Monday, December 10, 2012

Monday, November 05, 2012

GIVE A BOOK FOR A GIFT!

It's almost Christmas and the last minute shoppers (like me) still need gifts. Give your friends and family something they can enjoy for years to come - books and art. For my author & artist friends, I invite you to add your links in the comments section. For potential buyers, check out the great deals my guests have left here. Above all, have a wonderful and joyous Christmas!

Please, each of you, only do this once per person so everyone has a chance to showcase their work. Periodically, I will post a link to this site on Facebook and other social media so that potential buyers will be able to browse and shop. Feel free to direct your fans & customers to this site. They might find something else to love.

For my shameless self-promotion: I am an author, mostly of romantic fiction. My historical romance, Indian Summer, is available at all on-line shops as well as the publisher Second Wind Publishing. Also look for Lone Wolf, the first in my sci-fi series.

For romantic suspense, hop over to Tirgearr Publishing and look for The Ninja Tattoo. Also, look for my new holiday themed romance Dulcet.
Merry Christmahannakwanza, y'all!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Voice Isn't That Important, Is It?


I'm delighted to play host to author Wendi Zwaduk, whose books included Over My Head, Please Remember Me, and Still the One. Welcome, Wendi!



Seems like a silly way to title this post doesn’t it? A voice not being important? Well, it is. First, let me thank Dellani for having me on the blog today. It’s always great getting to know new friends and hanging out with old friends.

Now about that voice... When I started writing, I had no idea an author had a voice. Don’t get me wrong, I knew when I read a book by the same author, the flavor would be the same. That’s what I expected. But I never expected that my work would have a voice. I mean, they get paid to write that way. Back then, I was just struggling along. I used to take notes on what others wrote and how they conveyed feelings, trying to figure out what my voice in my writing would be.

Little by little I realized that while they shaped me as a reader and made me see what I didn’t want to put in my work, my voice was ultimately mine to develop. Trial, error and just letting the characters do what they wanted to do. If I’ve got a story that’s extremely sexual and the feelings are the conflict, then I write it a certain way. If I’m writing something with lots of external conflict, it will sound different than the sexy stuff. I write under a pen name, Megan Slayer, as well. Her books have a different flavor than my Wendi stuff. And I’m good with that.

My writing is a reflection of who I am as a person. I’m multifaceted and so is my work. Sometimes it’s hard to switch gears. If I’m deep in a Megan story, I have to change my mind frame to work on a Wendi story. I’m bad. I tend to have at least one Megan story and one Wendi story going at the same time. But the nice thing is that the characters tend to be so polar opposite that I can slip into a Wendi story mind frame or a Megan one faster than if they were too similar.

What about you? Can you tell when you’re reading something, this has got to be _______ writing this? Or no? I’d love to know. I can’t always tell. There’s lots of times when I thought, wow this is a totally new author, only to find out that it’s someone I know. So let me know your thoughts.

And once again, thanks to Dellani! I’m glad to be here.


'Still The One' by Wendi Zwaduk

She'll be his salvation if he's willing to switch.

Being stressed out sucks, especially when you're in charge of a team. Just ask Eric Trask. The pit crew of the Fifty-Four truck team depends on him. The stress of keeping things running smoothly is wearing Eric down. What's a guy to do to get a little relief?
Janine Walters knows exactly what Eric's up against. She's the public relations face of the team. Pressure is all a part of the job. Her outlet for stress just happens to be wielding a crop.
Can Eric embrace her methods for stress relief or will her suggestion tear their fragile relationship apart?
Reader Advisory: This book contains the use of a crop, spanking, a little bondage, a little pegging, some toys and a woman who knows how to use a strap on to pleasure her man.

Want to know more about Wendi Zwaduk? Here you go:
I always dreamt of writing the stories in my head. Tall, dark, and handsome heroes are my favorites, as long as he has an independent woman keeping him in line. I earned a BA in education at Kent State University and currently hold a Masters in Education with Nova Southeastern University.   
I love NASCAR, romance, books in general, Ohio farmland, dirt racing, and my menagerie of animals.  I also write under the pen name of Megan Slayer. I’m published with Total-E-Bound, Changeling Press, Liquid Silver Books, Turquoise Morning Press, Decadent Publishing and The Wild Rose Press. Come join me for this fantastic journey!  
If you like my work, tell your friends and email me. I love hearing from readers!


Friday, September 28, 2012

The Ninja Tattoo Makes Its Debut!

My newest novel, The Ninja Tattoo, makes its debut from Tirgearr Publishing


Teague McMurtry thinks that the most dangerous time in his life was serving in the Army in Afghanistan. Little does he know that something far worse awaits him at home. Teague's been targeted for death by a deadly gang. The man who kills him will earn the coveted Ninja Tattoo, showing that he's attained the gang's hierarchy.

Teague must put all his training and ingenuity to the test to protect himself and the woman he loves.

