August 24, 2016

Three Times A Charm with Nicky Peacock

Welcome to Three Times A Charm. I love to introduce readers to the people involved in children’s publishing. Today we welcome young adult author, Nicky Peacock. I’m visiting Nicky’s blog today too! I’ll share the link at the end of this interview, but first let’s get to know Ms. Peacock. Nicky, share with us a little about you.

I still live in the town I was born in (sad but true) A place called Corby. If the map of the UK were a person, I’d be living on his belt buckle. I was first published back in 2012 in a vampire anthology and have been submitting work ever since. I now have 35 short stories published and 4 YA novels through Evernight Teen Publishing. Growing up in a small town, I had no writing mentors or help with getting my start as a writer, so I run a free local writers group and volunteer at local schools and libraries to help the next generation of writers.

That’s very generous of you to do that. Mentoring is often the step a person needs to learn how to achieve their dreams and goals. Let’s hear more about your work.  

My two YA series are with Evernight Teen: Battle of the Undead is a Vampires VS Zombies series – there are currently two books (Bad Blood & Bad Timing) and a free prequel read (Traitors’ Gate) available. My second series, The Twisted and The Brave are supernatural thrillers based on classic children’s literature. The first book in the series, Lost in Wonderland is out now.

Traitors’ Gate – historical urban fantasy is a free read.
Bad Blood – is a vampires VS zombies urban fantasy
Lost in Wonderland – is a contemporary thriller twist on Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland

Okay, let’s move on to the threes. Give us your top 3 responses to the following to help us get to know you better.

    • Top 3 things you learned about the business after becoming a writer.

    1)        It’s hard work – even when you get your publishing deal. Modern writers are required to promote their books so expect to spend at least half of your writing time doing this. Personally, my day job is in marketing, so it’s not an issue for me. But I know some writers that shy away from promotion for just writing. The problem is, due to self-publishing we’re now in a flooded marketplace so authors need to get out there and search out spotlights for themselves and their work.
    2)        People think you earn a fortune. A sobering fact about being an author is that probably 70% are not paying their bills with their royalties. It’s a surprisingly small amount that can write full time and an even smaller amount that are in the same league as JK Rowling or Stephen King. I still have to maintain a full-time job to afford those luxuries in life such as food and shelter – but you never know…one day I might be able just to do what I love, write.
    3)        Being a single lady and an author is hard! (I’m yet to understand fully why) but as soon as a man finds out I’m an author, they go running off into the middle distance. I had one guy abandon me mid-date when I told him. Maybe I’m missing something? Perhaps they think I’m going to write about them? I do tend to base victim characters on people I don’t like so, maybe they’re right? LOL.

    • Top 3 snacks to munch on while working.

    1)      Peanut M&Ms – sweet, crunchy energy
    2)      Chocolate Brownies – there’s a cake shop in town that makes the most chocolatey moist, squidgy squares of fatty goodness you can buy. I always treat myself with one when I know I have a long writing session coming up.
    3)      Not so much a snack but a beverage: Russian Caravan tea. It’s smoky and strong and has enough of a kick to keep me working whilst making me feel slightly gypsy-like.

    • Top 3 personal mantras or inspirational phrases.

1)        You can’t please everyone – the best advice I was never given! I figured this out all on my own when my first book came out. Some readers like action, others romance and some want pages of description and then others don’t. The best thing to do is write in your voice in your style. I do listen to my reviews, though. My latest book Lost in Wonderland is getting some great ones, and those lovely readers are saying that they would have liked a longer book – they want more, so in the second one, I’m giving them more.
2)        If you do nothing, you’ll get nothing – I meet a lot of people, writers especially, who complain that they don’t get anywhere, but when you dig a little deeper, they’re not doing anything. They’re not submitting work or pitching book blogs or entering competitions, worse; they’re not even really writing! It doesn’t matter how or where you start on the road to what you want, just do something!
3)        Pay it forward – Through my life, I’ve always tried to help people. I believe in karma: If you do good things, good things will happen to you. I’m still not 100% on this working, however, but I live in hope!

Finally, please share with us where our tech savvy readers can find out more about you and your book.


Thanks for joining us today, Nicky. It was great to get to know more about you and your work.


THANKS!

Now, after you leave a comment to say "Hi" to Nicky, hop on over to her blog to read my interview.  https://nickypeacockauthor.wordpress.com/

August 17, 2016

Three Times A Charm with Megan Crewe and A Mortal Song

Welcome to Three Times A Charm. I love to introduce readers to the people involved in publishing book for childrens and teens. Today we welcome young adult author, Megan Crewe, and her upcoming release, A Mortal Song. I’m even sharing a rare review at the end of the interview. But first, let’s get to know Ms. Crewe. Megan, tell us a little about you.

