Monday, December 30, 2013

Discipline, Dialogue, and Diabetes

This week I've decided I hate the word discipline. It means forcing myself to do something repeatedly even when I don't want to.

This week was also the week that I found out that I have diabetes and had to add a whole lot more discipline to my life.

I lost my insurance last month (I'm working on getting new insurance) and therefore don't have any medication right now. So every day is a struggle, where I starve (I can only eat so many meats and veggies.) Then I poke myself repeatedly and hope to God that my blood sugar is less than 200 this time. (For a frame of reference, if a normal person ate an entire bowl of candy, their blood sugar would still be no higher than 140. When I eat a sandwich with low carb whole wheat bread, my blood sugar might be something like 200.)

I knew I was probably going to get it someday, but I honestly thought it wasn't going to be until I was 40 or older. (I am 27.)

I didn't realize until I got it how embarrassed I was to have it. Even though I know diabetes has more to do with genetics than the way you eat (my mother took care of herself all of her life and still got it), there's a stigma surrounding it. Because if you eat worse you get it sooner, but even if you eat well, you'll eventually get it anyway if you have it in your genes.

I don't want my friends to watch the things I eat or say I must have messed up in some way or I wouldn't be diabetic. I don't want them to analyze my weight and tell me if I had eaten less then this wouldn't have happened to me. I've heard people judge diabetes on multiple occasions. Even Michelle Obama decided to make it a part of her campaign against childhood obesity.

For me, diabetes means a lifetime of discipline. I know a lot about being a diabetic from watching my Mom and the truth is - diabetics eat sweets sometimes. It's pretty much impossible for humans not to mess up their diet on occasion, especially when they are on a diet for the rest of their lives.

In the same way, I must be disciplined as a writer. The difference is, this is fun to me. I mess up sometimes, but try to write every day. There's no such thing as being "done." Even when you finish a book, that glow may last for a few hours or days, but then it's off to start the next story.

I find myself facing the same frustrations in both writing and diabetes. Every day I have to put work into both and stay focused on doing the right thing. I had to get back into exercising because it helps my body process carbs and I also have to make time for writing. Sometimes I mess up and feel guilty afterwards. Sometimes I'm patient and feel like all of this is easy.

If every day, I am patient and work hard to do what I am supposed to, I will be rewarded in the end. It's just hard to see it when you are in the midst of struggling with discipline why this whole thing will be worth it.

I won't see a book right away when I start writing one or know the benefits of why I must keep my blood sugar low while I struggle with it, but the rewards are there. Eventually everyone who has discipline will be rewarded in the end.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Fun With Spam

Whenever you post your e-mail address in any manner online (like when you're an author and post it on your website) you receive interesting e-mails from spammers and especially scammers online.

I've already won and inherited millions upon millions of dollars supposedly. And I've been offered business opportunities and told many times that my accounts at banks I'm not a member of have been compromised. Along with my paypal (even though I don't have a paypal account with that e-mail) and other things have supposedly had security problems.

Sometimes I like to just read these letters and laugh hysterically at the poor grammar. I don't usually mock people's poor grammar, but when it's someone who can barely type English and is obviously trying to get personal information from me or money, it's hilarious!

The latest one I got was about how I supposedly purchased three things from some web-site and "If disturb please click here", I think they meant if this was false, I should click there.

They were offering me: "More Different models and Favorable price for your optional."

And "All in One Package, If Have plan let we know please."

I feel like running around and saying to random people "Let we know please."

But of course, maybe all these feelings are just because it snowed a lot where I live and I've been trapped in the house all day.

Another e-mail recently alerted me that I won the lottery (and yet they can't even tell me my own name) and that sharing that e-mail or any of its contents was strictly prohibited and I'd face consequences. I don't think e-mails can be copyright and I'm pretty sure if they weren't doing something fake and wrong, they wouldn't be afraid of me sharing the e-mail with others. I've been tempted to copy/paste the e-mail on here ever since.

Honestly, I just have a ton of fun sometimes, opening e-mails in my junk folder and reading all the bad grammar out loud to my fiance.

What about you? Do you ever laugh at your spam or scam e-mails?

Friday, December 13, 2013

My Immature Sense Of Humor

One of my weaknesses in writing is humor. I don't know how to be funny. While other writers are light-hearted and witty (people like T.J. Loveless and Janet Evanovich immediately come to mind), I'm sitting here writing serious stuff all the time.

I don't even know if I can be witty in my writing because the truth is, I'm scared to be. I've always had a sense of humor that was different than the people I know in real life. Until I met my fiance, who thinks that most of the jokes I crack are hilarious, I just assumed that I was too socially awkward to be funny. When people told me that they liked people that were witty, I always used to laugh in my head and go,"That's so not me!"

Sometimes I show people funny videos I've seen online. It doesn't really surprise me anymore when they roll their eyes or look bored. And there have been many times that I've cracked a joke and been met by shocked faces. Because in real life, I'm generally a shy person, so when I make a joke, most of the time people are surprised that I'm even speaking.

I think one of the worst instances of this was at my cousin's wedding shower a few years ago. We made fake wedding dresses out of toilet paper as a competition. I don't like taking competition seriously, so my team decided to be ridiculous. I was the model for the team, so they had to put the clothing on me. We stapled paper plates to the chest of my t-shirt, wrapped toilet paper around my skirt, and I grabbed a wine bottle. When it was my turn to "walk down the runway", I slurred my speech and acted like the drunkest bride ever. I thought it was hilarious, but I could tell my cousin thought it was kind of weird.

Then we were given sheets of paper where we were supposed to fill in the blanks with advice for the bride. I was a virgin at the time (although things have changed) with an immature sense of humor, so I thought saying something sexual would be funny and shocking. All of them said "Never-" and "Always-" with a few other words. There was a question that said "When you are married, never let your best friend ________" and I immediately thought "When you are married, never let your best friend have a threesome with you and your husband" because I've met several guys that I've heard say they wanted to do this very thing.

Then I found out we had to read the advice out loud and I thought no one was going to take it seriously because I had been acting ridiculous the whole night. Instead, all their mouths dropped open and they stared at me in shock.

