Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Daily Cup of Jo - Podcasts and More

Happy Tuesday, good people of the blogosphere! Today, I have some major announcements to make. As you all may know, I'm the blogger/tuber coordinator for Utopia Con 2016 (eek!). I've decided to change/shake some things up after a chat I had with the one and only Janet Wallace this morning.

I'm very proud to announce the coming of my podcast and radio show: A Daily Cup of Jo.

Not only will you get to hear some amazing authors, but I'll be talking with editors, photographers, and more of the folks rocking the literary world.

You'll see a couple of changes happening on the blog by way of appearance, but I'll still be here every weekday to bring you posts about writing, blogging, and reading.

Here's the channel link: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/adailycupofjo

You can give it a follow now, or wait until the first episode goes live and subscribe on iTunes.

I plan to keep all interviews and discussions short (under half an hour), so you don't glaze over while listening.

Wait! It gets better! There will be official Utopia interviews going on! That's right, those shows will have imagery and space all their own. This is going to be epic, y'all.

Watch for an announcement post on the official #Utopia2016 bloggers this week. EEP!

What do you think? Did you check it out at all?

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


Monday, June 29, 2015

Stealing Characters

Happy, happy Monday, good people of the blogosphere! Wow. I'm totally late again. But at least I got something written and posted today, right? So, we're gonna talk about this lovely thing I like to call imagination. Basically, I'm going to tell you where you can steal characters and it be on the up and up, and how anyone that tells you otherwise is full of mahoney. Grab those pens and notebooks and let's get going!

Where do characters come from, anyway? You can say they're all figments of the author's imagination. You can say they're everyone and no one at all. Heck, you can even say they're people the author knew/know.

And you know what? You'd be right on every count.

There's no such thing as an original character.

Are you ready to rip my face off yet? Good. Now, let me explain.

Your characters will all have an inherent piece of you. Yes, all of them. When you have to write anger, you draw on your own experiences with anger. In this way, it's impossible to write what you don't know. If you happen to come upon a feeling you've never had, chances are you'd have to ask someone else what it's like. Therefore, your character takes on a few basic traits of that person.

Writing that woman you watched in the airport who was oozing emotion through the phone at what you could only guess was a man? She's totally unique and not you, right?

Sorry. No.

Because what you've seen of her brings you to certain conclusions of your own about who she is. You draw upon experiences you've had in the past to fill in the rest of the proverbial sketch of her life.

But what about that character that came from nowhere? You just sat down, chose a name, created an identity, and drew them from thin air, right?

Let's think about that for a moment.

While that character in the book may have purple hair, pointy ears, and a forked tongue, you have to create a personality from somewhere. If you don't use your resources: yourself, a friend, a stranger you spoke to, a family member, a character you once read about that stuck with you in personality, an old classmate you hated/loved, etc..., you're setting yourself up for failure and flat characters.

There's no such thing as an original character. Even if the man or woman in your book has one small piece of you, it's not 100% unique. They must have some part of someone to be real.

But characters aren't real, Jo!

Aren't they? Don't they talk to you when you're writing them, telling you how to write their story so the world sings along? Don't they force your hand sometimes?

I don't know a writer anywhere who says, "My characters do exactly what I tell them, and my story doesn't suffer for it." Yeah, that's not the way it works.

We create these people, and they go with us everywhere. I'm almost convinced those crazy people who walk around mumbling things to themselves aren't crazy at all; they're retired authors talking to the characters that refuse to leave.

They're in your head. You formed them. You breathed life into them. They're all going to have a piece of you, no matter how miniscule.

Guess what that means? If you're a lot like author ABC over there, and the two of you have had similar experiences/pasts, your characters might just act and sound alike.

Nothing wrong with that.

So, the next time friend A asks you if they're in your book, smile at them and nod your head. Chances are, there are enough pieces there to make it the truth.

But never, ever be afraid to steal bits and pieces of those folks you meet on the street or watch on the sly. They'll inject your characters with new traits.

What do you think? Have you written a character who acts/sounds like someone you know (accidentally)?

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


Friday, June 26, 2015

UtopYA 2015 Deets and Utopia 2016 Announcements

Happy Friday, everyone! Wow, I've been in a funk since returning from the con Sunday, and I haven't really had the ability to get on here and blog. But, no worries, it's all happening right now!

Before I get started, I have to announce that tickets for the 2016 con--forever more known as Utopia--are on sale NOW for VERY low prices! $80 is the basic one. This year, we'll also have fan tickets that will allow fans into the exhibitor halls to meet the authors. So many changes! Very exciting. Get your tickets or exhibitor space here.

When I set out for Nashville I was raring to go, promising myself I'd blog while I was at the con. That didn't happen. I, somehow, forgot how overwhelmingly busy the conference is. Minus five pounds by the time I got home should give you a good idea. Anyway, let me get to the details of awesome!

