Jo Michaels ~ Author

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

Two Days Left to Win

Happy Thursday, everyone! Because we had it a bit messed up the first time (what, you couldn’t enter to win The Broken Destiny?) I’m posting the UtopYA Blog Hop giveaways again. Get your clickin’ finger ready and let’s get going!

Prize pack 1

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Prize pack 2

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Prize pack 3

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Prize pack 4

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Prize pack 5

a Rafflecopter giveaway


I hope I got them all right this time! Let me know if you have any trouble.

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

Jo

Writing Exercise - Word Fun

Happy Hump-Day, good people of the blogosphere! Today, I’m gonna give you a writing exercise. Don’t worry, it’ll be fun. This is to expand your writerly vocabulary and get you thinking about the words you use on the page to craft your prose. So, grab those pens and printers and let’s get going!

Start by printing out the four pages linked to below.

We’re gonna use some common cliches for this exercise:

Babe in the woods.

The whole ball of wax.

By the book.

Same old song and dance.

Got those? No? Well, print them. I made them just for you!

Now, take a look at what you have in front of you. Try coming up with alternate endings so your cliches aren’t. Step outside the box. Think harder. Fill out column A.

Remember to be engaging, outrageous, and contradictory when filling out columns B and C.

When you’re done, fill out the bottom.

I’d be willing to bet you can do it in less than fifteen minutes.

Can’t come up with that many? Try using MS Word’s synonym tool.

  • Open MS Word.
  • Type in woods.
  • Right click.
  • Go to synonyms and see what you have.
  • Write them all down on your blanks.
  • Choose another word you came up with and do that one, too!

Make your own sheets and do this exercise often. You can find a list of common cliches easily if you do a Google search.

What do you think? Was today fun?

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

Jo

Blank Canvas and Page Woes

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I hope you all had a fabulous weekend. You’re almost halfway to the next one, so chin up! Today, I’m gonna blast my inner musings and thoughts for you to read; maybe you’ll take something away from it, maybe you won’t. Either way, it’s therapeutic to talk it out! So, grab your coffee, get your typing fingers ready, and let’s get going on my not philosophical discussion. *grin*

While browsing through Michael’s art store the other day, I came upon a 40% off canvas sale. Well, I usually don’t spring for the big ones because they aren’t cheap. I ended up buying one that’s 24” x 36” and giggling the whole way home. If you didn’t know I draw and paint, I have to ask how long you’ve been following my blog, or if you’ve ever seen one of my book covers (most notably Yassa and The Bird).

Here are a couple of my artworks:

 

But, anyway, as you can see, I have no lack of skill. Yet, I find myself staring at the blank canvas, wondering what in the world I’m gonna put on it. I don’t want to stop once I’ve started, and I don’t want to hate it halfway through and have to gesso it out and start over.

So I find myself planning.

If you know anything about me, you’ll know I’m a strict pantser when it comes to my writing.

When the thought of picking up a brush and going at a canvas makes me cringe, how the hell can I craft a story by the seat of my pants?

Truth: I don’t.

I think about the book, plan out my characters, and have the plot (at least a beginning and ending) in mind when I sit down to write. I think a true pantser would sit down with no idea what they’re going to do and bang out a book.

Like people say a true artist sits down and bangs out a painting.

But is it really that easy? No. Most of the famous artists in the world never sat down and slapped paint around on a canvas. They had direction, and they had a picture in mind before they ever began. This leads me to believe art rarely comes from nowhere. Even color choices made by the artist who attaches balloons to the wall and throws darts at them is a decision. There’s never complete freedom in art. Everything has a plan.

Writing novels is an art form. Sure, you can write whatever you want, whenever you want, and throw it out there for the world to consume. But readers will become disenchanted if your novels have no cohesion, plot, or character building. Just like art lovers will spot an amateur painter if the colors on the canvas clash.

On the same note, there must be some freedom in painting like there is in writing. My imagination is my only limitation as far as situations, characters, and plot go; but I’m bound to certain rules of the written word—like artists are bound to rules of composition and color usage. Even Jackson Pollock had a specific idea in mind when he tackled a work. But he got to choose the colors. Note my baby pink oak tree up there.

