Tuesday, February 26, 2013

February Blahs

I don't know about your part of the world, but here in Northern Ontario the February Blahs are a very real condition. It feels like spring might never come and days and days and DAYS can go by without sunshine. Everyone I know is sick or has been sick. My brain hasn't had the energy required for this rewrite. Currently I can't see the street from my front walkway because the snowbanks stand a foot taller than my head. Now, I'm barely taller than 5 feet, but still.

So, enough of my whining - help me beat those blahs. I need you to tell me something happy.


I'll start.
  • some of my twitter & blog buddies have books coming out soon and I can't wait to read them!
  • while I was sick, I discovered a few new-to-me authors I really enjoy and they all have several books out I'll be reading soon
  • I'm in the middle of reading one of my crit buddy's new stories and it is AWESOME!
  • we've had fun making snow angels and snowmen at school
  • I'm having a blast teaching my kids at school to write stories
  • and... well...
Okay. Your turn!

Friday, February 22, 2013


Alex J Cavanaugh's 3rd book cover is out - and it's awesome!

A storm gathers across the galaxy…
Byron thought he’d put the days of battle behind him. Commanding the Cassan base on Tgren, his only struggles are occasional rogue pirate raids and endless government bureaucracies. As a galaxy-wide war encroaches upon the desert planet, Byron’s ideal life is threatened and he’s caught between the Tgrens and the Cassans.
After enemy ships attack the desert planet, Byron discovers another battle within his own family. The declaration of war between all ten races triggers nightmares in his son, shaking Bassan to the core and threatening to destroy the boy’s mind.
Meanwhile the ancient alien ship is transmitting a code that might signal the end of all life in the galaxy. And the mysterious probe that almost destroyed Tgren twenty years ago could be on its way back. As his world begins to crumble, Byron suspects a connection. The storm is about to break, and Byron is caught in the middle…
Release date: September 17, 2013
Science Fiction - Space Opera/Adventure
Print ISBN 9781939844002
E-book ISBN 9781939844019
Isn't it great? I love it. So much action and excitement. Can't wait to read it!
If you haven't met Alex (if that's possible...), make sure you pop on over to his site and congratulate him in person.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Juanita Kees - To Edit or Not To Edit

Please welcome Juanita Kees to the blog! I really enjoyed her story Fly Away Peta - great characters and an intriguing plot! :)


With so many authors opting to self-published and eBooks fast becoming the next big thing, the focus has once again returned to editing. Why is it so important to edit your work before you publish it? Writing is an art that needs work to perfect. The more you write, the better you get at it and the easier it is to spot flaws in your work.
I'm sure you've seen the Cambridge University study where letters are jumbled up in a paragraph, yet you can still read what it says? You can read and understand it, but would you want to be publishing a book written like that?

When you're working closely with your manuscript, you're involved with the plot and the characters. You're keen to get your thoughts on paper. Ideas may become jumbled. Your POV's may get muddled. You read and see what your mind wants you to, not always what it really says. And after reading the same piece over and over, your eye may miss those important details, those messages you're trying to get across to the reader. That's where an editor can help.
Editors are our best friends on the road to publication. They're the ones who will hold your hand through the saggy middle and help you find structure. They guide your feet when the end of the road seems too far away. Most importantly, they help you mould your masterpiece into the best it can be.

Would you want to put work out there with your name (or pen name) on it if it wasn't the absolute best it could be? There’s more to writing than checking spelling, punctuation and grammar.
An editor won’t rewrite your work or do your research for you but they can help you improve the structure, format, flow and readability. Editors work closely with you to create the perfect manuscript, all while maintaining the integrity of your own ‘voice’.

Grammatical errors and inconsistencies can easily be overlooked due to close involvement with your manuscript. A fresh review by an independent eye will help you locate those hidden flaws and help polish your manuscript to perfection.
The first step is to believe in yourself. The second is to trust an editor with your work. Go on, what are you waiting for?

Blurb: Fly Away Peta
The time has come to face her worst fear and the clock is ticking…

Peta Johnson will go to extreme lengths to protect her daughter Bella. When Bella is kidnapped, the search for her takes Peta back to the small Western Australian country town of Williams, a place she’d vowed never to return to. The town where her dreams were shattered and her nightmare began. Back to the place she’d been destined to meet two very powerful, yet very different men. One would break her heart; the other would destroy her soul. Both would change her life forever. The search for Bella brings them together. Secrets and lies keep them apart. Will Jaime and Peta renew their love in the face of danger or will he let her fly away again?

Born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa and now proudly Australian, Juanita is a freelance writer of book reviews, blogs, web content, advertorials, newsletters, resumes and training manuals. She also writes articles on business management for Stanford Who’s Who, New York, USA.
Having recently completed a diploma in Proofreading, Editing and Publishing through the Australian College QED, Bondi, NSW, Juanita is a freelance editor for US Publisher Damnation Books, and proofreads scientific text books for Elsevier Press, Oxford, UK.

