You are now entering the world of my thoughts.

This blog is my diary of works in progress. The only way a writer can improve upon her skill is to practice, practice and practice some more. Here, in this place of quiet peace, I pen to paper my thoughts and creativity. Welcome to my world.

Copyright © 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 SN Taylor, All Rights Reserved

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Book Review: Fireborn: A Dragonborn Novel by Toby Forward

Fireborn: A Dragonborn NovelFireborn: A Dragonborn Novel by Toby Forward
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This story follows the adventures of Cabbage, an apprentice to Wizard Flaxfield, Perry, a roffle, from the Deep World, and Bee, a young girl whose powerful magic is stolen and creates a wild kind of magic that goes on a destructive path that threatens to kill everyone, including her. When the wizard, Flaxfield loses his magic, it is up to Cabbage and Perry to help Bee and stop Slowin and his hungry beetle army and return balance to the world.

When I first began reading Fireborn, I almost did not finish it. The beginning felt disjointed with the different story lines of Bee and Cabbage, it was hard to tell where the story was going. However, once I had a sense of the story arc and plot, I was able put the pieces together and enjoy the story. This was unlike any story about magic that I have ever read, which is great because I don't normally like to read about magic and sorcery.

I can see preteens liking the characters, Cabbage and Perry. They are brave, adventurous, loyal, witty and funny. They are boys from two different worlds, that would rather keep them apart, but they forge a friendship despite the rules in place to separate them. They are the reason I kept reading and cheering for their success. I was a little disappointed in Bee's character and the lack of her presence and journey in the book. I wanted to see more of her the way I experienced Cabbage and Perry.

View all my reviews

Friday, December 13, 2013

Book Blog Tour: Ruby Heart by Christelle Comby

Ruby Heart

When elderly client Doris Hargrave informs private investigator Alexandra Neve that her beloved antique ruby heart necklace has gone missing for the second time in a period of over sixty years, Alexandra knows this is no ordinary jewellery theft. The ruby heart is a family heirloom and the only thing that connects an ailing Mrs Hargrave to her parents, who were murdered during the Holocaust. To solve the case, Alexandra and her business partner, blind history professor Ashford Egan, must sift through obscure Holocaust documents to find out the truth. It’s that way that they learn of a secret World War II-era love affair which could hold the key to all the answers they are looking for. Meanwhile, Egan is under immense pressure from the university to quit his private investigating business, and Alexandra is afraid that a man she trusts will leave her. Again. When Alexandra begins to receive anonymous threats and her flat is vandalized, this all becomes personal. Knowing that there is someone out there to hurt her, Alexandra vows to find that elusive ruby heart if it’s the last thing she ever does.

My  Review:

Alexandra is a struggling PI with a blind university professor as her assistant. Most of her cases range from missing pets to cheating spouses. All of which barely pays her bills. She longs for a real case. She gets it in the form of an elderly woman who's heirloom, a ruby heart necklace is stolen, for the second time in a period of sixty years. This necklace is no ordinary piece of jewelry. It has a historical connection to the holocaust era. In order to solve the case of the stolen necklace, Alexandra and her partner, Ashford, delve into the past to figure out who stole it the first time. Her investigation lands her in a lot of trouble. When her home is sacked, her family threatened, and the only evidence she has linking the past thief to the recent one, Alexandra knows she is close to the truth.

Ruby Heart is the second book in the Neve and Egan series. Having not read the first book in the series, I was afraid I would miss a lot but I was pleasantly surprised that while sometimes references were made to incidents in the first book, they did not confuse or hamper the story line in Ruby Heart. I love a good detective story and this one has been added to my list. I have to admit, I was worried how a blind character could possibly be of any use to a PI but I loved Ash in the story, he certainly can pull his weight if he needs too (and he does :D)

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About the Author:

Cristelle Comby was born and raised in the French-speaking area of Switzerland, in Greater Geneva, where she still resides. Thanks to her insatiable thirst for American and British action films and television dramas, her English is fluent. She attributes to her origins her ever-peaceful nature and her undying love for chocolate. She has a passion for art, which also includes an interest in drawing and acting. Ruby Heart is her second new-adult novel, and she’s hard at work on the next titles in the Neve & Egan series.

Buy Link:
Cristelle Comby's Amazon page

Learn more about the author:
Cristelle Comby's Web Site:
http://cristelle-comby.com/

Cristelle Comby's Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/cristelle.comby
Cristelle Comby's Twitter:https://twitter.com/Cristelle

Cristelle Comby's Goodreads:
http://www.goodreads.com/CristelleComby

Ruby Heart blog tour site:
http://rubyheartblogtour.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Once Upon A Pitch



So, you find yourself in a conversation with an old friend, co-worker, random stranger and it comes up that you are writing a story. "Oh, what's your story about?" they ask. If you are anything like me, then this dreaded question sends you into shudders, stammers and hyperventilation.

Pitching my work in progress is the hardest thing for me to do. One would think I should be able to pitch my own story but actually, it is hard to give a description of a story without rambling and giving it all away. Well, it is hard for me.

I have joined quite a few groups, blogs and forums, looking for ways to develop the art of pitching books. I get a lot of practice reading other pitches over on Susanna Hill's blog. She has a wonderful weekly blog post called Would You Read It, where writers post a pitch of their work in progress. Readers are given the opportunity to say why they would or would not read a book based on the given pitch. The exercise gives the writer help in tightening their pitches. It is also great for people like me to learn just what makes a good pitch.

