Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Go Back To The Beginning

Fans of The Princess Bride will know Inigo Montoya's mantra. You know, the one where he introduces himself, accuses Count Rugen of homicide and recommends he accept a terrible fate.

But Inigo has another mantra, and that is, "When the job fails, go back to the beginning."

I love going back to the beginning. I try things, they don't work, I go back to the start and see if I can get it right.

When I was in the midst of plotting Ondine 4 The Spring Revolution, I hit a wall. Or, a hole. Yes. A big plot hole that said, "fill this in later". Well, it's later now, and I still don't know how to fill it. Even with the best intentions of following structure, I still can't fill a hole if I have nothing to fill it with.
So I went back to the beginning and read the first two Ondine books.
It gave me ideas.

This resulted in two things: I laughed at my own jokes AND I spotted lots of lovely little asides and moments I could call back to in book 4. In books 1 & 2, (Summer and Autumn) much is mentioned of Great-Aunt Col's disastrous debutante ball. The one where she cursed Hamish into his ferrety incarnation.

Well, Old Col never got to re-do her 'deb' so it's high time she got her second chance.

That would be lovely to put into book 4.

In book 2 (set during Autumn), it mentions the clocks going back in two stages. One hour in October, another hour in November, so everyone gets two sleep-ins. This is because the clocks go forward 2 hours in one night in Spring, to really get plenty of daylight in the evenings. (People get the following Monday off as a public holiday, to cope with the 'jet lag')

As book 4 is the spring book, I need to mention this.

In book 1 there's a passing mention that Ondine wanted to study media, but with a wedding to pay for, her family might not be able to afford the camcorder fees. It turns out they can, so in book 4, Ondine will have a camcorder in her hand. I'd completely forgotten about this, but it fits perfectly with the oncoming revolution.

Needless to say, each time I get an idea while reading the old books, I jot it onto a note and stick it on my structure sheet. The structure sheet is looking like a post-it monster sneezed all over it. It's a mess, but I can fix it.

The thing is, I've given myself more ideas, and now I have those ideas, more will follow.

~Ebony McKenna, author of the Ondine series.
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Friday, April 26, 2013

IE Reviews: The Mind Readers

I downloaded this eBook from B&N when it was free and I have not been paid by anyone for the review, which is my honest opinion.

If I didn't know this book was indie, well, I wouldn't have known. And I'm picky about everything from grammar and over used phrases and words, to plot holes. This book, had almost none of those issues. It wasn't error free, of course, but then I can find errors in traditionally published books. And this was as close as error free as I've seen most traditionally published books.

From the first shocking page, I was hooked. I've been bored with
YA lately and I've read one too many books about psychics and mind readers so I didn't expect to get past page one. Wow was I surprised. Not only did I get past page one, but I looked forward to getting on my treadmill so I could read more, and stayed up late into the night turning pages. It's rare for a book to captivate me like that. Not only is the writing captivating and clean, the characters are compelling and complex.

I liked this so much that I immediately bought her second book in the series and downloaded the other two free books of hers that she has available.

You can find The Mind Readers at the following locations (among others):


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

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Paperback Writer on Bass and Plot Lines

Wow, the Beatles really pegged the plight of the author in their 1966 hit, Paperback Writer, written by Paul McCartney. The song is essentially a query letter from an aspiring writer to a publisher.

Some of the lyrics:

Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book?
It took me years to write, will you take a look?
It's based on a novel by a man named Lear
And I need a job, so I want to be a paperback writer…

It's a thousand pages, give or take a few,
I'll be writing more in a week or two.
I can make it longer if you like the style,
I can change it round and I want to be a paperback writer…

If you really like it you can have the rights,
It could make a million for you overnight.
If you must return it, you can send it here
But I need a break and I want to be a paperback writer…

Sound familiar? Kind of crazy that this tongue-in-cheek view of a struggling writer is still bang on almost 50 years later. The tune was also one of the first of the Beatles songs to feature the bass as a solo instrument. I dig it. As a member of an all-woman band, and a bass player, iconic bass lines are my current musical obsession. ;)

I equate a solid bass line with having a solid plotline. In most songs, you may not be able to pick out the bass riff, but it is there. Locking the drums and guitars in, supporting the vocals, balancing the highs and bringing out the lows. A simple bass riff is sometimes best – grounding the other instruments, keeping them on track. This is called “rooting” – sticking to the root notes of the song – and essentially that’s the role of your plot. It is the glue that holds your fictional world together.

