Jo Michaels ~ Author

A blog dedicated to the education and support of indie authors. Also striving to provide great book recommendations for readers.

Book Review - Finding Autumn

Happy Hump-day, everyone! Today, I bring you another fab book review. This is yet another title from the ever awesome Heather Topham Wood. If you haven’t read her books, you can start for free by picking up the first of her Second Sight series: First Visions. Those are new adult contemporary paranormal novels about a girl named Kate who falls ill and wakes up from a coma with a psychic ability. I reviewed the whole series of four! See those reviews (in order by book #) here (Amazon Review), here (Goodreads Review), here (on this blog), and here (also on this blog). Anywho, grab a cup of coffee, get comfy, and let’s get going!

As I do, here’s a little about the book up for review today:

Title: Finding Autumn - a Falling for Autumn companion novel

Author: Heather Topham Wood

Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance

Length (print): About 153 pages

Buy Links: Amazon Kindle $0.99

Synopsis:

***Not a standalone. Falling for Autumn from Blake’s point of view. Includes bonus chapters set after the events of Falling for Autumn.***

Two years earlier, Blake Preston received a phone call that would change everything. His stepfather—a man he trusted and admired—had been accused of sexually assaulting one of his students. His stepfather declared his innocence and Blake chose to stay loyal to the man who had raised him as his own.

Cook University is the one place Blake can keep his anonymity. No one knows about the scandals surrounding his stepfather’s arrest and subsequent conviction. To his friends, he is merely the star running back for the college team and an NFL hopeful. But the life he has built at Cook is threatened when Autumn Dorey locks eyes with him at a campus party.

Getting entangled with Autumn is a mistake. Yet Autumn is the only person who can answer the one question that haunts him: is his stepfather a monster?

Blake conceals his identity and starts a friendship with Autumn under false pretenses. What begins as a way to uncover the truth about his stepfather changes as he grows close to Autumn. His relationship with her calls into question everything he thought he knew about his family. Against all odds, he falls in love with the one girl he’s forbidden to have feelings for. But can their love last once Autumn finds out who Blake Preston really is?

60,000 Words

Ages 17+ Due to Strong Language and Sexual Situations

***Will not appear in review elsewhere. I’ve been a long time fan of Heather’s. We met during the first Author Blog Challenge, and we’ve kept in touch ever since. I found her and her books, enjoyed her unique flavor, and never looked back. I’ve proofread nearly all of her titles since then. Love her work! Finding Autumn is a companion novel to Falling for Autumn. You can read my review of that title here.***

Let me move on to the review.

I was so excited to read this novel. So many things happened in Falling for Autumn that I wanted to see from Blake’s POV. When I heard Heather was writing this one, I was chomping at the bit for her to finish. Well, she did. And I wasn’t disappointed. Time for the good stuff!

From a Reader’s Perspective:

Autumn Dorey is an unreliable narrator because she never gets to see what Blake is going through when she’s not around. I have to say, I loved him in the first book, and this one just made him more likable. I did find out some of the things he was doing when not by her side (things that were a little deplorable), but I loved watching him grow as a character and appreciated that he wasn’t perfect. We’re human; therefore we’re flawed. He was so protective of her later on. It was a nice change from the A-typical bad-boy in many other books. By the end, I wanted him to succeed and win her heart. Like Falling for Autumn, I was immersed in the story and emotionally vested by the end. There’s enough difference in the stories that it’s worth it to pick this one up and lend it your time. A great read.

From an Editor’s Perspective:

This book is clean and error free. You won’t be sorry if you take a chance on it.

Rating:

1 Star for giving me an excellent variation on the first book

1 Star for making Blake so likable

1 Star for keeping me biting my nails

1 Star for giving the main character plenty of flaws

1 Star for lack of errors

Overall, 5 out of 5 stars! You certainly want to pick up this title. Great book hangover.

In case you weren’t aware, there’s a giveaway going on here on my blog and here on the IBGW blog. In one, you get Falling for Autumn (and six other awesome titles); in the other, you get Finding Autumn.

Go enter!

What do you think? Will you pick up a copy? Have you read the first one?

Well, that’s all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Happy Birthday Giveaway

Hello, good people of the blogosphere! Happy Tuesday, and happy early birthday to me! Well, I’m a year older as of this coming Saturday. No, I’m not telling you how old I’ll be. I got an awesome birthday gift already from The Best Husband in the World (TBHITW). So, because he’s awesome, I’m giving you all a gift for my birthday. Exciting, huh?