One of my Aunt's said to my mother. "I think she's lying to you about still being a virgin!"

My Mom said she was so embarrassed and she says some pretty humiliating things on occasion. That's when I knew that I had done something really stupid.

It's moments like those that have made me think. "Wow. I'm really not funny at all." And makes me terrified to write anything silly. Because I'm scared people won't laugh.

It's why for months, I've been laughing at the fact that the ASIN number of my Pandora's Mistake book has the word "Boob" in it, but I haven't told anyone but my fiance. (The ASIN number is B00BRQINMI.)


I love stand-up comedy and have gone to a comedy club with my fiance several times within the last six months. What I fail to realize is that not everyone thinks those comedians are funny. In fact, it varies from crowd to crowd. Some nights they are met with silence, others they are met with laughter. People get offended by them, people agree with them. It's what happens when you try to be funny.

And there's nothing wrong with that. People may think that me laughing about the ASIN number of Pandora's Mistake is immature, but who cares?

Writers write to let go. To get stories off their mind. We want to express feelings, desires, and struggles through our writing. It's not about caring about what people will think, it's about art.

And whenever I get too scared about what people will think or whether my books will sell, it makes it impossible to write. It's why I'm too scared to write something witty or funny. But I should just let go.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Read Tuesday - The Black Friday Of Books!

Welcome RLL, a paranormal author, who has helped organize a great event for today (along with founder Chris McMullen), where readers can get books for cheaper prices than normal! Read the interesting questions I and other authors have answered in support of read Tuesday and find out more information about the event below!

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In support of READ TUESDAY, I'm answering my questions on other people's blogs. Writers chatting to each other on writing. Tedious or devious? Let’s have twenty questions, and find out. I've given different answers to the questions here:









1. Fire rages in your house. Everyone is safe, but you. You decide to smash through the window, shielding your face with a book. What is the book?



I decided the book would be nearest the window. If I scramble over a cupboard with my right hand reaching for the window, my left hand would go to a bookshelf containing...THE GREAT FIRE OF LONDON in 1666, by Walter George Bell.



2. Asleep in your rebuilt house, you dream of meeting a dead author. But not in a creepy stalkerish way, so you shoo Mr Poe out of the kitchen. Instead, you sit down and have cake with which dead author?



Graham Greene. He'd build a story around the purchase of the cake. Brothers, one Communist and one Fascist, walk into the same shop to purchase a cake for their mother. The Fascist is for sharing, but the Communist wants it all. Greene leaves some readers bemused.



3. Would you name six essential items for writers? If, you know, cornered and threatened with torture.



The correct answer to this question is NO. I can use that ploy but the once.



4. Who’d win in a fight between Count Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster? If, you know, you were writing that scene.



Gwangi.



5. It’s the end of a long and tiring day. You are still writing a scene. Do you see it through to the end, even though matchsticks prop your eyelids open, or do you sleep on it and return, refreshed, to slay that literary dragon another day?



I decide to write half-asleep and no one notices the difference. This may worry other writers, but I quickly adapt to the changing situation - increasing my output.



6. You must introduce a plot-twist. Evil twin or luggage mix-up?



Twin dinosaurs attack the airport baggage carousel, speeding the sorting process. Who saw that one coming?



7. Let’s say you write a bunch of books featuring an amazing recurring villain. At the end of your latest story you have definitely absitively posolutely killed off the villain for all time and then some. Did you pepper your narrative with clues hinting at the chance of a villainous return in the next book?



Twenty villains are lined up to take that cad's place.



8. You are at sea in a lifeboat, with the barest chance of surviving the raging storm. There’s one opportunity to save a character, drifting by this scene. Do you save the idealistic hero or the tragic villain?



I save Margaret Brown - because she's looking sinkable. She says I can call her Maggie. I mistakenly name her Molly. Could be the start of something.



9. It’s time to kill a much-loved character – that pesky plot intrudes. Do you just type it up, heartlessly, or are there any strange rituals to be performed before the deed is done?



I have standing stones shipped in.



10. Embarrassing typo time. I’m always typing thongs instead of things. One day, that’ll land me in trouble. Care to share any wildly embarrassing typing anecdotes? If, you know, the wrong word suddenly made something so much funnier. (My last crime against typing lay in omitting the u from Superman.)



Bizarrely, I killed a gunman in one sentence only for him to leap into the fight a mere paragraph later.



11. I’ve fallen out of my chair laughing at all sorts of thongs I’ve typed. Have you?



The answer carries a Beyond Adult rating. If you laugh after reading, you are too immature to be let near the statement.



12. You take a classic literary work and update it by throwing in rocket ships. Dare you name that story? Pride and Prejudice on Mars. That kind of thing.



Sleeping Beauty: A Princess of Mars. That feels like an answer someone gave. I'll try another. Goldilocks and the Three Clones.



13. Seen the movie. Read the book. And your preference was for?



Pepper in soup.



14. Occupational hazard of being a writer. Has a book ever fallen on your head? This may occasionally happen to non-writers, it must be said.



Several books rebounded from my head - the writing was THAT bad.



15. Did you ever read a series of books out of sequence?



I've stored books on shelves out of sequence and occasionally the wrong way up.



16. You encounter a story just as you are writing the same type of tale. Do you abandon your work, or keep going with the other one to ensure there won’t be endless similarities?



I could answer this question. It's just that I've answered it several times now, and I see a danger of writing the same type of answer. I think I'll have to abandon the work. Though I could check my previous answers to ensure there won't be endless similarities.



17. Have you ever stumbled across a Much-Loved Children’s Classic™ that you’ve never heard of?



Ice cream and jelly. There had to be a time in life when I'd never heard of it.



18. You build a secret passage into your story. Where?



Between the raindrops.



19. Facing the prospect of writing erotica, you decide on a racy pen-name. And that would be…



Lucy Lastic.



20. On a train a fan praises your work, mistaking you for another author. What happens next?



I warn the fan to keep hefting coal or the boiler-pressure will drop.



For E.B. Black's answers to my questions, visit REPORT FROM A FUGITIVE.

Here's a blog post on READ TUESDAY.

And here's a funny one on CONTACTING PEOPLE FOR READ TUESDAY.



