Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Zombie Blogfest!

Hi guys,
Halloween is just around the corner so here's something fun to help celebrate! 

Here's how it works:
Post about your favorite zombie movie, zombie book, zombie TV series, or share some cool zombie pics. As long as it's zombies, you're good. 

What's in it for you?
How about a FREE story. Plus, US residents can also be entered for a chance to win some zombie limb candy and a signed copy of Touch of Death. (Sorry but international mailing is expensive and mailing candy internationally isn't always allowed.)

Everyone will get a copy of my FREE short story prequel to the Touch of Death series, Curse of Death.

In fact, go grab it now here!!

So what's my favorite zombie thing? That's a tough one, but I'd have to say it's the split dogs. Remember those? The Return of the Living Dead? It's a totally cheesy movie and I love it! The split dogs crack me up every time!

Click here to buy the movie.

And if you want a chance to win a signed copy of Touch of Death and some zombie candy to satisfy your after Halloween sugar craving, simply fill out the rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Nano Crazy!

Ah, Nanowrimo. It’s that time of year again.

I wasn’t going to do Nano this year. After fifteen years of writing, I've realized that I don't do my best work when I try to hurry. In fact, every Nano novel I've written is a complete mess. In theory, I could go back and try to fashion a cohesive story out that mess. But I've tried and it always feels like I'm writing the novel all over again.

So this year, I’m going to try something different. First, I’m going to write at my own pace. We all know that the key to writing is to write.  So I'll use Nano as an extra incentive to sit down and just do it. If I write twenty-five thousand decent words, I'll be happy.

Second, I’m doing a lot of pre-plotting.  I’m not a pantster, but I wouldn’t call myself a plotter either. If I plot out a whole novel, I lose interest in writing it. If I jump in with both feet and no net, I soon find myself meandering all over the place and end up with a story that isn’t cohesive. So I usually start a new project with a general plot in mind and get to know my main character as I go. For Nano, I’m going to take that a step further. This week I’m going to spend some time learning a bit more about my protagonist. I want to know enough about her personality to get a sense of her direction without losing the mystery of what she will do when I place her in challenging situations. We’ll see how it goes.

Third, and most challenging, I’m going to confront my inner critic. She’s a loud mouth bitch. Sorry for the profanity, but it is what it is. She’s horrible and in the past I’ve tried to ignore her, reason with her and cry pitifully to get sympathy from her. She is never swayed. So this month, I’m going to yell right back. I’m going to fight her every step of the way. I might even make mistakes, do the things I know she hates, just to piss her off!

Because Nano is my month! It’s the month we writers take back our right to be crazy creative, crazy disorganized and just downright crazy!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Playing Around with PicMonkey!

I had a great weekend playing around with PicMonkey, a fun, free online photo editing site. I've decided to post one of my 'trunk' novels on Wattpad and thought I'd play around with making my own cover. Here is my first attempt:

It's not really what I was going for, but the 'radiance' feature was a lot of fun!

Next I went for something more ethereal:
I love this one! Except for the grass in the background. :/ But my son pointed out that this picture really has nothing to do with the story! Ha!

So, I took some more pictures and came up with this:

I decided this was the winner. And even though I'd already spent more time on it than I'd planned, I pitched in the money to upgrade PicMonkey so I could do this....
This was tons of fun, but it also gave me a greater appreciation for some of the amazing cover art out there! Cover artists, I bow down before you! If you don't have the money to invest in an experienced cover artist, you can get some decent results with PicMonkey. It's free, it's easy and it really is a whole bunch of fun. You can also turn yourself into a zombie!

And thank you, beautiful young cover model, for being so patient with me!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: The Howling Heart by April Bostic

When Paige Donovan returns to her childhood vacation home in Black River, Colorado she soon learns that the town is inhabited by Valulv’s – werewolves. These werewolves can take human form at will and one of them, a sexy young he-wolf named Riley, falls in love with Paige. Riley wants to claim Paige as his mate. Paige, being a modern girl, has understandable concerns about signing on with a pack of wolves living in the country.

This book was an easy read. I liked the two main characters, Riley and Paige. The author has done a good job of world building here and introduces some fresh and interesting twists to the werewolf trope. Bostic’s patriarchal wolf society creates some interesting tension between old world ideas and modern sensibilities. There are some great secondary characters in The Howling Heart, dealing with their own struggles of living within a rigid society.