What’s up for grabs?

A couple of the e-books I’ve reviewed this year, and an e-copy of my novels: The Bird and I, Zombie.

Which books am I including? These (that I gave five brilliant stars to):

Check out the reviews for these books here on the blog:

Sanctuary

Falling for Autumn

Sir Edric’s Temple

The Bestiarum Vocabulum

Chasing Shadows

So, get on your entry wagon and let your fingers do the clicking!

Rafflecopter will run until the Tuesday after my birthday (through 7/29/14).

Good luck to you all!

If you missed them, check out the great giveaways going over on INDIE Books Gone Wild this week. I’ll have another one for you over there tomorrow, too! You’ll want to enter this one and tomorrow’s. There’s a book in the other one that goes with one of the ones shown above.

Here’s what you’ve been waiting for!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Did you enter? Are you super excited yet?

Well, that’s all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Dialogue - Keeping it Fresh

Happy Friday, good people of the blogosphere! Today, I’m talking with you about dialogue again. I started writing this post yesterday, but life took over and killed it. Ha! Great how that works, isn’t it? But! The kids go back to school soon, so things around the blog will settle down as they were before. Anyway, today we’re gonna talk about keeping your dialogue fresh for readability and comprehension. I’ll also give you a little exercise to do afterward. Grab those pens and notebooks and let’s get going!

Let’s start with things you shouldn’t do.

  • Make every line of dialogue begin the same way.
  • Break several lines of dialogue in a row with an action.
  • Confuse your dialogue tags with action tags.
  • Make everyone sound the same.

In keeping your writing fresh, you want to use dialogue, action, and dialect in a way that keeps them harmonious.

Example time!

Shouldn’t do:

Pat elbowed her way through the crowd. “Can you believe how many people are here?”

I grabbed her hand before leaning toward her ear. “It’s always like this on Friday night!”

Lucy made her way to us and joined the circle. “I’m so excited to be here! I can’t believe our parents let us come.”

I put my free hand on her shoulder. “This is once in a lifetime, kid.”

Music pumped through the speakers, and my insides rattled.

Better:

Pat elbowed her way through the crowd. “Can you believe how many people are here?”

"It’s always—" someone jostled me, and I grabbed Pat’s hand to lean toward her ear "—like this on Friday night!"

Lucy made her way to us. “I’m so excited to be here, y’all! I can’t believe our parents let us come.” Her eyes sparkled.

"This is once in a lifetime, kid," I said.

Music pumped through the speakers, and my insides rattled.

Frequent name restatement is often necessary when there are several people in a discussion. Watch your pronouns. Let’s look at one more example; then I’ll turn you loose with an exercise.

Shouldn’t do:

"I wanted to go to the store with Mommy," Lisa whined.

Her father’s mouth turned down. He said, “You didn’t want to stay with me?”

She crossed her arms and shook her head.

"I thought maybe we could play your favorite," he said, pulling out Chutes and Ladders.

She clapped her hands and said, “Yay! Yes, Daddy. I want to play.”

"But you wanted to go to the store with Mommy," he teased.

"I was just kidding," she said.

He roared with laughter.

Better:

"I wanted to go to the store with Mommy." Lisa threw her tiny figure face-down on the couch.

Her father frowned. “You don’t want to stay with me?”

She rolled over, crossed her arms, and shook her head.

"I thought maybe we could play your favorite," he said.

When Lisa saw the Chutes and Ladders game in his hands, she clapped. “Yay! Yes, Daddy. I wanna play.”

"But you wanted to go to the store with Mommy."

"I was just kidding."

He roared with laughter.

Not only is the second passage easier to read, it’s correctly punctuated. Remember to ditch the dialogue tag when giving the character an action. If you use a dialogue tag, there should be no action. Change it up so it doesn’t get stale. No one wants to read: he said, she said, he said, he said, she said over and over again.

Time for your exercises!

#1:

Write a few quick paragraphs of dialogue with four characters: Paul, Mike, Anna, and Frank. Start each sentence the same way, pay no attention to punctuation, and no attention to pronoun usage.

Use the tips above and this post to correct your writing. Feel free to send it to me if you want someone to check it.