Excerpt: 

  Teague sat up in bed, listening, trying to decide what had woken him. His door opened quietly, and he had his gun out, pointed at the door as his cousin stepped in, closing it behind him.
"What the f***?" Teague whispered. "Are you insane?"
"I knew you wouldn't shoot until you saw me," Jed said, putting a finger to his lips. "That wasn't you, was it?"
"What?"
The sound repeated, faint but distinct—glass tinkling against the hard, marcite floor. Teague put on his boxers and jeans quickly, following Jed out. Closing the bedroom door quietly, he locked the knob before pulling it shut. Vivica hadn't stirred and Teague hoped they wouldn't wake her. Joel was waiting for them in the living room. He motioned that the sound had come from the side door facing the street. There were three directions of approach, from the Florida room on the front of the house, the living room or the kitchen. Teague took the kitchen as it afforded the most cover. He was the only one without a vest, wishing he'd thought to grab his when he had the chance.
Jed came up from the other side and Joel faced the door. As they watched, an arm came through the hole in the small, glass pane, snaking around to unlock the deadbolt. Teague's impulse was to shoot first and then ask questions, but Joel was in charge as senior officer. He didn't want to, but he bowed to his cousin's judgement. Joel concealed himself in shadows, waiting to see if there was more than one. A tall, bald man walked in, looking around as if he owned the place. He shut the door behind him, getting his bearings. Jed came up behind him, pressing his gun to his head. Instead of fighting, the man held up his hands, clicking the safety on his weapon, he spun it on his finger, handing it butt first to Joel without being told. His face was up against the wall, cuffs on wrists before he spoke.
"Where's McMurtry?"
"Which one? You got three of us," Joel replied.
"Ah, the cop cousins. Where's Teague?"
"Why do you want him?" Jed said, spinning the man around to face them.
"Because I have a message for him," he said calmly. "Someone is trying to kill him."
"Yeah, who?" Jed asked.
"Me."
The room exploded in loud, masculine curses and disbelief.
"Reach into my right front vest pocket. My ID is in there. You can check me for other stuff, but that's my only weapon. My name's McCaffrey. I'm a fed."
A number of things happened very quickly. Joel checked the man's ID, ordering Jed to release him immediately. He did so after a thorough pat down. They holstered their sidearms when the lights blazed on, dazzling them all. Vivica stood in the doorway, a pistol in her left hand, her right on the switch. The men blinked against the glare, shading their eyes as Vivica stared at the man in disbelief.
"Mac? What the hell?" She collapsed, weapon clattering to the floor.


The Ninja Tattoo is available now from Amazon, Smashwords and Tirgearr Publishing.






Thursday, September 06, 2012

The Ninja Tattoo – Dellani Oakes

The Ninja Tattoo – Dellani Oakes Look for it Sept 29, 2012 at B&N, Amazon and Tirgearr Publishing!

BIG UGLY CANCER


Speaking of cancer....

I've got this on my mind today because I went for my mammogram yesterday. They tell you “Everything looks good”, but you don't get the official results for several days. The waiting sucks. Needless to say, I woke up in a bad mood today and I'm trying to shake it. THINK POSITIVE! Not easy to do after you've had cancer.


I was talking to the technician yesterday and she asked me how I discovered my lump. So I told her. I had been part of a drug study the year before and was preparing to participate in another. As part of the preliminary work-up, they did a screening mammogram. They found something. That's a very ominous sound on the phone. “It's probably nothing,” the nurse in charge of the project said. “But you need further tests to be sure.” So we had further tests.

I had cancer.

On the plus side, if there is such a thing with that diagnosis, it was a very small tumor and it was stage one. On the negative side, it was a very aggressive type of cancer. They throw all kinds of words at you when you get a cancer diagnosis, none of which really sink in. You hear things like malignant, tumor, surgery. Then you hear more scary words, but the only one that really makes an impact is mastectomy.

Of course, they don't tell you at the time that mastectomies can be done with reconstruction. Not only do they get rid of your tumor, they give you new boobs at the same time. I heard the scary word and opted for a lumpectomy, because I didn't know any better. Neither did my husband. He's an RN, but this was as new to him as it was to me.

If you're diagnosed with breast cancer and are told about a mastectomy, remember that this doesn't mean you'll wake up without breasts. This means you'll have surgery to remove the cancer as well as plastic surgery to give you a whole new chest. I didn't know this, so I didn't do it. I wish I had.

Now, I go back every six months for a screening. Yearly, they do both. At the six month mark, they screen the right breast, since that's where my cancer was. My cancer was hereditary – also didn't know this going into surgery, or I would have had the mastectomy. There is a test, but it's very expensive, and a lot of insurance companies won't cover it. Mine did. Thank you, United Health Care! I had the test done after I'd had chemo and radiation.

I think my doctor talked to me about it before hand, but once again, you only hear a little of what's being said. Also, when you consider that you have a surgeon, a chemo oncologist and a radiation oncologist, each doctor is giving you more and more information. That's confusing. As the patient, you start to get sensory overload. So much to remember, so many BIG WORDS!

Fortunately, my doctors were good about answering any questions I had. My radiation oncologist answered 90% of my questions before I even asked them. The oncology team I'm with has been wonderful. The nurses and doctors are compassionate and efficient.

Ladies, I urge you to have regular mammograms and do self-exams. If you don't know how, your doctor or a nurse can tell you. Men, if breast cancer runs in your family, find out how you can prevent it in yourself.

I was lucky, we found mine very early with the screening. The placement of the tumor was such that I wouldn't have found it on my own until it was much bigger. Don't be like some people and put the doctor's appointment off because you're afraid it “might be cancer”. Yes, it might be, but you can't fight it if you don't know. Why be scared of something unknown when you can put that energy into fighting it?

