when it's over. Cara tells herself he’s just a summer fling and is determined to enjoy herself and let him go once the summer is over. But when Riley receives orders he wasn’t expecting, she’s forced to make a decision on whether she’s going to be there for him when he gets back, or move on with her life. What she wasn't expecting was to fall so hard for the beautiful soldier boy, and now she's faced with accepting her feelings or letting him go.

Contains adult content. For readers 18 and up.

Patriotic Duty is book 1 in the Duty & Desire series, and while it's recommended to read them in order, it's not necessary. 

Title: The Conduit (The Gryphon Series Book 1)
Author: Stacey Rourke
Genre: Sci-Fi and Fantasy
Buy Links: Amazon

Blurb:
All 18-year-old Celeste Garrett wants is to head off to college and make those fun, yet ill-advised, choices college kids are known for. And maybe to spend some time with the hot cameraman she just met. Instead, because of a pact her ancestors made in the 17th century with a mythical creature, she has to save the world.

While normal kids are slamming energy drinks and cramming for exams, Celeste will get her adrenaline rush fighting a fire breathing dragon. She wants to meet friends in the quad to exchange lecture notes, but first she must exchange blows with a shapeshifting demon on the rooftop. Life isn’t always fair for a superhero, but at least she doesn’t have to do it alone. With her brother and sister as sidekicks, they alternate between saving lives and getting on each others’ nerves. Together the trio encounters unspeakable odds, mystical forces and comes face-to-face with an image that will haunt them forever—their grandmother in a leopard print bikini.

Title: Prophecy: An Isle of Myst Novella
Author: Stacie Wilson
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Buy Links: Amazon

Blurb:
Discovering their young daughter, Brianna, is now at the center of an ancient war between Light and Dark and hunted by the evil Shadow Master, the King and Queen of Myst are forced to make an unthinkable sacrifice to not only save their child but their magical realm.

Prophecy, the first novella in the Isle of Myst series, tells the story of the tragic events that set Brianna’s destiny to try and save two worlds in motion, and forge an unbreakable bond between young hearts.





Did you snag any of them? Which ones?

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

Jo

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Being Emo - Emotional Triggers for Creating Rich Characters

Happy Tuesday! As the title of the post implies, today I'll be talking about emotional triggers you can (and should) use for your characters. As a writer, you're a student of human nature. Let's put those studies to use in your writing so people can identify with your MC. Ready? Grab those pens and notebooks and let's get going!


I often wonder why writers of an older generation have books that scream at readers with such truthiness. Now, I'm not saying younger folks can't write deep novels (because they can, and do), but those little sparks of talent are rare and have likely been cultivated. Many people tend to take up writing when they're in their late twenties or early thirties.

Why?

Because they've lived it. They have a greater well of life stuff to draw precious words and experiences from. Don't you love sitting and talking with older people? Listening to their stories is like reading a really great book that answers questions you want to ask. A teenager who's lived a normal life (no abuse or bullying or anything like that--you get my point) will find this more difficult.

So why am I bringing all this up?

Today is about emotional triggers. Older folk have more of these to draw on simply because they've been in the world longer and experienced more. Reading about something and feeling/living it are two different things. No matter how engrossed in a book you are, you never really know everything that was going on around the character or in their past. That novel would be like War and Peace. When you live it, you can draw on it more readily.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying only older people can do this exercise; I'm saying their lists will be longer--and probably easier--and that's okay. I just don't want you to be daunted or frustrated if you have nothing for a particular item. This could open up an opportunity for you to talk to someone else and listen to what they have to say about the emotion.

Exploring your character in depth like this can lead to a more rounded individual on the page. Heck, this may help a younger generation of writers hit that ever-elusive personified character we all strive for. Either way, it'll help you get to know your MC.

There will probably be more than one answer for each of these, but try to think of just one the first time through.

Here's the list:
  • Shame - When did the character feel shame? Why? How has it shaped them?
  • Joy - Yup, that moment when they felt they could fly without wings. What happened afterward?
  • Fear - This is a big one because it fuels a lot of the ways we perceive ourselves. Insecurities can arise from fear. What change did it cause in your character?
  • Guilt - Another big one. Carrying around guilt can cause your character to react a certain way in a specific situation. How heavy is the burden? Will they ever admit it?
  • Love - When did they feel it the first time? How did it shape their perception?
  • Failure - Will your character give up after a huge let down? What was it and how did they push through?
  • Courage - What were they facing when they showed courage? Did they succeed or fail? How did that shape them?
  • Forgiveness - There's always that one screwup. Who was the forgiver? Did it make the character stop and think about holding a grudge with someone else later on?
  • Rage - How did they internalize it? Did they? What were the repercussions if they acted out?
  • Indignation - Someone pushing the character to do something they refuse to do? What prompted it? Why didn't the character take part? Moral code?
  • Sorrow - Profoundly. Stemming from death of a loved one. How did they deal with it?
I know that's a long list, but it'll give you some fodder to draw on as you write your story. You don't have to reveal all of them (remember that comment above about a book being different from a life?), but you'll have a better grasp of who your character truly is if you give them all the emotional baggage.

