Thursday, 17 April 2014

Guest Post: Get Ready for Good Friday with Sloane Taylor

Today, I've got romance author and gourmet cook, Sloane Taylor slaving away in my virtual kitchen in order to share one of her popular catches of the day for the upcoming holiday. Heat up those elements, Sloane and take it away...

Hi, Sharon! Thanks for allowing me to steamroll my way into your kitchen. This dinner we’re about to make is delicious and a breeze to prepare. The perfect meal for busy schedules. So please pour us a glass of white wine, maybe a Riesling, and lets cook Seared Tilapia and Baked Potatoes.

Baked Potatoes
1 Idaho potato per person
olive oil
butter
sour cream
fresh chopped chives
pepper

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Rinse potatoes in cool water then wipe dry. Stab each potato in 6 or 7 different locations to allow steam to escape and stop the vegetable from exploding.

Coat the potatoes with a small amount of oil. Set them on a cookie sheet you’ve covered with aluminum foil.
 
Roast in the oven for approximately 1 hour or until a toothpick may be easily inserted in the potato.

Serve with butter, sour cream, chives, and pepper.

Seared Tilapia
¼ cup flour
3 tilapia filets or any mild white fish
4 tbsp. butter
1 lime, ends trimmed and sliced into thin circles
1 tbsp. capers, rinsed and drained

Pour flour into a paper or plastic bag. Add one filet and gently shake the bag to coat fish. Shake to remove excess flour and set filet on a plate. Do the same with the next fillet skillet.

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a medium – large skillet over medium-high heat. Add lime to skillet. Cook until lime is lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Push limes to the side.

Add 1 tablespoon of butter and the fish. Fry until the tilapia flakes easily, about 2-3 minutes per side.

Add the remaining butter and capers. Remove skillet from the heat and tilt the pan to swirl the butter until it melts.

Transfer the fish and limes to individual plates. Spoon the caper and butter sauce over the top.

Add tossed salad for a wonderful meal you and your family will want to repeat.

Thanks again, Sharon, for sharing your kitchen. Bon Appétit!

Sloane Taylor is a sensual woman who believes humor and sex are healthy aspects of our everyday lives and carries that philosophy into her books. She writes sexually explicit romances that takes you right into the bedroom. Being a true romantic, all her stories have a happy ever after.

Her books are set in Europe where the men are all male and the North American women they encounter are both feminine and strong. They also bring more than lust to their men’s lives.

Taylor was born and raised on the Southside of Chicago. Studly, her mate for life, and Sloane now live in a small home in Indiana and enjoy the change from city life.

She is an avid cook. Check out “It’s Wednesday. So What’s Cooking?” with new recipes posted each week on her blog http://sloanetaylor.blogspot.com/.  The recipes are user friendly menus, meaning easy. Feel free to email her at sloanetaylor@comcast.net to be included on the Cooking Pals list. These people receive advance notice of the new recipe.

Twitter https://twitter.com/sloanetaylor2
Sloane Taylor Amazon Author Page


Monday, 14 April 2014

3 Guidelines to Giving a Great Author Presentation…

Recently, I had the privilege of speaking to a class of grade 7/8 students. Let me tell you I was blown away by how receptive those kids were! I came in with a prepared presentation, and surprisingly found the class wanting to know more and more about what it’s like to be a published author. So, I booked another session with the same class the following week with the teacher, and had the time of my life! The best part wasn’t the readings—though the students wanted to know what happens next when I finished the chapter—it was the question and answer period. And believe me, sometimes kids do ask the darnedest questions!

Whether you’re presenting to a small class like I did or to an auditorium full of people, here are three guidelines for your next presentation that are sure to grab the attention of your audience:

Make it Emotional. You must touch a person’s heart before you reach their head. The easiest and most effective way to make an emotional connection with people is to tell stories. What I did was tell the class about my experiences on the road to publication, and the process behind writing a book. I shared the tough, rejection-filled times, and the high-five signed a contract times. I even sprinkled a smattering of gossip that my agented teen psychic mystery series is presently sitting in the hands of three traditional publishing companies. They ate that up!