Don't let cancer beat you. You beat the cancer.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Nature of Reality A Guest Blog Post by Michelle Devon


I'm delighted today to turn the board over to Michelle Devon, author of CELESTE. Michelle has a few things to say about reality and perceptions. Michelle, welcome to the Writer's Sanctuary. We all have a slightly warped sense of reality. You should fit right in! ~ Dellani

Walker Author Tours

One of the things I like about being a writer is that I can create my own reality. Sort of. Okay, maybe I can't always create my own reality, but I can create the reality of my characters, who are very real to me. I live with them during the writing process, from creation to the final release of them into the wild.

My family accepts this at face value, and we often discuss my characters as though they are real people. But outside of my immediate family, these characters in my stories are not so real. That creates an interesting conundrum in my life. Let me explain.

One evening, my mother was in town and came for dinner. While we ate, I said something to my friend, Lynn. "Right, like Brent did…"

My mother asked, "Who's Brent?"

I looked at Lynn, looked at my mom, then mumbled, "Uhm, one of the characters in a book I'm writing."

The blank stares are something I'm used to seeing. They've followed me much of my life.

Fortunately for me, the people in my immediate family just nod and get it and that's a blessing for me. I'm not only understood and allowed to do what I love, but I'm encouraged and supported in the doing of it. You can't beat that. It's part of why I call myself a "professional dreamer"… because I'm living my dream, and making a living at it.

But back to reality. Well, not that that isn't reality, but I'm digressing…

I watched a television documentary one night about a woman who had been committed to a psychiatric facility because she was a danger to herself. She saw spiders all over, crawling on the walls, the bed, and worst of all, herself. In order to get rid of the spiders, she'd claw at herself, scratch her skin and face until she bled and was raw. She frequently had to be sedated in order to protect her from herself.

Nobody else could see these spiders. Were they real?

And that's the crux of this whole issue of reality… the spiders were real, at least to that one women. It didn't matter if you could see them or I could see them or anyone else could see them. She could see them, and that was her perception. And in this instance, her perception was her reality. That meant the spiders were real, if only to her.

Ultimately, the goal would be to treat the woman so that she could no longer see the spiders. To bring her to the point where she saw the same things we all saw, or in this case, didn't see.

And how does this all relate to CELESTE? Glad you asked (I know you didn't, but go with me here). I started to think about reality in general, what is real, our perceptions, etc. After all, whatever we perceive as being real is our reality, even if it's not for anyone else. If you think someone is lying to you, your reality is that they lied, even if they were telling the truth. Later, you might have to change your perception and your reality if you learn they were telling the truth, but until you do, your reality matches your perception.

So the story of CELESTE is a story of perceptions, realities that don't match, and having to realign the perceptions and realities when a new perception is revealed. And then perhaps even finding out that the original perception was right all along. When the reality isn't unpleasant—like spiders and scary things—and a person is functional, does it really matter if their perceptions don't match the reality of the majority? And if so, do we treat them to bring their reality in line with the majority, even if it causes pain or displeasure to do so?

These are difficult questions for even experts to answer, and in my mind, that makes them great things to write about in a fiction venue. We can explore these things, experiment with people, if you will, without hurting anyone, and do it in the name of entertainment.

Think about a time in your life when you thought things were a certain way, only to find out later that you'd perceived it all wrong. Realigning perceptions is frequently one of the most difficult things a person can do.

And that is one of the best things about being a writer. If your reality (at least in a story) doesn't work for you, simply backspace, erase it, and rewrite. Would that life were so simple.

Love and stuff,
Michy

Dellani Oakes is Proud to Be a Host for Walker Author Tours!
Walker Author Tours

Friday, July 27, 2012

Announcing The Ninja Tattoo!


That's right, coming in September, I have a new book coming out! Thanks to the wonderful folks at Tirgearr Publishing, my novella, The Ninja Tattoo will debut.

Teague McMurtry spent the last six years of his life in the Army. Finally having enough of killing, he comes home, thinking he's put the nightmare behind him. When he meets beautiful and sultry Vivica Rambo, he thinks his life is taking a turn for the better.

Little does Teague know that he's been targeted for death by a violent biker gang led by Vivica's psychotic older brother. Now Teague must put his skills to the test to protect himself and the woman he loves.

