Monday, August 14, 2017

Having fun with author photos


You might have noticed that I changed my author photo recently. The old one was stale. I needed something fresh, with more color and a little more personality. Perhaps I should have included my cat, but I figured he's not the one writing my books.

General advice says to update your author photo about every four to five years. It's like getting a new driver's license. It's a little terrifying and a lot more frustrating, especially for those of us who don't like being on that side of the camera. No picture is ever good enough. But you have to pick one.

As a writer with a current budget of zero dollars to hire a professional photographer, I enlisted my husband's help first. The day was a bit too sunny, though.

 
Even standing in the shade, there was no spot that didn't have reflections on my glasses.


Then there were sunspots. Pink sunspots in that one. Maybe I could get away photoshopping those out, but there's still the reflection on my glasses.


Really, honey? Get down from that tree!

Unsatisfied with that round, I was sitting around with another mom the next day while our sons played. She's an art and Spanish teacher, and she has a good eye. When I suggested it, she was eager to help out.


Lovely bush in bloom in the background with an evergreen. Just enough cloud cover to eliminate the reflection on my glasses and still provide enough light. But...


It can't help the fact that I'm uncomfortable in front of a camera. It looks like I'm standing at attention, ready for duty!

Finally...


An author photo I'm satisfied with. Good lighting, no shadows or reflections, and my hair isn't totally flipping out. The art teacher did a great job!
 
Author photo tips:
- unless you can really pull off moody or quirky, don't do it.
- don't overly make yourself up. Look like how you would if someone saw you in public... without your kids or the white cat hair on your black shirt.
- be professional. No offensive t-shirts or political messages, unless that's what you write.
- look friendly. You want readers to like you, and an author photo is part of your brand.
- hire a professional, if you can. If not, art teachers are awesome!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Shout-out to Unconventional Princesses!


Deja was a happy, trouble-making troll, until she was exiled from her home under the mountains for her perilous pranks. Now she must serve a frilly human, Princess Calleah who's locked in a tall tower. The Two Princesses from opposite sides of the Valley become unlikely friends in their seclusion, but when the time comes for Calleah to leave the tower, their bond is put to the test by propriety, princes, and parents. Deja doesn't take any gruff and will give it right back to protect Calleah, no matter the cost.



Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Descending Moon (Totem #8) release day


Some say the moon is for lovers, but wise folks know to fear it. 

Kinley Dorn must be strong for her family in these dark times. Sometimes she feels she’s all that’s holding them together. But when the frightening Moon Man attacks and bestows a burdensome gift upon her, Kinley might have to do more than simply help her family. She will have to battle a god, but which one? If it’s the sly man hunting her in the astral plane, Kinley might not make it out alive.


Add it to read on Goodreads.

Totem Tidbit: This was a tough one to write because I had to make a character who wasn't a fighter into a warrior. Kinley is a peacemaker and uses her brains over her strength. So I had to find something that really motivated her to jump into battle!

The final book in the Totem series, True Shifter, will be available on August 29th. You can pre-order it on Amazon.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

#IWSG for August 2017

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: Dolarah @ Book Lover, Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor, Yvonne Ventresca, LG Keltner, and me!

Before we get to this month's question and my insecurities, let me tell you about this super fun event!

Show Us Your Writer Insecurity! 

Are you proud to be an insecure writer?

Then show us! 

On Wednesday, October 4 (IWSG Day), post a photo of yourself (or your alter ego) with any of the IWSG swag or with the IWSG logo. Then leave a comment that day at either the IWSG website’s post or the IWSG Facebook post directing us to your photo. (All blog, Facebook, Goodreads, and newsletter members welcome, but photo must be posted on a blog or Facebook to qualify.)

The IWSG site admins will visit each one and pick the top three. Why? Because there are cool prizes involved:

Third place – EBook of A Change of Mind and Other Stories by Nick Wilford, eBook of The Remnant by William Michael Davidson, eBook of Cling to God by Lynda R. Young, eBook of Already Home by Heather M. Gardner, and eBook of Dragon of the Stars by Alex. J. Cavanaugh.

Second place – The entire eBook collection of the Totem series by Christine Rains, eBook of Princess of Las Pulgas by C. Lee McKenzie, audio book of CassaSeries by Alex J. Cavanaugh, eBook of Black and White by Nick Wilford, and your choice eBook from J.L. Campbell.

Grand prize winner - IWSG website interview, IWSG newsletter spotlight, IWSG pinned tweet for one week, C. Lee McKenzie's Featured Follower for the month, the IWSG Goodreads book club eBook for October/November, a short chapter critique, and a pair of IWSG erasers. 