Overall, The Howling Heart was a fun read. It’s definitely for mature audiences only and I think that is where the book fell a little flat for me. Bostic has a great story here, a likeable main character in Paige, some interesting secondary characters who bring a richness to the story, and a lovable hero. There is plenty of tension between Riley and Paige. I think I would have preferred following that tension through to the end, and letting my imagination do the rest.  I’m not one to shy away from a sexy story, but in this case, I don’t think it adds to the story. The author did such a great job with the build up that, for me, it was much more interesting than the explicit act. However, and this is a big however, if you’re looking for something steamy that also has a great plot, this is the book for you! 

PROMO EVENT: The Howling Heart by April Bostic

Author: April Bostic

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Length:  244 approx

Publisher: Eternal Press (August 1, 2013)

Welcome April Bostic!

Paige Donovan is an ambitious college graduate who aspires to reach the top of the corporate ladder. She’s climbing fast when given the promotion of a lifetime at a prestigious fashion magazine in New York City. Her bright future comes to an unexpected halt after news of her father’s death. She inherits his old cabin in the Colorado Rockies, and just when she thinks her luck couldn’t get any worse, she has a car accident in the mountains and awakens in the small, remote community of Black River.

Soon, she’s engulfed in the mystical world of Varulv---wolves descended from 13th century Scandinavia and blessed by Norse gods with the ability to appear human. Paige is desperate to return home, but never expects to fall for her rescuer, Riley Gray, a charming young werewolf from England who offers her an alternate future with his pack.

Now, she must choose between the career she’s always wanted and the love she’s always dreamed.


Author Bio:
April Bostic is a New Jersey-based, Adult Romance author who enjoys unleashing her creativity and letting her imagination run wild. Her love of romance books inspired her to become not just a reader, but also a writer. In December 2008, she self-published her first novel, a contemporary romance with a supernatural twist entitled "A Rose to the Fallen".

Her first short story, "Right Here, Right Now", released in January 2012, is an erotic romance with a dash of S&M. The following year, she released two more short stories: a romantic urban fantasy inspired by the Greek myth of Eros and Psyche entitled "Eros, My Love", and a sexy romantic comedy entitled "Love Addiction".

After five years, she released her second novel, "The Howling Heart" in August 2013, a paranormal romance that delves into the mystical world of werewolves and Norse gods. To end her busiest year in publishing, April will release her fourth short story in December 2013, an 18th century paranormal romance entitled "A Dark Scandal".

Author links:

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Writing and Productivity

This past year has been a dud for me, writing wise.  Since the release of my first (published) novel, I’ve struggled with writer’s block. There are lots of reasons for this, but lately I’ve been more productive and more excited about writing than I have for a long time. Why? What changed?  I’d like to say that I made a plan and stuck to it. That I’ve been sitting in my writing room, avoiding my husband, my kids, the phone, Facebook, television and all social events. But I’d be lying. The truth is, I’ve been having a good time. I’ve been enjoying life.

But that’s not the reason for my writing bliss.  Sitting alone at Freebirds today, I thought about it and realized that I have been making subtle changes in my routine over the last few weeks that are giving me better writing results.

Early Birding It

My son started high school this year. High school starts before dawn. Well, my son gets up before dawn, so I get up. By the time the kids are gone, I’m dressed and ready for the day. I’ve had my coffee. I’ve already looked at the news, the weather, checked email, and wasted some time on YouTube. Eight o’clock rolls around and I’m ready to head to the library or bookstore to write.  Which leads me to my second change…

Avoiding Home Sweet Home

I’ve stopped writing at home.  Being all dressed up, I need somewhere to go, so I get in the car and…go. I used to write in coffee shops all the time, but somewhere along the way, I stopped. I think I was trying to save money. I also had this crazy idea that I could write and get the laundry done at the same time. I wrote and put in a load of dishes. I wrote a little more and then vacuumed the living room. You can see how this would be a productivity killer, but somehow I missed it. I thought  was being efficient. Now that I’ve started going out to write, I’m getting so much more done. What’s more, I feel great every day. I write until lunchtime – with no distractions! It’s a beautiful thing.


