Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Celebrating a New Release

A little over a week ago, my two oldest sons went off to college. Although we’d done this—sent our baby out into the world—once before, it never gets easier. The excitement, the fear and the wonder never go away, whether it’s your first child or your last. Part of you is ready to let go so they can truly become their own people, and part of you wants to keep them close, afraid of what the world will do to them. But, alas, we can’t hold onto them forever.

Last Thursday I sent another baby off into the world—Power, the fourth book in the Soul Savers Series. And like letting go of my human children, letting go of my book-babies never gets easier. I’m always afraid it’s not ready yet, the world isn’t going to like it, people won’t be kind. But as I have to do with my children, at some point, I have to let my books fly the nest.

And regardless of the nerves, it’s a time to celebrate. Because the thrill and the sense of accomplishment of completing yet another book never goes away, either. So I just have to say, “Yay! With a lot of help from others, I did it. Again.” Thank you to everyone, including the Indie Elite, for your unending support!

I invite you to celebrate with me and the Soul Savers fans. The Power release tour is just getting underway, with many stops planned throughout September and into October, including guest posts, interviews, reviews and giveaways. Come join the fun.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, yes, among the tears, there was a little happy dance and celebration for the boys leaving home. 2 down, 1 to go! Woohoo! Um, I mean, boohoo.


Kristie Cook is the author of the popular Soul Saver series. To learn more about Kristie and her books, click here. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Creating Your Own Book Trailer

Book trailers are a creative way for authors to get the word out about their upcoming releases. But if don’t have hundreds of dollars to spend on a professional book trailer service, don’t worry! In just a few hours, and for a fraction of the cost, you can create a book trailer yourself. 


Two video editing programs that are available for download are Windows Live Movie Maker and VideoPad Video Editor. They’re both free and (most importantly) relatively easy to use. Personally, I like Windows Live Movie Maker the best because it’s more straightforward and requires less of a learning curve. However, the program tends to freeze up if you give it too many commands at once, so take your time and save your work regularly. I don’t use VideoPad Video Editor as often as I do Windows Live Movie Maker because I’m not thrilled with how the subtitles just “pop” up on the screen. As far as I can tell, at least with the free version, you cannot apply special effects to your subtitles (such as fade) like you can in Movie Maker. I would suggest downloading both programs and playing around with each to see which one you prefer. Sometimes you have to use one over the other in the instance one of your files is incompatible with a particular program, as was the case when I created the trailer for BLOOD TYPE


Every author has a different method of writing, and it’s no different when creating book trailers. I rarely create trailers with an actual concept in mind. Rather, I first choose the background music and go from there. It’s been my experience that I just know the perfect song when I hear it, and I can build on a particular feeling. Two sites I use frequently for inexpensive music tracks are Incompetech Royaly-Free Music and Jewel Beat. Lately I’ve been using only Jewel Beat. Overall, the site presents itself more professionally and it’s my opinion that the selection of music is better. 


For images, I use iStockPhoto exclusively. You can narrow what you’re looking for not only by performing a keyword search, but by price, size, and type of file (photo, illustration, video, audio, and editorial). Another great feature of iStockPhoto is the ability to buy photo credits, which are good for up to a year after purchase. The more credits you buy, the less money you spend. So if you have several projects that you know you’ll be working on within the coming month, you’ll actually save money by buying in bulk.

When you’ve decided on your video editing program and you’ve purchased your background music and images, there are a few remaining points to keep in mind:

1. Keep it short. The last thing you want is for prospective readers to stop watching before they reach the end of your video. Book trailers that are too lengthy run the risk of losing the audience. Sixty- to ninety-second book trailers are ideal. 

2. Keep it simple. People who are overwhelmed tend to tune out, and nothing overwhelms me more than too much sensory input. Just because you can choose ten different clip transitions and effects doesn’t mean you should. Stick with the very basics. Remember that you’re creating a book trailer and not a film featurette. 