What I’m saying is: We all have freedom in our writing or art,  but knowing all you can know about your craft—and using that knowledge—never hurts.

I guess buying that canvas did more for my thought process than I realized.

It’s still sitting there, completely blank, waiting on me to make a decision.

I’m knee-deep in my section of the Fractured Glass anthology. It’s so much fun giving characters free reign to lead me in the direction they choose. I’ve had a number of epiphanies while writing. Interesting twists and some mighty creepy situations are emerging as I bang the keys. Not long now. Good thing I had a plan, eh?

Time for you to join in the discussion here! Do you think it’s possible to write an entire novel from the hip? Or do you think you must know the building blocks on all sides in order to craft something with no idea where it’s going or how it’ll get there?

Inquiring minds wanna know.

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

Jo

Author Interview - Susan Burdorf

Happy Monday, good people of the blogosphere! You should all be so dang excited! It’s time for another round of unofficial author interviews with some more great ladies of UtopYA con. If you don’t have your tickets to the event, you need to get them ASAP. I believe they go back on sale around Black Friday. Check here often to snag yours! Today, I have the lovely Susan Burdorf on the blog. She’s such an awesome lady. I can’t wait to get going. So grab your coffee, comfy chair, and your screen, and let’s get going!

Jo: Welcome to the blog, Susan! It’s so nice to finally get a moment to sit down and have a chat with you. While we were both at the con last year, I only saw you for a second when you came by the table to pick up my donation for your scavenger hunt. Crazy, huh? How did that go, by the way?

Susan: Not as well as I would have liked. Next year I will make sure to advertise it a little better. I believe only about 10 hunt lists were returned to me, but those who did so got an awesome selection of books to choose from, and I got to chat with some very cool authors, as did they, so it was not a total loss by any means. I always feel like an event like UtopYA is so chock full of fun stuff to do, that any chance to say hello to an author and stop by their table is a win in my book (no pun intended…haha). Thanks for asking, and thanks for donating!

Jo: You’re very welcome. I love trying new and exciting things, and I’m always willing to help out another author with a donation! Well, let’s waste no time jumping in here. I have a slew of questions for you. Ready?

Susan: Bring it! :)

Jo: Cool. Let’s do this. UtopYA Con being in Nashville is pretty awesome for you, right? Have you been to the con every year? If yes, how has it changed/improved for you over time?

Susan: UtopYA has been a very unique experience for me. I grew up in the Buffalo NY area and for years was involved in a writer’s group that was very active and participated in writer’s events in both Niagara Falls, NY and Toronto, Ontario Canada where well known traditionally published authors (there was no Indie author world back then, only Vanity Press self published novels and those were not as well done as our Indie Authors books are today) like Anne McCaffrey, and Orson Scott Card, and Lois McMaster Bujold, and Terry Pratchett, among many others who were popular guests. There were panels and so on, but UtopYA, for me, was a totally different experience. I got to be part of the beginning with UtopYA. For the first two years I was the person who helped get the volunteers for the event. In the first year we had less than 100 people (the majority were authors, with some fans). The second year was better, with nearly 300 participants and a nearly equal amount of readers and authors and fans. This past UtopYA, 2014, was double and more again the number from the year before, and the influence of all those authors was absolutely amazing. Leave out the fact that I met new friends, made connections to authors and fans I had never had any connection to before other than on Social Media, and also got to hang out with some of the most funny and smart and honest and sincere people in the world and you pretty much sum up the UtopYA experience for me. Where else would I get to hobnob with people from South Africa, England, Scotland, Canada, etc? And all this happened because UtopYA happened. I could go on forever with this question but then I would never get to the rest of the awesome information you want from me, so I am going to end with this: UtopYA is like Candyland and Twister and Boggle all wrapped up into one.