I left early Wednesday morning so I'd have the chance to see and talk to a couple of people I knew were already there before things went nuts. I had a lunch date with Regan Claire, and I was hoping to run into Carlyle Labuschagne, Katie John, and Carol and Adam Kunz. I got to see Carlyle and Katie, and low and behold, Ginny Gallagher showed up, too, but Carol and Adam were nowhere to be found. This is the lovely Katie:

Anyway, I squealed and hugged new friends and old ones, and barely had time to breathe. I did manage to get a couple of shots outside the hotel this year:

Regan, Ginny, my niece, and I, all went to Hattie B's for hot chicken and snagged some cupcakes from Gigi's. It was soooo crowded, but we had great food and a wonderful time. Pics!

As we were returning to the hotel, I find we're right behind Bella Roccaforte. I brought back cupcakes, and I handed them out in the HUGE line in the lobby of people waiting to check in. Surprise! It was the birthday of one of my fans (Terri Barber)! Need I say that she got the first pick?

Well, the Fractured Glass ladies (Kelly Risser, Casey L. Bond, Tia Silverthorne Bach, and N. L. Greene) arrived not a moment later. Once everyone got checked in and we hauled all our stuff up to our rooms, I asked the dreaded question: Should we wait an hour to load in to the exhibitor space, or should we eat first? They were starving, so the answer was:


Rachael Brownell, Ginny Gallagher, a fellow IBGW editor named Karen Robinson, and Lindsay Lewis came along, and we ate amazing food and had a drink or two at Margaritaville. Pictures? Okay then:

Because we didn't get everything out of the car and into the room until almost six, and because the hotel shuttle was slow, we didn't get back until tenish. Setting up/load in time was up at eleven.

Well, the dynamite five had a book to plan, and I didn't want to be up all hours, so we decided to meet in the room I was sharing with Tia so we could get to business and just set up the next morning.

You guys are going to DIE over the book idea. If it's half as good as we see it in our heads, well... Anyway...

Up suuuuper early the next day (Thursday), I went in search of a cup of coffee to wake me up and a trolly to carry all our junk to the exhibitor room after my shower while Tia was in the bathroom doing the same. I scored one. Whew! We had a bunch of boxes and stuff, and it was all soooo heavy.

After six, we were in the space putting our stuff up (this took about an hour). Then it was off to a very speedy breakfast and on to the keynote speech for the day given by Denise Grover Swank. As she talked about the losses in her life and how they'd brought her to where she is today, I cried. It was so moving. We got out right before the exhibitor hall opened, so I boogied back downstairs (elevators took a LONG time). Here's a shot of Crystal Bryant, me, and Janet Wallace, as well as Denise and the IBGW booth:

We gave away allll those books you see on the center of the table in the first shot, and I snagged a copy of Lex Talionis by S. A. Huchton (read it already, review to come).

I attended two talks that day: When Marketing Globally, How to Act Locally by Stormy Smith and Slaying the Demons (Dealing with PTSD as a Writer) by Chelsea Starling (this second talk ran wayyyy over, and I didn't get out until right before lunch). See our pic!

Lunch was crammed down between talking with people and chewing. Then, it was back to the exhibitor hall.

I moderated a panel that day about being a book blogger/tuber. We gave away a book, and everyone who attended said they loved it so much. I was sweating, so it thrilled me to hear that bit of info. On the panel were (from left) the lovely Maria Pease, Chris Canon, and Tammy Blackwell. It was fun! Here's a pic Christina Marie took from the audience:

Then it was back to the exhibitor hall until four. Everyone didn't clear out until almost five, but we managed to escape eventually. I headed back to my room to freshen up and change clothes for the keynote speaker dinner at seven.

As always, I was a little early (6:30ish), and I ran into one of the women I'd been dying to meet but hadn't gotten the chance: Regina Wamba. She's an amazing photographer, and she does cover shoots for many of the attending authors as well as headshots and promo pics. I finally got to drink some water, which was amazing, by the way, and ten minutes later Denise Grover Swank came in. I spoke with her for a little bit, and then Liz Long, Janet Wallace, Kim Holden, Lindsey Miller (the backbone of the con), the winners of the dinner (Myra Lang and Meg Farrell) showed up along with Lauren Miller. This is Lauren:

We were shown to our tables. Oh man, I got to sit with her! Denise was at another table, and Kim was at yet another table.

You guys, Lauren is SO down to Earth. She's such a real person. And, we got to eat amazing food! Yes, I took photos:

Jamie Anderson (also one of the vertebre of the con), showed up, and he and I talked about his upcoming release (news to come later). I saw a photo of this somewhere. I can't find it now. Gah! 