Yet when given the opportunity, the bass can dazzle, much as a rich plot can wow the reader, taking them in new directions. A bass line foreshadows and pre-empts key changes, supports verses, builds to the chorus, and can offer a haunting fade out.

Just like a solid plot line full of rising action, conflict, ever-increasing tension, an epic showdown, and falling action.

Remember, when you’re outside a concert venue, it’s the bass you feel pulsing with the beat of your heart, thrumming under your feet, drawing you in.

I dare you to listen to the next song you hear and listen for the bass – I bet you’ll be surprised by how much it adds / fills out the tune. My fellow paperback writers, consider the beauty of a solid plot line – it ROCKS!

~Judith Graves
You can follow me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/judithgraveswrites
On the Twitter: @judithgraves
Or via my website: www.judithgraves.com

Friday, April 19, 2013

No Readpocalypse

Library doors bolted shut, larger locations with weighted chains blocking all entries - double-padlocked.
Closed. No service. All books banned.

Internet trolls reign free to police any online presence attempting to download anything that slightly resembles a limerick or a haiku.

Graphic tees, shirts with funny or thought-provoking quotes, anything like reading made into an outlawed activity.

The world a place of plain solid colors, smiles discouraged for fear of encouraging positivity. Positivity could lead to the sharing of ideas, possible debate and lively discussions.

Hands empty of glossy hardcover books and prevented from owning a paperback to bend or turn pages into dog-eared bookmarks.

This is the read-pocalypse. No readers to swoon behind book boyfriends, to read the character tales itching for freedom beyond the fringes of our busy minds.

That day is not this day.


Today, readers can hop into any local library to read about Harry Potter and his wizarding adventures, or walk through a wardrobe into a snowy new world of magic, Turkish delight and an awesome lion. They can venture into a magicked nook of small town Texas and discover witches, vampires and shifters living in a tenuous harmony.

Readers are out there, hungry for our stories. So writers must write, query agents and editors or self-publish. After all, there are some deep reader appetites to fulfill.

Writers: Write like there’s no read-pocalypse.

Readers: Read like there’s no tomorrow J

~ Angela Brown, author of YA works such as Frailties of the Bond, where readers can take a brief trip to that magicked nook of small town Texas and see how witches, vampires and shifters can live in any kind of harmony.

Monday, April 15, 2013


Recently, one of my friends told me she admires me for my drive. While I took this as the compliment it was, I feel undeserving in the sense that I don’t see myself as going above and beyond, or necessarily doing more than anyone else. I simply do what has to get done.

As a work-from-home mother of three children, one of them on the Autism spectrum, as well as a new inductee into the Sandwich Generation, I’ve got a lot on my plate: helping the teen figure out what classes to take next year in high school; steering a pre-adolescent through the daily drama of school and fair-weather friendships; dealing with the constant headaches of IEP meetings and the home-school vs integrate debate; making sure my mother, who now lives with us, gets what she needs in order to maintain some sense of independence and dignity; etc. The list goes on, and nothing ever really gets checked off.

I am just as busy in my professional life, too. As a self-published author I am currently working on four novels, three of which are on tap for a 2013 publication date. I often hear questions like “How do you do it?” and “Don’t you ever get confused?” Well, I do it because I have to, both for the creative release and for financial gain. As far as getting confused . . . I guess I can’t be any more confused than I already am! All joking aside, working on multiple projects at once keeps my writing fresh and interesting. At least to me. 

