Wednesday 27 November 2013

Tween the Weekends: Seven Steps to Success for Tweens & Teens...

There is a powerful seven step formula that you can use to set and achieve your goals for the rest of your life. It’s a discipline, so if started at an early age these steps will become as natural to you as breathing air. Every successful person uses this formula or some variation of this formula to achieve more than the average person.

Step one: Decide exactly what it is you want. Do you want to play in the NHL, NFL, NBA or go for gold in the Olympics? Do you want to get your driver’s license by 16 and a car at 17? Do you want to go to college, university, or own a business? Do you want to go to Disneyland with your family? How about designing a kick-butt video game? The possibilities are endless.

Step two: Write down what you want, clearly and in detail. Get a journal or notebook for this. Always think on paper. A goal that is not in writing is not a goal at all. It is merely a wish and it has no energy behind it.

Step three: Set a deadline for your goal. If you’re saving for a family trip doing babysitting, odd jobs or have an after school job figure out how much you’ll need by the time you leave. Start a savings account for any goal that is material based like a car or clothes. A deadline acts as a “forcing system” and motivates you to do the things necessary to make your goal come true. If it’s a big goal, set sub-deadlines too. Some goals are worth the chase!

Step four: Make a list of everything that you can think of that you are going to have to do to achieve your goal. If you want to play in the big leagues, and feel you have the talent, how much time per day do you think you’ll need to practice to get there? Want a new laptop? How many babysitting gigs will it take to get one?

Step five: Organize your list into a plan. Decide what you have to do first, second, third, and so on. Decide what is more important and what is less important. If you want to be an engineer, you’d better be prepared to study hard, rather than play video games all night. Once you’ve made your decision, write out your plan on paper. This becomes your blueprint for success.

Step six: Do something EVERY DAY that moves you in the direction of your most important goal at the moment. Study, practice, work, play, write—do what you need to do to develop the discipline of doing something 365 days each year to move you forward, and closer to your goals.

Remember, it’s up to you to invest in yourself, and the sooner you get started, the sooner you will reap what you have sown. Invest in the best, that’s YOU!

Thursday 21 November 2013

Goodreads 101...

Since I’m having a Goodreads Giveway for the next few weeks, I thought I’d do a post on building an author presence on Goodreads in order to get your book(s) into the faces or your targeted readers. First things first, authors need to be ACTIVE on Goodreads. That doesn’t mean you need to be on it daily—if you can that’s great—but try to organize your schedule so that you can pop your virtual head into Goodreads on a weekly basis.

Here’s a great plan to follow:

1. Add a new book to your shelves, one you are reading, want to read, or a book that inspired your writing. Simple and fast.

2. Write a review for a book. If you do a lot of Amazon reviews feel free to grab the content from there and repost it to Goodreads. And if you want to be a real rock star of the review world, grab your Goodreads review and cross post it to Amazon. Hey, why not? Wouldn't you love it if someone did that for you?

3. Rate books. This is easy and oh-so-simple. Give books a starred rating. You don't even have to write a review to do this one.

4. Blog post. If you update your blog post weekly that's fantastic, if you don't then I suggest that you update your Goodreads status once or more a week. You can also just add a favorite book passage or author quote. It doesn't have to be a long post. You're just aiming for profile activity, that's key.

5. Groups. Join them. Post to a group, comment or respond to someone's question.

6. Add friends. I recommend adding friends weekly if possible. You'll find people in the groups that you want to friend or reviews you want to follow. Building a healthy friend list is really key to expanding your network (and getting more reviews) on Goodreads.

Bonus: If you can, set up a Goodreads Giveaway (paperbacks only) at least four or more times a year. You won’t believe the feedback and the amount of entries you get. This alone will build your presence and help find the audience you’re looking for.

And speaking of a Goodreads Giveaway, here’s a chance to win the first book in my MG/YA time travel series, The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis until December 10th

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 December 10, 2013.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Monday 18 November 2013

The Wenches of Words Pasta Posse...

Sam Cheever's Amazingly Simple Pasta...

We've just moved the zoo to a new house. With all the unpacking and disorganization I needed a quick but tasty dinner for us humans. A quick rummage through two boxes and the fridge and I was good to go. Here is last night's dinner. We loved the clean taste and I think you will, too.

Amazingly Simple Mac & Cheese

2 cups dried pasta
2 cups 2% milk
1 cup loosely packed shredded cheddar cheese
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. Dijon mustard

Combine the pasta and milk in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Stir often. Cook over low heat until the pasta is soft, approximately 20 minutes. Do not allow the milk to boil.

Stir in the mustard, salt, and cheese (if you’re going to bake it, reserve about ¼ cup of the cheese for sprinkling over the top).

Cover and let stand for 5 minutes, then stir well and serve. Or bake it in a 375°F oven for 10-15 minutes, or until cheese on top is melted.

Add 1 can of drained tuna and bake as above to make tuna casserole!

