Monday, 26 January 2015

The Role of a Writer…

Recently, my son-in-law (SIL) told me about this documentary he watched in his university course about the penal system in the 1950s. He’s studying law enforcement and this documentary was a case study where they took students to live in a prison-like setting. Half the students were told that they were the prisoners and the other half were the guards. The take home message from this case study was that ALL the students fell into their roles and didn’t veer from them. If they were prisoners, then they were stuck in character. If guards, that’s who they became. This got me thinking. Our thoughts are so powerful. If we BELIEVE we’re writers, and practice this ROLE, then by God, we begin to FEEL like writers.

Sometimes it’s a matter of unplugging from the hard-wiring we’ve had growing up. As children, we fall into roles quite easily and sometimes are stuck in these roles for the rest of our lives. An ‘A’ student will always be the smart one. The ‘C’ student won’t. When I began the journey to be a published author, at first I thought only teachers or people with masters in English or in creative writing were good enough to be authors. It was a huge obstacle to overcome for me mentally, but overcome I did. I broke the mold that I was stuck in for years.

Once I retrained my mind, I developed a positive mental attitude, and I found that I started to feel free from the limitations I grew up with. It really didn’t matter if I didn’t possess an English degree or MFA, I knew I could learn to become a published author by sheer determination, perseverance, patience, and practice. I had the time to invest in following my heart, and I did.

I made a commitment. I scheduled my time. And I asked for support from my family or friends when I needed it. Remember the only thing holding you back from your writing aspirations is YOU. Break out of the role that’s keeping you from your dreams. You’ll be happier and healthier in the long run.

Thanks a heap for reading my blog. If you have time, please leave a comment and share what YOU do to create the role of writer for yourself. Cheers!

Friday, 23 January 2015

YA Book Tour: Disenchanted Character Interview

Welcome to the Month Long Virtual Book Tour 
for Disenchanted, the recently released YA 
Fantasy novel by Leigh Goff.

Disenchanted: An Interview with Sophie Goodchild

1. How old are you, Sophie?

I just turned sixteen and what a crazy ride it has been since my birthday. My magic was always less than expected and hard to control. My Aunt Janie thought my ordinary half was affecting my spellcasting witch half, but I recently learned that my diamond bloodcharm, a gemstone pendant from my mom, enhances my magic, and it has really made a difference in my spellcasting, but don’t tell anyone! I have a surprise in store for my coven.

2. Are your parents alive? Are they married? Are they divorced?

Sadly, my parents passed away when I was a small child. I have some memories of them, especially sitting on my mother’s lap and the warmth of her embrace. Their deaths haunt me because I have a feeling the mystery surrounding what happened has something to do with black-hearted Judge Mather. He is the father of the guy I’m falling hard for, but he is an unethical man who stops at nothing to get what he wants. He’s locked up half of my coven’s witches for magical slip-ups, and I fear he had something to do with my parents’ deaths.

3. If you were sent to a deserted island what three things would you take?

My godmother Phoebe’s sugared pansy petals because they are delicious and they melt in your mouth. I would bring my red diamond bloodcharm for sentimental and practical reasons. It belonged to my mother and it enhances my magic, which would come in handy on a deserted island. I would also include my hot boyfriend because he’s fearless when danger is near and that’s been a lot lately.

4. Do you have a hidden talent?

I can make a mean purple spaghetti sauce. It requires purple tomatoes and pink Parisian garlic along with a few special herbs from my Aunt Janie’s enchanted garden. I cast a simple puree spell on it to blend the ingredients together and it’sdelicious.

5. Do you consider yourself and introvert or extrovert?

I’m an introvert. I’m not sure if being an introvert is my true nature or from a habit of keeping secrets and trying to blend in. The ordinaries in Wethersfield, a small Connecticut town steeped in Puritanical history, just can’t handle witch magic, so it’s best for everyone involved if we keep our talents hidden and being an introvert helps.

6. What is your idea of a perfect day?

A perfect day would be a day full of swoony kissing with my forbidden boyfriend, Alexavier. He’s an ordinary and a Mather. In case you don’t know your American history, theMathers played a big role in condemning witches to hang in New England. Alexavier is a descendant of the man who condemned my ancestor, Rebecca Greensmithto hang at Gallows Hill so I get that he’s forbidden, but his bad boy ways and his hot British accent are so irresistible. Plus he’s hiding a secret that I just have to know. Did I mention he’s tall, dark-haired, and has lips that taste like sun-ripened peaches?