But there’s also another reason for this so-called drive of mine, and it’s because I live and labor under the eternally optimistic, and maybe a little bit narcissistic, belief that I’m destined for something great. What that “something” is, I do not know. Maybe I’ll be one of those self-published authors who gets discovered and signs a six-figure deal with a major publishing house. Perhaps my husband and I will start that much-needed school for special needs kids we keep talking about. Or quite possibly the greatest achievement of my life will simply be helping my children live up to their potential and reach their own dreams.

What I know is this: Whatever that something great is, it won’t just come to me. Or to you, either. We have to go out there and get it ourselves.

~Melissa Luznicky Garrett
An author of adult and young adult novels. She lives in upstate New York with her husband, three children, and numerous animals. Look for THE PROPHECY, the much-anticipated conclusion to THE SPIRIT KEEPER, coming May 2013. In the meantime, connect with Melissa on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MLGarrettwrites

Friday, April 12, 2013

Excerpt from Dark Secrets by A.M. Hudson

Hello to all the Indie Elite followers. This is my first ever blog post here since I became a member long ago. But, with things going well for my book series now, I have some more time up my sleeve and thought I’d take the chance today to share something special with you all.

This is a scene from the 5th book in my romantic vampire series, Dark Secrets.

Many of my fans will have come over here today to get this exclusive sneak preview, and I hope while you’re all here you’ll take a minute to go check out the other authors on this site, too. I’m sure you’ll find some fantastic reads among them.

Anyway, without further ado, here’s a scene from the 5th book in the Dark Secrets series, exclusively brought to you by The Indie Elite and A.M. Hudson. Hope you enjoy.

#Ara and Mike chat outside the Immortal Damned house.