Jo: Wow. It sounds like you’ve been on quite a journey with Ms. Janet Wallace (founder of UtopYA). Hey, at least the con is getting bigger. I have no idea how I’m gonna meet everyone that shows up next year. It’s gonna be huge! Speaking of meeting folks, who are your favorite UtopYA peeps and why?

Susan: Oh boy. This is a hard question because, to be honest, and this is not a cop out to the question – I have no favorite because I love everyone equally. Let me explain why – most people come to UtopYA with the idea that they might get to meet that awesome author whose books they have been salivating over for the last year or two; or they might have a desire to meet their “book boyfriend/girlfriend” from the cover of their favorite book; or they might want to hang out with someone they have never met and talk about writing and covers and editing and all the tons of information available at UtopYA just for the asking. For me, everyone I meet has something of value to share with me – whether it is their journey as they publish their first book, or their ability to market like a madwoman and I want to know how they do it; or they might have the key to setting up a tax account to keep the IRS at bay…there is so much that I have to learn from everyone I meet that picking one person who matters more is impossible without insulting someone else…so, I decline to actually answer that question and will only say–EVERYONE who ever comes to UtopYA is someone I want to add to my friends list, or chat with online, etc. Be warned people, I will find you and befriend you! (it is okay, I promise to feed you once a day…maybe…).

Jo: Yeah, just watch your fingers when feeding the authors. *wink* You’re a yet unpublished author. What’s the title of your first book, and when can we expect to see it released?

Susan: Okay, so, while I do not have a book of my own published yet (it has been in development for a year now and should release in late 2014 and the title is: “A Cygnet’s Tale” which is loosely based on the story of The Ugly Duckling) I have for many years now been a prolific short story writer and I am published in numerous anthologies. I have stories about everything from Angels to Zombies out in anthologies. My favorite genre is currently YA Contemporary, which is what “A Cygnet’s Tale” is. I also have an NA Paranormal novel called “Harlequin Rose” which should be releasing late 2014 or early 2015.

Jo: Anthologies rock! It’s totally mind boggling to have one book that’s all your very own, though. I can’t wait to see you next year, buy a copy of your book(s), and get it signed! So, what’s the most terrifying thing about clicking the publish button for you?

Susan: Clicking the Publish Button. Seriously, my Lizard Brain keeps telling me not to do it, but my heart tells me I have to do it…it is a constant battle for me. But it will be coming out this year, I have promised myself this. I have a beautiful cover by Marcy Rachel Designs (she has stopped that part of her business and is now part of a business called Backstrip Publishing and she is still doing designs. I strongly urge folks to check her out. Her work is beautiful. My book, “Harlequin Rose” cover is by Desi’s Art Designs and is also amazing).

Jo: If your hand doesn’t shake, I’ll say you aren’t human. LOL! I saw that you attended a character building course. When? Where? And what did you learn from it? Any nuggets of wisdom to share with us?

Susan: I wish I could share it, but I signed an agreement to respect the work of the author/instructor who put it together. I strongly urge anyone who is suffering with a lack of character development to check out this course by author C. J. Redwine (also a UtopYA participant this past year), but I will tell you, and I don’t think she will be mad at me for this, that the course really makes you dig deep into your character and put the best and the worst of the character out there. You cannot have a fully formed character if you are not willing to examine all sides of the character. No one is all good or all bad. There is always something redeeming about everyone, even your villain – you just need to find that. Maybe your villain hates women and enjoys torturing them, but goes home every night to get milk for his cat. Maybe your hero is a police officer who every night puts his life on the line to save the citizens of the city he is sworn to protect, but his dark side makes him prowl the streets at night for people he can beat up in bar fights. We are all two sides of the same coin. Making sure the reader understands this makes your character more believable to them, and more interesting and then they will want to invest their time in reading your book.

Jo: Interesting take. I’m of a different school when it comes to villains. Not gonna go on and on here, but you can check out the post on that topic if interested. There’s another Susan Burdorf who’s an author. Did you know that? Are you planning to use a pen name, or write with your name? Why/why not?