Have you ever done an exercise like this? How did you fare with this one?

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

Jo

Monday, July 27, 2015

What a Wonderful Thing

Happy Monday, everyone! As most of you know, yesterday was my birthday. Because of all the outpouring of wishes on my Facebook timeline, I have a few things to say today. So, sit back, relax, and grab a cup of Jo.


Please keep in mind this has nothing to do with the feels I had at home. My family and my work are two separate beasts, and one does not negate or overshadow the other. These are just some thoughts I had about my work community that I'd like to share.

Why?

Because good things seem so rare right now. With all the crap pouring out of the media, I'm bringing a little bit of balance. Ready? Let's go!

When I checked my e-mail yesterday, I saw a number of notifications about posts on my Facebook timeline. So, I clicked over to tell each person thank you. If they took the time to tell me HBD, I was going to take the time to thank each and every one of them personally.

As I'm clicking "like" and dropping comments, I realized I've hugged or shaken the hand of nearly every person who posted. It was staggering to know that, not only have I met most of those people, I've helped nearly every one of them in some way or another.

It humbled me.

I'm so proud of the people I know who've done so many wonderful things. I feel blessed to be a tiiiiny part of whatever they've accomplished.

But, more than that, I can call these people more than acquaintances. They aren't generic faces in a sea of people. That makes me positively giddy. In just three years, I've met so many amazing people!

For those of you I don't know personally (we've either never had a chat or I've not met you in person), I invite you to say hello and strike up a conversation (if I don't make it to you first). I want to know about you!

So, thank you to everyone who wished me a happy birthday yesterday. I'm so grateful to have you all in my life. What a wonderful thing to have such a vibrant tribe (there is no such thing as a tribe of one). I wouldn't bother doing all that I do if not for you guys.

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

Jo

Friday, July 24, 2015

New Release - Deceive by Raine Thomas

Happy Friday, good people of the blogosphere! Today, I have a new release for you all from Ms. Raine Thomas. Sit back, relax, and get those clicking fingers ready because here we gooooo!



Cover Artist: Mae I Design

Synopsis

When the elders imprisoned Metis, they took every precaution to protect the Estilorian plane against her evil.

It wasn’t enough.

Now she’s escaped, and no one is safe. Fueled by hatred, she wastes no time imposing vengeance on those who captured her. She knows the surest way to destroy their lives is by taking what they love most, and she begins with a child named Eden.

Years later, Eden remembers none of her former life. She serves her “Master,” unaware of the family still searching for her. But as her eighteenth birthday approaches, memories begin to surface, and she questions her circumstances for the first time.

Eden’s confusion mounts when she’s joined by Connor, a handsome Elphresti male who reveals things that shatter her reality. They’ll end up on the run, knowing they can trust only each other. After all, Metis will stop at nothing to get them back, and she thrives on her ability to deceive.



Buy Links








About the Author


Raine Thomas is the award-winning author of bestselling Young Adult and New Adult fiction. Known for character-driven stories that inspire the imagination, Raine recently signed with multiple award-winning producer Chase Chenowith of Back Fence Productions to bring her popular Daughters of Saraqael trilogy to the big screen. She's a proud indie author who is living the dream. When she isn't writing or glued to e-mail or social networking sites, Raine can usually be found vacationing with her husband and daughter on one of Florida's beautiful beaches or crossing the border to visit with her Canadian friends and relatives.

Author Links 




a Rafflecopter giveaway


The child laughed and nodded, making her blonde curls bob. Hatred burned bright and hot in Metis’ chest as she watched the interaction. While she had been imprisoned, the Mercesti elder had been living a life of pleasure with his avowed…the Kynzesti female named Tate. They and their companions had robbed Metis of thirteen years of her existence.

They didn’t deserve the family they had made. They didn’t deserve happiness.

She was determined to take it from them.

Zachariah’s gaze suddenly shifted to the tree where she stood. Metis darted out of sight and stood absolutely still. She had to force herself not to flee and reveal herself. Fear had her heart thudding in her chest.

Her own reaction infuriated her. He would not hold that kind of sway over her, she silently vowed.

Soon enough, he would be the one who was terrified.

“Daddy, that’s not fair!”

Metis dared another glance and watched the boy, Ryder, rush back and tug on his father’s tank top. She was relieved when Zachariah’s attention turned from her position.

“Eden should be with Mommy,” the boy said, glaring at his sister. “She’s inta-ruptin’ you too!”

“Enough, Ryder.” Zachariah lowered Eden to the ground, brushing his hand absently over her hair in a way that confirmed to Metis that he held affection for her. “Take your sister with you. Uncle Tiege will keep an eye on you both until I finally finish this bloody conversation.”

Ryder’s eyes widened. “You’re not s’posed to say bloody, Daddy. I’m tellin’ Mommy.”