7. If I asked you to write an entry in your journal what would it be about?

A journal? I’ve been trying to unlock entries from my ancestor’s enchanted journal from three hundred and fifty years ago. So if I had a journal of my own, I might want to repay the favor and write something down that would help my descendant sometime in the future.

8. Tell me something no one else knows about you?

I love living in Wethersfield. It’s a small town, but I think in time, the people here will come to embrace the witches living among them. Fingers crossed!

About Disenchanted:

A dark curse, a forbidden love, an impossible choice.

Orphaned sixteen-year-old Sophie Goodchild is an outcast among the ordinaries and her coven, but not because she’s untalented. Descended from a powerful Wethersfield witch, her spellcasting gift is awkwardly emerging, but that’s the least of her worries. The boy she’s forbidden to fall for, a descendant of the man who condemned her ancestor to hang, carries a dark secret that could destroy them both unless Sophie learns how to tap into the mysterious power of her diamond bloodcharm. 

Suspenseful, dark, romantic, and brimming with old magic, Disenchanted captures the intrigue of New England’s witchlore.

Add Disenchanted to your GoodreadsShelf:

Purchase Your Copy at Musa Publishing:

Purchase Your copy at Amazon:

About the Author:

After taking several writing courses in college and attending professional writing workshops after I graduated from the University of Maryland, University College, I began writing young adult fiction with purpose. I joined the Maryland Writers’ Association and Romance Writers of America and became an approved artist with the Maryland State Arts Council.

My debut novel, Disenchanted, is now available, and I am working on my next, The Witch’s Ring, which will be set in Annapolis.

Tour Coordinated by Sapphyria's Book Promotions 

Monday, 19 January 2015

Do Authors Manipulate Readers? Guest post by Vonnie Hughes

You bet they do! Authors know what buttons to push.

By ‘what buttons to push’ I mean what buttons do authors use to manipulate (yep, being honest) their readers’ emotions, to get them on side with the characters in their books. For example, perhaps the author creates unlikeable, evil antagonists and emphasizes the sterling qualities of his protagonists.

The most obvious ploy is the ticking clock. It not only lends urgency but it yanks the reader along at a rush, keeping him intrigued.

Then there’s characterization. Of course in this dynamic world, what worked ten years ago may not have the same appeal in 2014. The innocent 1960s virgin, so prevalent in romances of that time, would drive a reader from 2014 to drink. We are much more cynical, well-informed and downright demanding than we were then. Historically though, some classics retain their appeal because they are much more than the sum of their characters’ emotions. To Kill A Mockingbird’s racial tensions are still not outmoded today, and that lazy description of the syrupy south’s inbred attitudes is not far from the truth in some out-of-the-way places. And that is why books like these are classics. They endure not just because of the characters in the books but because of the settings and historical attitudes. And Harper Lee manipulated the readers’ emotions. Think of the way she pushes Scout’s lack of desire to be a ‘lady’ so that the reader is on Scout’s side.

Perhaps today’s writers manipulate the readers in more subtle ways. What of Dick Francis’s heroes who are often of the working class up against a criminal upper class or just up against class bigotry where he is on the outside looking in? Dick Francis does that so well that even if the protagonist is not your usual Everyman, the reader is still very much on his side. That’s right. The modern protagonist need not be a perfect hero as he has been in novels and movies of the past. Some have patchy backgrounds and they’ve made mistakes.

There’s Lee Child’s Jack Reacher who thrums a string in every male heart. They all want to be Jack with his freedom and lack of possessions but with an innate sense of responsibility. And of course Jack has been in the military and knows how to handle himself in vicious situations. Every man’s dream. There are a lot of wannabe Jacks out there. And Lee knows how to manipulate those readers. 

Tami Hoag’s heroines are believably imperfect. They make mistakes and have hang-ups that readers can empathise with and they frequently have to form alliances with people they don’t trust. There’s that little brush of reality that lends credence to the stories.