Featured in the READ TUESDAY sale on December the 10th, 2013 - Neon Gods Brought Down by Swords and WITCHES. Both will be free on the day.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Blog Ring Of Power

Be sure to visit the Blog Ring Of Power on paranormal author Terri Bruce's web-site, where you can learn about a lot of authors and win lots of prices almost every day of this month, including a chance to win a copy of Medusa's Desire! It's very exciting!

Today's the first day of it, so don't miss out!

http://www.terribruce.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=49&Itemid=112

There will be posts on all the following blogs for it:

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Guest Blog - Jean Oram - Top Ten Truths About Small Towns

Yay! Everyone welcome Jean Oram to my blog! She's an author who has written some great books for women that I've enjoyed reading myself.



Having grown up in a small town (outskirts of a place with 100 people) and graduating in a class of thirty, I ‘get’ small towns. The good. The bad. The ugly.

Here are my Top Ten Truths About Small Towns:

1.     If your kid/dog/pet rock runs away, everyone knows which direction they went in, and when. (Plus, they may have even stopped them for you.)
2.     You don’t have to mind your own business because everyone else is already doing it for you.
3.     Good luck shopping on a Sunday.
4.     If you don’t look others in the eye and give them a head nod of acknowledgement or say ‘hello’ you may as well post a sign on yourself as an outsider or a snob. ;) And if you’re new to town, chances are everyone knows the who-what-where-when-why-how etc., of you before you’ve even unpacked.
5.     If you need anything, there are a ton of people ready to help. As the saying goes, there are many hands to help you up, but also just as many to help you down if you get too big for your britches.
6.     If you go somewhere and forget what you were going to do, chances are someone else will know and remind you!
7.     It’s difficult being an outsider/new, or being different, or not be related to everyone and share that small town history.
8.     People are helpful, friendly, welcoming, and protect their own.
9.     If you accept a small town, it will probably accept you in return.
10. Be nice to everyone. You never know when you’ll need them.


In Champagne and Lemon Drops, my first book in Blueberry Springs, Nash was the outsider and was reluctant to change his ways and the town knew it! They got right involved with Beth’s decision while the two were an item. (Sometimes small towns feel they know best.)

In Whiskey and Gumdrops (book two—and a new release!) we see the less meddlesome side of Blueberry Springs as the town pulls together to lift up Mandy.

I don’t want to spoil too much about the stories, so I’ll stop there. But I’d love to hear what you think of when you think of small towns? (A hard place to find good shoes? Or a place where you are wrapped in support and love?) Let me know in the comment section.

You can delve into Blueberry Springs for free with book 1, Champagne and Lemon Drops LINK: http://www.amazon.com/Champagne-Lemon-Drops-Contemporary-ebook/dp/B00BR3AT9G/), and continue the story with Whiskey and Gumdrops (book 2) ( http://www.amazon.com/Whiskey-Gumdrops-Blueberry-Springs-Contemporary-ebook/dp/B00GCDODSE/ )

Jean Oram loves to write romance as well as connect with other writers. You can find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jeanoramauthor as well as on her website www.jeanoram.com

Friday, November 1, 2013

How The Holidays Change

I noticed that the holidays change as you get older.

Halloween when you are younger is about dressing up and getting candy. I guess I could dress-up as an adult and most people do, but I usually don't have anywhere to go, so I don't. Sometimes my fiance and I use this as an excuse to watch a Halloween themed movie and buy ourselves a bit of candy, but Halloween doesn't have the same charm as it used to for me when I was a kid. It might be more fun when I have children and get to watch them experience it, but otherwise it goes by almost unnoticed for me.

Christmas kind of waned for me over the years. As a child, we got lots of presents, but I got older and my family stopped doing much for each other. My fiance has since changed that, so Christmas is more fun. He's very filled with the Christmas spirit and gift giving and it's infectious. But there's still the stress of money spent that you really don't have. I didn't deal with that as a kid.

On the good side of things is Thanksgiving. As a child, I thought it was boring. I had to visit people I didn't want to see and eat food I don't like. Turkey, gravy, rolls, and mashed potatoes have become my favorite foods since then. I enjoy cooking a lot now, so having a holiday surrounding it is a lot of fun to me. And nowadays, it means I can appreciate and spend time with the people I love the most.

Thanksgiving of last year was also the day I officially self-published my first book! So it's a very exciting holiday for me.

And in November, my fiance and I also celebrate the anniversary of when we first started dating.

So I'm excited that it's November!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Living Stereotype

Stereotypes are annoying. They are often untrue and offensive.

I think stereotypes are even more annoying when they are accurate.

I've been trying to blog lately and have found it difficult. Perhaps that is because I have a lot going on in my life. My fiance and I are looking to move into a new place closer to his work. We're trying to figure out how to save up for our wedding. I'm critiquing several novels and receiving critiques on one of my own as well.

And most of all, I am living an author stereotype. Pain breeds art and I've been struggling a lot.

I've seen many authors share some of their personal lives. Of course some things are inappropriate to share, like I'm not going to tell you about the last fight I had with someone close to me or rant to you about the time one of my friends annoyed me.

But I do want to be honest because I've seen other authors be honest about their struggles. And I feel closer to those authors than I feel to the authors who don't share anything.

Sometimes, as authors, we are given the advice that it's bad to share because people can be cruel on the internet. You can't erase what you post online, so people censor everything they blog. People can be cruel in all of life and you can't undo what you tell people in real life either. If you hide every time there's a possibility of that, you'll never connect with anyone...

I have struggled my whole life with various types of anxiety and depression. I've had panic attacks and obsessive compulsive disorder. Social anxiety, generalized anxiety, and other problems I'm not comfortable talking about.

And lately, things have been hard. I seem normal to most people, but my fiance has seen me cry and hugged me in the middle of the night.

The more books you write, I think the harder it is to write another book. You don't want to recycle old ideas. You also want to make sure every book you write is an improvement on your last book. You have the thoughts and dislikes of your readers hanging out your head, influencing how you write in the future. You put a lot of pressure on yourself to make this next book bigger and better than the last.

