Thursday, 2 October 2014

In the Limelight with Fantasy Author: Carol Browne...

I want to thank and welcome fantastic fantasy author, Carol Browne for sharing her personal writing journey with us on my blog today. Carol’s book The Exile of Elidel is the first book of a trilogy and can be purchased from Musa Publishing, Amazon, and other on-line bookstores. Bonus: Stay tuned for a chance to win an ecopy of The Exile of Elidel at the end of this post. So let’s get this interview started…

How long have you been writing, Carol?

I started scribbling when I was about seven years old. From that point on I always wanted to be a ‘proper’ writer. It was a very long time before I achieved that goal – we’re talking nearly five decades!

I feel you, Carol. It sounds like we’ve been on the same path. Where did you get your idea and inspiration to write The Exile of Elindel?

In 1976, I was listening to a jukebox in an English pub when Mike Oldfield’s In Dulci Jubilo came on. The music conjured up an image in my mind of two fantasy characters who seemed to be nearing the end of some kind of quest. I felt compelled to write their story and find out who they were and what was going to happen to them. I set them in Dark Age Britain because Anglo-Saxon had been part of the English degree I had just completed at University and the era appealed to me. I felt I was going with these characters on their adventure, watching as they collected back stories and companions along the way.

What sets The Exile of Elindel apart from other books/series in the same genre?

I have to confess to not being a great reader of the sword-and-sorcery type of fantasy genre, so there’s little I can compare mine with. I like to think my elves are a bit different, though. They’re vegetarians and they talk to animals and have tremendous reverence for nature. They would definitely join the Green party if they were around today!

I also like to add humour to lighten the mood. Too much angst and jeopardy can get very tedious. I mixed up the genres a little too. In Book II there is an element of sci-fi as well as fantasy, while in Book III there’s a good dollop of horror. I’ve added some light romance as well; so something for everyone!

You’ve certainly thought of everyone, Carol! As a fantasy author, what is your writing process?

I write my first draft in longhand and have all my notes and research Blu-tacked to the walls of the room where I work. Once I commit myself to writing something, it is with me all the time so I take a pen and paper out with me in case I get any fresh ideas. I have a housekeeping job and frequently have to stop to jot something down. I hate it when characters start talking to each other in my head. I have to say ‘Shut up! I can’t write all that down now.” It’s infuriating that I can’t set aside regular time slots for writing. I guess I’ll have to hang on till I retire.

Seems like you’re always prepared when your characters come a-calling! How long did it take for you to start and finish The Exile of Elindel?

That’s a difficult question! I can’t remember that far back. (Those files have been deleted!) I do remember the first draft being ENORMOUS. It rambled on forever; more padding than a king-size duvet. I wrote it in the summer of 1977 and spent the next thirty-odd years lugging it around in suitcases, storing it in attics, taking it out to rewrite it and submit to publishers, putting it back in the attic.

Thirty years? Now that’s dedication! Do you have any advice for other writers striving to write in your genre, Carol?

Use your own original voice and ideas. Don’t try to be the next Tolkein.

Brilliant advice! Everyone is unique in their own way. So, what’s next for Carol Browne the author?

The rest of the trilogy will be out next year: Book II, Gateway to Elvendom, in March and Book III, Wyrd’s End, in December – as long as everything goes smoothly with the editing process. Meanwhile, I’m nearing the end of my work in progress, a paranormal thriller. I recently wrote myself into a corner with this one and so lost a few days while I worked things out. I have discovered over the years that if you are stuck with a plot or character, there’s always a solution, but it might have to simmer away in the old brain pan for a while before it bobs to the surface.

It sounds like you’ve got your work cut out for you! Okay, here’s one for me, since I’m writing a time travel series—If you could time travel anywhere into Earth’s past, where would you go and why?

If I could go back to the Battle of Hastings in 1066, and somehow make sure the Saxons won instead of the Normans, I would. But let’s be realistic! I have always admired Horatio, Lord Nelson, and I love those old ships of the line. (I stood on board HMS Victory myself during a visit to the Naval Dockyards in Portsmouth a few years ago, and it is a day I will never forget). If I could, I’d like to go back to the time of the Napoleonic Wars and meet Nelson. I’d love to know if he was as charismatic as everyone said he was.

Thank you very much for having me on your blog, Sharon. I did enjoy the experience!

