Tuesday, December 9, 2014

In My {SPAM} Mailbox

It's a dreary cold rainy day, and I'm stuck home sick. I'm supposed to be resting, but when you work from home and you're a writer, your brain really never shuts down. So I decided to go through some of the emails that had started piling up over the last few days, and then I clicked on my SPAM folder.... (cue the scary music.) I have several general observations:

1.  I AM NOT A MAN. There, I feel better now. Not that there's anything wrong with being a man. I happen to like most men. But, I personally do not have any male anatomy on my body that needs enlarging, so please stop sending me emails suggesting otherwise.

2. As much I would be thrilled to collect/inherit/win millions, we all know I have no long lost uncle who died off the coast of a remote country in Africa and has bloodlines to His Royal Highness, the King of East Scamvilla. DELETE. 

3. No, I really do not want to check out your pictures.

4.  I'd LOVE to retire in Belize, but somehow the website they want me to click on just doesn't look legit: (FYI - I added the xxxx.com so you don't click on it by accident)

http://xxxxx.com/seyJjIjogMjEwMiwgImYiOiAwLCAibSI6IDIzMjMsICJsIjogNCwgInMiOiAwLCAidSI6IDI2MDA5NDYwLCAidCI6IDEsICJzZCI6IDB9

5. WOW! Ray-Ban's at 90% off? I'm sure they're the real deal! They must be right? The internet says so.

6. I think this one is my personal favorite. Apparently I have some "deferred email" at Google. Let's just say for a minute, that I actually believed that. Don't you think, and I'm just speculating here, that someone from GOOGLE with a GMAIL account would be the one to email me about this? Sorry crazy.barbara, I'm on to you & no, I won't be clicking on your link.




I think tomorrow, I'll be returning to "work."


******


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Monday, November 24, 2014

Cover Reveal: Hunted Heart by Alison DeLuca


My friend Alison DeLuca has a new book coming out and I'm THRILLED to be a part of the cover reveal! Today, I'm turning my blog over to her ... Thanks for joining me today Alison ... Here she is to tell us about Hunted Heart


Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

I met a friend online who gave me a prompt for Hunted Heart. Her idea was to have a strong heroine as the Hunter from Snow White who is given the job of killing the prince. Heartbreak, magic mirrors, and poisoned apples all wound themselves into the plot, and fifty thousand words later I had an adult take on the fairytale.

My publishing group, Myrddin Publishing, does a charity publication each year in December. This year my Myrddin effort is Hunted Heart and all royalties will be donated. It’s available for pre-order on Amazon, and you can add it to your  reading lists on Goodreads.

When Tali is hired to cut out the heart of Prince Kas, the huntress can’t refuse. Tali
realizes there is no escape from the dark magic of the queen’s mirror, even though her own feelings for the prince are far too complex to understand.

As they try to run from their shared destiny, Tali and Kas have to rely on their wits and each other as hunter becomes prey and hearts are won and lost.

A genderbent Snow White for adults (18+ only.) All royalties go to Save the Children.

My illustrator did a lovely job with the book. Here is Lisa Daly’s cover for Hunted Heart:



About the author: Alison DeLuca is the author of several fantasy and steampunk novels.
Currently she lives in New Jersey with her husband and daughter, where she wrestles words and laundry.

You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and
Goodreads.


Thank you, Alison!!


*******
www.karenpokras.com




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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Cover Reveal: Merry Wishes: A Romance Novella

It's been a while since I've done a cover reveal, and this time it's my own!

Before I show it off, I want to tell you a little about this story and how it came to be. You see, this story was completely unplanned and was never supposed to exist. Originally, the Whispered Wishes series was to be four novels: AVA'S WISHES, HOLLY'S WISHES, TESSA'S WISHES, AND WOVEN WISHES. After I released AVA'S WISHES, several people contacted me and said they loved Ava's friend, Carly and hoped she'd reappear down the line. Unfortunately, as fun as she was to write, she was actually written into the series as an afterthought ..completely off the outline and sadly, she didn't have a significant role in the rest of the series (sorry Car!) But, because I love my readers, I decided to create a companion novella to the series all for Carly Cator and just in time for the holidays. And even though this story was completely unplanned, I'm so glad my readers suggested bringing Carly back, because I had a blast writing her tale!


ABOUT MERRY WISHES:

An ugly divorce behind her, Carly Cater is looking forward to a truly Merry Christmas. With interest for her art from a high-powered fashion designer and a new romance with her handsome contractor, Jason Hardy, her life is finally heading in the right direction. That is, until her ex-husband suddenly returns to interfere, and mysterious texts draw Jason away. Is this another holiday disaster in the making, or will an offer to create a mural for the brain-injury patients at Greenbriar Manor bring her the Christmas joy she’d been seeking?

For more information on the Whispered Wishes Series, visit: www.karenpokras.com



And now the cover by the fabulous Najla Qamber ...





Coming this holiday season ... Add to you Goodreads list now!


*******
www.karenpokras.com




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Monday, October 20, 2014

On Being A Middle Grade Author #MondayBlogs

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of participating on a panel for Philadelphia Stories' annual Push to Publish conference to speak about writing for children and YA audiences. I represented middle grade.

Marketing was a hot topic, as was the actual road to publishing itself. But of most interest to me, was the discussion of how to write for this particular age group. For me personally it comes down to three important factors:

(1) Tone
(2) Audience
(3) Lesson

(1) Tone. I have three kids who range in age from 8-17, and I truly think this puts me at an advantage. For starters, I know how to speak with them, not at them. I think this is key when writing for this age group. You don't want to sound like you are talking down to and/or above them. They also provide me with a wealth of material, and I'm constantly absorbing ... everything from the latest bands, video games, apps, TV shows, their dialogue, tone, what's 'cool", what's out, etc, etc, etc. They claim I'm spying - I call it research.

(2) Audience. You may be thinking - that's easy. Middle grade means kids aged 8-12. Yes … and no. Think about who is purchasing the books. It's not just kids. It's parents, grandparents, educators, aunts, friends, and the list goes on. You need to make sure that your book is appealing to both children AND the adults who will actually be doing the purchasing. As a parent, I know there are certain books I try to steer my 8 year old away from. It's your job to make sure your book isn't one of them.

(3) Lesson. Here's my soap box spiel. If I manage to get your child reading and enjoying my books, why not sneak a lesson in there? It can't hurt, right? Some kids may get it, some may not, but at least it's in there. I feel like as a children's author, I have an obligation. You may feel differently with your own writing, and that's fine. Like I said - these are my own personal things I think about when writing. If a child walks away from my Nate Rocks series (for example) feeling really good about him or herself because he or she picked up on the self-esteem theme, then it's only going to work to create a positive attitude for that child going forward.


While at the moment I'm immersed in writing adult novels, I still consider myself a children's author with six middle grade titles now published. There's nothing more satisfying than nurturing young minds and encouraging reluctant readers. READING ROCKS!




*********
Tessa's Wishes ... Now Available

http://ow.ly/CXKi9 


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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Guest Post: Amanda Romine Lynch: Anabel Divided


Welcome to Amanda Romine Lynch to talk about her new release, Anabel Divided...



ANABEL DIVIDED is the second story in my trilogy, and it was a different sort of writing experience for me than the first one. For instance, nobody dies.

That being said, my heroine was tough to deal with this time around, and when she’s tough to deal with, I find ways to poke a bit of fun at her while I’m writing. I also couldn’t pass up to throw in a few allusions in this story. So, without further ado, here is my list of The Top Ten Things I love That Influenced Anabel Divided:

1. The University of Florida—I knew I was going to send Anabel to college, and unfortunately, live with three little boys aged four and under makes it hard to do research trips. So I decided to send her to my own alma mater: UF, the land of Gator Football, McAllister’s Deli, and flip-flops all year round.
2. Dr. Richard Brantley—I had a huge crush on my Romanticism professor when I was at college. He had this deep tenor voice that would envelop you and draw you in to whatever he was saying. The day that he read aloud “Tintern Abbey” to us I actually wept. So of course, I had to give Anabel a professor to have a schoolgirl crush on, and I thinly veiled the reference by naming him Dr. Richard Carrington.
3. Washington, DC—Even though the action in Anabel Divided largely takes place outside of the DC Metro area, I had to bring my girl back there for Meghan’s wedding. I love my chosen city so much that I couldn’t resist sending her for a brief visit.
4. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead—Tom Stoppard’s play about the two seemingly throwaway characters in Hamlet has always struck a chord with me, and for that reason Anabel can be found reading it in this book, as she plans to do her senior thesis on it.
5. Arrested Development—After I read through this book a few times, it became clear to me that I had made more than one reference to my favorite TV show. Especially when Anabel channels her inner Lindsay Bluth and laments that “For all efforts at trying, I can’t seem to give this away.”
6. Handwritten Journals—So clichéd. I realize. But the book starts out with Anabel going through the handwritten journals of her deceased mother in an attempt to understand the woman who she never knew growing up. What she discovers causes her to question her entire worldview—and makes her wonder why her mother gave her up without putting up a fight.
7. Christmas—I always look forward to Christmas, and what better time of year to stir up buried feelings and explore the ghosts of relationships past than the holidays? Also, Christmas always makes me want to reread A Christmas Carol, which is apparently a trait I share with Anabel.
8. The Anabel/Meghan chickmance—One of my favorite things about writing my first book, Anabel Unraveled, was developing the friendship between Anabel and Meghan. Meghan is one of my favorite characters to write by far, and taking time to examine the closeness of these two during the story was fun. Since their friendship was so unlikely, I have loved watching it blossom and am so glad that they have each other.
9. Music—I always write to music. Always, always. This time around I had a great deal of influences—Muse, Maroon 5, Bruno Mars…
10. Dancing—I miss dancing. Real dancing. With a partner over age five. I do a great deal of dancing to Mickey Mouse, and even though I love my kids very much, there are days when I just would love to go out and have an evening of dancing. So dancing means a great deal in this novel: Anabel finds herself dancing inappropriately with the last person on earth she should be with. She dances with herself to calm and soothe her mind, and the dancing imagery abounds.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amanda Romine Lynch is a writer, editor, and blogger who grew up in Florida knowing she belonged somewhere else. She now lives in the DC Metro Area with her husband and three amazing little boys. She is the Eco-Friendly/Green Living Contributor over at the Prime Parents’ Club and strives to live earth friendly in a world of disposable diapers. When not writing about Anabel and Jared or chasing around a curly-haired boy, she cheers for the Gators (in all kinds of weather) and occasionally remembers to sleep.


ABOUT ANABEL DIVIDED

Anabel Martin thought that the resolution of her father's murder would bring a resolution to her problems. After all, she was starting life over in a new place, with new friends, and new adventures, focusing on attending college and raising her daughter free from the distractions of Washington, DC. She was ready to move on.

But a trip back to the District for Meghan's wedding stirs up old feelings and brings new life to old relationships. Matt is cold and distant, while Jared is caring and attentive. A woman from Matt's past, a bold public flirtation, and Anabel's desire to be truly loved lead her to a crossroads...and her final decision leaves her with more questions than answers.


Website: http://amandarominelynch.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/thebookprincess
Facebook: https://facebook.com/AmandaLynchWriter
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Anabel-Divided-Sequel-Unraveled-ebook/dp/B00NY5F0XA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1411856704&sr=8-2&keywords=Anabel+unraveled






Giveaway: 3 prizes
2 signed paperbacks of Anabel Unraveled (US only)
1 $25 Amazon gift card (international)


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Thanks for stopping by, Amanda!



*********
Tessa's Wishes ... Now Available

http://ow.ly/CXKi9 


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Monday, August 25, 2014

New Release! A Hidden Element By Donna Galanti

New Release A HIDDEN ELEMENT!
by Donna Galanti
Imajin Books (August 2014)
Paranormal Suspense with a dash of Sci-Fi

Check out this dark and creepy cover for A HIDDEN ELEMENT – book 2 in Donna Galanti’s Element Trilogy! This paranormal suspense is available for pre-orders now at a discounted price of $3.99 until August 28th when it’s officially released for $5.99. PLUS book 1 in the Element Trilogy, A HUMAN ELEMENT, is on sale now through August 31st for only $.99cents!

Evil lurks within…



Join Donna’s Facebook Launch Party 8/28 from 3-9pm EDT here and chat with cool author guests and giveaways!

A HIDDEN ELEMENT EXCERPT:

He stood. His legs stayed, but his chest threatened to crack open with each breath from where he had been stabbed. Death hadn’t taken away his pain. It now exploded inside him. He opened the door. Steel knives of frigid air sliced into him. He staggered back and gripped the door’s edge. Snow swirled, beating at him.
A face appeared through the snow. A gray robed man lunged at him. “What are you doing here?”
Ben lurched as the man shoved him back into the shack, and alongside his weakness, fury blasted through him. He punched the man in the face. In the seconds the man staggered back, Ben grabbed a hook off a ceiling chain. They circled the shack, eyeing one another.
“Human, you can’t take me down.” The man lumbered around him, a hulking figure.
A piercing pain lit across Ben’s head as the man probed his brain. The pain intensified. The man came at him. Ben dodged right like a drunkard and swung hard. The hook sunk into the man’s back. He screamed and fell to the floor. Ben stumbled back and fell to his knees. The room spun. The pain dissipated. The man flopped down and was still. Blood spread in an incriminating stain across the light gray wool of his robe.
Ben crawled to him, shaking from adrenalin and the cold. He searched for the hidden door. Finally, his fingers felt a notch in the wood. He lifted the latch to the cellar and with all his remaining strength, rolled the massive man into it. He crashed with a thud. Ben stared down at his victim.The man’s hands crossed his chest as if posed in death. God, forgive me. Then he slammed the door down to hide his crime and stood up.
Laura, help me now.
But she remained lost to him. Thinking more clearly, he took another hook and pulled down a whip from the wall. They may come in handy.
Then he stepped out into the gale.
Dizziness grabbed him again. He staggered out into the winter abyss. Step by step he headed away from the Elyon world and toward his own. The trees held him up when his legs could not. The cold snarled inside him, claiming him, but he would not give into it.
It could not have him. Not yet.

PLUS there’s more feasting to be done with this awesome giveaway jam-packed with prizes! Enter A HIDDEN ELEMENT Release Giveaway now!




ABOUT A HIDDEN ELEMENT:
Evil lurks within…
When Caleb Madroc is used against his will as part of his father’s plan to breed a secret community and infiltrate society with their unique powers, he vows to save his oppressed people and the two children kept from him. Seven years later, Laura and Ben Fieldstone’s son is abducted, and they are forced to trust a madman’s son who puts his life on the line to save them all. The enemy’s desire to own them—or destroy them—leads to a survival showdown. Laura and Ben must risk everything to defeat a new nemesis that wants to rule the world with their son, and Caleb may be their only hope—if he survives. But must he sacrifice what he most desires to do so?

PRAISE FOR A HIDDEN ELEMENT:
"Chilling and dark…a twisty journey into another world." —J.T. Ellison, New York Times bestselling author of When Shadows Fall

"Fascinating…a haunting story…"—Rebecca Cantrell, New York Times bestselling author of The World Beneath

"Will keep you up long past your bedtime...a pulse-pounding read."—Allan Leverone, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Final Vector

ABOUT DONNA:
Donna Galanti writes murder and mystery with a dash of steam as well as middle grade adventure fiction. She is the author of books 1 and 2 in the paranormal suspense Element Trilogy, A Human Element and A Hidden Element, the short story collection The Dark Inside, and Joshua and The Lightning Road (Books 1 and 2, 2015). She’s lived from England as a child, to Hawaii as a U.S. Navy photographer. She now lives in Pennsylvania with her family in an old farmhouse. It has lots of writing nooks, fireplaces, and stink bugs, but she’s still wishing for a castle again—preferably with ghosts. 
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Monday, August 11, 2014

What I Learned This Week: DIY Ebook Formatting and Publishing

While many authors are scrambling to put their books into Amazon's new Kindle Unlimited program, I've been pulling a few of mine out. I've been a part of the Kindle Select program now for a very long time, and while Amazon has been good to me, I decided I wanted to start offering some of my books on other platforms such as Nook, Kobo, Google Play, and iTunes

However, doing so meant re-formatting my files to meet each reseller's specifications. To back up for a moment... I'd been wanting to update all my files anyway with new Call To Action (CTA) info at the back of each book, so now seemed like the perfect opportunity. I started by working on just two of my books: Millicent Marie Is Not My Name and Pie and Other Brilliant Ideas. 





Because formatting for Amazon was a relatively pain free experience, I decided to tackle this project on my own, rather than hire someone (Read:  I'm a poor struggling author. Okay, I'm cheap.)

My process for creating an epub file is pretty basic. I create my book in Word. I strip it of all formatting code (a la Smashwords formatting guide). I re-format (a la Smashwords formatting guide). I create my table of contents and NCX (a la Smashwords formatting guide ... do you see a trend here?) Then I save as an htm file and then  (and yes, you should all be cringing because I know this is not recommended, but it works for me ... sort of as you will see below...) I upload the htm file to Calibre and convert to epub. I check it through my Adobe and Nook readers to make sure it looks okay and remove any weird things that occasionally pop up (and they do - so you do have to go through it!)


Here's what I learned:

1. Every retailer is different.  The easiest way to have achieved my desired effect was to go directly through Smashwords. I do understand this. However, I wanted more control, and I naively thought I could have one epub file that I could upload to every retailer. Not so.

-Kobo was definitely the easiest of all the sites as far as uploading my epub file. I also like the interface for seeing sales.

-Google Play (not available through Smashwords) was a little fussy. It was fine for Pie, but for Millie, it said it couldn't "scrub" my epub file. On the second try, it was fine. Setting up a promo however, nearly drove me insane. Instead, I went in to the main screen to manually change the price. (A little off topic, but all in all, their process needs work - even the reports are not as user friendly as the other retailers).

-BandN took my epub file but wouldn't name my chapters "chapters" in the table of contents. Instead they were called "html1", html2"... it also wouldn't let me edit them in their fancy online editor. However, it would allow me to upload the word document instead, which I did. But again, it didn't recognize my chapters, so I had to go in and put a break and a label at each chapter. Millie only had 19 chapters, but Pie had 31. Were these problems due to Calibre snafus? Probably.

-iTunes is just a pain (sorry - for those who know me, you know I am Queen of the Apple pep club, but I have to give a thumbs down to this one). I set up a new account because I didn't want to use my personal account for uploading books. I had to give a credit card (What? I'm selling, not buying). Then they told me they'd get back to me in 7 days to let me know if my seller's account is approved. I'd have to sign a contract, send it back to them, and in the meantime they gave me a manual to read about all their requirements and specifications. They lost me only a few paragraphs in. I'd heard from others that  even after all that, it was a difficult process to get your file "just so." I decided to skip them entirely. I can still get to iTunes via Smashwords' Premium catalog - which is what I wound up doing.

2. Formatting and changing the CTAs is time consuming. I honestly thought I'd be able to get all of this done in a day - two at most. It took almost the entire week. Looking back though it was a lot of work (what started as two books ended up being nine books total). I had to format Holly's Wishes from scratch for Amazon. I added NCX table of contents and CTAs to the remaining 8 books, re-formatted for kindle ,and re-uploaded to Amazon. Then converted Millie and Pie to epubs and did the steps in number 1 above.

3. Formatting is not as fun as I thought. For the record, I never actually thought this would be fun, but I was coming off of writing Holly's Wishes which was EXHAUSTING and thought this would be a good mental break or at least a good mental diversion. NOT. It was a chore, and I'm glad to be done. Back to writing now.

4. I'm still not going to hire someone to do it for me. Well, maybe one day if I become rich and famous. But for now, it's not so difficult that I can't figure it out on my own. Especially if I don't have to do nine books at once.



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