Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Tampa Bay Comic Con


 
Hello everyone!
Just a short note to let you know I'll be at Tampa Bay Comic Con this weekend, Saturday, August 2nd and Sunday, August 3rd, along with fellow TTB authors Scott Eder and Maria DeVivo. I'll be on several panels, including:

FROM PAGE TO SCREEN | 3:00pm – 3:50pm | Rm. 7-9

Where we'll discuss favorite (and least favorite) film adaptations of science fiction novels and comics.

 BUILDING A BELIEVABLE WORLD IN SCI-FI AND FANTASY | 6:00pm – 6:50pm | Rm. 7-9

Where we'll discuss the components needed to create a fictional world that will resonate with real-world readers.

 WHAT MAKES A STRONG CHARACTER? | 9:00pm – 9:50pm | Rm. 7-9

Where we'll discuss heroes and villains, love interests and sidekicks: What attributes make us want to love them or leave them?

 
Stop by if you're in the neighborhood. I'd love to meet you!

D.

 
 
 
 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Taking Back the Reins - by Aaron Paul Lazar




I loved my publisher. Lida Quillen of Twilight Times Books is an outstanding woman, a marvelous judge of literary quality, and over the course of our publishing relationship of seven years, I've considered her a good friend.

She believed in me. Yes, for the duration of fifteen published books and more.

But I write fast. I can't help myself, the books just pour out of me. And they started to back up in the publishing queue over the years to the point where I had multiple books unpublished and waiting to see the light of day.

One of my crit partners, Robin Waldrop, of the Blood Moon Series, encouraged me to consider going out on my own to publish. She'd done so very successfully with her books and said it was a breeze. Well, maybe not a breeze, but it was doable and "everyone" was leaping to self publishing now.

"It's chic. It's the in thing," many of my writer friends told me. "You'll have control, and you'll make more money."

This was quite a change in the industry's take on self-publishing, because I remembered years ago when my first book came out with Publish America (I know, I know...) and soon after that, I was never so happy as when I signed a contract with Twilight Times Books. Not only did I feel "validated," but I could get rid of all those naysayers who told me I'd self-published, and how horrific and embarrassing that was... Seven later, here I was considering going "back" to that awful place.

I had NO problems or concerns with my publisher. I loved her. Still do. Sure, she had other authors besides me. (the nerve!) But I trusted her and knew she would always do her best for all my books.

My problem was I was writing far too many books for her to handle in her usual production queue of books by admittedly amazing TTB authors. The queue was growing, and I was still writing pretty fast. Last fall I had seven books waiting in the queue, some I hadn't even submitted yet. I broached the subject of "trying one on my own," and after a fair amount of discussion, we both decided it could be a good thing. I would keep all my previous books with Twilight Times Books, and because many were mystery series, we would help each other. If I sold a book in the series through my own publishing endeavors, readers would likely want to go back and buy additional books from TTB. And vice versa.

I discussed this issue with several of my best selling author pals, including Michael Prescott, whose thrillers have been selling very well and who has been doing this on his own for years now. He recommended it and gave me plenty of tips. My friend S.W. Vaughn also held my hand along the way, patiently teaching me how to format my Word document manuscripts for Kindle and others. 

Since last fall when Lida and I had this discussion, we've published an omnibus (four of the Gus LeGarde books) and I've put out five new books. Yes. Five. I've written a new one (Devil's Lake), and have three more books to get released this year. I'm loving it.

I've heard that the more books an author has out there, the more money he can potentially make. Of course, it goes without saying they must be good stories, well-written, and carefully produced. That said, even if it's just a few dollars per title trickling in every day, it can add up. And that actually has proven to be true in my case. I'm not rolling in dough yet, LOL, but the sales from The Seacrest (my first love story) paid for our vacation this year. First time that's ever happened. (huge grin)


There's also a nice feeling of artistic control that comes with self publishing. I am very happy to be working with an outstanding cover artist with whom I can tweak and improve my covers all day long. And if I publish an eBook and find a missed typo - I can fix it in a few minutes, without having to ask someone else to do it. I love that!

I still will likely submit some of my series books to TTB in the future. After all, it's nice to be linked with such a high quality operation. And Lida can submit my ARCs to the big review houses, like Publisher's Weekly and Booklist, which at this point I don't believe I can do on my own. 

It's nice to have options, isn't it?

I've elected to go through the Kindle Direct Publishing Select option. After messing around with my first self published book, The Seacrest, on Smashwords (which sells through many avenues including Barnes and Noble, etc), I found that I really wanted to offer some of my titles for free to try to bring up the readership and to spread the interest in follow on books.