BLURB:
 
Elgiva, a young elf banished from Elvendom, must seek shelter among the Saxons as her only hope of surviving the coming winter.
Godwin, a Briton enslaved by the Saxons, is a man ignorant of his own inheritance and the secret of power he possesses.
A mysterious enemy, who will stop at nothing to wield absolute power over Elvendom, is about to make his move.
When destiny throws Elgiva and Godwin together, they embark upon the quest for the legendary Lorestone, the only thing that can save Elvendom from the evil that threatens to destroy it.
There is help to be found along the way from a petulant pony and a timid elf boy but, as the strength of their adversary grows, can Elgiva’s friends help her to find the Lorestone before it falls into the wrong hands?

BIO:

Carol Browne first appeared on the planet in 1954. She regards Crewe, Cheshire, as her home town and graduated from Nottingham University in 1976 with an honours degree in English Language and Literature. Now living in the Cambridgeshire countryside with her dog, Harry, and cockatiel, Sparky, when she’s not writing fiction, Carol spends her time as a housekeeper, proofreader, and ghost writer in order to pay the bills. Pagan and vegan, Carol believes it is time for a paradigm shift in our attitude to Mother Nature and hopes the days of speciesism are numbered.

BUY LINKS:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCarolBrowne
Twitter: https://twitter.com/@CarolABrowne


ENTER TO WIN: Carol has her magical elfin hat cleaned out and rearing to go. All you have to do is leave a comment along with your contact information, and Carol with add your name into the hat for a chance to win an ecopy of The Exile of Elindel. You have until midnight EST Monday, October 6th 2014 to submit your comment, and then POOF— the magical elfin hat picks the winner! Good luck, everyone!

Monday, 29 September 2014

What if you Found a Fantasy Creature in a Science Fiction World...


Musa Publishing's speculative fiction imprint, Urania, is thrilled to be celebrating the release of Merm-8, Eric J. Juneau's novel about what happens when a mermaid is found in the future:

"It doesn't matter if you believe in mermaids. She believes in you.
Gene is a rogue-for-hire, using his one-man ship to make a decent living on the flooded Earth. Most of the population has been driven out to Seaplexes--artificial islands glutted with poverty, commercialism, and organized crime. His AI companion, Stitch, does most of the work of their salvage and smuggling jobs. Life is good.
Until a mermaid crawls into his ship's exhaust port.
Now it's not enough for Gene to avoid the mafia he's in debt to, enforced by bio-engineered hulks. Everyone wants to know what this fantasy creature is doing on a dying planet. Corporations want to exploit her. Old friends want to capitalize on her fame. Gene has to choose between protecting her and keeping himself safe. And all she wants is to return home."
Merm-8 will be sold for 20% off until Friday October 3rd to celebrate its release, so grab your copy sooner rather than later!

Check out Merm-8 at http://ow.ly/BTehd
Follow Eric J. Juneau's blog at http://author-quest.blogspot.com/

Purchase your copy of Merm-8 at: http://ow.ly/BTeCh


Monday, 22 September 2014

YA Author Kai Strand's Damaged Goods Blog Tour...



Hey everybody, my name is Kai Strand. I was unpacking books at a signing and came across a copy of King of Bad with a torn cover. Bummer. I can’t sell that! But my loss is your gain. Because I can hold a giveaway instead!

Along with a slightly damaged copy of King of Bad, I’m also giving away several sets of character trading cards. These cards have been specially designed for book one in the series. There will be a separate set of cards designed for each book – so be among the first to own a set.

About the book:

Jeff Mean would rather set fires than follow rules or observe curfew. He wears his bad boy image like a favorite old hoodie; that is until he learns he has superpowers and is recruited by Super Villain Academy – where you learn to be good at being bad. In a school where one kid can evaporate all the water from your body and the girl you hang around with can perform psychic sex in your head, bad takes on a whole new meaning. Jeff wonders if he’s bad enough for SVA.

He may never find out. Classmates vilify him when he develops good manners. Then he’s kidnapped by those closest to him and left to wonder who is good and who is bad. His rescue is the climactic episode that balances good and evil in the super world. The catalyst – the girl he’s crushing on. A girlfriend and balancing the Supers is good, right? Or is it…bad?

Available in print or electronic: Whiskey Creek Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble 

Excerpt:

Jeff admired the growth of the flames as they devoured wads of paper and fast food wrappers in the wire mesh trashcan. He slipped the book of matches into his pocket and sat back on his heels to admire his work. One side of the can merely smoldered so he blew gently to fan the guttering flame. It reminded him of how blowing on Jasmine’s neck the night before had resulted in a lovely arch of her back. He growled a throaty sigh, remembering Jasmine’s blissful distraction as he’d nibbled her earlobe.

“Hey!”

Jeff glanced over his shoulder. A man, who looked like he belonged behind a desk in a downtown high rise, jogged toward him.