But I was even more thrilled a few days ago to find a really super and simple way to pitch a story plot. This wonderful example comes from Mandy over at Picture Book Academy. Her post, Plotting Your Picture Book with a logline or pitch is quite informative. She begins with the basic elements of a character based/plot driven picture book. Then Mandy gives an example of a generic pitch.
Character wants to do something but can’t because there are obstacles. But when something drastic changes or happens, the character is able to do something and solves the problem.

_________________________ wants to _______________________ but can’t because _____________________ .But when _____________________, he/she is able to_________________ and __________ .

Visit Mandy's blog post and download her awesome worksheet that outlines the basic structure of a story pitch.

Happy Pitching!!!
 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

30 ideas in 30 days!


Better late than never!!!! :D
 
I did it!!!!
 
 
Yep, November ended with a whopping 30 picture book ideas, 2 of which have been fleshed out to really rough drafts!!
 
My goal for next year? Write, write, write!!! :D
 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Taking a Stroll Down Inspiration Lane


Inspiration is a key ingredient of writers.
We find inspiration in every moment, in every word, and in every feeling. Writers can find inspiration for their stories just about any and everywhere. If you ask any writer or author where they get their inspiration, you will get a whole host of fun and interesting ideas.

Some ideas include:

Take a walk: Nature provides an unlimited source of inspiration. My poem, Autumn Song was inspired by a picture I took on a walk with some friends along Point Defiance Park a few years back. Wind Journey was inspired as I walked around my sister’s university campus.

Take a trip: to the zoo, the park, the beach, (Hawaii) anywhere there are lots of sights, sounds and smells (yes, I said smells. J )

The Coffee Shop: You will find lots of fun and unique characters in a coffee shop. Tully's has a delightful Macha Green Tea Latte, so my sisters and I often go. Next to our table I noticed an older gentleman sketching in a notepad from a fashion magazine. Then I saw him look around then begin to sketch the environment of the coffee shop. It was really neat to watch. I also got a poem out of it! 

Magazines and newspapers: Magazines usually have a lot of beautiful pictures that inspire the writer’s soul. Newspapers are a fun way to create a story out of headlines and want adds J

Other books and authors: are also a great source of inspiration.

Daily life/events: What’s the saying, ‘write what you know’ who knows your life, your family, your kids, your friends, co-workers better than you do? Some of my poems and stories were inspired things children said or did in my classroom or things other teachers said happened in their classrooms. 'When Baby Has A Bad Day,' was inspired by, yes a baby in my classroom who was having a really bad day!

Pictures: Old photos, paintings, illustrations, doodles and more offer a wonderful source of inspiration for writers. My flash fiction piece, ‘The Dark Side’ was inspired by a picture of the moon I took some years ago.

Inspiration is everywhere for the taking and for the giving J What will inspire you today?



Saturday, November 2, 2013

PiBoIdMo is here!


I love November! So much happens in this month for writers.

1. National Novel Writing Month
2. National Picture Book Month
3. Picture Book Idea Month
4. Thanksgiving with the family! :D (had to add that one in or my family would never forgive me!)

This year I have been slacking on my writing and I look forward to the challenge of creating 30 picture book ideas this month as well as writing a picture book draft (12x12 challenge). On my Family-Ship Experience blog, I will feature awesome picture books both new and old to celebrate National Picture Book Month.

If you are looking for a fun writing challenge this month, check out Tara Lazar's PiBoIdMo challenge if you write picture books or the NaNoWriMo site if you write novel length stories.



Thursday, October 24, 2013

Author Interview: Fatimah Ashaela Moore Ibrahim, The Azurean Trilogy


Every once in a while you come across a book that is really different from all the rest. I would like to introduce a wonderful new series written by Fatimah Ashaela Moore Ibrahim called, The Azurean Trilogy. I love scifi and the fact that this was a spiritual fiction, put the icing on the cake. It is unique, fresh and has all the fun and adventure I like in science fiction/fantasy. The Azurean Trilogy follows the adventure of five gifted teens as they train to save their planet from an evil that is oppressing them and sending their new found home into the same chaos and destruction that planet Earth went through. Today, I am happy to introduce the author of this exciting new series as she shares her publishing journey.





I would love to know a little bit about your writing and publishing journey of The Azurean Trilogy (Books 1&2).

My writing and publishing journey for "The Azurean Trilogy" (Essentia and Burgeon) has been a really awesome experience. I had the basic ideas for the story in my heart for a long time; exploring, showing the power of faith, Earth conservation, world peace, healthcare, and caring about each other on a human level regardless of color, religion, etc. were at the top of the list. But every time I tried to think of the actual story-- it just wouldn't come. Then, one day, I sat down and said to myself, "Let me just start writing, see what happens, and then go from there." And the characters and storyline just flowed out! From then on, I wrote everywhere I could. I have three children, so writing was often done late at night. I found this great site (Wattpad.com) where you could post chapters of your story up to build an audience and get feedback, and seeing all of the people who read my book motivated me to finish it. Once I was done, I found another great site, Createspace.com, which allows authors to self-publish their book in paperback and Kindle, and sell it on Amazon.com--all without an upfront cost. They were very user-friendly with great customer service for any questions I had. The whole experience was a blessing.