*Photo by Alan Light

Okay, don’t laugh! I stumbled on the Oprah channel on Sirius Radio. While I’m driving to the bookstore or the library, I hear all these uplifting stories about people overcoming adversity.  What can I say? It’s inspiring. I arrive at my destination all pumped up. Funny thing is, I never watched Oprah. I don’t listen to or watch inspirational  -- well – anything.

But the world can be a negative place. Doing something creative, anything creative, takes such a leap of faith. I never considered that an ‘inspirational’ mindset would be an asset. It probably sounds ridiculous, but I think I have to listen to Oprah and all her cronies from now on.

Just Good Enough

I’m a perfectionist. This is not an asset when trying to create art. Art is messy and fun and daring. You can’t be daring and be a perfectionist. (Maybe being a perfectionist is helpful during revision, but I have my doubts about that too.)

Lately, when I face a difficult problem in writing, instead of asking myself how I can make this scene, this character, this plot line perfect, I ask myself, “How can I make this good enough?”  This question might just change my life.  It’s very freeing. When I think about making something just good enough, all kinds of ideas suddenly present themselves. I can pick one, play with it and see if it will work. This question has gotten me through 300 pages of work in about 2 weeks. Writer’s block be damned!

Well, that's it. Those are the changes I've accidentally made. I'm not superstitious, but I think I'll stick to this routine and see where it takes me! 

Monday, October 14, 2013

My Trusted Reader

Today I'm feeling grateful to my Trusted Reader. Some writers use the term Beta Reader or First Reader. I think every writer needs one of these, but they're hard to find.

Here's why I love my Trusted Reader:

She gets down to it
She reads fast. I recently gave her a three hundred page manuscript and she was emailing me that same day, asking if we could meet for lunch to discuss the book! There is nothing more frustrating than giving someone a piece of writing and having to wait for months and months to get a response. We get enough of that from agents and publishers!

She isn't hung up on the trees
My Trusted Reader always starts a critique with the forest or the 'long view'. We talk about story. We talk about feelings and where a plot line falls short. She doesn't get so hung up on the little stuff that she can't help me out with the big stuff. 

She gives me what I want
If I ask for a line by line edit, my Trusted Reader will give it to me. If I give her a first draft and ask her what she thinks about a certain character or an overall impression of the plot, she'll give it to me. She doesn't digress. I know I'm not a perfect writer. I make mistakes. But there is a time and a place for the grammar police! I'm not stupid enough to think I don't need the grammar police, but if I need some feedback on a story arc and don't want to waste time policing my grammar on sections I know will need to change, my Trusted Reader understands this.

 She is precise and specific
If she tells me something doesn't work, she goes on to tell me why it doesn't work. This is the most valuable asset a Trusted Reader can give a writer. I really don't think there is anything worse than being told, "I don't like this chapter/character/book, etc." and then not being told why. We can't fix it if we don't know why. Sadly, this kind of feedback is the most common kind.

She keeps personal stuff out of it
My Trusted Reader is a reader and like all readers, she brings her own prejudices and preferences to the page. However, she doesn't let those things get in the way of her critique. She'll even tell me, "There's nothing wrong with this, but it bothers me because...", and then lets me decide whether it's an issue or not. I'm always surprised by comments like, "Can you change this character's name? Because I had a friend named ___ and I didn't like her." Or, "This character's Dad did this and my Dad never did this...."
It's a small thing and sometimes (rarely) these comments will lead me to question a character's motivation or my portrayal of the character, but most of the time they're entirely personal decisions and as the creator, I reserve the right to create my characters and my story my way.

 She has no agenda
My Trusted Reader doesn't read my stuff to measure it against her own. She doesn't read it so she can get on her soapbox and play teacher for a day. She knows we've read all the same books on writing and that we're both trying to improve our craft, one story at a time.

She doesn't insult me
I had a professional editor once comment on something that was 'stupid'. Some readers are incredibly callous in their critiques. I've developed a pretty thick skin over the years, but sometimes words like, "stupid", "boring", "pointless", still hurt. They come in like scud missiles - loud, explosive, unexpected and painful.  My Trusted Reader is trying to help me make my work better. She knows that throwing darts isn't going to do that. It's just as easy to say, "This doesn't work for me because..." as it is to say, "This is stupid." And the words that come after because are the only words I really need and want to hear. The because will help me get my point across. The because will help me to become a better writer.

So, Trusted Reader - you know who you are! Thank you, thank you, thank you. You are my icon of constructive criticism and your feedback makes me a better writer!