“Ah, the sweet sounds of discipline.” Jeff stood, stuffed his fists in the front pockets of his jeans and shook the long bangs out of his eyes. He half expected the guy’s slick-soled business shoes to slip as he jogged across visitor parking. This was Jeff’s favorite part. Almost getting caught. When the guy was a baseball’s toss away, Jeff turned. He walked a couple steps then skipped up into a jog.

“Kid, stop!”

Jeff chuckled to himself and said, “Yeah, sure,” and loped across the soccer field.

“Wait a minute.”

Jeff stole a look over his shoulder. The guy was close even though he didn’t seem to be running very fast. Jeff grinned at him and increased his pace. A seven-foot tall chain link fence ringed in the far side of the field to prevent stray soccer balls from breaking the windows of passing cars on the street below. Jeff leaped onto the fence without slowing down and in two cat-like movements, launched himself over the top. He dropped to the ground, landing on a hill pocked with gopher holes, as easily as if he were jumping around in a bounce house. He smoothly transitioned back into a sprint and dashed across the street, startling a lady driving an SUV.

“Kid, hold up.”

Jeff almost tripped; the guy was half way across the street already. He smirked, finally a decent chase, but not for long. With little effort, Jeff stepped up to a blurring speed. He dashed up a peaceful street that ran perpendicular to the school, where kids rode bikes and ran through sprinklers. Jeff recognized one of the “good” kids from school, washing a ’57 step-side Chevy.

“Sweet ride,” Jeff called out. The kid looked up at him, but then snapped his head to the left. That guy cannot be that close! Jeff looked over his shoulder to find the guy was only a house length behind him. Holy crap, Batman. No one ever keeps up with me!

For the first time in a long time, Jeff worried. But only a little. With a deep, fortifying breath he pumped his thigh muscles harder. He whizzed past houses so fast he doubted anyone would be able to describe him if they were asked to later. Tears streamed sideways from the force of the wind his speed created. He’d only started to breathe a bit more heavily than normal. Jeff was built to run.

“Kid, hold on just a second.”

Jeff stumbled, but regained his footing again before becoming road rash. The guy sounded as if he was only a bus length away. How can that be? No one runs as fast as I do. Jeff’s lungs constricted. An alien emotion, panic, budded in his chest. Stay focused. Controlled, deep breaths allowed calming oxygen into his lungs and up to his brain and Jeff’s airways opened fully again.

Real speed required concentration. Jeff concentrated on his thigh muscles. Usually he only bothered to think about the front muscles in order to ignite his unusual speed, but this time he thought about the sinewy, sleek muscles that wrapped gracefully around the larger front muscles. He envisioned how the smaller muscles provided strength and support to the larger working muscle. He pictured that strength extending into his gluteus maximus to sustain a strong stride. The resulting speed was completely inhuman.

 Reviews:

I loved the world building! It made me wish I was part of it. Strand does a fantastic job of making the world of King of Bad seem like it's a real thing. -Heather

Kind of Bad sucks you in from the first page and doesn't let you go. I couldn't put it down! –Amazon Review

About the author:

When her children were young and the electricity winked out, Kai Strand gathered her family around the fireplace and they told stories, one sentence at a time. Her boys were rather fond of the ending, “And then everybody died. The end.” Now an award winning children’s author, Kai crafts fiction for kids and teens to provide an escape hatch from their reality. With a selection of novels for young adult and middle grade readers and short stories for the younger ones, Kai entertains children of all ages, and their adults. Learn more about Kai and her books on her website, www.kaistrand.com.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, 15 September 2014

Celebrating Readers and Writers in Muskoka at the NorthWords Literary Festival…

Something for Readers! Something for Writers! If you haven't visited the NorthWords Literary Festival website, I urge you to check it out to see what's happening Oct 3-5 in the heart of Muskoka:  http://www.northwords.org/. Launching the festival are 17 exciting Canadian Authors gathering for seven events in addition to the full day Writers' Workshop. This is the 4th year for NorthWords and the first time it is held in Bracebridge, Ontario, Canada.

All of the authors will share from their work and experience in ways that will be of interest to both writers and readers. Seventeen published authors in one place is an incredible opportunity to learn about your craft from those who have faced the same struggles I have when I sit down at my computer to weave my tales.

This festival is also designed to entertain book lovers with the opportunity to speak with those whose stories transport readers to other times and places!

Here’s the weekend line up:

Friday, October 3:
Writers’ Workshop with authors, Anne Lazurko and Michael Wuitchik. Plus an agent panel discussion with Rachel Letofsky (The Cooke Agency), Olga Filina (The Rights Factory), Monica Pacheco (Anne McDermid & Associates Ltd.)!   9 am – 3 pm

Pitch Sessions: Looking to get your work in front of an agent?  Here’s your chance! Register to book a session with one or more of three agents!