You can't offer your book for free on Amazon unless you're in this program, and you have to pull your book out of the other channels to be eligible. Other formats, however, like print books and audio books, can be sold elsewhere. I'd also heard about the "halo" effect of getting lots of exposure using email promotions like BookBub (a daily email program that goes out to hundreds of thousands of readers offering eBook deals) to offer your book at a discount, and then seeing residual sales on the wave that followed. So, I pulled The Seacrest out of Smashwords, and six weeks later, enrolled in KDP Select.

The Seacrest did exactly as I'd hoped and shot like wildfire to the top of all free eBooks on Kindle, fiction and nonfiction. It saw 59,000 downloads, was #1 for the whole weekend, and then had a decent wave of residual sales that sold enough, as I said, to cover this summer's vacation. Now - remember this is a love story, with horses and the ocean and lovers on the cover. Rather appealing to the masses and more popular than most other genres. I tried this approach again with Lady Blues: forget-me-not (BookBub put it into the "literary fiction" category, which is much less popular than romance). We had about half the action for this book on freebie (29,000 downloads), and only sold about one quarter the books. But it still worked and I made a small profit.

The lesson learned here is that there is no guarantee that every book that comes out on BookBub is going to succeed. Cover appeal, genre, storyline, and luck will always play a part. 

One of the side affects of doing this free offering promo is that you bring in lots of new readers, and plenty of new reviews. The Seacrest saw an additional 100 reviews after it's offering and Lady Blues received another 50 reviews.

What about print books? Well, Amazon has another company, CreateSpace, which has helped me produce my print books at no cost to me except for the actual books, which cost me only $4-5 each including shipping. (I buy several boxes at a time). The final product has been consistently excellent, the covers glossy and beautiful, and the inner pages feel very high quality. Although there is a learning curve for this, too, and it can be frustrating at times, if you work through it using the CreateSpace interior review program, you will get there. You also have the option for your print titles to appear all over - so now my print books are in Barnes and Noble, Kobo, etc.

I've written many articles about audio books, which I still do as a part of the book production process. You can read about it here and also please follow the links to the series of pieces I've written over the years as I've learned about tips and tricks to make the audio book production smoother.

All in all, I'm happy with the decisions I've made over the years. Becoming "validated" by an industry respected publisher was a good move and I'm glad I did that first. Now, being able to produce and create books on my own feels right. The timing was perfect, and I'm really enjoying the process!

Here are the new books that I've released over the past 8 months, including the omnibus released through Twilight Times Books. Just click on the covers to see the Amazon listing.

If you love to write, remember to write like the wind. ;o)

Aaron Paul Lazar
www.lazarbooks.com

http://www.amazon.com/Seacrest-Aaron-Paul-Lazar-ebook/dp/B00G1TDBRI/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1406144195&sr=1-1&keywords=the+seacrest
They say it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

Finn McGraw disagrees.

He was just seventeen when he had a torrid summer affair with the girl who stole his heart—and then inexplicably turned on him. Finn may have moved on with his life, but he’s never forgotten her.

Now, ten years later, he’s got more than his lost love to worry about. A horrific accident turns his life upside down, resurrecting the ghosts of his long-dead family and taking the lives of the few people he has left.

Finn always believed his estranged brother was responsible for the fire that killed their family—but an unexpected inheritance with a mystery attached throws everything he knows into doubt. And on top of that, the beguiling daughter of his wealthy employer has secrets of her own. But the closer he gets, the harder she pushes him away.

The Seacrest is a story of intrigue and betrayal, of secrets and second chances—and above all, of a love that never dies.



Lady Blues: forget-me-not: Past and present collide when an Alzheimer’s patient’s fragile memory holds the key to solving mysteries dating back to World War II—including a long lost secret love affair.

Music professor Gus LeGarde is just doing a favor for a friend when he agrees to play piano for church services at a local nursing home. He doesn’t expect to be drawn into a new friendship with an elderly Alzheimer’s patient dubbed “the music man” or to stumble across a decades-old mystery locked inside the man’s mind.

Octogenarian Kip Sterling doesn’t know his own name—but he speaks Gus’s language, spouting jazz terms like “cadence” and “interlude” and “riff.” He’s also obsessed with “his Bella,” but nobody knows who she is.

When Kip is given a new drug called Memorphyl, he starts to remember bits and pieces of his life. Gus learns Bella was Kip’s first and only love, but their relationship was shrouded in scandal. Intrigued, Gus agrees to help search for her. Could she still be alive?

Horrified when the miracle drug suddenly stops working and patients begin to backslide, Gus panics. Can he help Kip find his beloved Bella before his newfound memories disappear?