3. Keep it inexpensive. Don’t forget that you have to pay to use background music and images. And because all of that can quickly add up, that’s another reason to keep it simple. The total cost of the BLOOD TYPE trailer was approximately $43.


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. You can visit Melissa’s blog, connect with her on Facebook, or view additional book trailers and home videos on YouTube that she’s created using Windows Live Movie Maker and VideoPad Video Editor. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Two IE Members Sign with Lucas Talent

Two of the Indie Elite's own have HUGE news. Dawn Dalton and Judith Graves have multiple projects on the go, from solo to team efforts as with their Most-Wanted Monsters young adult fiction series. But the fun doesn’t end with print media. Dalton and Graves also collaborate in the writing and development of scripts for film and television, and to further complicate things, they do so under their real names, Dawn Ius and Tracy Belsher. 

The writers are keen to announce they’ve recently signed with film/tv literary agent, Anna Archer of Lucas Talent for their screenwriting projects. Lucas Talent is one of Canada’s leading talent agencies and the writers are thrilled with the professionalism and comfort level they’ve experienced thus far. Here’s to navigating TV Land!

You can follow their fiction writing and screenwriting careers on their blogs:

Dawn DaltonDawn Ius or Tracy BelsherJudith Graves

Congratulations ladies! We can hardly wait to see your work on the silver screen.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Cover Reveal Contest for Rise of a Rector

It’s coming, the anticipated final book in Heather McCorkle's channeler series, Rise of a Rector. The scheduled release date is the beginning of October but Heather tells us it could be a bit sooner. She's revealing the cover and you’re invited to the celebration. All next week from Monday the 27th through Friday the 31st those who would like to reveal the cover with Heather will also get an excerpt to post as well. And there’s more!

Every blogger who participates will be entered into a contest to win an eBook of their choice. And, for your readers, Heather will be giving away an eBook of To Ride A Puca. She'll make it nice and easy for you with rafflecopter forms and a readymade post that you can copy and paste.

If you’d like to participate by helping her shout out about the cover (and enter to win an eBook of your choice) please fill out the rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, August 13, 2012

IE Reviews~Breathkept

I have to admit, Saundra Mitchell is one of my favorite authors, like ever. I know what you're thinking, "she isn't indie, she's with Houghton Mifflin!" Ah, then you're in for a surprise. Saundra's novel, Breathkept didn't find a home so she went indie with it. "Why, since she's such a brilliant author?" you might ask? It saddens me deeply to say, because her book is, let's say, diverse, and couldn't find a fit in the market. But you know what else? It's AMAZING, just like her other novels.

I gave it:

My review: Saundra's sojourn into contemporary does not disappoint. Despite my need for all things sci-fi, fantasy, or paranormal, I truly loved this novel and there aren't many contemporary novels that can have that effect on me. From the very first chapter we are drawn into a mystery within a rich setting that is filled with deep characters you'll be rooting for.

Here is a bit about it:

Parker Nixon has never been away from home. She’s never been in love. And she’s never been wanted for murder… until now. The boy Parker got caught kissing last night turned up dead this morning, and there’s no shortage of suspects. Her reclusive father leads a double life, and the people at Stone Well Ranch have their mysteries too. But then there’s beautiful, broken Brandon Beauchamp. He saved Parker’s life once, and holds her heart in his hands. But he may be hiding the darkest secret of all. 

Where to find Breathkept:
It isn't currently on B&N but I bet if you contact Saundra, she'd be happy to get it on there!

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Music And The Muse

Every writer I know uses music as part of their creative process, either when they write, edit, develop characters, etc. For me, music plays a central role in the entire process from inspiration to completion. But the type of music I listen to is dependent on where I am in the process of creating the story: my fav tunes for outlining and my fav soundtrack music for writing.