I came over the hill, the midday sun bright and yellow above me, glaring in my eyes enough that as I set my gaze down on the basketball court, I could swear I saw Mike holding a child up to the hoop. 
He bent down, then tossed his hand in the air, waving it once. “Hey, Ara.”
“Hey, what you do—” 
“This is Will,” he cut in, presenting a small, blond-haired boy.
I stopped dead halfway down the hill. “Yes, we’ve met.”
Mike smiled at the kid. “I’ll just walk ‘im back inside. Two secs, ‘kay?”
“Sure,” I said chirpliy, but my bones wouldn’t move. Who on Earth authorised him to take the Damned outside?
Mike walked the boy back toward the house, his hand on his shoulder, both of them talking animatedly, like they were best buddies. I almost didn’t recognise my ‘mature’ best friend and Chief of Security anymore. He even dressed differently when he came to see the Dammed—always in jeans and a light coloured T-shirt, usually wearing a baseball cap, too. And I kinda liked him this way. He was fun Mike. Guy-I-grew-up-with Mike.
I reached the base of the hill as Mike broke into a light jog back in my direction, bending to scoop the basketball of the ground as he approached. “Hey, baby.”
“Hey. Letting the Damed out now, huh?”
He smirked at the quaver in my voice. “Yeah. Who'd have thought blood hungry kids could get a release of energy from playing outdoors?”
“And. . .who, exactly, approved this?”
“David.” He stood taller, clearly ready for a challenge. “But not without supervision, and only one at a time.”
“But nothing, Ara. Those kids—” He pointed to the house, “—for the most part, are normal. You can’t keep them locked away for the rest of their lives—” 
“Even if the conditions are pleasant,” he finished. “You don’t have to agree, Ara, but you—”
“Mike.” I put my hands up. “I agree, okay. I was just. . .”
He smiled sheepishly. “Surpised.”
“Yeah. I didn’t mean to start an argument. I think it’s great.” I glanced over at the house to see all the little faces watching Mike and I through the window. “It’s just that no one told me.”
“Didn’t David?” Mike jumped up to dunk the ball in the hoop.
“Nope.” I strolled over and caught it on the rebound. “He told me they were showing signs of improvement now that they’re being fed properly, and mentioned something about education, but—”
“Did he tell you we decided not to feed them Pure Blood?”
I frowned, searching my brain for that conversation, but it’d never happened. “No. Why’s that?” 
“Well, for one, when we tried them on Lilithian blood, they rejected it—it wasn’t enough for them.”
“They’re like concentrated versions of vampires, almost as if they need more blood than an adult.” He stole the ball from my hands. “Kind of like when vampires get hurt—our blood isn’t enough for them then, either.”
“And, what were the other reasons you decided against giving them our blood?”
“We don’t want them immune to your venom.” He threw the ball into the hoop, ignoring my sudden gasp. “We left it that way in case you never find a cure for vampirism.”
“So, you're just going to kill them if I can’t change them back?”
Mike took a deep breath. “We may have no choice. They can’t stay that way for eternity.”
“Mike! That’s horrible.”
“I know. But it won’t come to that. Besides—” He dribbled the ball. “Were also leaving things open in case one of them wants to die.”
“You're giving them the option?”
“They're children, they can’t make that kind of choice.”
“Ara—those kids are older than you.”
“Not in human years.” I stole the ball.
“Yes, but they mature with experience and age—just like we do.” He reached across and snatched it from my hands, throwing me a vehement glare with just a hint of a smile underneath. “Their mind’s aren’t locked in childhood at all, like vampires first thought. And—”
“I know,” I cut in. “I’ve seen them learn, show reason, integrity—wisdom, even. But I don’t like the idea of giving them the option of suicide.”
“Freedom, you mean.” He turned away and threw the ball toward the hoop.
“Freedom. It’s not the option of suicide, Ara. It’s the freedom to choose an immortal life or a peaceful death.”
I studied him carefully for a second before he broke the stare and wandered over to grab the ball from across the court. He was serious about this stuff. I’d never seen him get so . . . red in the face, over any topic. “Why does it matter to you so much, Mike—whether they live or die?”
“It’s not that.” He tossed the ball to me; I caught it. “It’s. . .I don’t know.”
I hid my smile with the turn of my back, and aimed the orange ball to the sky, throwing it but missing my target. “You come here every day, don't you?”
“Yeah. Why?” 
“Oh, no reason.” I folded my arms, squinting up at him. “One might just think you were starting to like those kids.”
He smiled bashfully, jamming his hands in his pockets, but it slipped away as he looked at his feet. “So what was the deal with you lot last night?” 
“What do you mean?”
“I had coffee with Morg this morning. She told me you all fell asleep on David.”
I took a step away and grabbed the ball off the ground. “Yeah. And?”