Spirit Me Away: Boston, Massachusetts: It’s the summer of ’69—the parks are flooded with flower children and a hot new band called Led Zeppelin is set to appear at the Boston Tea Party. But for one newlywed couple just beginning their lives together, there will be no peace.

In the cradle of sex, drugs, and rock ’n roll, Gus and Elsbeth LeGarde are music students attending the New England Conservatory of Music, after a wedding kept secret from their families. When they discover a bruised and sobbing teenage girl on the Boston Commons who can’t remember who she is, or how she got there, the couple decides to “adopt” her to help find her identity.

But Gus and Elsbeth aren’t prepared to be plunged into a violent world of rape, abuse, and a ring of white slave traders who’ll stop at nothing to take back their property—or to acquire new flesh in the form of Gus’s beautiful young bride.

At times nostalgic, heart-stopping, and breathlessly dramatic, Spirit Me Away is a thrilling romantic mystery set against the colorful backdrop of the sixties—with an unforgettable conclusion at the greatest rock festival of all time.



The Liar's Gallery: The last place Gus LeGarde expects to find his old friend Byron Cunningham is in a plane that crashes in a field near his farmhouse. But that’s just the first surprise in a series of shocking events beginning with the discovery of a Monet painting crammed into the plane’s fuselage. Is it real? Or fake? The trail leads Gus into a twisting trio of dangerous art world conspiracies.
 

Gus fends off some very pushy collectors and soon realizes he may have crossed paths with treacherous criminals, putting his family at risk. As if that isn’t enough, he must also contend with a problem that’s close to his heart: his daughter, Shelby, is growing up too fast. She’s determined to sing professionally and is now under the spell of a wolf in tenor’s clothing, handsome Greek student, Dmitri. When she vanishes with the family car, her frantic parents desperately chase the fading trail.
A slew of Facebook messages on Shelby’s computer lead them to The Eastman School of Music, where both Shelby’s new flame and Gus’s old friend have been hiding secrets linked to the art scandal. There’s a real Monet out there somewhere, and nothing—including murder—will stop the desperate man who wants it.


Devil's Lake: After two years of brutal captivity, Portia Lamont has escaped and returned to her family’s Vermont horse farm—only to find her parents gone to New York to try an experimental treatment for her mother’s cancer, and her childhood friend Boone Hawke running the farm. The man Boone has become frightens her to near paralysis, but she’s too traumatized and physically devastated to put up a fight.Like the rest of her family, Boone has never given up hope that Portia would return. But when she turns up battered, skinny as a twelve-year-old boy, afraid of everything and unable to talk about what happened, he does the only thing he can—try to help her heal. He summons the town doctor and Portia’s parents, and sets out to put this beautiful, broken woman back together again.Through her family's love and Boone's gentle affection, Portia gradually comes back to herself, and starts to fall for her old friend in a whole new way. But one thing threatens her fragile hopes for recovery: The man who took her promised that if she ever escaped, he'd kill her. Slowly. And someone is definitely watching her...waiting to make a deadly move.
 



Book 1. Double Forté - Gus LeGarde's life essentially ended four years ago, when his beloved wife leapt to her death. Today, Gus lavishes love on his family, trying to bury the pain. But trouble arrives when his arrogant son-in-law's business partner goes missing, and Gus's innocent friend is set up to take the fall.
Book 2. Upstaged - When Gus LeGarde agrees to play piano for the high school drama club's production of "Spirit Me Away," a sixties-style musical he wrote in college, he doesn't expect to face a barrage of menacing pranks played on his fiancée Camille and the drama club. Who's sabotaging the show? And what do they have against Camille? Gus must unravel the mystery before the backstage saboteur stakes his final, deadly claim.
Book 3. Mazurka - Join Gus LeGarde in this European rollercoaster ride where he unearths a scandalous family secret linked to a nineteenth century composer. When brother-in-law Siegfried is framed for a neo-Nazi’s murder, they’re plunged into a sizzling cat-and-mouse game where the stakes are lethal.
Book 4. FireSong - What would you do if your country church was hit by a rogue tornado during services? What if the shrieking winds unearthed the bones of a missing parishioner in a nearby wheat field? Now add the discovery of heroin in your elderly minister's bloodstream. When Gus LeGarde is thrown into the middle of the mess, he knows life's finally gone berserk in East Goodland, New York. Join Gus as he's lured into a bizarre network of underground tunnels to expose the most shocking discovery ever to rock the Genesee Valley.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

More about the Challenges of Writing a Series

Part Two of my Interview with Christine Amsden

By

Dora Machado

 
 


There you have it, folks, four books and a good looking series. Last week we talked to Christine Amsden about the most important elements of a successful series. Today Christine talks about the tools in her magical arsenal, her audience and her favorite characters.

