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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Don't forget - for the latest book news, including a cover reveal for a Whispered Wishes Novella coming this holiday season, sign-up for my newsletter!







Friday, August 8, 2014

The Friday Five 8-8-14




1. Dentist. Now the last time I posted about how much I disliked going to the dentist, I got all kinds of comments from siblings of dentists, friends of dentists, and even a dentist or two themselves defending the dental field. So let me clarify. I have nothing personal against the actual dentist. In fact, I just switched to a new one, and he made sure I had a pain free experience (which I did, until the novicane wore off). I just happen to have severe anxiety when it comes to anything dental related, and unfortunately, I have DNA challenged teeth. Every few years I seem to go through cycles where I need a ton of work done, and this week started a new cycle. On the plus side, I am once again feeling more royal than ever with my new (temporary) crown. My official crowning ceremony takes place in two weeks, followed by a consult with the oral surgeon for my two extractions. Can we say dental bliss? Not.

photo credit: Sappymoosetree via photopin cc

2. Camp Show. I've said this before - I love my little guy's day camp so much. Last night was their annual camp show. The theme was super hero's and WOW did they do a spectacular job. Every group did their own superhero themed dance and in between there were skits that were funny and had lessons. They really showed that every child is a superhero. I took a bunch of pics and videos, but in the interest of privacy, I won't show them here. But trust me... they were adorably awesome.


3. Promos. This week, several of my books are on sale! Here's the run down:

Nate Rocks the Boat (Book 2 in the Nate Rocks Series): FREE on Kindle << Through 8/11/14

Chasing Invisible $0.99 on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords << Through 8/31/14

Ava's Wishes $0.99 on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Itunes, and Smashwords << Through 8/31/14


4. Awesome Kid Saying of The Week. So I've been saving this one from my daughter, hoping I'd have a finished product to show you. But as you'll see from the pics, I don't — however, I'm trying. Let me back up for a moment. As most of you know by now, I just moved. In our old house, my daughter had a built in desk, so I told her I'd get her a new desk for her room. In my mind, I was picturing something simple, like this:


photo credit: rowdyHarv, internet hit and miss via photopin cc

Maybe even simpler. But then she said ...... 

"I've always wanted a corner desk. It's all I've EVER WANTED."  

Ever?  Ok. So I ordered her a corner desk. A fancy one with shelves and drawers and doors. It does everything but her homework (I think).  Look, don't judge - we've had a really crappy year.

It came in a big HEAVY box which I could not carry upstairs. So I opened it downstairs and carried it piece by piece up my stairs. How many pieces you ask? 25 wood pieces and 215 pieces of hardware! Oh yeah, you read that correctly. The "instruction manual" and I use those terms loosely consists of 22 steps. I've now gotten through step 8. Here's where I'm at:







See ya on the flip side!

5. Review Time!

This week, I'd like to share a review from my newest release: Holly's Wishes - This one is on Amazon:

What’s a girl supposed to do when she’s living with a man she hopes to marry … and then she runs into her sophomore crush at her sister’s wedding? She tries to do the right thing, that’s what. Except her boyfriend isn’t exactly on board with her desire to be married, and he’s got some issues that are pretty hard to deal with.

Holly Haines tackles some tough situations in Holly’s Wishes, and you’ll soon find yourself rooting for her and Ben to get together, for Jared to take a hike, and for Ben’s girlfriend to get exactly what she deserves. With so many hurdles to overcome, will Holly and Ben find a way?

The only way for you to find out is to read the book. I’d like to say more, but I’d hate to spoil the story. But it’s a fun read, with some cool secondary characters, plus, we get to spend some time with a few old favorites from Ava’s Wishes.


http://www.amazon.com/review/R9OTNT37JYNFF/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B00M9CU2B4

That's my 5 - I hope you all have a great weekend! 

xo~Karen




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Don't forget - for the latest book news, including a cover reveal for a Whispered Wishes Novella coming this holiday season, sign-up for my newsletter!










Monday, August 4, 2014

What I Learned This Week: Going Old School

As many of you know, I finally finished and published Holly's Wishes last week. (Shameless plug >> AVAILABLE HERE<<)



And while I thought writing Ava's Wishes was a learning experience, I honestly had NO idea what I was in for with Holly's Wishes. Admittedly, I wrote Holly's Wishes very quickly. Too quickly. I couldn't help myself. The ideas were flowing, and I couldn't get the words down fast enough. Within a couple of weeks, I had achieved my own private NaNoWriMo.

At the same time, however, I was incredibly distracted. I had a million and one things going on in my personal life and wasn't really paying attention to what I was writing. As it turned out, I had written 50,000+ words of a story full of holes with a hero who really wasn't much of a hero at all. In fact, none of my beta readers wanted my leading lady to wind up with him in the end - - um, that's not good for a romance novel, is it? Yeah, trust me - it's not.

So I tore it apart... several times, in fact. Okay - six times, if you must know. It took going "old school" until I finally (hopefully) got it right. Here's what I learned:

1. I'm a visual person. While I love my laptop and typing,  physically writing out the story using a pen and paper helped me to see everything in a completely different light. I have no explanation for this - it just worked. Unfortunately, it took me until try number six to figure this out.