We have some great IWSG swag – pens, mugs, magnets, erasers, etc. Proceeds go to fund the upkeep of the IWSG site. 

You have two months to prepare – show us your best insecurity!

This month's IWSG question: What are your pet peeves when reading/writing/editing? 

I have a lot when reading. Bad grammar, huge plot holes, poor characterization, sloppy formatting, etc. Being a writer has made it more difficult to get past these things, but I do save myself time by putting down books I don't enjoy and moving on to something else.

When I'm writing, it's usually things in the environment that annoy me. Noise, people interrupting, cat interrupting, and if it's too hot.

My insecurities this month: I'm a new admin for the IWSG. I'm so excited about it. I've been a part of the group for a while. I've received such great advice, encouragement, and support, I'm happy to give back to the community. But, of course, I worry if I'll be good enough and be able to keep up with my responsibilities. What if I mess something up? I don't want to disappoint anyone. The admin team is incredibly organized, smart, and creative. I hope my contribution will continue to make the IWSG such an awesome group.

You all can help me with the newsletter. You can do this by sending me your news. I want to hear about new releases, events, and exciting news. Please send an email with "IWSG - news submission" in the subject line to christinerains (dot) writer @ gmail (dot) com. Thank you!

One more awesome announcement I want to share with you about the newsletter: On August 24th at 2:00 pm EST, Chrys Fey will be participating in a LIVE YouTube interview with Evan Carmichael, an entrepreneur who she'll be interviewing about his book Your One Word and getting some great advice for IWSG members. You'll be able to watch the interview live HERE. You can set a reminder if you click on the link, or you can watch it later. The video will be uploaded in the August 30th IWSG newsletter issue.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The #IWSGPit Twitter Pitch is On!


The Insecure Writer’s Support Group
Twitter Pitch Party!

#IWSGPit

8:00 am to 8:00 pm Eastern Time

All writers and authors are invited to participate in our very first Twitter Pitch.

Create a Twitter-length pitch for your completed and polished manuscript and leave room for genre, age, and the hashtag. On July 27, Tweet your pitch. If your pitch receives a favorite/heart from a publisher/agent check their submission guidelines and send your requested query. Sample Tweet from #PitMad:

Many writers have seen their books published from a Twitter pitch - it’s a quick and easy way to put your manuscript in front of publishers and agents.

Rules: 

Writers may send out 1 Twitter pitch every 1 hour per manuscript.

Publishers/Agents will favorite/heart pitches they are interested in. Publishers can either Tweet basic submission guidelines or direct writers to their submission guidelines. (Writers and readers, please do not favorite/heart pitches.)

Please do not include images with the pitches.

Pitches must include GENRE/AGE and the hashtag #IWSGPit.

Ages:
#C - children’s
#MG - middle grade
#YA - young adult
#NA - new adult
#A - adult
Genres:
#AD - adventure
#CF - Christian fiction
#CO - contemporary
#F - fantasy
#H - horror
#HI - historical
#LF - literary fiction
#MCT - mystery/crime/thriller
#ME - memoir
#NF - non-fiction
#PB - picture book
#PN - paranormal
#R - romance
#SF - sci-fi
#WF - women's fiction


Participating Publishers and Agents:

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Shadows Fall (Totem #7) released to the world!

https://www.amazon.com/Shadows-Fall-Totem-Book-7-ebook/dp/B073PDD56V/
Sometimes it isn't what lurks in the shadows we must fear, but the shadows themselves.

Ametta Dorn is hosting her first family Thanksgiving feast. Everything must be flawless from the appetizers to the desserts. But the totem quest weighs heavily on her and her family. If she can’t even fold a perfect crane napkin, then how can she help her family find the next token?

That totem is closer than any of them realize. The Shadowmen have opened a door to their world, and they’ve targeted Ametta as the weak link in her family. She will show everyone she's just as capable as they are. Except her daring might be the very thing that loses not only the raven totem but also her life.

All the Totem books are free to read on Kindle Unlimited!

Totem tidbit: The raven totem was a tricky one for me. And tricky it should be! I wasn't quite sure how I wanted it to work into the plot. In Inuit lore, there is no concept of good or evil. So in working with the totems, I had to make them remain true to their natures and yet steer my plot in the direction I needed it to go in.

* * * * *

Don't forget the huge Christmas in July sale & giveaway at Fantasy Book Giveaways! My paranormal romance series, The 13th Floor Complete Collection is on sale for only 99 cents. Plus you can enter to win over 20 amazing ebooks!

http://fantasybookgiveaways.blogspot.com/

Friday, July 21, 2017

Christmas in July Sale & Giveaway

Make your summer magical
with books!