Anyway, after the dinner (which ended around nine), I headed downstairs to find Tia. After stopping in the lobby and chatting with folks milling about, I located her and we headed to bed. Earlier than most, but later than I would've liked (like I said, I love my sleep). I tossed and turned all night, and woke up early the next day (around fiveish). Fun! No, not really. I'm crabby when I can't sleep.

So, it was off to the races once again. After locating coffee and having breakfast, we headed upstairs to listen to Lauren give her keynote speech. Wow did it resonate. I'm so elated to have gotten to meet her. I skipped the shaking of hands and rushed down the stairs (see previous note about the elevators) to get back to the exhibitor hall.

There I was all day until lunch (which I again inhaled between conversations) and my panel right afterward. This one I was sitting on, and it was moderated by Rick and Amy Miles. It was a good debate there for a minute, because it was called: How to Make Your Blog Tours Run Like Clockwork. You all know me.

Moving on.

After that, I hoofed it back to the table because we had to start breaking down soon. An hour later saw us unloading in the room, separating stuff so we could set up the next morning, and getting ready for the Afterlight ARV-3 short film premiere that night. I have a bunch of pictures and videos that I'll be sharing Monday. For a little teaser, here's the author and the crew:

Man, I do loooove me some zombies.

Once the film was done, we headed back downstairs to get food. We were dead on our feet. I inhaled dinner once it made it to the table (slowwwwwwww) and we skipped karaoke in favor of our beds. It was late, and with two women and two teens in our room needing to get changed/ready for bed, we finally crawled into bed around eleven.

Up again at five on Saturday, we had to shower, eat, set up for the day (again), and be upstairs for the last keynote speech by eight-thirty. I had a bit of a rough start that day because I was so tired, but I got through it and pushed on. All day was spent at my table, with an hour for lunch where I sat and talked with S. M. Boyce. Here's my table, and B. Kristin McMichaels's beautiful little girl!

Once again, breaking down and stuff happened around four thirty (people were difficult to clear from the signing hall), then it was back to the room to get ready for the awards and the cocktail hour that began at six. Dinner was pizza, courtesy of Casey L. Bond, that she had sent to the room. It was crazy. CRAZY with seven females getting changed, doing makeup and hair, and trying to eat. I got one piece of pizza.

Then, downstairs for the awards where we had a lip sync battle, and Casey L. Bond won an award for Sin for best serial series! Pics!

Once the main event was done, I cleaned all the crap off my face, changed into jeans and a tank top, and went to the after party. I danced with B. J. Sheldon and all the other ladies, but we only stayed about an hour. Again, I was so tired!

I can list the drinks I had over the four days on one hand. Okay, so I'm lame, but water was always, ALWAYS needed, and I don't like to have cocktails when I'm dying of thirst. *grin*

Up again super early on Sunday to head to the closing ceremonies and pack everything up so we could check out of the room and head to the Parthenon.

Big announcements happened that morning, and Janet Wallace revealed the theme for year five: Revolution! She also announced that utopYA will be changed to utopia and will expand to include middle grade and adult paranormal and contemporary. Wowzers!

It was my nieces first (and maybe only) visit to Nashville, and I wanted her to see all the things. Besides, I wanted that extra hour with Tia, who I only get to see once a year. Here are some photos!

After that, I dropped Tia and Jackie back at the hotel and started the drive home. It wasn't too bad (just about three or four hours), but I was exhausted and traffic sucked because TDOT decided to put some cones in the road. Yeah, no construction, just cones.

Finally, I made it home! Today was the first day I've felt anywhere close to being a human, so it is what it is. I've been busy today rounding up the bloggers for next year, so expect me to be back to my regularly scheduled program on Monday.

Still on the fence about doing written author interviews for 2016, but we'll see.

Did you enjoy them last year?

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


Monday, June 22, 2015

Evanescent - Carlyle Labuschagne

A darker offering from award winning YA author 

Carlyle Labuschagne 

In a recent TV interview Carlyle was given the opportunity to answer some tough questions about why she felt she needed to go darker in this novel and what will the reader take away from that. Then  she gets emotional on the mention of her recent UtopYAcon nominations where the awards will be celebrated in Nashville June 20 2015

Title: Evanescent
Author: Carlyle Labuschagne
Series: The Broken Series #2
Publisher: Fire Quill Publishing
Release Date: 19th May 2015
ISBN: 978-0-9922446-4-4  
Back Blurb:
Her fall has just begun. Only his touch can save her from the shift that could destroy it all. 

Within my blood runs a thing our kind calls the Shadowing Disease. It shadows over, and bends everything to its will. 
When the first blood-shift came, it tore through flesh and blood, threatening to bend me, break bone, shatter my mind and entrap my heart with its honeyed, seductive poison. It came with vicious intent, moving my thoughts and altering me forever. 
The shift has caused a rift within me. No one was safe when it entrapped me in its claws of foul lust. But I have the only antidote against the evil that becomes me - his touch alone has the power to release the spurs of sweet darkness that clung on for deal life. 
I knew what I had to do; the desperation pulled my mind with the deep determination of a hungry predator. 
By the time the revelation raised me from the dark dungeon of my bounds - it might have been too late.


Carlyle is an South African award winning author, with a flair for mixing genres and adding loads of drama to every story she creates. For now she is happy to take over the world and convert non Sci-fi believers.
Her goal as an author is to touch people's lives, and help others love their differences and one another by delivering strong messages of faith, love and hope within every outrageous world she writes about.

"I love to swim, fight for the trees, and am a food lover who is driven by my passion for life. I dream that one day my stories will change the lives of countless teenagers and have them obsess over the world literacy can offer them instead of worrying about fitting in. Never sacrifice who you are, it’s in the dark times that the light comes to life."

Carlyle used writing as a healing tool and that is why she started her very own writers support event - SAIR bookfestival.

 "To be a helping hand for those who strive to become full times writers, editors, bloggers, readers and cover artists - it’s a crazy world out there you don’t have to go it alone!"


Facebook Page
Google +
Fire Quill Publishing

Pretty cool, huh? Carlyle rocks!

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


Thursday, June 18, 2015

New Release - M

Happy Thursday, good people of the blogosphere! I can't even begin to tell you all how stinking excited I am for the news I'm sharing today. Ready? Grab a cup of coffee and let's get going!

M has officially been released! You can grab a copy on Kindle for just $3.99. Want more info? Keep reading! *grin*

Title: M
Author: Jo Michaels
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal/Urban Fiction/Sci-Fi
Length: 318 pages
Buy Links: Amazon Kindle $3.99  ~  Paperback $16.99

In 2026, it finally arrives, the drug promising to make life easier for the masses. One dose of M and anyone can gain an ability. There are no promises made as to what the power could manifest as, but people are crawling over one another to take a chance.

There's a problem: One pill costs a million dollars. Only those with extraordinary wealth are afforded the luxury of cleaning house with a click of their diamond-adorned fingers or solving a puzzle by talking to it.

A knockoff begins circulating in 2038 that does the same thing as M. Hundreds of thousands of people have mutated for a mere one hundred dollars.

Enter the year 2042.

Seventeen-year-old Griffin is a normal kid, who has a regular job, and dreams of going to college someday. When his girlfriend of three years succumbs to peer pressure, they break up. He believes the body is a temple not to be messed with outside of nature, and she wants to fit in. Once he meets the supplier, things take a turn for the worse.

He's left with nothing but pain in his heart and the desire to make them suffer when his plans for payback blow up in his face.

Thirst for revenge consumes him, and he finds himself locked in a battle he never anticipated with a merciless kingpin as they struggle to gain the advantage.

How far is too far?

***This book is a standalone novel, suitable for those over the age of thirteen. There is some violence that may not be appropriate for younger children.*** 

What are you waiting for? Go check it out! Free to sample.
What do you think? Sound interesting?
Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Time Traveling to UtopYA 2014

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Oh my gosh! I leave for utopYA Con tomorrow, and I'm so very excited I can hardly stand myself. I'm sure everyone in my house can't wait to get rid of me, because I can't shut up. *grin* Today, I'm gonna tell you all about my adventure at the con last year, and I'm sharing pictures! Yeah, I know you're all excited. So many authors I can't wait to meet. No way can I name them all, but they know who they are!

Just in case you missed it, be sure and come to the Millennium Maxwell House on Saturday for the ARMI signing. There are a ton of amazing authors there. Best part? Entry is FREE if you bring a gently used children's book, or just FIVE DOLLARS if you don't. Get your ticket here.

Okay, let's get to the FUN stuff!

Last year, utopYA was a three day con. When I arrived on Thursday (a day early), I grabbed my bestie from her hotel and we skedaddled to a place for lunch I found on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives called Arnold's Country Kitchen at 605 8th Ave S. That link will take you to their menu/hours page on their website.

I still remember the taste of the food it was so good. I don't remember what Tia ate (roast beef, maybe?), but I had the country fried steak, fried green tomatoes, turnip greens, and mashed potatoes. For dessert, I had banana pudding. Oh my, it was to DIE for. There's a reason the line is out the door. Luckily, we got there early (around 11:30), before the huge crowd showed up.

We sat at a long table with a bunch of other people. It was true country eating, country style! If you like really great food, you want to check out Arnold's.

Anyway, after that, we headed for the hotel where we ran into a lovely group of women and had a frosty beverage with them in the hotel restaurant, Praline's. Why did we accept the invite? Because it's hot as Hades in Nashville in June. That's why!

Upon our exit, we managed to run into these lovely ladies. It was so fun getting to know them, and I was stoked to recognize so many people right off the bat.

It wasn't long before we ran into many, many other people.

Then, we got to set up our table for the weekend (that was exciting), and we headed to dinner and the planning meeting for Fractured Glass. There were many margaritas had out by the pool, and many great ideas being thrown around out there.

Once we'd gotten everything out, we all headed to bed. There were still a ton of people outside by the pool, hanging out and talking. It was a madhouse. But, since I like my sleep, I went for the pillows.

We hit the floor running the next day. It was off to the breakfast buffet then on to the keynote speaker, Sylvia Day. She was so inspiring and woman empowering! I loved every minute of it.

Friday was full of meeting people, shaking hands, attending panels, and BOOKS! Oh, so many books! That evening, we went to Maxwell's (the hotel bar) and sang karaoke. It was so much fun. Casey L. Bond, Tia, N. L. Green, and I sang Baby Got Back, and Casey got to wear my hat.

There was no messing around. Right after singing, we headed for our beds.

Saturday, again, we hit the floor running. Gennifer Albin was the keynote speaker for that day, and she knocked it out of the park, too. It. Was. Awesome. Later, I got to snag a photo with her and B. J. Sheldon.

There was more meeting of readers and awesomeness going on that day, and that night was the third annual utopYA awards ceremony. It, also, was awesome. So many talented authors were up for awards. I loved being part of the whole thing.

When we got to the dance party after the awards, B. J. and I had an 80s dance off. She's challenging me again this year. But, Tia and I hit the bed pretty early. I do love my sleep. haha!

Sunday, it was off to the races with us both. I dropped Tia at her in law's, and I headed home to my husband (who I missed so dang much). I couldn't shut up about the con for weeks afterward. There were so many ideas bouncing around in my writer brain! To say I'd been inspired would be an understatement. It was amazing.

So, I'm looking forward to all the happenings this year. Just one more day until I'm off to the races!

My post tomorrow will have pictures and stuff from my trip to the con. Look forward to it!

I only regret not taking more pictures last year! This year, I shall remedy that. *grins*

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


Monday, June 15, 2015

Author Interview - Jo Michaels

Happy Monday, everyone! I know I said I was done with the author interviews, but I figured I'd put one up with myself. *grin* This is so you get to know a little about ME before utopYA Con. It's just three days away now, and I want you to be able to recognize me if you happen upon a lady in a hat like mine. I also took questions from friends and fans on Facebook, so I'll be dropping those in as we go along with the name of the person asking.

Ready? Grab a cup of coffee and let's get going!

JoQ: Hi there, you! Rather than give you a long introduction, I'm jumping right into the questions. Here we go! Where might someone be able to find you at utopYA Con this week?

JoA: Hello, yourself! Thanks for not letting everyone know all about me! Rude. I'm sure we'll be getting to that soon, right? To answer your question, folks will be able to find me at GB3: Jo Michaels & Tia Bach/Indie Books Gone Wild. That means Tia and I will be in the Grand Ballroom Thursday and Friday at the IBGW table (#3). I'll also be there Saturday for the Authors Are My Idols book signing. Look for me in my new, black hat!

JoQ: That's great! Yeah, we'll get to the stuff about you here in a bit. Please, try to be patient. So, I hear you're releasing a book at utopYA. Care to share the deets with us?

JoA: *drums fingers on table impatiently* Deets! Yes! The novel is titled M, and it's about a mutating drug by the same name and the human desire to fit in. My main character is named Griffin, and he's so blinded by revenge, he often loses sight of what really matters: love, friends, family, etc... You just have to read it. I've already sold a number of copies via pre-order, so it seems like it'll be well received. It's also the featured book this week here on the blog. Yay!

JoQ: That's amazing news! So, tell me a little about you. Why do you write in the genres that you do?

JoA: I write whatever I get a story idea for. Mostly, my books revolve around strong women and/or lessons on being a better human being. I write to inspire, empower, and educate.

JoQ: Sounds like a big task! Now, I've taken the liberty of asking other people what they'd ask you in an interview. So, I'm gonna open the floor up to them. First up, we have B. J. Sheldon. B. J. asks, "Where'd you get those sick dance moves?"

JoA: She must be referring to the 80s dance off we had last year after the awards. Ah, fond memories! Well, I've taken dance classes my whole life, and I used to go to clubs and dance like there was no tomorrow. I learned by watching and repeating what I saw. Practice is a Godsend.

JoQ: Hopefully, you'll win this year! Ms. Liz Long wants to know: "What inspires you?"

JoA: Yeah, not likely. B. J. has the 80s down pat. *grins* Hmmm, what inspires me... I'd have to say my inspiration comes from the world and people around me. I'm blessed to be surrounded by so much love and positive reinforcement. I've also always been overly intrigued by the human condition. I wonder why people do the things they do, and what would happen if. When I see something I may be able to change with a pen, I try my very best to make it happen.

JoQ: There you go again with the empower and educate stuff. Well, this next question will be right up your alley. Natasha Hanova asked, "How do you stay so motivated?"

JoA: Oh, Natasha! I have my days like everyone else, when I just want to say, "To Hell with it!" But every time a reader of my blog tells me they learned something or how finding my corner of the blogosphere helped them through their Indie struggles, it pushes me to hit the keys once more. Every time a reader of my books tells me how they connected with one of my characters, it makes me want to write another word. It's all about the positive impact I hope I'm having. That's what keeps me motivated. I love paying it forward.

JoQ: Nice! Your next question is from Layla Renee. She asks, "What do you do when you get stuck on a project?"

JoA: Stuck? If you mean writer's block, I don't really have it. There's a point sometimes where I don't know where a story is going next, and I have to step away from it for a minute to work that out, but I usually draw up a beginning and an end and go from there. If I still can't work it out, I write on something else for a while. I firmly believe this is because I write at the same time each day, with a warm up here on the blog to kick it off. Once words are flowing, it makes it easier to craft a novel.

JoQ: It's good to be in the zone. Your next question is from Shawn McGuire: "How do you balance blogging with writing and the rest of your life?"

JoA: I'm a meticulous planner, and I schedule my weeks accordingly. I don't work after 5pm or on weekends; that time is reserved strictly for my family and house stuff. My blog is actually a warm-up and works well to motivate me to write. But, when something's gotta give, it's my blog that does so. There are times I have life stuff get in the way, and there are those times when I'm on a deadline with an edit. My clients trump all else. I meet my deadlines. Period. *grin*

JoQ: It's true. Schedules make the world go 'round! Next up is two questions from Ms. Heidi Lea: "When did you decide to become a writer? What's your method of writing?"

JoA: Great questions, Heidi! Love them. I decided to become a writer in college. It was a World History class, actually. I did this great research paper on Genghis Khan, and I found out so many interesting details I just had to write the story (with a fictional twist, of course). A year after graduation, Yassa was born. Since then, it's been a whirlwind of fun.

My methods vary as widely as my subject matter. Some books I write off the cuff, and some I write one or two chapters of and let them simmer on my brain until I dream the story out. Once I have it, I sit down and write until I'm done. I, Zombie was started way back before it was written (NaNo novel), and I finished it in just seven days. I'm a total pantser. No way can I outline and keep my novels as organic as I want to. Then, of course, you have the characters who are pushy and tell you what they want you to write. I can't deny them!

JoQ: You're such a softy! Your next question comes from Jolene Buchheit. She wants to know: "What's one thing you would tell new authors about sales expectations?"

JoA: Jolene, bless you! There's no such thing. My best advice on this is write the best book you can, use an editor, give it a beautiful cover, have a kick ass marketing plan, and cross your fingers. Do not expect anything. If it happens, and you sell thousands of copies, that's awesome. Let it shock you. If you don't, you're more likely than not to be disappointed. But never, ever give up.

JoQ: Never giving up is a must. Truly. Too many authors throw in the towel too soon. Okay, onward! Your next question is from Stormy Smith. "Why did you decide to share so much advice and information on your blog? That takes time away from your writing, so how do you find balance between the two?"

JoA: For the answer to the second part, see Shawn's question above. For the first, oh my. You may love my answer; you may hate it. Nonetheless, here it is: My blog is my baby. It's kept me going through the darkest and lightest times of my life. Through it, I've met some of my best friends. I don't just share advice with others, I share it with myself. It's a constant reminder of things I should be doing, how to get to where I want to be, and one tiny, itty bitty way I can pay it forward. There have been a ton of people who've helped me get to where I am today, and my blog is one way I can educate and promote others in an effort to help spread the word/share the love. It's a huge part of my writing life, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

JoQ: Truth. The blog is the baby! The lovely Kelly Martin asked your next question. She said, "Some writers focus on readers, some on other writers. Do you have a mailing list/fb page/ anything that is reader only or do you focus just on authors?"

JoA: Kelly, you're outing me here! *grin* I have my author page on Facebook, of course, and that's geared toward readers, but IBGW also has a super secret weapon we unveil for clients: A reader only subscription where we give away books. Every IBGW client gets a giveaway (we buy and gift the books), and their release goes out to our massive subscriber list made up of readers. It's really quite something. We started it because we wanted to go the extra mile for our clients--do the thing no one else was doing: help them promote their book once it's published. Sign up here.

As a bonus, those readers are getting well-edited books in the giveaways they enter. It's win/win.

Plus, the blog has reviews (used to be once a week until deadlines started piling up and reading went the way of the wind), and those are geared toward readers. This is a rare kind of blog. It's really about all things books.

I also curate a Flipboard magazine with book reviews for readers. I harvest all reviews from my Time for Books 2015 Review Team. They're an amazing group of readers, and write wonderful reviews.

There! I'm out of the closet. Thanks a lot. haha!

JoQ: Blog baby! *grin* Your final two questions are from Ms. Snowa Fox. They are: "Where do you get inspiration from for books and for blog posts? What advice would you give your pre-published self if you could go back in time?"

JoA: For books, see the answer to my own question up near the top. For blog posts, well, that's another matter entirely! I write about things I learn as I learn them. If I'm editing a book and see the same mistake being made over and over, I'll write a blog post with a tip to keep others out of the hot seat with that error. If I come upon some awesome digital tool, I check it out and recommend it. If I have a marketing idea, I share. When I see someone struggling with something, I find the answer and post it here on the blog. So, everywhere, I guess. haha!

What advice would I give myself? Find a book like The Indie Author's Guide and read it before you do anything else! Seriously. I wrote that pocket guide out of my own frustrations so other authors wouldn't have to struggle like I did with finding stuff. I priced it low so it would be affordable for authors to learn from. It's a newbie's best friend.

JoQ: Yeah... Struggles... *wipes brow* I did a lot of that in the beginning, huh? Well, it's time to wrap this up! Be sure and look for me at utopYA in two days! I'll be the one in the hat! This was me last year!

Time to tell you about the featured book of the week!

Title: M
Author: Jo Michaels
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Length (print): xxx pages
Buy Links: Amazon Kindle $3.99 Paperback $14.99

In 2026, it finally arrives, the drug promising to make life easier for the masses. One dose of M and anyone can gain an ability. There are no promises made as to what the power could manifest as, but people are crawling over one another to take a chance.

There's a problem: One pill costs a million dollars. Only those with extraordinary wealth are afforded the luxury of cleaning house with a click of their diamond-adorned fingers or solving a puzzle by talking to it.

A knockoff begins circulating in 2038 that does the same thing as M. Hundreds of thousands of people have mutated for a mere one hundred dollars.

Enter the year 2042.

Seventeen-year-old Griffin is a normal kid, who has a regular job, and dreams of going to college someday. When his girlfriend of three years succumbs to peer pressure, they break up. He believes the body is a temple not to be messed with outside of nature, and she wants to fit in. Once he meets the supplier, things take a turn for the worse.

He's left with nothing but pain in his heart and the desire to make them suffer when his plans for payback blow up in his face.

Thirst for revenge consumes him, and he finds himself locked in a battle he never anticipated with a merciless kingpin as they struggle to gain the advantage.

How far is too far?

Want to follow me on social media? Here ya go!

Twitter: @WriteJoMichaels
Facebook: WriteJoMichaels
Website: WriteJoMichaels
Pinterest: WriteJoMichaels
Blog: Jo Michaels Blog

How fun was this?

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


Friday, June 12, 2015

New Release Info and Excerpt - Had a Great Fall by Shawn McGuire

Back Cover Blurb

Everyone deserves happiness. Is Robin the exception?
A cross-country move to a new state offers Robin Westmore the chance to get away from the relentless bullies and reinvent himself. But on the first day at his new high school Robin finds himself in front of Zane, the school’s star pitcher and chief tormentor, at the exact wrong moment and right back into the role of victim. Hopeless, he wishes for it all to stop.

When Desiree, the new leader of the genies, grants Robin’s wish he’s sure things are finally going his way. But problems in the magical realm have made Desiree equally hopeless and too distracted to give Robin the attention he needs.

As Desiree hides from her responsibilities, Robin disappears into the video game he’s created. There he finds excitement, adventure, and control. When the game presents him with a real escape from his tortured life, will he take it?


