Monday, December 31, 2012

How’s that apocalypse coming along?

Phew. I’ve survived yet another End of the World.

They’re coming around pretty often these days. The latest one is not the Mayan’s fault; it’s the fault of the people who misinterpreted it. The world should have ended in 1975, but we survived that one too. And last year we survived two raptures. You do remember the rapture, don’t you?

Apocalypse fatigue has set in and I’ve become a total cynic. Because in real life, people predicting the end of the world (through unnatural disasters, raptures or rogue meteors) end up looking very un-sage-like and almightily silly.

In real life, threats/prophecies/predictions of the world ending are either a total joke or a horrible way to scare people. Of course, when truly horrible things happen, Nostradamus is credited with predicting it all. After the event, of course.

The first global media ‘End of the World’, wasn't so much a prediction as a catastrophe. The Cuban Missile Crisis came after so many other terrible events, but this one became television fodder and went viral. (Viral for the 1960s at any rate). The western world collectively cacked its pants and thought we’d all blow ourselves up by tea-time.

This was one of those events (before my time, obviously!!!) that captured the world’s attention and scared us all witless. It could have gone so very badly, but we’re still here because common sense ruled the day. And I guess, with hindsight, nobody wanted to press that red button.

The most recent ‘Mayan prophecy’, which, by the way, has seriously insulted the Mayans who were horridly misinterpreted, brought out the jokers on twitter and facebook. “Another end of the world? What am I going to wear?” and “The world can’t end in 2012, Marty McFly has been to 2015 and rode on a hoverboard” along with the usual, “The world didn’t end? Now I have to buy everyone Christmas presents after all”.

Who can forget Harold Camping’s Rapture from May (and then revised to October) 2011? Was it only a year ago? How time flies!

Even though Harold said ‘The bible guarantees it’, the rapture didn’t come – twice – which led to #rapturefail hilarity on social media. As each time zone around the world ticked over to 6pm, when the rapture was due to start, the sky was meant to go dark. Owing to daylight savings in the southern hemisphere, not even that happened.

People reported they were ‘still here’ or lamented they’d been left behind. The first to be left behind was New Zealand. Poor lambs.

After the jokes came the do-gooders, who castigated the jokers for making fun of an old man’s beliefs. A confused old man wondering why he and the rest of the planet were still here.

Want a trip down annihilation memory lane? Here’s a whole page of predicted events that, um... well, didn’t happen.

Apart from the Year 2000 problem. That was real.

On the other hand, end of the world prophecies work brilliantly in fiction. It’s fabulous foreshadowing: the metaphorical ticking clock as everyone races towards the end of the book. Will they make it or won’t they? It’s classic storytelling to have the characters hurtling towards a momentous event that will change their world forever.

Prophecies work because they show us where the story is heading . It gives us a direction. Fantasy novels are famous for their prophecies of a chosen one who will unite the tribes. The legends of King Arthur are interwoven with prophecy – the one who can take the sword from the stone will unite the tribes of Britain and become their king. The Belgariad series was all about prophecy. Even the Christmas story is steeped in prophecy.

But these are prophecies about uniting people and bringing people together, leading them towards a better world. Not wiping everyone out. Which again, works brilliantly in fiction (I had a go at this myself when I wrote one of those magnificent space operas, currently hibernating in the bottom drawer.)

Raptures, apocalypses and predictions are a fascinating study into human behaviour and how a person’s deep-seated beliefs shape their actions. It can make the foundation of great fiction. Which is where all these predictions belong. The real world is crazy enough without people predicting it’s all going to end.

On that note, I hope everyone has a safe and happy New Year and a wonderful 2013.

I'm the author of ONDINE series. Book one is THE SUMMER OF SHAMBLES and book two is THE AUTUMN PALACE.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

To Resolve, Or Not To Resolve

As we put Christmas to bed, and look forward to the coming of the New Year... It's time to think about our resolutions.

Tonight, over a glass of wine in Amsterdam, this discussion came up... resolutions or not. My two guests said that they did not believe in them. They asked me what it was about making rules for resolutions you don't intend on keeping, and yet if you wanted to do them, then why wait until the New Year? Just do it now.

For me, New Years is a time to reflect on the year prior and make changes in my life. Despite who we are, we can always have room for improvement. I like to evaluate what worked last year, and what didn't. I enjoy setting goals and planning for the future. My resolutions are not rules made to be broken, but goals to be achieved. It's quite the accomplishment to make it through a year and say, "I did it!"

For the second part of the question... Why wait? Why not now? The answer, "Chocolate." I have have to get rid of it before I go for the no sugar thing. Yes, no sugar. Exercise every day, cardio and yoga. Study an hour each day. Write two hours each day. Paint two paintings for auctions.

So, what are your resolutions going to be? Write them out here, and then come back in a year and tell us if you made it.

Enjoy the Journey!
~XOX Karlene

Karlene Petitt is an author and a pilot. Her debut thriller novel, Flight For Control is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

From All of Us to All of You


"We wish you a merry Christmas (or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa, or other), we wish you a merry Christmas, we wish you a merry Christmas, and a happy new year."

"Good tidings we bring, to you and your king (or president, emperor, monarch, or other), good tidings for Christmas (or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa, or other) and a happy new year!"

No matter what you celebrate or how, we hope you have a wonderful holiday filled with loved ones and great books.

~From the Indie Elite authors.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Holiday Fun and Wishes~Author Style

‘Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the house
Not a creature was stirring
Except for the writer desperately trying to meet her deadline.

Her chapters were typed
On the screen with care,
In hopes that her editor
Wouldn’t kill her if she was a day or two late.

The characters were talking
All noisily in her head,
While visions of destruction and torture
Danced in the writer’s mind as she hammered out the best climax scene ever.

And her with her coffee nearby
And chocolate in her cap,
She settled in for a night
Of writing that would likely go until daylight, rivaling any college finals all-nighter.

When out in the living room
Rose such a clatter,
She sprang from her chair
Knocking over her laptop, spilling said coffee and stepping on the cat.

Away from her desk
She flew like a flash,
Threw open the door,
And found two kids out of bed, fighting over the presents she forgot to wrap.