Metis didn’t hear Zachariah’s response. She was too focused on the smaller female, who had apparently lost interest in the conversation. The child bent down and picked up the wooden sword that was nearly the same size as she was, gave it a curious look, then tossed it back to the ground. As Derian wisely bent
to pick up the sword to keep it out of reach, the girl skipped away.

Right to Metis.

In an instant, Metis’ plans changed. She realized that she didn’t have to kill the Mercesti elder to get her revenge. During her imprisonment, she had learned about the sentiment Estilorians harbored for each other. She had learned how to use that kind of useless emotion to manipulate her captors and escape.

She knew she could take something from Zachariah. Something that would hurt just as much as peeling his flesh or ripping out his heart.

Maybe even more.

Just as Derian started after the child, Metis stepped out from behind the tree. She was watching the little girl, but registered that the Mercesti commander hesitated. The child’s gaze lifted to Metis as she stopped in front of her. She started to smile as Metis reached for her, but then her expression froze. Realizing the child sensed danger, Metis acted quickly, grabbing her before she could run.

“Eden!”

Zachariah’s desperate cry had all activity in the area ceasing. Metis met his gaze an instant before she teleported with the screaming child in her grasp, and she knew she had been right. It was the Mercesti elder who was now terrified.

He knew he would never see his little girl again.


What do you think? Will you check it out?

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

Jo

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Men vs Women - Author's Voice

Happy Thursday, and welcome to another writing tips post, everyone! Today, we're talking about your author voice and how it translates to the reader vs how you want it to translate. Ready? Grab those pens and notebooks and let's get going!


How about a slice of truth to start us off?

If you're a female, chances are very good that, no matter how hard you try, you'll sound like a female when you write (even if from a male POV). Same goes for you males.

While there are authors who've managed to pull off writing as the opposite sex, I'm positive their editor made a huge difference. If that editor was male and the voice in the book was male, he likely told the author that a man/boy would never think/say/do "this." Likewise for the male writing as a female, using a female editor.

So how can we, as writers, fix it?

Let's go into the male writing as a female first:
Women are emotionally driven creatures. We cry, we care, and we talk about our personal lives a lot. When we talk, we generally use softer words like "would you mind" and "what do you think about this." We're often unsure about what we say or how it will come off to other people (we care about what you hear), and we don't like to hurt feelings or be crass.

Our thought process leans toward our families or responsibilities when we're in peril, and most of us aren't as highly competitive as men. To get us interested, you have to put out a ton of feeling and market to our gentle, helpful, feminine side. We also love to be empowered.

Now, women writing as men:
Men are action and solution driven creatures. If there's no clear goal, and the character isn't fighting toward something they can achieve against all odds, men won't identify. They use clear, demanding speech, that tends to lean toward sarcasm and "taboo" topics. They don't talk about personal things, and they generally prefer confrontation to descriptive floweriness.

Their thought process leans toward the thrill of the moment, and most of them desire to win. To get them interested, you have to market to their competitive, thrill-seeking side.
How do you get to know a woman's thought process? Spend time talking with them, asking questions, and paying attention to how they interact with their peers. Same goes for how to get into a man's head. You have to really immerse yourself in the gender if you want to be believable.

Go now and take a look at ads geared toward women, and then look at some geared toward men. See any difference? That's what connecting with a gender is all about. Books work the exact same way.

If you're a non-fiction writer, you may need to create two separate books; one that uses language women want, and one that appeals to men.

Male readers consume only 20% of the literary fiction read today. Know what that means? Right! Women are left with a whopping 80% of the pie.

Wow.

So what do the other 80% of men read? Sci-Fi, History, and Political. Certainly food for thought.

Have you stepped into the shoes of the opposite gender? How did it work out for you?

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

Jo

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Book Review - Never Forgotten

Happy Wednesday, everyone! I have a book review for you today. *grin* This title will go into the 2014 Time for Books Review Team pool (I'm finally up to 14 reviews this year). If you haven't been over there to check out the reviews these awesome ladies and gents have read, you gotta check it out. With today's book, it'll make 340. I'm blown away by their commitment. Here are the bloggers involved:

Me (obviously)
Kelly Risser
Ashley Simpson
Maria Pease
Elizabeth Newton
K. J. Farnham
David Rose
Tia Bach
Ren Reidy
Beth and Tiffany
Samantha
Ashley Bodette
Rachel Barnard
Karen Metcalf
Autumn Nauling

Be sure and check them out. Great reviewers up there!

Let's get on to the book on the table for review today.

Title: Never Forgotten (Never Forgotten Book 1)
Author: Kelly Risser
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Romance
Length (print): 314 pages
Buy link: Amazon Kindle FREE

Blurb:
How can one day go so very wrong? One minute Meara Quinn is making plans for how she will spend the Summer before her senior year and the next she's finding out that her mother's cancer has returned and they are moving away from the only home she's ever known.

Now every day is a struggle as Meara is trying to cope with her mother's illness, being forced to move to another country to live with grandparents—whom she thought disowned her mother—and having weird visions of a father who was absent her entire life. Top it all off with one whopping secret that everyone seems bent on keeping from her, and Meara has the perfect ingredients for a major melt down.