There's nothing like sitting in the shade with a good book. Fantasy Book Giveaways is hosting a big romance sale and giveaway. All books are 99 cents or free. It's Christmas in July!

As if that isn't awesome on its own, you can enter for a chance to win a prize pack of over twenty fabulous books! Just click on the image above.

For the next week, you can get my paranormal romance book, The 13th Floor Complete Collection for only 99 cents. (That's 80% off!) The first novella in the series, The Marquis, is always free. And once you're hooked, you can get the entire series in one ebook.

Buy the book: Amazon *B&N * Kobo * Smashwords


Fill your ereader like you're stuffing a stocking!

http://fantasybookgiveaways.blogspot.com/

Monday, July 17, 2017

#IWSG Guide To Writing For Profit Still Open For Submissions

The IWSG Guide to Writing for Profit 
 
This will be a non-fiction book like our Guide to Publishing and Beyond. 
 
What to write: Share experiences about making a profit as an author, what it takes to become a successful writer, the many skills a writer needs to learn other than writing, share the experience going from hobby writer to published author (without making it a self-promotion piece), the fallacies behind writing for profit, the little known facts learned along the way, what you wished you knew when you first started writing, or marketing tips based on experience of what has worked and what hasn't.

If you gave any questions, email us at admin AT insecurewriterssupportgroup.com 
 
Word limit: 500-1000 words.
 
Submission eligibility: All members of the IWSG Blog Hop, IWSG Facebook group and/or members of our IWSG Goodreads Book Club. It's free to join any of these groups and a great benefit to be a part of these communities.

Deadline: July 31, 2017

Send your piece to admin AT insecurewriterssupportgroup.com as an attached Word document and note which IWSG group you belong to. Please include your name, a one line bio, and one website link.

***The BEST 100 articles will be included in the book!***
 
And don't forget the Twitter Pitch Party on July 27th!
Click on the image below for more info.
 
http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-twitter-pitch.html

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Word Witch Wednesday - endings


Finding a book with a fantastic ending is difficult. Most of the time, I know what to expect. The hero will triumph, hope and light will pull them through, and romance will deliver a happily ever after/happy for now. Hopefully it ties up all loose ends and circles around to link with the beginning. Knowing how stories will end doesn't stop me from reading them, but I do get frustrated when I come across horribly done endings and love it when I discover a marvelous ending.

No writer is flawless. Even some of my idols like Stephen King have books with endings I dislike. I won't name any off as not to give spoilers, but even certain classics have bad endings.

Endings are difficult. I know many writers that spend a lot of time on beginnings, and those are important too. Yet so many just give the expected ending without any twist or flair. I try to add in exciting twists, and there have been a few times I've created such a great villain, I don't see how the heroes can defeat her. Then it's back to rewrites.

I recently finished the final book in my Totem series. I worried a lot because, as a pantser, I had no idea how it would happen. When I finally wrote it, I sat back in my chair and stared at the screen in awe. Yes, this is one of those amazing endings. Circular, emotional, thrilling, and elegant. (I might be a bit biased. We'll see what my readers think once it's released.)

Stories and characters stay with me. Few endings have ever wowed me. One that stands out in my head is the spectacular climax of the fantasy series, The Troy Game by Sara Douglass. It came together in such a tension-filled, complex, and beautiful way.

What are your favorite endings from books? What are some of your most frustrating ones?

Monday, July 10, 2017

Shadows Fall (Totem #7) and Descending Moon (Totem #8) coming soon!

The end of the series is near! I'm so excited the complete Totem series will soon be available.

Sometimes it isn't what lurks in the shadows we must fear, but the shadows themselves.
 
Ametta Dorn is hosting her first family Thanksgiving feast. Everything must be flawless from the appetizers to the desserts. But the totem quest weighs heavily on her and her family. If she can’t even fold a perfect crane napkin, then how can she help her family find the next token?

That totem is closer than any of them realize. The Shadowmen have opened a door to their world, and they’ve targeted Ametta as the weak link in her family. She will show everyone she's just as capable as they are. Except her daring might be the very thing that loses not only the raven totem but also her life.

Release date: July 25th, 2017



 
Some say the moon is for lovers, but wise folks know to fear it.

Kinley Dorn must be strong for her family in these dark times. Sometimes she feels she's all that's holding them together. But when the frightening Moon Man attacks and bestows a burdensome gift upon her, Kinley might have to do more than simply help her family. She will have to battle a god but which one? If it's the sly man hunting her in the astral plane Kinley might not make it out alive.