I’m a Canadian author of YA speculative fiction: fantasy, science fiction, paranormal, horror, it’s all good. My books include the upcoming A MORTAL SONG, the Earth & Sky trilogy, the Fallen World series, and GIVE UP THE GHOST. I live in Toronto with my family, and when I’m not writing or reading, I’m probably planning some new trip around the world.

Let’s hear more about A Mortal Song.

A MORTAL SONG will sweep you away into the world of Japanese mythology, with a unique twist on popular fantasy conventions. Sora believed she was heir to Mt. Fuji's spirit kingdom, but when the mountain is attacked, she discovers she is a human changeling raised as a decoy while her parents' true daughter remained safe in modern-day Tokyo. As she struggles with her sudden loss of power, she must find a way to train the unprepared kami princess and save the only home she's ever known.

Pre-order A MORTAL SONG before Septmber 13th, and you can receive an exclusive digital gift pack! Plus the ebook is only $0.99 right now.




I recommend my book to readers who like:
The Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa
The Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor
The Fire and Thorns trilogy by Rae Carson

Great comps, I’ve read and enjoyed Taylor’s and Carson’s series as well as A Mortal Song. Now I’ll have to check out Kagawa’s. Okay, let’s move on to the threes. To help us know you better, give us your top 3 responses to the following.

  • Top 3 tools of the trade you couldn’t live without.

-My laptop. It helps me get away from obsessive internet browsing (which I’m prone to on my desktop computer) and lets me work on my books everywhere from my living room couch to the middle of a forest during a cottage retreat.
-My super comfy Victorian wingchair in which I do most of my drafting, and quite a bit of reading too.
-The palm-sized notebook I carry in my purse everywhere, so I can jot down the fantastic brainstorms that inevitably occur to me when I’m on the go.

  • Top 3 favorite ways to interact with readers.

-Getting emails. It’s always heartwarming to see someone take the time to contact me directly and let me know they’ve enjoyed my books!
-Twitter. Such a great place to chat back and forth!
-At signings and events. There’s nothing quite like getting to meet a fan face-to-face in a bookstore or at a convention!

  • Top 3 favorite places.

-Toronto. I’ve lived in this city all my life, and every time I consider moving somewhere else, I realize there’s no other place that has everything this one does that I love.
-Japan. I’ve been there twice and always leave already looking forward to the next time I can come back. It’s a beautiful country and I always feel at ease there.
-Ontario cottage country. My critique group goes on an annual retreat off into the forested lake country. I adore the peaceful vibe and being surrounded by nature.


Finally, please share with us where our tech savvy readers can find out more about you and your books.


Thanks for joining us today, Megan, and for trusting me with an advanced copy of your book. It was great to get to know more about you and your work.

THANKS!
 RARE REVIEW

I was immediately intrigued by the blurb of A Mortal Song and the book cover is gorgeous. So when Megan offered an advance copy in exchange for an honest review, I took her up on the offer. Because of my busy schedule, I rarely commit to reviews, but I’m glad I did in this case. My thoughts:

Rich storytelling

This book has a rich combination of culture, adventure, and magic. The Japanese culture is what drew me to the story in the first place and I was not disappointed. It was so well represented, that it even felt like one of the characters, Chiyo, was straight out of an anime. Then I was further intrigued by the idea that a girl learns she is mortal and has to overcome the weaknesses of being mortal to save the magical world she is from. Again, the execution of that storyline was great. I frequently wondered how she’d escape from the most recent dire situation only to be surprised by the cleverness.

Well written, interesting characters, beautiful cover. I definitely recommend this book.

Congratulations, Megan, on a job well done.

August 3, 2016

Release Day Review: Sign of the Green Dragon by C. Lee McKenzie

Happy release day to C. Lee McKenzie and Sign of the Green Dragon

About the book:

Three plucky sleuths. A crumbling skeleton. A buried treasure.

After six months in a new school, Sam's finally fitting in. He's the one kid with enough talent to hit the winning home run and bring the baseball trophy back to Haggarty Elementary. But Sam's guardian is shipping him off to boarding school before that can happen.

When teammates, Joey and Roger, hear his bad news, they plot to hide him until the big game. Their secret cave is a perfect place until an earthquake shatters a wall and reveals a wooden chest with a red-eyed dragon carved into its top. Inside, a bony hand clutches a map with a note, promising treasure.

With Joey and Roger, Sam sets off to track down the clues and hopefully discover treasure.

Just as some puzzle pieces start to make sense, the boys become lost in a labyrinth of underground tunnels, trapped by dangerous thieves and sealed inside an airless tomb. 

