Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Chef's Delight Cook Book?

So, out of all the questions I could possibly get, the only one I've really gotten more than once is, "Do you have recipes for Connor's food?" If you haven't read Chef's Delight, Connor is a chef, and his restaurant, Estelle's, uses a lot of chevre (goat cheese) in its recipes. That's where the love interest comes in, Jessie the goat farmer.

Anyway, this post is not about Chef's Delight, but about the cook book I'm thinking about putting together as a companion to the novel. Since so many people have asked about the recipes, I've decided to quit sending them to pinterest (which is where I got most of my ideas for menu items) but to send them to my upcoming book!

With summer coming fast and furious, I'm going to be spending more time with my kids, and less on my laptop. I'll be spending more time cooking food they will eat. I'll be spending less time actually creating stories and trying to make my kids productive members of the household. So, why not combine everything, and try to publish something as well?

Recipes from the book that I'm going to try at home:

Artichoke and chevre stuffed chicken breasts.
Fig/chevre pizza,
Goat's milk ice cream,
Chevre cream sauce (to go over steaks, pork and chicken, or as my daughter will probably eat it, over noodles),
Capresi salad, using chevre instead of mozarella,
Raviolis, stuffed with peaches and chevre,
And my personal favorite, wild cherry chevre tart.

Then there are Jessie's flavored cheeses,
Basil pesto chevre and
Chipolte chevre

The cookbook will also include recipes for making cheese the way Jessie makes it, with lemons instead of renit, and her famous whey smoothies.

I'm also going to suggest some wine pairings with the cheeses, although it'll be an affordable list, and not a list of fancy wines...

The more I think about the cookbook idea, the more fun I think it'll be. I'm trying to decide if I'm up for putting pictures with it, although I personally hate cookbooks without pictures, so I'll have to get over the stupid Smashwords metagrinder with the photo formatting...

I will also some more recipe ideas for the book. Do any of you guys have a favorite goat cheese dish that you love, and would like to see included?

Tell me what you think! I need feedback.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Book Review: Hearts of Ishira

I just finished reading Hearts of Ishira, a sci-fi romance of epic proportions. First of all, I have to give kudos to Bethany Aan for the sweetest dedication EVER to her husband. Made me wish she was my wife. I'll admit, science fiction's not really my thing. I prefer the classics, Arthur C. Clarke, 2001 Space Odyssey type stuff. But there were enough other elements in Hearts of Ishira to make it a compelling read for me. 1. Sexy cat-men. Once I got used to the furry aspect of the men on this planet, it was pretty cool. Stroking their backs to emit a growly purr…Yummy. 2. Empaths. The female MC and one of the male MCs were empaths, able to read minds and feelings. Admit it, it's every girls' dream to have a mate who can read her mind. 3. Boy to girl ratio. With 3-4 men for every woman in this book, it made for some pretty steamy ménage scenes. Hip Hip Hooray! 4. Busted out social norms. This is the beauty of sci-fi, fantasy, and paranormal: you get to make the rules. Ms. Aan made some beautiful rules in this book. The species of men colonizing the planet that Ri's spaceship crash-landed on preferred the older, wiser, curvier women to the twenty-something sticks that accompanied her. The valued women and family above all else in their society, and they all worked together as a team. No politicking. 5. A great antagonist… 6. While reading this book, I did some serious reminiscing to back when I first discovered Jane M. Aul's Clan of the Cave Bear series. Back at home, Ri had been a weirdo for knitting, crotcheing, and spinning her own yarn. On the new planet, her textile crafts were an asset, and she and the men created tools for her to use in her creations. 7. The female lead was intrepid, spunky, and idealistic, without being naïve, which I liked a lot. 8. Lots and lots of great sex 9. Witty dialogue. There was only one aspect of the book that I didn't like, and would be remiss if I didn't share it in the review. The POV shifts were jarring at times, sometimes switching within a paragraph. It seemed to get better as the novel went on or maybe my brain just got used to it. I can see the challenges in writing multiple POVs from empaths, "She could tell he sensed…" but it was distracting to me. Overall though, this was an intense read. It was action packed, and had great pacing. If I didn't have kids and a husband constantly demanding food and attention, I would have definitely read it faster. I will keep these characters in my thoughts for a while.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Beyond the Iron Gate Giveaway

Drum Roll, Please...