Wine & Cheese with the authors, Anthony De Sa and Terry Fallis, 6:30 pm – 9 pm

Saturday, October 4:
The Saturday Morning Funnies - Richard Scrimger and Jim Foster will entertain you over Breakfast, 9 am – 11 am

Conversation with four debut novelistsKrista FossAli Bryan, Janet Turpin-Myers and Anne Lazurko as they share lunch and the excitement of their first novel publications. 12 pm – 2 pm

Mid-Afternoon Chat with non-fiction authors, M.G. Vassanji and Patrick Boyer, 3 pm – 5 pm
  
Gala Dinner with novelists, Michael Wuitchik and Craig Davidson, 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
  
Sunday, October 5:
Breakfast with Novelists, Michelle Berry and Catherine Bush as they share their literary journeys, 9:30am – 11:00 am

After Breakfast with Authors, Claire Cameron, Glad Bryce and Diana Aspin, 11:30 am – 1 pm


If you’re interested in attending this literary event, please see http://www.northwords.org/our-events/event-registration/  for event pricing and registration. So, if you’re in or near the area, please plan to attend. You won’t be sorry to rub elbows with some of Canada’s finest authors! Cheers!


Monday, 8 September 2014

What Every Author Should Know…

Feeling overwhelmed when it comes to publishing and promoting a book? Are you getting lost in the crowd? Relax. Take a breath. Release it. By focusing on these key areas, you can find the traction your book needs to rise above the crowd.


Understand the Publishing Industry: Writing a book does not guarantee you readers—believe me, I know! So before publishing, ask yourself some important questions. Who are your competitors? What do they publish? How is your genre faring in the industry right now? Knowing your market is vital to finding and connecting with readers, receiving book reviews, and getting book sales.

Book Covers are Key: Pick up a book or view a thumbnail-size cover online. What’s your first impression? Is the cover unprofessional or tacky? If so, chances are you’ll think the writing is sub-par. It’s a smart move to invest in a professionally designed cover by someone who understands book design and the publishing industry. You've put a lot of work into writing your book; apply the same philosophy to your book cover.

Your Best Marketing Tool is Editing: With all the competition out there, you want your book to be the best you can make it. A poorly edited book will not gain you readers, reviewers, or fans. Delegate to the professionals if you must, but don’t put out a book that’s destined to receive one star nods.

Get Good Advice: Honestly, there are so many reputable, free resources available to authors for every phase of their publishing journey. Blogs, social media groups, online forums, and more offer everything an author can imagine to get headed in the right direction. Take advantage of these resources, ask questions, learn from others, and share your insights.

Work Your Market: Cultivate readers via the social media, not by clogging the internet with spam, but by asking if they’d be interested in becoming a beta-reader for you. Many authors have successfully built a stable of pre-publication beta readers who offer their insights. Don’t forget, beta readers are not editors—they help an author understand if the story works, if it's authentic.

It's a Marathon, Not a Sprint: If you're going to publish a book, you have to be in it for the long haul. It takes time to learn the publishing ropes and build a following. Approach your marketing and promotion with the long-term in mind. Basic formula: Time + Backlist (4 or more books) = Sustainable Author Career.

Website 101: Build a respectable sales hub through your website. Unless you know how to convert web visitors into buyers, and know all about web conversion and SEO, you should find a professional to design your site.

Build Relationships: Saying thank you goes a long way. If you guest blog, thank your host. Are you getting book reviews and interviews? If so, be sure to thank them for taking the time to review your book or interview you because these are people you can approach for your subsequent books. Trust me, kindness and manners matter, and people DO notice.

Teamwork 101: If you're hiring people to help you publish and/or market your book, take advantage of their expertise. Look for someone with a good track record, and who understands the market, then trust their advice and let them do what you've hired them to do.


Publishing is a business. In the end, it’s worth the time to invest in your book, your team, and your promotion. Thank you for reading my blog. If you have time, please leave a comment and share what you’ve been doing to get your book in front of your readers. Love to hear them! Cheers!

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Guest Post by MG Author Gita V. Reddy: Does Social Networking Help Sales?

“You have to,” my friend told me, when I explained that I found all the networking difficult. “You have to put yourself out there, and connect with your readers.”

“Won’t an advertisement about my book do?”

“No. People want to know about you, and what makes you tick.”

“Who are these people who want to know about me even before knowing about my existence? I am practically unknown.”