As a music minor in college (I played a viola for 20+ years), I gotten use to music serving as a direct link to my emotions. In writing, the soundtrack music I use helps provide a visceral reaction. It’s like a movie – the dialog is important…but the music MAKES the scene. If you have any doubts on this, try watching a high tension scene without the music. It’s a very different experience. I use music to help set tone, pacing, tension and emotion within the various scenes, substituting words for the emotions I feel listening to the music.

One great example of the importance of music in my writing came while revising one of my manuscripts a few years ago. I had decided to completely change the opening 2 chapters. But, I was having a hard time conceptualizing exactly how I wanted the scene to play out; its rhythm.

That is, until I found the PERFECT piece of music.

This music had the exact cadences I was looking for in the scene. My challenge was to take the music and find words that could do the same thing. I listened to the music over and over for about a week before everything unfolded for me. When I sat to actually write it, I was shocked at the ease with which the storyline wrote itself. Granted, it still needed structural edits, but the content is basically intact.

Since that time, I’ve come to use music as an active part of the writing process, relying on it to put me into the appropriate emotional place prior to setting words on the page. It’s now a never-ending dance between words and music; one I hope my readers enjoy.

How do you use music with your writing or creative process?

Some of my favorite soundtracks or composers to use:

· Anything by Hans Zimmer (Batman Begins, Dark Knight, The Last Samurai)
· Music from almost any epic film works well for my climatic scenes
· Harold Kloser (The Day After Tomorrow)
· Harry Gregson-Williams (The Chronicles of Narnia, Kingdom of Heaven)
· Music from creepy scenes in movies is often good for darker moments in my stories…

So, how do you use music in your writing? I would love to hear from you!

~Christine Fonseca, author of acclaimed non-fiction and the popular paranormal Requiem series

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Switching Gears: Benefits to Writing in Different Genres

Growing up as a military brat, my family’s wheel-of-life was ever turning. We lived all across Canada, from Summerside, Prince Edward Island, to Nanaimo, British Columbia. I got used to packing and unpacking, to the mad dash up the stairs with my brother and sister - to claim the biggest bedroom first, and, of course, to being the new girl at school.

Likely why Eryn, the main character in my SKINNED series is also new to town. I’m fascinated with the unknown, the next location, and the promise of a new adventure. Our lifestyle of travelling, starting over and scaling down so we didn’t have to haul useless items across the country has impacted my life in many ways.

I get itchy feet.

If moving is out of the question, which it has been for the last few years as my husband and I have been carving out a life in our cool little Northern Alberta town - then I rearrange the furniture in our house, renovate, paint – anything to change our environment.

In terms of writing – this means I don’t restrict myself to a single genre or medium. Sure, I write a lot of young adult paranormal fiction, but I also write edgy / contemporary YA, twisted horror short stories for adults, flash fiction, television and film scripts, as well as composing music and lyrics.

I’ve recently started writing a steampunk young adult series and I’m loving the research phase of things - reading EVERYTHING steam that I can get my hands on, taking notes on specific time periods, historical events and people, modes of transport, how people dressed, the science of the day, as well as alchemy and Victorian spiritualism.

I’m never bored when writing, because I’m always improving my skills and learning the tropes of new genres – so I can avoid them or smash them together with those of another genre – hopefully creating something fresh and new.

Diversity is key to growth. If you’re a writer, a musician, an artist – a reader…I encourage you to step outside your comfort zone. Allow yourself to start from grown zero and enjoy the climb.

Shift those gears.

New worlds are waiting.

Judith Graves

Judith is the author of Under My Skin and it's sequel Second Skin, YA paranormal fiction for those ready to go darkside. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

IE Reviews~Glimpse

Every now and then I read a book that makes me feel at home. Glimpse, by Stacey Wallace Wallace Benefiel is that kind of book. And not just because bits of it take place in Portland, Oregon, my old stomping grounds. And, right now the ebook is FREE on both B&N and Amazon, so you can't go wrong.