I am please to take part in the epic giveaway of Beyond the Iron Gate, by Alicia Michaels.

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Aint it pretty?

Here's a summary for you folks...

In the year 1845, before the mystical land of Fallada was separated from the realm of men forever, the two worlds coexisted in harmony. Man could mingle freely in the world of the Elves and Faeries at will and peace reigned.

In the hills of Shropshire, England, just miles from the gate separating the village of Ludlow from the world of mystical creatures, farmer’s daughter Zara Wells longs for answers. It is not only the golden hair that trail feet behind her, or the strange hue of her violet eyes that separates her from the other girls her village. There is something inside of her, something touched by magic that longs to know more about what lies on the other side of the gate.

In Fallada, darkness has begun to spread. As the youngest and most beautiful girls of her village begin to disappear, Zara comes closer to discovering the true circumstances surrounding her birth. Little does she know, that the closer she comes to the answers she so desperately desires, the closer she will come to being ensnared in the dark queen’s web of growing treachery.

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If I can figure out this code madness, you can enter to win this super cool prize pack, which includes:

$25 Amazon Gift Card
Tote Bag
Rubber bracelets (2)
Handmade beaded necklace and earrings set
Keychain
Autographed postcard and bookmark
Magnets
Series trading cards

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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About the author:

Ever since she first read books like Chronicles of Narnia or Goosebumps, Alicia has been a lover of mind-bending fiction. Wherever imagination takes her, she is more than happy to call that place her home. The mother of two and wife to an Army sergeant loves chocolate, coffee, and of course good books. When not writing, you can usually find her with her nose in a book, shopping for shoes and fabulous jewelry, or spending time with her loving family.

Alicia can be found on the web at any of the following links:

www.fantasybyalicia.com
www.facebook.com/fantasybyalicia
www.goodreads.com/alicia_michaels
Follow her at Twitter: @fantasybyalicia






Thursday, April 25, 2013

My Process

I'm extremely focused on my writing goals.  As I stated in my first post, I'm doing the Indie Author thing because I want to make money.  I'm tired of living on peanuts, and I share the American dream of providing for my family doing something that I love.  I have a business plan, and part of that plan includes publishing something every three months, to stay on top of some sort of algorithm the epublishers have working.  I don't even know what an algorithm is, but I'm trying to work with it.  So, yesterday, I tore apart a calendar that we got from the Chinese buffet here in town, and wrote my writing goals on it.


On the calendar, I have noted publishing dates, and based on those dates, when I need to get my manuscript to my editor, Catherine.  I have blocked out weeks for revision, weeks for promotion, and weeks for beta on each WIP.  I felt a supreme feeling of accomplishment, just putting all of this on a visual format for me to look at every time I walk down the hallway to my bedroom.

It's actually not that hard for me, because I don't have a job to report in to every morning, so as soon as I drop the kids off at school, I can get busy and stay busy until it's time to pick them up.  That gives me six hours of almost uninterrupted writing time, five days a week.  I'm lucky in that regard.  I know a lot of indie authors have full time jobs they report to, and don't get a chance to actually write until after all the kids are in bed.  If that were me, I'd still be journaling.

At any given time, I have at least three works in progress.  I always start with an outline.  I'll outline a story, then work on a rough draft for an outline I've already got, then work on revisions for a rough draft I've already got, then go back and work on something else that I've already got.  I focus on one WIP for anywhere from a week to a month, before moving on to a different one.  Example...

I revised my rough draft for Falling for Heaven, and sent it out to beta readers.  While it was out of my hands, I wrote the rough draft for Hot Mess.  I already had an outline for it, so I followed the outline, only varying slightly from my original story.  Hot Mess involved research on my part, so it took a little longer than most.  I worked on that rough draft for almost a month.  Once I had the rough draft, I put it aside and worked on another rough draft, Heaven's sequel, since my betas hadn't finished with Heaven yet.  The next rough draft didn't involve as much research, so it only took a couple of weeks to finish.  Then, I put it aside.