#2:

Using the ideas above, craft one line of dialogue for each of the following:

  1. Starts with an action, ends with dialogue.
  2. Uses a dialogue tag at the beginning.
  3. Uses a dialogue tag at the end.
  4. Break the dialogue with an action.
  5. Stars with dialogue, ends with action.
  6. No dialogue tag; no action tag.
  7. Interrupted speech (remember your em-dash!)
  8. Trailing off of speech (don’t forget the ellipsis!)
  9. Starts with action, then has dialogue, then another action

You may feel free to post your attempts in the comments below.


What do you think? Helpful?

Well, that’s all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Anonymous said: Hello! You have some interviews up with Allyson Gottlieb; the author of Darkest Legacy? Do you happen to have her tumblr? I was looking around and can't seem to find it :-(

I think she uses WordPress. :)

Love Giveaways with a Guarantee of a Great Read?

Happy Friday, everyone! As you all know by now, I’m a member over at INDIE Books Gone Wild. Well, we’ve just had a brilliant idea to get the books by our authors into your hands with greater ease. As you know, we do a little promotion and giveaway of our authors’ books (at no extra cost to them) at the end of every edit, formatting job, or proofread.

Well, here’s how we’re doubling the exposure for our authors, and providing great books to readers:

imageEvery time we list a giveaway on the IBGW blog, we’ll shoot our readers an e-mail with the rafflecopter link and details about the book. No more having to keep an eye on the blog to know when another great title has just hit the shelves!

Besides that one e-mail every now and again, you’ll get a message every January that recaps the previous year’s publications. We won’t bug you about anything else, sell your e-mail address, or spam you. No crazy marketing stuff, just books by our authors we know you’ll enjoy winning (and reading).

As you may be aware, we’re planning to add six new editors to our amazing team! Details about those lovely ladies will come on the IBGW blog next week and the week after. Keep your eyes peeled! This is going to be amazing. I’ve searched the web to find editors who have a love for the finished product and adoration for their clients. I think you’ll all be extremely pleased to get to know them, work with them, and add them to your “go to” editor list. Their way of thinking melds well with ours, and I think you’ll all love them as much as we do.

Time to give you that link!

MailChimp signup for INDIE Books Gone Wild Publishing News

If you’re one of our authors, signing up for that e-mail will let you know when your giveaway is live.

What do you think? Did you sign up?

Well, that’s all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Author Interview - Tia Silverthorne Bach

Happy Thursday, good people of the blogosphere! Today, I have one of the women I’ve grown very close with over the last couple of years here for an interview. Not only that, but she’ll be joining me at UtopYA Con next weekend. I can’t even begin to tell you all how excited I am. Tia isn’t just a friend; she’s also my partner in crime over at INDIE Books Gone Wild. So, strap in and get ready for a wild ride as you learn a little more about Tia than you probably wanted to know. If you missed any of the past interviews, I invite you to check them out here. If you wanna know more about UtopYA Con, click the name to visit the site. Okay, enough about all that, let’s get to the fun! Make some noise for my sister from another mister, Ms. Tia Silverthorne Bach!

Jo: Now, I’ve had a lot of authors here, but none should be as scared as you, Tia. Your secrets are mine to divulge! *evil laugh* Are you scared yet?

Tia: Scared, yet oddly excited.

Jo: Well, let’s not beat around the bush; we may scare out some critters we don’t really wanna see. Tell me about the challenges of having three daughters and what your biggest fear for their future is.

Tia: I have three very strong daughters who are vastly different. I have a sneaky suspicion they meet in a dark corner in the middle of the night and plot to see how many different interests, needs, and personality challenges they can throw at me. Still, I adore them!

My biggest fear is probably the same as most parents. I want them to find happiness and follow their dreams, and I fear anything that stands in their way—anything that can hurt them.

Jo: I hear that. Maybe all kids do that. Mine are also ridiculously different. I know you’ve used all three of your daughters’ names in your Tala Prophecy series. Who does each character represent and why?

Tia: My eldest daughter, Jackie, is an old soul who is wise beyond her years, so it made perfect sense for her to be the Wiccan grandmother. Reagan, my middle daughter, is the tough-as-nails heroine. She’s a lacrosse goalie and afraid of nothing, but she has a soft side and a love for family just like my main character. Finally, Madeleine, my baby. She’s all kinds of sassy and strong, but she loves fiercely. You don’t want to get in her way. Madeleine, the character, is the same. Life has thrown her major curveballs, but she perseveres and protects her own.

