Friday, December 28, 2012

Fake Reviews

I was reading this article recently about fake reviews on Amazon.

http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/technology/technology-news/amazon-cracks-down-on-sock-puppet-reviews-20121224-2buev.html

I never worry about fake reviews. If you take your time researching each book before your purchase it, then you should be able to get a general idea of whether or not you'd like a book before you purchase it.

1. Read multiple reviews. Don't buy a book because you read one five star review.

I read both five star and one star reviews before I purchase a book (and some reviews inbetween.) I usually assume all reviews are biased if they only have positive or only have negative things to say. So I take those reviews with a grain of salt.

I also look at what the negative reviews are saying. Something that annoys another reader won't necessary annoy me. For instance, I passed on a book once because the negative review was that the author lectures the reader too much on religious issues. It's not something I want to think about when I'm trying to relax and read. But another negative review for another novel I read once said that there was too much gore and sex in a novel. I'm very comfortable with any level of gore and sex, so the negative review didn't bother me and I decided to purchase the book. And yet another negative review for another book told me once that there was horrendous spelling and grammar for the book. I looked at the sample and it looked fine. That person probably found a couple of mistakes in the novel and was a grammar nazi who felt the book was ruined by that. I couldn't care less about a couple of mistakes.

I weigh the negative reviews and how annoying those books sound versus how intriguing the premise for the book is.

If the book is a retelling of a fairytale, which is something that I love, then people have to say something extremely horrendous for me not to try it. But if it's a mystery novel, which is something I rarely read, it doesn't take much for me to pass on it.

2. Remember that reviews are subjective.

My Dad is a judge and I asked him once how he can tell the difference between people who are lying in court and people who are telling the truth. He told me that it wasn't his job to tell the difference. He assumes everyone is giving their truthful view on how they saw the events occurring. The reason their viewpoints sometimes contradict is because people remember things and view things differently than one another. It doesn't mean any of them are lying.

In fact, he tells me it's more suspicious when everyone's story is identical because they probably rehearsed their story ahead of time.

So just because someone reviewed a book you hated with a five star review raving about it doesn't mean they are lying. And just because a book has both one star and five star reviews doesn't mean either side is lying either.

You just need to piece together the information you are given from all viewpoints of the book and figure out which viewpoint you are most likely to agree with.

Fifty Shades of Grey is not a book I was able to enjoy. After reading a third of the book, I was forced to put it down and doubt I'll ever pick it up again, but I don't think the people who gave it five star reviews are lying. They just view things differently than I do.

3. Read a Sample before you buy it. It's so easy to do with Amazon.

Agents do it all the time. They're able to figure out whether they click with an author and their writing within reading the first chapter. I can usually tell whether or not I'll like a book that quickly as well.

It's even better than reading reviews because it allows you to experience the book personally and form your own opinion.

4. I also use sites like goodreads that tracks books I like and want to read and gives me suggestions of similar books that I might enjoy as well. I don't enjoy all their suggestions, but when I put them through the above process, I can usually tell whether or not I will enjoy a book.

Also, trust a friend with similar tastes in books to what you have and their thoughts on a book more than any review you read online.

Suggestions from others can help a lot as well.

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Everything, like reviews, samples, and goodreads is just a tool to help you find books to read. None of them are foolproof and they aren't supposed to be. Use them right and they'll help you a lot.

Whether people write real reviews or fake reviews really shouldn't matter if you take the time to make sure you're being a smart consumer.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas


I hope your holidays are filled with love, regardless of what you celebrate!


This year, I have a holiday present for all of you. From December 25-27, Medusa's Desire will be free for anyone to download on Amazon!



Thursday, December 20, 2012

Exploring the Dark Side of Love

Congratulations to Sue H. on winning the Christmas Blog Hop Contest!

I've always loved everything to do with fairy tales-from their fantasy settings to their happily-ever-afters. Lots of authors have started to rewrite fairy tales lately. I buy and read those books like crazy. I want to read about the new takes on stories I grew-up with and loved. It's fun to see authors reinvent characters.

When I decided to re-write Greek Mythology, it was very different from rewriting fairy tales. Beloved characters exist in them like Hercules, Pegasus, Perseus, and more, but their stories don't always end happily.

I was asked to sum up in a sentence what the Death of Eros series was about recently. I thought about it and realized that it was best summed up in the words "Exploring the Dark Side of Love."

Greeks are famous for their tragedies, for the way they are fearlessly willing to explore the dark side of life. When I decided to write about Greek myths, I knew I wouldn't be true to the original stories unless I did the same.

So while there is giddiness in my novels, there is also depression. Bliss and devastation run side by side. There is security and jealousy. Both happy endings and sad ones.

It's hard to read about these things and I think that's partly because some of it is so real. While love is wonderful, it can also be dark. I explore both sides and try not to be shy about it.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Christmas Blog Hop Contest!


Visit the blog hop spot here

Yes! I decided to hold another contest. It's the month of December, so it's the best time of year for generosity.

You might not have won my last contest, but this time the prize is even better! A $25 gift card from Amazon and a copy of my novel, Medusa's Desire in any format of your choosing.

You'll have to hurry and enter, since the contest will only be lasting for three days starting on December 14th!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Please enter! Don't make my dog, Izzy, beg.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Interview with Matt Sinclair

Today, on our blog, we have a special guest-Matt Sinclair, President of Elephant's Bookshelf Press, LLC, which releases short story Anthologies.


Name five random things about you.  I’m the father of twin girls; I grew up as a huge baseball fan with a seemingly encyclopedic knowledge of all sorts of trivia; I’m a lifelong Mets fan, which means I’m loyal even when it’s bad for my health; I’ve had several different musical groups, including solo ventures, but haven’t performed in public in fifteen years; I am an active volunteer with some widely different groups, including a Scottish arts organization and my hometown first aid squad, where I’ve been an active EMT for more than twenty years.

What was your favorite aspect of collaborating with other authors? I enjoy the whole thing about these ventures – the solicitation of stories, reading them, the thrill of acceptance for both the writer and for me, and receiving the final product. I don’t think anything beats holding that final work in your hands.
 