Going back to Heaven, I put in some of the suggested revisions from my beta readers (about a week) and sent it off to my editor.  Then I worked on revisions for Hot Mess, since it had been almost a month since I'd looked at it last.

Now, I've finished round one of revisions for Hot Mess (they took a lot longer than revisions for Heaven, because I had skipped a bunch of scenes when writing the rough draft), and outlined my Christmas novella.  I'm taking a few days off to recharge the brain, then round two of Hot Mess will happen.  Once it's sent off to the beta readers, I will scratch out a rough draft of the Christmas novella, and start working on revisions to the sequel to Heaven.

It took awhile for me to realize this would work for me.  And because it works for me, doesn't mean it would work for others, but it's the system that I've found.  And I like systems.  Everywhere I go, I've got my laptop or a notebook with me (or three) and I'm writing random notes about whatever WIP is inside my head at that moment.  It could be the one I'm outlining, revising, or rough drafting.  My notebooks are completely scattered and random.  I also use the "sticky note" app on my iPhone for a lot of notes.

It's a constant rotating cycle of working on one MS or another.  I would go nuts if I actually worked on one MS for three months straight.  My brain is too scattered for that.  And I'm trying to get ahead of the game for this summer, when the kids are home.  If I stay on schedule, I'll have published six stories this year.  And that ain't too shabby...

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Post Publishing

Now that I have kids of my own, Christmas isn't really that big of a deal to me.  It's more of a holiday full of preparations for others to enjoy: cooking, cleaning, trips to Christmas tree farms.  But I still remember the feelings of anticipation of Santa, coming through the keyhole (we didn't have a chimney), and bringing his huge sack of goodies.  I never really knew if he'd gotten my letters or not.  He rarely brought me what I'd asked for, although I usually enjoyed what I got.

The year I asked for a Barbie mansion of some sorts, he brought me a microscope.  At first, I was sorely disappointed.  But my mom showed me what spit looked like through the eyepiece, and I was hooked.  For weeks afterward, I was scraping up bath tub scum, tearing leaves off plants, and scraping people's teeth to see what kinds of organisms I could find...

Publishing my own work is akin to getting Santa's visits.  Trying to build up an awareness through social media and submitting advanced copies to reviewers can be time-consuming and daunting at the least, mentally and emotionally draining at the most.  Actually holding onto a completed story for two weeks before publishing it, to stay on my timeline?  Ugh...I'm not sure I'll ever do that again.  Patience is not one of my big things.

Back to my Santa comparison...Yeah, so now that it's out there...I'm not sure what I'll get in return.  Not that I need something back, I just would like to know that people are actually reading them, and enjoying my work.  Advanced reviews were generally positive, though for completely dichotomous reasons.  I found it funny that some reviewers liked the steaminess, others liked the tameness.  To my knowledge, they read the same story.

I am obsessively checking my sales on Amazon, just about every hour.  Against my will, almost...I'll pass my computer, and my butt sits in the chair and my hands are on the mouse, clicking away before I realize what I'm doing.  I have to laugh at myself, and know that in a couple of days I'll get over it and stop obsessing over the numbers.

Yesterday, I got a message from an old college buddy of mine, asking who in the hell Anne Conley was.  I told him it was my pen name, for the romances I've been publishing.  Turns out, this guitar building metal head is a fan of erotica.  He downloaded Neighborly Complications last night, and regaled me with comments like, "Chapter Five: Wowza!"  It was fun.

I'm hoping though, that like visits from Santa, I will receive an unexpected surprise with Falling for Heaven.  Either an amazing review, or a spike in sales of my other books, or an email from an actual fan and not just somebody I know.  It would be cool to know that a complete stranger was led to my stories and felt something from reading them.  Even if it is just horny.  Not that I don't appreciate the support of people I know, even if I only know them from this digital world.  Without those people, I probably wouldn't have even kept writing.