Hello Christine, and welcome back. In Secrets and Lies you make liberal use of a wide variety of magical tools and concepts to enhance the storyline. We read about seers, vampires, werewolves, blood magic, mind magic, illusionists, energy nodes, love spells, lust potions, healing potions, rituals, mind melds, magic power trafficking, you name it. Where did you get your magical arsenal and why does it work so well within the series context?

I borrowed most of my magical tools from what I think of as the “common western mythology,” but I put my own spin on it. The spin goes back to, “Power corrupts.” I may have used a few magical creatures in the series, but I've always felt that humans are as capable of evil as any demon you could throw at me. That's why a lot of this series involves humans rather than creatures. Ultimately, all the magical tools you described support the idea that it's not the magic itself, but the wielder who makes the difference.


My favorite character in the series is Evan, the powerful sorcerer who has a hold on Cassie's heart but whose magic is both a draw and a cause of grief for independent-minded Cassie. How did you manage to couple an exploration of magic into an exploration of love?

I love Evan too! As for exploring magic and love, for Cassie at least, it was hard to separate the two ideas. But love is more than a feeling – it's something you do. It's a verb. Eventually, Cassie is going to have to separate magic/independence from love, which will be the real challenge.

Speaking of love, is Cassie Scot a young adult series or is it intended for a different audience?

I consider it a new adult series. This is a relatively new sub-genre that bridges young adult and adult. It roughly involves characters ages 18 to 23, and the big difference between new adult and young adult is the stage of life. Cassie is out of school, dealing with career, serious relationships (possibly heading towards marriage), and she's renegotiating her relationship with her parents now that she is an adult. It's a time of change and flux where people really come into their own and learn who they are, which was why I chose the age. I wasn't really trying to pigeonhole the story into a category.

I do recommend this series for 18+, although I think mature high school students would enjoy it too. Parental guidance is suggested as there is some mild sexual content (honestly, I've seen steamier in young adult series, and I read steamier as a teen, but I don't want to presume on behalf of parents).

There were several interesting plot twists in Secrets and Lies and then you added that one big one at the end, which was great. I'm not going to spoil it for future readers, but did you plan the twists for the entire series in advance or do you conceive the plot twists as you go?

Some are planned, but most of the big ones surprised me. The “one big one at the end” came to me when I was halfway through my first draft of Secrets and Lies, actually. It may surprise readers to hear that, especially when it ends up laying the foundation for the rest of the series, but I had an “OHHH!” moment and I knew, I just knew, that it fit. Everything suddenly made sense.

Mind Games, the third book of the series, was just released this year. How will Cassie be different in this book? How about Evan? And without giving away any spoilers, how will Mind Games up the stakes?

Cassie is about to face the challenge of her life – a mind mage who is very interested in courting her. I say in the book blurb that she finds him … irresistible. There is a world of subtext in the ellipsis. Mind Games was my biggest challenge as a writer, too, because I wrote an entire novel from the first-person viewpoint of someone who is being mind controlled (it really is supposed to be obvious to the reader), but who doesn't … well, sometimes she thinks … but then Matthew is very good. But overcoming this challenge will teach her things about herself and take her in a whole new direction. Between that and learning a painful secret, Cassie is actually going to make some brash decisions in the third volume of the series. She's going to make some mistakes, but that's a big part of growing.

Evan, meanwhile, starts off regretting a decision he made at the end of Secrets and Lies. He's scared. We don't get a lot of his point of view (he only gets prologues and epilogues) but his life has been turned upside down too, and he still loves Cassie, despite everything. Behind the scenes, he's going to have to learn how to turn that love from childish desire (“I want”) to a mature commitment. He doesn't quite finish that journey in Mind Games.

You've mentioned before that this is a four-book series. The last book of the series, Stolen Dreams has just been released. Huge Congrats! What do you hope to accomplish now that is all said and done? What would you like your readers to say when they read the last line of the Cassie Scot series?

Yes, I'm sure, and yes, Stolen Dreams (Cassie Scot #4) is out. I do plan to spin off two secondary characters – Madison and Kaitlin. Madison's Song is almost done (I'm working with an editor right to polish it up) and Kaitlin's Tale is in early rough draft form. Cassie's story is finished in the four books I mentioned, but readers will learn more about the world and, of course, about Cassie's two best friends, if they check out the spin-offs.

But at the end of Stolen Dreams I expect readers to feel like Cassie Scot has completed her emotional and psychological journey. That come what may, she is secure with who she is and what she can do (magic or no magic). Without giving the ending away, there is a certain symmetry that should help bring real closure to the series conclusion.

