Wednesday, December 7, 2016

#IWSG for December 2016

The Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG) is the brilliant idea of Alex J. Cavanaugh. The purpose of the group is to share doubts and insecurities and to encourage one another. Please visit the other participants and share your support. A kind word goes a long way.

This month's awesome co-hosts are: Jennifer Hawes, Jen Chandler, Nick Wilford, Juneta Key, JH Moncrieff, Diane Burton, and MJ Fifield!

The December IWSG question: In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what’s your plan to get there?

I already write full-time, even though there never seems like enough time to do everything! I'd love to see myself making at least a regular paycheck equal to my husband's. I'm not aiming to be a millionaire, but to double our household income would be awesome.

I'm working hard on putting more books out there and learning about marketing. I'm doing good with the first one, but not so great with the second. My fear is that I will never be able to figure out how to properly market my books, and that luck will never be on my side when it comes to sales.

Has this fear stopped me? Nope. I'll keep on pushing forward and trying new things.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Ghost Cat prowls into pre-order!

Bigfoot is rampaging through a small fishing town, and he has friends.

The whispers say a boy is missing. Kinley Dorn can’t ignore them. The last time she did, a giant almost killed her. Her investigation in the boy’s disappearance leads her and her boyfriend, Ransom Averill, to a village on Lake Iliamna. Unfortunately, that boy isn’t the only child missing.

Some folks claim Bigfoot is taking the children, but the gentle creature usually stays away from humans. Kinley believes a totem is making Bigfoot act strangely, but can she and Ransom find it before more kids are abducted?

I hope this cover is as haunting as I feel it to be. I did very little in the creation of it. Sorry! No big story on this one. The model was perfect. Not even any flyaway hairs for me to deal with.

The background is one of my favorites. I use it here on my blog. The fog and snow create the perfect atmosphere.

* * * * *

Only 20 days until Christmas! Are you all ready for the holidays?

I've been working on a special Holiday Feast (of books!) with other authors, and wow! It's going to be huge. Check out the page for details! I'll be keeping you updated.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Cradle Rock flies into retailers!


Gabe the goblin just saved his town Broken Branch Falls from splitting apart. He also revealed that humans--horrible creatures of myth and legend--may actually be part of their history! But seriously? Nah!

Now Ona, Gabe’s girlfriend, is headed thousands of miles away to Camp Cradle Rock for Spring Break seeking evidence of humans. Gabe knows better than to tell a stubborn ogress she’s crazy, so he’s letting her go and spending the break at the beach like a normal teenage beast. And he’s determined to have a good time without her, whether he likes it or not.

But when Gabe hears Ona went missing, he and his friends set out for the wilds of the west to find her, no matter what dangerous creatures get in his way. Not even humans.

Check out the Book Trailer!

Three cheers for Tara! I'm so lucky to have already read Tara's newest awesome release. I love her Beast World series. It gives me the same feelings as the Harry Potter world. Check out my review for Cradle Rock and go pick yourself up a copy!

Here is the list of wonderful CRADLE ROCK RELEASE PARTY POST HOSTS:

12/5 Patricia Lynne Nerds Rule
12/5 Heather R. Holden Vampires
12/7 Juneta Key author spotlight interview
12/9 Julie Flanders Teenagers Now vs 80s
12/9 Elizabeth Seckman Beast-themed Recipe
12/12 Lori L. MacLaughlin Merfolk
12/14 Sharon Bayliss Ogres
12/14 Tyrean Martinson 5 Reasons to use Chapter Titles
12/16 Michael Di Gesu Craziest Spring Break Trip
12/17 Cathrina Constantine Teen Dating
12/19 Christine Rains Hiking Faux Pas
12/19 Alex J. Cavanaugh Beast vs Monster - terminology
12/21 Ann Noser CR Quotes
12/21 Heather M. Gardner Discrimination - joking vs hurting
1/4 Ken Rahmoeller Dragons
1/4 L. Diane Wolfe Marketing Tips - Live & Online
1/9 C Lee McKenzie Grownup Stereotypes
1/11 M. J. Fifield Crazy Road Trip
1/25 Crystal Collier Poetry & Songs in Stories - Writerly Wed

Tara is also giving away signed copies of Broken Branch Falls and Cradle Rock, some Beast World swag, and a $20 GC!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Word Witch Wednesday - whipping up the news

Good news or bad news first?

The good news: I don't know if this is the bigger news, but here we go! The release of the first three of the Totem books is going good in that the readers who has read the books love them. Yay! Yes, the whole book ad thing didn't work out, but I've learned from it.
I'm on schedule for getting the next three Totem books out starting in January. The covers are done, and I'll reveal them next month.