So Santa can come.  Bring me something unexpected.  In the meantime, I'll keep obsessively checking my sales numbers, and looking for reviews.  Hopefully, I'll eventually get back to work.

Good things planned for this week.  I'm hoping to finish Hearts of Ishira, by Bethany Aan today, so I can post a review of it tomorrow.  It's a good one.  Then Friday, this blog is taking part in a massive giveaway that looks pretty danged exciting.  I'm totally going to enter it, if I can...

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Editors...Who Needs Them?

EVERYBODY!!!


I published my first three stories on a shoestring budget.  I spent ten dollars that I didn't have for cover art, and that was it.  I relied on myself, Beta readers and my mom, who taught seventh grade English for forty years, for editing.  

I had looked for editors for my manuscripts, but the ones I found using Google, charged thousands of dollars.  I decided that if those were my options, I would take my chances.  I'd read enough self-published work, I knew my stuff was at least not as riddled with mistakes as some other stuff out there.  So I crossed my fingers, hoped for the best, and kept looking.

 Then I discovered the myriad of resources on Goodreads.

I had posted in a group for writers, asking about editors.  Initially, I was dismayed at the responses.  Things like, "I spent $2500 on my editor, and it was money well spent."  I have no idea what that particular person's word count was, or the services rendered, but that number was so out of my price-range, I stopped checking posts on the thread.  It was disheartening, to say the least.  I had some money coming from a project I had working.  I had decided to spend some of it on an editor, but four figures for 50,000 words was not in my price range.  At all.

Then I met Catherine.  

She is a wonderful person, who is educated, dedicated, friendly, and most of all, affordable.  She understood my reticence about handing over money to someone online, and provided references.  She even offered to edit a sample chapter, to make sure we would be a good fit.

To my chagrin, Mom's years of teaching grammar to seventh graders (and me) wasn't enough.  Apparently, I love misusing commas.  Since Catherine doesn't edit my blog posts, you guys may have already discovered that, and I hope that you can see past my love for inappropriate commas.

Anyway, this post is not about plugging my editor, it's about the realization that everybody needs one.  No matter how many sets of eyes look at a work, it is always good to have professional editing services go over them with a fine toothed comb.  Period.

Falling for Heaven probably saw more sets of eyes than all three of the other works put together.  I was nervous about my first attempt at paranormal romance, and I had a lot of betas look at it.  A couple of them even took a shot at the editing aspect of it.

Catherine not only took out hundreds of commas, she verified a couple of historical inaccuracies, reminded me of Ms. James' overuse of the word "hitched", but she also pointed out qualities of my writing that she loved.

So you see?  She edits and she praises.  I love her.

I know not every writer is lucky enough to have stumbled upon a gem like Catherine.  I feel blessed to have her as an integral part of my process.

I stole this little piece of her from her blog, and I hope she doesn't mind.  It sums up beautifully how she feels about her editing, and it's the main reason why I like her so much.  She really likes her job...

I just had a wonderful experience with a new client, and I always have mixed feelings when I finish an editing job. I am sad because the job is over. When I am working on a job, I spend a great deal of time with the manuscript. A lot of my late-night hours are spent in front of my computer. In most cases I’ve become attached to the characters, and there is a sense of loss when I have to send them back to their rightful owners. I admit that sometimes I hate to say good-bye. But I am also happy that I’ve seen a project to its completion.



See what I mean? I just love her so much, I could put her in my purse and take her with me everywhere I go. I've recently decided to take my profits from my first quarter's sales and re-invest them in more editing services. Catherine is working on editing my original stories, so that I can re-publish them, edited. I'm so excited about that, I can't even begin to describe it.

Finding Catherine, and using her services has brought my writing to another level. I can now tell people, with pride, that I'm an author. Yes, a real author, with an editor and everything.

For those of you that are interested, here's her website. If this post wasn't enough, she has recommendations on her site, and can put you into contact with others who have used her services. Okay, so it turned into a plug. I'm not sorry.