And I’ll share a little exclusive here on Jo’s blog… my daughter, Reagan, does not love to read (it’s not my fault!). I thought she might want to read a book where she was the heroine. So, yes, it was partly a sneaky-Mom trick.

Jo: Oh man. Did you all catch that? Tia’s a sneaky one! What made you decide to join the editing team at INDIE Books Gone Wild and what have you learned from the experience so far?

Tia: First, it was spearheaded by one of the most awesome, talented women I know. How could I pass that up? Love you, Jo!

Even as a teenager, my friends brought me their reports to edit. I’m not quite sure who first placed the Editor hat on my head, but it stuck. I’ve been editing novels for years, but I liked the idea of joining a team. My favorite part of IBGW is the editing/proofreading package: If you contract IBGW for editing, you also get a separate proofreader. What could be better than two sets of eyes on your manuscript?

Foremost, I have learned everyone needs an editor. I don’t care how amazing you are at finding errors in others’ work; you can’t be your own editor. When I get my edited copy back, I want to smack myself. I full well know I would have caught most of the issues in another author’s work, but in my own… *head desk*

Jo: *blushing furiously* It was the same way for me in college. Every time I turned around, there was someone handing me a paper to edit. Haha! We’re going to UtopYA next weekend! I have to say, I’m super excited at the prospect of getting to spend face-time with you! EEP! But, as any newbie, I’m nervous about attending the con and meeting so many people. What are your greatest fears about going?

Tia: I can’t tell you the last time I looked so forward to something! Still, I’m going to be surrounded by a lot of writers I’ve come to respect and admire. It’s a little intimidating. I want to walk away with a lot of friends and tons of new ideas. My biggest fear is not taking advantage of this amazing opportunity. I’ll have to fight my instinctive urge to sit back and simply people watch.

Jo: Me too. I’m nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs! Time for rapid fire questions! As a fellow word-nerd, I have a favorite one of all time (gargantuan). What’s yours?

Tia: Catawampus. Plus, I have a saying (am I ruining your rapid fire fun?) I love:

"You have the audacity to doubt my veracity to insinuate that I might prevaricate."

Jo: Sweet. How often do you get to use it in a sentence? LOL Jeans or a skirt?

Tia: Jeans.

Jo: I prefer jeans as well. *grin* Alien question! I’ve asked everyone I’ve interviewed something about aliens because that’s the theme for UtopYA 2014. Since you’re a paranormal writer, have you ever considered writing an alien themed book? Why/why not? Do you believe?

Tia: There isn’t a book I haven’t considered writing at some point in my crazy-ideas life. Who knows? I might have an alien book in me. As for believing, I have no doubt that there is other life out there besides us. It’s a much bigger stretch for me to consider we are the only form of life in the universe than the alternative.

Jo: I can’t wait to edit that one! *wink* Care to share with my readers what super secret project you’ve been working on?

Tia: One particular idea has taken over my brain lately, but I’m holding it at bay until I finish my current series. It’ll lean towards fantasy; but, like all my other novels, be character-driven. I want to play with the idea of a character who feels invisible. She feels lost in mediocrity, constantly wishing she was more noticeable. Then, she’s given a choice to try two more extreme versions of herself. In the end, she must choose who to be.

Jo: Wish I had that choice handed to me. But not in two extremes, I don’t think. Again, can’t wait to edit it! If there was one thing you could do for your books/writing career, what would it be and why?

Tia: I would travel the world and people watch. Since people fascinate me, I’d love to soak in different cultures. I truly believe you have to live to write. You have to soak up different experiences and push yourself to walk outside your comfort zone.

Jo: This is one of the many reasons I call you my sister from another mister. We have wayyyyy too much in common. You wrote a book with your mom (Depression Cookies) and I learned you’re working on a follow-up. What’s the worst thing about working with your mother (don’t worry, I won’t let her see your answer) and how did you work through it (if you have)? Where will book two take us?

Tia: My mom and I have very different writing styles. We joke about trees. She would spend a whole page describing the color, movement, height, surroundings, animals, nests, and so on. I would state it was an oak tree and focus on the character sitting underneath it and what they were thinking. For every word I tried to get her to take out of the book, she tried to get me to put more in. In the end, I think it’s what made the book so appealing—our voices were so different and helped define the characters we created. As far as working through it, it was a lot of give and take (and don’t worry, I listen to my mama).