Sign of the Green Dragon gets a high five for fantasy, fun and some fearsome adventure. If you like intrepid would-be knights on impossible and dangerous quests, you'll love this story. As one reader says, this book, "has more twists than a dragon's tail."

Buy now to jump into the adventure.

My review:

From the well-developed characters to the intriguing mystery, Lee McKenzie has written a winner of a middle grade novel. I enjoyed everything about this book, but especially the characters. Even the supporting characters were intriguing and a bit of a mystery. Main characters, Sam, Joey, and Roger are believable – equal parts engaging and frustrating, like many boys their age. They get into and out of and into trouble again and again while trying to solve a mystery.

Though the characters were a high point, I also enjoyed the cave where Jen and his uncle lived and the taste of Asian culture that we got throughout the book. Really great read for middle graders.

(A copy of this book was provided in exchange for an honest review.)

You can pick up a copy of Sign of the Green Dragon from Amazon or other etailers.

You can find out more about Lee and her other great books on her website.

August 1, 2016

August #InkRipples – Guilty Pleasures


I must clarify right off the bat that I have trouble with the phrase guilty pleasures. The “guilty” part to be precise. Feeling guilt over a pleasure indicates that you are doing it when you shouldn’t be, therefore you feel guilty. I know – it’s just a saying – but one of my very strong beliefs in this life is that I live it so that I don’t feel guilt. The decisions I make, the actions I take are in line with my morals and beliefs. From doing what’s right, to telling friends and family I love them, to apologizing if I’ve done wrong, and even to popping a bonbon into my mouth – I work hard to live without guilt and I suggest every person do the same.

So, putting together a post on this is difficult for me even though I know it’s only meant to indicate how I indulge myself. But honestly, I work dang hard for my rewards, whether they be time to sit and read or an evening out with the girls, I don’t take anything I don’t feel I’ve worked for already – therefore, why would I feel guilty, right? If you haven’t figured it out, I’m a pretty literal person, and this month’s ink ripples concept is really screwing with me.

Calories are often a guilty pleasure (I rarely feel consumption guilt, because I exercise regularly) and there is one indulgence I haven’t provided myself in a long time that I think is shocking enough for this post. And it’s simply because I rarely find it in our small town grocery stores. Sour cream herring! Yes, I used to buy a jar (maybe 3.5 to 4 ounce jar) of sour cream herring and sit down with a fork and eat the entire thing in one sitting. Dang it, my mouth is watering while I type this. Though I probably never did it more than once or twice a year it has been a number of years since I saw my last jar. Sad really. But funny how I hadn’t thought about it until composing this silly post.

Other favorite food indulgences are crackers and squeeze cheese, which I’m sure is super bad for you, or potato chips and French onion dip. Sheesh, sour cream, cheese, French onion dip – my Wisconsin upbringing is showing!

Other than reading when there is housework to be done (but honestly, when isn’t there housework to be done?) and seeing a movie in the movie theater (so stupid expensive anymore) I can’t think of anything else that might invoke my guilt for claiming the time or money to do it.

The take away from my ripple this month is far more philosophical than one might expect. Live your life, make each decision, so that if you are taken from this earth at any moment you will have nothing to feel guilty for. No one else can do this for you but YOU.

Now, the question is, what indulgence are you going to make sure you've worked to earn because you don't want to go without and now realize you don't have to feel guilt over? 


Ripples in the Inkwell is a themed meme hosted by Mary Waibel, Katie L. Carroll, and Kai Strand posting on the second Monday of every month. To participate compose your own post regarding the theme of the month, and link back to the three host blogs. Feel free to post whenever you want during the month, but be sure to include #inkripples when you promote so readers can find you. The idea is that we toss a word or idea into the inkwell and each post is a new ripple. There is no wrong interpretation. Themes and images and more information can be found here.

July 13, 2016

Three Times a Charm with SMW Claw

Welcome to Three Times A Charm. I love to introduce readers to the people involved in children’s publishing. Today we welcome middle grade author, Sunshine Claw. Sunshine, we’d love for you to tell us a little about you.

I lived a miserable and unfulfilling existence* until the day I was invited to play Ultimate Frisbee by one boy, and left madly in love with another (my husband).

We Claws live with a hoard of ordinary, run-of-the-mill children, whom we believe to be spectacular and exceptional, and for whom we would gladly dash into a burning building to save.

Or just make the mundane, daily sacrifices required over a lifetime.

*5.775% accurate

Let’s hear more about Goggles Gone Strong.  

Goggles Gone Strong is my debut children's novel for ages 9+. In the book Calypso Blue finds herself on a strange island with a strange family, wearing an absurd pair of goggles, but has to save the dad from a giant saltwater crocodile, the mom from a sacrificial ritual, herself from mauling by the evil guy's vicious tigers (oh, and a shark!) before she can figure out those danged goggles and nab the treasure to bring it home.