Sunday, April 21, 2013

Author Interview: Bethany Aan

Today, I'm doing my first interview with Indie Author, Bethany Aan.  I'm currently enjoying her sci-fi romance, Hearts of Ishira.  I will post a review of it later this week, but I can tell you now:  I love her main character.




Describe your writing process. 

            I get an idea, sit down at the computer, and start writing. That’s the easy part. The hard part is making it into something cohesive. So I basically do a stream-of-consciousness writing session, where I’ll write feverishly for days or weeks on end, just getting the main story out. Once that’s out, I go back, add clarification, check for inconsistencies, put in additional scenes and transitions.
            After I have several chapters and a good idea where the story is going, I’ll send out some edited stuff to my beta readers, so they can let me know if the idea itself is working, if it’s too far-fetched, if I’ve got some glaring gaps in the story, or even if they just adore it and want more.
            When things are winding down and I don’t have the driving need to write, I’m still thinking about the story, still working things out in my head. Often, I’ll sit and either watch an old favorite movie or listen to Pandora on computer, and knit or crochet as I work on the story issues.
            Lather, rinse, repeat, for each story idea that comes up, then try to gel it all together. I’ve never been an ‘outline’ kind of girl. Even when I had to do such things in school, I’d write the paper first, then create the outline from it. I know, crazy, huh? I’m what they call a ‘Panster’, and most of the time I’m just fine with that.

What motivates you to sit down and write?

            The possibility of escape, the need to create a new world, a new situation, or just to get the movies out of my head and onto ‘paper’, so to speak. It’s not that I decided one day to be a writer. I started writing one day and have tried being everything else. Now that my health is bad enough to prevent my working outside the home, it seemed like the right time to take the writing seriously, actually get a book finished, and see what happened. Now I write because I want to see where the stories lead me, and because I have this looming fear that if I don’t get the sequel to Hearts of Ishira out, my fans are going to come mob me!

Where does your inspiration come from?

            Everywhere. Seriously, I can be watching TV and someone will say something on a show, and BAM! There’s an idea. My husband often sighs and shakes his head because he can tell when I just had an idea and NEED to write it down, right now.
           
Do you have any writers that you consider mentors?

            Not really. I mean, there are authors that I adore, people whose influence is definitely evident in my writing, I think. But as for other writers that guide me… I do have one friend that’s been there through it all, as a cheerleader and sometime-butt-kicker, so I guess she’d be the one. Angela Drake is her pen name.

What do you think is your greatest strength in your writing?

            The ability to make my readers feel what my characters are feeling, and the ability to bring a world to life. That’s the feedback I’ve been getting, anyhow.

What is your biggest challenge?

            Discipline. That’s it, in a nutshell. Forcing myself to turn off Facebook and actually focus on editing and rewrites is possibly the hardest thing I do.

Do you ever experience writer's block?  How do you get through it?

            I do, but I have so many other hobbies that I’ve learned just to pick up something else for a time, let the story issues work themselves out in the back of my mind, and when it’s ready to be written, it’ll let me know.

Name some authors who have influenced or inspired you?
           
            Anne McCaffrey, CS Lewis, Julia Quinn, Karen Marie Moning, Patricia C. Wrede, Alan Dean Foster, Johanna Lindsey, Catherine Anderson, Elizabeth Lowell… I read a LOT.

Tell a little about your most recent work.  Title, genre, and tag line.

            Hearts of Ishira is my first full-length novel. I consider it a sci-fi romantica, because it’s a bit too tame for most erotica, but the ménage aspect tends to put it into that category. However, the romance is primary, sci-fi is secondary, and the actual steamy bits are icing on the cake.
            I don’t really have a tag-line for it, but I suppose if I did, it would be ‘Two hearts are better than one’, since Ri ends up with two hunky warriors as her mates.

Tell us about your favorite character from the book. 

            My favorite character is Arianna. She’s always surprising me with her spunky wit, her enthusiasm, her compassion, and sometimes even her bad-assery. Even she doesn’t know yet what she’s capable of or why she was chosen for the role she’s only starting to discover. As more ‘coincidences’ crop up, she’ll get even more bad-ass… and conflicted. The role she’s been chosen for is not something that she wants, and that will become more apparent with each book.