Susan: I have struggled with this question for a while. I was not aware of another Susan Burdorf who is an author…are you sure it is not me? I have been around for a while and have published things before stopping to raise a family and have now gotten back into it. You will need to let me know about this one…I may have to call her up! I think the only time I might do a pen name is if I get a following in one genre, say YA and then possibly would start writing in Erotica or something totally at the other end of the spectrum. I used to think pen names were for cowards or arrogant people, but talking to authors at UtopYA has changed my mind on this. I might just do that depending on the circumstances.

Jo: LOL! I’m not sure it’s not you, but I was curious. *grin* Yeah, two opposite spectrum ends like the ones you mentioned could get squirrely. Rapid fire questions! Black or white?

Susan: Black. Always black.

Jo: Pickles—sweet or dill?

Susan: Sweet (as in pickles, although I haven’t eaten any since my last pregnancy many years ago).

Jo: Favorite car?

Susan: I had a 1966 Malibu Ragtop (my first car as a teenager) that I loved. I called it “Bumblebee” cause it was black and yellow.

Jo: Look at you doing the Transformers thing way ahead of their popularity! Time travel question (because that’s the theme for the con in 2015)! If you could go back in time and change one thing, what would it be?

Susan: Two things: 1. when I was 10 a friend asked me to join her bowling team and I declined – I wish I had said yes, because that started a pattern of me declining to do things because of fear. Had I faced my fear at that age I think I would have been a braver and more adventurous person later. I missed out on a lot of things by saying No, instead of Yes out of fear. 2. I would have asked Inkslinger PR to represent me at the first UtopYA. Now they are too busy and I am sorry I did not talk to them about it then.

Jo: Interesting answers! Very well thought out. Do you have big plans for your visit to UtopYA Con 2015 (like what you did last year)?

Susan: Yep. I have a table, I have games all planned out, I want to do a scavenger hunt again (come to my table and get your sheet and win some awesome prizes people!), and I want to participate more either from the audience or on panels. I have a lot to share if people want to listen. Mostly I want to say – DO NOT BE AFRAID!

Jo: I second that. Put me down for a donation! *grin* How long have you been a reader?

Susan: I have been a reader since I was 3. I started reading books when my brother went to school to keep myself entertained. Of course, I probably had no clue what I was reading, but my mom swears I used to read all day long. Every time she put me down for a nap she would find a book under my pillow when she got me up. I think the fairies left them for me…

Jo: Me too! Love books. My mom used to come in and remove them from my face after I passed out. Sweet moms we had, eh? What’s your favorite book to date and why do you love it so very much?

Susan: Anne of Green Gables is my all time favorite book series! I absolutely love that series of books and would not know what to do with myself if I did not have Anne and her freckles to keep me grounded. (Quinn Loftis kind of reminds me of her…what do you think?).

Jo: I didn’t get to meet Quinn this year, but I saw her from afar and I’m not sure she’s as awkward as Anne was. Looks wise? Yeah, Quinn is a good representation. So, anything I didn’t ask that you wish I had?

Susan: You know, I would like to share this with everyone: I am just like you. I get up every morning, brush my teeth, get ready for work, earn my paycheck, and then at the end of the day I write…sometimes a few hundred words…sometimes it is a good night and I write a few thousand, but no matter the word count I am always thinking about writing or just writing. If you have that fire to write do not keep yourself from doing it. Find a writer’s group in your area and get together with people who love it as much as you. Or, if you don’t have one in your area then start a group. Go to conventions, go to wherever you need to go to be inspired. If you don’t want to write, but you love taking pictures and want to be a cover artist then do it. If you are good at seeing other’s mistakes, become an editor. Get noticed. Stand up and stand out, as Janet Wallace, founder of Social Deviants and founder of UtopYA is fond of saying. Just be whatever you want to be to be happy. And if you are at UtopYA 2015 STOP BY MY TABLE! I want to meet you. I am super shy so you may have to do all the talking, though!

Jo: Wonderful advice! Thanks for joining me on the blog today, Susan! I can’t wait to get to spend more than a moment with you next year.