I give it:

Glimpse starts out sweet and light, almost so sweet and light that you start to worry if you don't like that kind of thing. But trust me, stick with it. It becomes richer and darker as it goes, deepening in both character and plot. Reading this novel felt like going back to high school, but not in a bad way. The description and character development was that good. I felt for Zellie almost instantly. 

Here is a bit about it:

Zellie Wells has a devastating crush on Avery Adams, the son of her mom’s high school sweetheart. At her sixteenth birthday party, held in the basement of her dad’s church, she finally finds the courage to talk to him. Turns out, the devastating crush is mutual.

As Avery takes her hand and leads her out onto the makeshift dance floor, Zellie is overwhelmed by her first vision of his death; shocking because not only are they both covered in his blood, but they’re old, like 35, and she is pregnant.

Afraid to tell anyone about the vision, (she’d just be labeled a freaky black magic witch, right?) Zellie keeps the knowledge of Avery’s future to herself and tries to act like any other teenager in love. When they get caught on their way to a secret rendezvous by her mom and his dad, they are forbidden to see each other.

Convinced that their parents are freaking out unnecessarily, Avery and Zellie vow to be together no matter what. They continue their relationship in secret until Zellie learns that their parents are just trying to prevent her and Avery from suffering like they did. The visions are hereditary, they’re dangerous, and if they stay together the visions will come true.

Now Zellie must choose between severing all ties with Avery, like her mom did to prevent his father’s death, and finding a way to change Avery’s future.

Where to find Glimpse:

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Why Writing Conferences Rock

Heart on my sleeve, I declare writing conferences rock! Many of my Australian writing pals are in Anaheim at the RWA conference at the moment. I wish I was with them.

I missed out on America, but I'll be going to the Australian RWA conference on the Gold Coast in a couple of weeks.

This will be my third RWAus conference, and I'm so excited I could burst. I love conferences for so many reasons.

1 - I find my tribe. Writing is a solitary business but at conference I'm with 300 likeminded writers - so we're all in it together.
2 - I get to meet my favourite authors and catch up with fabulous friends. (some are one and the same. That's how lucky I am!)
3 - I virtually kill myself before hand getting the latest manuscript finished ahead of conference.
4 - I learn so much my brain is practically leaking out my ear by the end of it, but every workshop and panel session helps me improve, and that is priceless.
5 - writers of all levels learn about the industry, first hand.
6 - I'm joining 61 other authors in a huge book-signing event.
7 - they are so much fun!

It's point 3 that has me in a tizz this year, and I brought it all on myself. I began my latest manuscript in February and have pushed myself get it done by conference. Six months. I know loads of writers who get a 50,000 word manuscript done in 2 months. I'm not like that. I'm slow. Hideously, horribly slow. The upshot is I *think* I'm getting better so that the first draft is in really good shape.

OK, maybe I'm in denial.

Anyway, I am on target to finish this manuscript and I'm ready to pitch to a visiting agent from the USA. I previously landed an agent in the UK the old fashioned way - contacting them via email through the slush pile. This time, it will be face-to-face. I'm excited and daunted.

I'm also practicing my pitch - every time someone asks me 'what's the book about' I get to tell them in a couple of sentences. The responses have been happy positive, not glazed-eyed neutral. That's got to be a good thing?

So, if you get the chance to attend a writers conference in your home country (or travel overseas, that would be awesome!) then grab that chance with both hands and make the most of it. You'll have fun, you'll learn so much, you'll make wonderful friends and you'll have some exciting opportunities other people won't get.

Writing can be an isolating experience, but when you're at a conference you're not alone.

Am I sounding too preachy? Good. Get thee to a conference!

More information about this year's Australian conference
The 2013 conference will be in Perth :-D


Ebony McKenna
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Ebony is the author of the fabulously funny, romantic, and exciting Ondine series that is published with Egmont Press. Think Princess Bride meets Ella Enchanted.