The only things keeping her from coming unglued are some new friends and Evan—the son of her mother's childhood friend—who seems to know Meara almost better than she knows herself.

Together with Evan and her friends, Meara embarks on a new journey to unlock the secrets that will not only tell Meara who she is, but what she is.

***Will not appear in review elsewhere. You all know what a book cover lover I am. This one speaks so much to what's inside. That lighthouse provides a turning point for the main character, and the softness screams inner turmoil. I love the font, love the boldness of the text, and appreciate the author's name being a definitive part of the overall design. Nicely done.***

Moving on to the review!

I grabbed this book a couple of weeks ago on Amazon and dove right in. I've never read a book that dealt with sea creatures, and I was super intrigued. I liked that the author based the tale on well-known myths, and I learned about some new things I'd never heard of. Anyway, let's get to the juicy stuff.

From a Reader's Perspective:
Character wise, I liked Meara. I thought she and her mother had a beautiful bond going on, and every time something horrid would happen, I held my breath as I waited to see if it would be "the" moment. I found myself torn between relief and exasperation several times because I wanted the story to move forward at the same time I wanted the mother to survive just a little longer. Pacing was steady, but slow. It's like a simmer that never reaches the boil it's threatening. When the big moments were happening, I wanted more emotion from Meara. I'm intrigued by her father, her aunts, and the guys at the club. All the members of the family seem to have a lot of mystery surrounding them.

There's one place where Meara is getting a pedicure, but I knew she was self-conscious of her feet, and I wondered if that was something she'd do. Seemed out of character.

Plot wise, it was most excellent. I could clearly see the main character experience change from page one to the end. She started out as a shy girl who didn't take risks ever. By the end, she was still scared, but willing to take a leap of faith to discover herself.

If you're looking for answers to any of the mysteries of the family, you won't find them in this series starter. It's more of the day to day life of Meara as her future hangs in the balance. Like I said before, the pace is slow, but it seems more about discovery and raising the questions to be answered in later books.

Yes, there's a cliffhanger, and I want to read book two so I can have some answers. Luckily, all three books in the series are already out.

From an Editor's Perspective:
It needs a proofreader with a really good eye. There are a number of misused words, and some repetitive scenes that would be cleaned up with one more run through. Example: She caught herself, and her checks grew red. Other than those, it was clean on the pronouns, punctuation, and structure.

Rating:
1 Star for giving me a mother/daughter relationship I loved
1 Star for plot and a growing MC
1 Star for introducing me to new myths and making me want more
-1 Star for pacing and never quite hitting full boil
.5 Star for editing
-.5 Star for editing
Overall, 3.5 out of 5 stars. I round up when clicking stars, so this book will get a 4. Recommended if you enjoy a book that takes its time and leaves you wanting more.

What do you think? Have you read it? Plan to?

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

Jo

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Avoiding the Backstory Infodump by Using Layers

Happy Tuesday, good people of the blogosphere! Today, we're talking about backstory. Every character has one, but no one wants it shoved in their face in huge chunks. I'll be giving you some ways to work the yummy goodness in as your story progresses so you can avoid the dreaded infodump. Ready? Grab those pens and notebooks and let's get going!


#1: Throw out tidbits in dialogue
This one can be fun. Say you have two characters arguing. One friend screams at the main character about an embarrassing or revealing thing that happened in the past that shaped the MC's personality. Boom. Backstory. One character can also be talking to another and reveal something about the MC's past to explain why he/she reacted the way they did in a situation. There's no need for a whole conversation about it; just throw things in here or there.

#2: First person thoughts
I have an excellent example of this one! In Fractured Glass Kelly Risser lets Sloan remember a time when she and Diego rode an amusement park ride and he yakked afterward. This reveal came when he groaned through her earpiece after she flipped around and around, and she needed to recall his motion sickness issue. It flowed right into the story, but gave the reader a better understanding of Diego.

#3: Memories
This one can be a bit tricky. Some people go into memories as a whole separate scene, but they don't have to be set apart. You can add a snatch of them here and there like sprinkles, rather than dredging the entire cupcake and leaving the reader with a mouth full of pasty yuck. When the character sees a rose, he/she can have three lines of memory that recalls the funeral of a good friend. Don't get bogged down in details.

#4: Third person narrative
While it isn't the best way to work in a lot of drama, you can have the narrator recall a situation where the MC changed or did something amazing/horrid. "This one time, at band camp, Harry and Joe..." You get my point.

#5: Long flashbacks or dreams
This is where you cut out a chunk of story and lend it to the character's drama. It becomes a whole separate scene in the chapter where you go into feelings, who, what, when, and where. Long flashbacks should be used sparingly (italics are hard on the eyes). If in a dream sequence, try offsetting it with asterisks rather than setting in italics. Be sure you're setting time and space in there somewhere so you don't lose the reader.