“Where was Emily?”
I passed him the ball. “What’d you mean?”
He sighed, hinting the obvious. “Where, Ara?”
“Oh, um, she had her head in his lap.”
“Exactly.” He spun the ball around a few times between his palms, studying it. “You all looked at me last night like I was coming to Morg’s room for sex or something, yet Em falls asleep with her head in your husband’s crotch, and no one bats an eyelid?”
Someone did.”
“Who?” He glanced sideways at me, the ball rolling off his fingertips toward the hoop again. “You?”
I nodded.
He sighed. “Things aren’t great between her and I, Ar, but. . .I love her.”
“Do you? Really?” I asked in a flat but curious tone.
“Of course.” He bent down to grab the ball. “She just expects too much of me. I can't be with her twenty-four-seven.”
“Or you don't want to.”
He made a basket, his hands staying in the air a few seconds longer than needed. “I . . . I don't know.”
I grinned, trapping the ball under my toe as it rolled toward me. “Trouble in paradise.”
“Shut up.” He copied my grin, elbowing me in the ribs after. 
“Just tell me one thing,” I said. 
“Do you actually want to be with her, Mike, or are you holding on to her like some trophy?”
“Nice shot.” He laughed, watching my ball go through the hoop without hitting the rims. “And . . . yes. I do want to be with her, Ara. But—” His gaze went distant.
“There are . . . things. I dunno.” He shook his head. “I just . . . it’s not all black and white.”
“So talk,” I said, and Mike walked away, taking a seat on the court-side bench, with his head in his hands.
I sat beside him, leaving the ball to roll off, coming to rest on the foot of the hill.
“When I spend time with her . . . she’s not even there. You know, I told her something really personal the other day, and she . . .” He leaned back, looking up at the sky. “She laughed. Yet, when I told Morg the same thing, she. . .”
“Well, she supported me. It’s like, I know you think there’s something with Morg and me, but there’s not. She just . . . listens.”
“She ‘gets’ you,” I said with a smile.
“Yeah. But it’s not just her special talent, Ar. She’s a good person.”
I nodded and looked up at the same place Mike was staring. “So, are you saying you want Emily to be more like Morgaine?”
He laughed, catching the humour in my voice. “I just want her to want me for more than the idea she has of me, if that makes any sense.”
I ran the words over in my head, interpreting them as best I could. “You want to be free to be you, and have her love you anyway.”
“Yeah. But she’s got this image of me and what I should be, you know? And it’s not me, Ar.”
“I know.” I nodded, thinking more about the Mike I grew up with. “So, what was it?”
“What was what?”
“The personal thing you told Morg and Em, but not me.”
His lips parted in a breathy grin. “It’s private.”
“Please tell me.”
I saw him considering it as he studied me in his peripheral, and I knew that, for the first time in so long, he saw me as his best friend again. “I spend more time down here than I do at the barracks.”
“Hm.” I was taken aback for a moment, disguising my shock quickly with a smile. “You like hanging with the children?”
He nodded, his whole body rocking with the movement. “I . . . I get something out of this. I don’t know. I just . . . when I spend the day with them—teaching them things, playing with them, and I see the difference it makes—see them put what I’ve taught them into practice or see them behave differently each time I visit, it. . .” He stopped for a second to look at my face. “It makes my life seem like it has a purpose.”
“Really?” was only one of the hundred questions I suddenly wanted to ask.
“Yeah.” He looked into my eyes then at my lips, probably expecting me to laugh. “Morg thinks I should change my career path.”
“To what?”
His hands tightened, a slow breath filling the lengthy pause. “A teacher.”
My gut dropped. “Are you—”
“No.” He waved a reassuring hand. “I’m not even thinking about it. You know I couldn’t leave you, but I—I like the idea, you know, that maybe this—” he motioned around himself and my world, “—isn’t all there is for me.”
“And what did Em think of that?”
“She thinks . . . She—” He swallowed the lump in his throat. “Well, she said it was ridiculous. Said I was born to be Chief, and that I shouldn’t be anywhere else.”
“I. . .” I nodded, stalling for time until I could sort my own thoughts and opinions out from my fears and worries. “Morg’s right, Mike. You’ve always been the sort of guy who’d be good at teaching. I mean, hell, you taught me nearly everything useful I know in life.”
“Aw, shux.”
I laughed. “Buuuut. . .”
“I know.” He patted my hand. “I know you need me here.”
“We won’t always, though, Mike.” I patted his hand back until he looked at me. “I think it’s great, and I think you should definitely do it. But, just . . . can you wait ‘til this Drake thing’s resolved?”
He put his arm around my neck and pulled me close. “Sure, kid. I hadn’t made any plans to go anywhere just yet. You can count on me.”
“I know.” I smiled, pressing my brow into his kiss.