I'm behind in writing the final three books. I wanted at least book #7 to be done by now, but I haven't set any release dates for them yet, so I'm safe in that aspect.

The bad news: my publisher, Ellora's Cave, is closing. I've regained all my rights for the nine books I had with them, and I'll publish them myself next year. I won't discuss all the details, but if you want to read about it, check out this article here. You can email me about it if you're really curious.

This is the second time I've had a bad experience with a publisher. I am thankful for the ability to publish my work myself. It's tough out there right now, especially for romance authors. Issues with Samhain Publishing and Harlequin also add to the mess writers have been dealing with this past year. Is it a wonder so many people are going indie? If Tor or Penguin want to sign me, then I'll be excited about working with a publisher again, but at this point in time, I have no desire to do so.

I'm not blocking off that path in my journey, but I'm putting my focus on being an indie author now. It's a little sad, and more than a bit scary since it will all be on me, but I'm one of those folks who find their determination strengthened by such things.

Never give up your dreams. You just may have to forge another path to get there.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Shattered Spirit (Totem #4) with a not so shattered cover!

A haunted house isn’t going to stop Ametta Dorn from doing her job.

Frustrated that her family has left her out of the search for the missing totem tokens, Ametta Dorn loses herself in her work. She’s offered a dream job of a complete interior renovation of a famous Cremaschi house. Not even discovering the house belongs to Lucky Osberg can dampen her enthusiasm.

Lucky’s plan to spend more time with her as she works goes awry when the spirit who protects his home tries to murder her. Ametta won’t be scared off, despite being tempted to run and never come back. She was going to flee Alaska and pursue her designer dreams anyway, yet that means giving up on Lucky and the totem that is just within her grasp.

Coming January 9th, 2017.

I think this is one of my most striking covers in the series so far, and it's because of the model with her awesome hair. There's a gorgeous old house behind her, but you can't take your eyes off her. I'm so excited about that, and yet nervous in that I want to share with you how I created this cover.

In the spirit of sharing my experiences creating book covers, I'm going to tell you what I did. BUT, be forewarned, it is likely you won't look at the cover the same way again.

Here's your spoiler warning! Stop reading here if you don't want to know my secret.

I'll give you a minute.

*nom nom yummy cookies nom*

Are you still here?

Okay. That means you want to know what I did.

The model is a composite of several bits and pieces. Yes, it's true. The face is from a different image than the rest of the body. It's the same model, but two different images. The original image I wanted to use had the model with plastic wrap around her neck. When I purchased the image, I thought it looked like frost or ice on her neck, but nope. It's definitely plastic wrap. No amount of fiddling around in Photoshop could change that.

To keep that face, I had to put her on a different body. But then I had another problem: the hair looked too cut out. It was flat and lifeless with obvious snipped edges.

So I took hair from other images (five in total, actually) and gave Ametta that magnificent mussed hairstyle. I learned a bunch of cool hair blending tricks that day.

Please let me know what you think!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Crash (The Immortal Chronicles #2) out now!


In that once moment everything changed. Everything I thought I knew shattered with just a few words.
Who knew the truth could be so devastating. 
I need to decide which side to take. But can I even trust myself?


She's gone, but I'll scorch the earth to find her if that's what it takes. 
I'll call upon friend and foe for the battle that is to come. The fires of hell couldn't keep me from her and whoever 
thinks they can take what is mine, is going to regret it for all time.

One thing is for sure. The Crash could ruin us all.

Buy it now on Amazon US and Amazon UK!


Where are we?” I ask, looking around at the beauty surrounding me. I don’t know that I’ve been anywhere so calming, so serene. I look out over the view in front of me. When we broke through the trees I was met with grass mixed with rocks and a small pool, fed by a waterfall.

Xander, this place is beautiful!” I say twirling around before running and jumping into his arms, peppering his face with small, chaste kisses. He twirls me in circles before lowering me back to the ground, then gathering my face in his hands and kissing me. Different this time, deeper, firm but still gentle.

It is nothing compared to you, but I thought you might like it. I came across it while I was out on my last scout. I saw it and thought of you.” He says, resting his forehead on mine. His lips are so close they tease me, just out of reach, and each moment I crave them more. The butterflies in my stomach take flight and I close my eyes to hide the emotion I know he’ll see there.

Don’t hide from me Addie. You never have to hide, not from me.” He says gripping my chin. I don’t think I’ve ever been happier than in this moment. “You make me feel again, its been a long time since I could say that. Even if no-one else knows, I always want you to know that I love you. I will love you until my lungs give out. Until there is nothing more than dust on this earth, and long after that still. I will never love again like I love you.”

