Monday, 2 May 2016

Come Celebrate my 5th Blog Anniversary with 2 Goodreads Giveaways…

Authentic 1977 Star Wars Poster
Luke Skywalker Day—a.k.a. May the fourth—is a milestone for me. It marks the 5th Anniversary when I started this blog and ‘stepping out into the world’ as a serious writer. I remember I was quite scared at the time – terrified actually. I knew nothing of blogging, and hardly anything about navigating cyber space. My computer and technical skills were meager, and my author platform was nil. The only social media account I had was Facebook, but I barely used it, and I had no clue about author branding. Now, five years later, I can honestly say I’ve come a long way, baby, and I have so many people to thank for that giant leap of faith.

So to celebrate my 5th Anniversary, I’m having an International Goodreads Giveaway for both my books, The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis, and the prequel to my young adult time travel series, Legend of the Timekeepers. It’s just one way I can thank my readers, as well as give back to the reading community of Goodreads. High fives and thank you, readers, I wouldn’t be doing what I love without you!

May the Fourth be with you! And if the Force moves you, please enter my Goodreads Giveaways for a chance to win one of my autographed time travel tales and signed postcard starting May 4th. Cheers and thank you for reading my blog!






Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis by Sharon Ledwith

The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis

by Sharon Ledwith

Giveaway ends May 23, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Legend of the Timekeepers by Sharon Ledwith

Legend of the Timekeepers

by Sharon Ledwith

Giveaway ends May 23, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Monday, 25 April 2016

Publishers On Demand…

The term ‘On Demand’ has become a household name. At the push of a button, Netflix offers subscribers a huge variety of movies and TV shows to watch at their leisure. Google play provides you with your favorite music, movies, TV shows, magazines or books too. They all dangle the ‘first month free’ or ‘free trial’ carrot, then lock you in with a monthly subscription anywhere from $9.99 and up. Amazon is also on board with their Kindle audible books, offering a free download when you try them out for thirty days. After that, it costs the subscriber $14.95 a month. Boy, it can sure get costly subscribing to all those On Demand sites!

That said, have I got a DEAL for you! My publisher, Mirror World Publishing has decided to keep up with the times, and offer MEMBERSHIPS to readers for the low price of $19.95 a year. But wait! If you decide to nab your membership during this month (April 2016), you get it at the phenomenal rate of just $14.95 a year! So what do you get with your year-long membership?

Check it out:


Not a bad deal, eh? Did I mention that Mirror World Publishing is also doing a giveaway? The Rafflecopter entry form is on their homepage: www.mirrorworldpublishing.com.

Seems everyone is streaming or downloading something whether it’s movies, music, or books. In this digital age, authors (and publishers) have to keep up or they’ll be lost in a cloud of virtual dust. Are you liking this new age of ‘On Demand’? Do you miss getting out and having the physical experience of going to a movie or buying a book at a bookstore? Things are sure a-changing! And change is good, right? Would love to read your comments. Cheers and thank you for reading my blog!


Monday, 18 April 2016

Cover Reveal: Black Lightning by K.S. Jones...

Welcome to the Cover Reveal for K.S. Jones' upcoming release

Black Lightning!!

Book Information:

From the award-winning author of Shadow of the Hawk

Title: Black Lightning

Author Name: K.S. Jones

Genre(s): Middle Grade, Science Fiction, Fantasy

Length: Approx. 136 pages

Release Date: May 17, 2016

ISBN eBook:  978-1-987976-12-0
ISBN Paperback:  978-1-987976-11-3

Publisher:  Mirror World Publishing 

Are You Ready for the Cover?


About Black Lightning:

Life moves on — no matter what...

Following his father’s puzzling disappearance and his mother’s death, ten-year-old Samuel Baker goes through the motions of living in a world turned upside down. He wears an Apache talisman, a long ago gift from his father, in hopes its promise of strength and guidance is true. But what he truly wants is the power to bring his parents back. 

Heartless Aunt Janis is elated at the prospect of becoming Samuel’s legal guardian. She is sure an orphan boy will elicit such an outpouring of public sympathy that her husband will win his Senate bid by a landslide. But when Grandpa Tate arrives, things don’t go as expected, especially when black lightning strikes!

