Jo Michaels ~ Author

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

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

$.99 “I’m fighting for you. I’m fighting for us. So what are you waiting for? #SomethingGreat  http://thndr.it/1qGJAZd

$.99 “I’m fighting for you. I’m fighting for us. So what are you waiting for? #SomethingGreat http://thndr.it/1qGJAZd

Last Chance to Enter!

Happy Monday, good people of the blogosphere! I hope you all had a super awesome weekend. Just leaving you a quick note to remind you about the giveaways going on. I’ll be back tomorrow with a book review of Unhinged by A. G. Howard. How exciting is that? Without further ado, here are the deets on those giveaways:

Giveaway #1:

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

Sanctuary

Falling for Autumn

Sir Edric’s Temple

The Bestiarum Vocabulum

Chasing Shadows

Giveaway #2:

Review here.

This is a companion novel for Falling for Autumn.

Now, for the Rafflecopter entry forms. Good luck to you all!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

Jo

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