I recommend my book to readers who like…well, I'm not aware of any books similar to mine and I've asked many people (readers) and none of them have ever been able to come up with anything either. So, I'd have to say it's about the same reading level as The Mysterious Benedict Society, the same suspense level as The False Prince, and the same adventure level as The Swiss Family Robinson.

Sounds fun! I’m totally curious what those goggles are all about. Okay, let’s move on to the threes. Give us your top 3 responses to the following to help us get to know you better.

Top 3 books you recommend reading and why you recommend them.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I know you've all read this, but have you read it keeping in mind that Harry Potter is the greatest Christian allegory written in our time? And no, I'm not talking about the series as a whole, which it is, but each and every book, every chapter.


Here are just a few examples off the top of my head from Sorcerer’s Stone: Ron sacrificing himself in the chess game so Harry and Hermione can progress, Harry "dying" for three days until he comes to in the infirmary, Harry is a "seeker," etc. There are many, many more.

Naturally, I've always loved The Chronicles of Narnia for the same reasons. The Voyage of the Dawntreader narrowly beats out The Horse and His Boy as my favorite. Mostly because I love the imagery of the beautiful ship sailing to the ends of the earth and all the magical islands they visit on their way.

And just for fun, I recommend The Incorrible Children of Ashton Place by Maryrose Wood. I think the tag line is: It's said of some ill-behaved children that they must have been raised by wolves; these children actually were. 

The series is pretty adorable.

Top 3 leisure activities.

Writing is actually my top leisure activity. For a couple years I unwound at night (after the kids were in bed) by vegging out on Facebook, and design and political blogs. One day I realized I had nothing to show for it. I wasn't a better person (some might argue I was a worse person :); I wasn't better friends with anyone; I hadn't acquired any new skills or talents.

I decided to do something that over time would add up to something, something that would last, something I could hand over to my children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I decided to write a book. And it turns out it works great to help me unwind.

I also like to run and search the State Regional Archives in Prague for ancestors.

Top 3 professions you wanted to be when you grew up.

The fondest ambition of my heart was (and always has been) to be one heckuva mother. It is the place *almost* all of my study, energy and time goes. I think it goes without saying, I'm not a perfect mother. I make mistakes just like any mother does. But it's something I'm always working on and improving. Right, Claw kids? Right???

Beyond that I had secondary dreams of being an architect. I have way more floor plan drawings from when I was a kid than essays.

Then in college I had vague ambitions of becoming a Botanist. Taxonomy was the area I was most interested in, with visions of me in tropical rain forests collecting and cataloging specimens in the back of my head. But studying Botany turned out to be one of the biggest regrets of my life. I sure wish I'd studied something I loved. Or heck, found even moderately interesting.

Finally, please share with us where our tech savvy readers can find out more about you and your book.




Thanks for joining us today, Sunshine. It was great to get to know more about you and Goggles Gone Strong.

THANKS!


July 8, 2016

Building Character with William Bradshaw, King of the Goblins

Yippee – it’s Friday! Friday’s begin the weekend and weekends offer all sorts of READING time! So to help you make your reading decisions, I’d like to introduce you to William from his book William Bradshaw, King of the Goblins by Arthur Daigle. First a little about the book:

            Hello, my name is William Bradshaw, and through no fault of my own I am King of the Goblins.  I made the mistake of applying for a management position advertised by the law firm of Cickam, Wender and Downe.  Thing is, they didn’t say the job was to ‘manage’ the goblins on the world of Other Place as their king.  Goblins don’t really want a king, and it’s a rare day when they do what I say.  They’d rather cause trouble, set traps and generally annoy everyone.

Okay. So, you like to cause conflict, but what conflict are you up against?

Conflicts, plural.  I have two big problems as King of the Goblins.  The first is my goblins.  They’re not as bad as everyone makes them out to be, most of the time, but they like causing trouble.  Pit traps, pie throwers, putting skunks in your underwear drawer, they can do all that and more before breakfast.  I’m trying to get them to be a little less idiotic, and just as importantly I’m trying to get them to believe in themselves.

That leads into the second conflict.  You see, goblins are the smallest and weakest race on Other Place.  They’ve been pushed around throughout recorded history.  Men, elves, dwarfs, ogres and others think nothing of robbing goblins.  That includes stealing their land.  Many goblins live in wastelands, dumps and other ruined places because those are the only locations where no one will try to drive them off.

What are some of the biggest stumbling blocks you’ve encountered trying to resolve all of this?