How long did it take?
It took about 1 year to write, edit and publish Books 1&2. Looking back, I can't believe it took that long...the time just flew by. But I enjoyed every moment of it. 

Was it difficult balancing family life and making time for writing?
It was definitely a challenge. It can be really tough to balance home, work, family and staying on top of your prayers too. And then to have a passion to do something in addition to it all can be overwhelming. But staying focused and prayerful was invaluable. 

What challenges did you face?
The biggest challenge for me was finding the actual (quiet) time to write. The things God has given me in my life as responsibilities are my priority. But it was also a priority to nourish the passion I had for this project. I have such a strong desire to use my talents and gifts to bless others and bring more light and love into this world. I may sound like a hippie, lol, but I truly do. 

Which part of your publishing journey was your favorite? Which was your worst?
I actually have two favorites: Writing and doing the graphic design. I am also a Visual Artist, so I really enjoyed writing the actual story as well as creating the graphics for the cover and promotional materials. The worst was the editing!!! I literally read through the story about 10 times once it was done trying to catch errors....my eyes were crossing by the 5th read through! But I have to say, each time I finished, I was like, "Even if this was a story I hadn't written myself, I would really enjoy it." That's what makes me the most excited about it. 
 
Why did you choose to self-publish your work?
I chose to self-publish because there was a shorter wait for when my book could be available to the public. I didn't like the idea of sending my manuscript off and waiting months to see if someone would read it. It just seemed like it would take so long, lol. And then, the genre (Spiritual Science Fiction, or Spi-Fi) is still working to carve out a real niche for itself....so there aren't a lot of publishers looking for books in this relatively new genre. 

What sets your story apart from other books about human survival after the death of our planet?
The difference with my story is that it really explores the power of faith-- it just takes it to a new and exciting level...and in a way that I have never read before. 
 
Tell us a little bit about your story, The Azurean Trilogy (Essential and Burgeon)?
The Azurean Trilogy is an adventure that takes a look at where we have been, and what can be if we all work really hard not to repeat the mistakes of our past. All of this is done within a framework of characters who are God-conscious. I don't want to give away anything, lol...in essence, it is an adventure that feeds your faith. 

What inspired you to write your story?
A desire to see a reality where we truly have world peace inspired me to write this book. I wanted people to be hopeful and empowered when they look out at the state of things on this planet of ours. I wanted to write a story that is entertaining, fulfilling and healing. I wanted people to be excited about being believers. 

What is the significance of using both Qur'anic and Biblical references in your book?
My original draft used references from the Qur'an, Bible and Torah, but I wasn't able to find a public domain source for the Torah scripture- so I ended up using Qur'an, and then Old Testament and New Testament from the Bible. I used them to unite people in their similarities rather than divide them with their differences. I wanted people of different faiths to not see each other as so different and foreign to each other.

Why do you call your work 'spiritual' fiction as oppose to 'Islamic or Muslim' fiction since your main character is a Muslim?
My main character is a Muslim, but the story, like life, includes many different people. I chose to put it under the genre of Spiritual Fiction because it is a story that can be enjoyed by people of many different faiths, because it focuses on our spirituality. For me, spirituality is a person's understanding that there is something greater than them that created them and all that they see. We all choose a different practice/religions to cultivate that. 
 
I'm curious, why was Yaya chosen to be the narrator? How different would the story be if one of the other Gifted Five narrated it? Or maybe even one of the Guardians?
The moment I sat down to write the story, Yaya was narrator. It felt most natural to tell the story through her eyes, probably because she is most like me: A female and a Muslimah. I think the story could have been just as good through the eyes of one of the other characters...but for me, it just felt easy and most natural. 


Do you have plans to write more spiritual fiction?
Absolutely!!! I have already begun writing an outline for Book 3, Manifest. I also have two other stories in the wings... but am giving all of the attention to completing The Azurean Trilogy and making it as full and exciting as I can first! My prayer while writing it is that it would inspire people to get a closer relationship with the Creator. If I accomplish that through anything I write, then that is the greatest gift to me. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Guest Post: Tens List by Dani Pettrey author of Stranded




Dani Pettrey's Top Ten Editing/Revising Tips

1.     Take time off. When you first complete your manuscript, it’s a good idea to take a week or two off and let your story sit. You’ll have fresh eyes when you return to it. 

2.     Read through your entire manuscript in one sitting if possible. This helps you see the book as an entirety and really helps you get a feel for pacing. 

3.     Keep a notebook or sticky notes handy. Have something nearby to take notes with. You’re going to want to jot down your thoughts as you go. 

4.     Highlight sections you want to return to. Flag sections you know you’re going to need to return to. I use different color highlights for different areas. For example, if I need to do further research on a particular section, I highlight it in green. 

5.     Formulate a plan. Once you’ve read your manuscript, review your notes and figure out a plan of how you will tackle the changes. Will you go through linearly or will you work on one thread at a time? 
  
6.     Set a Deadline. Decide how much you need to do each day. Looking at what needs to be done, come up with a schedule for finishing your work by deadline. Earlier if possible. 

7.     Keep your inspiration fresh. It’s important to keep your love for the story fresh while rewriting. I enjoy listening to my story soundtrack while rewriting. It helps to keep the emotions at the surface.

8.     Take breaks. Revisions can be daunting. Be sure to get up to stretch, take a walk, or grab a coffee break. You’ll come back renewed. 