Was it a difficult decision to choose whose short stories to include? Yes and no. In Spring Fevers and The Fall, the quality stories were immediately apparent. But we also received many “pretty good” stories that we ended up not accepting. The decision can be difficult because you’re trying to decide whether to invest a copy editor’s time and energy in a story and balance that with the other stories that demand time and attention. Plus, with The Fall, we were well aware of the number of potentially similar stories we might receive because of the nature of the theme. We wanted the final stories to stand on their own, in a sense, and feel unique and distinct.

What is the Fall about? It’s a collection of stories that envision the apocalypse. How we interpreted that was stretched a little here and there, but basically it was about individuals or societies in the midst of or in the wake of total change. One thing I looked for in each story was whether the values of those individuals or societies changed as a result of the challenges ahead of them. And was change a good thing in that situation? But in this collection, we made sure to bring a fair amount of humor and fun to the end of the world as we know it. Jean Oram wrote what essentially is a short romance. Mindy McGinnis posited what God might do if he had an iPhone. And Cat Woods penned an amusing story about a Little League game between little saints and demons. But we also have Judy Croome’s story, “The Last Sacrifice,” which is decidedly not amusing. It’s pretty grim, and I think folks will either love it for the exquisitely crafted tale of faith and family that it is or hate it for the cruelty and seeming willful ignorance that some might infer.

What makes it different than other short story anthologies? That’s hard to say. I think most anthologies include stories that make you pause and some that you just smirk and say ‘That was nice, what’s next?’ But I believe that what distinguishes The Fall is the quality of the writing. There are stories here that I believe could have been published in well known literary journals. I’m proud to be the publisher and I keep working to get them in front of people who haven’t fully understood what this new publishing revolution can mean for writers. This is an opportunity to get your work in front of millions of eyes, but the power is in collaboration.

When did you become interested in stories about the Apocalypse? Well, I’ve always been intrigued by life and death situations and the challenges that people face as a result of them. Frankly, I think most people are curious about how the end of the world will come and what it might look like – and whether we can stop it. I’ve long been a reader of science fiction and fantasy, but it’s not so much for the other worldly elements – lord knows I love well crafted world-building – but rather the sense that humanity and truth are universally significant. To me, a well written apocalyptic tale should leave you wondering what the hero of the tale will take with him or her to show that the world of the past wasn’t lost in vain.


Want a free book? Elephant's Bookshelf Press also released a short story anthology you can try for free called Spring Fevers.

Find it on Amazon or on Smashwords.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Interview with Kathleen Morris and Announcements!

I just want everyone to know real quick that the winner of ***E.B. Black's Early Christmas Giveaway*** was Dan D. Congratulations Dan!

And that my blog tour starts today. If you'd like to follow me as I hop from blog to blog, my schedule is post here: http://enchantedbooktours.eternalised.net/2012/12/tour-schedule-medusas-desire/

Anyway, today I have a special guest on my blog, Kathleen Morris, a Christian Fiction author.



When did you start writing?

I started writing probably about fifteen years ago when my youngest was three. I wrote for a small town newspaper as a correspondent. I didn't make much money but I loved it. Then I just found myself writing more and more. I began to write plays and some of them were performed in my church. One of my plays titled Gotta Love It  won Saskatchewan's Rural Writing contest and was performed by The Dancing Sky Theatre in Meacham, Saskatchewan. It was thrilling to have a professional theatre troupe perform my work. I guess it all spiralled from there. My family and I moved to an acreage as the kids started getting older and I decided to try my hand at writing a book. That's when Deep Bay Vengeance was born. It took me a couple years but I did it. And then it's sequel was born: Deep Bay Relic. 

You talk about your books like they are your children. Why is that?

Yes! I like to refer to them as my children. Every word, every sentence, every chapter was uniquely crafted together just like when you're expecting a baby. It takes a lot of work to grow a baby. Nine months of watching your stomach grow. It took me a lot longer to grow my books but little by little I watched it get bigger and bigger until it became a real story. And the characters in it grew as well. One by one they were born. Writing is a deep personal thing really. So much of myself comes though without me even realizing it. Bit by bit the books takes on a personality of their own until one day, labour starts and a newborn story is born. My story, by characters, my baby. They hold a special place in my heart. That's kind of strange I know. People call me crazy. That's okay, I kind of am. You have to be if you want to write. But I wouldn't have it any other way. 

Why do you write Christian fiction?

I settled on writing Christian fiction because my faith is important to me. I want everyone to know God. I've been through a lot of hard things in my life and without God, I wouldn't have made it. I really believe that and I want other people to have that as well. So, I write Biblical truths into my character's lives and God's love into every story I write. 

What process of writing do you use?

Well, I'm a non-traditional writer. I don't like to pre-plan anything. I don't have charts and notes or anything like that. I sit down and place my fingers on the keyboard and start to type. I've talked to other writers who can't understand my technique but that's okay. Every writer is different. I guess for me, I just love a good surprise. I like not knowing what is around the corner or who will get into trouble next. The best way to describe the way I write is, writing by the seat of my pants. Usually I shock myself by writing a character off that I didn't expect to. I've cried my heart out over the death of a character I didn't intend to kill off. It's crazy I know, but that's part of the thrill of writing for me. I'm just as surprised as my readers when something bad happens. I like that! 

What do you think makes a good story?

I think a good story should have a little bit of everything. Though I like to write suspense/thrillers it wouldn't be a good book if it didn't have romance mixed with it. My characters also have to go through a moral struggle and come out learning a lesson. That is a must. And when I write, I like to leave a person hanging with something suspenseful. Each page, each chapter, has to grab me, and ultimately has to grab the reader. If it doesn't, I'm bored and I just don't read it. I think my readers feel the same way and so that is why I deliver that to them. 

What style of writing do you like best?

I like to write in the third person. First person bothers me. I guess because it doesn't sound real to me. I have to read and write realistically. I have a problem with fantasy. My kids make fun of me because I don't like fairy tales but that's just me. I've always been like that and I guess I always will be. It has to be realistic! I also like to get inside the heads of each of my characters and throughout the book I give each character a chance to tell the story through their eyes. 