Is/are there specific themes that you would like your reader to grasp while they're reading your novel?

            Acceptance, love without limits, thriving in a new environment, and making the most of second chances. I’ve had a lot of second chances in my life, and I’m grateful for every new opportunity to get things right.
            Oh, and never stop believing in magic.

What makes a good story?
           
            I think that’s a subjective question… for me, it’s good relationships between the characters, decent forward motion of the plot, and a good dose of HEA. There’s enough sadness and loss in the world. When I read, I want to come away with hope and the feeling that there’s still a chance for anyone to have a HEA.

How do you market your work?

·         I have a Facebook Author page- facebook.com/bethanyaan
·         a twitter account- @bethanyaan
·         a blog- bethanyaan.blogspot.com
·         goodreads account- Bethany Aan
·         g-mail account where my readers can (and do!) write to me. I read everything myself at this point, and LOVE hearing from fans. bethanyaanerotica@gmail.com


Do you have a current work in progress?  Can you tell a little bit about it?

            Yes, several, actually!
            I’m working on the sequel to Hearts of Ishira, which is the continuation of the first book, with the focus on Ri and Sean.
HERE BE SPOILERS:
Hunter and Jace are still a big part of her life, but with so many new mouths to feed and take care of, they aren’t around as much as they’d like. That’s okay, because big brother Sean is there, healing from the blaster wound that he took to save Ri’s life in the first book, and Ri is a captive audience for his flirting and seduction. Of course, Ri being who she is, the seduction and flirting don’t go just one way. Her heart might firmly belong to Hunter and Jace, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have room for their long-lost brother, as well. After all… it’s the Thorsani way!

Tell us about yourself, outside of writing.

            There’s life outside of writing??
            Okay, seriously… My husband and I participate in the Society for Creative Anachronism, a not-for-profit educational group that focuses on life in the Middle Ages. My persona is a Danish Viking from the 10th century. I teach various fiber crafts… spinning, knitting, a method called sprang, weaving, and anything else that requires string. My husband thinks I’m part cat.
            I take long naps, decorate cakes, bake, knit, crochet, sew, quilt, bead, quill, and lots of other crafts. I also like gardening, though I haven’t been able to do so for a few years. I love hanging out with my geeky friends, watching sci-fi and fantasy shows and movies, and Big Bang Theory is the boxed set I’d want with me if I ever found myself stranded on a desert island with a solar powered DVD player.
            Sal and I have been together more than 16 years, 5+ of those married. He’s my best friend, instigator, enabler, and silliness partner. He’s my inspiration for most of my heroes. He’s about to graduate college (May 11th, 2013!) with degrees in math and education. At 42, we’ve both achieved our dreams: mine is being a published author, his is being a high school math teacher. We’ve been through so much together, and though our lives are about to get even more ‘interesting’, we’ll be making our next moves together, as it should be. 

Is there anything else you would like to share?

            I know that some folks are bewildered by my style of writing, in that my heroes and heroines don’t fight a lot.
My experience with love has been that it shouldn’t be a constant battle, that it should be easy and just kind of happen. I find it much more intriguing watching committed couples (or in the case of most of my stories, groups of people), band together and fight against an outside force, instead of each other.
Love should be the glue that binds you, not the fight tearing you apart, and I hope that my stories convey that.


Do you have any words of advice or encouragement for other writers who are looking to publish?

            DO IT!!!! Don’t just think about it, don’t just dream. Sit down, make it happen, and do it. Best advice I can give is to cultivate a good batch of beta readers that love your work, and then treat them like gold. They’re going to read the same stuff over and over again with minor variations, so don’t ever take them for granted.

Friday, April 19, 2013

New Release...SO EXCITED!!!


Falling for Heaven will be released next week.  Yes, NEXT WEEK!!!  It's really exciting when I get to see my labors out there for the public to see, rant, and rave over.  Yes, some people actually rave.  It's quite an ego boost.  Some of the preliminary reviews for Heaven have been very positive.