Is this really it? It it? Done done? You know, there are so many vivid characters in the series that I've considered spinning off others. Elena, Cassie's nine-year-old sister (who can speak to the dead), has intrigued me from the start. And I even have an idea floating around for one last adventure for Cassie herself – although I don't really want to open that can of worms. If I did, it would be an additional adventure, separate from the four-book arc I planned and implemented to completion.

But honestly, it's time for me to move on and write something else. As much as I love Cassie (and I really do), I don't want to be one of those authors who only has one thing. When Kaitlin's Tale is over (and I have to finish that one because there are a couple of world-building loose-ends that need tying up), I'm going to start something completely new.

Thank you so much for this interview, Christine. We wish you lots of success with the series.

****

Christine Amsden has been writing science fiction and fantasy for as long as she can remember. She loves to write and it is her dream that others will be inspired by this love and by her stories. At the age of 16, Christine was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease, a condition that affects the retina and causes a loss of central vision. She is now legally blind, but has not let this slow her down or get in the way of her dreams. Christine currently lives in the Kansas City area with her husband, Austin, who has been her biggest fan and the key to her success. They have two beautiful children, Drake and Celeste.






*****

Dora Machado is the award-winning author of the epic fantasy Stonewiser series and her newest novel, The Curse Giver, available from Twilight Times Books. She grew up in the Dominican Republic, where she developed a fascination for writing and a taste for Merengue. After a lifetime of straddling such compelling but different worlds, fantasy is a natural fit to her stories. When she is not writing fiction, Dora also writes features for Murder By Four, an award winning blog for readers and writers and Savvy Authors, where writers help writers. She lives in Florida with her indulgent husband and three very opinionated cats.






Saturday, July 12, 2014

World Blog Hop - The Writing Process

Hello, MB4 friends and fans!

Today I'm taking part in another fun blog hop, this one asks about the writing process and more. I've been invited by a wonderful author, Susan Whitfield. Here is a link to her original blog piece.
Thanks for having me, Susan!

Here are Susan's links. I hope you'll check out her novels - I have thoroughly enjoyed them over the years.

Susan Whitfield, Multi-Genre Author

Here is Susan's Amazon page where you can see all of her books:
Genesis Beach
Just North of Luck
Hell Swamp
Sin Creek
Sticking Point                                                              
Slightly Cracked
Killer Recipes 
Susan Whitfield, Bio:

Award-winning multi-genre author Susan Whitfield is a native of North Carolina, where she sets all of her novels. She is the author of five published mysteries, Genesis Beach, Just North of Luck, Hell Swamp, Sin Creek and Sticking Point

She also authored Killer Recipes, a unique cookbook that includes recipes from mystery writers around the country.  All proceeds from this book are donated to cancer research. 

Slightly Cracked is her first women’s fiction, set in Wayne County where she lives with her husband. Their two sons live nearby with their families. 

Following are the questions I answered for this exercise. At the end of this section, you'll see links to the three new authors who will carry forth this quest! 

Aaron, what is your current WIP?

I've just released two new books, book #7 in the LeGarde Mystery series, The Liar's Gallery, and a new romantic thriller, Devil's Lake.

Here are the synopses for each:
 
After two years of brutal captivity, Portia Lamont has escaped and returned to her family’s Vermont horse farm—only to find her parents gone to New York to try an experimental treatment for her mother’s cancer, and her childhood friend Boone Hawke running the farm.

Like the rest of her family, Boone has never given up hope that Portia would return. But when she turns up battered, skinny as a twelve-year-old boy, afraid of everything and unable to talk about what happened, he does the only thing he can—try to help her heal. He summons the town doctor and Portia’s parents, and sets out to put this beautiful, broken woman back together again.

Through her family's love and Boone's gentle affection, Portia gradually comes back to herself, and starts to fall for her old friend in a whole new way. But one thing threatens her fragile hope for recovery: The man who took her promised that if she ever escaped, he'd kill her. Slowly. And someone is definitely watching her...waiting to make his next deadly move.



http://www.amazon.com/Liars-Gallery-LeGarde-Mystery-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B00LMD7ZSO/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1405013882&sr=1-1&keywords=the+liar%27s+galleryThe last place Gus LeGarde expects to find his old friend Byron Cunningham is in a plane that crashes in a field near his farmhouse. But that’s just the first surprise in a series of shocking events beginning with the discovery of a Monet painting crammed into the plane’s fuselage. Is it real? Or fake? The trail leads Gus into a twisting trio of dangerous art world conspiracies. 