Make it Novel. The human brain doesn’t pay attention to boring things. Ideas that spread are unexpected, surprising, and delivered in a fresh or novel way. Kids get this. I came in with a hook. I didn’t talk about my book right off the bat. I asked them about their March Break holiday, and if any of the students went on a trip. Read: I connected with them, engaged them first. After that, we talked about their favorite video games, which rolled into favorite books, which then gathered enough momentum to start my author presentation. Don’t be boring. Be novel.

Make it Memorable. Make’em laugh. Make’em think. Make’em ask questions. Most of all, make’em remember you! The best ideas stand zero chance of being successful if they can’t be recalled. One great technique is the rule of three. It simply means that people can only recall about three pieces of information. Don’t overwhelm your listener. Give them three reasons to invest in you. I started out talking about my past life before engaging the class. They want to know about you the author, and how you ended up standing in front of them. Tease them with what’s in the works for the future, then bring it home with choosing the best possible chapter to read from your book that will leave them hanging, and wanting more.

BTW – This is what the teacher had to say:

“Sharon definitely was prepared and made her presentation interesting for the class. She made a great link between the thinking of video games to the thinking of an author ie) setting, character, plot. Kids totally got that. Saw a little nerves, (had to look at her sheet) but not a routine thing for her. Glad to have her! Sharon also had time to come a second time to answer questions. Thanks!”

~Monica Park, Grade 7/8 teacher for St. Mary’s School, Huntsville ON Canada


Hmm…don’t think the nerve thing will ever go away. LOL! Do you have any author presentation experiences you’d like to share? Love to hear’em!

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Introducing YA Author Christina Mercer's Fantasy Series...

Delve into a land steeped in magic in this Tween/Teen Fantasy Series by Christina Mercer

ARROWoftheMIST Book 1-Award-Winning ARROW OF THE MIST
Terror strikes the Celtic inspired kingdom of Nemetona when barbed roots breach the land and poison woodsmen, including 15-year-old Lia’s beloved father. Lia embarks on a quest to the forbidden land of Brume to gather ingredients for the cure. She relies on her herbal wisdom and newfound gift as a tree mage through a land of soul-hungry shades, trickster creatures, and uncovered truths about her family.

 "Ancient magic and herbal lore mark this engaging, fast-moving fantasy with a botanical bent. Lia, 15, is a winning heroine, discovering and wielding her magical gifts. Well developed characters, elegant dialogue, trickster creatures, exciting scenes of mystic battle and intriguing riddles stir up a powerful potion that will charm readers." - Publishers Weekly


arms of anu
 Book 2 In ARMS OF ANU, Lia and Kelven battle through a land of tyrants, war and magic. Can Lia escape the foes who ensnare her? Will Kelven’s love withstand the darkness taking root inside Lia? Is freedom too high a crown to reach, or will they forever remain in the hollows?

"Excellent fantasy story for preteens and teens. Explores a Celtic-style world of magic, with a little romance, through the eyes of both female and male protagonists." -Indie-Visible Collective
 
BUY LINK: Amazon

head shot image   Christina Mercer is an award-winning author of fiction for children and young adults. She enjoys life in the foothills of Northern California with her husband and sons, a pack of large dogs, and about 100,000 honeybees. For more about her and her writing, visit www.christinamercer.com    

Monday, 7 April 2014

Help this Person...

There’s so much talk around the blog-sphere and internet about author platforms. How do you brand yourself? What to do to create an online presence? How to get your book noticed among millions of other books vying for attention? It’s enough just to write a book and get it published whether you selfpub, epub, or sign traditional, but to also have to market and promote the book can take so much time and energy away from creating more books. And it’s exhausting at times.

So what to do?

One way is to internally ask: How can I help this person? Remember, it’s not always about you, and about selling your book or wares or whatever you’re offering. The best way to help others is to share. In this world, you give, you get. People naturally feel the need to reciprocate when someone does something for them. If you want the people you work with to support your career, help them first, and then stand back and watch the magic happen!