The lights on the tree
That still wasn’t trimmed
Gave a pretty glow
On the children’s dirty faces because she also forgot to give them baths before bed.

When, what to her caffeine-induced
Brain did appear
But a little old woman
Shaking her head in disapproval at the messy house, dishes in the sink and piles of laundry scattered about.

With the bun on her head
And the wand in her hand,
The writer knew in a moment
It must be her fairy-godmother come to save the day.

More rapid than children
On cookie, candy and pie sugar highs,
She whistled and shouted,
And called out, “You are a basket case and need my help!”

“Now! Laundry, now! Dishes, now!
“Bathrooms and kitchen
“On! Wrapping, on! Decorating, on!
“And bathing those poor kids and reading them a proper story and putting them to bed.

“To the shower for yourself!
“To the bed at a decent time!
“Now dash away! Dash away!
“Dash away from that computer, it’s Christmas Eve, after all, you can take a break every once in a while, you know!”

She waved her wand
Casting a spell
And the writer watched
As her house magically came together just like she envisioned Christmas should be but deadlines and release dates and kids’ concerts and ballgames never gave her the time to get it all done.

A wink of her eye
And another flick of her wand,
Soon gave the writer to know
That her deadline could wait, she’d figure it out later, this is the time to spend with her family and count her blessings.

The fairy-godmother bowed
Her head to the writer
“Enjoy this day, my dear,
“For tomorrow you have to get your butt back in that chair and finish this book because your editor and cover designer and readers and fans are all waiting to see what brilliant story you give them next."

And the writer gave
Her fairy-godmother a big hug,
They said in each other’s ears,
“You are wonderful and beautiful and so much appreciated. Merry Christmas to you and to everyone who’s reading this.”

Wishing you all safe and happy holidays! (And if you see that fairy-godmother, please send her my way!)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Resolving To Break The Pattern

Over the past few years, I’ve noticed a writerly pattern forming.

It starts in the fall, when after a summer of binge writing at my family cabin, I’ve got various projects in various states of completion. I declare October “finish them!” month, whereby I try to ignore the voices that whisper in my head of new ideas. Sometimes I succeed.

Then comes November, where I sell my writing soul to NaNoWriMo, promising myself I will complete 50,000 words, that I will write every day, that I will allow myself to write crap if it means getting those pages done. True to pattern, I start out strong, and burn out just over the halfway mark.

But it’s the Christmas season and so this post isn’t to beat myself up over never meeting the NaNo goal. The object is to write. I did that, all of November.

Except, here’s where the pattern really gets noticeable.

December 1 – Lament over not completing NaNo goal and eat ice cream. (Well, I always eat ice cream, but on December 1, I eat more ice cream.)

December 2 – Reread NaNo project and determine it worthy of completion. Celebrate with a glass of wine.

December 3 – 5 – Give myself a break. Because hey, I wrote all of November. Catch up on TV shows I missed in November. (My guilty pleasure this year? Sons of Anarchy…hello Jax Teller!)

December 6 – 10 – Write! Attempt to regain NaNo momentum, but it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas and there are so many shiny things…



December 11 – 15 – Begin planning writing schedule that will happen over the holidays. Determine that somehow magically the NaNo project, plus two other projects must be finished. Print off these documents and stuff them in my bag so they’re “handy” if I have some time between shopping/attending Christmas functions to do a quick “edit” in preparation of the binge writing I hope to squeeze in between unwrapping gifts and cooking, or even Boxing Day shopping with my MIL.

December 16 – 17 – Read Stephen King’s memoir On Writing.

December 18 – Realize that for the month of December I have done NO actual writing and according to Stephen King, that pretty much makes me a failure. Because, you know, he writes TEN pages a day, even on his birthday.

December 19 – Resolve to break the pattern.

And that’s where we’re at, friends. The resolutions. The promises that I will write 10 pages every day in 2013. I’ll read 100 books. I’ll lose 50 pounds. I’ll submit at least one short story a month. Blah, blah, blah.

Yeah, like that’s going to happen.

While each of those resolutions is admirable (or stupid), they aren’t realistic. At least not all at once. Sure, Stephen King writes 10 pages a day…but that’s his job. And yeah, 100 books might be feasible if I allowed picture books to count. The 50 pounds? We’ll see.

The point is, my resolutions are always big.

HUGE.

So this year – *deep breath* – I am resolving to change the pattern. And instead of focusing on tangible numbers that loom over me like a black cloud of failure, I’m going to aim for daily targets. In other words, I’m going to set myself up for success. (Novel concept, right?)

In 2013, I resolve:

- to eat healthy and drink more water (and less Diet Coke)
- to write every day, except on my birthday, and maybe Christmas. Oh, and Easter.
- to read every day, even on my birthday. (Can you think of a better way to spend your birthday?)

But more importantly, I resolve to strive for a less stressful, more calming work/life balance.

Unless, of course, the world ends on Friday.

So, how about you? What are your resolutions this year – and do you keep them?

Wishing you and your families a wonderful Christmas and a productive 2013.

- Dawn

Dawn has a short story in the Spirited anthology published by Leap Books.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Team Procrastination


That’s right! You’ve procrastinated and have come to the realization you have less than a week to prepare for the end of the world.

Never fear. Even the procrastinator can put together last minute preparations on how to deal with this behemoth of an event.
Become part of Team Morbid and select your preferred way to die. This will depend upon the ELE (extinction level event – watch Deep Impact to get better reference of this term) that occurs. It could be the big rock finally DOESN’T miss Earth and takes a swan dive into the ocean. A jaunt to the beach would give you front row seats to the end as tsunamis ensue. 


Maybe you’d prefer to bite the big one by camping in the direct line of fire as Woody Harrelson did in 2012. He went down in disintegrating glory from the volcanic pyroclastic flow as Yellowstone put on the display of the millennia.