Author Bio:
By day, Sloane Murphy works full time as an account manager, and by night writes escapism in the form of Paranormal Romance, all while looking after her fur baby & Mr M. She was born and raised in England along with 2 sisters, 2 brothers, and a plethora of cousins, and comes from a REALLY big family!
Sloane is currently working on the Immortal Chronicle series, alongside some other Top Secret projects too. She likes to be busy - unless busy involves doing the dishes, but that seems to be when all the ideas come to life.
Insta & Twitter: @author_sloanem

Monday, November 21, 2016

Timeless blog tour - 3 Approaches to Developing Characters

Welcome Crystal Collier here today to share her new book and some writing tips!

In 1771, Alexia had everything: the man of her dreams, reconciliation with her father, even a child on the way. But she was never meant to stay. It broke her heart, but Alexia heeded destiny and traveled five hundred years back to stop the Soulless from becoming.
In the thirteenth century, the Holy Roman Church has ordered the Knights Templar to exterminate the Passionate, her bloodline. As Alexia fights this new threat—along with an unfathomable evil and her own heart—the Soulless genesis nears. But none of her hard-won battles may matter if she dies in childbirth before completing her mission.

Can Alexia escape her own clock?

BUY: Amazon | B&N

3 Approaches to Developing Characters
(For Different Types of Learners)

Thank you Christine for having me here today!

As a home schooling mother, I've learned THE HARD WAY that everyone has a different learning system. What works for one person probably won't work for another, so I'd like to suggest some approaches to creating/deepening characters that work for different types of thinkers.

First of all, when writing characters we need to be in their heads. Pure psychology here. That means we need to have a solid grasp of (in no particular order):
  • what they look like
  • how that has affected their place in society/self image
  • what their greatest fear is
  • what their greatest desire is
  • where they live/work/go to school
  • who they rub shoulders with every day
  • hates/loves/interests & hobbies
  • their greatest strengths
  • their greatest flaws
That seems like quite a bit of information, and it is, but if we want solid characters, we need to do the leg work (ahem, research). So here are some tools/approaches for developing characters based on different learning approaches:

1. Get Visual. Do you get totally inspired by pictures? Do they spring stories in your head? Do you think in images? I'm quite visual, and Pinterest & google search are my best friends. You can look for someone based on their characteristics in Pinterest, and seeing them may help formulate their style, demeanor, and values. Search further to find a room or house that looks like where you imagine them living, discover people who look like their family, track down that piece of jewelry or keepsakes that defines them. Creating Pinterest boards is one way to brainstorm. Or, if you gather up junk magazines (or the "throw aways" from a doctors office), you can make a collage.

2. Hear that? Auditory learners retain information from hearing it. (That means those teacher lectures totally bring information home for you.) If this is your strength, try people watching. Eaves drop. (Yes, I'm giving you permission.) Listen to YouTube videos of people who resemble your characters or share interests. Try turning down the volume and speaking for them. Compile a playlist that your character would geek out over. Listen to pod casts from people who share interests with your characters. Talk out your thoughts with another person and have them be your sounding board. If your character is based off someone in your life, record them doing things, discreetly. Get their unique responses to questions. Dictate your ideas into a recorder, or tell yourself about the character.

3. You just Got to Move! Kinesthetic learners are the hardest to get through a public education system. (Believe me, I know.) But movement is a method of learning. Try brainstorming while working out/jogging/etc. Act out a scene and fill your character's footsteps. (I'm not kidding. Find a room with a locked door if you're paranoid. I've done this and it is AMAZING.) Play your character's favorite sport. Paint, draw, photograph, or model with clay potential aspects of your character (such as a home, favorite place to go, a scene in your story). Build or craft something your character might use. TYPE. Get those fingers moving. If needs be, use a yoga ball to sit on rather than a chair. Try handwriting things with a marker if it's more comfortable.

And just for fun, want to know where my two main characters in the Maiden of Time series came from? I met Alexia through my dreams (2002), and Kiren from blind writing back in 1994. (They're getting so old!) I loved them both at first scene, but it took years of writing them to truly know them. I suppose that's why there's so much elation at FINALLY finishing their saga in TIMELESS. *tosses cheese confetti* It's going to be hard to set them aside to develop other writerly loves.

What methods have you used for developing characters that REALLY works?

Crystal Collier is an eclectic author who pens clean fantasy/sci-fi, historical, and romance stories with the occasional touch of humor, horror, or inspiration. She practices her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, four littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese.

You can find her on her and her books online HERE.

(Email address is required for awarding prizes.)