Gus fends off some very pushy collectors and soon realizes he may have crossed paths with treacherous criminals, putting his family at risk. As if that isn’t enough, he must also contend with a problem that’s close to his heart: his daughter, Shelby, is growing up too fast. She’s determined to sing professionally and is now under the spell of a wolf in tenor’s clothing, handsome Greek student, Dmitri. When she vanishes with the family car, her frantic parents desperately chase the fading trail.


A slew of Facebook messages on Shelby’s computer lead them to The Eastman School of Music, where both Shelby’s new flame and Gus’s old friend have been hiding secrets linked to the art scandal. There’s a real Monet
out there somewhere, and nothing—including murder—will stop the desperate man who wants it.

2) How does your work differ from others in its genre? 

For the LeGarde Mysteries, I'd guess I've had to say they are more full of country, nature, family, and food than most other mystery series. There's a whole series of lives going on in these books. They progress as time moves forward, they change, they grow. And all this happens while the villains are neatly dispatched in one of the most beautiful areas of the world - the Genesee Valley. 

Devil's Lake is a bit more psychological than many romantic thrillers. I think I've combined the elements of danger, mental suffering, romance, and the yearning for home in this story. I hope it's different from any other thriller you'll read. It's more than just "how can she survive?" or "what will the evil monster do next?" It's full of people who feel and react in ways I hope are genuine and that readers can relate to.

3) Why do you write what you do and how do you deal with writer's block?

I can't help myself. The stories just come tumbling out of my brain. For those of you who are writers and wonder how you can get new ideas and get motivated when you are blocked, here is my advice:

Look around you. The world is crammed with topics. Watch your favorite movies. Dissect them, list the ideas that stir your imagination, and make an inventory of your favorite themes. Is it unrequited love? Time travel? Gentle giants falsely accused? Delicious twists that shock and surprise? Spunky lady cops who save the day? Heroic animals? Fantastical fairies? Gritty city secrets?

Keep your ears open. Listen to news stories. The often unfathomable, sometimes horrific accounts will stir your creative juices. Imagine a twist on them. Then twist it again and change its literary color or scent. Don’t worry if it’s been done before. Just put your mark on it and write it with passion.

Tune in to real life dramas at work, church, or school. Think about your friend whose wife died from a rare complication of a cardiac virus, your cousin who suffers from depression, your daughter whose college boyfriend from Albania is suddenly deported. Real life is fertile and rich. It’s full of angst, splendor, terror, and adventure. It offers a mosaic of ideas, and waits for you to pluck your new favorites to mix and match into a dynamic storyline.

Last of all: read, particularly from your genre. Read incessantly. Read in the grocery store line. Read at the doctors. Read at the Laundromat. Read while you wait for the kids after soccer practice. Read before you go to sleep at night. It’s not only the best way to charge up your imagination. Sitting at the virtual feet of the masters of the craft is the best way to learn to write.

4) How does your writing process work?

I have a rough idea of where I’d like to see the book go in the beginning, but it’s all in my head. I’ll picture an opening chapter, perhaps the highpoint of the action, and will decide in advance where the book will take place. Then I just start writing. The only time I make an outline is after I write the book to double check on my timelines, etc. ;o)


NEXT UP on the list are three great authors who will carry this torch! 


Ellis Vidler

As a child in the South, Ellis spent long, hot days imagining herself an Indian or pioneer or musketeer. At night she (and her whole family) read. From Tarzan and D’Artagnan to Anne Shirley and Nancy Drew, she lived them all. No angst in her childhood. So what did she do as an adult? Write fiction, what else? She loves creating characters and making them do what she wants, but mostly they take off on their own and leave her hurrying to catch up.

Ellis is an author, editor, and speaker. She grew up in North Alabama, studied English and art at All Saints College for Women, and thoroughly enjoyed studying creative writing under the great Scott Regan. She taught elements of fiction at a community college. Her home is now the South Carolina Piedmont with her husband and dogs. 


http://www.ellisvidler.com

http://theunpredictablemuse.blogspot.com

https://www.facebook.com/ellis.vidler



Robin P. Waldrop
Most days you'll find Robin's fingers flying over her keyboard, creating the next scene in her newest tale, occasionally straying long enough to dip a fishing pole or pick up the mug of coffee always by her side. When not writing, she's chasing grandkids or animals through the house, making fabulous forts with for them, and trying to keep up.

She loves to IM with her friend in Texas (probably too much - nah, there's never too much gossiping), has a strange fascination with unicorns, and loves relaxing with a good book whenever she gets a minute to herself (which is a rarity).

Late in the evening, she enjoys sitting on the porch with her husband, chatting or simply watching the stars and enjoying a few moments of blissful silence. 

http://www.robinpwaldrop.com


http://www.robinpwaldrop.blogspot.com


www.facebook.com/robinsauthorpage



Robert Sells

Rob attended college at Ohio Wesleyan where he struggled with physics. Having made so many mistakes in college with physics, there weren't too many left to make and he did quite well at graduate school at Purdue. 

