Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Why We Write

I spent last weekend with an amazing lady, and indie author—Syd Blue. As I watched Syd sell her books at cost, it reminded me how powerful the gift of writing can be. Her attitude is to inspire our children, at whatever cost. What a great reason to write.



For the young ladies, Fly Girl is a story of sixteen year-old Jill who learns to fly the hard way. Jill has far less than the perfect life—more responsibility than a teen should have. But despite the challenges Jill faces throughout the story she calls life, she learns to believe in herself and takes responsibility for the consequences of her actions. This is a book that (secretly) teaches, while it entertains and inspires. I wish I had this book when my kids were young.


Syd did not want to leave out the boys, so she wrote a second book, Circle. Imagine Indiana Jones meets ET, and you have Circle. Fun flying scenes and excitement for all ages, and the girls will love this too. What would your son do if an extraterrestrial girl turned up under his bed?


A pilot herself, Syd knows the power behind taking control of a plane and how it fuels confidence. Something that we all want our children to have. There is a great analogy between being in control of your life, and flying a plane where you literally are.



Please take a moment to visit Syd at:  
Fly Girl, Life in the Skies.
Follow her on Twitter @SydBlue


If you know any child you want to inspire, and stuff their Easter Basket with something yummy for the soul… Circle and Fly Girl are both priced right and found at Amazon.



Syd, Linda, Heather and Karlene at the SFO writers conference 2010~



Why do you write?


Enjoy the Journey!
XO~ Karlene


Karlene is the author of Flight For Control, an aviation thriller that will change the way you look at flying forever.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Writing in the Sensitive

Get your copy at Amazon
My novel, Neverlove, tackles a few heavy-hitting topics:

Familial sexual abuse

Suicide

Unrealistic expectations

When topics like these aren’t handled well (determining this is, of course, subjective to each reader), they can result in a DNF – did not finish – like the review I saw for a novel.  A rape scene caused the DNF, not so much because it was in the novel, but because it had no purpose, it played no part in driving the story forward so the reviewers couldn’t appreciate the way it was handled.

For Neverlove, I tread delicately when addressing the familial sexual abuse in particular. There is a deeply painful violation in the real life act. Bringing this matter into the story, I didn’t want to add insult to injury for readers who may have experienced it before by treating it as some instant I’m-over-it kind of thing.

It was suggested to me, once, to leave it out altogether. I gave that suggestion a great deal of thought. But my main character, Abby, came back with a response of her own, “I came to you broken and in need of mending, in need of sharing the pain of my past so others can know they are not alone as I’ve always thought I was alone.”

Nuff said.

What about you? Have you ever written about (or considered writing about) a very sensitive topic? Perhaps you’ve read a book that deals with a very touchy or even taboo subject. What was your response to the way it was handled?

~ Angela Browna lover of Wild Cherry Pepsi and chocolate/chocolate covered delicious-ness, also author of the dark YA Neverlove with elements of paranormal, romance and action woven throughout.

Visit her at:

Friday, February 15, 2013

IE Reviews Winter Omens

You may recall me raving about Trisha Leigh's Whispers in Autumn, the YA dystopian novel with a very original twist. It was one of my favorite books that I read last year, one of my favorite ever really. It was so good that I immediately bought the second book when I finished reading it. Here is my review of the sequel, Winter Omens.


Not all sequels can stand up to the first book. Many fall flat and the author becomes a one hit wonder. Not so with Trisha Leigh and Winter Omens. It was everything I hoped it would be and then some, earning a full and enthusiastic five stars. So good, in fact, that tomorrow I'm buying the third book, and for me that's huge. I'm hard to impress to the point where I will keep reading an author's next books because there are so many authors that I want to read that I feel guilty spending all my time on one. Here is my official review:

This heart-pounding sequel to Whispers in Autumn raises the stakes and deepens the characters in a way that keeps you flipping the pages. I loved the glimpse of a post-apocalyptic world that we get to see in this one, and how Althea responds to it. I didn't think the author could top the first one, I loved it that much, but she did and then some.


Here is a bit about it:

Althea and Lucas barely escaped the Others’ clutches in the autumn, and were separated in the process. Alone and on the run from the cruel alien race determined to exterminate her, Althea struggles to adapt and survive in a world she never imagined.

