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. :)