Susan: Yay! At least one person will stop by my table. Word of advice to anyone who is a newbie to UtopYA 2015 – make a list of everyone you want to meet and then do it. Time slips away so quickly and everyone is rushing around that you might miss someone you want to meet so make it to my table for my scavenger hunt sheet and go find us all! Everyone there will want to meet you too!

Now, it’s time to tell you all about the featured book for the week. Since Susan isn’t published yet, we’ll put up one of her choosing.

Title: Lucky Number Four

Author: Amanda Jason

Genre: New Adult

Length (print): 369 pages

Buy links: Amazon Kindle $4.99 Paperback $12.59 ~ B&N

Synopsis: Read the synopsis on the Amazon page. I think this book is so awesome because it is funny, and sweet, and written by my amazing friend, Amanda Jason (aka Carol Kunz who gives the most amazing hugs!!!)

Now, while your fingers are in the clicking mode, why not give Ms. Burdorf a follow on social media?

Twitter: I have a twitter account but never use it. I started it on a dare from a fellow author and think it is @susanburdorfauthor

Facebook: Susan Burdorf

Pinterest: Again, I have an account but never pin a thing

Website: In development

Blog: None at this time. Will have one when the website is completed

YouTube: I am actually getting one set up asap

Google +: Susan Burdorf Author

Other: Amazon author page

If you have any questions for Susan, pop them into the comments below! She’ll love hearing from you.

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

Jo

Scheduling and Planning for Maximum Efficiency

Happy Thursday, good people of the blogosphere! Today, I’m sharing with you a little tip I read over on The Book Designer. If you aren’t familiar with that blog, go check it out right now. Joel is a wealth of information on self publishing, book formatting, book covers, and typography. It’s worth your time to browse around.

Anyway, one of the posts last week was about planning your blog posts (they were talking to market a book, I’m talking just planning). I used to do this, and seem to have fallen off the wagon since the move. Actually, everything has kinda been bananas around here since the move, UtopYA, and changing the kids’ bus times and stuff around. I’ve been in headless chicken mode.

Why? Because I didn’t take the time to re-schedule my life. To be fair, the kids did just go back to school a couple weeks ago, and I didn’t know what time buses would run, etc…

I don’t have that excuse anymore.

So, scheduling it is! You all know how much I love schedules. I’ve written about scheduling your day down to the minute so you’re able to be more productive, and there’s a post here about scheduling your social networking time so you can hit everything in a week. I even went as far as restructuring my schedule here once I got where I wanted to be search-wise.

That schedule has now been printed off and will be used to create a schedule like the one I shared on ChaBooCha (first link above). I’ll also be scheduling in my editing/proofreading on a separate sheet so things are interchangeable when I have a job to do on that end.

Here’s hoping.

How about you? Do you schedule like that? Would you like to? What’s stopping you?

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

Jo

Book Review - Resist

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Today, I’m bringing you another book review. No, this one isn’t from my review list. I’m working on Scott Marlowe’s The Five Elements (The Alchemancer: Book One) in that pile. I think, from this point forward, I’m gonna put all the titles in a hat and draw one every time I finish the one I’m reading. His book, I’m about halfway through. So we’re getting there. If you’re late to the party, I’m referring to my 12 Days of Christmas review pile that’s part of my list on the Indie Fever 2014 Reading Challenge. We commit to reading a certain number of Indie books every year and reviewing them. I love taking part. It’s really an awesome thing to give back.

As always, I’ll start with a little bit of information about the book up for review:

Title: Resist (Harvest Saga - Book 2)

Author: Casey L. Bond

Genre: Young Adult Dystopian

Length (print): About 213 pages

Buy links: Amazon Kindle $2.99

Synopsis:

Abby Kelley returns home from the Greater city of Olympus to find that things in Orchard Village are bad, very bad. The Olympian Guard has taken over village affairs. The Lessers are being worked to the bone in the coldest winter Orchard has seen. Villagers are being dragged away for the slightest indication of what they call “resistance.” She needs to keep her head down and her mouth shut. But, it’s so hard to do when everything within you screams rebellion.