2. Having arthritis sucks more than I originally thought. Okay, this isn't really news to me, but can I tell you how PAINFUL it was to write out 50 or so scenes by hand? Yeah - not fun! My heating pad got a workout for several hours after that exercise.

3. My teachers were on to something. Back in the day (and no, I'm not going to tell you what day that was), when we did research papers, we had to write out each fact on an index card before putting them together into the final paper. I thought it was a complete waste of time. Why not just list them out on one sheet? Of course, I was only writing five or ten page papers, so it wasn't a big deal. However, when trying to construct a full novel made up of fifty plus scenes, having each scene on an index card is a BRILLIANT way to organize everything. Now, I know there are programs and apps that will do this for you. I have both an ipad app and Scrivener on my computer. But, like I said - I needed the old school visual. So I took my scenes from number 2 above and cut them up (Yes, my poor hands!) - - I am not kidding when I say it was THE BEST MOVE for this book. Like a puzzle, everything suddenly fit perfectly into place. While many scenes wound up getting tossed, the others finally found their home. Surprisingly, other than the opening scenes, very few chronologically stayed in the same place.



What amazed me the most about this experience was how differently I perceived the story going from my computer screen to pen and paper. Really, that was the only thing that changed. Like I said before, I have no explanation.

Do I plan on doing this for every book? HELL, NO! But I'm relieved (so relieved) to know the option exists should I ever get stuck again (and this time I won't wait until I'm on the sixth try.)


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Don't forget - for the latest book news, including a cover reveal for a Whispered Wishes Novella coming this holiday season, sign-up for my newsletter!






Friday, August 1, 2014

The Friday Five 8-1-14



1. HOLLY!! 

You  may have *seen* me screaming a lot on Facebook lately. That's because Wednesday night, I FINALLY hit the publish button on Holly's Wishes. I am not kidding when I say this book involved sweat and tears (but, thankfully no blood, although my laptop did almost go flying out my window a few times). I think I re-wrote this story six times, but it could have been more. I do know that it was a process - one that involved the help of some fabulous ( and patient) beta readers. At one point, I put the computer away and went old school. Writing out each scene on a scrap of paper. I had to de-construct the entire story to figure out exactly what was missing before I could re-construct it back together. 









A LOT of it wound up in the recycle bin - and a lot of new material was added. And now that it's complete ... I can honestly say, I'm proud to present ..........   HOLLY'S WISHES ......



(Shameless Plug: Available on Amazon)


2. Awesome Kid Saying of the Week #1

Yes - that says number #1. Honestly, I could have done the Friday Five just on the stuff that came out of children's mouths this week. They were in rare form! But instead, I decided to pick two things - from my two boys. I'll save the gem from my daughter for next week. 

So here's number one: We've been having a lot of storms lately - really crazy thunderstorms which have brought down a ton of trees in our neighborhood. One of our neighbors stacked the logs from their chopped up fallen tree on their curb with a sign on it that said "free". My 7 year old asked who was going to take the wood? I told him I didn't know, probably someone with a fireplace. ... And his response ...

"They should really save it for the Pilgrams. So they can build their cabins."

Um ... O-kay. Yup - I suggest you just sit here and think about that for a moment before moving on...

3. Awesome Kid Saying of the Week #2

Are you ready for the next one? This one is from my 16 year old. You may remember the blog post I wrote last year where he told me he assumed I sat home all day and watched TV. Apparently, he thought I wrote all my books on the commercials. Well, we cleared that up, but now that school's out, and he's seen me working from home, he asked me if I got bored just typing all day not talking to anyone. When I explained that I do actually talk to people all day, through social networks, he said, "well why don't you go out and talk to people about your books - not just through the computer."
Yes, I thought. Excellent idea. But then he continued with his idea...

J: You need to go to one of those Lady Things.
Me:  Lady Things?
J: Yeah, where you all sit in a big circle and talk about books. I've seen it on TV.

Ah yes, the Circular Lady Things. I'll check them out. Indeed.


4. The Other Social Networks.

I will say this for my oldest children - they have taught me there is life outside of Facebook. It's called Instagram. I'm still not 100% sure how it works, but I know I can spy on my kids without them realizing it. It's okay - they don't read my blog - in fact ... Awesome Kid Saying 2.5: My oldest in that same conversation, when I mentioned I was going to blog about his Lady Thing comment, said to me, "You blog? Nobody blogs anymore."  Guess I never got the memo. Anyway - so off topic there. My point ... I'm on the Gram now! Follow me - or I'll be lonely.  @KarenPokras_Author

I'm also on Wattpad posting Ava's Wishes. Again ... I'm not 100% how this one works, but if you're on there and want to follow me and check out Ava, you can find me at KarenPokras. Chapters 1-3 are up... and 4 will be going up this week.

5. Review Time.

Speaking of Ava, I wanted to give a shout out to a review I received this week for Ava's Wishes on the Krazy Book Lady blog: 

"Ava's Wishes is an excellent first book in a new series, Whispered Wishes. Karen Pokras, who has also published middle-grade books as Karen Pokras Toz, seems to be a natural at chick-lit. I was very impressed with how Ms. Pokras provided enough of a glimpse at Ava's two sisters to make readers already interested in reading their stories while still keeping the focus of this book on Ava. 