My biggest problem is that the goblins have no interest in winning.  With all the losses they’ve taken over the centuries they figure why bother trying when they’ll get beaten anyway.  It’s taken a lot of effort to get them to believe that they’re better than anyone thinks they are, and that their enemies aren’t nearly as tough as it seems.

Problem number two is that just about everyone on Other Place hates goblins.  Goblins are looked down on by most of the people on this world.  This means when a big problem comes up, I have a really hard time getting help from anyone but goblins.  Okay, goblins don’t go out of their way to be friendly, but the different races aren’t model citizens, either.

Tell us about your best friend or side kick.

I have a crew of loyal followers I can count on, which makes it hard to pick one as best.  I figure I’ll go with Domo.  He’s the closest the goblins ever came to having their own leader, and while we didn’t get along too well to start with, we’re good friends now.  He knows a lot about Other Place and he understands goblins more than anyone else.  I can turn to him for help, and he hasn’t run off  no matter how much trouble I find myself in.

Loyalty is awesome, isn’t it? What is your strongest personality trait?

I think fast in tough situations.  Being King of the Goblins means being one step away from disaster, with a fifty-fifty chance of it being caused by outsiders or my own goblins.  You have to react fast when trouble comes up.

Wow! Challenging. Is there anything about you that people are always giving you a hard time about? How do you feel about it?

Nobody on Other Place likes goblins, and since I’m their king nobody much likes me.  They figure I’m responsible for their pranks and traps, or that I’m as bad as they are.  I thought that would change after I helped them out by destroying the Staff of Skulls, but instead it made me more despised than ever.  You see, there are goblins just about everywhere on Other Place, and people are used to ignoring them or pushing them around.  When I proved goblins are capable of doing amazing things, it made those people scared, because they wondered what would happen if their local goblins started standing up for themselves.

How do I feel about an entire world looking down on me?  Most days it’s not that big of a deal.  I see the goblins improving and that’s what matters.  I’ve also run into a few people who appreciate what I’ve done.  It’s rare, but it happens.  That gives me hope that things are going to get better.

Let’s get to know you a bit better with some personal questions. What are your three favorite leisure activities?

#1 People not trying to kill me.  That’s so rare it feels like a leisure activity.
#2 Gardening.  This one is hard since the Kingdom of the Goblins used to be a dwarf strip mine.  Getting weeds to grow here is a challenge.
#3 Looking for ways out of my king contract.  Cickam, Wender and Downe gave me a contract when I became King, a nightmare of legal jargon, doublespeak and  outright lies.  If I can find a loophole in the contract I can go home.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Grown up?  Hey, I graduated college!  As for what I want to be, I’d say anything besides King of the Goblins looks really good.  I like these guys, I do, but I’d go back to Earth in a minute if I could.

If you could change one thing in this world, what would you change?

Besides going home?  I would love it if everyone on Other Place realized that goblins deserve the same rights and respect as anyone else.  I think half the goblin pranks and trap making would disappear right there and then if they were treated better.  I wish I could say all of it would vanish, but I know goblins well enough to say that’s not going to happen.

And finally, Williams, what words of wisdom would you like to share with our readers?

First, don’t look down on people.  They may be doing worse than you, and they may have done something to bring bad luck down on themselves, but no one deserves to suffer.  Second, have faith in yourself and your friends.  The goblins could have won more often over the years if they’d believed in themselves and really made the effort.  Third and last, avoid the legal profession at all costs.  Trust me on this one.

Now that you’ve enticed our readers with your story, share with us how they can acquire your book.

I am including the book blurb for my first book and the buy links for all three books.

William Bradshaw, King of the Goblins:

There's a new King in Town! That's the good news. The bad news is that Will Bradshaw has problems. He's new on the job but he's already made enemies with a fire-breathing dragon. His friends are not much better: goblins whose favorite pastime is messing things up, trolls with anger management issues, an over-achieving fire scepter, and an un-cooportative magic mirror. Aside from all that, all he has to worry about is a war. And that's the trouble. Throughout recorded history the goblins have never won a battle, much less a war. But things are going to be different this time around. William Bradshaw is determined to win, using every means at his disposal, including stealth, subterfuge and exploding outhouses.

Links: William Bradshaw, King of the Goblins:
            William Bradshaw and a Faint Hope:
            William Bradshaw and War Unending:

Readers, here is some information on William’s author:

Arthur Daigle was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois.  He attended the University of Illinois Urbana Chapmaign and received a degree in Biology, which seemed like a good idea at the time.  He has worked in such diverse jobs as zoo intern, research assistant, grading essay tests, water quality tester and garden associate.  It was pretty much inevitable that Arthur would take up writing since he has been a fan of fantasy and science fiction since he was old enough to walk.  Arthur has written three novels, William Bradshaw King of the Goblins, William Bradshaw and a Faint Hope, and William Bradshaw and War Unending.  Readers should expect more books in the future, as all attempts to stop him have failed.