So…empathy and sympathy are the buttons. And the harder those buttons are pushed by authors and movie makers, the more a reader/viewer becomes invested in the characters. We need to see how the protagonists get themselves out of a bind, or if the evil antagonists get their come-uppance. And the best books of all are where you know darned well that the author is pushing your buttons, but you just don’t care. The book is so good! ~Vonnie

Vonnie Hughes is a multi-published author in both Regency books and contemporary suspense. She loves the intricacies of the social rules of the Regency period and the far-ranging consequences of the Napoleonic Code. And with suspense she has free rein to explore forensic matters and the strong convolutions of the human mind. Like many writers, some days she hates the whole process, but somehow she just cannot let it go.

Vonnie was born in New Zealand, but she and her husband now live happily in Australia. If you visit Hamilton Gardens in New Zealand be sure to stroll through the Japanese Garden. These is a bronze plaque engraved with a haiku describing the peacefulness of that environment. The poem was written by Vonnie. 

All of Vonnie’s books are available on Musa Publishing and Amazon.

Learn more about Vonnie Hughes on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Goodreads.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Join the QUEST! Win the TREASURE!

URQ Poster3What do pirates, explorers and children have in common? They all love treasure hunts!
THE ULTIMATE READING QUEST will end on Monday, January 19th, at midnight. This is your last chance to explore new books and authors, and to take home free prizes and books. Plus, one lucky winner, will get a
To enter your name for this SPECIAL TREASURE you must prove yourself worthy by collecting the 49 letters of a secret message! Just by reading this post you already have two of the letters (A and B).
Find the rest within the Quest, writing them down as you go. When you have all 49, unscramble them to decode the secret message. Enter the exact words of the message in the Mystery Prize Rafflecopter right here: a Rafflecopter giveawayAs you're searching for the letters, be sure to leave a comment for each and every author. Not only will you get to chat with the amazing Quest authors, but each comment will earn you extra entries in the general Quest prize giveaway that includes an astonishing 124 free prizes and gifts! a Rafflecopter giveaway
What are you waiting for? Click this button to start collecting the rest of the letters. Then return here and enter to TAKE THE TREASURE!

Monday, 12 January 2015

Book Promotion 101…

NOTE: This post was originally featured on Susan Gourley’s blog. You can find out about this wonderful fantasy, romance, and science fiction author who also writes as Susan Kelley HERE.

During November 2014, I decided to go gung-ho and promote my two time travel books. So I prepared a plan and outlined it HERE. This is gist of my book promo strategy:

1. I created a Goodreads Giveaway for The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis, and the prequel to the series, Legend of the Timekeepers. I offered only one signed paperback book, and included signed trading cards. I made these giveaways international, hoping to reach a lot of readers worldwide, and ran it for the first three weeks in November.

2. I signed up for a month-long Holiday Giveaway with Mother Daughter Book Reviews. The prize was a Kindle Fire HD Kids Edition Tablet, perfect for the upcoming holiday season. I was hoping to reach my target audience with this giveaway, since Mother Daughter focuses on reviewing children and middle grade books. The price of being part of the giveaway was $10, so it seemed a no-brainer to me.

3. Along with doing the Holiday Giveaway with Mother Daughter Book Reviews, an offer was given to authors to support Daughter by purchasing a $30 coupon book for her school’s fundraising campaign. And the offer? A promotion package which included advertising my book cover on the site’s sidebar for 30 days (which gets about 50,000 views monthly), plus a book review, and a two week Mini Social Media Blitz. Normally this promotion would have cost me over $70, so it seemed like a win-win to me! Plus the coupon book has already paid for itself! LOL!

4. As I mentioned in the outline, I’m part of this fantastic tween author group called Emblazon. We planned a HUGE Rafflecopter giveaway for a new Kindle preloaded with over 50 of the Emblazoners middle grade books which ran for the first 2 weeks of November. In addition, a Facebook party was set up for three days where readers could interact with authors and win great prizes. This was all to advertise the release our 2014-2015 Winter catalogue in time for the holiday season.

5. I participated at the Windsor-Essex Book Expo on Sunday, November 23rd to build my brand, connect with local authors, and meet readers. Along with my paperbacks, I brought a huge jar of Twizzlers® to hand out to the kids and adults, signed trading cards, and postcards.

And the results…drum roll please:

Goodreads Giveaways: What a surprise here folks! I couldn’t believe the entries I received. For The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis, I had 2100 entries—a new record! And for Legend of the Timekeepers, I garnered 1502 readers wanting to win—another record! One book ended up going to Turkey for a cost of $11.65, and the second book surprisingly went to Quebec, Canada for $4.10. Not bad if you include the price of the books ($10 each). I was more after exposure here, which I got big-time.  Plus I connected with one of the winners, who said he’d write a review for me.
Mother Daughter Book Reviews Holiday Giveaway: There were 34,002 entries for the Kindle Fire Kid’s Edition. Not bad in my books! Congrats to winner Joelle D. Again, exposure was the name of the game here. I wanted to get my book out in front of my target audience, and generate interest in my author brand.

Promotion Package with Mother Daughter Book Reviews: This finished December 8th, and I have to say I got some pretty good buzz with this promo plus a wonderful book review. I reached new Twitter followers, and received some more likes on Facebook. The shocker came on December 8th when my Amazon Bestseller Rank skyrocketed from 700,000 to 97,000. Um…huh? I didn’t see that coming, especially since my rank in November kept going down. Must have done something right!

Emblazon Preloaded Kindle Giveaway: I was mildly disappointed with the Facebook party, but we held strong and got a few readers stopping by to comment during my allotted time. In fact, I believe the winner of my ebook was a book reviewer, so you never know! We did manage to get more likes on our Emblazon Facebook page, so I feel we did okay. As for generating interest in our 2014-2015 Winter Catalog, the stats are in: 222 new subscribers for a total of 338 subscribers for our catalog! We’ve only been doing this for 2 years, and we’re all very HAPPY with these results! The Emblazoners even purchased another Kindle during the Black Friday sales for the next promotion. So stay tuned…

Windsor-Essex Book Expo: This event has all to do with location, location, location. And it wasn’t the best location for walk-in traffic. That said, I did sell seven books, so after factoring in the cost of renting a table ($35) and buying the candy ($10), I come away with about $25 in my pocket. Um…considering this event ran from 10 am to 5 pm, I made about $3.57 an hour. Again, this was about networking with other authors and meeting perspective readers—which I did. Plus the licorice was a BIG hit, and was a great ice breaker! I also made a few author connections too. Would I do this event again? Sure, and hopefully next year’s venue will be in a high traffic area.

Bottom line: With all the promotion and marketing I did during November 2014, my Amazon author rank and sales dropped drastically until AFTER December 8th, when my rank took a surprising turn for the better. Not sure why it took so long, but so happy it did! This whole author/promoter/marketer business is one crazy roller coaster ride to begin with. What did happen during the month that surprised me was that a 19-year-old reader from the Netherlands connected with me through Goodreads, and we struck up a relationship. She loves my books, and even reread the prequel and sent me a detailed email asking questions about the book. She even asked if she could review my writing in the future, so I think I’ve found my dream beta reader. Now that’s a super fan! And truthfully, this is what authors are after in the long run—cultivating relationships with readers that will last a lifetime.

Only time will tell whether these promotion strategies will translate into long term sales, but since I’m in for the long haul, I feel most were good investments.

Plans for 2015: I want to finish up the second book in my time travel series by spring to submit to my publisher this year, plus I'm going to have anniversary book blasts in May and August for my existing MG/YA books. There will also be at least four Goodreads Giveaways during 2015, so stay tuned for those contests. I’m within chapters of finishing revising and editing my first book—a paranormal romance with a Beauty and the Beast twist—my agent has requested, and hope to have the MS in her hands in February. I wanted to get The Last Timekeepers and Arch of Atlantis and Legend of the Timekeepers out on audio books, but have found that this Amazon service is only available to residents of the US and UK. Bummer. I'm hoping that Amazon's audio book service (ACX) will open  up to the Canadian authors in the near future. 

Authors—what promotional strategies have worked for you? What haven’t? Readers—what book promotions seem to hook your attention? Love to hear from you! Cheers and thank you for reading my post!

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Take a Journey with The Ultimate Reading Quest ~ January 5th to 19th, 2015...

jointhereadingquestsmall CLICK ON THIS BUTTON TO START YOUR QUEST!