Release date: August 8th, 2017


The final book has been written, and I'm eagerly waiting to hear back from my CPs about it. I have a tentative release date for it, but I'm not going to set anything for certain until I have it done exactly as I want it. I'm aiming for the end of August, though!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

#IWSG for July 2017

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: Tamara Narayan, Pat Hatt, Patricia Lynne, Juneta Key, and Doreen McGettigan!

The July IWSG Question: What is one valuable lesson you've learned since you started writing?

I've always been writing. So I can't say there's a starting point for that. Yet I haven't always been seeking publication. That I seriously started pursuing over ten years ago.

The most valuable lesson I've learned is to not be afraid to ask for help. I had been determined it was a journey which I would do everything alone. I was stubborn about it. I thought I was doing all the right research, but it wasn't enough. How lost I would have been without all the amazing people I met along the way.

I was stubborn, hesitant, and shy. What if people thought I was an idiot? What if no one offers to help? What if people do offer to help?

Learning that it was okay to ask for help was a big hurdle for me to overcome. And now I wonder why I held back!

I have awesome critique partners and beta readers, a tough and wise local critique group, a terrific promo group that shares info and support, a wonderful blogging community, and the fabulous members of the IWSG. All these people help me so much. I would not have made it this far without them.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Taming A Jackaroo Tour - excerpt


Title: Taming a Jackaroo
Genre: Aussie Cowboy Romance
Release Date: June 10, 2017
Cover Designer: Claire Smith

 Add to TBR

 BUY LINKS 



City girl and serial non-dater, Affrica Clarke travels to Boulia, Australia, to investigate the environmental impacts of the local mining company. Unless she proves herself and wins that promotion, she’ll lose so much more than a pay rise. Yet everything goes wrong the moment she lands in the outback. With no research equipment, only skimpy clothes packed by her best friend to help her score a date, and a tight deadline to submit her report, she’s screwed. So when a sexy cowboy offers to play chauffeur, she’s all over it. But she’s there to shut down the mining activities, not fawn over the guy who’s supporting them, no matter how sizzling the attraction between them.

Billionaire jackaroo, Sam Preston tempts fate as an adrenaline junkie, living each day as if it were his last. Angry and wounded, he’s in town to sell his cattle ranch to the local mining company and be done with his past—until he meets hapless city-chick Affrica, who has no clue about surviving in the desert. Sam doesn’t know how to stop being a daredevil even though Affrica reminds him of the happiness he once had.

Can Sam let go of the past before he loses the one person who's finally breathed new life into him, or is it not possible to truly tame a jackaroo?



Affrica lounged on a wooden bench in the mechanic’s garage, fanning herself with the map and batting away flies. Sweat dripped at her nape, and each inhale of burning air stung her nostrils. Everything smelled stale.

Brian approached and handed her a can of fly repellent. “The buggers here have teeth.” He chuckled.

“Thanks.” After spraying herself, she reconsidered her decision to accept a ride in Sam’s car. 
Yesterday, he’d turned her down when she’d pleaded to inspect the well on his property, and now he acted sheepishly, offering her a ride. Maybe she could use the situation in her favour? A grin spread her lips. Oh geez, I sound more like Meebe every day.

She shifted in her seat and her cheeks warmed. Maybe a little bit of humiliation wouldn’t kill her if it meant getting the promotion she needed so desperately.

Sam might be a hunk, but that didn’t make him safe. She remembered Trevor saying that Sam hadn’t been around for the past year. Where had he gone? What guy left his cattle station for such a long time? Probably more interested in spending his fortune than leaving it for his kids. The complete opposite of the kind of guy she imagined herself settling down with one day.

Fine dust particles outside the mechanic’s carport blew inside, whipping around her legs. Old oil containers, tires, a car seat, and half an engine littered the room. It resembled a typical garage, grease and thick layers of grime coating every object. She wouldn’t be surprised if the back of her white shorts turned black.

A faint clip-clop sounded in the distance, and she stared at the road where waves of heat distorted the houses. She imagined the simple lives of the residents of Boulia. Few people, and no traffic or pollution, if you excluded Brian’s garage. However, simplicity came at the cost of scorching heat, few job prospects, and no gourmet corner coffee shops. What she wouldn’t give for an iced caramel latte right now.

She checked her phone for the hundredth time. No message from the courier about her equipment.

Something snorted nearby and she jolted. At the garage opening stood a large chestnut horse. Sam sat atop the animal, and they were both backlit by the daylight. He dipped the front of his hat with his hand, wearing a confident grin. “At your service, miss.”