When a boy named Pax appears out of nowhere, he quickly recognizes Althea for what she is – a human/Other hybrid just like him. Althea begs him to help her find Lucas, but Pax refuses, intent on following his own mysterious agenda.

The Others’ presence continues to devour the planet’s resources, and if history is an indication, they won’t leave until Earth is destroyed beyond repair. Althea and Pax sense the only way to save themselves – and maybe their home – is to understand the powers simmering inside them.

Together they push the limits of their capabilities in the quiet Wilds, but are soon confronted with a terrifying fact: no place is safe from the relentless pursuit of the Others.

Least of all their own minds.

~Heather McCorkle

Author of the paranormal Earth-conscious channeler series: Born of Fire (FREE novella), The Secret of Spruce KnollChanneler's ChoiceRise of a Rector, and the historical fantasy, To Ride A Puca. Heather also has stories in the following anthologies: In His Eyes (FREE) and Winter Wonders

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

No time for dinner, I'm writing!

If you are anything like me, you struggle to find hours in your day to do important tasks that don't revolve around writing. Kids. Husband. Dinner. Laundry. Pets. Home improvements. And I could go on. It seems I'm forever trying to find more time to deal with all of these while still maintaining a somewhat regular writing schedule.

One thing that used to fall by the wayside, more often than not, was dinner. I would look up from my manuscript, and it would be dinner time. Yet dinner wasn't anywhere near finished and maybe not even considered. "Yes, do you think you could pick up pizza on your way home?"

For me, this whole "Let's order out" thing had to be thrown out the window due to some recently diagnosed allergies. So obviously that meant I was now cooking and not writing through the dinner hour... right? Ha! I just got creative with the carry-out ideas. But then our budget objected, and I had to find another way around the fact that I needed to write and not think about dinner while still providing dinner for the four other people who believed they needed to eat more than the characters of my novels.

Fine. I'll figure something out.

And I did. It's what is being referred to these days as Once a Month Cooking. I spend all day once a month planning, shopping, prepping, bagging, and freezing all my meals for the whole month. No really. THE WHOLE MONTH. Then, each morning after I stumble to the kitchen for my first cup of coffee, I put whatever I've defrosted (taken from the freezer the night before at dinner or earlier) in the crockpot and head back to my office. Sometimes the item doesn't need to be defrosted (love those) and sometimes it takes my third cup of coffee before I wrap my head around someone else's needs besides the characters of my book. Luckily, all the recipes I've been using have both high and low directions for those who commonly forget everything else all day long. Then, when I hear the footfalls of my husband coming through the door at just about dinner time, I don't have to panic anymore. I'm ready, and we can all sit together and discuss our day (and the plots roaming through my head).

Not only has this made dinner much tastier (you can't beat home cooked!), but it has made me much less stressed. I'm able to really focus on my projects for the day, knowing my family will be fed when the time comes (Forget lunch. You're on your own, kids.).

If this sounds like something you want to try, you can get more information on Once a Month Cooking at the Freezer Friendly Meals blog intro to OAMC. There are also a lot of great freezer friendly blogs and websites to get recipes from: Martha Stewart,Food NetworkFood.comRachel Ray. Or just Google "Freezer Friendly Recipes", and you will get oodles. I will say most of your current family favorites are probably freezable, which means you can make them ahead, then defrost and throw them in the oven, crockpot, or in a skillet on the stove top.

Now if I could just find a time shortcut for all the laundry... minions? House elves? Any ideas?
Do you struggle with managing your time for writing and all your "chores"? What are some of your tips or tricks that have shaved minutes off your to-do list and added them to your write time?

~Eisley Jacobs

Eisley Jacobs lives in Shingle Springs, California with her three children and husband.
Eisley actively writes the characters that stroll through her head. The first YA Novel she completed was in high school, but somehow got lost in the shuffle into real life. While studying at college, stories began to plague her mind and she tried her best to keep them at bay while she did more important things like... like... Who are we kidding? Her grades suffered because the voices wouldn't stop. So instead of going insane, she wrote.
In 2010, a blue dragon named Deglan interfered in her attempts to finish the final book in the YA series and thus the series starter for DRAGONS FOREVER, BORN TO BE A DRAGON, was hatched and has found a home in the hearts of many children.
Eisley's first YA Sci-Fantasy, PIECES OF ME, is due out early spring 2013. To learn more about Eisley and her novels click here.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Surviving a Writing Funk - Take Two


Once upon a time there was a girl who wanted to write a great novel for teens. She wrote and wrote and wrote, sometimes forgetting to eat, or do the laundry, or take care of her children. Finally, once her fingers were ready to fall off, the girl finished her novel. “Next task,” she thought, “is to get it published.” 

The girl googled and researched about getting books published. She learned about editing, beta readers and agents. And she discovered the art of the query letter. After four months of querying, she also discovered that she was not ready. And neither was the story. So she wrote another one. And another. And another. In the meantime, she got a few publishing credits under her belt in a different genre. She learned about pacing, character development, and plot. She went to writing conferences, joined crit groups and built her online platform. Finally, after what seemed an eternity, she had something worth publishing—something she was willing to query. So she did. And she revised. Re-queried. Partials were requested. As were fulls. She got her hopes up. And then came the rejections. More revisions happened. More fulls went out. And, sadly, more rejections came in.

“Great writing, but not for me,” most of the rejections said.

The girl was sad—disheartened and discouraged. She slipped into a slump. She began to question why she was working so hard for this. Her spouse questioned it too . . . as did her children. Her slump turned into a slide, right into a huge pool of yuckWhat was she to do? Quit? Regroup? Take a break?

Her new writerly friends all weighed in with their advice—great, wonderful, awesome advice. But the girl continued to struggle and slid deeper into despair. 

During this same time, the girl faced many tribulation in her life. And many triumphs. And finally, after many months, an offer came her way to publish her book. And many others.

Her dreams had come true.

So why was she still sad? Why had the funk not gone away? Why? Why? Why?

The above story likely sounds familiar. Every writer I know has faced a series of angsty moments and periods of time in the writerly funk.

For me, despite the successes, I still find myself swimming through my doldrums from time to time, usually because I haven't taken time to refill my creative well. I become creatively bankrupt and although I am still writing, still publishing, it is with great cost as my creative energies drain me to my core.

So what do I do? How do I pull myself out of this type of despair and refill my well? How do I find the joy and energy I once had with writing?

I've made a list of some of the things I have had to learn to do of late in order to claw my way out of my writerly funk....again...

  • Remember why I write - For me, this is an important first step, focusing on the reasons I write. Nowhere in this exploration do I ask myself if I "can" write, simply WHY I write in the first place.
  • Write – I recently started writing, journally, every morning by hand. There is a magic in these pages as I spill my angst and whatevers through the pen and onto the page. Within a page or so I find myself refocused, dedicated in a way that is different. None of this morning writing is about a story I am working on - it is more a morning meditative practice that just sharpens the saw, so to speak, and focuses my mind.
  • Create space for my dreams – I am busy, often so busy that every moment is filled with something "to do", some action I need to take. With a life that is filled, no PACKED, the way mine has been over the past several years, it is no wonder that I struggle with creative energy as often as I do. I have not allowed for down time; I have not given myself the space I need for creation to happen. This was a hard thing for me to change, and it is change that is coming much more slowly than I would like. But, I am in the process of clearing out the "things" and activities in my life that are not in alignment with my dreams and goals, and creating the space I need for dreams and miracles to unfold.
  • Welcome inspiration - There was a time when writing was the most inspiring aspect of my day - I wrote as I dreamed, wrote throughout the day, and couldn't wait to write at night. Over the past few years, the joy from writing had faded, becoming something I "had" to do. Although still inspired by the written word, I had lost the creative mojo somehow. I forgot to take time away, to refill the well with inspiration - music, images, nature. So now I remember to take myself on dates and find the joy that I forgot.
  • Focus on the positives – There are plenty of things to get frustrated with in this business. The key, I think, is to find the POSITIVE things. Like the growth you've made as a writer. Or the connections you’ve made with other writers facing the same struggles. 
  • Face your fears – Writing is an interesting thing. It has the power to unlock some of your deepest darkest yuck that lurks inside, or maybe that’s just me. Regardless, pursuing your dreams in this business will require you to face some of your doubts and fears sooner or later – so you might as well be prepared. I think the only way through the scary stuff is to walk through it. You have lots of supporters to help you on this path. Grab their hands, close your eyes, and move forward – no matter how hard it feels at times.  
·
Over the past few weeks, I have made a conscious effort to recover the creative energy I lost, to refill the well and find the joy I have had in being a creative person. I am not fully free from the funk yet, but I am well on my way to establishing a life style that nurtures, rather than depletes  my creative self. 