Book two has Krista going off to college and leaving the nest while Abby redefines what motherhood means with growing children. How do you parent from two different area codes? How does Krista begin to define her own life? Those are just a few challenges Mom and I are taking on with book two.

Jo: I loved the first book, and I do hope you’ll let me take a stab at the second installment! I have to admit, I’ve loved working with you on your novels. With no holds barred, tell me one thing you hate about my editing style or something I said that caused your eyebrow to lift in question.

Tia: You force me to describe more! My mom would be so proud. Whenever I see a comment about strengthening the senses, I cringe. A whiny voice is my head always screams, “But I want to keep the story moving and not describe the damned tree!” Clearly, I have tree issues. In the end, when you push me, the book is always the better for it. I am grateful.

Jo: Sometimes, we must be like the tree and bend with suggestions. Otherwise, we break. *gives Tia a sage look* Before we get to the next question, I must share a little photo I found of you (that’s totally embarrassing) eating a depression cookie. Look to the right, people. Yeah I did. *grin* Okay, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk reviews for a moment. Which one has been your favorite and which one do you wish you could delete (we all have at least one)?

Tia: Any positive review is my favorite one for that moment, because it reaffirms my decision to write. I have a nasty little insecurity monster; he rises out of nowhere and tries to convince me I’m not good enough. So, positive reviews give me much-needed reassurance. While I don’t love negative reviews, I try to learn from them. Sometimes, they spur me in a different way; they make me want to be a better writer.

However, there was this one review I’d love to strike from existence. During a blog tour, a Christian book blogger read Chasing Memories and warned against the evils of Wiccan practices. She reminded her readers that all magic has roots in darkness. While I respect her right to her opinion, I was never sure why she’d even agree to read the book. Would she read Fifty Shades of Grey and lecture about the evil ways of S&Mers?

Jo: I just spewed coffee out of my nose when I read that. *wipes screen* Tell me one fact about each of your sisters, and then tell me one thing you love about each of them.

Tia: My middle sister, Tara, is one of the most committed people I know. She’s a rock. When she sets her mind to something, it will happen. Yet, she’s also my shoulder. Then there’s Dana, my baby sister. She’s all spunk. I’d give her my book in a heartbeat and tell her to go sell it to a room, and she could. Her personality shines through and people are drawn to her.

I adore them both; I’m quite blessed in the sisters-as-best-friends department. I hope my girls feel the same way when they are adults.

Jo: I have four sisters. I feel you. I wish we were closer, but distance is what it is. What are your plans for marketing on your future novels? Any intention of going perma-free with any of them?

Tia: Marketing. *sigh* I find marketing the hardest part of being an Indie. I want some super reader to swoop down, read it, love it, and take out billboard signs to spread the word. Free seems counter-intuitive to me, although I know it’s a successful marketing strategy. So, I’ll probably go perma-free with Chasing Memories once the series is complete.

Jo: Amen to that. Marketing is a total suckfest 9/10 of the time. But perma-free seems to work with series starters. What’s your biggest fear in regards to your books/writing and how do you plan to overcome it?

Tia: A blank mind. After I finished Depression Cookies, I honestly thought I might be a one-and-done. It took so much out of me. When the idea for the Tala Prophecy series came to me, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. I get helter-skelter ideas, but I’m always afraid I won’t come up with something I’m passionate about that’s also unique. No pressure, right?

My plan is to never give up—to keep developing whatever ideas won’t let me go. As a dear author/editor friend of mine would say (whoever could she be?), WRITE ON!

Jo: No pressure. One of the great things about being Indie is saying/writing whatever in the heck you want to. *grin* Look at my Mystic series. Do you really think a traditional publisher would dare? Any luck with that scheduling thing you were stressed over?

Tia: Ah, you refer to my stress-paralyzed vent. I tend to overwhelm myself with my inability to say one simple word: No. I always want to help everybody, do everything, be everything. It’s a prescription for failure. More than anything, I have to learn to focus and prioritize. Oh, and set timers and turn off the Internet.

Jo: I understand completely. I used to have the same problem. It’ll come. *bats eyelashes* Well, we’re out of time. *sniffs back tears* Anything I didn’t ask that you wish I had?

Tia: You didn’t ask me to share my amazing dancing skills on video. I’m hurt. (For anyone who now expects a party animal at UtopYA, I hate to disappoint. This is a running joke with Jo after my pitiful dancing performance in a group author video.)