#6: Paperwork
Exactly what it says. Maybe the character finds an old newspaper article stuffed in a photo album that was locked in a trunk in the attic for fifty years. Perhaps it's birth certificates. If you're V. C. Andrews, it would most certainly be the latter, and the document revealing Mom and Dad as brother and sister won't be discovered by the child until the last page of the last book. Yikes.

Something important to remember: Don't use these items until your story has been well established. Readers need some mystery as they dive into the prose, and most don't want to be dumped on early in the novel. When there's nothing left to discover, why keep reading?

I hope you found these tips useful.

Any you hadn't thought of?

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

Jo

Monday, July 20, 2015

A Daily Cup of Jo - Veteran Interview with Elizabeth Kirke

Happy Monday, everyone! Today's post will be short and sweet because we're officially kicking off the radio show (and I'm super nervous and unable to think right now). Ha!


You'll remember my guest, Elizabeth Kirke, from the interview I did with her a while back (find it here).

Jump on over and join in at 10am EST! You can find us here. We'll open the floor to questions the last five minutes of air time.

If you miss it live, you can always listen to it later via the same link. I hope you enjoy it!

What do you think? Did you listen?

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

Jo

Friday, July 17, 2015

13 Rules for Stronger Writing

Happy Friday, everyone! Wow, it's the weekend already. I feel like I've missed out on a couple of days in here somehow. Anywho, today is all about making your writing stronger. I have thirteen tips that'll help you keep your writing flowing. Ready? Awesome. Grab those pens and notebooks and let's get going!


No dallying today. Right into it. When examples are given, what you shouldn't do will be in red, what you should do will be in green.
  1. Use active voice. Don't use were. Reconstruct your sentences to read as it is. Example: There were fifteen girls standing on the field. Fifteen girls stand on the field.
  2. Kill the truth. If reality is blocking, make up new rules. You're writing fiction, after all.
  3. Unite common phrases. Things that go together, stay together. Example: Molly lifted her arm and then, with a roar like a lion, she began beating the door. Molly lifted her arm, roared like a lion, and beat the door.
  4. Write as you see. When you're writing, think visually about the scene, and use the imagery as fodder.
  5. Catch the beat. All writing has a rhythm. You know it. Use it.
  6. IT is a horror story. Beware of dangling "it" in your prose. Example: I thought it was strange. I thought the chair scooting across the floor by itself was strange.
  7. Sentence structure variation. Don't write the same sentence over and over. Example: I walked into the kitchen. I got a glass from the cabinet. I filled the glass with water, and I drank. I drank it in one gulp. I walked into the kitchen, grabbed a glass, and filled it with water. As thirsty as I was, it went down in one gulp.
  8. Marry related words. Keep things together that go together. Example: Henry stared at the float in the pool that was spinning in the middle. Henry stared at the float spinning in the middle of the pool.
  9. Allow the reader to infer. Don't over explain. Example: "I'll do anything I can to help," Tina said lovingly. "I'll do anything I can to help," Tina said.
  10. Create parallels. Mix some ideas and compare two unrelated things.
  11. Kill repetition. Don't use the same word more than once in a paragraph; your reader will feel like they're reading the same sentence again and again.
  12. Use one instead of two. If you can delete a word and not lose meaning, do so. Example: A scary, creepy spider is crawling up my leg. A creepy spider is crawling up my leg.
  13. Beef up with stronger verbs and concrete nouns. Use these to replace adverbs and adjectives.
I hope you got some good tips today. Any of these that you didn't know?

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

Jo

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Authors Reviewing Authors - Warning: Opinion Piece Ahead!

Happy Thursday, everyone! Today, I'm going to talk about a hot-button topic I've seen floating around Facebook and give you my two cents on the issue. I may make you angry, or I may make you think. Either way, know this is just one person's opinion. We all have them, and you know what they say about that. Fair warning. If you don't think you'd like to hear mine, feel free to stop reading (I'll be okay).


For those of you still with me, brace yourselves.

Amazon's ToS says you're not allowed to review competing products. For authors, that means you're not supposed to review books on Amazon.

Well, I wonder if anyone considered that most authors were readers long before they became writers. In my humble opinion, this is one way Amazon uses to be able to remove sock puppet reviews with zero backlash. If someone goes to the site and slams a ton of books that aren't theirs into the ether, Amazon can remove them and point to their ToS as reason.

Okay, I get that. I can even get behind it because it makes sense. You don't post a crappy review on a book just to drag it down in the ranks so yours can shine.

Someone said, "Authors reviewing authors is unprofessional. Once we've written books, we can't appreciate books like we used to."

It's this I have an issue with.

You see, I'm an author and editor, and I can still read a book where I get totally lost in the scenarios, characters, and world.

Do I see errors more prominently now? Yes, I do.

Does that ruin the story for me? Nope.

Does that mean I don't make the mistakes I see? Nope.

I understand books won't be error free. Hell, most trade published books have errors. But as a person, I'm allowed to be bothered and voice my opinion.

I don't take ARC copies for review. When something happens and I either end up not being able to read and review the book or I don't like it, I feel terrible about it. I decided long ago to only take books for review once a year, in December, during my big event, and I buy each and every one I choose (yeah, I like having the little "Amazon Verified Purchase" thing on my review).