Kyan is coming on strong, trying to convince her to take a chance on him. Shocking news of Crew’s activities in Olympus sweeps through the Villages. When Abby is taken away by the Olympian guard, Kyan sends word to Vesuvius for help. But, no one could have predicted their idea of help or what they might expect in return.

Who will be left to pick up the pieces of Abby’s heart?

Resist is the second book in The Harvest Saga series by Casey L. Bond. It is highly recommended that you read Reap (book one) before reading Resist.

***Will not appear in review elsewhere. Holy wow at the covers on these books, huh? While the type treatment is weak, the imagery is awesomesauce. I can’t wait for the third installment. I must know how this ends! I reviewed Reap and you can see that on my blog here.***

I ran out and bought Resist the day it went on sale. I loved Reap, and couldn’t wait to continue the story of Abby, Crew, and Kyan. Casey is quickly becoming a go-to author when I’m in the mood for a great story. Enough of my rambling! I’m sure you’re eager to hear about the story.

From a Reader’s Perspective:

Let me tell you, there were some major shockers in this book. They had me putting my hand to my mouth and gasping for air. This is an edge-of-your-seat read for sure. Many times, I find the middle book in a series lacking punch. They kind of go tra-la-la to move the plot along, and there’s nothing interesting on the pages. Resist isn’t one of those books. It’ll keep you biting your nails, cringing, and tearing up over and over again. Pacing is spot on, and I wanted more when I hit the last page. As in Reap (book one), the world building is awesome. I love that there are more than one Greater factions in control of the Lessers. It made the twisty plot even more of a page turner. Warning! There is a cliffhanger. It’s a big one. So, if you don’t like that sort of thing, wait for the last book to come out before you start reading. If you don’t mind, pick up these books ASAP.

From an Editor’s Perspective:

So many errors in the writing. Mostly punctuation and pronoun confusions, but there were a few oops moments that should’ve been caught. Example: Even though it was only a rouse, she would be hurt. This should read: Even though it was only a ruse, she would be hurt. Sadly, what would’ve been a 5 star book, is dropped to 4 because of the errors. I had to turn my inner editor off.

Rating:

1 Star for keeping me on the edge of my seat

1 Star for awesome twists I was blindsided by

1 Star for world building

1 Star for pacing and wonderful conflict

-1 Star for editing

Overall: 4 out of 5 stars. A fantastic read that’ll keep you gripping your chair despite the writing errors. Recommended if you can look past writing errors and really get into a story.

Have you read it? What did you think?

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

Jo

Improving Your Writing with a Journal

Happy Monday, good people of the blogosphere! I hope you all had a super fabulous weekend and are ready to kick the week off with a bang. Today, I’m gonna talk to you all about keeping a journal and discuss how it may help you in your writing life. So, grab those pens and notebooks and let’s get going!

Journal 

/ˈjərnl/ 

noun

1. A newspaper or magazine that deals with a particular subject or professional activity.
2. A daily record of news and events of a personal nature; a diary.

As you can imagine, I’m talking about the second definition of the word. But we’ll take it a step further and add to that definition. Now, it’ll read: A daily record of news, events, and emotions from a singular individual of a personal nature; a diary.

If you take five to ten minutes a day and write down your feelings or news topics that piqued your interest, you’ll end up with an invaluable resource for your novels. I’ve talked about creating a feelings bible before, but this is something different.

Because you’ll be writing in it every day, those emotions will be fresh. Feelings you had will still be on the tip of your fingers and ready to be slapped down on the page.

How does one journal feelings?

Think about a particular incident where you were taken aback by the reaction you had, or consider how something might have made you over-the-top happy. Write down what happened, then go on to describe your feelings about it in vivid detail.

Engage all five senses when you write these things down: Smell, Taste, Sight, Touch, Sound.

Go bananas. If you were angry, let it all out. Be real because you’ll only be lying to yourself if you aren’t.

What you’ll find, after a month or so, is that you have a wonderful record of situational impact on a human being’s emotional state. You’ll know the situation, the players, and the results. Not only that, but you’ll be able to recall things that interest you as a person.