IMG_7837_120x180Sam Cheever writes mainstream romantic suspense and fantasy, all heat levels; and Declan Sands for M/M romantic suspense and fantasy. Her books are fast paced and fun loving. Not one of them will solve a single world problem, but you definitely won’t be bored while reading them!

Sam’s published work includes 40+ works of young adult, romantic suspense, and fantasy/paranormal. Her books have won the Dream Realm Award for fantasy, been nominated and/or won several CAPAs, were nominated for Best of 2010 with LRC and The Romance Reviews, and won eCataromance’s Reviewer’s Choice award. She is published with Ellora’s Cave, both Romantica and Blush; Changeling Press; Electric Prose Publications (her own imprint), Musa Publishing, and Red Rose Publishing.

She lives on a hobby farm in Indiana with 11 dogs, 2 horses, and one husband.

Learn more about Sam Cheever on her blog Eclectic Insights. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter. You can also find Sam on Goodreads.

Sloane Taylor's Perfect Pasta for Mondays...

Mondays are always super busy with loads of laundry, cleaning up after the weekend madness, and that little thing that pays the bills called work. Oh yes, we authors lead madcap lives. At least we do on paper if not in the real world. And that real world requires meals. Since Mondays are time crunchers I've developed as easy dinner we enjoy about once a month. Mix up a big salad and uncork a good white wine and kick back.

Pasta with Fresh Mozzarella

½ package any curly pasta
3-4 plum tomatoes, diced
¾ cup olive oil
fresh basil leaves
1 clove fresh garlic pressed
fresh mini Mozzarella balls quartered
freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta al dente. While the pasta is boiling, sauté garlic in olive oil for 1 – 2 minutes. Don’t let the garlic burn or your dish will be bitter.

Drain the pasta. Place pasta in a serving bowl.

Add the oil/garlic mixture, Mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil. Toss well.

Serve the Parmesan on the side.

Sloane Taylor believes humor and sex are healthy aspects of our everyday lives and carries that philosophy into her books. She writes sexually explicit romances that take 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.

Learn more about Sloane Taylor on her website, and of course her blog for easy recipes. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.

Susan Lodge ends those Mealtime Woes...

The world moves faster now and we all have time crunches that take away from home cooking. But here is the perfect meal for when you are really pressed.

Quick Pasta Bake

300gm (10oz) dried pasta Penne works well
1 large onion chopped
3 garlic cloves peeled and crushed
4 rashers of thick bacon cooked and chopped into bite size pieces
1-2 tbsp. of olive oil
125 ml (4 oz) water or wine
400gm (14 oz) tin of plum tomatoes.
1 tsp. dried mixed herbs
110 gm (4oz) of hard cheese grated or mozzarella sliced.
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 180°C or 350°F.

Cook the pasta for the prescribed time on the packet.

In a large pan gently fry the onions and garlic in the olive oil for a few minutes until soft and transparent. Add tomatoes, water/wine, bacon, and mixed herbs. Season with salt and pepper.

Simmer gently for five to ten minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly.

Combine the drained pasta and tomato mixture and turn in to an oven proof dish. Sprinkle with cheese and bake ten minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbling.

Nice served with a green salad and some crusty bread.

Susan Lodge’s first publication was a story for a UK national woman’s magazine. Heady with this breakthrough, she went on to write her first novel Only a Hero Will Do. She loves writing contemporary and historical romance, usually with a large dose of humour. After working in several cities including London and Bristol, she moved down to the Hampshire coast to raise her family.

Once asked the most important piece of advice she had been given in pursuit of publication, Susan answered - The only difference between the unpublished writer and the published writer is the fact that the published writer didn't give up.

Catch up with Susan on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.

Friday 15 November 2013

Let’s get the Holiday Season started with a Goodreads Giveaway…

As the holiday season encroaches, I thought I’d set up a Goodreads giveaway for anyone who hasn’t had a chance to read the first book in my middle grade/YA time travel series, The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis. There’s plenty of time to enter as the giveaway runs from November 15th to December 10th, and all shares and tweets would be most appreciated. Did I mention I’m signing the book, and throwing in a couple of trading cards and wrist bands to sweeten the pot?

Cheers and Happy Holidays to all my friends and followers!

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 December 10, 2013.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Monday 11 November 2013

Author Guest Post: Vonnie Hughes's Tangy Curry and Captivating Regency Reads...

Spice up your life with a new dish that's not expensive and really takes very little hands-on time. I offer you one of our family favorites and I think you'll enjoy it, too. This sweet, mild curry serves eight.

2½ lbs of cubed cheap steak (it will be simmered for ages so cheap steak is fine) 2 finely chopped onions
1 chopped apple
2 chopped carrots
2 tablespoons of ordinary flour Juice of half a lemon
2 tablespoons of golden syrup (light treacle)(corn syrup)
1 dessertspoon of mild curry powder
1 medium tin of tomato soup
1 small tin of pineapple pieces

Place the steak in a large pot. Add the onions, apple and carrots.

In a bowl mix the flour, lemon juice, golden syrup, curry powder and a little of the pineapple juice. Stir this flavored thickening and add to the meat in the pot.