Contact (or cyber stalk) Arthur Daigle:


Thanks for visiting, William!

July 6, 2016

Rare Free Series Opportunity

Worth the Effort - Ayden's Story turns two years old this month and I'm celebrating by offering it free of charge to subscribers of my newsletter. Ayden's Story has never been offered for free, so this is a big deal! Since Ella's Story is always free to download, this means you can get the entire novella series for absolutely nothing.


Seventeen-year-old Ayden Worth shouldn’t have to seek peace of mind in the streets. But as family pressures mount, his anxieties increase, and he turns his back on comfort for a life in homeless camps and back alleys.

Then one fateful day he runs into the only person he ever wanted to know better. Ella Jones. His memories paint her as kind and undemanding, and it seems the years haven’t changed her. Her simple expectations draw him to her. Against all odds, a relationship buds and grows.

Yet, as Ayden repairs his life, Ella suggests he help others who also struggle. Will Ella turn out to be just like his dad, expecting more from him than he can give? Or will he prove that he is worth the effort?

Wow. The emotion in this book surpasses the first, and I was blown away. This book is so much more than teen romance. It's about self-discovery and self-acceptance. It was a beautiful and encouraging story. Kristen, Pretty Little Pages

Ayden himself has got to be one of my all-time favorite characters. He's so...real. He has issues and insecurities and deals with them in such a real way that makes you think that he could just walk off the pages of the book (I wish! He sounds so handsome!). I really love how this story tackles harder issues of life, even in a numbered of pages. The reader goes through so many emotions with Ayden that you can't help but feel for him the entire time. – Paige M.

Why would I do this? For many reasons, actually. To introduce new readers to my work in the hopes the interest will carry over to my other titles. To rekindle interest in the Worth the Effort series by increasing sales ranks and number of reviews for the book on retail sites. To grow my mailing list - especially since I will release a contemporary romance soon that should appeal to readers who enjoy Worth the Effort. But heck - does it matter, because - FREE READS!

I'm also offering a bonus giveaway. Those fabulous readers who follow through and post a review of Ayden's Story will be able to choose another free ebook from my backlist! Any ole book they want of my published works.

But this offer is only good in the month of July.

So sign up for my monthly mailer to claim your free book and to stay in touch with my new releases, book events, and other exclusive subscriber giveaways.

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July 4, 2016

July #InkRipples – Inspiration


inspiration

noun  in·spi·ra·tion \ˌin(t)-spə-ˈrā-shən, -(ˌ)spi-\

- something that makes someone want to do something or that gives someone an idea about what to do or create : a force or influence that inspires someone
- a person, place, experience, etc., that makes someone want to do or create something
- a good idea

If you’ve read an interview or three of an author, it shouldn’t be surprising to learn that I find inspiration for my writing in my kids, husband, nature, and in living life. But since we are talking about inspiration in this month’s Ink Ripples, I thought I’d talk about some of the less common circumstances that provide inspiration.

Deadlines. A powerful motivator and a source of “forced” inspiration. I can think about a story or blog post (such as our monthly Ink Ripples post) for months before I put fingertips to keyboard and force myself to write something that is due in the morning. Or I might not be able to think of anything to do with a topic until that deadline looms and suddenly my mind is a whirl of ideas. This is how I wrote Super Bad.

Books on Craft. It’s funny how reading a book about how to write well inspires me to go out and try to write well. I’m sorry to admit it is most likely because I’m thinking, “Sheesh, I can do better than that!” while reading. I'm pretty cocky about my skill - when I'm not writing. Then all that swagger goes out the window.

Reading. There is nothing more inspiring than reading a really great book. Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Forgive Me Leonard Peacock, Throne of Glass. Reading those made my mind itch. Made me want to create something readers would get lost in.

Believe it or not – a name. Yes, sometimes it is as simple as hearing/reading/coming up with a really good name. For a person or a town. For a coffee shop or a game. I came up with the title Save the Lemmings and HAD to write a story to go along with it.

Dreams – of course. I suspect this might be one of the most common forms of inspiration for writers. The problem is what was epic in a dream can’t always be fleshed out into a fully formed idea that is long enough for a book. My paranormal romance, Ghost Touch – published under the name LA Dragoni – was a dream. It took me years to be able to make a story out of it.

What inspires you in your job?

Ripples in the Inkwell is a themed meme hosted by Mary Waibel, Katie L. Carroll, and Kai Strand posting on the second Monday of every month. To participate compose your own post regarding the theme of the month, and link back to the three host blogs. Feel free to post whenever you want during the month, but be sure to include #inkripples when you promote so readers can find you. The idea is that we toss a word or idea into the inkwell and each post is a new ripple. There is no wrong interpretation. Themes and images and more information can be found here.