This is definitely not the only anxiety in my life right now. Things, like the fact that my fiance and I have a low income make moving into a new place difficult and scary, for instance. But worry over my writing is a very frustrating anxiety to have. Because it's sometimes how I vent frustrations. To some degree I've been struggling with writers block both on my blog and in my writing.

I'm critiquing right now, sure. But that's partly to try to help me with all the anxious thoughts that prevent me from writing what I want to. The fact is, I want to please my readers. Of course you can't please everyone and I don't expect all my reviews to be stupendous. I think success in writing is more about sales than your reviews. Lots of people hate Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey for instance, but I consider Stephenie Meyer and E.L. James to be much more successful authors than me despite the amount of criticism they receive. Because everyone has read their books. They are a part of pop culture. I don't expect that kind of success, especially in self-publishing, but I do want to sell more books than I sell right now.

Not to mention that I was recently given advice by authors that I look up to that you need to write a certain amount of books per year to get anywhere.

And that puts a lot of stress on me. I want to write for fun and I do still have fun when I write, but the thought "Is this going to sell?" is always on the back of my mind. And I keep saying,"Hurry! Writer faster!" And that causes my brain to shut down completely on occasion.

And I think that's leaked some into this blog. I've tried to write this post at least five times in the past two months and every time, I delete it. It's time to just write my posts, write my stories, and learn a little more each time. They're not perfect. I'm not perfect. I can't always write a blog on time. I can't always give you the story you want to read. But I will try and I have to accept that as good enough.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The SatNav of Doom

I'd like to welcome William Macmillan Jones back to our blog. Last time, he was kind enough to give me an interview. This time, he will be sharing what inspired him to write his newest novel, The SatNav of Doom.


Once again, the Dark Lord has a cunning plan. And once again someone else is going to have to carry it out for him: that's what henchmen are for, isn't it? To hench? Oh, and to be sent on the risky missions…

Not that this one should be risky. What could be easier than secretly inserting computer spyware into a laptop, using a Banned Underground gig as a diversion? The Tax Office probably does it all the time. But the Tax Office is not normally being chased for an unpaid credit card bill for a huge round of drinks. (That's the politicians. And the henchmen, of course.)

And it isn't just any laptop the Dark Lord wants to spy on either. The Government is struggling to find the way out of the Recession without a road map, and what better aid than a SatNav linked to a computer? If the Dark Lord can get inside information on future economic policy, maybe he can clean up and buy a new Mercedes.

Then there is a mystery: where did the time-travelling SatNav come from in the first place? What if the original owner wants it back?

Magic, mayhem and macro-economic policy collide in the latest surreal instalment of the acclaimed comic fantasy series, The Banned Underground.


http://www.amazon.com/The-SatNav-Doom-Banned-Underground-ebook/dp/B00F78VG8U


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Here's what the author has to say about what inspired his novel . . . .
 
It’s such a very simple question isn’t is? ‘What was your inspiration?’ And like all the best questions* it can be asked in a few words, and sometimes needs an enormous essay to answer. Normally at this point I get bored and come up with a trite reply, as I’d rather be writing more bad jokes. So this is it: I’ve got a series contract to fill, and needed a book at this point. So I wrote this one. The thing is, on one level that’s actually true. I do have a series contract to fulfil, and The Satnav of Doom just slotted into, well, the slot.

If I’m going to break the habit of a lifetime and treat a question seriously (sorry, that’s not entirely true. I always treat ‘What do you want to drink?’ seriously.) then of course there’s a bit more to it than that. I’ve got a small confession to make. I do occasionally read the reviews that get written of what I do. After reading The Vampire Mechanic, one reviewer commented that the series was improving and growing, but the jokes remained a little shallow. Now I wasn’t upset by that, because any author who is going to get upset by his/her reviews might as well hang up the keyboard. But it did make me think that perhaps it was time to get a little sharper.

Sadly, by training and the dreadful Karma built up in my last incarnation, I’m an accountant. Hence, large corporations and the Inland Revenue and the economy are never very far from my thoughts. Granted, they are frequently unprintable thoughts, of the sort that would occasion hefty use of the red pen and a rude retort from my editor, but that too is to be expected. So my thoughts turned to the economy. Particularly the heavily over-used phrase ‘The road map for The Recovery’ If the road map is going wrong, then a Satnav is needed…another artifact as self satisfied and useless as the average government. So this book contains – I hope – some jokes that are a little more pointed than previous books. If that goes down well, maybe the trend will continue. Actually I hope so, because I would like to see the series continue. I have the best fun writing the books, and now if they are going to carry on selling I think it’s time that a little more of myself, my ideals and attitudes, can be glimpsed by a discerning reader.

So finally, how about that for an inspiration to write a book? To use fictional characters to finally show a little of who the author is, what makes them tick?
What? It’s been done already? In that case, the idea of doing it again can’t be all that controversial, can it?

*Where are we eating? What are we eating? Where’s the manager, I want to register a complaint? Why does that phone system play such awful music when the caller is on hold? **

**Sorry, I have a habit of putting footnotes everywhere. At least I didn’t go for the title this time.
It’s such a very simple question isn’t is? ‘What was your inspiration?’ And like all the best questions* it can be asked in a few words, and sometimes needs an enormous essay to answer. Normally at this point I get bored and come up with a trite reply, as I’d rather be writing more bad jokes. So this is it: I’ve got a series contract to fill, and needed a book at this point. So I wrote this one. The thing is, on one level that’s actually true. I do have a series contract to fulfil, and The Satnav of Doom just slotted into, well, the slot.

If I’m going to break the habit of a lifetime and treat a question seriously (sorry, that’s not entirely true. I always treat ‘What do you want to drink?’ seriously.) then of course there’s a bit more to it than that. I’ve got a small confession to make. I do occasionally read the reviews that get written of what I do. After reading The Vampire Mechanic, one reviewer commented that the series was improving and growing, but the jokes remained a little shallow. Now I wasn’t upset by that, because any author who is going to get upset by his/her reviews might as well hang up the keyboard. But it did make me think that perhaps it was time to get a little sharper.

Sadly, by training and the dreadful Karma built up in my last incarnation, I’m an accountant. Hence, large corporations and the Inland Revenue and the economy are never very far from my thoughts. Granted, they are frequently unprintable thoughts, of the sort that would occasion hefty use of the red pen and a rude retort from my editor, but that too is to be expected. So my thoughts turned to the economy. Particularly the heavily over-used phrase ‘The road map for The Recovery’ If the road map is going wrong, then a Satnav is needed…another artifact as self satisfied and useless as the average government. So this book contains – I hope – some jokes that are a little more pointed than previous books. If that goes down well, maybe the trend will continue. Actually I hope so, because I would like to see the series continue. I have the best fun writing the books, and now if they are going to carry on selling I think it’s time that a little more of myself, my ideals and attitudes, can be glimpsed by a discerning reader.

So finally, how about that for an inspiration to write a book? To use fictional characters to finally show a little of who the author is, what makes them tick?
What? It’s been done already? In that case, the idea of doing it again can’t be all that controversial, can it?

*Where are we eating? What are we eating? Where’s the manager, I want to register a complaint? Why does that phone system play such awful music when the caller is on hold? **

**Sorry, I have a habit of putting footnotes everywhere. At least I didn’t go for the title this time.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Guilty Pleasures

What are some of your guilty pleasures? There's lots of things that people like, but I'm talking about the embarrassing things that you like.

Mine are . . . .

1. Reality Shows-Although most people mock reality shows, there are some that I'm addicted to. When I had my most recent kidney stone, I watched the entirety of Keeping Up With The Kardashians and all its spin-offs. I annoyed my fiance and family by telling them about how excited I was that Kim was pregnant.

I've also been addicted to shows like the Bachelor and the Bachelorette in the past. I got through one of my big break-ups by watching a season of the Bachelor with my Mom and sighing/crying through the whole thing.

And lately I've been watching shows like the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and New York!

2. Professional Wrestling-I'm a huge fan of professional wrestling. I will admit that I know the outcome of the matches is usually planned ahead of time and that the storylines are sometimes corny or predictable, but after watching it for awhile, I've gotten addicted to it and I even admire a lot of the professional wrestlers.

They work very hard to have the bodies they do and sometimes sustain injuries while performing their stunts. Many of them are excellent actors. I'm a type of entertainer as well and I know how difficult it can be to make a bunch of people care about what you are doing. When you see a large crowd of people cheering for a wrestler or booing them to stop, I have a high appreciation for that. Their goal is to make the crowd react instead of sit around, bored. That can be difficult to do.

3. Romantic Movies-I love romantic movies so much. They're sappy and appeal to the hopeless romantic inside of me. Although a big part of the reason I call them a guilty pleasure is that no one else in my family likes them. I usually have to see them alone because I don't want to hear how much they suck from whoever I saw it with.

4. Mindless Fiction-I love reading deep novels and analyzing them, but to tell you the truth, sometimes I'm too tired to. I read a lot when I get insomnia-for instance, last night I read from 2 am-5 am because I couldn't sleep. I was exhausted and not in the mood for thinking too hard about what I was reading, so I stuck to a feel-good YA novel.

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What are some of your guilty pleasures?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Reading Gems - A Stolen Life By Jaycee Dugard

This is something you probably don't know about me, but I'm a big fan of the news. I read it and watch it all the time. It's one thing that sidetracks me a lot when I'm trying to get some work on my novels done. I read an interesting article online, which makes me click on another one and another until hours of my life are gone forever.

That's why sometimes I love to read stories like this about amazing things that happened on the news. If you don't know about it already, Jaycee Dugard was kidnapped at the age of eleven by Phillip Craig Garrido and his wife, Nancy. He held her hostage for eighteen years and raped her many times. She gave birth to two children by him that she raised in his house. What makes the story especially amazing was that the cops were able to find her after all that time and that she was reunited with her mother.

I was sick when I read this story. I think I had a kidney stone and I couldn't get out of bed, so I needed something to distract me from the pain and discomfort. This book left me at the edge of my seat to the point where I finished it within twenty-four hours. I didn't want to sleep or do anything else, until I found out how the story ended. What she went through was truly horrifying. I cried several times while I was reading it, especially towards the end when she was reunited with her mother and that's why I recommend the book to anyone who enjoys non-fiction. It is one of my favorite books of all time.

Have you read any interesting novels based on something that occurred on the news? Because I'd probably be interested in reading them as well. Let me know in the comments.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Cover Reveal - Warrior Unleashed By Lindsay Avalon


Warrior Unleashed by Lindsay Avalon
Re-releasing September 17 from Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing

Nothings more dangerous than a warrior unleashed....

--
Lindsay Avalon ~ * ~ Author of paranormal romance
Breaking the Nexus Now Available!!! Buy it on Amazon!

Out now: Once Upon A Twisted Time Anthology: Buy it on Amazon!

Twitter: @LindsayAvalon

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Reading Gems - Origins By Jessica Khoury

Some of you may remember the query letter for this novel being posted on Agent Query Connect and the original title being "Perfectly Pia." It was that intriguing query that originally drew me to the novel and it was worth every penny. I completed the novel in less than two days, sleeping very little while I read it.

It's the story of a girl who lives in the middle of the jungle in a laboratory. She's a science experiment and was born in the lab as the first human to possess immortality. They keep her hidden away. She's not allowed to leave the lab for any reason and she's never wanted to, until she starts uncovering secrets about the scientists she lives with that makes her view them in a completely different way.

There's romance in this novel and obviously lots of science fiction. It delves into the psychology of how humans handle death and what exactly we'd be willing to do to achieve immortality. It discusses morals in a way I found interesting, which is why I couldn't put this book down. The villains in the book are very evil, but at the same time, you can kind of understand why they did what they did. All the characters are so fleshed out that I still feel in my heart as if they are real.

And the ending was so unexpected and so unbelievably perfect at the same time.

I'm glad she was on AQConnect. I'm proud to know she was part of us for awhile. I look up to her as a writer and think she has an excellent gift. I plan to read her next novel as soon as it is released.

Friday, August 30, 2013

My Love Affair With Writing

First, the thoughts pour into my head. I'll be doing something routine, like going to the grocery store, when a whole world suddenly starts to grow in my head. I see people taking shape. I see the pain in their hearts and the battles they have with one another. I am seduced by their stories. While the world around me continues its routine, I've been struck and fallen in love with a new story.