Check out this three minute marvelous mini movie, and you’ll get the gist of how helping a person can be a rewarding experience, and make your life richer in ways you never thought possible. Warning, go grab a couple of tissues before you watch…

http://gawker.com/this-three-minute-commercial-puts-full-length-hollywood-1309506149

Thanks for taking the time to read my post, and have a great and grateful day! Cheers!

Friday, 4 April 2014

MG Author Mikey Brooks's The Stone of Valhalla Blog Tour...



Welcome to The Stone of Valhalla Blog Tour!

A middle-grade fantasy-adventure by Mikey Brooks.

Don’t forget to check out the GIVEAWAY at the bottom this post
for a chance to WIN a $25 Amazon Gift card and other great prizes!








Using the Old to Create Something New
A guest post by: Mikey Brooks

I discover fun and interesting things with each book I write. For The Stone of Valhalla I did a lot of research into old Norse mythology and legends. I wanted to base my “otherworld” off something that still had familiarity in ours. World building is really fun in the fact that you get to create everything from the ground up. You get to create their religion, their folk songs, their folklore, everything.

While researching I came across a cool story about a dwarf prince that was turned into a dragon because of his greed with gold and a magical ring. I wanted to put the story into mine but wasn’t sure how it would fit. I ended up using the name of the prince as a dragon in my own story. Fáfnir was the name of the dragon from the Völsunga Saga in Norse legends and he became one of the masters of the Stone of Valhalla in the history of my “otherworld”.

I loved sharing that story so much I decided to write in my own folklore. I created a story about another dragon. Nottigin is a dragon who falls in love with a princess. One night he steals her away and hides her in his cave behind a great waterfall. One night the princess goes wondering and slips to her death. Traumatized by the loss of his love the dragon throws himself off the Cliffside and drowns in the water below. Yes, a tragic story, but it added something magical to the story. The place that my character’s camp at is a grand waterfall called Nottigin’s Fall.

I had a lot of fun writing this book and incorporating many of the things I took for Norse mythology. A lot of the names you will find in The Stone of Valhalla all come from the old Norse legends. I loved taking the old and turning it into something new.

I am thrilled to announce the release of my newest middle-grade fantasy-adventure: The Stone of Valhalla. In it you’ll find sprinklings of Norse legends here and there but that’s not where the fun lies. The fun is in the story of Aaron, from our world, and how he is destined to save another.


Synopsis:

Aaron was chosen to save their world, but it might come at the cost of losing his own.

Breaking into an old lady’s basement was supposed to reward 13-year-old Aaron with new friends. Instead he finds an enchanted amulet that transports him to another world—one at war with magic. Before he knows it, he is accused of witchcraft and invited to a bonfire—where he’s the main attraction. If that’s not bad enough, a goblin army shows up and toasts the town...literally. The good news: Aaron escapes being charbroiled. The bad news: the goblins are after him. They want his amulet and will stop at nothing to get it. Battling to find his way home, Aaron teams up with a not-so-magical-wizard and learns it’s his fate to destroy the amulet and save this new world. But is he willing to sacrifice his own?


Check out what these talented authors are saying about it:

The Stone of Valhalla is one of those books that only comes along once in a great while. Brooks doesn't just create a world, he puts you inside of it, allowing you to experience the wonder in a way that only he can. His characters are likable and fun. His twists leave you asking ‘Why?’ Treat yourself to an exciting adventure through a beautiful new land. Make new friends and be a part of the magic. This is a book that you will not be able to put down!”
—J.R. Simmons, author of Ragesong: Awakening.

 The Stone of Valhalla drew me in from the get-go. Aaron’s journey is reminiscent of Dorothy’s trek in The Wizard of Oz. Magic, sword fights, danger, and more danger, sprinkled with humor and unexpected twists. This is one of the ‘best’ fantasy adventures I’ve ever experienced!”
—BBH McChiller, author of The Monster Moon Series.

The Stone of Valhalla is a riveting mystery revealing true friendship, loyalty and sacrifice. Brooks engages the curiosity of middle graders and older sleuths alike, until the very end. Fantastic!”
—L.R.W. Lee, author of The Andy Smithson series.