I refuse to rate a book less than three stars. Why? Because anything less than that and I don't finish reading the book. How can I review something I haven't read all of? If it kept my interest to the last page, it deserves more than two stars. That, in and of itself, is worthy of three stars.

Professionalism denotes I contact the author privately (if I choose to do so) if I find a gross number of errors, not me going into the realm of internet and slamming the title (though I'd be within my rights to do so). If I just didn't like the story? Well, then it's up to me as a reader to stop reading the title and let it go. If the author asks, I'll tell them. If not, I don't lose sleep over it.

I do think we all need boundaries of what we will and won't do.

Here's the crux of the issue: Would I say something in my review that I wouldn't say to the author directly? Absolutely not. If I read a book and have a thought, I'd be willing to discuss the why and where with the author all day. Again, that doesn't mean I don't make the same mistakes, it means it's easier to see errors in someone else's work than it is my own. This is why we have beta-readers and book reviewers. If we won't be honest, who will be?

Let me be transparent with you all for a moment. If I didn't write book reviews, or hold my blog's big review request event each year, how many of you would lose out? What is it you'd be losing?

If authors didn't review books, how many reviews do you really think there would be?

I've been reading since I was very young. I took weekly trips to the library beginning at age six, and I devoured up to ten books a week. When I realized I could help others find great books by providing feedback in the form of a review, I jumped at the chance to do so. As a bonus, this helps the authors find readers and increase their review numbers.

How many people pay for a review? Why do they do that? Well, because reviews matter. Those paid ones aren't even guaranteed to be positive.

Not everyone is going to love every book--that's nonsensical. But for anyone to tell me I shouldn't be writing reviews because I write books is also nonsensical. Could I burn a bridge or two? Yes, I could. But anyone who takes my review and turns it negative won't be back to ask for another one anyway, right? Could they troll my books? Yes, they could.

Will that stop me? Nope.

Why? Because I feel I've done more good than harm, and trolls are easy to spot (readers can tell).

Here are most of my reviews. To date, I've published almost 100 on Amazon.

If I can't be professional about a negative review as much as I am about a positive one, I'm in the wrong business.

It all boils down to this: I'm a person who loves books. I'll continue to do what I did (recommend books to other people), before the internet existed and before I became an author, until I can no longer type. No one will come between me and my books. Amazon kicks me off? Okay. I have a blog. Blogger shuts me down? Well, I'll go elsewhere. Either way, my reviews aren't going anywhere, and no one should expect them to or tell me I'm in the wrong. Making a blanket statement that calls reviewers who are also authors unprofessional... Well, it's unprofessional.

"Opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one, but no one really wants to hear them."

After all, a love of books and storytelling is why we all started writing, isn't it?

How many book bloggers have become authors later on? Does that make all the reviews they've written and plan to continue to write obsolete?

Is it fair of me to expect other people to review my books if I'm not out there writing reviews for someone else and paying it forward?

Get in here and give me your opinion. Just remember to play nice.

If I didn't do my event each year, what would you miss? If I quit writing reviews, what would you miss? Would you care? Why? What have you gained?

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

Jo

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Book Review - Refuge

Happy Wednesday! You all know what Wednesday means, right? Yup, you got it, a book review. This will go into the 2015 Time for Books Review Team's pool, making our count to date 323! Want to join in the fun? You still can! Grab the badge, decide on a commitment level, create a post on your book blog saying you're joining, add your name and link to the linky thing here, and get to reading! That's it. Every time you read a book and review it, come on back and put your review in the list. Easy peasy!

This title is from my TBR created during the 12 Days of Review Requests event here on the blog. As a quick reminder, here's where I am in the process:
The Release Club 1 - Misty Provencher - Review HERE
Dry Stories - Kate Baggot - Review HERE
Fragile Creatures - Kristina Circelli - Review HERE
8 Weeks - Bethany Lopez - Review HERE
Moonlight - David Rose - Review HERE
Refuge - Violet Haze - Review Below

Currently reading: From the Wreckage - Michelle G. Miller - Amazon Kindle FREE

Bound by Duty - Stormy Smith - Amazon Kindle $2.99
Shadows on Snow (A Flipped Fairy Tale) - Starla Hutchon - Amazon Kindle $2.99
The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge - Christine Nolfi - Amazon Kindle $0.99
Facade: A Vampire Love Story - R. M. Webb - Amazon Kindle $0.99
Siren - Jennifer Melzer - Amazon Kindle (Pre-order) $3.99 Grab a sample on Drive!
Queen of Someday - Sherry Ficklin - Amazon Kindle $5.99
At One's Beast - Rachel Barnard - Amazon Kindle $2.99
Unseen - Stephanie Erickson - Amazon Kindle $2.99
The Heart Thief - S. Lee Benedict - Amazon Kindle $4.99
Kindling Flames-Gathering Tinder - Julie Wetzel - Amazon Kindle FREE
Kinetic: Book One of the Kinetic Trilogy - C. M. Zimmer - Amazon Kindle $2.99
Destiny Finds Her - Miranda Lynn - Amazon Kindle $2.99
To Get Me to You - Kait Nolan - Amazon Kindle $2.99
The Lady of Souls - Jenn Gott - Amazon Kindle $4.99
Sticks and Stones - Shawn McGuire - Amazon Kindle $0.99
Good Luck With That Thing You're Doing: One Woman's Adventures in Dating, Plumbing and Other Full Contact Sports - Karen Yankosky - Amazon Kindle $2.99
Desprite Measures-The Caledonian Sprite - Deborah Jay - Amazon Kindle $2.99
The Last Guardian Rises - Rebecca Trogner - Amazon Kindle $0.99 