Jo: I just choked again. Seriously, I’m too damned old to be trying to break dance. So, I’ll wallflower with you. Chin up! I get to see you in a week! How exciting is that? UtopYA, here we come! Thanks for your time, Tia!

Tia: Can’t wait to hang out with you, Jo, and mingle with the other UtopYA babes! See you soon.

Jo: You betcha! For those of you visiting us at UtopYA, be sure and stop by our table (number 27) in Area 51! We’re gonna have awesome book giveaways, thanks to our generous authors at IBGW, and plenty of our books for you to snag! Tomorrow, I’ll have more information for you. Plus, I have a little surprise for my biggest sharer through this interview process (name to be revealed June 18th).

Now it’s time to tell you about the featured book of the week!

Title: Chasing Shadows

Author: Tia Silverthorne Bach

Genre: Young Adult Paranormal

Length (print): 312 pages

Buy links: Amazon Kindle $2.99 ~  B&N

Synopsis:

Reagan thought one night changed her life forever, but her fate was written long ago.

Merging creature and white blood,

One of flame, one of night,

At eighteen years it will commence,

Spiritual warrior and power,

Will bring an end to the lawless ones.

A war looms: One that pits brother against brother for werewolf supremacy. Angels and demons will each have a say before a victor is chosen.

With her eighteenth birthday only six months away, time is running out. Reagan must find a way to harness the two powerful, ancient bloodlines coursing through her: Werewolf and Wiccan. Then, she has to figure out her role in the century-old prophecy foretold by her great-grandmother.

However, if Reagan can’t save her family from her most vicious rival, Rafe, the forces of Hell will be unleashed and the war will be over before it starts.

While your fingers are in the clicking mode, why not give Ms. Bach a follow on social media then enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below?

Facebook: Tia.Bach.Author

Twitter: @Tia_Bach_Author

Blog: Depression Cookies

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you have questions for Tia, pop them into the comments section below. Be sure and come back Wednesday for a guest post!

Well, that’s all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Back on Track and an I, Zombie sale!

Happy Monday, good people of the blogosphere! Today, I may be bringing you a guest post from my awesome featured author, Elizabeth Kirke, but it may come later. I’m not sure. It’s been so darned crazy around here. But, we’re settled into our new house and things are finally getting back to the way they were. That means no more spotty blog posts. Okay, they’ve been darn near non-existent, but such is life. I’m back on track now, and have a special announcement for you!

I, Zombie is on sale over on Amazon for the next five days. That’s right, it’s a countdown deal. First reduction is to $0.99. From $3.99, this is an amazing price to be able to snag a copy.

Here’s where you can get it and a little about it:

Kindle: $3.99

Recommended for ages 13+ due to a mild amount of gore.

Synopsis:
It’s the end of the world as we know it.

Trixie Collins is a normal teen making her way through high school. One night at a party, a boy comes on to her and won’t take no for an answer. As she jerks her arm away, his fingernails cut into her skin.

When she finds her dog’s mutilated body and realizes she’s to blame, she starts to think maybe the zombie apocalypse they’ve been screaming about on the news isn’t a hoax after all. Worse, she begins to think maybe she’s one of the infected.

Now it’s a fight for life as she joins together with her brethren to stop the humans intent on destroying them. Are zombies all bad, or is it just a huge misunderstanding?

Happy reading!

Well, that’s all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

New Title Teaser

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Well, it’s the halfway mark for the week, and Friday is just around the corner. I bet you’re all looking forward to the Memorial Day weekend, huh? Today, I’m gonna give you a little bit of reading fun. But first, let me tell you where the idea for this particular story came from! Sit back, relax, grab a cup of something, and let’s get going.

I love short stories. There are many that grabbed my interest in college and have left me thinking about them long after I read and wrote a report on them. One is The Lottery by Shirley Jackson. There’s even a two part YouTube rendition of that one. You can check out part one here. I was left with a story hangover from that one. If you haven’t read it, you should. Another one is Desiree’s Baby by Kate Chopin. I got so angry when I read it, I wanted to throw the book across the room. This is when I know I’ve gotten hold of a great short.

I’ve spent hours thinking about that young woman and her baby, asking myself questions about what could’ve happened to them, where she came from, and how the story could be expanded upon with a new twist.

I’ve had the first chapter written for a long while. I know exactly where I want the tale to go, and it’s time that will see it come to fruition. So, if you haven’t read Desiree’s Baby, you need to go check it out. If you have, you’ll see where I’m coming from with this story. Not sure yet if it’ll be a standalone or a series, but I plan to get it plotted out within the next couple of months. I’m also planning to finish Markaza and M, all three will be out by the end of this year.