Where to Find The Stone of Valhalla:
Exclusive price for the eBook release is just $2.99! (List Price: $4.99)
And only $9.99 for the paperback!(List Price: $12.99)
On April 12th 2014 the price will return to the List Price


Another special offer:
 
During The Stone of Valhalla Blog Tour
Mikey’s other great middle-grade eBooks will also be set to the low price of just $0.99!

The Dream Keeper:
Kindle | Nook | Kobo

The Dreamstone:
Kindle | Nook | Kobo


You’re Invited to PARTY!!
The online launch party will take place on Thursday, April 10th at 4pm (MST). The party will run for 2 hours and you’re invited to drop by anytime. The longer you stay the more chances you have of winning prizes! We have slew of eBooks to giveaway, as well as a Stone of Valhalla necklace AND a $25 Amazon gift card! It is hosted by LovingtheBookLaunchParty on Facebook. Just follow this link to join the event: http://goo.gl/Q2Fd3r.

What’s that? Another Party!
 
That’s right! If you’re local to Utah you don’t want to miss this kickin’ party. We are having a launch party to celebrate the release of this awesome new book. Of course there will be plenty of giveaways there too, but what’s even better are the guest authors! Just check out these fabulous names: J. Scott Savage, Chad Morris, Lisa Mangum, Jenni James, Ali Cross, and many more. The Launch Party is: Friday, April 11th from 6-9pm at the Viridian Center in West Jordan, Utah. Follow this link for a map: http://goo.gl/dqVc0u

About Mikey Brooks:

Mikey is a small child masquerading as an adult. On occasion you’ll catch him dancing the funky chicken, singing like a banshee, and pretending to have never grown up. He is the author/illustrator of several books including the best-selling ABC Adventures: Magical Creatures and Bean’s Dragons as well as the middle-grade fantasy-adventure series The Dream Keeper Chronicles. His art can be seen in many forms from picture books to full room murals. He loves to daydream with his three daughters and explore the worlds that only the imagination of children can create. Mikey has a BS degree in English from Utah State University and works full-time as a freelance illustrator, cover designer, and author. As a member of the Emblazoners, he is one of many authors devoted to ‘writing stories on the hearts of children’. He is also one of the hosts of the Authors’ Think Tank Podcast. You can find more about him and his books at: http://www.insidemikeysworld.com/.

The Giveaways!
  
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, 31 March 2014

In the Limelight with MG Author Sharon Ledwith...

Here's the deal:  Multi-published author SS Hampton Sr. has hijacked my blog to pin me down for an author interview. Since Mr. Hampton (a.k.a. Stan) is so persuasive, I conceded to undergo his interrogation...er interview questions. Take it away, Stan...

Sharon Ledwith, hello! So, who are you, and where do you come from?
  Hey, Stan, glad to be here! Oh, such a complicated question. How long do we have? Seriously though (and I rarely am!) I’m a middle-aged broad who writes for the middle-grade/YA genre. Guess you could say I’m going through my second childhood! I come from my parents—mom still has nightmares to this day—via Streator, Illinois USA while my father was under contract by the government to teach meteorology. That makes me a dual citizen. Currently I reside in the wilds of Muskoka, a tourist area deep in the heart of central Ontario, Canada. Cue the haunting cry of the loon…

Lol, the loon! So, why did you become a graphic artist? Was it difficult to give up that career field for writing (I assume you write full-time)?

Well someone has done his homework! I’ve always loved art throughout school, and wanted to parlay that into a solid business career. Plus I didn’t want anything to do with math again! I took the graphic technician course in college which allowed me to work in the printing trade. This was before computers took over, so everything was done by hand. Um, yeah, slow process, but worth it if you applied yourself and worked hard. My hubby and I started Box Office Graphics in the early 80s and we saw so many changes in the industry which included fax machines, computers, and the internet. The graphic businesses that didn’t change fell by the wayside. We sold our business in 2004, and have never looked back. BTW—our former business is still going strong after 30 years! And NO, it wasn’t difficult to give up that career at all. Somehow I knew deep inside I would be pursuing a full-time career as a writer. After all, something had to be done to stop the voices from talking in my head!
 