Here's a little about the book:

Title: Refuge (Evie #1)
Author: Violet Haze
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Length (print): 112 pages
Buy Link: Amazon Kindle $2.99

Blurb:
Zee has no idea who she is, or how she ended up in the psych ward of a hospital three months ago. Living a rather blissful life of quiet time, three meals a day, and therapy involving two doctors — one of which has a sexy voice and nice hands — Zee isn’t ready to cope with her truth.

As her memory returns, Zee discovers exactly who she is and what happened, and reality catches up with her in a way she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to deal with.

Ultimately, Zee makes choices which lead her and the one person closest to her down new paths neither of them could’ve seen coming.


Ready for the review? So am I! Let's get to it:

I grabbed a sample of Refuge when the author pitched it to me during my 12 Days of Review Requests event on my blog. Mental illness? Yes, please! I'm familiar with Haze's writing from her other name, C. S. Janey, so I figured I'd enjoy it. Well, I was intrigued enough by the end of the sample to snag a copy and add it to my TBR for 2015. Okay, enough about how I came to own the book, let's get to the good stuff.

From a Reader's Perspective:
This was a quick, short read that packed a lot of punch. I enjoyed the author's storytelling. There were moments when I wondered what the heck was going on, only to have a chapter that took me back in time to show me. While short stories usually don't give you much of a feel for the main character, I felt like I got a good handle on the main character, Zee. Much of her life is completely identifiable, and her reasoning in the end was on par with what someone in her situation might do. Flow/pacing was great, and the plot was a most excellent one. Completely tore at my heartstrings. I wanted more, but the end of this novelette says there's a book two, so I'm okay and not okay with the way it left me hanging.

From an Editor's Perspective:
I found a number of misplaced commas, but they were only slightly bothersome. While I'll have to detract half a star, because it's such a short work and I expect fewer mistakes, it's nothing to worry over. There's plenty of structure variation to keep you interested.

Rating:
1 Star for plot and engagement of my emotions
1 Star for character development
1 Star for twisting and turning in a most excellent manner
.5 Stars for the ending (me being sort of okay)
-.5 Stars for the ending (me wanting more but being sad)
.5 Stars for construct and variation of sentences
-.5 Stars for comma usage
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars. Recommended if you're looking for a short read with an excellent plot and good character development.

Have you read it? Plan to?

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

Jo

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Your Books on Amazon Author Central

Happy Tuesday! I can see you made it through Monday, so that's promising. Today, we're going to dive further into Amazon Author Central. I'll give you some neat tips about your book(s) page(s) you may not have known about before, too. If you missed the first two posts on setting up an account and pimping your profile, check those out now. Ready? Grab those pens and notebooks and let's get going!

Go ahead and log into Author Central.

Navigate to the Books tab and click on a title to get to the book's page. You should have something that looks like this:

Yours won't have the green arrows, but I put those there so you know where I'm at on the page. Be sure you're on the Kindle edition of your book (see top, right-hand corner), because we'll get to the paperback here in a few, and I don't want you to be confused.

Let's go over a little bit of what you see at the top before we move on. There on the left, you'll see details about your book. These include the cover, title, ASIN, average review number, and sales rank. There's also a little, clickable link that'll take you to the book's Amazon page.

Right under the book are two tabs:

Be sure you're on Editorial Reviews, please. The other tab is just details. Feel free to click and look, but come right back afterward.

Since I want you to see what I see, scroll down until your page looks like this:

I haven't done anything with this book yet, so I'll be updating stuff as we move along today. Let's start with Editorial Reviews. This is a section for snippets of professional reviews you've gotten. Amazon doesn't allow those reviews to be posted to the book's page, so you have to go in and add them manually. You can also add reviews or pieces of reviews from folks you asked to read the book. M doesn't have any, so I'll be skipping that for now. If you want to add one (or more), click Add and put your info in the popup. Be sure and click preview and save!

Now we'll move on to Product Description. Here's a fun fact: If you update the product description on your Amazon Author page, the one on the book's KDP page becomes obsolete (doesn't show). So, a lot of folks put the description on Author Central, then go back and keyword stuff the description on KDP. I did it with I, Zombie, and I can verify the KDP page has no bearing on the book once the stuff is changed in Author Central. Anyway, fill this part out and save it.