But enough about me. What do you do when the writerly funk hits?

Christine Fonseca is a critically acclaimed author of edgy YA fiction, psychological thrillers and non-fiction self-help books. Her upcoming releases include DOMINUS, the final installment in the Requiem Series, and the highly anticipated GIRL GUIDE, a self-help book for teen girls. When she is not writing a book or working to develop programs for children with emotional and behavioral needs, she can be found hanging out at her favorite coffee house, drinking Skinny Vanilla Lattes. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Apps for Creative Types Part 2: Writing

I’m a bit of a hodgepodge when it comes to technology. I love gadgets, software, and apps, and I use multiple devices. I have a PC for gaming, a MacBook Pro for writing, photo-manipulation and recording music, an Android phone because I prefer its slide-out keyboard, and an iPad for additional portability and entertainment value – with full Bluetooth keyboard / case.
                                
I don’t buy into the, one operating system can do it all, mantra - just as a single plotting method won’t work for every single writer. Sometimes you need to utilize several methods to generate the best product possible.  As a creative person, I don’t limit myself to just writing fiction. I dabble in photography, tend to sketch, I sing and write music – I play. 

The iPad is my latest adventure and I’m having a blast figuring the thing out. Unfortunately, a do-it-all program, like Word, isn’t available for the iPad, but there are many writing and productivity apps that fill the gap. Here are a few I’m obsessed with – note – they may not be free, but they’re worth every cent:

Pages: (https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/pages/id361309726?mt=8) If you’re a Mac user, chances are you’re familiar with Pages and its features, from slick templates for newsletters, postcards, fliers, and layout flexibility. You’ll be pleased to know the iPad app is quite similar and even sports some unique templates guaranteed to impress. Documents can be saved as PDF or Word format and easily exported or emailed. This is the app I consistently return to when writing on my iPad.

Daedalus Touch: (https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/daedalus-touch/id406964546?mt=8) I confess this app confounded me a bit as I’m still not quick with the gesturing on my iPad – do I pinch, do I drag…it’s a guessing game at times. However, this app has a highly interactive element that can be addicting. General word processing at your fingertips.

Notably: (https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/notably/id364905747?mt=8) Another text editor, but this one has a bit of style. Multiple fonts and backgrounds to choose from make writing a visual dream. Not too many bells and whistles, but this app certainly does the job.

These are just a few of the productivity apps I’ve experimented with, but if you’re new to iPads at least this will give you an idea of what’s available.

NOTE: for those seriously into screenwriting, there’s one app I recommend, although it’s costly at 49.99, and that’s Final Draft Writer (https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/final-draft-writer/id526135686?mt=8) for the iPad. Templates, index cards, character development tools, this baby has it all.


~+~+++~+~  Judith Graves 

 ...YA fiction to die for... 
http://www.judithgraves.com
http://www.strangewaysnovels.com

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Writing A Serial

The advent of ebooks and indie publishing has allowed the revival of a form with a storied history, but not many tales in the recent past: the serial. This may conjure visions of old-fashioned cliff-hangers and pulp novels... and you wouldn't be far wrong. But Great Expectations by Charles Dickens was written as a serial, releasing two chapters a week for nine months! Dickens self-published the serial version of Great Expectations in his own literary magazine, All the Year Round, in an attempt to keep the publication afloat. Once it was complete, the works were republished in three volumes/novels. Dickens, being the accomplished writer he was, managed to create self-contained "novellas" (each about 6k words) that progressed like a novel, no small feat (he also outlined). Today, there's a myriad of serials being written and published, with indie authors experimenting like crazy with form, length, and time-between-publication. The stories are anywhere from 6k to 40k. Some are prewritten, some are written-as-you-go. Some are true novellas (individual stories), some are chapters from a serialized novel. The ease of indie publishing, plus the inexpensive distribution of ebooks, has allowed for all kinds of experimentation. I'm experimenting with serialization myself, quite by accident. A story grabbed hold of me and demanded to be written, so I forced it to be a novella, because I didn't have time to write a novel. :) Turns out the story isn't letting go, but it's also the kind that lends itself to episodic storytelling, so I'm going to turn it into a series of novellas. Because I'm an indie author, and I can. :)