Where and how did you meet your husband? Was he aware that he was courting a soon-to-be writer with all of her quirks? I generally assume all writers have their quirks – I know I do.

Poor hubby. I met him at the first job I was hired at straight out of college—a graphic trade shop that specialized in plastic container packaging. Call him my soul mate or a misguided fool, I knew from the moment I met him that we were destined to be together. I believe he was aware of some quirky karma, ’cause he never gave up the chase, even when the odds were against us. I also believe writers should use all their quirks to their advantage!
 
Any friendly words of advice for writers, particularly when a future spouse “comes a’calling”? Or perhaps for the future spouse who discovers their love interest is a writer?

Run, spouse, run! Kidding. My advice would be to never stop investing in yourself. Invest in the best. That’s in yourself, in your readers, and in your partner. Your readers deserve the best of what you have to offer them. Surround yourself with the best possible team (this includes spouses). Never stop learning. As you grow, so will your readers, so be prepared for this. Oh yeah, and never give up. That’s a given and should be part of any author’s credo.

How did your family and friends react to you becoming a writer?

Say what? You want to be a writer? Good for you! Ten years later…you’re still writing? Anything published yet? No? Humph. Maybe you should get a REAL job. Um, yeah, tried it, didn’t like it, went back to writing, and got published. Yay me! Once I signed the contract, I was cast in a different light, and everyone was supportive and happy for me. You should have seen the release party I threw – hot damn it was fun and VERY satisfying!
 
 I find it interesting that the inspiration for The Last Timekeepers of Atlantis came to you in a dream, that you believe in Atlantis, and you burn incense when writing. You didn’t mention what types of music you like, or favorite artists. So, not to resort to labels, but are you perhaps, something of a “New Ager”?

Yes, very much so. I’m quite a spiritual person and believe we’re all here for a reason and purpose. This comes out in my stories. I don’t want to come off as preachy (in fact I can’t stand it when other people try to shove their beliefs on me) so I try to inject humor whenever I can in my stories. I think we all learn best when there’s laughter present. And if you want a real laugh, when I first started out writing I listened to the soundtrack of Braveheart (sigh) a lot, as well as some native drum instrumentals, Enya, and Enigma. Now I hardly listen to music while writing.

Braveheart, eh? And Enya and Enigma—some of my favorite music too. Just a comment here: I like the first sentence of the opening of your blurb – “Children are the keys to our future.” Truthfully, I have always believed that. Might that have something do with the intended audience of Middle Grade/Young Adult readers regarding Last Timekeepers?

Oh definitely! But it is true – children are the keys to our future. It’s up to us adults to supply kids with good role models, people to look up to, and to aspire to. We need to be the best we can be, and offer children a new hope for a better tomorrow. I mean, how else can we pass along our knowledge and understanding to a new generation if we don’t show up in this life?

Would you please share the blurb from your newest book?

Would be honored, Stan. Here’s the blurb from my newest release, and the prequel to the Last Timekeepers series, Legend of the Timekeepers:

There is no moving forward without first going back. Lilith was a young girl with dreams and a family before the final destruction of Atlantis shattered those dreams and tore her family apart. Now refugees, Lilith and her father make their home in the Black Land. This strange, new country has no place in Lilith’s heart until a beloved high priestess introduces Lilith to her life purpose—to be a Timekeeper and keep time safe.
Summoned through the seventh arch of Atlantis by the Children of the Law of One, Lilith and her newfound friends are sent into Atlantis’s past, and given a task that will ultimately test their courage and try their faith in each other. Can the Timekeepers stop the dark magus Belial before he changes the seers’ prophecy? If they fail, then their future and the earth’s fate will be altered forever.

Here's the LINK for more information on the book.

Thank you for allowing me to take over your blog today! Are there any parting words you would like to share with us, Sharon?