From Catherine, on Goodreads:  "I loved this story and highly recommend it to those who are drawn to the paranormal romance genre."

From Tammy, also on Goodreads:  "It was such a good read that I did not want it to end. I can not wait until I get to read the second book of the series. 

You will fall in love with Uri and Heather. "

From Karen: " The author has a nice writing style and the story flowed very smoothly. The romance between Uri and Heather was well written. "

And my own personal favorite, from Darrin:  " It stays true to what it is, a strong story with strong characters you will connect with and be swept away by. Read it once then read it twice. Not because you won't have "got" it the first time, but because it is so damn good you simply won't be able to not read it again."

Yeah, I read that last one a couple of times to myself, then a few more times to any family members who would stand still long enough to listen.

Not everybody likes it though, and I can understand that.  One reviewer said it was steamy, another reviewer said her grandma could read the sex scenes.  But all in all, I'm please with the advanced reviews of Falling for Heaven, and I'm super excited to put it out there for everyone and see what people think.  General concensus is that it's not your standard paranormal romance, and that's fine with me.    

I'm fixing to start revisions on the second book in the series, and it should be published late this year.  

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Review of Hansel and Gretel, by Vanessa Booke


Gretel (A Retelling of Hansel & Gretel)

Short and sweet, well…maybe not so sweet.  This short story by Vanessa Booke was a refreshing change from what I've been reading.  A retelling of Hansel and Gretel, it stays true to the story I remember from my childhood, with more realistic aspects.  The story, as I remember and fear it, is this:  Hansel and Gretel were being raised by their father who remarried.  They were all poor, and in attempt to get more food, the stepmother sent them out to get lost and die in the woods.  They left a trail of pebbles and found their way back.  The next day, they do the same, only they forget stones, and leave a trail of breadcrumbs, which the birds promptly eat up.  Lost and alone in the woods, they are saved by the magical appearance of a candy house.  An old witch lives within, and promptly cages Hansel, while putting Gretel to work fattening up her brother to eat and performing chores around the cottage.  Gretel eventually shoves the witch into the stove and frees Hansel.  The house disappears and is replaced with a treasure, which they take back home to dad.  I can't remember what happens to the stepmom.

In Mrs. Booke's version, the grisly tone of the piece is the same.  Details are eloquent,and characterization is strong, especially with Gretel.  The POV is Gretel's, and the reader sees her emotions as she battles the forces of evil, namely her stepmother and the witch (which in my vivid childhood imagination, had the same face).  The ending is a bit different, which is good because it sets the story up for an epic continuation that I can't wait for.  Mrs. Booke definitely has a knack for leaving her reader wanting more.  And more.  And more.

There were some places where detail could have been elaborated on for a better mood-setting quality, but overall, I thought it was a great story.  I will probably read it to my daughter.  

The book is free on Smashwords and took me about 25 minutes to read.  

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Upcoming Review...


Cover for 'Gretel (A retelling of Hansel & Gretel)'

Gretel (A retelling of Hansel and Gretel)

Periodically, I will review books on this site.  I am actually looking forward to reading this one, as #1, Vanessa Booke is a friend of mine (notice how pretty this blog looks?), and #2, Hansel and Gretel used to scare the crap out of me when I was a kid.  I don't know, something about being abandoned by parents, taken in by wickedness, tempted by candy...It gives me shivers just thinking about it...

Anyhoo, I'll be reading this today in the pick up line, while waiting for my kids to be released from school, and will let you all know how it is when I'm finished.  Deal?  I love the cover, BTW.  Gorgeous.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Any press is good press, right?

So, since I'm a new writer (published, that is) I obsess about reviews.  As soon as I published my books, I went onto Goodreads and created an author profile, and solicited reviews, to boost sales.  Hey, summer's coming, and I need money to entertain these kiddos.  It's worked, but sheesh, some of these reviews!

For the most part they're good.   They range from three to five stars, and I can't complain about that.  My books aren't going to be everybody's cup of tea.  I get that.

I was working through the reviews from people who thought they were too steamy, and the ones who thought they were too tame.  I understand expectations vs perceptions and reality not meeting either.