Are you working on your next book?

Why yes, I am. It won't be a third book in my Deep Bay Series though. That series is perfect with just two books. My next series is called The Blood War Trilogy. I don't want to reveal too much about it. Not even the title, but what I do want to say is that it will surprise everyone. By that I mean, my topic is a bit wild for the Christian genre but God is still  in it. My characters will go through a great deal of pain and suffering in this one, but their transformation will be unique. Be prepared for an apocalyptic thriller with an amazing twist of fate. For the time being you can enjoy my new book of short inspirational stories that just went live via Smashwords Dec 3, 2012. It's called Size Seven Shorts. Self explanitory. Seven short pieces that will change your life.

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Size Seven Shorts (New Release)
Seven inspirational short stories that will change your life! Join in the spiritual journey through the adventures of Kathleen Morris, author of Deep Bay Vengeance and Deep Bay Relic, as she unfolds the many personal experiences and entertaining stories of her colorful life. Size Seven Shorts by Kathleen Morris. Get more info on Kathleen Morris and her book at Smashwords:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/261677


  Deep Bay Vengeance (Book one in Deep Bay Series)
 What would you do if your son got shot and killed right in front of you and nothing was done about it. Would you go after the killer? Would you seek revenge? Loretta Lancaster is a mother who's only son was murdered in front of her during a robbery and she wants the killer dead even if it destroys her soul! Deep Bay Vengeance by Kathleen Morris. Get more info on Kathleen Morris and her book:

Barnes & Noble : http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/deep-bay-vengeance-kathleen-morris/1113047331
Kobo : http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Deep-Bay-Vengeance/book-ef-uOPiV606fW6W1O6N1Aw/page1.html
Sony : https://ebookstore.sony.com/ebook/kathleen-morris/deep-bay-vengeance/_/R-400000000000000805360
Apple : https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/deep-bay-vengeance/id556042108?mt=11
Amazon : http://www.amazon.com/Deep-Bay-Vengeance-ebook/dp/B0099DS0NI
Diesel : http://www.diesel-ebooks.com/item/SW00000216343/Morris-Kathleen-Deep-Bay-Vengeance/1.html
Smashwords : http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/216343







Deep Bay Relic (Book two in Deep Bay Series)
 What would you do if you met the Loch Ness monster? Carla Reece did when she went with her boyfriend on a treasure hunt in the deepest lake in Northern Saskatchewan. Not only did she see it face to face, but it pulled her down in the water and clenched its teeth around her ankle. It wanted her blood, wanted her soul, and all because of sin. Deep Bay Relic (Book 2 in the Deep Bay series) by Kathleen Morris. Get more info on Kathleen Morris and her book:


Barnes & Noble : http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/deep-bay-relic-kathleen-morris/1113047330?ean=2940044812420
Kobo : http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Deep-Bay-Relic/book-E5K7t36S_0iBdySJW3wE6w/page1.html
Sony : https://ebookstore.sony.com/ebook/kathleen-morris/deep-bay-relic/_/R-400000000000000795052
Apple : https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/deep-bay-relic/id556043183?mt=11
Amazon : http://www.amazon.com/Deep-Bay-Relic-ebook/dp/B0099E2DZI
Diesel : http://www.diesel-ebooks.com/item/SW00000216350/Morris-Kathleen-Deep-Bay-Relic/1.html
Smashwords : http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/216350

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

E.B. Black's Early Christmas Giveaway!

It's almost December, which means Christmas is coming. Holidays mean lots of spending. Save a bit of money by winning a $20 Amazon giftcard (and a free copy of my book!) No purchase necessary!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, November 26, 2012

One Lovely Blog Award


Hello Everyone! Recently, I was nominated by Tricia Drammeh for the one Lovely Blog Award. She's an author, like me, with a book out called The Claiming Words. It has a beautiful cover! You should check it out.

She also interviewed me recently on her other blog, Authors To Watch, and has been a wonderful person to get to know! I'm thankful for her nominating me!

Here are the rules for the One Lovely Blog Award:
  • Include the blog award logo in your post.
  • Thank the person who nominated you.
  • Provide 7 random facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 7 other bloggers and let them know you have done so.
Seven Random Facts About Me:
  1. I love to watch professional wrestling and have seen several popular professional wrestlers in person! (I have a shirt signed by Dolph Ziggler.)
  2. I love ebooks and reading the news online. I hardly ever read anything on paper anymore.
  3. I have a liberal arts degree.
  4. I'm very close to my mother and father.
  5. I live in the middle of nowhere.
  6. Because I live in the middle of nowhere, I'm not on a sewer system. We use a septic tank and it's disgusting because it constantly overflows, no matter how much we try to fix it. So we pump most of our bath water and laundry water outside with a hose, instead of letting it go down the drain.
  7. I didn't get my driver's license until I was 25 years old.
Seven nominees for the One Lovely Blog Award:

This list is made up of a varied group of bloggers. Some are new at blogging, some have been blogging for a while. But they all have one thing in common: they are LOVELY. (Click on the names below to be magically transported to their lovely blogs)
I'd like to nominate anyone reading my blog. You're all lovely people and if you'd like to participate in this, I think you should!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Your Life Can Change In A Day - Medusa's Desire Available on Kindle!

Yesterday, I went to bed thinking that all I was going to do today was help my mother cook Thanksgiving food, feel guilty for eating too much when I'm supposed to be on a diet, and go on a long walk.

It was enough. I'm thankful to have all my loved ones here with me today. I love writing and talking to people on AQConnect. I've been meeting new people as of late and improving my outlook on life.

But fate had other things in store for me...I waited in long lines for the ingredients my mother forgot to purchase at the grocery store, laughed at my dogs cowering under the table to get away from the vacuum, and published my debut novel!

Everything fell into place in just the right way for Medusa's Desire to become available today.  Whether you purchase it or not, I'll still enjoy talking to you about writing, reading, and life, but for anyone who is interested, I thought I'd let you know it is on Amazon.



It all started the day her god raped her.

She transformed into an abomination through his touch. Her skin grew scales. Her eyes turned red. She screamed for help, but all who saw her became stone.