That’s all for today, folks. Thanks to The Indie Elite for hosting this post.
If you’d like to know more about The Dark Secrets series, you can go to www.darksecretsseries.com for links to the books and to the Facebook and Twitter pages.

~Angela Hudson

Friday, April 5, 2013

At Last, Dangerous Depths

Rhemalda Publishing and author Karen Amanda Hooper are pleased to announce the upcoming publication of DANGEROUS DEPTHS, the sequel to Tangled Tides and the second book in The Sea Monster Memoirs.

Thoughts from Karen...
To some, my happy news many come as no surprise. Some may have even believed my contract for Dangerous Depths was already a done deal. But it wasn't. My publisher, Rhemalda, requires a full manuscript before they decide whether or not they want to offer on any author's next book. It took me much too long to send them Dangerous Depths (blame it on the unexpected chaos of life) but finally, a few weeks ago, I finished and hit send.

I hoped they would like it, but I did not assume they'd want it. Because you know the funny but also very true saying...

"Never ASSUME, because when you ASSUME, you make an ASS of U and ME."

Good news. They wanted it. I officially signed the contract last week. It's a done deal.
*happily spins in the water like a mermaid*

The release date will either be late this year, 2013, or early 2014. BUT, we are shooting for--and I am really hoping for--this year. Ironic that it takes me forever to write the darn thing yet I can hardly wait to release it to the world. (I never claimed patience to be my greatest virtue.) We will announce a release date soon after we discuss schedules with the dream team.

I'm so excited and grateful to be partnering with Rhemalda Publishing again on another book. They are a fabulous publisher and a great support. I'm already envisioning the cover for Dangerous Depths and I know it will be fantastic. Eeep!

If you'd like to add Dangerous Depths on Goodreads, here's the link.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Trickiness of Censorship

In Canada, books are not banned. The choosing and purchasing of books is up to the discretion of the librarian. This is a part of the Freedom of Information and protection of privacy act. The act also states that as an employee I am not allowed to stop them from signing out whatever they want, plus I don't have to divulge that information the their parents. It is interesting how kids will swarm to the books labelled "mature reads". As a librarian I am entitled to warn students if a book contains foul language, sex or violence, but I can’t stop them from reading it. If I knew we had an abridged copy, I would tell them about it, but ultimately the choice is theirs.

Censorship is a tricky subject. As a mother, I censor what my kids read, watch or play because children are easily beguiled and I want to protect their innocence. For example, the less they hear or read the “f” word, they less likely they are to use it. At the same time, I don’t blind them from reality. I will never lie to them. I want them to know there are mistakes in history that if ignored will be repeated. There will come a time when I cannot stop what is exposed to them and I hope by then I have ingrained in them a high sense of morals and values so they can withstand any negative influence they come across.

However, that said, as a mother I cannot walk into the library and rip pages out of books or scribble out offensive passages with a black felt marker. I would be sued for doing that. As a mother, I have no influence on the literature found in a public institution. I cannot take away the rights of patrons to read what they want or the rights of authors to write what they want.

Mothers, librarians and authors hold the gateways to censorship and I happen to be all three. There was a time early in my career that I figured I could be a shining example of purity and honesty for my readers; that none of my characters would swear, drink, have sex or be racist. They would be a beacon of light in the dark world and every teen reader would eagerly strive for the same kind of perfection. Well, my manuscripts got real boring real fast. I was restraining my characters from their true selves. My antagonists were unconvincing and my heroes were way too polite.

So I made them real or I should say they made themselves real. My son asked me why Torvald swore in my YA novel SHIFTERS and I said, “That’s the way he is; a little rough on the edges. It is Torvald talking, not me.”

As an author I do my best to present examples of stalwart, responsible citizens as well as the not so shiny happy people to educate and influence my readers my readers. As a librarian I seldom refuse to purchase a book unless the content is utterly nasty and patrons would be embarrassed if they were seen taking out books like that. Even if they did, I wouldn’t tell, I uphold any librarian/patron privileges. As a mother I screen first to make sure my kids don’t accept or develop any bad habits, then I encourage them to read like any good author/librarian/mother would do.

P.S. Aimee L. Salter  has a great post on the subject of removing the “n” word from Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn.

~Halli Lilburn, author of the YA novel SHIFTERS.