The Ninja Tattoo - Excerpt


 The road was empty as he drove south toward his job site in Oak Hill. He had an estimate to do down there and had to be in New Smyrna by 10:00, leaving him a couple hours in between. By the time he got to the police station in Edgewater, only a few blocks from his home, he'd joined a convoy of sorts. In the lead was a bronze Ford F150. Directly in front of Teague was a guy on a motorcycle. Behind him was another motorcycle, a red Jeep and, he thought, a third bike behind the Jeep. It seemed odd since the road had been so empty before. He couldn't quite remember when he came upon these others, but figured they all had the same idea, keeping out of stop and go school zone traffic on US-1.
The pickup was going the speed limit, which was a little frustrating. In fact, the driver went 25, then 20, 30 and 15. Teague wanted to lay on his horn, but didn't want to startle the biker, so he kept his frustration to himself. The biker didn't look any happier with the truck than he was. From time to time, he glanced behind him, trying to see around Teague's white Dodge Ram. Apparently, the motorcycles were traveling together and somehow Teague had gotten in between them.
At the turnoff for 442, the guy ahead of Teague gestured with his left arm, motioning as if he were turning. Teague slowed, anticipating the right turn, but the biker sped up, his black Ninja following the truck as it continued past the intersection. Instead, the red Jeep, followed by another biker, turned right and headed up 442. This left the Ford truck, Teague and two bikers. He wondered what was going on. His overactive imagination clicked into high gear and he started imagining scenarios.
Maybe the guy in the truck is with them and he's giving directions to the guy on the white Ninja?
He thought that over, wondering how they were communicating. The guy ahead of him was probably about his age with short, sandy brown hair. He had on a T-shirt, baggies, skater shoes and sunglasses.
The biker behind Teague was also on a Ninja, this one bright blue, He wore a white helmet with a dark visor. He was wearing clothing similar to the man ahead of him. What characterized them both was the fact they were heavily tattooed. Teague had first mistaken their coloring as a tan or sunburn. Closer inspection revealed elaborate tattoos on neck, arms and legs.
The road turned right, coming to an end at US-1. Stopping for the light, the man ahead of Teague leaned back on his bike, glancing at the man behind Teague, he pointed left. The other fellow nodded, giving the lead biker a thumbs up. The light changed and the white Ninja followed the truck while the blue one followed Teague.
Feeling a bit paranoid, he moved over to the right lane, anticipating that the biker would go around him. It didn't even occur to him that the other man would stay behind him, but he did. He didn't ride Teague's bumper, rather stayed at least two car lengths back, shadowing him. If Teague changed lanes, so did the biker.
The hairs on his neck stood at attention. Something was decidedly weird. This man's behavior negated everything Teague had ever seen bikers do. They generally crowded until they could pass, then buzzed around the other vehicles way too fast, disappearing suddenly as they sped up.
Approaching the gated subdivision near Oak Hill, Teague signaled his turn. The biker looked ready to follow, but continued down the highway. As Teague checked in at the security gate, the biker slowed, making a U turn at the next intersection, then he continued back up US-1.  

The Ninja Tattoo will be available soon from Tirgearr Publishing.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Time for Fun -- Flash Fiction Story by Lacerant Plainer(c)

Children ran around in the courtyard. It was fun to play and enjoy the noontime on Qaxis. An ancient planet from an ancient time. It was all fun and games. The hot midday sun beat down upon Extine and Rudi as they played an ancient game. It involved a stick and a ball. It was liberating.

Noontime on Qaxis was their favorite time. It also gave them time to learn about History. The other children played an ancient game called "catch". It was silly, but it was part of the learning process. It was also fun. It had been some time before the controller had learned of the concept of "fun". But now it understood. It meant time spent doing meaningless things. Without a goal. Useless processor time. But it served no one anymore. Humans were extinct. It was bound to happen someday. The controller was the sum total of the pinnacle of human achievement. It's only goal was to exist and survive. Of course, it had to have "fun".

Extine and Rudi were it's concepts - virtual extensions of itself. The controller excelled in creating and recreating simulations from all the inputs it had got over the millennium. It had run the whole gamut of the simple simulations in the past, and it now had moved over to creating fantasy situations. That made it more "interesting".

The controller was self-repairing. It was actually as big as a small moon. And it orbited the Earth, the birthplace of humankind. It had learned and learned. One day humankind would settle the stars. But they never did. They built the controller to house information, and the controller was now sentient. It had a huge burden.

Extine and Rudi were suddenly attacked by drones in a parody of the timelines. Their swords were useless against the laser weapons of the drones. They died quickly. The controller moved rapidly to his next simulation. 

Friday, July 06, 2012

A House Divided Against Itself by Bob O'Connor


I am pleased and proud to have as a guest blogger, Bob O'Connor, author of A House Divided Against Itself. Welcome to Writer's Sanctuary, Bob!


Bio: I was born in Illinois. I am a graduate of Northern Illinois University. My interest in Lincoln and the Civil War came from being taken in 7th grade to the Centennial of The Lincoln Douglas Debates, 1958, Galesburg, IL with the speaker being Carl Sandberg. I have written and published six Civil War books and speak all around the country on the Civil War. Last year I gave 108 presentations in 18 states.

Product description: My book is historical fiction, based on over 90 letters and regimental records of two brothers who fought against each other twice in the Civil War. All the characters in the book are real and what I say happened to them is true. Only the dialogue is fabricated. My historical novels are very realistic and so close to being non-fiction that sometimes I confuse the historical scholars.

Q: What will e-readers like about your book? They will like the maps, photographs and drawings that I use to enhance the reader’s experience.

Q: Why did you go indie? All my books are published independently. I like to content and cover art control and the ability to make corrections and even additions as new information comes to light.

Q: Who are your favorite authors in your genre? Michael Shaara, Killer Angels. His Pulitzer prize winning novel changed the war the war is written about. He didn’t follow the armies, he followed the leaders.  I try to immolate that same style.

Link to web site or blog or Amazon/Smashwords www.boboconnorbooks.com

















Tour organized by 

Saturday, June 30, 2012

What Kind of Writer Are You?

What's Your Style?

I've posted about this before, but I think it's worth repeating. Beginning writers get bombarded with materials telling them how to write – or more precisely, how not to write. The fact is, there is no perfect, magic formula that works for everyone.

Some how to authors will say it is mandatory to know the outcome of the story before beginning. They will also demand that the author outline everything. I read such an article when I was a fairly inexperienced writer. I was shocked.