A pair of hormone crazed scientists might sneak into an off limits room and, in the midst of their hot and heavy petting, panting and horizontal limbo dancing, hit the wrong series of buttons that release a virulent strain in the air turning anemic and iron-deficient folks into blood-thirsty cannibals. What’s that you say? You haven’t taken your iron pills in a while because they interfered with your social drinking schedule. Welcome to Team Zombie! You don’t have to prepare for this. Just don’t take the whole “live people running away from you in screaming terror” personally.

But if those two teams aren’t you cup of tea, Team Survive requires some prep work. If you haven’t joined up with a militia commune in Montana, Minnesota or Texas, then gathering a cache of weapons is a must. Don’t forget to stock ammunition by dates so you don’t use old ammo that could backfire on you. Memorization of Zombieland is a MUST! 

(There’s Woody Harrelson again. Is that a coincidence or a pattern. Hmmm…)

Anyhow, remember that the end of the world may bring the end of all niceties. Most folks will shoot first, question later…if you’re still alive. Get that cardio in order so you stay faster than the slowest person in a group.  And for heaven’s sake, practice the art of NOT turning around to see if the zombies are still behind you. Run like the wind! Period. If the moans and groans of “Braaaaaaaiiiiiiinsssss” change to sounds of wet, lip smacking satisfaction, you may be in the clear. But I digress. The end has yet to come.

So Team Procrastination, which team shall you wait until the last minute to join? The end is near…not yet here. There’s still time to delay J

~Angela Brown, author of Neverlove, which is available on Amazon and you can find it on Goodreads

Friday, December 14, 2012

Have You Heard of the Hullabaloo?


Have you heard? It's not too late to join in the fun!!
It's day five, so you have seven days left to enter and win-books and swag and a $200.00 gift card!



Twelve days of Christmas giveaways by a fabulous group of authors brought together by the bestselling Denise Grover Swank.  Each day this week you can win a different prize from each participating author.

PLUS, you can enter to win a 200.00 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card!!

 
All you have to do is fill out the rafflecopter forms on each author's site to enter the books or gifts they're giving away. But you have to enter each day for each separate prize, so don't forget to go back each day!

Head over to my blog to get started, www.ellestraussbooks.com

Have Fun and Happy Hullabaloo!

~Elle Strauss writes fun, lower Young Adult (teen) and middle grade fiction. She is fond of sea salt dark chocolate and hiking in good weather. She also writes upper/mature YA (historical and science fiction) as LEE STRAUSS.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Finding Joy in the Journey

Happy December everyone! This time of year is more than holiday hustle and bustle for me. This is the time of year I typically take stock and make some decisions about my life - personally and professionally.

And this year, this means looking at my writing career. Walking the path of small presses or self-publishing takes courage. There are so many reasons to get frustrated and throw in the towel. There are also so many moments of joy and bliss! And I have experienced all of them at some point over the past 12 months. I've questioned my decisions, angsted over my path, and wavered in my confidence. I'm ridden a rollercoaster that has taken a toll on me in my friendships, creativity, my joy.

So, as I reflect on the year to come and make plans for the future, I've decided to refocus on finding the joy again. I am going to increase the things I LOVE and mitigate the things that cause my frustration.
For me, this means doing more of the following:

  • Teaching kids to write
  • Teaching adults to write
  • Working with emotional intensity in all of its forms
  • Writing
  • Writing
  • Writing
It also means a little less of this:
  • Rushing the process 
  • Angsting and comparing
  • Doubting and worrying
See, for me, it isn't so much a question of "am I on the right path" or "what should I do", it's more "let me be happy with my choices" and "let me remember the joy"

So...
2013 is going to be about finding - and maintaining - my joy in the journey. 

How about you? 

Friday, December 7, 2012

It’s a Doctor Who Christmas



While I may have been lateish to the Doctor Who party (only started watching a few years ago), I’ve certainly become a solid fan (caught up on all seasons and even read the comics) and Whovian enthusiast. From the miniature TARDIS and sonic screwdriver I have on display in my office to the complete DVD collection and endless quotes used in daily conversation – I’m a sucker for the Doctor.

And why the hell not? As a character study for writers, there’s none better than a centuries old time traveler who befriends underdogs, saves star whales, entire civilizations, has his hand in every historical event of significance, changes his face, quirks, personalities, never gives up on humanity, abhors violence, uses his wit as a weapon, and all the while struggles to rise above the dark, jaded parts of himself.

Yeah, I sorta love the guy. 

There are just so many layers. And each new companion he takes upon his epic journey across time and space provides infinite opportunities for danger, growth, conflict, and humour. Doctor Who companions are as much a part of the appeal as the Doctor himself. Here the average Joe gets a shot at rewriting history, or re-establishing it. Imagine you…yes, you….travelling back or forward in time to help take down evil in any guise – all with a slightly nutty professor watching your back and making you a better person. It could happen. You never know when the Doctor might drop by needing your help to save the world.

Heady stuff. Kinda addictive.

The show takes a mid-season hiatus during the winter and while fans feel a bit left out in the cold, there’s a beacon of light ahead. The annual Christmas special. To say I’m keen for this year’s offering is an understatement. First – it’s set in Victorian London and lately I’m all about Victorian influences for my steampunk series. Plus – the big bad – SNOWMEN.

I know, right? Haven’t we all wondered what those silent sentries of snow get up to when we aren’t looking? Guess we’ll find out this December 25th at 9pm EST.

Anyway, I encourage writers of genre fiction to climb aboard the blue police box and analyze the character development, plot structure – the sheer freaking fun of Doctor Who. You’ll drop in to see what the fuss is about and stay for love of the Whoniverse.

Happy holidays, keep writing, and remember, top hats and bow ties are cool.


Judith is the author of the Skinned series, paranormal with more bite than bark. 


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Holiday Online Author Signing Party


Three if the Indie Elite are taking part in, an online author signing party that I've been dying to tell you about. Have someone on your gift list who loves paranormal, angels, demons, Norse legends, Mayan legends, Phantom of the Opera, Black Swan, or after life stories? For a limited time, the first two weeks of December,  you'll be able to order signed books from these fabulous authors: Christine Fonseca, Ali Cross, Angela Brown, and myself.