If you enjoy sweet chick-lit stories with clean romance then this book is a good choice, and I would definitely recommend it."

Thank you! Here is the link to the full review: http://krazybooklady.blogspot.com/2014/07/avas-wishes-by-karen-pokras.html



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Don't forget - for the latest book news, including a cover reveal for a Whispered Wishes Novella coming this holiday season, sign-up for my newsletter!














Friday, July 25, 2014

The Return of the Friday Five 7-25-14



I'm baaack. Well, I never really left, but the Friday Five left. That's not to say it's going to be back every week. I think that's part of why it left - let's face it, some weeks, I really only have two or three things that are share-worthy. We'll play it by ear, okay? In the meantime... here's what's going on around here this week:


1. Bundle Up!

Are your kids reading this summer? WHAT? READ? But it's summer - YUK! I know, right? NOT!! READING ROCKS, and if your kids have to fill out a reading log this summer like mine do, you can now squeeze in four books all at once, and they won't even realize it. Okay - well they will, but by the time they figure it out, they'll be into it - promise. That's because for the first time, I've bundled all four Nate Rocks books together into a single book. You get the complete collection for under $5. Only from Amazon... get it  >>HERE<<


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2.  Holly's Wishes.

I know. First I promised it would be ready July 1st. Then I said it would only be delayed a short time. And here it is, July 25th and no Holly's Wishes. Well, the good news is that after MANY rounds of revisions, it is finally finished. It's now in that happy place called editing where it's getting polished and ready for the world. Soon... and I mean it this time.




3.  Awesome Kid Saying of the Week:

Ok here's the deal. I have three awesome kids. Two teens and an almost eight year old, and the stuff that comes out of their mouths is just something else. Sometimes, it's so out there, I have to write an entire blog post about it. But sometimes, it's just a little snippet. If you have kids, or are around kids, you know what I'm talking about. So every Friday Five, I'm going to pick one thing from the week that one of them said that made me just either burst out laughing or shake my head and say "Huh?"  Here's this week's...

Since my life lately has been consumed with Holly's Wishes … re-writing it over (and over and over …) my sixteen year old innocently asked me why not just stop writing it.

"Mom, just skip that one and move on."

When I explained that I couldn't because it's book 2 in a series, and you can't have a series that goes from book 1 to book 3, his response made perfect sense.

He said, "You could be like Star Wars and just release all the books out of order."

Huh. Now why didn't I think of that?  Don't worry, see #2 above.

4. Critters.

If you follow me on FACEBOOK, you know that I recently moved. It was a crazy, stressful ordeal that I'm glad is over. To try to ease the stress, a friend helped me put together a lovely little zen garden in my new backyard.


  Unfortunately, it didn't last long.  First the flowers disappeared.


  Ok, I thought, They'll grow back. But then the tomato plant got eaten. THEN, the plants were GONE. Yes, gone - dug right out of the pots by the roots!




One by one, every plant has disappeared. I'm now left with a zen garden of empty pots of soil. At the moment I have two suspects ...  Exhibit A...



and Exhibit B ... which I believe belongs to a groundhog.



It is possible they are working together. I may have to call in Christopher Robin for assistance.


5. SWAG.

So, you know how above I said I might not have 5 things to tell you every week? Well this is one of those weeks lol! So instead, I'm going to giveaway SWAG!!  Sign up for my newsletter and get a signed Whispered Wishes postcard.The first ten people who sign up will also receive a copy of Ava's Wishes. (Postcards limited to US & Canada).





Have a great weekend everyone!



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www.karenpokras.com



Thursday, July 3, 2014

July 4th+World Cup+7 Year Old=All Kinds of Confusion

photo credit: Why Tuesday? via photopin cc
One of the things that I love about my son's day camp is that it's run by a history teacher. Last year on the day before the camp closed for the July fourth holiday, the camp director did a reading of the Declaration of Independence (in a fun way) for the kids. So when I picked my seven-year-old up from camp today, I asked:

Did Rusty read the Declaration of Independence again this year for July 4th?

C: No but we did all kinds of activities for Independence Day about the war against Brazil.

Me: You mean England.


C: No Brazil.


Me: Brazil wasn't in the war. Were you talking about the World Cup maybe? (They've also been doing a lot of soccer themed stuff lately)



photo credit: bruna camargo via photopin cc

C: No it was for the war for the Declaration of Independence - like in the pool we had to pretend we were crossing the river. We were the guy on the horse.


Me: George Washington?


C: No. The other guy. The one about Brazil.


Me: I don't know - wait. Paul Revere?


C: Yes - he called "Brazil is coming! Brazil is coming!"


Me: Oh! You mean the BRITISH! 


Yup - you all remember learning about the American Revolution right? That one where we were trying to gain our independence from Brazil? Mystery solved.



Enjoy your 4th of July - Stay Safe!

photo credit: Furryscaly via photopin cc



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www.karenpokras.com



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