You can also go sit in a cafe or coffee shop and journal other people. Yes, you’ll have to guess about their feelings; but, chances are, you’ve been in a similar situation and can get pretty close to the physical fallout of a given situation. If you’re an outgoing type (most authors aren’t haha), go ask the person how they’re feeling and write it all down. Take note of their facial expressions, posture, and vernacular.

Once you have this gem of a written record, put it somewhere you can get to it when you’re stuck on a particularly emotional scene in a novel. If you already have a feelings bible, add some of the content from the journal.

I promise, it’s never a waste of your time to get in touch with Human Nature (that’s a link to another blog post series I did on the Jo Michaels blog that will give you some awesome insight into what makes us tick).

What do you think? Do you already have a feelings bible or journal? How has it helped?

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

Jo

A Young Adult Christmas Anthology

Happy Friday, good people of the blogosphere! Today, I’ll be in my writing cave producing a short story for an anthology hosted by the ever affable Allyson Gottlieb. This post will be short. If you don’t know who Allyson is, click her name to read my interview with her.

Anywho, I’m gonna give you a little information about my title that’ll be included in this awesome collection of works (and there are some amazing authors in this book — official list TBA).

imageTitle: The Frivolity Fairies

Genre: Young Adult Paranormal

Length: 6k-10k words

Short Description: What happens when fairies pay you a visit on Christmas Eve? Shirley Beaux is about to find out what the creatures behind her mother’s Christmas bedtime story are really all about.

Releases in November of this year (exact date TBA). We also don’t have a working title for the collection yet. I’ll be bringing you more information as we get closer.

The price? That’ll also be determined later. However, all proceeds will go to charity. That’s right, every author is donating their stories!

How exciting is this? Kudos to Allyson for the great concept and her generous heart.

If you’re a writer: What anthologies do you have coming out?

If you’re a reader: Do you enjoy reading anthologies?

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

Jo

Unofficial UtopYA Con 2015 Author Interviews to Start Soon

Happy Wednesday, everyone! I’m just taking a moment today to let you all know about the upcoming author interviews that’ll take place here on the blog. Like last time, I’ll have authors who intend to be at the next UtopYA Con on the blog, so you can take a moment and get to know a little about them. Get your tickets and find out more about the con here. Next year’s theme is time travel, and promises to be a cool experience. You can see from the poster, the con has been extended to four full days of awesomesauce, too! While I’ve made a page here on the blog for the dates of the interviews leading up to the con, I’m gonna give them to you now:

Susan Burdorf - August 25
Kelly Martin - September 8
Liz Long - September 22
BJ Sheldon - October 6
Christina Mercer - October 20
Sharon Rose Mayes - November 3
Kelly Risser - November 17
Devyn Dawson - December 1


Break! Merry Christmas! This will be my 12 Days of Christmas event on the blog. Very fun!

Casey L. Bond - December 29
Casey Peeler - January 12
Rachael Brownell - January 26
Kristina Circelli - February 9
Megan Curd - February 23
K.C. Neal - March 9
Inger Iversen - March 23
Natasha Hanova - April 6
Mindy Ruiz - April 20
Christal Mosley / C. Marie Mosley - May 4
Erin Hayes - May 18
Toni Lesatz - June 1

How exciting is that list? Those folks in bold are the ones who were with us last year. Yeah, I’ll have the inside info on a couple of them (because now I’ve met them and watched from afar). No, they didn’t know I was watching. *evil grin*

You’ll also see a bunch of new names up there. I’m so excited to get to know some of these ladies better. As I progress through the ranks, I’ll update the page with links and photographs. How exciting is that?

Do you see the break up there for Christmas fun? I’ll be doing things a bit differently this year, and giving away books from the authors from last year I gave four or five stars to over the course of 2014. Yes, I’ll still include my own books; but I’m all about paying it forward and changing things up to keep them fresh for you all. More details on that as we get closer.

I’ll announce the winners of my birthday Rafflecopter giveaway tomorrow. Come on back for that!