9.     Treat yourself. Set goals and when you meet them, treat yourself. Dark chocolate or iced mochas are my treat of choice. 

10. Trust your editors. Once you finish your revisions, trust your editors to do what they do best and let go. 


      About the Author:


Dani Pettrey is a wife, homeschooling mom and author. She feels blessed to write inspirational romantic suspense because it incorporates so many things she loves–the thrill of adventure, nail-biting suspense, the deepening of one’s faith and plenty of romance. She’s a huge fan of dark chocolate, is always in search of the best iced mocha and her dream is to one day own a little cottage on a remote stretch of beach. She and her husband reside in Maryland with their two teenage daughters.




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Monday, September 30, 2013

Book Blast: Little Red Writing by Joan Holub

Little Red Reading Little Red Writing by Joan Holub Acclaimed writer Joan Holub and Caldecott Honoree Melissa Sweet team up in this hilarious and exuberant retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, in which a brave, little red pencil finds her way through the many perils of writing a story, faces a ravenous pencil sharpener (the Wolf 3000)... and saves the day. Joan Holub has hundreds of pencils. Some are red. Others are glittery, sporty, or full of holiday cheer. They are all super sharp and good at writing books. They’ve helped Joan write more than 130 books, including Zero the Hero and Knuckleheads. She lives in Raleigh, North Carolina. Melissa Sweet has illustrated nearly 100 children’s books, including the Caldecott Honor–winning River of Words and the Sibert Medal–winning Balloons Over Broadway. When not in her studio, Melissa loves to ride her bicycle and hike with her two dogs, Rufus and Nellie. She lives in Rockport, Maine.


  Praise for Little Red Writing

 "A very funny picture book that, I guarantee you, lots of savvy teachers will be eagerly sharing with students as part of the process of teaching creative writing." -- Richie Partington MLIS, Richie's Picks

"What a CLEVER, CLEVER story!" -- I Love to Read and Write Reviews

"This clever adaptation of Little Red Riding Hood has so many levels of creativity and learning... Every elementary teacher should have this book to begin their writing units." -- Play on Words

"Style, humor, and solid writing advice." --Publishers Weekly, starred review

 "So rich in words and wry humor-written and visual-that one reading just isn't enough." --School Library Journal, starred review

"Every writers' group should start with this story." --Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Every elementary teacher should have this book to begin their writing units." -- Play on Words

"An easy, winning prompt for beginning writers to abandon their fears and take up pencils of their own." --Booklist    

Author Joan Holub I graduated from college in Texas with a fine arts degree, and then freelanced as an art director at a graphic design firm for eight years. I dreamed of working in children’s books, so I moved to New York City and became associate art director in Scholastic trade books, where I designed books for children and worked with editors and illustrators. It was a great job. I illustrated my first published children’s book in 1992 and soon began illustrating full time. I began completing manuscripts and mailing them out to publishers in the early 1990s. In 1996, I sold my first two manuscripts — Boo Who? A Spooky Lift-the-Flap Book (Scholastic) and Pen Pals (Grosset & Dunlap). Yippee! Now I write full time and have written and/or illustrated over 130 children’s books. Creating books that entertain, inform, and interest children (and me) is a fabulous job that I truly love.  

 
   

BookBlast Giveaway $50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 10/15/13   Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Monday, September 23, 2013

Book Review: Orleans by Sherri L Smith

OrleansOrleans by Sherri L. Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Orleans is the best read yet for 2013! I loved the voice of the main character, Fen. It is so nice to see a strong female character that has not been turned into some overly sexy 'laura croft' weapon wielding type of heroine. Fen was a real hero. She was a fighter, protector and most of all she was a woman of her word. Everything she did was to protect her tribe, her leader and Baby Girl. When Fen's tribe is attacked and her leader killed, she vows to get Baby Girl, Lydia's newborn baby, over the wall that separates the quarantined city of Orleans from the rest of the United States. A scientist named Daniel is close to creating a virus that will attack the Delta Fever virus that caused the quarantining of New Orleans. He enters the city to find a research lab in the hopes of completing the cure using any research the scientists who stayed behind after the walls were sealed. He thinks the city is long dead but finds a thriving albeit struggling to survive city divided not by race but blood type. Fen meets Daniel and they work together to get Daniel the information he needs as well as get Baby Girl to safety beyond the walls before her blood becomes tainted with the Delta Fever virus.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Book Tour: From A to Z Poetry by Fida Islaih





From A to Z is 100 poems about being Muslim, handling emotions and the beauty of nature. There is a bit of sadness and humor in the collection. From doodling to any kind of sport to colors. In a way the poems may help you improve yourself and your outlook on life.
the poems may help you improve yourself and your outlook on life. ~from the author, Fida Islaih
 
 
My review:
 
From A to Z Poetry is a collection of short poems written by a talented young artist with great potential and a bright future ahead of her.
 
Fida's poems are sincere, candid, genuine and down to earth because she writes from her heart. Because her poems reflect life, love and living, readers will relate to her earnest expressions and impressions as she writes about life, school, relationships, emotions and faith. Get to know this poet through her writings and learn a little something about yourself along the way.
 
I really enjoyed the following poems as they gave me a sense of who Fida, the poet, is. Cannot Lie tells me so much of her character. Certain or Not, her faith. Life and I Come To You, her beliefs. Brokenhearted, her strength. Emotions, her passion. And, If You Give A Pen, her aspirations. 
 