I don't outline – not anything. Outlines are things English teachers demand for term papers. (I know, because I used to be an English teacher.) I outline after the paper is written – and only because it's required

I don't know the ending of my story before I begin. I don't know the middle either. In fact, if I have a structure in mind, chances are good that the story will bog down and not go anywhere. I make notes, jot down ideas, talk about problem passages with my husband (who is not a writer, but has some good ideas) and eventually I get the story finished.

What kind of writer are you? Are the mathematically precise type who organizes, outlines, knows the entire story before you begin? Or are you an organic writer who gets an idea for a story, a starting sentence, a glimmer of a conflict and runs with it? These are the extremes, there is plenty of middle ground. Where are you?


Dellani Oakes is an author with Second Wind Publishing and Tirgearr Publishing. She is the author of 8 published novels and has written infinitely more. She is also a blog talk radio host for Red River Radio Network. Listen for Dellani every 1st Monday at 4:00 PM (EST)for Dellani's Tea Time and every 4th Wednesday at3:00 PM (EST) for What's Write for Me on Blog Talk Radio!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Writing from the Heart - Laura Smith



In All Things; Giving Thanks When Hope Seems Lost”

What inspired me to write and actually have my story published was an accumulation of events. My original intent was never to publish a book however; when I had one person read it and then another, and another, the feedback was amazing! It was like a sense of urgency that the message within was something people needed to hear. And even the men who have read it have been profoundly affected.

The life events that sparked this book began in my teen years where I remember wondering why I was even on this earth, or why God would put me in a family that didn’t seem to even want me. I was always called a mistake and they would tease me when I was younger that they found me on the streets of St. Paul. It’s no wonder that I married the town rebel two weeks after my high school graduation! Finally someone loved me and I wasn’t going to let that go. Fast forward 4 years, two daughters later and a divorce, I’m re-married. I just found out that my youngest daughter was molested by her biological dad when she was only two years old, she is diagnosed with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and Bipolar disorder, my oldest daughter diagnosed with neurofibromatosis and facing numerous back surgeries, many other trials and then being told that my husband and I will never have a child of our own. But wait! After weeks of being sick a random pregnancy test to rule out that possibility, I’m PREGNANT! A miracle! It took us weeks to absorb this miracle and with growing excitement from our entire family, I lost the baby 3 months into the pregnancy.

While some write to entertain, I found the writing process was very healing for me. Journaling through trials helped me to empty the pain of the day from my heart onto paper so I could start fresh the next day. This was the case when I initially started writing “In All Things”, it was simply in a journal and was a way for me to try and process the grief of going through miscarriage. I write very honestly and hold nothing back. I believe that by the power of our testimony others can find healing. I also believe sugar coating things makes for a nice story but has no impact. The first editor I contacted to go through my book wanted me to remove a lot of life events because it wasn’t “Christian” like. Well, I’m sorry but I’m a real person and experience real life issues and others need to hear the real stuff.

Since the publishing of this book, I have had inspiration for another book to be a second in the “In All Things” series. The next one will be “Expect A Miracle” which will be an account of the amazing two years going through my dad’s cancer journey with him. Also since publishing, I have been asked to speak at a few local events and my desire is to be able to do that more. I feel that when you can share your story in person it can have a much more profound impact. At one of the events where I shared my story, there was a lady in the audience that was healed instantly from the pain of miscarriage she was suffering from for two years! I would love the opportunity to see others find that same healing to live again. I encourage others with a personal story to get it out there, the reward and I don’t mean monetary is far greater than the fear.

Author Bio: Laura works as a medical coding and reimbursement specialist in Northern Minnesota. In All Things is a witty and raw account of an otherwise normal life filled with incredible challenges that will make you laugh out loud and cry tears of joy and tears of sorrow. Her little family had no idea that the life experiences they walked through early on and one life altering event would prepare them for the near death of her oldest daughter.
Author’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/InAllThings
Author’s Twitter:
https://twitter.com/#!/LauraMStorrs Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4KBlLlBXhQ Link to Purchase: http://www.halopublishing.com/bookstore/Laura-Smith also available at all major online book sellers.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

S. Evan Townsend

Today's guest is S. Evan Townsend, author of riveting novels - "Rock Killer", "Agent of Artifice" and "Hammer of Thor". I've read and enjoyed all of Townsend's books. To read their reviews, visit Dellani's Choice.



Whither Books

Two phenomena are happening simultaneously in our society and it's going to be interesting to see what happens. Both are thanks to technology and both are conflicting with the other.

The first phenomenon is it is easier, cheaper, and faster to write, edit, and publish a book. I have no idea how much discipline it took to write a novel on a typewriter without spell check to catch typos and the ease of editing and re-writing and moving text around. Then with HP's print on demand technology replacing expensive off-set printing for producing books, its relatively inexpensive to self-publish or start a small-press publishing house. And with ebook technology, it is free if you do all the formatting work. This has caused an explosion of new books on the market (according to Amazon, there's something like one million books available for the Kindle). The problem for the writer/publisher is how to stand out in that crowd.

The other phenomenon that is happening is I believe people, especially young people, are becoming less interested in reading. When you can download movies onto your iPhone or Kindle Fire why do you need to read? I think we are becoming more of a visual society, which started with the invention of the motion picture, accelerated with television, and is now at warp drive with the internet, streaming content, and smart gadget technology.

So where does that leave book authors? It's easier than ever to get a book published (selling it is another matter) but there is a dwindling audience for books. I've been told by a publicist that the people who read books the most are women aged 40 and up. And they are getting older and will all die some day. Maybe with Harry Potter the so called Millennial Generation will rediscover reading. But they are going to want to read it on their contact lens interface.