Read an Excerpt:

Samuel stood beside his mother’s rain-speckled casket. He had cried his tears dry, so there was no point in trying to find more.

“Chin up, young man,” Aunt Janis said as her fingers nudged Samuel’s jaw upward. “Death is just part of life, and our photographer needs a good picture of you for the newspapers.”

A camera flashed, leaving Samuel’s red and swollen eyes burning as if stung by the sun instead of grief.

So many important days had come and gone without his father, but surely he would come home today, wouldn’t he? Samuel closed his eyes. He pretended his father was beside him holding his hand. They had a right to hold hands, he told himself. Not because he was ten, but because it was his mother’s funeral. Two years had passed since his father left, never to be seen again. Vanished, was the word his mother had used. Into thin air, she’d said.

“Take that silly thing off.” Aunt Janis flicked Samuel’s wood and bead necklace.

“No,” he said and shook his head. “My dad gave it to me.” It was a pinewood tile, the size of a domino shaved nickel-thin, which hung from a leather cord around his neck. Burned onto the front side of the wood was a lightning bolt. Its flipside bore the blackened imprint of a tribal dancer. It had a turquoise nugget and a shiny black hematite bead strung together on each side. His father had given the talisman to him with a promise: It will guide you and give you strength when you need it most.

Today, dressed in a black suit and starchy white shirt, Samuel wore it in hopes the promise was true.

As mourners gathered, Samuel’s friend Brian came to stand beside him. “Hey,” he said.

“Hey,” Samuel answered without taking his eyes off the casket.

“Is that the necklace your dad gave you? You don’t usually wear it.” Brian’s wire-rimmed glasses slid down his straight arrow nose. He pushed them back up the bridge with one finger until they encircled his eyes again. “Can I see it? I promise I’ll give it right back.”

“It’s not a necklace.” Samuel pulled the leather cord off over his head, mussing his overgrown blond hair. “It’s a talisman.” He handed it to Brian. “My dad said it would help me, but it hasn’t done anything yet. I think it was just one of his stories. It’s probably just an old piece of scrap wood with a couple rocks tied to it.”

Brian shrugged after examining the piece then he handed it back to Samuel. “I think it’s cool. You should keep wearing it anyway.”

Nodding, Samuel hung the talisman around his neck again, but this time he dropped it down beneath his shirt where it was no longer visible. It felt warm against his skin.

“Has anybody told you where you’re going to live now?” Brian asked.

“Probably with Aunt Janis and Uncle Jack.”

Brian frowned. He kicked the tip of his shoe into the muddy soil. “They live so far away. Why can’t you just stay here and live with Mrs. Abel? She doesn’t have any kids.”

Mrs. Abel was their fourth grade teacher. She had plainly stated to all who would listen that her job was to teach the proper use of the English language to children who behaved properly. A babysitter, she had said, she was not. Today, she stood in the rain with the other mourners, eyeing the ground where the hem of her long, gray dress lay caked in mud. Tufts of brown hair jutted out from under her pink plaid scarf. Even though she stood a few feet from him, she had not spoken to Samuel since his mother’s death. Few people had. Everyone had words for Aunt Janis and they talked to Uncle Jack, but no one but Brian and a few classmates had spoken to him. Maybe talking to an orphan was harder than talking to a normal kid.

Praise:

“If you’ve forgotten the magic that lives in a child’s heart, this book will remind you. Black Lightning is a rare and beautiful mythic journey about one boy’s struggle with paralyzing grief and the powerful bonds that can carry a person through this world and beyond...” W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O’Neal Gear USA TODAY and NEW YORK TIMES bestselling authors of People of the Thunder

Meet the Author:

Everyone has a story. Tell it so well that the world listens!


Karen (K.S.) Jones grew up in California, but now lives in the beautiful Texas Hill Country northwest of San Antonio with her husband, Richard, and their dogs Jack Black, Libby Loo, and Red Bleu. Black Lightning is her first middle-grade novel. She credits her love of fantasy to the early influences of authors J.R.R. Tolkien, Jules Verne, and H.G. Wells. Her award-winning first novel, Shadow of the Hawk, a Young Adult Historical, released in 2015.