As a holiday gift to you, I'm offering paperbacks of my entire channeler series for a very special price. You can buy them individually (as well as my historical fantasy, To Ride A Puca) from this site, or you can buy the entire channeler series at an even deeper discount by clicking below and you'll get a paperback of my novella, Born of Fire (which also includes Christine Fonseca's novella Dies Irae) for free with this package!


All 3 Paperbacks, Signed
The Secret of Spruce Knoll, Channeler's Choice, and Rise of a Rector


Payment is secure through PayPal.
Trilogy package + FREE novella:
Signed to:

(a shipping & handling fee of $5.99 will be added)

I'm also offering the signed paperback of my historical fantasy for lovers of Irish folklore and horses, To Ride A Puca for only $9.99 (plus $3.99 shipping & handling to anywhere in the U.S.).



To Ride A Puca
Signed to:

At a regular price of 12.99 for each paperback (and $9.99 for the novella), this is a deal you don't want to miss out on! And don't forget, my novella, Born of Fire (which also includes Christine Fonseca's novella Dies Irae) is free with this package!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The IE Welcomes New Member

We're excited to welcome author Angela Brown to the Indie Elite. Angela was born and raised in Little Rock, AR, and now calls Central Texas home. Reading and writing have been lifelong passions of hers.

As a YA fantasy/sci-fi reader and author, she favors the magical, mysterious, the darker side of life...even harbors a secret fright for things that go bump in the night.

Neverlove, her debut novel, is a special project spawned from a blog-challenge-turned-blog-opera, the Abby and Basil affair. It is the first in the Shadow Jumpers series. Here's a bit more about Neverlove:

For seventeen-year-old Abigail, one rash decision leads to an unexpected chance for redemption. At V'Salicus Academy, a unique institute where she trains to become an agent of heaven, she struggles with the pain of her past, the changes of the present and accepts a loveless future until her path – and heart – crosses with Basil’s.

Basil's off-chance slip of the tongue binds him to a life of servitude to the Devourer, the master of hell. His existence has no upside until a chance meeting with Abigail brings new perspective.

Keeping the truth of their present lives from each other brings disaster when secrets are brought to light and the life of Abigail’s mentor is put on the line.

Can Abigail and Basil save her mentor and salvage their love amid the chaos? Or will they lose it all, destined forever to NEVERLOVE?

You can find Neverlove at the following links:
 Amazon.comAmazon.frAmazon.deAmazon.co.ukAmazon paperback

Pitch Perfect

This week I had a moment of extreme bravery (or insanity) and pitched in public. Talk about walk out the house with your skirt tucked into your knickers!

But that’s exactly what I did when I joined YA LitChat’s “An Agent for the Holidays” pitch event.

Luckily for me, I’ve had a few nibbles, so it was definitely worth doing. (It’s running until December 12, by the way, so get on to it!). But wow, was it nerve wracking!

Later, as the pages of pitches mounted up and curiosity got the better of me, I started reading through all the pitches from dozens of writers. Some stories really appealed to me, others weren’t my kind of thing.

Reading the pitches gave me an insight into how an agent might feel when they open their emails. Some stories are going to give them a thrill of delight and they’ll want more, others will have them shaking their heads, trying to make sense of it.

I can tell you, after reading a few pages of pitches, I started skimming the ones that didn’t grab me right away. Isn’t that horrible of me to admit that? Yep. But, guess what? I’m human. After a while, there’s only so much I can take in. I bet this happens to agents as well. (Plus, I noticed someone else had a similar idea to mine, which is always going to happen because there’s no such thing as a new idea, just a different way of telling an old story.

Six sentences can’t possibly do your novel justice, but it is enough in some cases to give an agent the flavor of your book. Plus, even if you’re not looking for an agent, putting the essence of your novel into six sentences is a terrific way to keep the focus.

BUT - if you’ve never written a pitch, and you’ve never read what other writers do, where the heck do you even start?

Read through the pages on An Agent for the Holidays and take note of the pitches appeal to you. Break down what they've done. Have they explained everything? Most likely not. Instead, they've explained enough to give you the general idea.

Plus, what appeals to you (mysteries, suspense, revenge) will not appeal to everyone. There will be pitches there that make you wonder why an agent hasn't asked for more, while others are getting lots of attention. Ultimately this comes down to personal taste, and as we all know, publishing is so subjective.

Also, find agents who blog, and read their archives. They will often post examples of pitches that have piqued their interest.

Kristin Nelson at http://pubrants.blogspot.com.au/ is a prime example. Scroll down the side bar of her blog and you’ll see a whole swag of queries that worked for her.

The more examples you read of successful pitches, the more tuned in you will become. You’ll start to see a pattern developing. The inciting incident, for example (sometimes called the ‘plot catalyst’ for without that moment, the rest of the story cannot happen). The basic needs and goals of the main character. What’s stopping them or what's in their way?

So, now you know how to get started, what’s stopping you?

~Ebony McKenna author of the Ondine series. The Ondine books are a sparkling combination of romance and magic – perfect for teen girls. Written with genuine humour and unique eccentricity, the series is an obvious choice for fans of The Princess Bride and Ella Enchanted.

Friday, November 16, 2012

What I Can Do~Hurricane Sandy

My younger kids' elementary school recently raised over $600 selling baked goods and movie-night concessions to support Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. Not too shabby, eh? But it got me to thinking about what I, personally, could do in the way of fundraising. As a one-income family, we don't have much left over after all the bills are paid. And I'm not talking about not having enough to eat out as much as we want to or buying only one cute shirt instead of two or choosing the less expensive manicure. I'm talking about not having much left over for basic necessities such as food (yeah, food) and winter coats for the kids. We're pinching pennies like a lot of people and it hurts. Boy, does it hurt. But I'll tell you one thing: It doesn't hurt more than someone who's lost everything.

I'm a writer. It's what I do. And if I can't, or am not willing, to help someone by doing what I love more than anything in this world (friends and family excluded) then maybe I should reevaluate my priorities. I can sit here and feel sorry for myself that we're eating canned soup for the second night in a row, but at least we have a home of our own to cook it in. We have heat and electricity and gas and water. My children aren't shivering. They aren't hungry. They're not wondering where their next meal is going to come from or if they'll get to go to school tomorrow or if they'll ever have a place to call home again. As a parent I'm not looking at my kids' scared little faces and silently worrying what the hell am I gonna do now?

