Wednesday, July 1, 2015

IWSG July 2015--Write Away Insecurities

It's the first Wednesday in July, so you know what that means? Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group is on! Here's the crazy thing. I signed up to co-host this month. I'm looking forward to visiting lots of blogs today!

The other co-hosts are:
S.A. Larsen, AJ, Tamara Narayan, Allison Gammons, and Tanya Miranda!
Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time. Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post.

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!
Our Twitter hashtag is #IWSG

I'll keep my post short today. My insecurities still come and go. That'll probably never change. And that's okay. I've learned to deal with it by just pushing on. When I'm feeling particularly down, thinking everything I write is crap, the only thing I can do to feel better is keep writing.

So that's what I do.

I accept that first drafts stink. They are full of typos, passive construction, plot holes and long winded, unnecessary backstory.

The point is, that doesn't make me a horrible writer. It doesn't make you a terrible writer. It makes us a WRITERS!

We need to replace our insecurities about rough drafts with pride. Even a cringe-worthy draft is worth something. Remember, the only difference between writers and authors is perseverance. Oh, and revision, revision, revision.

Look at this lovely little item ready for you to purchase!

Created by Jeremy Hawkins

Monday, June 29, 2015

Author Interview Karen Malena

I've got another author interview for you today.
Meet Karen Malena!

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Karen Malena and the most unexpected thing happened on the way to this journey called life. I fulfilled a life-long dream of becoming an author!

I grew up in a close, Italian family in Western, Pennsylvania. The oldest of two children, our family is loud and fun, passionate and a little bit crazy. It was through my wonderful family, I would learn creativity, compassion, and the love of God.

You will find me curled up with a good book, actually re-reading my favorites several times through the years. I love to dabble in art, gardening, and crocheting, but nothing gives me passion as much as writing.

Working full time is a challenge when trying to pen my thoughts and stories. But as often as I can, you will see me at my keyboard or with and old-fashioned notebook in my hand, jotting down thoughts and ideas for the next chapter.

It is my deep desire to touch others through the subjects I write about. My blogs are little pockets of heartfelt stories about people who have touched my life. My books are about modern problems which many of us have gone through, or may be going through. At the center of my stories is always a message. A message of hope, faith, redemption and healing.

It wasn’t until recently that a story began taking hold of me. As a long time lover of science fiction stories, I wondered as I watched a family of four in a restaurant engrossed in their smart phones, I-pads and games, nobody speaking to one another, what a world without speech would be like. Little by little, images would come to me as the story played before me almost as if I was watching a movie. It would take me way out of my comfort zone, but the story “Sound of Silence” was born. Along with it, a good man, Ray Warren who speaks out in a moment of kindness and is condemned and must leave the family he loves to ensure their safety.

I realize sci-fi falls into two categories. Technology-driven plots and character-driven. As I’ve always been a lover of what makes people tick and what drives them in their beliefs, I chose the character type of plot.

“Sound of Silence” will be a three-part continuing serial making a complete book.

I hope people will come away from this first kindle installment scratching their head, wondering “What if?” It is my hope that we put away the electronic gadgets for a few precious hours or days and really get to know the human beings around us. We might learn a thing or two from them after all.

My books are “Shadow of My Father’s Secret,” “Reflections From My Mothers Kitchen: A Journey of Healing and Hope,” “Piggy,” and “Love Woven in Time: A Ligonier Golden Romance.” You’ll find all of my books on Amazon.

If you take the time to read my books and blogs, let me know if they reached out to you in a personal way.

You can find me at:
Amazon Author
Facebook for Piggy
Facebook Stories from the Heart

Sound of Silence
One small mistake . . . one dire consequence.

What would happen in a world without speech, a world where only electronic, texted conversing was permitted?

Ray Warren does the unthinkable. He seals his fate by speaking out in a moment of kindness in an era where speech has been outlawed. The year is 2050. Due to a lethal rise in terrorism and a powerful politician’s decree, officials now monitor all spoken and written communication. Military police exercise full control of any disobedience. Children born into the world are implanted with a special surgical chip which renders their vocal chords paralyzed. Ray, one good man, makes a bold gesture and in doing so, condemns himself and must leave the family he loves to ensure their safety.

In part one of Sound of Silence, a chilling new society is introduced leaving us with the question: What if?

Friday, June 26, 2015

Birth of a Novel Summer 2015 Week 3

Week 3

  • Every Friday post a quick update on how you're doing on your writing projects. 
  • It can be combined with Camp Nano or whatever personal goals you've set. 
  • All you need is a line or two added to the beginning or end of whatever post you already had planned for the day.
  • Then visit the others in the list to encourage them to keep moving forward. 
Help spread the word so we have more folks to visit.

This week went rather well. I wrote almost every day. Thursday was spent editing Search For Knowledge because I received two more critiques from Beta readers. Because of the wonderful people willing to read it and give me feedback, book 2 in Talia's series is slowly becoming something I'm more and more excited about.

I love filling in the little gaps to round out characters and plots. There are still scenes that need the edges knocked off, and other that could be sharpened a bit. All in all though, it's moving Talia in the right direction.

Working on edits of SFK is helping me stay grounded in Talia's world and making it easier to keep building her story in Demon Rising. Several times I had to tell myself to stop over thinking the plot and just write. This is a first draft after all.

Monday I asked one of my teen daughters to read the 4000+ words I had on Eleena's story. She's my target audience so I really wanted to see what she thought of the idea. To see if the beginning was enough to pull her in. My ego was bolstered by her reaction. The bit she read ended at the perfect cliff hanger and she's eagerly waiting for more.


You may have noticed a third counter in the sidebar. Addie's Song gained another 600 words this week. It's not an "official" project at the moment, but one day it will be so I gave it a word counter. A.S. will be a straight up contemporary YA. 

Week 1 Stats:
Demon Rising--5475 words
Eleena's Tale--2119 words

Week 2 Stats:
Demon Rising--6718 (1243 word increase)
Eleena's Tale--4823 (2704 word increase)

Week 3 Stats:
Demon Rising--7705 (up 987 words)
Eleena's Tale--5738 (up 3034 words)
Addie's Song--1535 (up 935 words)
Plus SFK edits!

I had a good writing week. How about you?

Join the fun and visit the others in the blog hop! Please link to your page, not the actual post. Thanks!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Author Interview with Jeffrey Collyer

I've got another new author to introduce you to today thanks to an Indie Science Fiction and Fantasy group I joined on Facebook. It's a great place to ask questions about marketing, researching ideas, etc. There's no advertising though. Which is a nice change really.

Anyway, let's get to know a little more about Jeffrey and his writing.

Jeffrey Collyer was born in Perth, Australia. Following stints living in the US and Chile, he finally got bored/tired/confused with travelling the world and settled in England, where he now lives with his wife, four children, and two cats that constantly try to lie on his laptop while he is attempting to write, or trip him down the stairs. Although his reading (and writing) tastes are somewhat eclectic, his first love is Fantasy, as it enables all sorts of subject matter to be explored in subtle ways.

Title of Book:
Dreams and Shadows (Book 1 of the Aylosian Chronicles)

What do you do when you are suddenly transported from twenty-first century England into a world of strange magic where everyone seems to be trying to kill you?

That’s the question that faces Michael – an orphan who had been abandoned with a young couple while a baby, and largely ignored after his “adoptive mother” died. When a powerful dream sets off a series of events that inexplicably draws him into the land of Aylosia, Michael finally believes he is arriving in a place where he will feel his mother’s love, but magical and political forces quickly seek his destruction.

Caught between truth and lie, Michael now faces a fight for survival in a beautiful land; and must struggle to learn of his own powers and destiny if he is to save those he has grown to love.

Dreams and Shadows is a story of magical powers and strange creatures; of love, betrayal, despair, and ultimately hope.

(Also available in other Amazon markets)

Note that US readers can get the Kindle book for free if they purchase the paperback.

Author Links:
Twitter: @JeffreyCollyer

Question 1: When and why did you begin writing?
Well, for as long as I remember people have told me that I’m talented at writing. I’ve often written something short for family, and started a blog a few years ago. It was only last year that I decided to attempt a novel, though. I was actually going through a dark time in my life, and imagining a new fantasy world – and then writing about it – was a release for me at first. When I got to the point of realising that it could be a novel, I shared it with a couple of people who I thought would give me honest feedback, and to say they were encouraging would be an understatement. So, here we are now: my first full-length novel published earlier this month, and strangers are actually buying it, and saying they love it! Wow. I have to pinch myself.

Question 2: What books/authors have influenced your writing?
I've loved a whole range of fantasy from my early teenage years. Lord of the Rings is a masterpiece, of course. And I really enjoyed David Eddings' various books for the pure joy of the storytelling.

But without doubt the books that had the biggest influence on me then – and probably still do – are the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen Donaldson. He created a world that was just gorgeous, but more importantly, the world and the story were really vehicles to explore much deeper issues around despair. A lot of people dislike the series because the main character is tremendously frustrating, and being about despair a lot goes wrong. But for me there was so much to think about. It taught me the potential power in writing, specifically in fantasy.

More recently I’ve read some Patrick Rothfuss, and have found his writing style to be amongst the most beautiful I have ever come across. Truly stunning.

Question 3: What genre do you consider Dreams and Shadows?
It’s fantasy of course, but beyond that I struggle to pigeon-hole it. Technically, it qualifies as Young Adult, because the MC is roughly 18, but there’s no teen angst, and the hormones are kept to a minimum. It also ticks a lot of boxes for Epic. But while there are battles and sword fights, they don’t dominate. A lot of reviewers are saying that it’s very fast-paced, but I consider it a character-driven story, although the character development in this first book is mostly seen in the MC. A consistent theme that has so far come back from readers is that it is a story for all ages, male and female.

Question 4: What was the hardest part of writing Dreams and Shadows?
While it is first and foremost a story, there are numerous themes and symbols woven throughout. My aim was to have most of them discreet, so that people who just want a story can read it without finding secondary messages too ‘in-your-face’; while at the same time, they couldn’t be so well hidden that no-one would spot them if they like that sort of thing! Getting that balance right was tough. I hope I’ve achieved it.

Question 5: How did you come up with the title?
Dreams and Shadows is the first book in a planned trilogy, and I plan to have the titles of each book somehow represent the entire series, so Dreams and Shadows does that, while also being apt for this specific book. The first chapter is a dream, full of meaning and symbolism. You’ll see many elements of the dream portrayed throughout the book, so that was the first part of the title.

The Shadows element represents the question of what is real versus what is a pale reflection. I’ve written some epigraphs for each of the chapters – invented “Wisdom Literature”, and the first two chapters have lines about Dreams, and Shadows, respectively.

Question 6: Is there an element of Dreams and Shadows you’re especially pleased with?
Just getting the book published, and people saying they’ve got enjoyment from it has been amazing for me. But I think the elements that give me the greatest satisfaction are probably the wisdom literature, which I’ve called the Wisdom of Ashael. I’ve had some fabulous feedback specifically about these, and they are the most quotable. I’ll have to create a number of memes that quote them, I think. :-)

And finally, fill in the blank…
Keep Calm and Explore Fantasy Worlds.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Author Interview with C.J. Anaya

Author Bio:

C. J. Anaya began writing short stories for family and friends when she was thirteen years old. This soon morphed into an extensive project every year during Christmas as a way to create a fun and inexpensive Christmas gift.

Her passion for reading and writing led her to following her own dreams of becoming a published author. She was born in Utah and raised everywhere else. She even lived a few years in Brazil, enjoying the people, the culture and learning the beautiful language of Portuguese; a language she is still fluent in to this day. As a result of her exposure to varying peoples and cultures, her interests became varied as well.

As a mother of four children she is now a singer and a songwriter, a baker and a cake decorator, a dancer and a choreographer, a girl with a degree in Criminal Justice and a first time published author of YA paranormal romance and fantasy. She is also married to the most deliciously, handsome looking Latino. As always, she has plenty to write about.

The Healer
A girl, a prophecy and two warring gods equals destiny!

Seventeen-year-old Hope Fairmont longs for a normal teenage life, but with a gift like hers, normal equals healing illnesses and injuries instantly. Keeping a secret like that isn’t easy, but a small town is the perfect place for her to heal those who can’t heal themselves, and an even better place for her father, James Fairmont, to hide his daughter from the rest of the world.

Life takes an unexpected turn when two handsome strangers move into town and begin unearthing other secrets concerning Hope's future and past, revealing to Hope that her gift for healing may be the fulfillment of an ancient, Japanese prophecy gone wrong.

Staying away from these mysterious newcomers would be the smart thing to do, but Victor's gentle, easy manner, and Tie's mixed signals and strange mood swings draw her hopelessly closer to revealing the secret she and her father have been so desperate to hide.

Hope's life is complicated further with visions of a previous life and the arrival of an unknown enemy sent to assassinate her before she learns what she is truly capable of.

With the support of her father, the fiery loyalty of her best friend Angie, and the child-like love of Kirby, a ten-year-old patient, Hope must fight against the forces of a relentless demon god while unwinding the tangled pieces of her past, proving to herself and those she loves that destiny isn’t determined by some cosmic reading of the stars, but by the individual choices one makes.

Read the first chapter here.

Buy Links:

1.) Is being a writer a gift or a curse?

I'm thinking a little of both. I enjoy exploring the possibilities of "what if". Getting the idea of some interesting story line and then asking myself the right questions to give that story substance is such a fun journey of discovery. My characters tend to surprise and delight me. On the other hand, when I do get those ideas in my head I can rarely think of anything else until I've plotted and outlined to my satisfaction. Then I'm always fleshing out scenes in my head, and I have a truly difficult time focusing on housework or remembering activities and commitments. I essentially turn into the absent minded professor. It's not pretty. When that happens, Joe takes the kids to visit his side of the family for the weekend so I can actually get some writing done. Blocking out time to write with four kids under the age of seven just doesn't happen without a little help from hubby.

2.) Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Plot is sometimes a tricky thing for me because I have an outline, but I rarely follow it. Other ideas come into play and sometimes I can go off on some writing tangent and then realize that things have taken an ugly turn. I derail myself quite a bit, and that can be good or bad depending upon where the story ends up..

3.) How did you come up with the title?

A good friend of mine came up with it, actually. I was planning on something horrifically long winded like, "The girl who could instantly heal with white light" or something equally ridiculous. LOL She gave me a simple title and it embodies the entire series.

4.) If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

There are plenty of things I would change and scenes I would add. Now that I know exactly the who's and why's of the series there are definitely things I could do in the first to add more foreshadowing and character development. I also think that I have come a long way as an author since I wrote the first book. It was my debut novel, after all. Learning more about fundamental writing techniques has opened my eyes to some things I could fix structurally, but I will have to wait to do that until I have the rights back from my publishers.

5.) What has been the best compliment?

Despite the flaws that I can now see in my first book, I still have people contacting me and begging for the third and fourth installments in the series. So I must be doing something right to entertain the masses. It's wonderful when people do the "Team Tie" "Team Victor" thing. Makes me feel as if I have truly arrived in the love triangle department. Ha!
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