Happy New Year from all the Authors in the Ultimate Reading Quest! This year myself, and all the Quest authors, want you to enjoy your reading experiences more than ever! So in 2015, the Ultimate Reading Quest has more, more, more! More authors and more books, means more mystery, more danger, more intrigue and more edge-of-your-seat adventure awaits you! We want you, our readers, to be able to fill that Kindle, tablet or E-reader you got for Christmas, with fabulous reads to take you through 2015. The Quest is so much fun! Who doesn't love searching for treasure? The ULTIMATE READING QUEST is about finding books that are “perfectly” suited to your reading taste by clicking on choices. To thank you for participating, the authors have decided to give away oodles of prizes for free! Enter your name to win Amazon cards and free books from authors! Plus a whole store of treasured books are just waiting to be discovered by you!

Enjoy your journey as you travel through the QUEST! Don't forget to enter the raffle on the first page of the Quest. And please leave comments or questions for the authors of the Quest. We would love to hear from you. What are you waiting for? Click on the button above or below to get started on your QUEST for the next ULTIMATE READ!

Monday, 5 January 2015

The Gates of Atlantis Complete Ebook Collection for 99 Cents...

We are excited to announce the amazing sale of THE GATES OF ATLANTIS COMPLETE COLLECTION on eBook. You can get this fantastic middle-grade series for just $0.99 (regularly $19.99). This sale price will available December 29th through January 12th. To help celebrate such a sale the Atlantis authors are giving away a Kindle to one lucky winner. 

Don’t forget to enter the GIVEAWAY at the bottom of this post!

Centuries ago the great city of Atlantis had to be hidden from humans. Now magically buried in the depths of the ocean, it is the source of all magic. All is well in the magical world…until the leaders of Atlantis listen to the whims of a mad man.

A group of teens set out on their own unique quests to fight for the world they love. They face dangers they didn’t know existed. As they battle their way through mysterious tunnels and secrets of the ancient world, they find themselves in a race against time. One by one, the mad man will shut down the Gates of Atlantis and destroy the magic. Can these unlikely heroes stop him before it’s too late?

Book 1: BANSHEE AT THE GATE, by Wendy Knight: Half-human, half-banshee Seven loves her life with her awesome brother Haran and her dad while delivering souls safely to death...until Death comes calling for Haran.

Book 2: GUARDIANS OF THE GATES, by Laura D. Bastian: Mermaid Talia wants to be a Guardian. Exander wants to leave Atlantis and explore the upper world. An accident at one of the gates gives them both their chance, but they also make a startling discovery—someone is destroying the gates.

Book 3: SECRETS OF THE MINE, by Juli Caldwell: Adam believes in myths and magic. Clancy doesn’t. Two normal kids’ lives change when they embark on the adventure of a lifetime on the back of a sea kelpie...if only they can get away from the strange creatures that are determined to stop them.

Book 4: MAGICIANS OF THE DEEP, by Jaclyn Weist: A trip to Ireland changes Colin’s life when a bite from a mysterious fish awakens unlimited knowledge and dormant magical powers. He knows exactly how to save a magical world, but can he get there before it’s too late?

Book 5: MADNESS BEHIND THE THRONE, by J.R. Simmons: Phoibos, bullied and taunted by other kids, believes something is wrong with Atlantis. His charm with the nobility and skill as warrior as he grows make him believe nothing will stop his quest to purge Atlantis from everything he finds impure.

Book 6: BATTLE FOR ACROPOLIS, by Mikey Brooks: Talon keeps getting in trouble. It’s not his fault things around him randomly burst into flame, but he’s not sticking around to find out what happens next. When foster sister Hattie encourages him to run, they make a break for it, only to find an unexpected destiny awaiting them in Atlantis. They just have to get there first. When they do, they find a lot of help. Characters from all the previous books appear to help fight Phoibos. These unlikely heroes risk it all to save the magic and fight for Atlantis.

Where to get the series on eBook:

One lucky winner will be selected to win a Kindle, 6" Glare-Free Touchscreen Display, Wi-Fi (Retail price of $79.99). A winner will be selected from those living within the continental United States. The winner will be announced January 13th and they will be notified via email to provide a valid mailing address. Good luck to all the entries and thank you for helping us share the news about this awesome series.

a Rafflecopter giveaway