Medusa thought she would be alone forever, until the day a man came to kill her and fell in love instead. Now Perseus is running from those who hired him as he continues to love a girl who could kill him with a glance.

Buy on Amazon for $0.99

If you'd like to to read a sample of my writing before you purchase, I posted Chapter 1&2 of Medusa's Desire on my other blog:

Read Chapter 1

Read Chapter 2

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Twilight Series and Role Models

There's a lot of concern among many people about the Twilight novels and movies. Some view Edward's attitude towards Bella as abusive and controlling. They see Bella as weak because of her lack of supernatural powers and inability to leave Edward. They are worried because they see Bella as a bad role model. The topic has become a lot more popular lately because of the release of Breaking Dawn: Part 2 in theaters.

When people talk about role models in entertainment, it always gets me thinking. When I write novels, most of my characters are terrible role models.

Medusa (in Medusa's Desire) has a jealous rage that's strong enough to make her attack innocent people.

Perseus (in Medusa's Desire) is so obsessed with perfection that he'd rather hurt someone he loved than make a mistake.

Pandora (in Pandora's Mistake) willingly enters into abusive relationships.

Prometheus (in Pandora's Mistake) watches his brother abuse women and does nothing to stop it.

Sisyphus and Tyro (in Revenge for Sisyphus) had a relationship so unhealthy that it involves insults and physical harm to themselves and others.

Pegasus (in Love for Pegasus) is racist towards humans. Animals are superior in her eyes and we're the evil beings that make life harder for them.

I write these characters because they are easier for me to relate to. They aren't perfect. They do horrible things that make me cringe as I read about it. I don't want people to emulate them and their unhealthy behaviors.

I'm not going to give my opinion on whether or not Bella and Edward have an abusive relationship other than to say this. I'm a twenty-six year old woman. Most of my real life friends are well into their career and married. They have a stable life that I've always craved, often with children. And most of my author friends online are in very similar situations.

Right now, I don't even own a car. How embarrassing is that?

It makes me feel behind and immature. I'm supposed to be the strong successful woman who has her life together, but I'm struggling to put together a career in writing, balance my relationships, and get my life on the right track.

When I read New Moon, it was a breath of fresh air to me. Edward leaves Bella and she handles it as badly as she could handle it. She avoids her friends, wallows in misery, does suicidal things in order to hallucinate his presence, almost kills herself . . . . . .

And suddenly, I didn't feel so stupid for struggling with my own problems and worries. I'm not the only one who handles things badly.

Yes, I want to be strong like Katniss in the Hunger Games. I admire her abilities to take care of her family, control her emotions, and face death. I like that she doesn't care about her appearance and puts all her effort into the important things of life, like family and community.

But I'm not Katniss. I'm not strong all the time and sometimes when I'm comparing myself to her, I feel miserable because there's so many areas in my life where I still need to improve and feel like I *should* have improved by now. That's why I like "weak" characters and characters with faults to balance it out. So I don't feel foolish all the time.

The beautiful thing about literature is that it can give us people to look up to and people to relate to. It can show us the best in humanity and the worst. There's times to look up to a character and times to let that character's weaknesses touch your heart. There's times to be shocked and disgusted by their attitudes and other times to empathize.

Literature is a unique study on the world surrounding us right now. It shows us our values as a society and our weaknesses. It shows us what we strive to be and what we despise. It's what I love about fiction. The good kind gets into the deep and sometimes scary parts of society. It shows you parts of yourself that you don't want to think about and gets you to think.

It may not have perfect prose or perfect dialogue, but it reaches you just the same.

Friday, November 16, 2012

How To Get Lots Of Followers On Twitter

While I don't have the most followers on twitter, I've been able to almost double the amount of followers I've had in the past month (I went from 2,500 to 4,500 & counting.) Here are some tips to increase your followers quickly. (All of them are free, they just take up time.)

1. Follow Back - Let's face it. Unless you already have a large fan base outside of twitter, no one is going to want to follow you, unless you promise them something in exchange. So write on your bio that you "Follow Back" and then regularly follow back people who follow you first.

More people will find you and follow you without any action on your part if they know you'll follow back and they'll stay your followers for longer. But if you promise to follow back, make sure you do so promptly. Don't lie about it. That's how you get blocked. And don't unfollow them later if they follow you back, in order to "trick" them. That makes people really angry.

You don't have to follow back everyone. I don't follow back porn stars and porn sites that try to follow me regularly, for instance, but you should follow back 99% of people.

Don't ask for a shout out in order to follow back people. That's an extra step that people might not be willing to take, not to mention, I've given shout outs to enough people (and followed them), who didn't want to follow me back that people like me don't want to bother trying anymore.

2. Give Back - When you are following thousands of people, you won't have time to read all their tweets, even if you sit around all day, every day, doing nothing but reading tweets. But you should still make time, a few times per day (if you're short on time, you do it at five to ten minute intervals inbetween doing other things through out the day) to read tweets on twitter and interact with the people you are following.

I used to be stingy when I favorited tweets. I thought they had to be truly superb before I did so. Now I use the "favorite" button like the "like" button on facebook. Any time I see something funny or intelligent or something I can relate to on twitter, I favorite it. I retweet things that I think my followers might find interesting. I respond to people and start conversations.

Every time you do this, you make the person you responded to feel special. They'll be happy they decided to follow you because of it and more likely to buy your products (if you're selling something) or to want to talk to you (if you're just there to socialize).

3. Look at people with lots of followers - If you find someone on twitter who has 40,000 followers and is following around 40,000 people, then you can tell this person is good at finding followers who, in turn, follow them back.

This is something you need to do as well. Twitter has limits about the amount of people you can follow, but every time you gain a follower, that number rises. What I do, is follow around 500 people, wait a week to see how many of those people follow me back, and then unfollow the rest. Then I start all over again.

I find these people by looking at the followers of people who have thousands of followers and are following thousands of people as well. A higher percentage of those people follow me back than random people I find on twitter.

I also keep the number of people that I'm following who are not following me back, relatively low, like 100 or so, otherwise twitter won't let you follow people back or add people.