June 29, 2016

Three Times A Charm with Deborah Baldwin and Bumbling Bea

Welcome to Three Times A Charm. I love to introduce readers to the people involved in children’s publishing. Today we welcome middle grade author, Deborah Baldwin. Deborah, we’d love for you to tell us a little about you.

I am an award winning drama teacher and director, professional actress and youth theatre administrator. I graduated from Stephens College with a BFA in theatre performance and a MED from Lesley College certified to teach drama, speech and English/language arts in Colorado and Missouri. I have created seven youth theatre programs and serve as a consultant to several theatre companies in the mid-west. Many years ago I co-developed a national playwriting contest for youth theatre plays which is still in existence today. I have directed over 250 full length productions, plays and musicals alike and have inspired many of my students to become professional actors, dancers, directors, playwrights and teachers. My husband and I have recently retired from our teaching positions and reside in Kansas to be nearer to our family. I have two daughters who are the best of friends, a wonderful step son and two quirky cats, Spats and Lala.  

Let’s hear more about Bumbling Bea.  

Purple Dragonfly Award Winner for Excellence in Writing and Publishing:  

Beatrice thinks she has no acting talent but that doesn't stop her from auditioning for the annual middle school play. Easy! Except Michiko, a new girl from Japan, shows up and ruins everything. So begins Beatrice's diabolical plan to scare away Michiko. But Michiko has goals of her own with no plans to leave soon. And then there’s that “other” girl—what a blabbermouth.  What’s a girl to do?  Plenty.   

“Hilarious! Entertaining! Extremely true! A great read for anyone who enjoys theater!” RM Amazon reviewer  

“In addition to being a fun read, this book does what so much fine literature does— helps us to see we are not alone.” MM Amazon reviewer  

“Bumbling Bea by Deborah Baldwin cannot fail to become a favorite with pre-teen readers, and very likely teenagers too, because the mixture of pathos and humor is so realistic.”  SS Readers Favorite reviewer  

I recommend my book to readers who like:  

5,6,7, Nate by Tim Federle 
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
 Wonder by R.J. Palacio  

Now let’s move on to the threes. Give us your top 3 responses to the following to help us get to know you better.

· Top 3 books you recommend reading and why you recommend them.  

To Kill a Mockingbird  by Harper Lee I have beloved this book for many years as have many other readers.  The plot is terrific and I enjoy that the story is told from a girl’s point of view.   

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrick Backman I picked up Backman’s book earlier this year and appreciated every part of it. If you haven’t read any of Backman’s books, I’d suggest you do so.   I enjoy stories that are heavy on characterization, because my background is in theatre and when I direct plays, I help actors create characters all the time.    

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  Hmmm.  I’m seeing a trend here—I’ve chosen all books about girls told from their point of view. Ha! This book writing is poetic and it’s a wonderful story.  It’s an interesting perspective to read a story about the average German citizen living through WWII.    

· Top 3 tools of the trade you couldn’t live without.  

I think indie publishing is a fabulous tool for any writer and it suits me perfectly. It isn’t necessary to have a publisher in order to be successful in this business. One can publish her book herself!   I’ve always been a trail blazer—the kind of person that takes matters in her own hands when she sees a need or problem. I noticed that we have a dearth of books on whatever subject is popular the time, but stories about the arts (especially theatre) are very few in number. When I share my story’s plot with readers of various ages, they were so appreciative. “Oh good.  Not another book about Zombies or wizards.  Bumbling Bea is something unique!” they say.    

There are countless sources writers can utilize to attract readers.  I particularly like Litpick.com which is a student book review website.  They give student readers an opportunity to learn how to review under the tutelage of an adult.  And the books are free to any student who would like to learn to review.  What a deal!  

Bookworks.com is an excellent, and very useful website for indie publishers.  They have a monthly newsletter with many helpful articles concerning self publishing, lists of book reviewers who are seeking books to peruse, etc.  If you complete your personal page and profile with Bookworks, you have the opportunity to be featured by them which is great exposure for you and your book.     

· Top 3 professions you wanted to be when you grew up.  

My aunts, mother and sister were teachers so becoming a teacher was a natural choice for me as well.  It’s one of my greatest gifts.  Kids energize me and fulfill my need to share my knowledge of the dramatic arts.  Even after thirty-eight years of teaching, my students continue to teach me something about myself that I didn’t know.  It’s very humbling.   

Early on in my life, I wanted to become a professional actress.  I didn’t really know what that meant at the time. When I graduated from college in the seventies, there weren’t as many opportunities for young actors to be employed as there are now.  My choices were pretty much limited to moving to New York or Los Angeles.  I wasn’t ready for that jump.  Over time, I found that I wasn’t willing to struggle as much as the occupation required.  I was just as happy acting or directing in community theatre, occasionally working as a voice over actress, etc.  I’m a doer—I like to “do” and not sit around waiting for life to happen to me.  Because of this particular gift, I have had opportunities to create many projects I don’t think I would have been able to otherwise.  I’ve formed youth theatre programs, co-developed a national playwriting contest, presided over the construction of a theater, written winning grants, introduced companies to radio theatre, directed just about any play or musical I wanted and guided  two programs concerning diversity for Martin Luther King celebrations.  And, I’m not even finished yet!   

I was created to be a theatre artist, period.  I knew it as a young girl when I’d play dress up on our east front porch of our home.  It took about ten years for me to admit my interest to my parents.  My father understood immediately.  Although he chose to be a physician, he acted in plays in college and loved it.  I think my mother and siblings thought I was crazy or at least “unusual”, but they tried their best to understand or merely tolerated me. However, my immediate family is heavily involved in the arts and appreciate my creativity.     

· Top 3 personal mantras or inspirational phrases.   

 “People of integrity expect to be believed.  When they are not, time proves them right.” --Unknown  

“Never give in--never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”  ― Winston Churchill  

“Eighty percent of all choices are based on fear. Most people don't choose what they want; they choose what they think is safe.” --Phil McGraw    

Wow – that last one! Finally, please share with us where our tech savvy readers can find out more about you and your book.     


Thanks for joining us today, Deborah. It was great to get to know more about you and Bumbling Bea.

THANKS!

June 24, 2016

Building Character with Kira from A Town Bewitched by Suzanne de Montigny

Yay – it’s Friday! Friday’s begin the weekend and weekends offer all sorts of READING time! So to help you make your reading decisions, I’d like to introduce you to Kira from her book A Town Bewitched by Suzanne de Montigny. First a little about the book:

It’s tough for Kira, growing up in the small town of Hope as a child prodigy in classical violin, especially when her dad just died. And to make matters worse, Kate McDonough, the red-haired fiddler appears out of nowhere and bewitches the town with her mysterious Celtic music. Even Uncle Jack succumbs to her charms, forgetting his promise to look after Kira’s family. But when someone begins vandalizing the town leaving dead and gutted girds as a calling card, Kira knows without a doubt who’s behind it.




Welcome to Strands of Thoughts, Kira and congratulations on the publication of your very own story! Can you tell us a little about you, please?

Hi, my name’s Kira. I’m fourteen and my dad just died, and with his death, my dreams of the violin I need to further my studies. You probably wonder why I’d be worried about a stupid violin,  but you see, I’m a child prodigy, and I don’t mean that in a braggish way. It’s actually really tough being a child prodigy  because everyone thinks you’re a nerd. But I need that violin to do my final conservatory exam. However, there’s another  problem. Some strange red-haired woman has suddenly come to town who plays the fiddle. No big deal, right? But the whole town’s gone fiddle crazy. Yeah, that’s right. Fiddle crazy in a small town that likes rock. It’s like they’re bewitched. But the worst part is, my Uncle Jack who promised to take care of us now that Dad’s gone has fallen for her. And  not just that. Someone’s been vandalizing the town leaving dead birds that have had their organs removed. The police even found human teeth marks in part of an organ. I think it’s her – Kate McDonough. She’s not the angel everyone thinks she is. I mean, just look at her eyes. They’re pale blue like a wild animal’s. She’s not normal.

I’m sorry about your dad. Do you have anyone in your life that can help you through the grief as well as whatever crazy things are happening to the town?

My BFF is Charlotte, and oh, has she got problems too. She was adopted from China into a white family and she’s the only Asian in town except for the old couple who run the Golden Sun restaurant. And Travis, the biggest bully in our school takes every chance he gets to run her down for being Chinese. I hate that guy. Anyway, she and I stand together against Travis and the In-girls, the coolest clique in our school. The thing I love about Charlotte is that she’s going to help me get to the bottom of this fiddler problem. We’re trying to figure out who Kate McDonough really  is before it’s too late.

Anyway, you can hear my whole story right here:


Thanks for joining us today, Kira and sharing some inside info on your story, A Town Bewitched. Readers, here's a little about Kira’s author:

Suzanne de Montigny wrote her first novella when she was twelve. She is the author of award-winning the Shadow of the Unicorn series. Her third novel, A Town Bewitched, was awarded the Dante Rossetti Best Coming of Age Novel. She and her sons are avid fiddlers. She lives in Burnaby, B.C. with her two sons, husband, and Buddy the dog.