What I don't understand is the reviewer who admitted to not making it beyond page two, and then rating it one star.  She didn't rate it one star because of the writing style, or because she thought it was written poorly.  She rated it one star because, as she said, she "should have read other reviews before reading the book."  She didn't know what it was going to be about, so when she found out it wasn't her preferred reading material, she craps out my strong four and a half star average on that book with her one star rating.

I know I should be the duck, and let it roll off my back like water.  And I will eventually.  I'm trying to find a lesson here to learn, because I know there is one.  Bad press is good?  Someone will read that review and be all, like, "I want to see what she hated so much!"  I know I've done that.

Maybe someone will read this blog post and offer some sage advice.  Do people even read these?  *whistle*  *cups ear*  Anything?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Every day

I write every day.  One would think it would be easy, without a day job to go to, but you'd be surprised.  I honestly don't see how people with jobs, or kids at home do it.  But I know they're out there.  My hat's off to them.  Kudos.

Personally, I'm more of a functioning human in the early hours of the day, so I wake up at 5:30, catch up on my social networking stuff while I have coffee and plan my day.  Then I spend an hour or two getting everybody up and out of the house, so I can work.

Obviously, some days are better than others.  Lots of times I sit and re-read what I've written, knowing it's horrible, yet having no idea what to do to fix it.  That's when I go back to basics.  I utilize the correction functions on Word, as annoying as they are.  If it's underlined in green, I find a different way to say it, until the green squiggly is gone.  Then I start looking for passive voice sentences, and extraneous "thats".  I check out my adverb usage, see if I can re-write the scene without any and still be descriptive.  Then, because I can't do anything the easy way, if I still think the scene sucks after doing those things, I'll cut the whole thing and re-write it completely, maybe changing the POV, or setting, or something major.  Then I compare the two scenes and keep the better one, and MOVE ON.

If I get bogged down in one thing for too long, I forget my purpose and lose my momentum.  If I lose momentum, I lose my mojo.  If I lose my mojo, I'm screwed.

So, I write every day.  I honestly don't know what I'm going to do when the kids are out of school for the summer.  I'm going to have to think of some kind of reward system for them if they leave me alone in the mornings so I can work.  We'll probably be spending lots of afternoons at the YMCA pool, their hands-down favorite place in the world to be.  But only if I get to work in the morning...

Meanwhile, I've got to come up with content for this blog.  I can't write a post everyday.  That would cut into my writing/revising/critiquing time.  So, anybody out there have a book they need promoting?  Any cover reveals?  Anybody want to do an author interview?  Shoot me an email, and we can work something out.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Challenged

The last blog I had was so much easier to figure out than this one, or maybe I wasn't so distracted, or maybe just not having an end goal in mind was the key.  I was doing it just for fun.

For some reason, I can't figure out how to make this one the way I want it, and the interface won't read my mind.  *sigh*  So, it will be a constant work in progress until I figure out how to put stuff on it that I want.  Like my picture.  And a bio.  Those seem simple, but I can't figure out what to do.

Okay, so here's my statement of purpose.  You ready?  To make money.  Yeah, I'm not going to lie.  I want to have a job that actually makes money doing something I love.  I have tried tons of occupations, and none of them made me any money, nor did I love any of them.

I have written my entire life, and have a constant stream of stories running around my head.  Last year, I went to a meeting of our local chapter of RWA, and Liliana Hart spoke about e-publishing, and what to do to actually bring in an income that could support people.  She actually said not to waste time on a blog, that it's like whistling into the wind.  So, that's what I'm working on.  I've always been a pretty good whistler.

My only problem is, I'm having to learning everything.  I had the writing thing down.  That was the easy part.  All this marketing stuff is just a kick in the head.  I was already a facebook user, but wattpad, goodreads, twitter?  You're kidding, right?  And that's not even all of them, just the ones I've figured out.  Sort of.

So, I'm still trying to figure out how my blog readers can reach me, and learn about me, and see where to find my books, and see what I'm working on now...This will be a slow process, methinks.