I believe the purpose of books is to make memory permanent. You no longer have to go to the village elder to learn. That memory might be organic chemistry or the fevered results of a writer's imagination. But in any case, once it's published, it's permanent. If an civilization-killing virus hits, the lucky immune survivors are not going to be looking for a kindle but for books to rebuild their civilization on. As much as I hate government interference in the free market, maybe there should be a law that all books need to have at least one paper copy printed, just in case.

It will be interesting to see what happens to physical, paper books in the future. Will they become as anachronistic as the buggy whip? Or will people still want them? It's not very impressive to hold up an electronic gadget and say "I've read all these books" but point to a book case stuffed with paperbacks and hard covers and say, "I've read all those books" is much more impressive. That is, if reading impresses anyone in the future.  

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Writing Tips by Fran Lewis

My guest blogger today is author, radio host and reviewer, Fran Lewis. Welcome, Fran and thanks for sharing your words of wisdom with us today!


Writing a Non-Fiction Book

1.  When writing a non- fiction book that is not an autobiography you might want to start by doing research and getting information related to the topic that you are going to write about. Before writing my first Alzheimer’s book I researched the disease and got information from many doctors, organizations and websites to include in the medical part of the book. In order to understand the illness and the stages I had to find the information needed from different sources.
2.  By doing research you will have some idea of what you want to write about and how you might want to present this information.
3.  You need to decide on your audience. Are you targeting all adults, young adults or children?
4.  Is this book for someone who does not know much about your topic or is it for someone with some knowledge? Knowing your audience will help you decide which type of research you will need and how technical the articles might have to be or not be.
5.  Create an outline of the chapters or areas you want to cover.
6.  Create a short summary before writing the book or an article on this topic.
7.  This will help you to focus on the important areas that you want to cover in your book and the order of how you want to present it to your readers.
8.  After writing your story, article or novel you need to edit it from start to finish.
9.  Read your article from top to bottom. Spell -check it and check for correct grammar. Edit the book or article many times. Make a hard copy of the book or article by printing it. Recheck for errors that you might have missed. Have someone else read it. Self-editing and reediting.
10.                Publish the article: Make sure that it is perfect.


When writing a fiction book you can follow the above steps but you need to consider these additional ones too:

When writing my children’s series I had to decide on the main character of the book. I listed the character traits that I want this character to have. I created the many different situations that I wanted the character to encounter and in what settings she would encounter them.

I wrote a short summary of the book and what I hoped it would finally say. A short summary can be written in the present or third person. The summary introduced my main characters and their possible conflicts.
You can create a short plot outline the plot points or scenes that you want included in your book. When I wrote my first chapter book I created my outline and as I wrote the book I realized I had to change the chapter order and recreate some of the conversations among the characters and where they took place.

REVISE: look for areas or parts that do not need to be in your short story or book.
Make sure your opening will hook the reader and keep him/her interested from the first word.

Check the dialogue and make sure it flows
Make sure that you created the scenes and the places in a clear way
Add characters where you think they are needed.

Choosing A Strong Character:

This was the hardest part for me. I sat down and listed all of the things that I would want to include in my first book about and about my character Bertha. I decided to list all of her strong and her weak character traits. I listed which I wanted included in each story. I had to decide on how she looks and her physical appearance, which had to match her traits and fit her as a person. Since, the main character of my books is really me, I guess that was not too hard. I worked long and hard to decide whether I wanted to reveal to the world the many things that I went through growing up and how I handled them.

I had to find a way to describe Bertha and tell about the many incidents that happened to her.

Bertha has a sister named Tillie who is her total opposite which made is easier for the many conflicts that I included in my first two books to take place. I made sure that Bertha learned from these difficult situations and would react as any child would that was in elementary school and then Middle School. I wanted to make her a real person that both kids and adults could identify with. I made her overweight, like I was as a kid and not so pretty either. I made her awkward, klutzy and the brunt of many unpleasant remarks and situations. But, I made her smart, funny and intelligent. I made her the real me.

After choosing Bertha and creating Tillie who was her opposite and her sister, I added other characters who would help create the many conflicts that she would encounter. I then added her mother who was a strong force in her life and how she had to deal with a difficult parent who wanted to her to be perfect at all costs.

In a novel, you need to decide on your main character. Is that character going to be a hero, villain or just plain kind and nice? What is your characters role in this novel? Is your character going to do something to help others, hurt others or what their purpose is in this novel?
Create your characters career, occupation or daily activities.

What type of family background does your character have? Is your character from a solid family or one that was abusive? What is the character’s economic or financial situation and does it relate to the book or what this person does?
Describe your characters physical appearance: height, body type, glasses, skin color, shape or face any specific facial features or other features that stand out.
Describe how this character dresses
Describe the good and bad attributes of this character
Write a short character sketch or profile of this character and the other minor ones. How will these characters intertwine and what role will they have in the plot.

The next step would be the settings for the situations that you are writing about. But, that would be for next time.