Rob's wife pestered him about putting to "pen" some of the stories which he had created for the children and other relatives over the years. He started thinking about a young boy and a white deer, connected, yet apart. Ideas were shuffled together, characters created and the result was the Return of the White Deer. Later, a new idea emerged which became the exciting and disturbing story, Reap the Whirlwind. Many more books are in the works.

http://www.robertsells.org/robertsells

https://www.facebook.com/geneseo4444

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Blog Hop - "Meet My Character" by Aaron Paul Lazar

Hello, MB4 friends and fans.

This week I thought it would be fun to share a blog hop with you for a change of pace.

I have been tagged by Dina von Lowenkraft, author of Dragon Fire, the amazing YA fantasy that has taken the literary world by storm! (click HERE to see her post) to participate in this fun Blog Tour. Thanks for inviting me, Dina. ;o)

http://www.amazon.com/Dragon-Fire-Dina-von-Lowenkraft-ebook/dp/B00ECNEZ6G/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1404843120&sr=1-1&keywords=dragon+fire


Dina is currently the Regional Advisor for SCBWI Belgium, where she lives with her husband, two children, three horses and a cat. Her debut YA fantasy, Dragon Fire, was published by Twilight Times in August 2013. Dragon Fire is a finalist in ForeWord Book’s 2013 Book of the Year Award in YA fiction. Dragon Fire is also a category finalist in the 2014 Eric Hoffer Book Awards.

Dina is repped by the fabulous Kaylee Davis of Dee Mura Literary.

website: http://www.dinavonlowenkraft.com
                                                             ***

After you read about Portia Lamont below, you'll see links to other authors who will be participating in this tour as well. Please check out their pieces when time allows. ;o)


1) What is the name of your character? Is she fictional or a historic person?

Portia LaMont is entirely fictional – she’s the heroine in DEVIL’S LAKE, a new romantic thriller coming out this month. You can see her on this cover.



2) When and where is the story set? 

DEVIL’S LAKE is set in the town of Bittersweet Hollow in the Green Mountains of Vermont in the current day, and also in the deep Wisconsin woods in a secluded cabin near Devil’s Lake.


3) What should we know about her?

Portia has been held captive for the past two years by a complete stranger who kidnapped her from the parking lot at work. The monster who calls her "Sugar" and keeps her bound and hungry in a remote location is cruel--and frankly--completely nuts. When the story opens, Portia has just escaped and is returning home to her parents' Morgan horse farm in Vermont.


4) What is the main conflict? What messes up her life? 

The kidnapping was traumatic, and Portia doesn’t know if this guy is still after her. And...he knows where she lives.

5) What is the personal goal of the character?

Portia hopes to learn to trust people again, maybe even some day trust a man again. She wants to get her life back, to live to see another day, and to avoid being kidnapped again by one very ticked off psychopath.


6) What is the title of this novel and where can it be found?

DEVIL'S LAKE is about to be released on Amazon. (Links to be updated as this happens)

***

And now, it's time to introduce you to the fabulous authors who will be continuing on this blog hop. Here's a bit about them and their books. Be sure to check them out! I'll add their links to their blog hops as they come live in the next few weeks. ;o)

DORA MACHADO:

Dora Machado is the award-winning author of the epic fantasy Stonewiser series and her newest novel, The Curse Giver, available from Twilight Times Books. She grew up in the Dominican Republic, where she developed a fascination for writing and a taste for Merengue. After a lifetime of straddling such compelling but different worlds, fantasy is a natural fit to her stories. When she is not writing fiction, Dora also writes features for Murder By Four, an award winning blog for readers and writers and Savvy Authors, where writers help writers. She lives in Florida with her indulgent husband and two very opinionated cats.

Author Contact Information:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DoraMachado



JOAN H. YOUNG:



Joan Young has enjoyed the out-of-doors her entire life. Highlights of her outdoor adventures include Girl Scouting, which provided yearly training in camp skills, the opportunity to engage in a 10-day canoe trip, and numerous short backpacking excursions. She was selected to attend the 1965 Senior Scout Roundup in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, an international event to which 10,000 girls were invited. She has ridden a bicycle from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean in 1986, and on August 3, 2010 became the first woman to complete the North Country National Scenic Trail on foot. Her mileage totaled 4395 miles.