“That’s your fault.  The least you could have done was to have your own blog.”

“What will I blog about?”
                              
“Anything. There are any number of things you can write about. You could start with your secret recipe of prawn curry.”

I knew this was my friend’s way of getting at the recipe which was guarded by my family like a state secret.

“I write for children, for middle graders. How will a food blog sell books?”

“Mommies are fond of food blogs and mommies decide what their children should read.”

What my friend said seemed logical but I was not keen on blogging, it would eat into my writing time, and I wanted to make up for the twenty-six years when I had not been able to write because of my day job.

“Join a book forum,” my friend suggested. “You love books, and you love discussing about them.”

“But I can’t discuss my own books!”

“They usually have a folder for self-promotion.”

Three months later I told my friend, “It isn’t working. I have posted in more than ten groups but haven’t made a sale.”

“Just posted? You should take part in the discussions, contribute, and network. No group likes people who only peep in to wave a poster.”

I grumbled, “No group wants authors. Just look at the names of the folders! Shameless Self- Promotion! Pimp your Stuff! They should welcome us because the relationship between a writer and a reader is symbiotic.”

“You are a struggling writer, not a writer. You are like a salesman with a new product so you should hawk your wares. You should be on facebook, twitter, Google+, etc.”

Convinced, I started posting and tweeting about my books, myself, and my cat. My friend had a huge following and he helped me build one too.  My posts spread like ripples.

A month later, when I was going through the latest tweets, my friend dropped in. “What are you doing?” he asked.

“Checking to see which ones to retweet.”

“Are you reading them? You don’t have to. Just retweet and spread the word.”

“Don’t you read the tweets?”

“A few. I just retweet most of them. That is what everyone does.”

If what my friend said was true, most of the social networking I had done had ended up as statistics. The number of ‘likes’ and ‘retweets’ were just numbers. But my sales had shown some improvement, I’d made some new friends and had had some good laughs.  And the pundits swear by it.

My book, Cinderella’s Escape, is free on all Amazon stores on 5th, 6th, and 7th September, 2014. Please share, re-tweet this post.

Author Pages:


Please connect with me through my website, facebook page, and twitter (@GITAVREDDY)

Gita V. Reddy is a writer of fiction for children and adults. She enjoys thinking up tales of different genres. She has written mysteries, adventure, science fiction and even an animal tale for childrens.
Ms Reddy was born in India, is a post graduate in Mathematics, is married to a physics professor, has a son doing research in neuro-electronics and loves literature!

Her other interests are painting and writing poetry.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Meet Middle-Grade Author James Gordon...

I want to thank and welcome middle-grade author, James Gordon for sharing his personal writing journey with us on my blog today. His featured book, Hi, My Name is Bobo: A Weekend in the Life of a 5th Grader can be purchased from Amazon, and other on-line bookstores.

How long have you been writing, James?

I have been writing since 2007, published first book in 2009, The Confessional Heart of a Man.

 Where did you get your idea and inspiration to write Hi, My Name is Bobo: A Weekend in the Life of a 5th Grader?

A friend of mine mentioned to me that I had not written a book that his children could read. So I decided to take two weeks and write Hi, My Name is Bobo.

What sets Hi, My Name is Bobo: A Weekend in the Life of a 5th Grader apart from other books in the same genre?

Bobo is different because the main character is African American. Unlike most children's books, there isn't one central message. However, Bobo exemplifies the innocence and hopeful excitement that a young man should have when dealing with school, first love, etc.

 As a children’s author, what is your writing process?

Not much a process really. I do pull pictures and watch programs to put me in a youthful mindset.

How long did it take for you to start and finish Hi, My Name is Bobo: A Weekend in the Life of a 5thGrader?

It took two weeks to write, have edited, and complete Bobo.

Do you have any advice for other writers striving to write in your genre, James?

Make it special and real. Children and their parents need new adventures to go on. So write on....

What’s next for James Gordon the author?

I have a top secret project that I'm working on and will be released soon. 

Okay, here’s one for me, since I’m writing a time travel series—If you could time travel anywhere into Earth’s past, where would you go and why?  

I would like to go back to various junctures in history when people were harmed and reverse those instances.

Bio: James Gordon is the award winning author of Hi My Name is Bobo (A Weekend in the Life of a 5th
Grader). He hails from Chicago Illinois. As G.P.A.(Greatest Poet Alive), he has written five other books of Poetry. James can be seen in the movies (Persian Version and Animals) and TV (Chicago Fire and Chicago PD). He can be found on Twitter at gr8estpoetalive.

Buy link:


Connect with James on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HimynameisBobo