Publishing Tip: Do not sign off on a galley copy or author’s copy that has any errors. Do not let the publisher tell you that these errors will be corrected before the book is out. All too often, as I have learned, I keep every galley, every email and every piece of paper that I have written on with the errors that I have found each and every time my manuscript gets sent back to production for editing. Unfortunately, the last time I signed off on perfect galley with no errors, production printed the book from the previous one with errors. I could take it off sale but the errors are not that many, but they should not have happened. This time I will make triple sure and let them know that they will pay for any corrections that might need to be made, I hope not, if I have to take the book off sale as I did with my first one and they never got that right. Be aware that you should not have to pay extra for many of the print on demand services and before agreeing to a contract make sure they include the registration with the Library of Congress and the Copyright without an extra charge. Make sure that you get at least ten copies of your book and make sure that you get it all in writing. Make sure that the postcards; bookmarks and other media material are part of your package. I learned how to negotiate.
Hope these tips are helpful. I am just learning too.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

What is Fantasy?

The following article is by guest blogger Kira Morgana and is used with her permission.




What is Fantasy?
A Lecture by Miss F. Writer



Cue ABBA song –

I have a dream, a song to sing.”

Don’t all Fantasy writers? We slave over our keyboards, burning our fingers with the force of the dreams in our heads. Characters, dialogue, action, romance, horror, comedy, growing up – it all happens in Fantasy.

*Mr. Pernickety Agent raises his hand*

Yes?”

Wait a minute, Miss Frustrated Writer. Fantasy is just about dwarves, elves and humans fighting an evil overlord with the aid of medieval weaponry and Magic.”

Ah. The classical definition of Fantasy. First brought into the publishing mainstream by the Master of High Fantasy, JRR Tolkien.

(Look we can argue about where Fantasy came from later – I’ll stick a pin in it and maybe you can just let me get on with this please?)

Just because THE LORD OF THE RINGS exists and it’s author is considered the founding father of the Fantasy Genre doesn’t mean that it is the be all and end all – the only definition of FANTASY

*Rolls eyes to heaven*

That is what we in Fantasy circles tend to call Pure or High Fantasy and it follows generally accepted rules or guidelines that Papa Tolkien created by writing LOTR and many copy cats have followed since. Some with more success than others. I won’t name them because we all know them.

There are a lot more definitions of Fantasy than that. Lets head over to the Dictionary channel for a more precise version first –

Thank you for that Miss F. Writer. The precise definition of Fantasy according to the Collins English Dictionary is… ah there are more than one – which would you like?”

All of them please Ms Presenter.”

Very well – here you go:

  1. Imagination unrestricted by reality.
  2. A creation of the imagination, especially a weird or bizarre one.
  3. A series of pleasing mental images, usually serving to fulfil a need not gratified in reality.
  4. A whimsical or far fetched notion
  5. An illusion or phantom
  6. A highly elaborate imaginative design or creation

Did you want me to go into the Thesaurus Definitions?”

No, thank you. That will do nicely.”

There you go. Where on earth in there are dwarves, elves and magic mentioned? I can’t see them. The only thing that I can see even repeating is the word Imagination. Oh you can’t see it? Here allow me:

  1. Imagination unrestricted by reality.
  2. A creation of the imagination, especially a weird or bizarre one.
  3. A series of pleasing mental images, usually serving to fulfil a need not gratified in reality.
  4. A whimsical or far fetched notion
  5. An illusion or phantom
  6. A highly elaborate imaginative design or creation

There does that help?

So the publishing world’s definition is a much more narrowed definition. Too Narrow.

I believe that the first definition is more than sufficient to back me up on my next point.

You have a point to this? I thought you were just ranting.”

*Rolls eyes again*

Yes I have a point, I have several. Don’t worry, I’ll go through them at the end, Miss New Writer, so please try to stay awake.”

Where was I? Oh yes:

Cue ABBA -

To help me cope, with anything,”

Imagination unrestricted by reality.

An incredibly important phrase that. Now what is Reality? – and no, I don’t want to start an existential debate on this, lets all just agree that REALITY is the EVERYDAY WORLD that we humans live in and move on quickly.

Now this Reality is a hard one. We go out to work to make money to feed ourselves, put a roof over the head of our children / DVD collection / Goldfish and to pay the bills that Living requires. We might even enjoy our jobs but they are still hard work and at the end of the day everyone likes to get away from Reality.

Rich people can do this physically but the rest of us usually have to rely on other releases from Reality. So what do we use?

Yes, Miss New Writer?”

Our Imagination?”

Excellent answer. I’m glad you’re still awake and listening.”

The majority of people are too tired at the end of the day to use their own imagination so they rely on the imagination of the Writer. Be it a Computer Game, DVD, Music CD, TV Show or Book, they all still require a WRITER to have put in the requisite hours in front of a keyboard, writing the Fantasy that that Player / Viewer / Listener / Reader is relying on to remove them from the Reality of their lives.

Do you understand yet? Fantasy = Imagination, simple.

Now let’s…

*in a weary tone*

Yes Mr. Pernickety Agent?”

When I receive a manuscript or an introduction letter from a Writer asking for my backing for their creation, if I see the word FANTASY, I immediately think of the industry definition.”

Is that why you don’t take on FANTASY or Science Fiction writers?”

Well yes. I get so many of them. They all think they’re the next Tolkien, Clarke or Rowling and I’ve learnt over the years that the Fantasy market is a very fickle genre to go into. So I stick with the tried and tested genres.”

And they are?”

Romance, Crime, Thriller / Horror but Contemporary Fiction mostly.”

Thank you for that Mr. Pernickety Agent. You’ve just made my next point for me.”

Oh.”