Okay, okay, I’ve led you on you enough. Here’s a teaser from my WIP, tentatively titled Desiree’s Apocalypse:

I am lost.

When I walked away from everything I knew, I had no idea where I was going. Still don’t. But I’ve been in the woods for days and haven’t eaten anything but a few berries I found on a bush. All I can hope is they aren’t poisonous. As I sit here, shivering in the cold, afraid to use my fire, wearing nothing but my tattered and stained dress, I feel only pain.

My husband cast me aside without asking me questions to first understand the truth. I don’t know where I came from, and I never expected to fall in love with a gentleman like him. I’m clueless about the scar on my neck that’s shaped like an arrow. And I have no idea who the old woman was that showed up on our doorstep that fateful night.

She told him I was evil; the spawn of some demon that came to Earth twenty-two years ago in order to throw chaos at the world. She said, in me, the destruction of the planet could be found. Since I have no recollection of how I ended up wandering the roads before the Scotts picked me up and took me in, I couldn’t refute her claims. After all, I have that damned mark.

I’ve loved Gregory for a long time. His family farm is adjacent to my family’s, and he and I played together in the tree house my father built in the old oak. Its branches spread over the property line so Gregory’s father had to give permission, but we got it done. That tree is a treasure that’s been shared between the two families for nine generations, and when my father asked to build in it, the request caused great distress for everyone. They were concerned for the tree, they said. No one wanted to see it damaged in any way. After my father found a way to make the tree house fully self-supporting, everyone agreed, and no nails were driven into the ancient wood. Gregory and I had enjoyed many days playing there together.

I remember the first time he noticed the mark on my neck. He’d scratched at it and laughed in his quiet style before asking me, “Where’d ya get that from, anyhow?” I felt my cheeks redden, told him I didn’t know, and asked him not to make fun of me. His little face scrunched up, like he was sorry he’d embarrassed me, and he apologized. It amazed me that a ten-year-old boy could have so much empathy, and I began to fall in love with him that day.

My heart is now broken. After all we’d been through together, he threw me away; without even attempting to get to the bottom of the old woman’s story. What was I supposed to do, refuse to leave? 

Perhaps.

But I didn’t. I was so injured by his comments, and his ability to think poorly of me, I ran from the house with nothing but the clothes on my back. I can’t return. He told me he’d shoot me if I ever stepped foot on his property again. Our property. I wonder what kind of tale the old lady spun that frightened him so. 

It must’ve been horrific.

Yes, strange things have been happening to me lately, but I never thought they’d be related to causing the end of the world. My fingers caught fire without match or spark about three months ago. Added to that, the ground had been rising up to meet me whenever I waved my hand a certain way. A more recent manifestation I discovered while walking through our garden and waving away a bug. It scared me half to death; I thought Mother Earth was rising up to eat me.

~end of teaser

I haven’t written a book in first person since Yassa, and I’m looking forward to the insight I can bring to the page by being inside the protagonist. As you can see, this puts a huge spin on the short story by Chopin, but that’s where this one comes from.

I hope you all enjoyed that.

What’s your favorite short story? What’s one that stayed with you long after you finished it?

Well, that’s all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Meta-Data for Books, Videos, and a Chance to Pick My Brain

Happy Wednesday, good people of the blogosphere! Today, I’m gonna talk to you a little about meta-data for your books, show you a couple of videos, and tell you about a chance you have to ask me a question about writing, editing, self-publishing, or marketing. So grab those pens and notebooks and let’s get going!

Meta-Data for Your Books


What is meta-data? Namely, it’s data that you can’t see but has an impact on web search results. It’s part of SEO (search engine optimization), and not something you should be skipping over when creating your novel. We’re all familiar with tags and keywords on Amazon, Smashwords, Createspace, etc… But! Did you know you have keyword (description tags) available to you in MS Word? Best of all: There’s no limit to how many you can use!

Screenshot time! I bet you’re all familiar with this:

Now, that’s awesome, right? You put in the document title, click save, and off to the races you go! But look a little closer and pay attention to the arrows:

Each of those is a field you can put meta-data into. Just click on them and they’ll open like this:

Best part? If you’ve used certain tags previously, it suggests them. All you have to do is tick the check-box. Once you’re done with the author name (it will auto-populate your user name on your computer), add tags and a title. When you’re done, it’ll look like this:

Then you can click save and all that beautiful, digital information will be embedded in the book file. How cool is that?