4. Justunfollow.com - I use this site almost every day. It helps me keep track of who I need to unfollow and who I haven't followed yet. I couldn't use twitter as well without it.

There are similar sites and you can try using those, but this one has been the best I've found.

5. Don't advertise all the time - As people get to know you, they'll eventually find out about your book or product as well. They'll be more open to buying it if they like you as a person first. If they never interact with you and all they see is advertisements coming from your account, they're likely to get annoyed and block you instead.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Six Things About Greek Mythology That You Probably Didn't Know

1. In some versions of the Medusa mythology, she had wings.

2. Perseus didn't ride Pegasus. Bellerophon did. Pegasus was born when Perseus chopped off Medusa's head out of the blood. He rode to chop off Medusa's head wearing winged shoes Hermes gave him.

3. The Titans were gods who ruled during the Golden Age, when humans couldn't die and could tell the future. By comparison, the ages when the Olympians ruled were not as good for humans. Yet the titans are usually portrayed as barbaric.

4. According to greek mythology, most of the world was destroyed by a flood, just like in the Bible. Deucalion built a chest, sometimes called an ark, to be rescued from the flood.

5. Prometheus, the man who was chained to a rock and forced to have his liver ripped from his body over and over again as punishment by Zeus for giving humanity the gift of fire, eventually escapes.

6. Artemis is not the goddess of the moon. Selene is.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Daydream Attacks

I've been reading many jokes on facebook from authors about how they hear voices in their head, the voices of their characters, and that the only reason they aren't in an insane asylum is because they are in a profession that values this quality.

I don't so much hear voices in my head as have daydream attacks.

For instance, my Mom was talking to me recently about one of her favorite television shows right now, Adventure Time. I'm always teasing her about liking it because my Mom is a goofy person and most of what I've seen of the show is random. She started talking to me about how one of the characters was in a candy land of some sort and how there was a zombie apocalypse during it. She started imitating some of the characters' voices changing as they transformed into zombies.

Instead of responding, I had a daydream attack where I imagined two people falling in love, getting married and vowing that they'd rather die than ever be apart from one another. Then there's a sudden scene change where three years have passed. The world has been thrown into a zombie apocalypse and they are running from a giant horde. There's pain in the husband's side because they've been running for awhile and he holds a gun in his hand. He knows it's the slowest people who die and not the fastest, so he shoots his wife.

I sometimes wonder if there was a zombie apocalypse who would be loyal to their loved ones and who would choose their own life over theirs.

I chuckle as I realize part of this idea was inspired because my brother is always joking about how if there was a zombie apocalypse, he'd want me to tag along with him because I'm slower than he is and I'd be the first to die. I always glare at him when he does that.

Then I blink, realizing time has passed and I haven't listened to a word my mother has said for awhile, but she's still chattering away because my Mom is capable of holding a conversation with herself.

Like I said, I have daydream attacks. I hate it especially when I'm supposed to be paying attention to stuff people are saying and a daydream attack nudges me and I go,"No! Not right now! I'm supposed to be listening!" But it's very persistent and nags me until I give into it. "This is important! You might want to make it into an outline later!"

Sometimes it's inspired by the people surrounding me or things they tell me and other times it just happens when I'm tired. Since I've been a teenager, daydreaming about stories has always been a way I can lull myself to sleep or recharge mentally after a tiring day.

So, do you have daydream attacks or "hear voices" of your characters or both?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

New NaNoWriMo Rules

This is a fun tag I came across on twitter: it's #newNaNoWriMorules.

If you don't know what NaNoWriMo is-it stands for National November Writing Month. It's a spree where writers across the world vow to compose a 50,000 word novel by the end of November, starting the first day of the month. The important part is not to write a perfect novel, but to meet your word count.

Lots of writers are talking about it on twitter and adding their own new set of silly rules. Here are some entertaining ones I've seen:

@danialexis: This year, you must replace all uses of "said" with "ejaculated."

@chuckwendig: -- This year, to "win" NaNoWriMo you must kill and eat five other aspiring authors.

@arogers907: You must write each of the 50 shades of your novel to win.

@chuckwendig:  -- Your novel must be fanfiction based on fanfiction.

@MauStCha::#newNaNoWriMorules 5 gazillion bonus points to peeps who write the entire manu w/out ever hitting 'Save As'

 @FebruaryGrace: In order to win you must let your mother read your entire, unedited manuscript. Aloud. To your grandmother.

 @JonathanDalar: To increase word count, up to 5 adjectives per noun may be used. "The road to hell is paved with adverbs" be damned! .

@schafecast: Yes I am using to make it a drinking game. For example take a sip everytime the delete key is pressed.

@awkwardjimmy: drink every time your protagonist has an emotion

@GamergrrlESL: : Get a shin kick in the shin for each redundancy. 

Any of you participating in NaNoWriMo? Or read something funny about NaNoWriMo online?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Ten Things Self-Publishing Taught Me (Guest Post)

I am pleased to have guest blogger, Bonnie Rae, posting today. She's a self-published author, whose second novel was released today! Be sure to check it out at the bottom of this post.


And be sure to comment as well. The first person to both comment and leave their e-mail address gets a free copy of her book!

Here's a list of tips she's decided to share about what self-publishing has taught her:

Ten Things Self-Publishing Taught Me

1. Create a deadline for yourself. Even if it is a relaxed deadline, you still need an end date to strive for.

2. Plan ahead. Make sure to give yourself a few extra weeks for bumps along the way. When I set my deadlines, I plan them so I have an extra month in there just for a buffer. Because let's face it, life happens and sometimes you can't get to your manuscript every day.

3. Know what you are talking about. This goes with any book really, but as a self-published author you are under the microscope far more than a traditional published author. If you need to research things for your novel, especially time periods, make sure you really do it right.

4. Have a support system of other readers/writers. Yes, critique partners and beta readers are a huge process in my novel creation. They let me know if the manuscript is flowing properly, if things don't make sense, and point out grammar issues. I would be so lost if I didn't have my network of CP's and betas. I know sometimes it can be hard to find the right ones, but never give up. Keep searching because they are essential. If you think you can do it without them, you are wrong. Close friends and family members do not count either. That is, unless they can be brutally honest without worrying if they hurt your feelings or not.