Juanita gained her professional experience as an administrator and Customer Care/Quality Assurance Coordinator conducting audits; writing and proof-reading reports, operating procedures, company policies, capability statements, newsletters and customer correspondence.
Juanita escapes the real world by reading and writing romantic fiction. She conducts interviews with fellow authors and writes book reviews, as well as the odd blog about the frustrations and delights of being a writer.

When she’s not writing, editing or proofreading, Juanita is the cleaning fairy and mother to three boys (hubby included, his toys are just a little more expensive). Her not-so-miniature Daschund, Sam is her critique partner and keeps her company while writing.
Juanita loves to hear from fans and would love for you to enjoy her writing journey with her at:
On the Web

Agreed - editing is such an important part of the process! Have you been lucky enough to work with a great editor? I'm still looking forward to that part of the process.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Ice Dogs

My very good blog buddy Terry Lynn Johnson is revealing the cover to her new book Ice Dogs today. Terry's first book, Dogsled Dreams, is a favourite of mine and my students. There are 3 grades of kids waiting eagerly for this next book to come out - and they're not waiting patiently!

Ice Dogs will be released 1 year from today, but today we're getting to see the cover!!! It's SO pretty!!

Isn't it awesome?!?! I love the dog's eyes and the echo with the blue below - just perfect!
Here's the blurb:
Sometimes I wish I could trade places with the dogs. They only have to worry about running and eating. They love fiercely and don’t worry about things they can’t control. And when someone dies, they can sit on top of their house, throw their head back and howl.
That’s how 14-year-old dogsledder Victoria Secord has felt ever since her father died. A champion musher, Victoria is independent, self-reliant, and thanks to her father, an expert in surviving the unforgiving Alaskan bush. When an injured “city boy” and a freak snow storm both catch Victoria and her dog team by surprise, however, a routine trip becomes a life or death trek through the frozen wilderness. As temperatures drop and food stores run out, Victoria must find a way to save them all in this high stakes, high adventure middle grade novel of endurance, hope and finding your way back home.
I've been lucky enough to read an early version of the story and it is absolutely incredible! Can't wait to have the final copy in my hands!

What do you think of the cover and the blurb? Doesn't it make you want to learn to dogsled?

Monday, February 11, 2013

L. Diane Wolfe

Great guest here today! L. Diane Wolfe is here to promote her latest book HOW TO PUBLISH & PROMOTE YOUR BOOK NOW. I've 'known' Diane for a few years now - we met shortly after I started blogging. In fact, Diane was my very first guest poster a while back. It's a pleasure to have her here again today!


Book Returns
Book returns are like a dirty secret. Authors and publishers dread them. Readers have no idea of the extent. However, book returns have been with us for over eighty years.
The ability of bookstores to return books began during the Depression. Desperate for book orders, publishers started promising stores that they could return books that didn’t sell. Bookstores struggling to survive no longer had to worry about being stuck with unsold merchandise and took advantage of the offer.
The Depression ended. Unfortunately, the return policy continued.
Most publishers have a 90-day window for returns. This means the store has to return books that didn’t sell within those three months or pay for them. To avoid this, stores will return books just before the 90-day grace period ends, and regardless of the condition of said books, the publisher or wholesaler/distributor has to give the store credit. Ironically, when a store does this, they will immediately place an order for the very same books since they no longer have any in stock. Now they have another 90 days to keep the merchandise on their shelves without making payment.
In 2004, the Association of American Publishers estimated returns for hard covers to be 31%. Paperbacks were at 18%. When one out of three hard backs and one of five paperbacks are returned, you can understand why publishers hate returns! Authors hate them, too. A returned book is credited against their royalties. And with those kinds of numbers, it’s stunning any publisher makes money.
The primary source of returns comes from physical bookstores and the wholesalers/distributors that deal with these stores. On occasion, library distributors return books as well. However, book clubs, retail sites, direct library sales, and other outlets don’t return books.
As bookstores have dwindled, so has the problem of returns. However, there is now a new source of returns.
E-book returns are not an issue for most. The majority of E-book sellers allow no returns, such as Apple’s iTunes store. Once you’ve downloaded it, the book is yours. A few have the fifteen-minute ‘buyer’s remorse,’ but that’s it.
Except Amazon.
Amazon allows digital returns up to seven days later. Even though a buyer could easily read a book in less than a week and return it, Amazon still gives that person a refund. Who returns a book that was only $3? Who knows?
But, that’s certainly an improvement over print returns.
Have you ever returned a book or had yours returned?
L. Diane Wolfe
Professional Speaker & Author
Known as “Spunk On A Stick,” Wolfe is a member of the National Speakers Association and the author of numerous books. Her latest title, “How to Publish and Promote Your Book Now,” covers her publishing seminars in depth and provides an overview of the entire process from idea to market. “Overcoming Obstacles With SPUNK! The Keys to Leadership & Goal-Setting”, ties her goal-setting and leadership seminars together into one complete, enthusiastic package. Her YA series, The Circle of Friends, features morally grounded, positive stories. Wolfe travels extensively for media interviews and speaking engagements, maintains a dozen websites & blogs, and assists writers through her author services.

Publishing and promoting made simple!
Have you always dreamed of publishing a book but didn’t know where to begin? This book walks you through the steps of identifying markets, budgeting, building an online presence, and generating publicity. Get the whole story on:
· Traditional publishing
· Self-publishing
· Print and e-book setup, formatting, and distribution
· Finding your target audience
· Generating reviews and media interest
· Networking and developing an online presence
· Promotional materials and appearances
Uncover your ideal publishing path and numerous marketing options before you begin. Writing is your dream. Give it the best chance for success!
Available February 5, 2012
Publishing/Marketing, 214 pages
$14.95 Trade paperback ISBN 978-0-9827139-5-2
$4.99 Ebook ISBN 978-0-9827139-9-0
Available in all Ebook formats

Amazon    Amazon Kindle     Barnes & Noble          
“She gives an unbiased take on the advantages and disadvantages of traditional publishing and self-publishing and publishing paths that combine the two… It's the perfect book for those who want an overview to begin the decision-making process.”
- Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning series of how-to books for writers http://howtodoitfrugally.com/
“A must-read for writers planning on self-publishing or any writer who wants the ultimate how-to on promoting. Tons of links, advice, and how-to, whether you're going for print or e-publication.”
- Helen Ginger, author of Angel Sometimes http://helenginger.com/

Yikes! I had no idea so many books were returned - and I didn't know you could return an e-book at all! No wonder authors hate them!!
How about you, is this news to you? How have returns affected you?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Ouch! It's an Outline!

Sort of...

Have I mentioned lately how much you all rock? Because you do - seriously! When I called out for help on outlining and plotting, you gave me great ideas - and badly needed sympathy and empathy.

I spent days looking into the different options and thinking about what might work. Here's what I tried (at least the parts I remember...).
  • from my Scrivener chapter notes I made an outline with a bullet for each scene
  • from this I made a shorter outline using one bullet per chapter
  • I brainstormed a bunch of 'what if's
  • then I made an excel story bible to help me out
  • a 7 point story outline came next (kinda bombed at this though)
  • I made another excel sheet using the short outline and adding columns for internal and external conflict for each scene
  • I scribbled on all the printed out pages with the changes I could think of (this might have been the hardest part - I mean how are you supposed to know what happens until you write it???). Confession - didn't manage to finish *sigh*
  • a webby thing that should match my brain but didn't
  • I opened a new Scrivener document and surrounded myself with my papers, notes and spreadsheets
And nearly cried. Okay, not really, but I have to say looking at all those papers nearly sent my go-with-the-flow, pantsty, intuitive soul into a panic.

I believe I stared at the papers and the open documents for several days...

Following an outline is really, really hard!! My creativity and ideas totally dried up. *sigh*

So, I read through all your comments again, looking for the enthusiasm you all shared. That helped!

I reviewed my notes then packed them all away, closed all the documents except the new Scrivener file and the short outline with the conflict bits.

And guess what? It took me most of the last week, but I have the first 2 chapters rewritten. I can't believe how slowly I'm going - I feel like I'm wading through thigh high mud, but I'm making progress. I like the female MC much better this time and the conflict is improved (I know it's early - let me hang on to the delusions for now!). Now that I'm aware of the coincidence issue, I hope to avoid it with the thoughts zipping around in my head and some occasional checking in with my outlines.

So for now, I'll keep trying to work with this quasi-outline idea - even though I can feel my right brain pushing to escape! If nothing else, it's a learning experience and I do like to learn new stuff!

Have you ever tried writing in total opposition to your natural style? How'd that work out for you?

Monday, February 4, 2013

Tweet Responsibly

I'm over at From the Write Angle today talking about the Opera Disease. If you click over, you'll see how it's connected to tweeting responsibly!

In my opinion, tweeting responsibly means following a few guidelines:
  • be friendly & interact with other people
  • ask questions
  • offer answers to questions
  • reply to people when they speak to you or RT your tweet
  • RT tweets you enjoy - but don't go nuts here! Do other stuff as well
  • for the most part, it's okay to jump into conversations
  • constantly selling and promoting your own links irritates everyone
  • only tweeting links (with no words) irritates everyone
  • auto-responding to a follow with an auto-tweet irritates everyone
Okay, maybe the last 3 only irritate me. Maybe.

Anything you'd like to add to the list? Do you get irritated too?