She also writes a monthly column for the Ludington Daily News called "Get Off the Couch." See Young's completion of hiking the North Country Trail near Petoskey, MI.


links: 

booksleavingfootprints.com
myqualityday.blogspot.com
joanofshark.com
https://www.facebook.com/jhyshark
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Anastasia-Raven-Mysteries/301726169837694
twitter name is sharkbytes

The Challenges of Writing a Series

Part One of my Interview with Christine Amsden

By

Dora Machado


  
Have you ever considered writing a series? I have. Oh, wait. I did! LOL. I just finished reading Secrets and Lies and Mind Games by Christine Amsden, books two and three of the Cassie Scot: Paranormal Detective series. I was impressed by Christine's ability to draw from the strengths of her first book to build a compelling series. In her interview today, Christine talks about the challenges of building a successful series.

Hi Christine and welcome to MB4.

Hi! Thanks for having me here.

Cassie Scot is the non-magically gifted daughter of a family of powerful sorcerers. In a magical world, she has to rely on her smarts to make a living, and most importantly, to survive. What is it about Cassie that makes her such a compelling character? How did you come up with her character? What parts of Cassie do you like most? What parts of her vex you?

I think Cassie works because she's genuine. I put a lot of myself in her, to be honest. Oh, she's not me, but she's definitely got my voice. I came up with her in a burst of inspiration one day – I knew my next story needed to be about an awesome character. Characters draw me into my favorite stories, after all. But what could I do to make a character unique? Cool magical powers have been done to death, and even if I could come up with a new one, that just didn't have the right oomph. Then it hit me – she's got NO magic. In a world of magic (which I then had to create – Cassie came first), my character doesn't have any.

I love Cassie because she's so relatable. I myself often feel like I'm out of my depth in a world of special abilities – I'm legally blind. The comparison struck me early on, but it's not why I wrote her. I wrote her because any one of us can be a hero in some small way and Cassie is the embodiment of that.

Cassie is also young and impetuous. She does not make all the right choices all the time. I suppose if anything vexes me about her, that's it, although I submit that she's 21 and we all make mistakes at 21. (Of course, now that I'm 36, I'm done making mistakes! :) )

When and how did you come to the conclusion that Cassie deserved more than a book, an entire series?

Pretty early, actually. As soon as the idea hit me I started brainstorming, and within a week I had several books’ worth of material. It wasn't just mysteries (although I came up with a few more possibilities than I ended up writing), but Cassie's character arc. It was that arc, I felt, which needed a series. Most of the first book takes place in less than a week – enough time to have an impact, given the traumatic events that take place, but not enough time to really grow into the woman she needs to be. She wasn't going to have a sudden awakening in a week and think, “Oh, well, I solved this paranormal mystery so now I'm okay then!” She has to earn her happily ever after.

How is writing a series more challenging than writing a book and vice versa?

With a series, you have more facts to keep track of, and depending upon the publication schedule, you may be stuck with decisions you made earlier in the series that you later regret. (I got around this with Cassie Scot because I had all four books at least drafted before the first one was published – I was able to go back and make sure it all worked. But I'm working on two spin-offs now that have me shackled to earlier decisions.)

But the series makes character development easier. It's hard to earn real character change over the course of a single adventure.

In your opinion, what are the elements that make a series successful?

Character. Character. Character.

My favorite series have characters who rise to new challenges, and learn or grow from each encounter. Series that go on “too long” (an entirely subjective metric) usually do so because something has stagnated – often the character. For example, I stopped reading Sookie Stackhouse early on because Sookie never really evolved, IMO. She faced new challenges in each book, but she remained essentially the same. On the other hand, Harry Dresden is on book, what? Fourteen? Fifteen? I don't mind, I'm ready for the next one!

Awesome. Thank you so much for talking to us today, Christine. MB4 readers: Much more about series writing and Christine's journey next week. Until then, enjoy your summer and have a wonderful week. D.
  
****

Christine Amsden has been writing science fiction and fantasy for as long as she can remember. She loves to write and it is her dream that others will be inspired by this love and by her stories. At the age of 16, Christine was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease, a condition that affects the retina and causes a loss of central vision. She is now legally blind, but has not let this slow her down or get in the way of her dreams. Christine currently lives in the Kansas City area with her husband, Austin, who has been her biggest fan and the key to her success. They have two beautiful children, Drake and Celeste.


  
 




*****

Dora Machado is the award-winning author of the epic fantasy Stonewiser series and her newest novel, The Curse Giver, available from Twilight Times Books. She grew up in the Dominican Republic, where she developed a fascination for writing and a taste for Merengue. After a lifetime of straddling such compelling but different worlds, fantasy is a natural fit to her stories. When she is not writing fiction, Dora also writes features for Murder By Four, an award winning blog for readers and writers and Savvy Authors, where writers help writers. She lives in Florida with her indulgent husband and two very opinionated cats.