5. Hire a professional editor or editing service. You are not an editor and if you are, then you are lucky. Even still, you should have a different "professional" editor look at your manuscript. CP's and beta's don't count. I can't stress this enough, find an editor you work well with and do it. Sure, it might be a little pricey, but it's worth it in the end. I took the cheap route once with a person who claimed to be an editor. Let me just say I got my money's worth. Don't sell yourself or all the hard work you did writing the novel short. Also, do a little background research on your editor or editing service. Make sure they know what they are doing and you are getting the entire bang for your buck.

6. You need a good cover. People like pretty things. I'll admit that I will take a chance on a book just because it has an awesome cover. I am not saying you have to spend thousands of dollars, but there are plenty of affordable sites out there that can create really wonderful book covers. Again, like with the editor, you owe it to your manuscript to do this right. I know it sounds cliché, but it's true. The more professionally done your novel looks the more likely people will purchase it.

7. Network! Social network, local network, anything where you can get your name out there and start making it known you're a writer. Yes, I mean twitter, facebook, blogs, and other social networking sites. Also, sign up to some forums or web groups for your genre of writing. Trust me, it helps. I know social networking can be daunting for some, but we can't stop the world from moving forward into the digital and internet prone age. Also, find a local writing group and join it. Being around other writers is a wonderful thing. They understand what you mean by "all the voices in my head" and won't look at you like you're crazy. Plus, go to some writing conferences. I love conferences. You can learn so much from all the different workshops and meet some pretty amazing people. Most writers, me included, are introverts. You have to break out of that shell. It's scary, but it's worth it!

8. Develop a tough skin. As I mentioned in number four, people will be brutally honest about your manuscript and hopefully in a manner of constructive criticism. However, once published some reviewers can be just downright harsh and make you question your ability about writing. Eat a tub of chocolate ice cream for the first bad review then get over it and move on. Your writing doesn't suck. Just because it doesn't sit well with everyone doesn't mean you should give up. There will be people who love your stories and there will be people who don't. Don't dwell on the negative especially if people are being cruel. Look for the positive criticism and move on from there.

9. Enjoy it. Why do we write? Because we love to. Self-publishing can be a crazy process sometimes, but don't let it scare you away from your ultimate goal. If ever you feel so stressed during the process that it is affecting your writing to the point where you dread sitting down and working on your novel. Stop. Take a breather and remember why you started writing in the first place. You were born for this. Even if you have to take a couple of days to just walk away from it all and relax. That's okay. You gave yourself some buffer time in your deadline, remember? So take some time to read or do other inspiring things. You'll come back refreshed and ready to take on the world.

10. Never give up. It's easy to throw in the towel when things get hard. All my life people told me becoming a published author was nothing more than a pipe dream. When I self-published my first book last year I laughed at all of those who told me it could never be done. Now, I might not be the next JK Rowling, but hey, I had a dream and I made it happen. I continue to make it happen. And you can too.  Love who you are and what you do and never give up.




Nether World was the last place Ava Walker pictured spending the rest of her life, but after her mother’s murder, she had no choice. In order to save her little sister, Ava made a deal with the Devil, an unbreakable vow to live amongst the darkness and demons in a city of steel and fire. She's lost everything. Her mother is gone, her sister and best friend are on the run, and Kaine, the fallen angel who stole her heart, was incinerated right before her eyes.

Life couldn’t get any worse.


But she underestimates Lucifer. He goes back on his word and asks Ava to do the unthinkable: commit herself to his service and be reborn as one of the very creatures she was destined to fight. If she refuses, those dearest to her heart will be sealed with a deadly fate. If she accepts, mankind doesn’t stand a chance.


War is coming, and Ava must make a choice: die or become Death





Friday, October 26, 2012

Writing Better Descriptions

I hate writing descriptions because I find them to be boring. When I'm reading books, if a description takes longer than two sentences, no matter how hard I try to concentrate, my eyes always glaze over.

Because of this, all my first drafts lack description. I write about the characters without taking the time to describe their appearances or the rooms they are in and fill in the details during revisions.

It took me a long time to learn that descriptions take hard work and talent to write well. It took me a long time to understand how important they are. Here are some tips to make your descriptions better:

1. Descriptions should be relevant.

Imagine a girl who is about to walk through a door.

If this is an ordinary door, like the door to her house, you shouldn't describe it. In fact, you don't even have to mention the door. You can just say that she walked into her house and the reader will automatically imagine an ordinary door in their mind with her traveling through it.

But let's say this door is special, that her father died while building it and that his blood still stains the bottom of this door, even though she's tried to scrub it out a million times. She always stops and stares at this door whenever she travels through it because it tugs at her heart and reminds her of the father she misses and the fact that his murder remains unsolved. This door should be described in detail.

Why? Because the door is relevant to the story and may even be the first clue in solving a mystery!

Cut out any description that isn't relevant to the story. Not only does it bore the readers, but you have to get in the mind of your character as well. Would he or she really take note of the details of a door if this door had no meaning for him or her?

If a normal person walks into a garden, they may notice many pretty flowers and all the colors. If a gardener walks into the garden, she would pick out each rose and carnation she sees and think about them. Write descriptions according to how relevant things are to your story and your character.

2. Descriptions aren't lists of adjectives.

She was pretty, slender, tan, blond, tall, blue-eyed, popular, friendly, crazy, immature.....

Adjectives should be used sparingly. If you use them too much, then the reader drifts off and gets bored.

"She had a warm smile" is better than "She had a warm, wide, friendly smile with dimples and white teeth."

Maybe all those things are true, but they're not all important and if they are important, then you can spread out the adjectives into other parts of the book. "She had a warm smile" can start you off and then maybe another character, her husband, comments on how much he loves her dimples later as he kisses her. Maybe she lectures the main character about brushing her teeth later and says that was the key to her having a white smile. But is always welcoming people into her house for dinner because she's friendly and loves to meet new people.

Mostly adjectives are a way to be lazy. You're telling the reader how to see the character rather than letting the reader get to know your character through the events of the story.

Don't expect your readers to know everything about your character all at once, let them get to know the character over the course of the book, just like it takes time and experience to get to know real people that aren't in books.

3. Descriptions should describe the unusual things about your character or setting.

People tend to use hair color, eye color, and skin color to describe their characters and nothing else. This is boring. Not only will most of us have a difficult time recalling the eye colors of most of our friends (because the color of one's eyes isn't important), but also, most of us notice other important details about a person that enhances their description and makes them unique if we add those kinds of details to our stories.

Like, let's say a character trembles every time she lifts a plate because she's getting parkinson's or she snorts when she laughs and wears glasses. A character might bite their fingernails regularly or constantly smooth their hair down while they speak to people. A character might pick their nose in public or cough so hard that their face turns red on occasion. Maybe she has a limp or is cross-eyed.

All those descriptions of characters make them unique and put a more vivid picture of a character's appearance in the readers' head. We're not simply a combination of hair, eye, and skin color, there's much more that makes everyone an individual than those three things. In fact, some people write descriptions that don't involve any of those three aspects of a person at all, but it doesn't make the character any less vivid in readers' minds.

4.  Descriptions should show more than just appearance.

They should also describe the personality of a character and the mood of the setting.

Here's one description:

The tombstones of the graveyard were lined up in rows. They cast shadows in the moonlight. There was green grass around them and flowers on the graves.

This is an okay description, but it could be better . . . .

The rows of tombstones seemed to stretch on forever in the moonlight. Goosebumps ran up my arms as I wondered if I should turn back. The green grass muffled my footsteps. The dead flowers on the graves told me that this wasn't a place where the living belonged, but maybe if I was quiet enough the corpses wouldn't hear them crunching beneath my feet.

The second description is better because it shows that the character is scared, it shows that the mood of the setting is that it's creepy and the main character is frightened by it. The first description doesn't show this on the other hand. It's just a list of traits that this graveyard happens to have: rows of tombstones, moonlight, grass, and flowers.

If a character has blue eyes, should you say "She had blue eyes" or "Her blue eyes gazed at me so coldly, they looked like frozen pools of ice." The second is better because it shows the character is potentially cruel and hostile. It's a better representation of not only her physical appearance, but her personality as well.

5. Don't forget to describe where in the room the characters are located.

I'm adding this because it's not something I've ever seen on one of these lists and yet it's something I've had trouble with before.

If one character is standing behind another, then state this. If a character is standing in the corner of the room, make sure to say this as well. If they're running across the room, spell it out.

I always imagine character placement in my mind, but often don't write it out. This causes a disconnect for the reader. They may be able to picture the character and they may be able to picture the setting, but they can't actually picture your character IN your setting. This is the glue that draws those things together and makes them one.

6. Don't describe your main character by having them look at themselves in the mirror.

It's cliche and has been done a million times. There are other ways to describe characters and it's usually best done during a description of an action a character is taking.

Like . . .

She charged towards the door until her broad shoulders came in contact. The door wouldn't budge. Her brown eyes narrowed in determination. He would not lock her out. She would get in there whether he liked it or not. Her brown hair flew behind her head as she slammed her body against the door again and it splintered into tiny pieces.

This describes the character as muscular with brown hair and brown eyes.

Also, if you sneak description into action like this, a reader often won't realize that they're actually reading a description because there's enough action happening to entertain them during it.

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If you'd like to read more articles on writing like this, please go to my site: The New Writer's Guide To Writing, Publishing, And More.

Monday, October 22, 2012

My Dogs Want To Build An Army

No writer is complete without a loyal pet (or two), like I have, so I wanted to talk about my two rottweilers: Izzy and Mika (pronounced Micah.) Here's their picture if you've never seen them before: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.222568421187620.46557.100003033921752&type=3 

Izzy loves everything that moves, but she's half pitbull (and looks it), so everyone thinks she's vicious. It doesn't help that she has this weird habit of barking at people for attention. She does it all the time to me when I'm reading because how dare I stare at books and not pay attention to her, but then people come over. She sees them and gets overexcited and either tries to bark at them for attention or throw her entire hundred pound body into their laps. And then she gets confused by the fact that they just ran for their lives. I don't blame them, it used to scare me when she did those things when I first got her, too!

She also doesn't understand why people hug one another without having her in the middle. Whenever my boyfriend and I hug, she's always right there, nudging our arms and trying to force herself in.

Mika on the other hand just licks people and not once or twice, but for long periods of time. I had a friend come over once, pet Mika only a little, but Mika in response licked her for an hour. I'm pretty certain from the violated look she had on her face that this was the reason she chose never to come over again.

And my dogs are always trying to adopt other dogs. Who needs children begging for you to keep the stray dog you found when you have two dogs begging you to keep every dog they meet? When we take them for walks, they whimper every time they pass a dog because they want to play with that dog, even when the dog is barking at them viciously.

I go,"Stop it! That dog wants to eat you!" But they don't get it because they think that dog is wonderful and it obviously must reciprocate their feelings. They whimper because we won't stop to let them have fun.

They successfully adopted a stray once, in fact, earlier this year. All of a sudden, when they were howling one day, there was an answering howl right outside our door and this super skinny dog was sitting there, waiting for our dogs to come out. The dog harassed us whenever we left the house and would keep my dogs up and barking all night because it would get lonely. It did this for a week straight. Eventually it had to be taken away.

My dogs were not going to stand for it either. It broke my heart watching them charge at the door and bark because they wanted to rescue the stray dog from being taken away. My dogs are so sensitive and like the title of this post says, I'm pretty sure they want to build their own dog army.

What did this post have to do with writing? Absolutely nothing! Except that my lovely dogs always keep me company while I'm writing.

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TODAY - I'm also on Angie Sandro's blog guest posting about what inspires me as an author and opening up about struggles that I never thought I'd speak about publicly:

http://anjeasandro.blogspot.com/2012/10/sharing-our-voices-eb-black.html

Monday, October 15, 2012

Update on Medusa's Desire

If you are curious about what my new book will be about, check it out here.

I just wanted to update everyone on the progress of getting my novel published. I hired an editor and finished editing the manuscript last week. I'm tweaking the formatting, but have to wait to upload it until the copyright goes through, which will take (on average) two and a half months, according to the site, so we're waiting on that.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mistakes

Being a writer can be extremely stressful. Sometimes it feels like every decision we make has the potential to destroy our entire career.

For instance, if you write a blog post and it has something in it that you know people will disagree with, you might hesitate before pushing the "publish" button. Or on twitter, you read someone commenting on something political. All you want to do is show them your support, but you also realize that some of your followers might read it and disagree. What to do? Keep silent? Will speaking up make everything blow up in my face? Or when you're writing a query and you've edited your hook more times than you've edited your book. The words are a jumbled mess in front of you, but you know if you don't get this right, you might never be published.

Any of those things sound familiar?

I've made mistakes. I do things wrong and so do other authors. I have regrets that my mind likes to torture me with on occasion. We all offend people sometimes, say things we wish we hadn't, write things that we later realize we could have made better. We disappoint people and lose readers.

But you know what? It's okay.

Because we're human and no matter what people tell you, one mistake won't destroy your career. It might cause damage or slow you down, but as long as you're willing to keep going and pick yourself up, then it will be okay.

During those down moments, if you give up, that's the only time when you can truly fail. Otherwise, opportunities to succeed will continue to open up for you. You just have to work hard and take risks.

Taking risks is scary. I've been terrified about getting my book out there and the risky things I've written about in it. There's quite a bit inside of it that has the potential to offend people.

Self-publishing, especially without querying first, means I have pretty much zero chance of ever publishing this traditionally. It means I'm taking a certain road with my career that I may regret later.

But should I sit here and be scared? Or should I take the plunge and learn from my mistakes?

Don't be scared to mess-up. Be scared of never trying.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Plot Bunnies

I know a lot of people hate plot bunnies, but most of my novels start out that way. Medusa's Desire, a few years ago, was nothing more than a jotted down sentence along the lines of: "Write a novel where Medusa is the hero instead of the villain. It should be a romance and maybe she's in love with Perseus." I daydreamed about it a little and really wanted to write it, but it wasn't developed enough at the time. It evolved as I studied the myth and let the idea build up, while I was finishing my previous novel.

I always deal with plot bunnies by jotting down my ideas in a word document to be looked at later. I'm usually working on something else when they come, so I don't have time to pay attention to them. I'm glad I do because I have a horrible memory. A few months ago, I remember looking through my plot bunnies and not remembering even half the stuff I had come up with.

I was a bit sad lately because although I have many outlines already saved on my computer, it seemed like all the plot bunnies had run away. It had been awhile since I had come up with something new, except this past week, things have been different. I've been waking up in the middle of the night or taking a nap and waking up and suddenly there are plot bunnies in my head that I need to immediately jot down before I forget them. It's very exciting.

What do you do with your plot bunnies?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Reading Firsts

No one forgets their first time. Wait, I think the person who made up that saying meant something else by it.

Regardless, there are many firsts in reading that I will never forget, like . . . .

The First Book I Ever Read To Myself And Enjoyed

If you've read some of my old posts, you already know that I didn't learn how to read until the summer before I was in the 3rd grade. I started kindergarten in a poor elementary school with bad teachers. We didn't do any work in our classes because the teachers had already given up on us. We ran around like wild animals instead. I remember my first grade teacher crying because she hated her job and the principal trying to comfort her. I felt bad, but I was just a kid. What was I supposed to do?

My family moved to a new area when I started second grade, where the kids knew how to spell "happiness", while I didn't even know how to spell "cat." My Mom got me a tutor that summer and I quickly caught on.

She bought me a book called "Ready....Set....Read!" I fell in love with it instantly.

http://www.amazon.com/Ready-Set-Read-Beginning-Treasury/dp/0385414161

I still remember the majority of the stories in that book because I re-read it so many times. I was reciting the poem about "Sheep in a Jeep" to my boyfriend the other day and he thought I was being weird.

My First Book Series

My father read to me a chapter every night before I went to sleep as a child. It gave me something to look forward to, especially since he was reading to us about Laura Ingalls Wilder. I quickly fell in love with her adventures on the prairie and insisted that we read all of her books.

http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Little-House-Nine-Book-Set/dp/0064400409

My family even visited her house once on a cross country trip. I was amazed by how small it was. I was a little kid, but the cabinets looked liked they were built for someone my height to use.

My First Chapter Book

The first chapter book I ever read was given to me by my grandmother. It was a book in the popular Sweet Valley Kids series. Little did I know, I'd wind up reading Sweet Valley Junior High, Sweet Valley High, and Sweet Valley University obsessively growing up.

http://www.amazon.com/Surprise-Sweet-Valley-Kids/dp/0553157582

All I remember was that they were having a slumber party because it was their birthday. I read the entire book in one day. It was only 80 pages, but that was quite a feat for a girl as young as me.

I told my grandmother that I'd already finished the book. She laughed at me and didn't believe me. In fact, no one in my family believed me, even when I recited the whole story to them.
 
The First Time I Stayed Up All Night Reading

I grew-up on Francine Pascal novels. Not only did I read all the Sweet Valley books, but I also enjoyed her Fearless series as well.


http://www.amazon.com/Fearless-Sam-Run-Francine-Pascal/dp/1442446315

As much as I tried to put the books down, whenever a new release came out, I'd stay up all night reading the book. I was addicted to reading about Gaia and her adventures. I loved her even more than I loved the Wakefield twins.

The First Adult Romance Novel I Ever Read

I will never forget this book or what the cover looked like. I found it by accident. I was only twelve years old and at one of my library's book sales where they let you take an entire box full of books for only five dollars if you want to. I was reading Sweet Valley High at the time and knew I wanted to read more romance novels. What I didn't know was that adult romance novels had sex scenes in them.

http://www.amazon.com/Secrets-Hazard-Sparhawks-Harlequin-Historicals/dp/0373289634
 

I'm pretty sure that the author would be upset that a twelve year old read one of her novels, but I loved it and started reading lots of adult romance novels as a teenager. (And then later I became an adult who read only Young Adult novels for awhile. This is backwards!)


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What are some of your reading firsts?