See? You had a tool and most likely weren’t using it.

Why does it matter? Well, we all know what tags are and how they function on Amazon, right? Think about how many more you’ll get with this function. Roll that around in your mind for a moment.

Ahhhhh, I can see the lights upstairs come on from all the way over here! Now you know.

Moving on…

Videos!


I promised you a couple of videos, so here you go:





Those were fun, huh? Yeah, that’s a book trailer for I, Zombie and one for Chasing Shadows.

Okay! On to the next topic!

Your Chance to Pick My Brain


Natasha Hanova is hosting a Q&A session with me on her blog. I’ve agreed to take five industry related questions from readers. This is your chance to get an answer to a question you have (that you can’t find the answer to here).

If you’d like to put a question in the hat, either comment below or DM Natasha on Twitter. You can find her here:
Natasha’s Twitter Page

How about that? Did you all have fun?

Well, that’s all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Book Review - Magic Unfolds

Happy Friday, everyone! Yay! It’s time for the weekend once again! Not only do you have one awesome book to read because you picked up a copy of Reap (you did, right?), you’ll have two once you snag a copy of the book you’re getting a review for today. I’ve reviewed a couple of N. L. Greene’s books here on the blog. The first was Twisted (5/5*), and the second was Illusions Begin (4/5*). Today, I bring you the second installment of the MysticSeeker series, Magic Unfolds. So, strap in, grab something cold to drink (it’s blazing hot outside), and let’s get going!

First, all about the book up for review today:

Title: Magic Unfolds (Book Two of the MysticSeeker series)

Author:N. L. Greene

Genre: YA Paranormal

Length (print): 190 pages

Buy Links: Amazon Kindle $2.99  ~  Paperback $11.10  ~  B&N $2.99

Synopsis:

For the first time in her life, Becky had hopes of fulfilling her own dreams when Blaine Winters inexplicably arrived into her quiet life, teasing her with astounding possibilities she never thought imaginable.  Not only did he reveal that magic was indeed real, but he also stirred feelings in her that she had only read about in clichéd romance novels.  But just as quickly as he appeared, he was gone.  Then Becky’s life was turned upside down by a family emergency.  With the overwhelming demands of running an elite law firm as well as her ex becoming more of a threat each day, she didn’t have time for whimsical thoughts or personal exploration anyway.

Now that Blaine has mysteriously disappeared from her life, she can put her family first and focus on what she needs to do.  If only it were that easy.  Blaine may be gone and all of Becky’s little girl dreams of a world filled with magic with him, but that doesn’t mean all’s forgotten.  Nightmares are plaguing her, someone is watching her, and there are powers within her that she can’t seem to control.

Will Becky finally get her chance at magic after all, even if she doesn’t want it?

Now that you know, let’s get on what you came for.

I read the first book in this series and loved it. So, when I found out Greene was publishing book two, I got excited! I was so eager to see what happened next in Becky’s life, I ran out and bought a copy on Amazon. What I got was unexpected; so much so that it left me yearning for more. Let me fill you in.

From a Reader’s Perspective:

After the first book, I was looking forward to lots of magical situations and usage in the second. While it plays a key part as a manifestation, there wasn’t a lot of actual magic use until the end. I had Samantha pegged early on, and the end revealed what I kinda figured was going on there. I adore how in love with Blaine Becky still is. She yearns for him, and I find it an endearing quality of her character. I wanted more magic throughout and was brought to the edge of my seat a time or two in anticipation, but the situations never turned out the way I hoped they would. While that aspect left me wanting, I still rooted for everything Becky was trying to do with her life. I see her struggle with splitting her desire to embrace magic and her desire to do right by her family. It makes the read volley forward, which makes up for the lack of actual use of magic. Saved.

From an Editor’s Perspective:

Minor things the casual reader won’t notice. It was pretty clean grammar-wise, actually.

Rating:

+1 Star for making me eager to read more

+1 Star for giving me more of Becky and resolving the Lance situation

+1 Star for awesome characters

+1 Star for lack of grammatical errors

-1 Star for potential of punch in the story not being reached

Overall, 4 out of 5 stars. Fans of the series will enjoy the book, and it’s a decent middle novel to move things forward.

Well, that’s all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo