Thursday, April 28, 2016

Keeping it Real - Stephen King sytle

Stephen King gives 8 strategies on how to sell books, but two of them touch on the idea of keeping it real.

His # 1 strategy is to tell the truth - you know keep it real.  This makes the story so much more . . . well real.

His # 4 strategy also touches on the idea of keeping it real.  When writing, he suggests to pretend as if you are writing a letter to a person that you know.  This will help to make your writing more personal and help you connect with your target audience.

For more detail check out the article at:

Monday, April 25, 2016

Distraction-Free Writing?

Do you frequently have trouble resisting the siren call of social media, email, internet searches, or games when you should be writing? The Freewrite, just released earlier this month after a successful Kickstarter campaign a year and half ago, might be your answer.
Billed by the company as "the world's first smart typewriter," the Freewrite has an e-ink screen (much like a Kindle) and a front light, so you can type inside in low light conditions or outside in the sun. It can save up to a million(!) pages within its memory. Transferring work to a computer is done with cloud syncing via wifi. And there's absolutely nothing to distract you here.

I have to admit, I'm pretty tempted. I definitely have a problem with distractions when I should be writing. The idea of a device dedicated to drafting and nothing else sounds pretty good. But there are two things that make me hesitate (although they may not be a problem for someone else!).

First, the price is pretty high at $499.00. While this is a third of what my MacBook cost, it's still a hefty chunk of change for something that only has one function. More of a deal breaker for me is the lack of a cursor or touchscreen to let you navigate within your WIP. I usually do a bit of editing on the fly as I draft, so I have a feeling this would just frustrate me.

What do you think? Would you try the Freewrite?

Monday, April 18, 2016

YA Book Pick: The Eye of Minds by James Dashner

Once a month, we choose an outstanding YA book to review.  We want to spotlight books of interest to aspiring writers, as well as highlight some of our favorite books and authors.

This month's book is The Eye of Minds by James Dashner.

Synopsis (from Goodreads): 

An all-new, edge-of-your-seat adventure from James Dashner, the author of the New York Times bestselling Maze Runner Series, The Eye of Minds, is the first book in The Mortality Doctrine, a series set in world of hyper-advanced technology, cyberterrorists, and gaming beyond your wildest dreams . . . and your worst nightmares.

Michael is a gamer.  And like most gamers, he almost spends more time on the Virtnet than in the actual world.  The Virtnet offers total mind and body immersion, and it's addictive.  Thanks to technology, anyone with enough money can experience fantasy worlds, risk their life without the chance of death, or just hang around with Virt-friends. And the more hacking skills you have, the more fun.  Why bother following the rules when most of them are dumb anyway?

But some rules were made for a reason.  Some technology is too dangerous to fool with.  And recent reports claim that one gamer is going beyond what any gamer has done before:  he's holding players hostage inside the Virtnet.  The effects are horrible - the hostages have all been declared brain-dead.  Yet the gamer's motives are a mystery.

The government knows that to catch a hacker, you need a hacker.

And they've been watching Michael.  They want him on their team.

But the risk is enormous.  If he accepts their challenge, Michael will need to go off the Virtnet grid.  There are back alleys and corners in the system human eyes have never seen and predators he can't even fathom - and there's the possibility that the line between game and reality will be blurred forever.


Book had mixed reviews, but our family enjoyed the book.  It was both entertaining and fast-paced.  Here's some of things we enjoyed:   pacing, plot, and premise.  It was a page turning adventure novel filled with action and just the hint of romance.  Dashner is a strong world builder when it comes to creating a high tech world and his characters are very real.  He is a master at creating both flawed, but likeable characters like the antagonist, Kaine.

Good read for:

Middle school boys, reluctant readers, Mom's of boys, Gamers, or anyone wanting to be entertained.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Publishing advice from author Everly Frost + A chance to win FEAR MY MORTALITY

I'm excited to have Everly Frost with us today to talk about her path to publication and share her advice to those of us still working towards our publication dreams.  Make sure to scroll to the bottom of the post for a chance to win a copy of FEAR MY MORTALITY!

Hi Everly!  Thanks so much for stopping by. Tell us about the process of getting your debut published. We'd also love to hear any advice you have for those of us still working toward our publication dreams.

The process of getting my debut published can be summarized in a sequence of numbers: three agents, two major revisions, and one publisher.

It was definitely the three agents part that surprised me! Each of them was amazing and shaped my publication journey in positive ways. If I could go back in time, I wouldn’t change the process, even though it was a long one. The changes I made to the manuscript along the way helped the book evolve and helped me learn as a writer.

Working toward your publication dreams takes courage and determination, especially when things don’t go as planned. It’s okay to feel sad when a rejection comes in, but don’t let it define who you are. As my journey shows, there are different paths to publication.

Great advice!  Thanks so much for joining us!


Fear My Mortality by Everly Frost
Publication Date: April 5, 2016
Publisher: Month9Books

In a world where people are invulnerable to illness and death, with lives spanning hundreds of years, a sixteen-year-old becomes witness to the impossible – her brother’s failure to regenerate after death after which she suspects that she too may be mortal.

Goodreads Google Play | BAM | Chapters | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | TBD | iBooks

Everly Frost wrote her first story when she was nine. She grew up in a country town, lived for a little while in Japan, and worked for several years in Canberra, Australia's capital city. Now, Everly lives in Brisbane, Australia, with her husband and two children. She doesn't speak Japanese so often anymore, has left the cold Canberra winters behind, but has never stopped writing. 