Like someone infatuated, I picture these characters day and night. Sometimes people are talking to me and thinking that I'm listening to what they are saying. But inside, I'm with my characters, experiencing their life through their eyes and going through emotional turmoil. I hurt with them, fall in love with them, sigh with them.

In my mind I bribe them with any present I can find, so they will tell me more of themselves. I give them attention. Then I sit down and write some pretty prose. I want everyone to understand how great they are through my story. Sometimes I get frustrated because my words don't live up to how wonderful they are in my head.

But I edit the story. I nurture it and change it until it lives up to its full potential. I pour my heart and soul into it. I become more intimate with the story than I become with most people I'll meet in my life time.

And then I give it to other people (critique partners and editors), so they'll give it plastic surgery. I thought it was pretty, but they slice into it and make it more beautiful than it ever was before.

Then with a sadness, I send the story out into the world and hope that someone falls in love with it the same way I did.

I've had a love affair with many books, some I've written and some are ones I read that other people wrote. There are few things more satisfying than meeting a book that touches your soul.

Monday, August 26, 2013

What I've Been Working On - Part 2 - Loving the Astronaut

The other two projects I've been working on are part of a series, I am calling "Loving the Astronaut." Like most of my other stuff, the first book will be available for free.
I don't want to give too much of the plot away, but it's a story that takes place in the future. It's about an empath who is married to a man who has been training for years to go on a mission to explore the end of our galaxy. She finds out she's pregnant and when she goes to tell him the good news, he announces to her first that he's heading out to space in a week. She knows this means that he won't be there for her to give birth, so she keeps the pregnancy a secret. She's afraid he won't live out his dream of exploring space if she tells him the truth. Through some lies and betrayals, not to mention a series of unfortunate events, the future of their lives together is changed forever.

Although I haven't shared my story with critique partners or an editor yet, I have purchased the covers and thought I would share them with you. I got them from here: ebookindiecovers.com/ There's a lot of very reasonable priced covers there. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

What I've Been Working On - Part 1 - God of Light

Some of you may already know from reading my facebook that I've been having some trouble concentrating lately. Although I'm writing every day, I've been adding content to a ton of projects, which has been making it difficult to get out new stories as quickly as I'd like to.

Still, there have been four stories that I've been focusing on and even bought covers for, so I thought it would be fun to share them with you. I haven't shared the stories with critique partners or editors yet, so publishing them is still probably a few months off, but I hope to be doing so soon. (If you'd like to read some of these stories and critique them for me, e-mail me at deathauthor@live.com and I'll gladly exchange the favor by reading a story of yours as well.)

The first story in the God of Light series will be available for free. It's called Bright's Passion and the sequel is Night's Lust. Bright and Night are two gods that have power over the day and the night. They are brothers who are fighting for the love of a beautiful witch named Adonya.

It has more romance than any of my other novels have had before now! I'm really excited about the stories because they are very steamy! And obviously it involves a love triangle, which was a lot of fun to write.

Here are the covers I have purchased for the novels. I got them from here: ebookindiecovers.com/ There's a lot of very reasonable priced covers there. Let me know what you think in the comments!


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Books That I Read Because People Hated Them

I think a lot of authors get terrified that everyone will hate their books and therefore no one new will read them because all they'll hear is negative recommendations, so I thought it might be fun to discuss books we've read because other people told us they were terrible.

Here's some of mine:

1. The Harry Potter Books - I grew up in a small town and there's quite a few people here who believe that the Harry Potter books teach witchcraft to children. I was lectured on it several times, hardly ever hearing anything positive about them, until I suddenly decided that I wanted to see for myself what they were all about and why everyone hated them.

I become hooked on them and read the whole series quickly. They've been one of my favorites ever since!

2. Fifty Shades of Grey - I'm not surprised to see a lot of people hating on any kind of popular book, but I wanted to see for myself why everyone was talking about it. I don't have anything against the genre erotica, although I know a lot of people see it as trashy. I wanted to know if people were bashing this book because erotica wasn't there thing or if it was poorly written. So I decided to read the book myself!

3. The Chronicles of Narnia - Some people told me that it was too religious. Other people told me they weren't religious enough. And still others thought the books were boring. I know a bunch of people had read the novels and I hadn't, so I wanted to see what I would think of them. I read them all quickly.

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Books I Want To Read Because People Hate Them:

1. The Da Vinci Code - A lot of people are very offended by this book. It's not generally the type of book I would read, but because of the controversy, I am curious.

2. His Dark Materials - People say it's a type of anti-Chronicles of Narnia. I like authors who aren't afraid to express themselves and I'm wondering what direction he might have taken this. Not to mention that when someone tells me a book is bad to read, that makes it taboo. Which in turn makes me want to read it even more.

3. The Scarlet Letter - I grew-up knowing that there was something naughty about this book, although I didn't find out what it was until I was an adult. I still haven't read it, but it sounds interesting and controversial, which immediately draws me to it.

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Surprisingly for me, I read the Twilight books before a bunch of people hated them, when there were no movies and Stephenie Meyer was still writing them. That's why they aren't on this list, but I'm sure a ton of people started to read them as well because everyone around them hated the stories.

Are there any books you decided to read because people around you told you they were terrible?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

How To Cut Costs When Self-Publishing

One of the hurdles that I feared when I self-published my first novel was how I was going to pay for it.

Many people are under the assumption that self-publishing a novel costs thousands of dollars. This isn't true. In the days where you had to print all your own books out, it was, but now with Print on Demand and ebooks, the costs of that are no longer the same.

Here are some other ways to save money:

1.) Buy premade covers - I learned the hard way not to make my own covers. I thought it would cut costs to buy the images and fonts myself. Because I'm not experienced in making covers, I wound up purchasing more images than I needed and trying to swap between them and spending way too much money on fonts. Also, the end product was inferior to what another person could have made for me.

It's good to have custom made covers as well. They aren't too expensive if you find the right person. But it's even better if you can find a premade cover that fits your novel. Premade covers are usually not sold to more than one person (although check the policy of the person selling it, just in case) and they are cheaper than other covers because you had little input in the design of it.

I've seen covers that you can purchase this way for as little as five dollars. I bought some decent ones I found recently for only twelve dollars, but most premade covers run anywhere between thirty and sixty dollars.

It may seem like a lot until you find out that I spent over a hundred dollars per cover when I tried to make them myself.

2.) Swap Stories With Critique Partners - My critique partners usually help me fix my story while my editor fixes my grammar, spelling, and technical problems. I'd love to hire two editors, one to help me with my story and one to help with my grammar, spelling, and punctuation, but I can't afford it right now, so I had to choose.

Critique partners are usually better at spotting problems with your story than with the little details. Have them help you with the overall picture, while your editor helps you perfect the manuscript. If all you can afford is one type of edit, this is the way to go.

3.) Ask Around About Editors - Yes, some editors cost a few thousand dollar to hire, but most of us don't have that much money to give them. If you ask around, you can find some decent editors that will cost a few hundred instead. All of them should allow you to give them a few pages of your work for free, so they can give you a sample of their editing back, and you can make sure you're happy with them. Also, if you read self-published novels and think they are well edited, find out who edited the novel and see how much that editor costs. That way you're already familiar with their work.

4.) Use Free ISBN's - Amazon gives you an ASIN, something similar to an ISBN, that you can use in its place on their web-site.

And if you sign up to self-publish your novel on Smashwords and list them as your publisher (this in no way infringes on your rights as an author, it says so on the site), they will give you a free ISBN as well that they will use to post your story on other sites like Kobo and Barnes and Noble.

5.) Format The Novel Yourself - This can seem overwhelming and I'm not going to lie, when you publish your first novel, you will find mistakes, but it's easier to do than you think.

If you follow The Smashwords Style Guide and are patient, you will eventually get accepted in the Premium Catalog on the site. You can do it all using Microsoft word or Open Office and it becomes extremely easy to do once you get used to it.

For Kindle, I use this guide to help me format my novel: http://www.amazon.com/Format-Your-Manuscript-Kindle-ebook/dp/B004VFUXI4/

I know nothing about CSS, yet I was able to make sense of the tutorial. Most of it is a lot of copy/pasting. It takes some time to complete, but the formatting turns out great!

6.) Skip The Copyright - It doesn't have to be permanently. It can be temporary until you make more money.

There are ways to prove that a story belongs to you without getting a copyright. If someone steals your novel and tries to publish under their name for instance, it's obvious because you published it first that it likely belongs to you.

Also, some pirate sites will take down your book without you showing them your copyright and the ones that won't, usually don't care even if you were to show them your copyright.

7.) Use Open Office Instead of Microsoft Word - It is as good of a program as Microsoft Word is. Don't pay several hundred for an actual copy of Microsoft Word if you don't already have it. You can do all the same things using Open Office and Open Office is free! It's the program I use right now for writing and it can open any files types you may have saved your stories under.

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Don't let anything get in the way of living your dreams, even cost.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Reading Gems - Books I Love and Recommend

I was one of those kids that read books instead of doing their homework. My Mom took away our television most of growing up, so we'd get better grades. I decided to read all the time instead.

That love of reading is probably what led me to love writing when I grew-up as well. I want to get back to those roots by discussing books on my blog. No one wants to read negative reviews, so I'm not going to write them. Instead, I want to start a column where I talk about books I've read and loved-either recently or a long time ago. I want to call this column "Reading Gems." You are free to discuss books you've read and loved as well in the comments.

The first book I want to talk about is one that really inspires me. It's called Fish Eyes By Linda Pohring.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00AAJNOM2/

I bought it on a whim. I wanted to read a novel about mermaids. I liked the way the cover looked and the description about how it was different than other kinds of mermaid novels. I wanted to see if this was true.

This novel is indeed very unique and should be selling more copies than it is, which is why I had to talk about it. It's funny and pulls at your heart strings. Zazzle has such a unique take on the world and how humans live their lives. It made me look at my own life in a different way as well.

She's very frightened of humanity and all the things we do. She's so terrified and clueless about what it's like to have legs that she behaves like an animal at first. This leads to many misunderstandings, most of which are humorous.

It's also only three dollars to purchase. It was well worth my money, which is why I plan to buy more books from the same author in the future.

It's books like these that I want to point to and say: "See! Self-published authors can write!"

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Getting A Copyright As A Self-Published Author

As a self-published author, you file for your own copyrights and it's as simple as paying a thirty-five dollar fine and uploading your work to copyright.gov. Here's some things I've learned from filing a copyright.

1.) You can publish your novel as soon as you file.

For Medusa's Desire, I waited until my copyright was approved before I published the novel. But I read under the FAQs that this is unnecessary. You are protected as soon as you file.

Since it can take months of waiting before your copyright is approved, it's usually more convenient to just get it out there.

2.) You can't copyright an idea.

When you receive a copyright it's for the novel you wrote, not for the idea behind it.

If someone takes your whole novel and tries to publish it under their own name, a copyright will protect you.

If you write a vampire romance story like Stephenie Meyer did and other people try to write vampire romance stories, like many other people did, because of it, the copyright won't prevent this from happening.

3.) Don't get a copyright for the cover of your novel.

I tried to do this and was rejected. It was a waste of thirty-five dollars that I could have used on something else.

There is an exception to this. If you took the photo for your cover yourself and made the font yourself, then you should probably copyright it.

But if you purchased fonts and pictures and spent weeks editing them like I did, then they still don't belong to you, even though you put all that work into organizing them into a way that looks unique.

Just like you can't copyright an idea, you also can't copyright how you edited things together.

4.) Many self-published authors skip the copyright.

It sounds crazy. Why wouldn't you want to protect your work? But when you think about the logistics of it, it makes sense.

Regardless of whether you have a copyright or not, people are going to post your books on pirating sites and steal them in a variety of ways.

It does help when someone steals your work and tries to sell it under their pen name, which I've seen some people do to other authors. But the publishing companies usually know you are the real author because you published your novel first.

For the most part the copyright doesn't come up because it's unlikely that any of these issues will go to a court of law.

I copyright all my work under the pen name E.B. Black, just in case, but I don't blame people who want to cut costs by not doing this.

5.) Your information becomes public domain.

So anything you give them, your real name, phone number, e-mail, address, etc. becomes available to the public. This is so people know who the copyright belongs to and can contact you for permission if they want to use some of your copyright material.

Still, this may disrupt some of the privacy you were hoping to keep. It's easier to hide this information when you have a publishing company to back you that will use their information instead of yours when filing the copyright.

Some ideas for ways to keep your information private is by getting a P.O. Box or starting your own publishing company just for your books. That way you can give the P.O. Box instead of your real physical address and you can also use the publishing companies information instead of your own. You can also copyright things under your pen name.

The one risk of copyrighting things under any name but your own, is you must prove in court that you are the person who owns the publishing company or the person who the pen name belongs to, for your copyright to hold up when challenged.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

T.J. Loveless Cover Reveal: Unlucky Number Four

If you haven't heard of The Fortune Cookie Diaries, then you can get a free copy of the first novella here.

Today, T.J. Loveless is here to show us the cover of her 3rd story and tell us about her series: The Fortune Cookie Diaries.

1. Who is your favorite character in The Fortune Cookie Diaries?

While I am partial to Miracai - he is so much fun - there is a character coming up in Weird Number Three that is my favorite. She's got Miracai's number, and it should prove to be a hoot. All I can say, her name is Bruddy :)

2. Were you surprised that Miracai became such a popular character?

Yes! It was a complete shock. I knew people would like him, he is full of personality, but nothing like what happened. Of the seventy four fan emails I received, more than fifty said they bought stuffed unicorns. It still tickles me to know he garnered so much adoration. 

3. What's your favorite thing about writing The Fortune Cookie Diaries?

Using humor, instead of something dark, to push the plot forward. It's new and unique to me. I have to find someway to get a character to do something - I can't kill them off, kill a friend/family member, etc. I have to figure  out a way for something funny instead. It definitely stretches your imagination and writing skills! 

4. What made you decide to self-publish them?

I researched at first, when the ideas for The Fortune Cookie Diaries came to me. Traditional publishers, and agents, don't take novellas. Some indie publishers do, but they don't sell as well because of cost. But friends talked to me about self publishing - answering my really stupid questions. But I kept asking myself, did I want to take on all the responsibilities? The marketing, cover, editing, formatting, etc. Could I take the responsibility? The answer turned out to be, yes. 

I didn't want to give up the idea of TFCD, everybody needs something lighthearted to turn to once in a while. I knew it was going to be a long hard road, Humorous Urban Fantasy is unheard of. But I don't think I'm doing too badly, for my first foray into self publishing.
 
5. How would you describe your sense of humor?

It varies. I can be fairly sarcastic, down to keeping a toddler entertained with silly stuff. I laugh at my own klumsiness, love the Keystone Kops, Laurel & Hardy, Brett Butler, Bette Midler, Mel Brooks, and still laugh at all the Shrek movies. A lot depends on my mood. I try to stay in as good a mood as possible when writing TFCD, or I get too snarky.

And now, for the big reveal of the cover . . . . . (It makes me excited for the book!)


In New Orleans, Louisiana, something with a weird sense of humor is stranding myth in a nonmagical world.

Dr. Tiffany Crews and gang find themselves no longer chasing Damn Duck, running into walls or spilling soup. As a matter of fact, no accidents have happened in the last week.

It isn't until they find Damn Duck sitting quietly on the balcony, Miracai, the carnivorous unicorn, eating greens without flatulence, and her klutz tendencies missing, Tiffany realizes something is up.

Only when her best friend, Janet, begins dating a man named Aiden Murphy, does Tiffany understand - Murphy has been dropped into New Orleans. Not a far stretch of imagination considering the Fairy Godmother identifies him during lunch at Chopstix.

All the years of pent up frustration leads the entire gang into trouble as they decide it is time to get revenge, giving Murphy, and those bloody laws of his, a taste of his own medicine.

If only it was that simple.

About the Author:
T.J. Loveless can generally be found covered in Muses and Editor Kitty, ignoring the growing herd of dust bunnies and trying to put the HD movies of her imagination into a document that makes sense.

Writing in the Spec Fic genre, she's usually trying to figure out how to put a dragon into every book, and how to twist old myths for her own nefarious purposes. 

You can find T.J. Loveless all over, usually showcasing the lack of brain - mouth filter normal people seem to have in abundance.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Gate Keeper of Self-Publishing

Most people have only one big complaint against self-publishing. The complaint is that there is no gate keeper. No one guarding self-publishing from being infested by poor spellers and authors. They claim it's full of garbage unlike traditional publishing because no one is weeding out the bad authors from the good.

It's always given me an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach when self-published authors talk about how other authors give them a bad name. How there's so many self-published authors out there doing a poor job at writing. I think I've finally figured out why this bothered me so much.

One reason it bothers me is that I know I'm not a perfect writer. I know some people that read my book will hate it and that I'm going to make mistakes sometimes in my career. I can't judge other self-published authors as ruining my career unless I first feel perfect myself. I don't. I can always use more practice. I can always use critique partners and an editor. They all help me so much.

Not to mention that this business is a subjective one and someone might read a self-published novel whether it's excellent or not and decide they hate it. They can come to the conclusion that they will also hate all other self-published author, even though this is in no way the fault of the actual author.

The other reason it bothers me is because we aren't doing anything to help one another. Traditionally published authors have a whole group of people running a publishing house to help them perfect their work. What do we have? Only each other. And how often do you see other self-published authors swooping in to help a self-published author who is struggling? Wouldn't we be stronger as a whole if we didn't attack other self-published authors, but instead helped them?

I know there are lots of blogs about how to self-publish better. My blog has some posts along these lines, but there needs to be more than that. We should e-mail each other and support each other more. I know when I made my biggest publishing mistake this past year and was in a teary mess about it, I couldn't have gotten through it without the help of other people. I couldn't have fixed it and decided to do better in the future without that help.

We can be our own gate keepers. We can prevent bad stories from being published by helping other authors not write bad stories.

We all only have a limited amount of time, I know, and we can't control what other authors decide to publish, but I do think we can all make a bigger effort to help.