Learn more about the author and her debut boo by visiting her website:
 
Fida Islaih
Blogger, Poet, Author
A TO Z POETRY (Sept, 2013)

Monday, September 16, 2013

Book Tour: CassaStorm by Alex J. Cavanaugh

Alex J Cavanaugh, author of the best-selling Cassa series, is here today as part of his book tour to answer a buring question of mine :) Alex's lastest book, Cassa Storm, will release on September 17, 2013.
Question: If you could change and re-do one aspect of your writing career, what would it be and why?
AJC:
I would’ve planned beyond that first book and been working on both sequels much, much sooner. Although it’s still difficult for me to work on more than one project at a time, I know that would’ve placed me in a better spot.
CassaStorm

By Alex J Cavanaugh From the Amazon Best Selling Series! A storm gathers across the galaxy… Commanding the Cassan base on Tgren, Byron thought he’d put the days of battle behind him. As a galaxy-wide war encroaches upon the desert planet, Byron’s ideal life is threatened and he’s caught between the Tgrens and the Cassans. After enemy ships attack the desert planet, Byron discovers another battle within his own family. The declaration of war between all ten races triggers nightmares in his son, threatening to destroy the boy’s mind. Meanwhile the ancient alien ship is transmitting a code that might signal the end of all life in the galaxy. And the mysterious probe that almost destroyed Tgren twenty years ago could return. As his world begins to crumble, Byron suspects a connection. The storm is about to break, and Byron is caught in the middle…

“…mesmerizing story of survival, personal sacrifice, tolerance, and compassion. It’s a rare jewel that successfully utilizes both character and plot to tell a story of such immense scope and intimate passion…” - Nancy S. Thompson, author of The Mistaken

“CassaStorM is a touching and mesmerizing space opera full of action and emotion with strong characters and a cosmic mystery.” – Edi’s Book Lighhouse

  "Cavanaugh makes world building on the galactic scale look easy. The stakes affect the entire known universe and yet Cavanaugh makes it intensely personal for our hero. The final installment of this series will break your heart and put it back together." - Charity Bradford, science fantasy author of The Magic Wakes

$16.95 USA, 6x9 Trade paperback, 268 pages, Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C. Science fiction/adventure and science fiction/space opera Print ISBN 9781939844002 eBook ISBN 9781939844019 $4.99 EBook available in all formats

Find CassaStorm:

Barnes and Noble -
Amazon -
Amazon Kindle -
Goodreads -
Book trailer -



Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He is experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for several years. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The author of the Amazon bestsellers, CassaStar and CassaFire, he lives in the Carolinas with his wife.

Website – 
Twitter
Goodreads -

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Off to Oz Giveaway Hop 9/10 - 9/17

Wizard of Oz Giveaway Hop width= 

 
It has been a long time since I partook in a giveaway hop! Thanks to I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Angela's Anxious Life for hosting the Off to Oz Giveaway Hop.

I loved the Wizard of Oz as a kid (and still do as an adult!) My favorite character was the cowardly lion :D If they were to make another movie, I would love to see Dorothy go back to Oz or maybe her granddaughter to find the cowardly lion, scare crow and tin man :)
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Friday, September 6, 2013

Cover Reveal: A to Z Poetry by Fida Islaih



Book Description: 
From A to Z is 100 poems about being Muslim, handling emotions and the beauty of nature. There is a bit of sadness and humor in the collection. From doodling to any kind of sport to colors. In a way the poems may help you improve yourself and your outlook on life.

Buy on Smashwords: link will be available later on. 

The book will be published September 19, 2013. 

About the author:
Fida Islaij is a multicultural Muslim who enjoys reading, writing and eating chocolate. 

Find out more about Fida and her debut release on her blog.

Fida Islaih
Blogger, Poet, Author
A TO Z POETRY (Sept, 2013)

Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway: Assured Destruction: Script Kiddie


 
 
Assured Destruction: Script Kiddie

Jan Rose no longer steals data from the old computers she recycles. She doesn't need to. As the newest member of the police department’s High Tech Crime Unit, the laptop of a murderer has landed on her desk. Her job: to profile and expose a killer.

But that’s not all.

A creep lurks in the shadows, stalking a friend, and Jan must stop him before the hunt turns deadly. The clock counts down for Jan to save her friend, her job, her boyfriend—maybe even her life.

***

“A fun, fast-paced thriller guaranteed to distract teens from Facebook ...”
Kirkus Reviews, on Assured Destruction, book #1
 

Michael F. Stewart's Bio:
After crewing ships in the Antarctic and the Baltic Sea and some fun in venture capital, Michael anchored himself (happily) to a marriage and a boatload of kids. Now he injects his adventurous spirit into his writing with brief respites for research into the jungles of Sumatra and Guatemala, the ruins of Egypt and Tik’al, paddling the Zambezi and diving whatever cave or ocean reef will have him. He is a member of the International Thriller Writers and SF Canada, and the author of the Assured Destruction series, 24 Bones, The Sand Dragon, Hurakan, Ruination and several award winning graphic novels for young adults.