Add the tomato soup and pineapple pieces.

Cook on a very low heat for two hours, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. (A little extra liquid may be needed. Water is fine).

Best served with rice and a tossed green salad.

Now while you have that 2 hour wait, how about a step back in time with an intro to one of my Regency novels?
When Alexandra Tallis sets free the attractive man her sister stupidly tried to hold captive, her actions lead not only to a love she never thought to find, but also to a horrific family secret that threatens that love.

When Alexandra Tallis discovers that her witless sister has imprisoned their father’s nemesis, Theo Crombie in their attic, she quickly frees him, fighting an unladylike impulse to keep him as her own special captive. Despite the brutal beating she receives from her father for her actions, Alexandra continues to yearn for the delicious Mr. Crombie even though she knows that nothing will ever come of her dreams.

Injured and shackled in a stranger’s attic, Theo unexpectedly discovers the woman of his dreams. But how can he pursue those dreams when her bizarre family’s complex relationships threaten the very foundation of his existence? Somehow Theo must find a way through this maze to claim his lady.

To read an excerpt from Captive, please click HERE.

Vonnie Hughes is a New Zealander living in Australia. She loves animals and jogging. Vonnie writes Regencies and romantic suspense novels along with short stories. She is presently working on a romantic suspense, working title: Innocent Hostage and a Regency novella, working title: A Tale of Two Sisters.

Her earlier book Coming Home is about a soldier and a nurse, thrown together during the Napoleonic wars, who find more danger on their return to England than they ever did on the Iberian Peninsula.

The Second Son is actually a prequel to Coming Home. A second son, filled with angst, stands to inherit a title and property through the death of a brother he has always loathed and mistrusted. A young disabled woman teaches him how to find his self-respect and how to love.

Another Regency Historical, Mr. Monfort’s Marriage, has businessman Matthew Monfort inveigled into marrying an earl’s daughter. With good reason he loathes the ton, so his new wife needn’t think she’s going to win him over, even though she’s quite delightful…and intelligent…and sweet…However Verity shows him that not all members of the ton are idle layabouts and that he can do much good with his largesse and with—shock, horror—the unexpected and embarrassing title conferred on him by Prinny.

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

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

Monday 4 November 2013

In the Limelight with Children’s Author Talia Aikens-Nunez...

I want to thank and welcome author, Talia Aikens-Nunez for sharing her personal writing journey with us on my blog today. Her book, OMG…AM I A WITCH?! is now available for purchase from Pinwheel Books, Amazon, and other on-line bookstores.
How long have you been writing, Talia?

I have been writing since 2008. I started writing right after the birth of my daughter. I started writing books that I would want her to read.

Now that’s a good reason! Where did you get your idea and inspiration to write OMG…AM I A WITCH?!
Watching and playing with my kids always gets my creative juices flowing. I love how kids are so fun and free spirited. My daughter's imagination is endless and I wanted to write a book that would allow her and other children's imaginations to run free.
Ah, to be a kid again. What sets OMG…AM I A WITCH?! apart from other books in the same genre?
It combines imagination and spookiness in a playful way. It allows each child to release her inner sorceress. That is unlike anything in the 2nd to 4th grade level.
As an author, what is your writing process, Talia?
I only write when I feel inspired or when I feel there is something I need to write. Anytime I try to force it, I have to re-write it later. It does not flow when I have to force it.
I find when I force my writing, it’s more like work and not fun anymore. How long did it take for you to start and finish OMG…AM I A WITCH?!

Haha. Well I thought I was done after 6 months. But my editor (who was wonderful and patient) saw holes I missed. So, in total, it took about a year.

Do you have any advice for other writers, Talia?

Keep plugging away. When one publisher or agent says no, ask for feedback then edit, edit and edit again. Also, join a critique group. It is shocking what you miss that fresh eyes can catch.

Now that’s sage advice! What’s next for Talia Aikens-Nunez the author?
I am looking for a home for my next children's middle grade book called Dragon Guardians.

I wish you all the best in finding a home for your newest book, Talia. 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?

That is a hard question. One part of me wants to say post World War II era because it seemed to be a wonderfully prosperous time. But, at the same time, there was racial segregation.
Another part of me wants to say the 1850s in America when there was a great migration west. There was a new frontier and places to explore.
But, in all honesty, I would rather travel 50-100 years in the future. I would love to see how far we have come as a society. How much has technology advanced? How well are we getting along within nations and between nations?
Talia Aikens-Nuñez wanted to be a meteorologist, a politician and a lawyer. She never thought she would be a writer. It was the birth of her daughter that caused her to start writing. Raising a bilingual child inspired Talia to write multicultural children’s books. Talia’s family loves nature so much that she and her husband vowed that they will always try to live close to water. She, her husband and daughter live on a river in Connecticut with their daughter Isabella.
BONUS: Enter Rafflecopter to WIN a copy of OMG…AM I A WITCH?!
OMG…AM I A WITCH?! Buy Links:

Learn more about Talia Aikens-Nunez on her WEBSITE. Stay connected on FACEBOOK.