Absolutely! I was once asked by another interviewer to share what inspires me to write, and why am I doing what I do? The truth is that I want to be the change I would like to see in this world. Yes, I stole that from Gandhi, but those words have been my mantra, and have guided me to write stories I would have loved to read as an adolescent. My hope is to give my target audience (upper middle-grade and lower young adult) the kinds of stories the world needs now—force readers to ask why they are here on earth at this time, and what is their major purpose. I guess I’m looking for ways to make the world a better place. I also want to make people laugh out-loud while they’re reading my books, and leave them wanting more when they turn to the last page.

Thanks so much for putting up with, er interviewing me today, Stan, and loved your well-researched questions! Cheers!

Check out The Last Timekeepers series Facebook Page. BUY LINKS Musa Publishing - Amazon Link - Barnes & Noble - Kobo

And now, here's a little something about my interviewer:

Much of SS Hampton, Sr.'s writing is drawn from his extensive military career, including his historical short story The Sentinels.

December 1941 – the German offensive has ground to a frozen halt before an ominous forest encircling Moscow, and a German patrol seeks to discover what secrets the forest hides…

December 1941, and fresh Siberian troops from the Soviet Far East have launched savage counter-attacks against the German invaders. The Eastern Front is torn open with German units driven back, overwhelmed, or isolated. An exhausted Waffen SS infantry platoon outside of Moscow needs to know what the Siberians, hidden in a dark forest before them, are up to. A small patrol is sent into the snowy, otherworldly forest...

To read an excerpt from The Sentinels please click HERE.

SS Hampton, Sr. is a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to 13, a published photographer and photojournalist, and a member of the Military Writers Society of America. His military career began in 1974. He retired on 1 July 2013 from the Army National Guard with the rank of Sergeant First Class; he previously served in the active duty Army, the Army Individual Ready Reserve, and enlisted in the Army National Guard in October 2004, after which he was mobilized for Federal active duty for almost three years. Hampton is a veteran of Operations Noble Eagle and Iraqi Freedom.

His writings have appeared as stand-alone stories, and in anthologies from Dark Opus Press, Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy, Melange Books, Musa Publishing, MuseItUp Publishing, Ravenous Romance, and as stand-alone stories in Horror Bound Magazine, The Harrow, and River Walk Journal, among others. He is also a published photographer and photojournalist, and a member of the Military Writers Society of America.

After 12 years of brown desert in the Southwest and overseas, he misses the Rocky Mountains, yellow aspens in the fall, running rivers, and a warm fireplace during snowy winters. As of December 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada, Hampton officially became a homeless Iraq War veteran.

To learn more about SS Hampton, Sr. or read excerpts from his books please click a vendor's name. Musa Publishing - Melange Books - MuseItUp Publishing Amazon Author Page - Amazon UK Author Page - Goodreads Author Page

Monday, 24 March 2014

What Authors can learn from the Great Law…

RF Stock Photo 19797845
In a nutshell, here’s the rule to the Great Law: If you do what other successful authors do, over and over again, nothing can stop you from eventually enjoying the same rewards that they do. But if you don’t do what successful authors do, nothing can help you.

So, success is not an accident. Sadly, failure is not an accident either. You succeed, over and over, until these behaviors become a habit. Likewise, you fail if you don’t do what successful authors do. In either case, nature is neutral. Nature does not take sides. Nature doesn’t care. What happens to you is simply a matter of law—the law of cause and effect.

In Buddhism it is simply stated: Good deeds bring good results. Bad deeds bring bad results. Your own deeds bring your own results. Easy-peasy, right? Well, not so easy for many of us wanna-be bestsellers. But, if you want to be the kind of writer you desire to be, then start by following what your ‘role model’ author does, and over time and effort, you’ll reach the same heights as he or she or they have. It’s not a quick rich scheme. It’s not even a plan for being an overnight success. It’s a hard and messy and nerve wracking journey. And it’s WORTH it, if that’s where you’re heading. I hope to see you on the road less traveled in the near future!

Who are some of your ‘role model’ authors? What are you doing that they’re doing? Cheers!