Visit K.S. Jones:




Visit Tour Hosts Featuring the Cover:

Jojo Debrazza 

Book Babble 

Sharon Ledwith: I came. I saw. I wrote. 

Bookworm for Kids 

Fang-tastic Books 

Tales from the Bayou and Other Worlds

jrsbookreviews 

T's Stuff 

Literary Escapism 

Vampyre Lady's Book Stuff 

Monday, 11 April 2016

Surely, you Jest…

Since April begins with April Fools’ Day, I thought I’d write about those who make us laugh and push our buttons. In the first book of my time travel series, I introduce you to Alan a Dale—Robin Hood’s famous minstrel and part of his band of merry teens. In my version, Alan is a teenage jongleur—a.k.a. juggler— and is instrumental in helping the Timekeepers with their mission in Nottingham. Jongleurs and juggles and jesters all fall into the same category: their purpose was to entertain royalty and commoners alike. In fact, the word ‘jester’ derives from the Anglo-Norman (French) words gestour or jestour meaning storyteller or minstrel.

Jesters (or fools as they were known) held a position of power and privilege within a royal or noble household. They could get away with saying or doing anything to the king or queen or nobles—literally anyone—without being punished. Compare the antics to our modern day comedians like Tim Allen, Robin Williams (still miss him), Ellen DeGeneres, or any past or present Saturday Night Live comedians and you get what I mean. Comedians will say and do anything (most times for the shock value) and get away with it.

Now, if you think about it, books are a huge part of the entertainment industry. We writers are present day jesters and fools too. Words are power. And like comedians, we can pretty much say whatever we want in the written form, and publish it on Amazon or any other on-line publishing site. But there’s a fine line here. Back in the day, when jesters got a free pass for their behavior (with the exception of a few who did get reprimanded or whipped), they didn’t have the social media circus that we have now. Nowadays, if someone says something out of turn, you can bet it will be tweeted or shared! The jester’s main job was to entertain through stories or music or juggling. They poked fun at others, helped them to lighten up, and made them smile and laugh. Sometimes they even stopped wars from happening by detonating a situation between royals.

Imagine if writers had that kind of power? To write a book so powerful it could stop a war. Put down prose that would allow a reader to visualize walking in a character’s shoes. Or just create a story that will take readers away from their mundane existence. Keep in mind the intent of such power, and use intention as a foundation, and you’ve probably written a generational book that will continued to be talked about and read in the future. Think To Kill a Mockingbird or Les Miserables or The Catcher in the Rye, and you know what I’m talking about. Jesters, like authors, aren’t so far apart after all. We just have to remember to lighten-up, ourselves.

So, what makes you laugh-out-loud? Do you have a favorite modern day jester? How about a book that affected you so deeply that you’d recommend your kids and grandchildren should read it? Would love to read your comments! Cheers and thank you for reading my blog! 

Monday, 4 April 2016

The Pros and Cons about Newsletters for Authors by Lisa Fender...

First, I’d like to thank Sharon for asking me to post this article on her blog. I’ve always appreciated her support and kind words. Thank you, my Djen friend.

Sharon has asked me to talk about the pros and cons about newsletters for authors. Although there are both, the pros outweigh the cons three to one.

The first time I learned the importance of having an email list (newsletter) was probably seven or eight years ago when I was invited to attend a small writing conference near where I live in Denver. The speaker was Randy Ingermanson and he wrote “Writing Fiction for Dummies”.

He talked about building a “tribe” with your email list and the importance of building that list. I started out building my tribe, and since I was so far from actually publishing my book at the time, people lost interest. So did I.

As time went on, I became closer to finishing my first book and decided it was time to build my social media platform. I started a blog, and once the book was a few months from print, I began my presence on Facebook and Twitter. I completely forgot what I had been taught – an email list is the most imperative marketing tool.

Now, three years in, and my third book about to be published, I was slowly giving up. I didn’t think I would ever have a fan base. Facebook and twitter weren’t cutting it. I needed more exposure. So I did what I should have done a long time ago – I hired a private marketing guru. It is strictly through the Internet, but I am learning a lot. The most important of which, building an email list.