Are there any authors on the list you’re looking forward to hearing from/learning about?

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

Jo

Book Review - Unhinged

Happy Tuesday, good people of the blogosphere! Today, I bring you another book review. Bet you’re excited about this one, huh? I read Splintered, the first book in this series, back in March of last year; but I never wrote a review. Since this isn’t a new (or Indie) author, I can’t include this read in my Indie Fever Reading Challenge goal for this year; but, the kidlings go back to school Monday, and that means more reading and writing time for Mama Bear. I’ll be finishing up some books I have in progress (I read more than one at a time), and I’ll be bringing you lots of reviews very soon. Anywho, enough of all that, let’s get to what you came for, shall we?

A little about the book up for review today:

Title: Unhinged (Splintered Book 2)

Author: A. G. Howard

Genre: YA Fantasy/Fairy Tales

Length (print): 400 pages

Buy Links: Amazon Kindle $9.99  ~  Hardcover $14.00

Synopsis:

Alyssa Gardner has been down the rabbit hole. She was crowned Queen of the Red Court and faced the bandersnatch. She saved the life of Jeb, the boy she loves, and escaped the machinations of the disturbingly appealing Morpheus. Now all she has to do is graduate high school. That would be easier without her mother, freshly released from an asylum, acting overly protective and suspicious. And it would be much simpler if the mysterious Morpheus didn’t show up for school one day to tempt her with another dangerous quest in the dark, challenging Wonderland—where she (partly) belongs. Could she leave Jeb and her parents behind again, for the sake of a man she knows has manipulated her before? Will her mother and Jeb trust her to do what’s right? Readers will swoon over the satisfying return to Howard’s bold, sensual reimagining of Carroll’s classic.

***Will not appear in review elsewhere. Holy crap at the covers for these books, huh? I love, love, love them. They’re all so very close to monochromatic, the cover for Splintered was the same (but green), and the next one in this series appears to be red. Booyah. I have an idea where that story may be going by the image on the cover alone. Red is a bad lady. *grins* I love it! This book gave me chills as it carried me along on its back through a mad, mad world.***

Let’s get to the review, shall we?

I was browsing through Barnes and Noble when I spotted this book nestled among the titles in the Teen section. Of course, because I’m me, I picked it up. Bad decision (ask my husband and kids), because I couldn’t put it down once I picked it up it fell into my hands. A. G. Howard is becoming one of my favorite authors through this trilogy. What did I love? Well…

From a Reader’s Perspective:

Wow. I got completely sucked in by the descriptions and world building going on in Unhinged. Several times I caught myself closing my eyes for a moment to get a more vivid picture in my head of what was going on around Alyssa. She’s one tough cookie, and I can’t help but root for Morpheus in the crazy love triangle going on. There are no middle book blahs going on here. This story was funny, fun, and contained all the wonderful madness of Splintered. I wasn’t disappointed, and I can’t wait to read Ensnared in January. When the end happened, I wished for more book right away. Unhinged totally left me with a book hangover for a couple of days after I was done reading it. I liked how the second book built on the first one and set me up for the third. Jeb was kind of annoying. I know, sad to say, but I’m crossing my fingers for Alyssa to take her place in Wonderland as queen with Morpheus by her side. I had one of the little twists figured out by the middle of the book, but it was no less thrilling. You’ll enjoy the creepy factor. This isn’t a retelling of Carroll’s story, it’s a total re-conception of why, who, and how, building on Alice’s ancestors.

From an Editor’s Perspective:

Just a pronoun misplacement or two; nothing to write home about.

Rating:

1 Star for edge-of-my-seat world building

1 Star for giving me such likeable characters I don’t know which one to root for

1 Star for just enough description without going overboard

1 Star for pacing, tying things together with book one, and setting me up for book three in a non-irritating way

1 Star for great editing

Overall, 5 out of 5 stars. Recommended if you dislike retellings, but love great spinoffs, of classic fairy tales.

I hope you all enjoyed that little review!

Have you read any of the books in this series?

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

Jo