But this is what I can do: write and sell books. 

For every Kindle copy of TURNING POINT, THE SPIRIT KEEPER, and BLOOD TYPE that I sell during the month of November, I will donate $1 to the American Red Cross. For every print copy I sell of those same three books, I will donate $2. That might not sound like a lot, but it's about 50% of what I make in royalties from each copy sold. It's the least I can do, but I hope in some small way it helps.

~Melissa Luznicky Garrett


Monday, November 12, 2012

INDIE-giving Blogfest

American Thanksgiving is coming soon. Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving in October so I've been thankful for a whole month already! :)

Actually, being thankful is a good posture to assume year round. I'm thankful for my health and all the opportunities afforded me in this life. I'm thankful for my family and that I don't have any broken relationships. I'm thankful that I can write and am always learning so much about the craft and business. This past year has been full of blessing, and 2013 promises to be even better.

I'm thankful to be an INDIE Author, with all the ups and downs that come with it.


That's why, in this spirit of thankfulness and giving,
the Indelibles bring you INDIE-giving!


This blogfest will run from November 18-25 (the Sunday-to-Sunday surrounding Thanksgiving).

During this week, each participating blogger will reflect on his or her blessings and share something with visitors.  Some may choose to give away a book.  Some may choose to share the best piece of advice they wished they'd known before they published.  The choice of what to share will be as unique as the individual blogger.  The only requirement is that you open your heart in the spirit of thankfulness and giving.

Although this is something we could do individually, banding together to share our blessings seemed like the right thing to do.  If you'd like to join us, add your name to the linky list and get your post ready for November 18th.  Whether you're an Indie author or just love reading Indie books, we hope you'll join us.  We can't wait to see what blessings have been bestowed upon you this year!

~Elle Strauss


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Welcome New Member Halli Lilburn

The Indie Elite welcomes it's newest member, author Halli Lilburn. Born in Edmonton, AB, Halli Dee Lilburn was a writer from the beginning, but didn’t take notice until her journals overflowed her shelves. She now resides in southern Alberta with her husband, three children, two cats and a German shepherd. She works at the local library.

She has works published in Canada’s History, Canadian Stories, Poetry Quarterly, Seeding the Snow, Grey Sparrow Journal and SPIRITED ghost stories anthology by Leap Books. Her novel SHIFTERS is published through Imajin Books.

She is a gardener, artist, photographer, seamstress, poet, genealogist, and singer. She can pick up spiders, handle the sight of blood, subdue aggressive dogs, and make a mean grilled cheese. She can also keep her sanity. Most of the time. You can find Halli at the following links:

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Surviving NaNo...one word at a time


Okay, let me start by saying that Judith and I did NOT plan out our posts. But, as it is November...and we are both doing NaNoWriMo, I guess it is no surprise that we both decided to post on the same topic.

This post, however, is a 5-point survival guide:
  • Stock the fridge with leftovers so the kids and spouse can survive without you! Then make certain everyone knows you are writing a novel...yes, and entire NOVEL...in November.
  • Outline if you want; but only, No one cares if this draft is a train wreck of epic proportions. That's for December and beyond. You need to only care about wordage!
  • ABSOLUTELY NO EDITING. Just saying. Oh! And certainly NO DELETING. Seriously!!!
  • Find writerly buds. This is so much more fun with friends!
  • Set daily goals. If you miss then, adjust. And keep adjusting to stay on track
There you are, my tricks for finishing. The only thing left is to sign up. And if you do, I'm ChristineF. Buddy me.

PS - I am actually NOT starting NaNo until this weekend. Right now I am knee deep in edits. 



Monday, November 5, 2012

I'm a NANO addict and YOU should be too!


“Thirty days and nights of literary abandon!”

I first heard about NANO via one of my very cool critique partners, Tami Klockau, who had been an active participant for several years. When she gave me the low down, I thought she was out of her mind.

Writers devote themselves to a fresh project and during NANA they strive to:

-          Complete the first draft of a NOVEL in ONE month
-          To do so, their expected daily word count sits around 1600 words
-          Miss a day, or two, and you have to power out the extra pages to catch up and get back on track

Like I said, crazy, right? But the next year I gave NANO a shot and while I didn’t cross the 50k finish line, I had substantially increased my word count that month. By about 30k.

Nothing to sneeze at. Plus, the supportive (possibly distracting) forums,  the pep talks from bestselling authors, and the community spirit is uplifting. Writing is usually a solitary art – but during NANO writers seek each other out. Host write-ins, come together with their notebooks, laptops, coffee, and / or stronger beverages to WRITE.

It’s pretty nifty.

And so every year since I have either participated on the sly (without actually registering) or have gone full out and signed up to share my experience with other keen NANO souls.

Have I ever made the 50k? Nope. Not once. But each November my word counts soar – on new or current projects.  That’s gold in my books. If you’re one of the doubting sorts, how about the success story of like that of young adult fiction author, Denise Jaden: http://denisejaden.com/ - a fellow Canadian author I was lucky enough to meet during our debut publishing year with the Class of 2k10: http://classof2k10.com/

Denise is a loyal NANO participant (aka, aWrimo) and several of her published novels were NANO efforts. She crosses the finish line – as do many other writers – published or otherwise.

Whether you use NANO as a motivational tool to increase your general word count, or you’re focused on the first draft end game – I encourage writers to give NANO a shot.
WARNING: You may become just a smidge addicted.

I’m registered as JudithG – if you’re a Wrimo – let’s cheer each other on!

ASIDE: I have to give Tami a shameless plug. If you’re into spinning yarns, and not the literary sort – I’m talking crochet or knitting – Tami has the most AMAZING online shop: Candy Skein: http://www.candyskein.com/


HAPPY WRITING!


Judith Graves is the author of the Skinned series, paranormal fiction with a bite.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Free Book From an Indie Elite Member

Today is the final day in Heather McCorkle's Rise of a Rector tour and she is celebrating it's release with a great giveaway to thank all of you. Today and tomorrow her historical fantasy, To Ride A Puca, will be free on Amazon for Kindle.

But there's more!

If To Ride A Puca is downloaded by at least 1,000 people over the two days, then Heather is going to giveaway $10 in eBooks (winner's choice)! Download your copy, tell all your friends to download their's, then enter this contest below to win even more books!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Filling The Well


While I’m over here today, my author-friend Brenda Pandos is at my blog as part of her tour for the release of her first audiobook. Brenda and I had the immense pleasure of getting together last week for some writerly hooligans. She came to Florida all the way from California and, along with my publisher, we made the drive to Islamorada in the Florida Keys.

Originally, this was supposed to be a writers’ retreat where we would spend lots of quiet-time writing and break-time talking about writing. Brenda did write a little, but since I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year, I’m in the planning stages and was only able to write one page of notes. So, uh, no, we weren’t overly productive. At least…not on the surface.

What we did accomplish, however, was filling our creative wells. Every creative-type needs to do this, and it’s especially important after the completion of a big project (like releasing a novel), when our wells are likely depleted. Filling the well involves exploration of new things, reading, watching TV, movies and live performances, listening to music, and just plain living life.

These experiences inspire new ideas, create new connections in our brains, provide fresh perspectives and give us fodder to make our stories and characters come alive with details we wouldn’t be able to capture otherwise. So when writers look like they’re being lazy couch-potatoes or gallivanting about when they should be holed-up writing, we really are working. Yes, that’s what I tell The Man, The Boys, The Publisher and the IRS. Because it’s true.

Brenda and I saw an octopus in the water off the beach, tried new foods and drinks, talked writing and plotting and characters and books, laughed a lot, watched the sun set on the water, visited a marine park and swam with dolphins. We had a blast! And I’ve returned back to the writing cave with a fresh mind and soul, ready to take on a new project. My well is overflowing, and I can’t wait to get started.

Breaks are important for everyone, regardless of what work you do. We all need them just to give one part of our brains a rest. For writers and other creatives, they also refill our wells that we draw on while creating. Low and empty wells show in our work. To be at our best, we have to play on a regular basis. Once again, I have to say, “It’s great to be a writer.”

 ~Kristie Cook, author of the Soul Saver series.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Trailer For The Skinned Series

Judith Graves is giving away a copy of UNDER MY SKIN, the first book in her snarky monster hunter SKINNED series. If you love werewolves and vampires then this is an absolute must read that you don't want to miss. It's unique and engaging, you'll love it.

The creatures in the SKINNED cast are many and varied: vamps, werewolves, dark sprites, witches….and more – all trying to survive the haunting town of Redgrave. If you like your paranormal reads fast paced, filled with dark humour, and a few scares – you’ll want to enter this contest. Click here to do so.

Before you go though, you've got to check out this fantastic trailer for Judith's books. If the description of the novel doesn't quite convince you to read it, this trailer will! Click here to check it out. 


Friday, October 12, 2012

Turning One Book Into Two

Turning One Book into Two - Why I posted my full novel as two novellas.

 This week marks the soft launch of my two novellas, JARS OF CLAY (volume 1) and BROKEN VESSELS (volume 2).

At first I was going to offer it as one full-length novel, but after much thought, I decided to break it up into two. Here's why:

1.) After publishing a number of books, I've come to the conclusion that readers prefer series to stand-alone books, no matter the length.

2.) The subject matter in this novel may not appeal to all readers, especially the second half. I wanted to have an opportunity (in the book description) to give everyone a heads up--strong religious themes, scenes of sensuality and violence. I wanted to do this for their sake (no surprises since it's very different from my Clockwise brand,) and for my sake (I'd like to avoid bad reviews...) :)

3.) I wanted to offer the first half for free--this gives the reader a chance to sample my writing before committing to paying money for the second half of the book. It's currently free at most e-retailer sites, except Amazon where it is .99 (If you'd like to help me notify Amazon of a lower price, that would be awesome. Click on report a lower price in the product details section.)

Daughter of a wealthy and respected Roman citizen, Helena Vibius is only sixteen when she falls for Lucius, a servant in her father's house. 

Ambitious, Lucius wants to seek his fortune in Rome, and asks Helena to tutor him. She agrees--against her better judgment--and through a series of secret lessons, the two fall in love, knowing if they're caught, Lucius will pay the penalty with his life.

And then there's the unfortunate matter of Helena's pending arranged marriage to an unpleasant man from Carthage.

As her wedding day approaches, will Helena follow Lucius to Rome (risking both their lives), or keep her duty to her father?

*based on a true story*

With no way to prevent Helena from marrying another, Lucius flees to Rome to seek his fortune and mend his broken heart.

In a loveless marriage with a child to care for, Helena finds comfort in the most unlikely place--with her brother amongst the Christians. The religious group is mostly ignored by the Pagan populace, until the Emperor returns to the city and celebrations are planned. There's a shortages of criminals for the games and Christians are now sought out for arrest.

Fate brings Lucius back to Carthage, where his only wish is that he will get a glimpse of the girl he still loves. But when he finally sees Helena, it's under the worse possible circumstance...



 I understood that there were draw back to doing this, too.

1) Most reviewers won't review novellas. Same is true for sites that report free books.
2) There is a danger some might see this as a marketing gimmick (instead of a marketing strategy).
3) Some readers who would've read to the end of a full novel, might stop half way and not read volume 2

In the end the pros out-weighed the cons. I decided the experiment was worth a try and if it fails, I can always repackage it as one full novel. I'll let you know how it goes!

Click here if you want to know why I'm writing under Lee Strauss


~Lee Strauss (Elle Strauss)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Olde City, New Blood


Our very own indie elite member, Cyndi Tefft, will be one of the featured authors at the Olde City, New Blood conference next February. The urban fantasy/paranormal romance conference will be held in St. Augustine, Florida on February 8 - 10, 2013. Aside from enjoying beautiful weather and sandy beaches, bloggers and readers will have time to hang out with the fifty authors attending including Jennifer Armentrout, Cynthia Eden, Laura Kaye, Elisabeth Naughton, Caridad Pineiro, and many more.

Registration is only $40 and covers all panels, readings, and meet & greets on Saturday and Sunday. A buffet lunch on Saturday afternoon is also included with registration.


So mark your calendars and get registered for this event, where paranormal book lovers come together to laugh, read, and have a great time!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

IE Reviews: Artemis Rising

It's time for another review of a non-Indie Elite member Indie that has gained our interest. Today I bring you Artemis Rising by Cheri Lasota. If you love myths and romance then this is a must read novel for you. It is set in a beautiful setting deep in the past but you will feel as though you're there, experiencing the time and culture alongside the characters. Here is my full review:

*****
This is a beautifully written novel that will plunge you into the depths of myth. The author has a talent for putting the reader into the world and putting the character's into their hearts. Steeped richly in the culture of the Azores people, this novel has just the right balance of action, romance, and mysticism.

If you enjoy writing so beautiful it is almost lyrical, then this novel is for you. Reading it, you would never know it was indie, it's that good.

Available on Amazon and B&N (among others).

Friday, October 5, 2012

Finding Your Happy Place

"Happiness comes when your work and words are of benefit to yourself and others." ~Buddha
Life has been rough lately. I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say it’s been crappy.

But no matter how stressful or chaotic life gets, or how many wrong paths I wander down, or how many road blocks or dead-ends I encounter, I know the way back to my happy place.

My happy place is writing. Creating stories where my characters can be the people I am not, or parts of who I am. Where I get to paint a picture of how I wish the world could be, or erase the ugliness I wish I'd never seen.

I have figured out my role in my own story called life. I am a storyteller. And whether or not a hero ever rides in on his white horse, or how drastically my character arc changes, or how many plot holes I stumble into, I know the secret of every book is to keep turning the page. Keep going. Keep believing.

Happy is a feeling. And if I’m writing, then I’m in the right (write) place.

*Side thought: Coincidence that right and write sound exactly the same? I think not.*

My happiness is writing, creating, and storytelling.
As long as I’m doing that, I am living my happily ever after.

What about you? Have you found your happy place? Or are you still searching?


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Planting the Seeds For Growth in Writing


I’m dropping a couple seeds in the path to publication for all authors to pick up and plant in pursuit of growing their skills and achieving their writing dreams.

Seed one:

“Don't look back until you've written an entire draft, just begin each day from the last sentence you wrote the preceeding day. This prevents those cringing feelings, and means that you have a substantial body of work before you get down to the real work which is all in... The edit.” ~Will Self

I hadn’t read this statement prior to writing my novels. But truth-be-told—this is the only reason I was able to finish Flight For Control, and the sequel: Flight For Safety (first draft)

Seed two:

 “Don’t hang around with people who are negative and who are not supportive of your writing. Make friends with writers so that you have a community. Hopefully, your community of writer friends will be good and they’ll give you good feedback and good criticism on your writing but really the best way to be a writer is to be a writer.” ~Augusten Burroughs

Read Linda Gray’s post on: Becoming a Better Writer. (This is where I picked up the tips, and there are more.) Linda is one of those positive people who, like Heather, are there to help. And help she does.

Write Of Passage, A Writers’ Resource Blog— A place every writer should visit. Linda’s posts are informative about the industry, provide tips on writing and take you to places you don’t have time to find on your own. Write of Passage is the best resource. Her research pays off for all her readers.

Check out the Write of Passage and enjoy the journey!

XO Karlene

Monday, October 1, 2012

Live Signing Event at Surrey

If you've never been to the Surrey International Writer's Conference, you're missing out. Not only is it in one of the most beautiful places in the world (Surrey, BC), it is a fantastic conference renowned the world over for its excellent cariculum. This year, I have the distinct pleasure of signing at the Surrey Book Fair on Saturday October 20th during the conference. I'm crazy excited, and not just because I have a wonderful excuse to go to Canada.

I'll be signing alongside two of my good friends, Cheri Lasota (review to come) and Stacey Wallace Benefiel~both of whom you've seen me review right here on the Indie Elite. If you live anywhere near Surrey I hope you'll mark your calendar and come see us at the Surrey Book Fair this month. We'll be the one's with a giant bowl of Halloween candy on our table. And if no one drops by to buy our signed books, we'll just have to eat it all by ourselves. :)

~Heather

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Crossing The Finish Line

I’m about 10,000 words shy of completing the first novel in a series that’s been a work in progress for about two years. 10,000 words. That’s it. On a good writing day, I can push out 2,500 words. I’m not great at math, but even I can figure this out – four good days and this book could be finished. Done.Finito.

But the truth is, I’ve been sitting at “10,000 words from completion” for about two weeks.

It’s not that I’m blocked. In the past few weeks, I’ve revisited an old project, started a new one (gulp), outlined the second book in this series AND another series, finished the first draft of a screenplay, and binge watched several TV series under the guise of inspiration. I’ve been productive.

And it’s not like I don’t have incentive to finish this book. My agent, my publisher, my critique partners, and my friends are all waiting for those last 10,000 words. Frankly, there’s a lot riding on it.

The feedback on the first half of the book has been positive – overwhelmingly positive. I have no good reason for writerly doubt to rear its nasty head.

But like a Cyclops there it is, staring me down with a smug one-eyed glare, and despite all of my monster-slayer training, this demon is a ridiculously feisty little creature.

It’s almost as though I’m afraid to type “The End” because of course, that’s when stuff gets real. The gig’s up. I’m no longer writing “my best work” – it’s written, and yeah, I know not going to measure up. How could it? In my mind, this draft is brilliant. Award-winning worthy. The great North American novel…

Ah, the stuff we tell ourselves to push through all of that…other stuff.

When I write, I slip into Genius Mode, this magical, mystical place where every word I write is perfect. The characters are three-dimensional, life like, sympathetic and a mesmerizing balance of good and flawed. I’ve chosen the most powerful verbs, ramped up the conflict, ended each chapter with a page-turning cliffhanger. There are no plot holes – every loose end is tied up with a neat little bow. The extra words are omitted. It really is a brilliant piece of work.

Genius Mode is a wonderful place to be, right?

But the gig’s almost up, and true to form, Idiot Mode has kicked in early. Instead of powering through those last 10,000 words, I’m hanging on to the “genius” –nervous about the flaws in the story, the character quirks that need fixing, the clich├ęs that need to be axed. I’ve hit Idiot Mode too early – and that, my friends, is one nasty beast to slay.

So, I’ve taken the last two days to gather my arsenal. I’ve joined the gym because hey, if I’m going to beat myself up over writing, I definitely need to get my physical health in order. I finished Season 3 of Breaking Bad (talk about genius), and made my husband hide Season 4 as a REWARD for finishing those last 10,000 words. I’ve cleared my Mac of anything not related to this book and put it on a USB drive that is locked away in my desk drawer – and only my husband has the key. I’ve stocked up on Diet Coke and gummy bears, updated my playlist, and – gulp – deprogrammed half of the shows scheduled to tape on my PVR.

Drastic, right? Perhaps – but I know me, and THIS is the only way I’m going to cross the finish line on this book.

So – am I alone in my psychosis? Be honest, it’s okay. If not, what drastic measures have you had to employ to finish a project? And what tools of the trade am I missing in my monster-slaying arsenal?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Life After Release


The time right before a book’s release for an indie author is what some may call hectic. Others, particularly those of us going through it, may say it’s more like “head-spinning-eye-bugging-hair-pulling-never-going-to-get-this-done-in-time-who-needs-sleep” insanity.

There are the usual promotions of the upcoming release, getting ready to launch a blog tour, tweeting and Facebooking about how we are so excited that the book is about to come out, while behind the scenes, we’re scrambling in the final weeks and days with cover fixes, edits, blurb tweaks, last-second proof fixes, formatting, uploading files, fixing files because of a technical glitch, etc. It’s a mad dash for the finish line!

I don’t know about others, but I dream of lazy days after crossing that finish line. Sitting around reading and catching up on TV shows and movies, chatting online and in real-life with people you haven’t talked to in months. Sure, there are still blog posts to write and interview questions to answer, but the demands are nothing compared to the marathon-length sprint before release day. Easy-peasy.

When I released Power exactly a month ago, that finish line was even dreamier because within two weeks of the release, I also sent two kids off to college and closed a big deal with my other business that resulted in adding new team members who needed to be trained. My summer had disappeared in the chaos and I couldn’t wait for the 6 weeks of “after-life” with a workload that would be so light, I’d practically feel like I was on vacation.

Yeah, right. Four of those weeks have already passed, and although I haven’t been working nearly as hard as before, I’m already feeling overwhelmed. There’s always something to do in an indie author’s life. The print version of Power is still being tweaked and proofed and hopefully will be ready soon. The audiobook of Promise is being reviewed and getting ready to go on sale. New swag with the new offerings needs to be made. And then there’s the blog tour with guest posts and interviews.

We won’t even mention the messy state of my office or the rest of the house, the doctors and dentist appointments that need to be made or the remodeling project. This “after-life” is supposed to be made for dealing with these things, as well as for refilling the creative well. So far, I’ve accomplished less than half of what I wanted to, and already the itch to start writing again is growing. Which is good, because I need to start on the next book soon.

Such is the life of an indie author. It’s a never-ending ride. But would any of us trade it for another? I don’t think so.

~Kristie Cook
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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Blood Type Has Released!

Since getting attacked by a vampire, I didn’t believe in beginnings. Only endings. Every person born to this world comes with an expiration date, but I had never considered mine. At least not until I met John.

Now the end was all I ever thought about. I woke up every morning wondering if that day would be my last. Venom pulsed in my veins and seeped into my bones, infecting all my vital organs and changing me from the inside out. Slowly killing me.

But I’d welcome death in the end, if only because the alternative was even more frightening.

Popular girl Blake Ehlert has it all: a prime spot on the cheerleading squad, a jock boyfriend who’s strong and sensitive, and the winning vote for Homecoming Queen two years in a row. But when she strikes up a conversation with loner John Kelly, her entire world starts to crumble.

John Kelly is a vampire—what’s known to his kind as a Compeller. It’s his job to recruit human Donors with a particular blood type.

And Blake is his next target.

Melissa Luznicky Garrett is an author of adult and young adult novels. She lives in upstate New York with her husband, three children, and numerous animals. Melissa is currently hard at work on her next project. Visit Melissa’s blog or connect with her on Facebook.

Blood Type is available in print through Create Space, or in print and digital through Amazon.

Stop by Melissa’s blog starting September 22nd and enter to win a signed print copy of Blood Type. All are welcome to participate. The winner will be chosen and announced October 1st. Also, claim your free Kindle copy of Melissa's most previous YA Paranormal, The Spirit Keeper, on Amazon September 22nd through September 26th. *As always, please make sure it's marked as free before you download.*

Thursday, September 20, 2012

New Fan Site For Aiden's Angels

If you haven't read the Between series by Cyndi Tefft, you are missing out on the hunky Scottish reaper, Aiden MacRae. Aiden has spent the last three hundred years transporting souls to heaven while he waits for the one whose love will redeem him. When he meets Lindsey, he knows the time has come, but heaven is calling her away. Will their love be strong enough to transcend all boundaries?

Fans of the series call themselves Aiden's Angels and thanks to the efforts of Vicki Trask, they now have their own fan site complete with reader-created trailers, fan fiction, and a link to Aiden's Angels merchandise! How cool is that? Aiden also has his own Twitter account and Facebook page. He's one busy reaper!



Hell Transporter, the sequel to Between, came out earlier this year. Cyndi Tefft is currently working on the third book in the series with plans to publish in the spring.

Congrats to Cyndi and Aiden's Angels on the new site!

***
Between and Hell Transporter are available from all major online retailers (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Sony, and iTunes). Personalized paperback copies are available from Cyndi's website.

Cyndi is a social media addict, so you can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, tumblr, Pinterest, andGoodreads. Whew!