From the Author is all about why you wrote the book or any research you did. It also could be a little personal note for your readers. Anything you want to say about your novel goes here. Be sure and save!

From the Inside Flap is what you'd expect to find on a hardcover. This can be an addition to the blurb, the blurb itself, or something about one of the characters. Your choice! I'm gonna talk about the theme a little bit. Be sure and save!

From the Back Cover is any testimonial you may have from other people, too. You can also put your blurb here if you haven't put it in the Product description above. I did a little expose on my status and put a short list of my available titles. Be sure and save!

About the Author is your bio. Fill it out! Be sure and save!

Now, go to the paperback version and do it all again. You can copy/paste content over if you like.

Here's my completed page:

Remember, anything you do here overrides anything you've done anywhere else. This is the holy grail of editing spots.

So, what do you think? Did you fill it out? What was yours missing?

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

Jo

Monday, July 13, 2015

Publishing Your Blog to Kindle

Good morning, and happy Monday, everyone! Yeah, it's the beginning of a whole new week, but that means more opportunities to do all the things writerly. Today, my post is for bloggers. You're gonna find out all kinds of neat stuff about Kindle you may not have known. So grab those pens and notebooks and let's get going!

Welcome to Kindle Publishing for Blogs! Did any of you even know this feature existed? Well, you're about to get a crash course. Screenshots will accompany. If you want to see one live, here's my blog's page on Amazon.

Start by going here to the Kindle Publishing for Blogs homepage. Click on Create a New Account and follow the prompts to do so:

I'm gonna click sign in, and walk you through adding a blog. Click the button:

You'll be on a screen now that looks like this:

We're gonna set up your RSS feed. Go here if you're using Blogger and copy the second string. This one:

Replace the words blogname with your blog's name, and copy it again. Paste it into the form on Kindle Publishing for Blogs here:

Validate, please.

Now, fill out the next four boxes:

You need a screenshot of your blog, and you can get it by using the snipping tool. Be sure it's under 1MB in size (there is no dimension restriction). Save it as a JPEG or GIF. Upload it.

If you don't have your blog's banner, you can use the snipping tool in Windows to capture it, too. Be sure it's only 50px high by 430px wide and no more than 1MB in size. Save it as a JPEG or GIF. Upload it.

Next, enter your blog's web address, select a language, pick the categories you fit into, fill out your keywords, and select your posting frequency:

You're all done and ready to publish your blog to Kindle! Click zee button! You should be live within 48 hours. Be sure and fill out your account information so you can get paid when people subscribe.

Did you know this option was out there? Will you use it?

Come on back tomorrow for more on the Amazon Author Central page and what you can do there.

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

Jo

Friday, July 10, 2015

Amazon Author Central and You - Take Two

Happy Fridayyyyy! Wow, it's the weekend, you guys! Two days of no work. Whatever will we do with ourselves? Well, you could spend the time snazzing up your Amazon Author Central page. Yesterday's post was all about how to create an account and add books. Today, we're going into some of the clicky things you can modify. So you can take the info you find here and get to work making everything fabulous. Ready? Grab those pens and notebooks and let's get going!

I'm just gonna jump right in here. Login to Author Central here so you can follow along. Be sure you're on this tab and have your bio all filled out:

After your biography, you need to set your author page URL. As you can see, mine's already done (amazon.com/author/jomichaels). Amazon lets you set this to whatever you choose, but you only get one shot, so choose wisely! It's here:

Next, you'll want to upload a photo of yourself. Click the add photo button here:

Browse through your pictures, choose an image, click the box saying you have permission to use the photo, and click Upload Photo:

You can do this more than one time so you can change your picture up now and then. When you click manage photos, you get a couple of options:

Delete or rearrange at will. First one in the row is your profile picture! The Add Video button works the exact same way as the Add Photo one. NOTE: You must have the video available on your computer to upload. You can't link or add one from YouTube. Twitter add is pretty self explanatory, too, so I won't bog you down with images for all that.

Now, you'll want to add your blog feed. If your blog isn't pushing to a feed, here's how to find it for Blogger, and how to find it for Wordpress. Write it down and keep it handy, you'll need it for Monday's post. *wink* Once you have your feed address, click here:

It'll open a popup where you can type in your feed URL. Do it and click Add.

Let's go add an event, shall we? Click here:

You'll get a popup window like this:

Yeah, that's a lot of information to fill out, but Amazon will do most of it for you. Add a description first, then click on the location and start typing the name of a venue. I've added Utopia Con. If you're going, too, start by typing Millennium Max, then choose the hotel name from the list that populates underneath. Boom! Amazon fills in all the cool details like this:

Then, choose a book (yeah, just one), and a start date and time. I chose the date fans will be allowed into the conference. Click Add. Your profile should look something like this:

You're all done for today. Monday, I'm going to show you something amazing you can do with Amazon if you have a blog. Tuesday, we'll go into the various sections on the book tabs (hopefully, your books will be listed by then if they aren't already).

Did you create one? Leave us a link so we can take a peek!

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

Jo