Yes, it is much harder to start an email list once you have several books out, but it can be done. You just need to utilize the program you’re working with for automatically generating the newsletters you write. In other words, you can set up several posts to go out when you want and to who you want. You also have to have two lists, or more depending. As you build your list you want to separate those who have previously joined and your new people because you won’t want to send your older list a newsletter that they’ve already received. Example: You sent out an intro to yourself and to your book to thirty people. Now twenty more have joined. You will want to send out the intro only to the new people.

Mail Chimp is who I use right now, but I’ve been told there are others with better programs – only you have to pay for them. Mail Chimp works fine for me and it’s free. And we all like free, right?!

Now, the pros and cons: The pros are building an email list will give you a more interactive relationship with your readers. You can probably count on quite a few of them to write reviews and become fans. You will get to know them, and they you, on a more personal level. This builds trust and loyalty. But one thing you need to keep in mind – you have to give them something for free right up front. My suggestion is a free download of your first book.

If your first book is not out yet, then cool swag, or maybe deleted scenes from your WIP, or just a few chapters are things you can give. Why do I say this? Because you want to get them interested in your books and hopefully take that next step – write a review. Reviews are everything to a self-published author. It pushes us up in the rankings with Amazon, which gives us more exposure.

As you build your email list, it is also important to give them a landing page. I suggest a website.

Now, cons: It can be a lot of work. But most good things are. If you set up your posts for automation, then it’s only one day a week or every other week of writing articles and setting them to post when you want. Just make sure to do your follow-ups.

The don’ts: Don’t only send out a newsletter a few times a year. People will forget who you are. I have done this myself and now I am starting over. I get the frustration and feelings of resignation. But it will all turn around if you put the effort into it.

Also, don’t only send out newsletters to announce your new books or covers. People won’t like it because to them you’re pushing a sale, nothing more. Yes, we are doing this to sell our books, but a more subtle approach is required and will help you to accomplish your goals of building a fan base and hopefully more reviews.

So that’s it. The pros of building an email list can make the difference in building your fan base and with reviews. You will interact more with your readers and hopefully gain friends along the way. The only con, it’s a lot of work initially. But well worth it in the long run.

Don’t give up on yourself or your books. You can use this tool successfully and eventually have a long list of people who love your work!

One more thing, I am giving away a digital download of my first book, Fable. It’s a series and book two will be out in a few months. If you would like to give it a read go to my website http://www.djenworld.com and get your copy today. I would love to have you read it and don’t forget to let me know if you liked it!

Thanks for everything Sharon, and if anyone has any questions I’ll be sure to answer back!

My Author Bio: I have wanted to write books since I was a child, but didn’t publish a book until I was much older. (Too old to put down my age) Before writing Fable I married my wonderful and very supportive husband, Rick. Had two kids, now two grandkids, and have lived most of my life in Colorado. No, I don’t have a degree in anything, but I am a licensed Aesthetician. I have, however, taken several classes about writing, and had a writing coach, then later, taught creative writing myself for two years. I’m still a WIP myself, but I’m always open and eager to learn.

You can find my books here:


And you can contact me here: https://www.facebook.com/FableBookI/

                                                 http://www.twitter.com/lisafender1


Monday, 28 March 2016

Surviving Easter with YA authors HL Carpenter...

Stumped at what to do with those leftover Easter Eggs? Fear not! YA authors HL Carpenter suggests you try their easy spicy recipe for deviled eggs. BTW - Do you know why they’re called deviled eggs? You get to eat two if you know the answer.*

Deviled Eggs with Curry

Eggs (week-old or just-ready-to-expire eggs peel more easily)
1 tsp. salad dressing for each egg
Dash of curry powder
Dash of paprika

Hard-boil eggs using an egg cooker or a pot of cold water (cover eggs with water, bring to a boil, remove from heat, cover, and let stand 10-12 minutes). Drain; then place eggs in ice water until cool. Peel cooled eggs and cut in half lengthwise.

Slide egg yolks onto a plate and mash with a fork.

Stir in salad dressing until mixture is smooth and creamy.

Spoon yolk mixture back into egg whites, or use a disposable plastic baggie and an icing tip if you want ooh-la-la fancy deviled eggs.

Sprinkle with curry powder to taste. Dust with paprika for more color.

Arrange on a platter and serve warm or cold.

If you’re traveling to the potluck, carry this dish in an insulated cooler with ice.

*According to the Oxford Companion to Food, by Alan Davidson (1999), pp. 247-248, “devil” is a culinary term which first appeared as a noun in the 18th century, and then in the early 19th century as a verb meaning to cook something with fiery hot spices or condiments. The term was presumably adopted because of the connection between the devil and the excessive heat where the devil dwells.

***

A brief into for the top selling fantasy book by HL Carpenter.

Fourteen year old Tovi thinks finding a flying horse is fabulous luck—until a mysterious stranger says finders aren’t always keepers.

When fourteen year old Tovi Taggert moves to Honeysuckle Hollow to take care of her grandmother, she has a hard time fitting in. For one thing, she’s been tagged with the hated nickname Too-Tall Tovi. For another, everyone at Honeysuckle Hollow High believes Tovi played the Choking Game with someone else’s boyfriend and made out with him besides.

As if she doesn’t have enough problems, after the latest stand-off in the school hallway, Tovi finds a gorgeous speckled egg nestled in a feather lined nest.

She takes the egg home. Mysterious visitors begin appearing almost immediately. Even more worrisome, whatever is inside the egg starts chipping its way out.

When the egg hatches, revealing a winged horse, Tovi’s troubles multiply.

As she struggles to return the horse to the magical land where he belongs, Tovi must make a courageous decision—and accept what that decision will cost her.

To read more of The SkyHorse, please click a vendor's name Amazon - Amazon UK - Smashwords


HL Carpenter writes sweet, clean fiction suitable for your entire family. Visit their website for gift reads and the latest Carpenter Country news. 

Stay connected on Pinterest, Linkedin, Google+, and their Amazon Author Page.

Monday, 21 March 2016

Shredding what doesn’t Work for a Writer…

I’ve gotten into this purging habit. Around the middle of February, I clear out my filing cabinet, and shred any papers that are useless or I don’t need anymore. Bills, sales receipts, accounting documents, and manuscripts that should have never seen the light of day. This got me to thinking how I could apply shredding to my writing career. What am I doing that isn’t working anymore? What book marketing strategies need to be purged? What type of book promotions are a waste of time? Is blogging worth the effort?


Does any of these questions sound familiar?

March is the month I revise my business and life plan. So I thought, what better way to shred the old from my life (things that aren’t working), keep what’s working, and start up with new ideas. I love it when I’ve gone through the filing cabinet, cleaned out the files, then either shred any bills older than 2 years, or file the rest in a plastic container for a period of one year. The exception being our taxes, which I keep for the recommended seven years. The filing cabinet seems so much lighter after this task is done. And for some reason, so do I.

Sitting down to revise my business and life plan this year, I went through the document page by page, striking what I’ve accomplished under the WORKS IN PROGRESS subtitle (and feeling good about it), to eliminating what I thought were time wasters (blog hops, certain social media groups, dropping Tumblr) under AUTHOR BRAND AND PLATFORM. Blogging is time consuming, but I believe my name (BRAND) is getting enough weekly Google Alerts and views to continue creating posts. When it came to the subtitle PROMOTION AND MARKETING STRATEGY I added a few new ideas, and kept the old tried and true. Goodreads Giveaways and Book Blog Tours (only for new releases) seem to work well for me. I’ve recently joined Pinterest, so I’ll see how this pans out for me in the future, creating boards based on my characters, time travel historical settings, and personal interests. Wink.

I’m also very happy with the freedom I have with my new publishers, Mirror World Publishing, who have promised to keep a yearly slot open for my ongoing time travel series The Last Timekeepers. This year, I will have Book #2: The Last Timekeepers and the Dark Secret out sometime in the fall. I’ve already started gathering research for Book #3, and I'm looking forward to delving into a fresh story. I know the key is to focus on what I enjoy, and build for the long term. That’s what a lot of writers forget—they’re building a career, and careers take time.

So shred what’s not working for you, and lighten up your load. Remember: slowly but surely wins the race. Do you have a yearly shredding ritual? Have you removed what isn’t working for you in your life or career? Would love to hear your comments. Cheers and thank you for reading my blog!