Giveaway Information: Contest ends April 22, 2016 
Five (5) winners will receive a digital copy of Fear My Mortality by Everly Frost (INT)

Monday, April 11, 2016

Why Writers Need to Think About Audio Books as a Publishing Must

Last year, I discovered the wonderful world of audio books, and since then I've become a convert, shifting ~75% of my book consumption to audio. And apparently I'm not alone.

According to The Wall Street Journal, in 2014, audio book sales grew +14% to almost $1.5B in sales, making it one of the fastest growing segments in publishing.

Audio books allow readers to engage with books in new ways--while driving, walking or making dinner. And book sellers like Amazon are making big investments behind the medium, predicting more growth and more shifts from print and ebook into the audio space. So much so, that they've invested in over twenty audio-only titles, and commissioned Orson Scott Card to write an adapted dramatization of Ender's Game, complete with sound effects and more than two dozen actors.

So what does this mean for writers?

For one thing, it means we need to start thinking of audio right sales as a must instead of a nice bonus. If you don't have an audio version of your book, you're losing out on a growing and important segment of the market. 

Speaking from personal experience, I've passed on reading several books because they weren't available in audio format. They're still on my to-read list, but as more and more of my book consumption moves to audio, the likelihood that I'll get them dramatically decreases.

For self-published authors, this means investing into audio versions of your stories. Luckily there are a number of ways to approach this. Here's a great article from Publisher's Weekly detailing some of your options.

According to, the growth in audio books may ultimately mean we have to change the way we write, especially for those authors that first release in audio. Complex sentences don't always translate to the audio world. Successful dialogue becomes mission critical. And the addition of sound opens up a whole new realm of possibilities to readers listeners: sound effects, accents, music--where descriptions where once a must, a title written for audio-only can instead show the reader details through sound.  It's almost feels like we're moving back in time to the days before TVs, when radio programming was king. 

I for one am exciting about anything that makes reading accessible to new groups of readers and writers. And as a fan of audio books, I'm excited to see how publishers adapt to the growing trend. 

What about you?

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Morning Routines

So you want to write a book, eh?! 

Well, you know all about characterization by now, but here is some more fun ways to add a little more layers.  At some point in your novel, your character may wake up and need a morning routine and I have three fun sites that will reveal some interesting personality traits.  (Not sure how accurate they are, but they are entertaining).

I'll start with my favorite site -  How you cook your toast says a lot about you - and give a summary.

Burnt toast = patient people

Perfect pack = motivated by appearances and high standards

Light = spontaneous.

You get the idea and it makes some sense, but for more detail check out

Next, dress it up baby.  I could have a lot of fun with this topic, but I think I'd bore my readers.  Thus, here's a sample run down.

You are what you wear - Dr. Baumgartner

Always in work clothes - you value yourself in terms of work
Logos and labels - broadcast your wealth to be treated well
Neutral colors - stuck in a rut or not want to draw attention to self
Baggy clothes - not realistic perception of self

For more check out:

Okay this last one came up on facebook and I thought it was funny, inappropriate, but funny. 

What body part do you wash first in the shower? What it says about your personality?

Chest = practical
Face = money
Armpits = dependable
Hair = artistic

There's more and I don't agree with it all, but it was worth a laugh and could make for some interesting YA characters.

Check out more at your own risk at:

I think with some more research and maybe just plain observations, you can find some pretty entertaining morning routines to make your characters extra special.  Happy creating!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Writing Research: When Do You Need an Expert Reader?

Research is an inevitable part of writing. This is more obvious when you're writing in a genre like historical fiction, where you have to find out what life was like or which historical figures you can include in your novel. Or maybe you're writing science fiction set on a spaceship, and you need to get your facts straight about the way space travel works (or plausibly may work in the future).

But even the most contemporary of contemporary novels will require a certain amount of fact checking. For example, let's say your contemporary YA is set in Boston during December. You'll need to make sure you don't set any scene that needs to take place in the daylight after about 6 pm—because anyone who's ever been there will cry foul otherwise. Or what if you plan to include a character from a different cultural or religious background to your own? You'll need to make sure you get any specific routines and rituals correct.

Great, you say to yourself. I'm really good at research! I'll go to the library and check out a whole bunch of books. I'll do internet searches. No problem.

Hang on, though. It's important to keep in mind that there's only so much you can learn from books and the internet. When you're writing diverse characters (and I sincerely hope you are!), there's no substitute for having someone read your work who has experienced those circumstances/diversities. Sometimes known as a "sensitivity read," this is one of the best ways to make sure you're getting the details right.

Where to Find Expert Readers
The ideal scenario is to be hooked up with a local large, diverse writer's group. Who better to help you check over your work than trusted beta readers with whom you already trade work? But since this isn't a reality for a lot of people, here are a few other places to look.

  • Online Writer's Groups: You're far more likely to find a wide variety of life experiences amongst a large group of writers, and some of the largest can be found online. You can find these groups through participating in contests, frequenting forums like the Absolute Write Water Cooler or Agent Query Connect, or reading websites and blogs focused on the type of writing you do.
  • Social Media: There are tons of opportunities to find sensitivity readers and experts through social media channels. You can get hooked up with writers' groups on Facebook (many of which maintain an "areas of expertise" or similar document open to member contribution) or crowdsource information via Twitter.
  • Absolute Write Story Research: There's a dedicated area in the Absolute Write forums that deserves a special mention—the Story Research section. This is a place where knowledgeable experts in a whole range of topics drop in and answer questions about everything from medical science to Russian language to the way the FBI used the internet in 1998.
Do you have any other sources to find expert readers?