      
My Review + Giveaway:


Script Kiddie is the second book of the series, Assured Destruction. And like the book before it, I really enjoyed it. It was fast paced, hair-raising, heart-pumping fun. And the story development kept me turning the page even at 1 in the morning! However, I give Script kiddie 3 stars on Goodreads where the first book had four. Here is why:

Jan is a great girl, driven to help and protect her friends and family, even if it costs her life. I admire that in this character. I really felt for her. But she is only 16 and sometimes the situations she gets herself into or the unreasonable things that is expected of her is just too much to take in. And her relationship with Jonny is unrealistic to me, more like forced. Theirs border on being mad at each other and awkward make out sessions. I mean really, what does she see in a boy that she feels the only way to pacify him is to make out with him once in a while. Sure he is useful for driving her around now that she is sort of disabled but what else is there......and why the heck does he put up with her putting everyone first and leaving him for whenever she has the time or need. To be honest, I like him, he is a great friend but I just don't think they are right for each other. BTW, I was team Karl in Assured Destruction :D

But it was such a good story! I can't help feel a little disappointed book #3 is not out yet. The author leaves some burning questions and now all I want to know is, where and what happened to Jan's father? Really, just who is Peter, her mother's boyfriend, why IS he so interested in her mom and Assured Destruction? And what has Jan gone and gotten herself into (again)?

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Onomatopoeia - Sounds Like.............

Some time ago, I had the wonderful opportunity to partake in a community effort led by Kristen Fulton. A group of writers got together and created an Onomatopoeia Booklet. This booklet is a wonderful resource when you want to find just the write sound word. 

Introducing........

Onomatopoeia

Sounds Like.....



Click on the link or the photo to be taken to the file. Please be aware: While we are very happy to share this this PDF file with you, it is given to you with the understanding that you will respect the authors (our) rights. As such, please.....:

* Only the contributors are permitted to produce, mail or email copies to others.
* Only contributors may upload any part of this book to their personal website or blog.
* Please avoid uploading any part of this file to any community board, group or account. Instead direct people to the website of contributors.

For a complete list of contributors please see front cover.

Thank you!!!!!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Blog Tour - Guest Post: The Art of Promotion by Tia Liverthorne Bach




The Art of Promotion
By Tia Silverthorne Bach
 I say art, because promotion is different for everyone—and its beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
But nobody will argue the importance of good promotion. When I published my first book, Depression Cookies, I had no clue about marketing. I didn’t even set up a blog until after it was published. I can imagine your collective gasp.

Fortunately, I learned a lot in the process and was more prepared for promoting my second book, and first young adult novel, Chasing Memories. First, I built an author platform which included a blog, website, and various social media. I have a Facebook author page and am quite active on Twitter. But this is just a first step, and writers need to find a balance so these promotional tools do not keep them from writing. At the end of the day, the best way to market a book is to write another book and build a reader following.

Prior to releasing Chasing Memories, I had a cover reveal tour. I asked my fellow authors to spread the word about my cover through a series of timed blog posts. Then, we all shared these posts via social media. I can’t stress enough the importance of building an online writing network. Not only do we support each other, but we share information. I found out about Tribute Book Tours this way as well as the Indie-Credible Tour, a huge celebration of indie books this September.

My best advice is two-fold and simple, but important. First, be yourself. Second, spam marketing never works. Find forums, groups, and authors who write in your genre. Interact with them, but don’t push sales. Let a relationship develop naturally—relationships take time, which is why it is so imperative to start marketing before your publication date.

Try things, and see what works and what doesn’t. And don’t give up.

I do not think there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature. John D. Rockefeller
 
Chasing Memories Book Summary:


There isn’t another way; not now. The others are coming. I can’t let them have you…

Seventeen-year-old Reagan has a problem: She can’t remember what happened the night her brother was taken.

Now, the dreams haunting her from the incident are becoming more intense by the day. All the while, the lines between what’s real and what’s a product of her paranormal-obsessed mind are becoming blurred.

Is she losing her mind or has she just stepped into a world she thought only existed in books?

Caught in a web of worried parents, competing boys, Wiccan relatives, protective amulets, and psychiatrist babble, Reagan must determine the truth before it’s too late.
  
Tia Silverthorne Bach's Bio:
Tia Silverthorne Bach is an avid reader, sometimes runner, involved wife and mother, and rabid grammar hound in addition to being a multi-genre writer. Her three daughters were born in Chicago, San Diego, and Baltimore; and she feels fortunate to have called many places home. She's the award-winning co-author of Depression Cookies, a coming of age story written with her mother. Tia's office is wherever her laptop takes her and any place that's conducive to allowing a wild imagination like hers to flourish.

Prices/Formats: $3.99 ebook, $12.99 paperback
Pages: 296
Publisher: self-published
Release: May 22, 2013

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Guest Post: Marketing: Before, During and After Publication




Marketing: Before, During and After Publication 

 

Marketing is a dirty word.  Isn’t it?

When I was just starting out—when Bethany House released my first book—I sent out a series of marketing emails with the title: A Little Shameless Self-Promotion.  The title was a nod to how odd I felt actually trying to market my book.  There was something faux-apologetic about it, as if I by inserting the word “shameless” I was letting people know that, while I knew it was bad form, I was doing it anyway.

Think about that.  In what other industry does someone create something and then not tell anyone about it?  When the new iPhone comes out, does Apple slip it onto the shelves and hope someone happens to see it?  Or do they marshal all of their resources to get people talking about it?

As writers, we want to think of ourselves as artists—as if somehow that places us above the need to lower ourselves to something like marketing.  After all, art isn’t a commodity.  Is it?

The truth lies somewhere in between. 

 I love writing stories.  And I love when people read them.  But how can the latter happen if no one does the hard work of letting people know there’s a new story out there to be read?

 I’ll be honest; I’ve never been good at marketing.  I don’t keep a blog.  I rarely think up anything interesting enough to tweet.  And I don’t engage all that well with a wide audience.  One of the reasons for that is I’m a serious introvert.  I’m happiest when I’m home by myself jotting stories down on yellow notepads with a mechanical pencil.  I can write stories.  What I can’t do is engage with people.

But when Bethany House signed me, they were taking a risk.  They took on an unknown author and signed me to a multi-book deal.  And make no mistake—the risk was all theirs’.  So how does my publisher try to mitigate that risk?  First, they try to put out books that people will actually read.  Second, they work with the author to make sure the product that’s released is as good as it can be.  And third, they throw resources at getting the word out.  Every one of these things is a partnership, requiring work from both parties.  And that includes marketing, even if that doesn’t play to my skill-set.

As the title of this post suggests, there are three phases to marketing: pre, during and post.  And each focuses on a specific objective.

Prior to publication, the focus of marketing efforts is something I call pre-branding.   Think about the books you buy—and how many of them you buy because of the author’s name on the cover.  Before your book comes out, you have to focus on name recognition.  In a perfect world a reader will know your name before they know the name of your book.

How do you do that?  You go where the readers are.  Take part in online communities frequented by readers.  Join Facebook groups geared toward readers and authors.  Blog prolifically—and not just about books.  Have something unique to say.  It can take a lot of time but it’s worth it because you’re laying the groundwork for the sort of name recognition that will increase book sales.

Admittedly, all of the above is difficult for me because, as I said, I don’t socially network well.  Even so, I’m convinced that my feeble attempts at this sort of marketing have paid off, especially as I’ve gotten a few books under my belt.  If you’re the sort of writer who can be tenacious about this sort of thing, it’s going to be a tremendous help in adding longevity to your career. 

And that brings me to the next phase in the marketing process: concurrent with publication marketing.  This is actually a bit of a misnomer because this kind of marketing starts months before anyone can buy your book.  For my own books, I typically consider the availability of the cover art as signaling the start of this phase 

As far as I’m concerned, this is the easiest part of the process.  I’m getting the cover out there for people to see.  I’m searching the websites (Amazon, ChristianBook, Barnes & Noble) for links to pre-order the book, which I then pass along to fans.  I scour the web for advance reviews and repost/link these as appropriate.  I come up with the occasional tidbit about the new book, or a question for readers, and post on my author page.  Most of this is reactive marketing—I’m responding to things other people are doing and trying to throw my own weight behind these efforts.  It’s easy and there’s really no excuse for not joining in and doing your part here.

Of course, you’re not limited to profiting off the work of others here.  Some authors will use this time to generate interest in the book through contests—with prizes ranging from free books to even a chance of appearing as a character in the author’s next novel.  There’s really no limit to what you can do here—anything to get people talking about your book, to get them looking forward to its release.

Which brings us to…post-release marketing. 

This is the part of the marketing process that has the potential to produce the greatest rewards as it relates to your current book (as opposed to pre-branding, which has greater longevity).  But it can also be the most taxing. 

The reason that post-release marketing has such potential is because this is usually the time when the author partners with, hopefully, a large group of people who can help spread the word about the new release.  This is where the interviews happen (print, radio and television).  It’s also where introverted authors can try their hand at contributing guest posts on others’ blogs! 

Now, you may wonder how a guy with an admitted lack of social media skills can handle the responsibilities of this phase.  The answer is that, while responding to interview requests and writing guest posts for blogs are social activities, they’re also activities with deadlines—and with well-defined parameters.  I work pretty well under a deadline.  And if you tell me to write about something, I can usually do it.  Too, I genuinely enjoy engaging with readers.  I’m actually pretty good at it on a one on one level.  And, to me, these sorts of targeted activities are more like a conversation between friends than they are attempts to engage a large audience.  So I can jump into this phase feet first and enjoy the process.

Yet, I mentioned that this can also be the most taxing phase of marketing—and that’s a good thing!  If you’re lucky, you have another book in the works—something you’re turning your focus to even as the one you just released is finding readers.  It’s a strange situation to be in.  You’ve spent a year writing a book, living with the characters, going back and forth with your editor.  For me, once that process is done, there’s the temptation to wash my hands of the thing, to let the smart people at my publishing house do what they do best.  It’s not that I’m not excited about the book.  On the contrary, I’m looking forward to its release; I want to hear what people think of it.  I want readers to enjoy the story as much as I did.  But I’m also thinking about my future—about the next book.  Because even if the book you’ve just released sells well, even if people are talking about it, if you don’t have a follow-up you’re easily forgotten. 

So you have to split your time between supporting the new release and struggling with a new story—all the while hoping you’re not doing a disservice to either.  In truth, it’s a good situation to be in because once you’re not in it anymore, it means no one is buying your books!  So you dig in and throw all your energy into both tasks, knowing that at some point the book support demands will fade and you’ll find more time to devote to the new story.  And, with any luck, you’ll get to do it all over again!