“You stayed up late again?” she asked as she took a box of tea from the back of the cabinet.
“Lots of homework,” I said. She knew I spent my summer developing the game. She didn’t know I spent at least two hours a night, after homework, still working on it.
She never protested when I said the dark circles under my eyes were studying related. Usually that was the case. Sometimes, though, Zane’s harassment got really intense and the circles came from lack of sleep due to nightmares.
There were days when he would stop in the middle of whatever he’d been doing and charge at me from across the lunchroom to slam into me or sneeze on my lunch. Once he even stood in front of me flapping his arms and making birdcalls. In the middle of the lunchroom. Why didn’t someone record that and put it up on the web? He looked ridiculous. Didn’t anyone else see that?
“Are you feeling all right?” Mom put the back of her hand to my forehead and I resisted the urge to swat it away. It was a caring touch. One of the few signs lately that someone gave a damn about me.
If I told her what was happening, would she do something? Maybe I could do online schooling. She knew I was a self-motivator and that she never had to check to see if I’d done my homework. Grades were everything to me. I’d never had less than a 3.8 GPA. The only reason it fell below a 4.0 was because of gym class. I could barely lift my backpack let alone do a pull-up. Maybe online school was the answer to my problems.
Her phone rang just as I was about to ask.
“Hello… Oh, I’m so sorry.” She glanced at the clock on the microwave. “I was thinking there was a one hour time difference. Five months and I’m still adjusting to being in the Mountain Time Zone. Let me get to my office and I’ll call you right back.”
She was already heading out of the kitchen when I said, “Bye.”
“Oh, sweetie.” She came back and kissed my forehead. “If you’re not feeling well you can stay home. Or call if you need to come home early. I’ll give permission for you to leave.”
She knew I got motion sick on the bus. If I said I was nauseous, would she still make me ride the bus or would she take twenty minutes off of work to come and get me?
I toasted a piece of cinnamon-raisin bread and spread on a thick layer of butter. Then I tugged on my coat and headed out the door. With every step I thought of how Zane would be waiting for me and that single bite of toast turned into a little rock in my stomach. I paused at the garbage can next to the garage and lifted the lid to toss in the barely-eaten piece when someone came around the corner, making me jump.
“Are you Robin?” A girl with long dark hair that looked kind of like dreadlocks but kind of not stood at the corner of my garage. “Wait. You’re not throwing that out are you? That’s so wasteful. There are hungry people who would gladly eat that.”
I looked from her to the toast and then shoved it in my mouth. I couldn’t handle a lecture right then.
“Who are you?” I asked through the mouthful of bread-covered raisins.
She made a disgusted face. “Manners. Heard of them?”
I chewed, swallowed, and brushed the crumbs off my hand. “Sorry. Yes, I’m Robin. Who are you?”
She smiled then. She had a great smile, one that made her eyes crinkle at the corners. “I’m Dara.”
“Nice to meet you. Can I help you with something?”
“I don’t know. Possibly.” Dara put her hand to her mouth and tapped a navy blue-painted fingernail against her blindly-white teeth, like she was contemplating the question. “Teasing. Nothing you can do for me, thanks, but I can sure help you.”
I shook my head. “You’ve got the wrong person. I don’t need help.” At least none that she could give. I doubted she could take on Zane.
“You’re Robin Westmore.”
She knew my name. Whatever that meant.
“You just moved here from Wisconsin.”
“Five months ago. So not just but yes, I’m from Wisconsin.”
“You’re being bullied by some kid named Zane and you want it to stop.”
I stood there, next to my garbage can, wondering who this girl was and what she was up to. It was common knowledge that I was Zane’s favorite target. Of course I wanted his harassment to stop, anyone would, but what could she possibly do about it?
“Look, I don’t know who you are but if Zane sent you—”
“Zane didn’t send me.” She paused, just for a beat. “I guess you could say the universe did.”
I didn’t need this. I had enough drama in my life. I didn’t need this chick adding crazy to it as well. Marijuana was legal in Colorado. Maybe she’d been dining on pot gummies or something. The universe sent her. Yeah, right.
“I’ve got to get going,” I said. “I’m going to miss my bus.”
“Don’t worry about that,” Dara said. “I can take care of that.”
I started walking. I had to go six blocks in about two minutes. If I wasn’t there I’d have to either wait for the next bus, which wouldn’t be for half an hour, or beg my mom for a ride during which I’d have to listen to her chew me out about responsibility.
Dara followed, her arms wrapped tightly together. She wasn’t wearing a jacket.
“Let me try again,” she said. “This is my first time and I’m not sure how to do this.”
What was she saying? “Are you a prostitute?”
“What? God.” She made a face. “No, I’m not a prostitute. What kind of hooker comes up to someone by their garage first thing in the morning?”
“I wouldn’t know. I’m not privy to the methods of the, uh, working class.”
She said nothing for half a block and then started laughing. Probably at the thought of me soliciting a hooker.
“Let me try this again.” She cleared her throat and squared her shoulders. “Yesterday afternoon around three-forty-five you made a wish.”
“I did what?” Oh yeah, the dandelion. “Do you live next door or something? How could you know that?”
“I told you, the universe sent me. Your wish has been granted.”

Shawn McGuire is the author of young adult novels that blend contemporary settings and issues with a touch of fantasy and magic. She started writing after seeing the first Star Wars movie (that's episode IV) as a kid. She couldn't wait for the next movie to come out so wrote her own episodes. Sadly, those notebooks are long lost, but her desire to write is as strong now as it was then.
Her books deal with harder topics (death of a sibling, divorce, dating violence, bullying, and teen suicide) because she believes it is important to talk about these things. Those kinds of topics can be hard to handle and a bit overwhelming, so she infuses a bit of humor in her work as well because she also believes that a sense of humor can help you get through just about anything.

Shawn lives in Colorado with her family where she spends her time reading, cooking and baking, practicing yoga and meditation, and hiking and camping in the spectacular Rocky Mountains.

Author Links

Newsletter signup - http://eepurl.com/V21k1

Author’s Other Works

The Wish Makers Series

Buy Links:
Book 4 in The Wish Makers series will release in June 2015. Please go here to purchase your copy.

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