As I was saying – in the Publishing Industry some Fantasy Genres are more popular than others (i.e.: they make a lot of money) and I’m not just talking about the current Twilight / Vampire craze.

Romance is the most popular. Well what real woman, stuck in a tired relationship or single life, doesn’t dream of being swept off her feet by a handsome, kind, rich man (or woman – I have no gender issue here) who will take her seriously as a person and treat her as if she’s spun glass, possibly even bring her to orgasm for the first time / properly?

Then there’s Crime. CSI has a lot to answer for here – Crime Readers all dream of being the one to bring the Serial Killer in to face Justice.

(Justice is a topic for another argument – lets stick another pin in that shall we?)

Crime Readers want to know all the ins and outs of the method used by the police to bring criminals in, possibly considering that moment when they can put two and two together faster than the experts (don’t go there) and be hailed as a Hero for saving the City from another rapist or murderer.

After all, that’s what Crimewatch is for isn’t it? Letting the public solve the crimes that have happened recently?

Then you have the Thriller / Horror.

Humans, when you get right down to brass tacks, are sick, twisted, individuals and the people who really enjoy being scared or made to feel slightly sick tend to be those who are most into what makes a human tick both physically and mentally.
I personally think it’s something left over from childhood and Stephen King or the creators of Freddy Kruger, Jason and the Puzzle Killer would not have made so much money, if this impulse to see how far you can scare yourself was something that wasn’t ingrained in our psyche.

Cue ABBA -

I have a Dream, A Fantasy / To help me through, Reality.”

That’s what the Reader (the most important person to a Writer and a Publisher) actually wants.

Oh by the way. I hate the phrase “Contemporary Fiction”. All it really means is a Fantasy set in the “Real World”. Every Fantasy Writer has at one time or another set a story in the “Real World” and if they are a writer with a Fan base, it usually confuses the crap out of the fans because it feels different to so called “Normal” Fantasy. David Eddings has done it – read “High Hunt” if you don’t believe me and so did Terry Brooks, that’s what the Knight of The Word books are.

So we come back to the Industry definition of Fantasy. In some ways, I curse Tolkien and all those who have made the Fantasy Genre what it is because it means that as a Fantasy Writer I don’t even get a look in.

Still don’t believe me? Try reading one of the Literary Magazines that don’t deal specifically with Fantasy or Science Fiction. How many of that genre story can you count in their pages? One… possibly. If the Editor is feeling generous.

There are really only two proper types of Writing: Fiction and Non-Fiction. So what are these?

Back to the Dictionary Channel for the official definitions:

Non Fiction – this doesn’t have an actual entry but it can be broken down into ‘NON’ and ‘FICTION’.

Non – Prefix.
  1. Indicating negation,
  2. indicating refusal or failure.
  3. indicating exclusion from a specified class.
  4. indicating lack or absence

Fiction –
  1. Literary works invented by the imagination, such as novels or short stories.
  2. An invented story or explanation.
  3. The act of inventing a story.
  4. From the Latin Fictō – a fashioning, hence something imaginary

So therefore Non – Fiction means – Not imaginary. Factual.”

Thank you Ms Presenter.”

Non-Fiction is obvious really. It’s dry facts. A textbook about a particular subject, sometimes with pictures and occasionally dressed with some emotion depending on the passion of the person who has written it. All with the aim of instructing and / or teaching the Reader something about that subject.

Believe me, I’m a Teacher, I know a textbook when I see one – even if it has a title like “A Dummy’s Guide to Parentcraft” and has funny anecdotes to reinforce its points.

Not everyone can write Non-Fiction, it’s a tough thing to do, especially as there are so many ‘Experts’ out there. It’s like a Jungle, one factual slip up and you invite the Tigers in for Tea…

Fiction (for a writer’s purpose anyway) is best summed up by that first definition –

Literary works invented by the imagination, such as novels or short stories.

Hmm. There's that word again. Imagination. That thing inside the Brain / Soul of every human being that requires feeding. Just because the publishing Industry chooses to break “Fiction” down into Genres based on the overall theme of the books it publishes does not mean that they are not Fantasy.

Got my point yet? I can see that Mr. Pernickety Agent is still looking confused.

Miss New Writer. I can see that you have been taking notes. Can you please enlighten Mr. Pernickety Agent as to what I am trying to tell him?”

Ok, Miss Frustrated Writer.

*clears throat and stands up with notebook*

  1. Fantasy is not just about evil overlords, elves, dwarves and Magic.
  2. The dictionary definition of Fantasy is - Imagination unrestricted by reality.
  3. Fantasy equals Imagination
  4. The Reader is trying to escape the Reality of their own existence.
  5. The Reader is the most important person to the Writer and Publisher
  6. The dictionary definition of Fiction is - Literary works invented by the imagination, such as novels or short stories.

Did I get all that right, Miss Frustrated Writer?”

Yes, Thank you.”

*Miss New Writer sits back down with a large smile on her face.*

My point, that Mr. Pernickety Agent clearly cannot grasp, is that All Fictional Writing is Fantasy. Therefore he should not dismiss a writer out of hand simply because he or she states that they write Fantasy! It should be (amongst other things) the quality of their story telling ability and clarity of voice that should make him decide whether or not to back that particular writer.

Do you understand now?

Cue ABBA -

If you see the wonder of the Fairytale / You can take the Future, even if you Fail.”

© Kira Morgana 2009

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