 BUY LINKS 
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2mU7AAD 


Sidney Valentine is an Aussie girl who loves everything about traveling. She lives in Sydney, Australia with her husband and spends her time exploring the wild outdoors. But she always carries with her a writing pad in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other. While she works in marketing during the day, she never stops writing her romance stories set in Australia as a way to rejuvenate from the bustle of the real world. She is often found at local coffee shops with her laptop, writing about people falling in love.


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

An interview with me over at WildMind Creative

(Image from Pixabay)

This is what I hope to be doing for the rest of June.

But today I'm pleased to be hosted by WildMind Creative. They're a wonderful new resource for authors. Pop on over and learn a little more about me. I offer a little advice and try to be somewhat professional!
 

Monday, June 12, 2017

Jackaroo blitz and #MilesofSmiles


Title: Taming a Jackaroo
Genre: Aussie Cowboy Romance
Release Date: June 10, 2017
Cover Designer: Claire Smith

 Add to TBR

 BUY LINKS 



City girl and serial non-dater, Affrica Clarke travels to Boulia, Australia, to investigate the environmental impacts of the local mining company. Unless she proves herself and wins that promotion, she’ll lose so much more than a pay rise. Yet everything goes wrong the moment she lands in the outback. With no research equipment, only skimpy clothes packed by her best friend to help her score a date, and a tight deadline to submit her report, she’s screwed. So when a sexy cowboy offers to play chauffeur, she’s all over it. But she’s there to shut down the mining activities, not fawn over the guy who’s supporting them, no matter how sizzling the attraction between them.

Billionaire jackaroo, Sam Preston tempts fate as an adrenaline junkie, living each day as if it were his last. Angry and wounded, he’s in town to sell his cattle ranch to the local mining company and be done with his past—until he meets hapless city-chick Affrica, who has no clue about surviving in the desert. Sam doesn’t know how to stop being a daredevil even though Affrica reminds him of the happiness he once had.

Can Sam let go of the past before he loses the one person who's finally breathed new life into him, or is it not possible to truly tame a jackaroo?


Affrica Clarke is determined to prove herself worthy of a full time position as an environmental investigator and get the promotion she needs to keep supporting her sick father. Flying to the Outback, she's left hanging as her equipment goes to another destination and her bag is full of skimpy clothes her roomie packed. That's not going to stop her, though, and neither is the gorgeous billionaire jackaroo, Sam Preston. Wanting to forget his past, Sam is planning on selling his cattle station to the mining company Affrica is investigating. There's something about the city gal that hooks him in a way no other woman has. Will she be able to tame the wild cowboy or lose both him and her case?

This debut romance novel from Sidney Valentine is as sizzling as the Australian Outback. Affrica has a strong voice, fighting for a promotion and the ability to support her father. Sam is a man blaming himself for what happened to his younger brother and throwing himself into dangerous stunts as he plays careless games with his life. The tension between them is immediate and is kept taut all through the story. Not only are the circumstances of why they're in Boulia pitted against one another, but their inner struggles increase the turmoil. Yet their desire is off the charts!

Along with top notch romance, the reader is whisked away to little traveled places. Boulia is a charming town rich with a rugged flavor. Even the Bed & Breakfast Affrica stays in is unique. Huge cattle stations and deep caves. Then add in the little mystery of the Min Min lights, we have a magnificent setting. Plus the perfect place for a out of this world smoking hot first kiss!

I'll definitely be picking up more from Sidney Valentine in the future.


 BUY LINKS 
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2mU7AAD 


Sidney Valentine is an Aussie girl who loves everything about traveling. She lives in Sydney, Australia with her husband and spends her time exploring the wild outdoors. But she always carries with her a writing pad in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other. While she works in marketing during the day, she never stops writing her romance stories set in Australia as a way to rejuvenate from the bustle of the real world. She is often found at local coffee shops with her laptop, writing about people falling in love.



* * * * *

http://kyralennon.blogspot.com/2017/06/miles-of-smiles.html

The wonderful Kyra Lennon and Clare Dugmore have teamed up again to bring us another amazing blog hop. With everything going on in the world today, we need to appreciate the little things that make us smile. Of course family and friends bring us joy, but don't neglect the little things.

Share today on social media what makes you smile. Your blog, Facebook, Twitter, wherever. You can use the #MilesofSmiles hashtag.

What a great way to start off a Monday!

Here are some little things that make me smile:
Freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.
Cheesy monster movies.
The smell of autumn leaves.
Hummingbirds stopping in front of my kitchen window to have a peek in.
Superhero underwear in my size.