The real question is: do readers read these serialized stories? I think the answer is Yes and No. Just because you write a serial is no guarantee you will have readers, just as is true for any indie story. Plus you're hampered with the fact that most reviewers won't review short form works, and many promotion sites won't promote unless you meet a minimum workcount. But if you write something readers are clamoring to read? The answer is a resounding YES.
Examples: NYTimes Bestselling author Hugh Howey's meteoric career started with a 12k novella called Wool. But an even more recent (and astoundingly successful) example is fellow Indelible RaShelle Workman's Blood and Snow serial. Starting in June 2012, RaShelle has been pumping out her serial novellas every 2-4 weeks. She's currently up to volume 11, with all the individual novellas priced at 99cents and collections priced at $2.99. The novellas themselves are around 60 pages/12k. But do they sell? Oh yes. RaShelle's sold over 130,000 copies of her 99cent novellas to date. I don't expect that kind of success with my upcoming novella serial The Debt Collector, partly because it's not in the wildly popular paranormal romance genre. But, then again, Hugh Howey wrote a post-apoc SF novella that took him to the stars, so one never knows what will resonate with the reading public. But I love that indie publishing gives authors a chance to experiment and see what happens. Have you written a serial or have any plans to?

~Susan Kaye Quinn
 Susan Kaye Quinn is former rocket scientist and engineer, but now she writes novels because she loves writing even more than shiny tech gadgets. Susan is the author of the bestselling Mindjack Series, which includes three novels, three novellas, and a trailer. She's currently writing a steampunk fantasy romance, just for kicks. When that's out of her system, she has ambitious plans to embark on a series about the Singularity (the time when computers become more intelligent than humans) that should appeal to fans of the Mindjack novels. Unless she gets sidetracked by this new future-noir novella or spends too much time on Facebook. Could go either way.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Perception Sequel and Giveaway

Book 2 in the dramatic PERCEPTION Series is coming April 16!


What doesn't kill you ...

Zoe Vanderveen is on the run with her captor turned rescuer, Noah Brody.

They're in love.

Or at least that’s what he tells her. Her memories have returned but her feelings are dreamlike—thin and fleeting. Her heart can’t be trusted. Just look at what happened with Taylor Blake.

Senator Vanderveen’s new team of cyborg agents are in hot pursuit, and a reward for their capture is broadcast nationwide. Record breaking cold and snow hinder their escape. Someone dies helping them.

And their fight for survival has only begun.

Mark to read on goodreads. 


To celebrate Lee Strauss is giving away a $200.00 Amazon, Nook or itunes gift card!

Read on to find out how to enter.

VOLITION is the exciting continuation of Noah and Zoe's story from Perception.

 Eternal Life is To Die For

Seventeen year old Zoe Vanderveen is a GAP—a genetically altered person. She lives in the security of a walled city on prime water-front property along side other equally beautiful people with extended life spans.
Her brother Liam is missing.

Noah Brody is a natural who lives on the outside. He leads protests against the GAPs and detests the widening chasm they’ve created between those who have and those who don’t.  He doesn’t like girls like Zoe and he has good reason not to like her specifically.

Zoe’s carefree life takes a traumatic turn.  She’s in trouble and it turns out that Noah, the last guy on earth she should trust, is the only one who can help her.


 Want to read PERCEPTION? It's available on Amazon, Kobo, itunes, and Nook.



About the author:

LEE STRAUSS


Lee Strauss writes historical and science fiction/romance for upper YA and adult readers. She also writes light and fun stuff under the name Elle Strauss. To find out more about Lee and her books check out her facebook page. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/elle_strauss To find out about new releases sign up for her newsletter at www.ellestraussbooks.com



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Friday, February 1, 2013

New Indie Elite Release and Tour

My new fantasy novel, The Dragon Empire, is releasing officially in eBook this February (and in paperback in March)! If you'd like to help me celebrate by posting about it (then you rock and I owe you chocolate or a great cup of coffee), please fill out the form below and I'll send you everything you need. Once I've sent the info to you, feel free to post any time you can, in February would be great, but if you can't post until March or April, that's good too. Sorry for the form but it's SO much easier to keep track of than comments. Feel free to drop me a comment too though. :)

~Heather
Author of the paranormal Earth-conscious channeler series: Born of Fire (FREE novella), The Secret of Spruce KnollChanneler's ChoiceRise of a Rector, and the historical fantasy, To Ride A Puca. Heather also has stories in the following anthologies: In His Eyes (FREE) and Winter Wonders