Ultimately, your book will rise or fall on its own merits.  It’s rare (though not unheard of) for any amount of marketing to save a bad book.  And we’ve all heard stories about some incredible book that reaches the mainstream based solely on word of mouth.  Which means that your best strategy for having a successful book is the same as it’s always been: write a good book.  Concentrate on craft first, which will make marketing your book, in whatever phase you’re in, a whole lot easier.  

 


Author Don Hoesel

Don Hoesel is a Web site designer for a Medicare carrier in Nashville, TN. He has a BA in Mass Communication from Taylor University and has published short fiction in Relief Journal. He lives in Spring Hill, Tennessee, with his wife and two children. The Alarmists is his third novel.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Blog Tour: Blood and Bone by Don Hoesel

 
Blood and Bone 

More Archaeological Adventures from Popular Suspense Writer Don Hoesel.

A decade after Serpent of Moses, Jack is married to Espy and back teaching at Evanston University. They have two sons, one of whom has cystic fibrosis. Despite this challenge, life is comfortable. But that all changes when the CIA, while combing through the papers of the late Gordon Reese, uncovers the secret of Elisha's bones. Jack's world is then turned upside down by an urgent call from his old friend Duckey, who's been alerted to the CIA's probing by one of his former contacts. Jack and his family escape from their home just ahead of the CIA, and he decides to do what he should have done long ago: recover the bones and destroy them. Except the bones aren't where he left them. So now Jack is in a race, for the last time, to find the bones. And he's not the only one. Pitted against both the CIA and an organization that will kill to protect their secrets, Jack and Espy follow hard-to-decipher clues across the globe before arriving in the catacombs of Paris for a final showdown that will either save their family--or tear apart everything they hold dear forever.


  Blood and Bone Tour
 
 
Author Don Hoesel

Don Hoesel is a Web site designer for a Medicare carrier in Nashville, TN. He has a BA in Mass Communication from Taylor University and has published short fiction in Relief Journal. He lives in Spring Hill, Tennessee, with his wife and two children. The Alarmists is his third novel.  
Book Blast Giveaway

$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 8/4/13 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer http://iamareader.com and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.   a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Guest Post: Self-Publishing with Jasime Roy


The Highs and Lows of Self-Publishing
Challenges of Publishing: My Journey
Jasmine Roy

Becoming a book author isn’t a simple job. Though the entry barrier has been lowered in the past few years, sustaining yourself through the bumps isn’t so easy. Making contacts with various parties in the book industry and then proposing your manuscript to the publisher through a book agent. And then waiting for their approval and more likely getting rejections is all so disappointing. After you face a couple of rejections, you are soon on the track of negative self-talk, quick to label yourself as a loser before another publisher really starts to like your work.

This phenomenon is fairly common and has driven many book authors to walk the self-publishing pathway. And there’s nothing wrong with that. This is an age when relying on someone else to carry out your job is likely to land you in trouble and give your nothing but failures and disappointments; a DIY job is highly preferred even in the publishing industry. For new book authors, self-publishing is definitely a route worth taking.

I took up self-publishing when it became too much for me to handle the constant rejections and delays by various publishers. Some sane person who’s been here for quite some time gave me a wise piece of advice of going for self-publishing.  Looking at my initial record of publisher rejections, I felt his advice was well-meaning and a well-intended one.  

My Self-publishing Experience

I love my work, and I know deep inside that I possess the drive and passion to make my dreams come true. However, to make them come true and in the quickest way possible, I needed to make amends in the way that I do my work, not just writing but publishing too.

Since my first successful experience at self-publishing was for a short romantic novel which revolved around a couple who weren’t sure about the feelings they shared for each other but later ended up being together. I thought making an interesting eBook out of this with a touching cover page and a title that captivates and moves the hearts of all that believe in true love.

I hired a self-publisher and instructed them about the design and title text that I wanted to incorporate into the e-copy. I ensured that there was an intrigue factor in the book; nobody likes to read a book that has a tell-all synopsis.  This had happened with me for one of my comic books when my extracts summarized all that was in the book. No doubt that the EBook never found any readers.

For the romantic novel, I registered with all possible free eBook websites and made sure the copies of my eBook were available for downloading from there. I wrote the book extract in such a way that it appealed to the modern youth. When you are publishing a romantic novel, keep in mind the target audience. If the eBook cover page and layout represents the age when your grandpa met grandma, you are cooking up a recipe for disaster.

In the first month itself, my EBook picked up sales through Amazon.com. That was the moment of utmost happiness for me. After enjoying the first few readers for my eBook, I made it a paid version in the third month. And it surprised me to see that people were willing to buy the paid version of my eBook too. Remember to cash in on the success as it may not last. If you wait too long before converting the free version into a paid one, the readers will circulate the free eBook to their friends who will no longer need the paid version. I had committed this mistake while publishing my comic eBook.

Self publishing a book may seem interesting, but you have to be well-versed with a lot of things and be good at handling them all at once. It did not take me much time to find a self-publisher from the highly informative online databases to help me with the implementation part. But, the planning part was all mine; they grant you the freedom to choose whatever design and layout you want for your book. And yes, for a romantic novel, don’t forget to use that oomph factor for publishing!


Author Bio: Jasmine Roy has extensive experience in writing on a range of topic. These portals not only support publishers, new authors, freelance illustrators but they also provide valuable information and services to publishing agents and agencies.
Please visit the author's site:  http://pubmatchblog.wordpress.com/

Member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators