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#PitchWars Crit - UPRISING

  Posted by bigblackcat97 in Writer, Writer Pants on Fire, 07 October 2015 · 0 views

My PitchWars mentor-partner Kate Karyus Quinn and I agree that we didn't read a single query that was bad - nor did we read any first pages that were unsalvageable. And honestly with as many submissions as we had, we were surprised at the quality of them. Which is why we decided to offer query and first page critiques on our blogs to everyone who submitted to us.

Quite a few people have taken us up on the offer. Through November, Kate and I will be posting these critiques on Mondays and Wednesdays. Any writer can learn from these - not just the author of the material being critiqued. You'll see my comments in green.


When criminals and beasts unite to oust the royalty, Raylene must find a way to stop them Why must she?. But first she needs to control her insatiable urge to kill. UPRISING, a YA fantasy, is complete at 85,000 words. It will appeal to fans of Kristin Cashore’s GRACELING and Marie Rutkoski’s THE WINNER’S CURSE. Good hook. I need to know more, but I'm sure that's to come. I like your comp titles.

After years of training to be a warrior, Raylene returns to her homeland. With her sword that emits fire and light, she can incapacitate fighters double her size. Perhaps a little more here - why is Rayline a warrior? Was this a choice or a caste or a destiny thing?

In her kingdom, all is not well. Prison breaks who is breaking out? are rampant and officials are being murdered. The empress insists everything is under control. But when her father goes on a ride like on a horse, or in a car? Genres are easily bent these days. and returns in a comatose state, Raylene doesn’t believe it was the accident they say it was. Slightly confusing - like he returned on horseback? But he's comatose? Like a  zombie? Or he's out cold? She’s willing to break every rule to uncover the truth, even if it means torturing suspects.

As she starts to untangle the web of lies ensnaring her kingdom, Raylene discovers a master manipulator is raising an army of criminals and deadly monsters. More on the monsters please - are these unknown to the land, or just more of "skulk in the dark and we don't bother you" type of thing She knows the power-hungry elites So is this like a coup? Officials are being murdered, but the elites are conspiring? are secretly lending him their support, but whenever she starts to close in, someone turns up dead.

Now Raylene must find a way to apprehend the rebel leader. If she fails to stop the rebellion, it’ll be the end of the royal family. Her family. Wait, she's royal? Explain.

First Page:

No one would rule her again, ever.

Raylene thought and gritted her teeth. Not a complete sentence. It had been four years since she set foot in Divine. She was still far from it, being several feet above the ground. But it wouldn’t be long until she reached Orion, the capital of the empire she would rule one day.

Raylene heard the pounding of her heart even though the wind whistled nonstop around her. She petted the bird-like head of her ride mount?—a zelokyte she had named Apa. She leaned closer to Apa’s massive body.

Raylene pulled binocles over her eyes and the view became so clear that she could count the pebbles below. The jagged leaves of the coniferous trees shivered as Apa flew into their midst. She raised her pointed beak and soared high towards the darkening sky. Perhaps the explanation of her viewpoint could come first. I thought she was standing on a cliff, or something, being several feet above. It explains the wind, etc., but we need to know she's on a flying steed first.

Raylene shook her head and waved away a ghost of a memory that kept growing as she neared her homeland. She wondered if it would be easier to defy the empress, now that she was a full-fledged wielder.

Easy or not, she would ensure that her grandmother paid for being the empress who ruled without mercy, and for whom her granddaughter’s wishes were as insignificant as the ashes left by a burning hearth.

Heat flushed through Raylene’s body.  She hadn’t forgotten, never would. And her grandmother would soon see what she was capable of.

Raylene licked her upper lip.

​Raylene​ stroked Apa’s rough scales, needing no bridle to control her zelokyte. Apa sensed and understood her. She straightened her scaly wings and flew faster, leaving a flock of birds squawking behind them.​

The first thing that jumps out at me is that this is a lot of telling. You're entire first page her is backstory being reiterated to the reader, which isn't the best delivery. Show how Raylene feels instead of just telling the reader, exhibit these emotions through interactions instead of setting it out as explanation in the first page. Also, I highlighted use of body parts throughout - it stood out to me the amount of words that are body parts on the first page, for whatever reason.



The Final Chapter for From the Write Angle

  Posted by Jemi in Just Jemi, 05 October 2015 · 33 views

If you haven't heard yet, my friends and I over at From the Write Angle are lowering the curtain over at our blog. It was a tough decision, but it's time. We've all gotten busy, busy, busy, and we're not able to commit to the time needed to keep the blog strong. If you haven't read the final post, it's a good one, and in the comments many of our contributors are doing updates about then/now.

From the Write Angle started in 2011. In some ways, it seems eons ago, in others, only a heartbeat or two.

It's natural to look back and to look ahead during a time like this. I haven't sent out a single query or published a single book in that time. I know to some that would seem inconceivable, but it's true. So, what have I been doing? Working on my craft. I'm a hands-on learner, so I've been writing and trying and learning. And improving.

While I may not have my stories out in the real world yet, I'm SO much closer to having a product I'll be proud to share.

My buddies over at From the Write Angle are a large part of that. So many talented writers who are so willing to share and help out others! I've already bought and read at least a dozen books by my fellow FTWAers and I'm looking forward to many more.

It's been a very good ride at FTWA, and I'll miss the regular contact with my colleagues and my new blogger buddies, but I know we'll all keep in touch.

Have you been part of a group blog? It's such a great way to grow and learn and share! 



Interview with Audiobook Narrator Cris Dukehart

  Posted by Jean Oram in The Love Bug Blog, 04 October 2015 · 25 views

Who is the voice behind the audiobook version of Champagne and Lemon Drops? Cris Dukehart!

She graciously allowed me to interview her and here’s the behind-the-scenes scoop on narrating an audiobook as well as what it was like immersing herself in Blueberry Springs as she recorded Champagne and Lemon Drops.

Cris Dukehart

Who was your favourite Blueberry Springs character?

EEEP! That’s so HARD! What is that saying? That picking a favorite character is like picking a favorite child?

CrisDukehartHeadshotNOW… if you had asked my favorite character to VOICE… that one’s a little easier. Ever since I was cast, in 4th grade, as one of Cinderella’s evil stepsisters and after a brief but VERY dramatic period of grieving and lamentation at NOT being cast as the sweetly chirping, lovely (BLONDE!) heroine, realized how much more FUN it was to PLAY BAD… to rip a dress to shreds without consequence (EVEN TO CHEERS)… to walk with an exaggerated hip sway and nasty sneer (knowing that after the show Cinderella was coming over to spend the night)… to give mean looks and be applauded for them rather than promptly deposited in time out… I have, more oft than not, positively celebrated the antagonist.

It follows then, that my favorite characters to voice (so far) in Blueberry Springs are Mandy, our gal Beth’s perceived nemesis and Oz’s mother, Angelica.


Do voices just ‘come to you’ when you are preparing to narrate or is there research you find you need to do?

Oz_ChampagneandLemondrops2Both, sort of. Part of my process as a narrator is to “pre-read” the story. I’m not really reading for content in those first moments, but rather for clues to voice and character… I’m sort of researching within the story itself. I gather and horde, like some hobbitty thing, any and all textual hints from the author, scribbling each character in a note pad as well as their history, appearance, habits and traits. And then, when I have a chance, I pick the author’s noggin. 😉

If a character has a lisp or chews gum… is bold or hesitant… has a back story that will sound in their voice or is, in Mary Alice’s case, the wonderful sage-like busybody everyone adores… these things are as integral to me in developing a character’s voice as the actual textual clues of timbre and tone and depth.

Accents, particularly those of places I have yet to travel to, often find me youtubing, or calling hotels and libraries in the area (if it isn’t a fictional location) and even, in some cases, enlisting the assistance of one of a few websites designed for dialects of the English language, or a dialect coach.


Briefly, what is the process of recording an audiobook? I know you do a read through of the book before you start. What sort of notes do you make for yourself to help along the process of recording the book?

Oz_ChampagneandLemondrops3Yes, there’s the pre-read where I make notes on characters and voices as well as any words or concepts I am unfamiliar with…

Then I set up my gear (audiobooks require different recording settings than say… commercial audio… due to the varied tones, and volumes and voices required in an audiobook…)

I go put the tea kettle on for my “Throat Coat” tea (I sip it through the read to help with voice fatigue), grab a Granny Smith apple from the fridge (a small nibble helps with mouth smackiness and icky noisy sounds that my lips, teeth, and gums make… noises I was, prior to spending long hours talking into an extremely sensitive microphone, blissfully unaware I made but that I am now HYPER sensitive to… BLE-ARG) … put on my “quiet clothes” if I am not already wearing them (it is ASTOUNDING how LOUD some shirts are and jewelry… FORGET IT!) and hole up in my little padded room to talk to myself for a few hours. (*giggle*snort*)


How long does it take to create a 9 hour audiobook?

ChampagneLemondrops518KIt typically takes me a ratio of 2:1 to record… give or take a bit… so for every 1 hour of audio, equates to 2 hours in the booth, accounting for stumbles and voice cracks, stomach grumblings, small children howling “MOOOOOM, I NEED…”(well… you name it… when I get in my booth, they need it), and any other myriad noises that interrupt recording.

After I record, there is a whole process of audio magic that happens, where the audio is reviewed, edited, mistakes are caught, I re-record the mistakes and then there is “mastering” and quality control… all of it, I would estimate, adds up to somewhere between 5-7 hours/1hour of finished audio.

So… if my math is correct (and it should be because I am using a calculator (giggle*snort*), that’s about 63 hours for a nine hour audiobook.


Do you keep a file of the ‘samples’ of the different book voices? How do you remember what everyone sounds like?

I do keep voice files, though I didn’t (even though it was recommended by any number of experienced narrators) always. One time of having to go back and listen to 18 HOURS of a story, with notepad in hand, in order to “remember” characters in a first book… for a sequel, cured me of THAT SILLINESS!

Oz_ChampagneandLemondrops4Now, for each book, I make short recordings of each character saying their name as well as speaking a few lines so if and when a sequel happens, I can refer to the files rather than listening to 18 hours before recording.

As for remembering voices while recording… generally when I’m recording, the story plays out in my head as it might on a screen (I just happen to be all of the characters)… snort… THAT sounds like ALL SORTS of work related psychosis, doesn’t it? (laughing)… Like my friends down the street, my sisters, or my children, the characters in the book I’m narrating typically talk all day in my head… like they do for an author I think. They, and the author, provide a running dialog that is sometimes so real to me that upon exiting the “dead quiet” isolation of my booth I am astounded to find that I am still in my little post-it note cottage in rural Pennsylvania and not in coastal France, or Canada, Texas, some as yet undiscovered planet or world or ANYWHERE, USA.


Did you have a man you were rooting for—Oz or Nash—in the story?

Oz_ChampagneandLemondrops1Which chapter? Or even… which page?

(ACK! I am SUCH a fickle fanny!)

For much of the book, I was Team OZ…

I am all about redemption… OH and HANDS!!!

You can tell a world… an absolute WORLD… about a fellow from his hands… and I loved the references to Oz’s.

But… Well… that Paris vacation with Nash… what gal DOESN’T like a little “je ne sais quoi”?

A little “sweep me away” romance?

Plus and also too, I really believe that when a door appears to close, it is only to allow another, more suitable, more DESIRABLE one to open. I really LIKED Nash but… well… he was never really SUITED for our gal Beth… not really.

That door, for him is closed… but… well… there is someone for him though… I feel certain. 😉 (and SQUEEEE if I get to narrate their STORY!!!!)


What did you like most about Beth?

Oz_ChampagneandLemondrops5Beth was REAL.

If she was conflicted, she didn’t pretend otherwise… she invited us into her conflict and perhaps even LARGER… into her resolution process… and she made no excuses for either. It was refreshing and, I felt, inspiring.

In addition, Beth and I share a love of the happily ever after… the fairytale. And I absolutely appreciated that when Beth’s fairytale turned on its end… after consideration and a little fumbling about, she rewrote it to suit.


Thanks so much for inviting me to your blog… and to Blueberry Springs.

Take a listen to Cris Dukehart narrating Champagne and Lemon Drops!

Listen to the entire book:

Amazon US
Amazon UK


Psst! Not an Audible member? You can get the first book free when you sign up for a free trial membership.

Not your speed but still want big savings? Snag the ebook on Amazon, THEN upgrade to audio for only a few dollars more! The two are Whispersynced–read and listen and your devices will remembered where you left off!


Loved it? Leave a review! Both Cris and I love getting online reviews on our work–it really helps us out. Thank you!

The post Interview with Audiobook Narrator Cris Dukehart appeared first on Jean Oram.



IN THE SHADOW is here!

  Posted by Joe Stephens in My Train of Thought, 02 October 2015 · 31 views

Charlie Gesell's amazing cover!
I hope you aren't getting sick of hearing about this because I'm not sick of writing about it. Fair warning: I probably won't be for a few weeks--or months! It's partly because this is a new book and the excitement of launching a new story out into the world and seeing how everyone likes it is thrilling. But it's also partly that I just feel really good about this book. I feel like I've come a long way as a writer since Harsh Prey. Not to say that wasn't a good book, but, as with any skill, thoe more you practice, the better you get. And also, I just really feel good about the new character of Jenn Bezaleel. I think she's going to add a dimension and layer to the storyline that just wasn't there before. I hope you agree.

So, in case you haven't picked up a copy yet, here are the four ways you can get one:

The back cover

If you want to order a paperback online, there are two choices. Either one will cost you approximately the same, but the first is the one I prefer you use for a very simple reason: economics. If you use Createspace, you're buying directly from the printer, which means I get a bigger slice of the pie. If you are used to Amazon or just don't want another account, then that works too. If your preference is an ebook, then Amazon is the place to go too. The link above takes you to the page that allows you to choose either format. You'll eventually be able to get them at the other online retailers, though that's not true quite yet. It takes a few days for that stuff to cycle out.

The author

The third way is to go to J & M's Used Books on Blizzard Drive in south Parkersburg. They always carry my books and will be glad to sell this, as well as the other two, to you at the same price. It's easy to find. As you're going up Blizzard toward South High School (from the KMart end), it's in the little plaza on the left, beside the antique store.

The fourth way is the most fun for me and that is to walk up to me and hand me $10 in exchange for a book. That's more fun for you too because you don't have to pay shipping for the handing-over process. Plus, we get to actually talk to each other and I can sign your book for you. There's no link to click and not account to set up. It's just money-book-sign-smile-talk-laugh-bye! Of course, you can have me sign it if you buy the paperback online or from J & M's too, but in that case, you bring the book and hand it to me. I don't hand you money. That would be counterproductive. If you don't see me regularly, then mark October 17 on your calendar. I will be doing a reading and/or signing somewhere in the greater Mid-Ohio Valley area sometime that day. I promise I'll give you more information than that soon.

And once you finish this one, it's just another month or so before more Shalan fun appears in your inbox (assuming you're on my mailing list) with the prequel novella, "Harry and the Redheaded Angel."  It's the perfect way to usher in the holiday season. And speaking of holidays, have you thought about how all three parts of the Shalan trilogy would make an amazing Christmas present? I hope you'll consider it.



QUITE THE QUERY with Sharon Chriscoe and Race Car Dreams

  Posted by Amy Trueblood in Amy Trueblood's Blog, 02 October 2015 · 53 views

    If you ask any writer about the process of connecting with their agent (or publisher), the majority will say the most difficult part was querying. Not only the actual process of sending out the letters/emails, but formulating the query itself. In fact, I’ve heard more than a few authors say writing their query took […]



Books I Read: September 2015

  Posted by Mia K Rose in Mia K Rose | Forsaken Illusion, 02 October 2015 · 13 views

In total, I managed to read eleven (11) books in the month of September this year. I’m only including the ones I finished reading during that month, and not ones I may have started. One paperback, two hardbacks, and the remaining were on Kindle. Seven YA, 2 MG and 2 Adult (though I’m sure some […]




Posted by Quiana Kyles in The Silent Whispers Movement, 02 October 2015 · 127 views

Hello, all 2,241 viewers! I, just stepped out of the creative lab just to give you guys a heads up as to what's been going on in my world of creative expression!

I'm, just so excited with this news! I, currently have a crowdfunding crusade running to generate money for the production of the film "His Voice, His Movement".....Ok, we'll without taking you way back to the stone age I'll just give you the mini version of how this all got started...Logically, everybody knows that the Jackson dynasty started in the Mid-west! Yet, there has never been a tribute to the legacy of MJ and how he influence those within the windy-city. Through, this creative film I will honor that legacy. The, following will be some information on your contribution and how your efforts would be valued..

DARE II DREAM levels consists of 6 and at each level your contribution varies and so does the perks you get! From A mere heartfelt thank you in cyberspace to a t-shirt and keepsake with film logos on it rest assure your input is warranted....
Here, is the link to get more background info on the film and dream cast!http:/Attached Image /igg.me/at/HIS-VOICE-HIS-MOVE-CHI16

Anyone, who has ever dreamed bigger then your current surroundings listen up! Your, dreams matter and you've got what it takes to ignore those people who don't support your purpose for your life.....Stay, the course and the dream will soon become a reality!

See, you at the box office!


Hidden Voices: How Being a Teen in the At-Risk School System Almost Silenced Me

  Posted by SC_Author in SC Write--Writing, Publishing, and Harry Potter, 30 September 2015 · 48 views

We've got another #WriteInclusively guest post. It's incredible. Buckle down, you all. Take it away, Kara.
Education is important. We spent a good amount of our lives in some type of school or class and then still learn long after we’ve grasped that shiny diploma and thrown our cap in the air. We learn not just about math, science, art, and history, but also social interaction, self-image, and confidence. We are held to standards (whether that be getting A’s, behaving in class, or getting on the basketball team) and expectations (going to college, graduating with honors, getting that scholarship) that can shape the way we think and we feel.

I went to a high school for at-risk kids.

There were a lot of us thrown in there by the public school systems that didn’t want to take the time or the effort to help us through whatever problem we were having. There were a lot of problems. Many kids grew up in bad families, in bad neighborhoods, in gangs. Others were children of illegal immigrants or young, single mothers who lived under the poverty level or were even drug addicts. Some of us, like me, had autism or other “emotional and/or behavioral disturbances” and the public school system decided that it would be easier to send them away than tailor to their special needs. We were a potpourri of different races, genders, sexualities, backgrounds. You name it.

The school system didn’t want to deal with us; honestly, they probably didn’t have the budget to. But neither did the at-risk system we went into. It’s advertised by concerned social workers as a place where you can be accommodated to your needs; in reality, we all were blurred together. To them, our problems were all the same, our stories were all similar, and our voices all didn’t matter.

Many of our voices were silenced in that school.

In a normal high school, you probably expect the textbooks to be up-to-date, the classes to be adequately challenging, and the teachers to have a degree in their area of expertise. We didn’t have that. Our textbooks (if we had them) were fifteen years old, the classes were dumbed down to the point where I was learning fifth grade level English and Math in twelve grade, and our teachers only had special education degrees and no outside education on the subjects they taught. As I quickly found out, those teachers could get nasty if you happened to know more on a subject than they did. I was personally removed from class, mocked by teachers, and set up by myself because I corrected my teachers when their facts on government, or literature, or even math, my worst subject, were wrong. When I asked my counselor at the school why my teachers seemed to hate me, she said: “It’s not that they hate you; you just intimidate them. You’re smarter than them and they don’t like it. That’s not how it’s supposed to work here.”

But, while that was a factor in our silent voices, you may be surprised to know that it wasn’t the main reason for the silence.

There was a terrible secret about that school all of us students knew: You were expected to fail. In a normal school, if you hit below a certain level of grades, you might be put on academic probation, you might be talked to by a counselor. In this school, none of the above happened. No one cared. The main mindset was that we were a group of future dropouts, criminals, and leeches on society that they had to watch. We weren’t going to go anywhere.

When we filed into school, going through a security system similar to the ones you’d find at an airport, they didn’t see us as human students. They saw us as statistics. They saw the black criminal and the white drug addict. They saw the violent teenage boy and the emotional teenage girl. They saw the pregnant whore and the gangbanger father. The illegal immigrant and the child of a family that couldn’t afford the cat-food they called lunch. And slowly, we began to conform to those statistics. Because when someone says you’re broken, or stupid, or dangerous, or irredeemable enough times, you begin to believe it. Slowly, we were molded into the mindset they had for us. Our voices, once loud, were getting softer and softer.

We were told not to expect college. We were pressured to attempt workshops that specialized in getting us “experience” that had many of us working half the school day at odd jobs for no pay instead of attending classes we “didn’t need”. Behind our backs the teachers and aides would make comments on the kids; how they would never go anywhere. They would mock the turbulent relationships the students formed with each other. We were compared to dogs doing tricks for treats when we behaved.

The environment of belittlement and negativity that surrounds at-risk children is dangerous. It cuts off many voices that don’t fit the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant Heterosexual Rich Male ideal. It makes us, the victims, feel like our stories are not important because why would anyone want to listen to us if we are just going to fail? Many of us internalize the negativity until we truly believe our stories are not worth anything.

But they are.

We were a diverse, living, feeling group of teenagers whose stories were shocking, terrifying, and maybe even heartwarming. There are thousands of us in your towns and cities whose experiences are as different as snowflakes and like snowflakes, are looked over when spread apart, but unable to ignore when banded together.

This problem goes deeper than schools and teachers, it goes deeper than report cards and minimum wage jobs; it goes deep into the norms and constructs of our society where a single role and stereotype is held as the be-all, end-all. These social constructs that teach us that because we are from problem backgrounds we are unclean, unwanted, and undeserving feed into an endless cycle that perpetuates the feelings of inadequacy and our often violent lives.

Look closer at us and you’ll see that the “black criminal” is actually incredibly smart and wants to be an engineer, the “white drug addict” has abusive parents and trust issues that he covers up with weed and pills, the “violent teenage boy” was terrified because he was about to leave the school he’d come to rely on, the “emotional teenage girl” had autism and could write wonders onto a page, and the “pregnant whore” resolved to be a better mother than her own while the “gangbanger father” that impregnated her was risking his life to escape his gang and take care of his new family.

Before we learn to #WriteInclusively, we must also learn to #ThinkInclusively about others and ourselves. We must not negate the importance of our own stories or fall prey to a society that waves away uncomfortable, unsettling viewpoints as “something we don’t talk about.” We must learn to see the worth in every story. Especially those that tend to go unheard. Many of the voices from my school are silent now; I don’t know what happened to the kids I’ve been around for so long. Honestly, I don’t think their stories are any brighter than mine is. But right now, I’m the one talking. That needs to change. We need to realize that everyone’s voice deserves to be heard, whatever the expectations put in place. Those expectations must always be defied.

Kara Barbieri is a nineteen-year-old graduate from the Illinois at-risk school system and a Sociology major at her local community college. She is currently seeking representation and enjoys writing about kickass pirate queens, huntresses, and other diverse, complex women. She has Autism, likes goats, and can write wonders onto pages. She can be found on twitter at @Kara_Barbieri.

Kara is one of my close friends, an incredible person. I'm so so happy to have her on this blog. THANK YOU so much for sharing your story.

Everyone: PLEASE comment and discuss. Share this on Twitter. Thank/talk to her on Twitter. Be sure to engage and discuss, that is one of #WriteInclusively's main goals. What did you think?

If you want to get more involved with the Write Inclusively campaign and be up-to-date with it, sign up for the newsletter. We do not email much - in the last 10 months, only two emails have gone out.




The Final Chapter

  Posted by From The Write Angle in From The Write Angle Blog, 29 September 2015 · 43 views

by all of us

It is not with sadness, but melancholy, that we at From The Write Angle announce we are disbanding, inter-marrying and moving into condominiums.

Wait, that was Doonesbury.

We have only been the imaginings of an autistic boy looking into a snow globe. … No, that was St.Elsewhere.

The war is over – nope, M*A*S*H.

We can’t continue because we’ve been jailed for criminal indifference.  We haven’t, that was the characters of Seinfeld, but maybe we should all do a little time for that offense.

What we’re trying to say is, we are moving on.

From The Write Angle began in 2011 on the premise that we are often best helped, not by those who have reached the top of the climb, but by our peers just a rung or two ahead of us. As a collection of writers at different levels on the ladder, we offered our thoughts from our point of view, our angle.

But our angles have changed. Each of us has kept to our own climb, which now takes us away from this blog.

For our readers who have journeyed with us, thank you. We hope we have helped. For those who have just found us, we leave behind these articles not as sage advice, but just clues, hints, of how we got where you are now, with the hope that they will guide you toward a better tomorrow.

And we wish that your success will one day inspire others.

In the comments of this post each of the contributors to From The Write Angle, past and present, will write a little something about where they were when they joined us, and where they are now. After that, the automatic lights will go out. This blog will be dark.

But as soon as someone walks through the door, the lights will click on.

If you are a budding writer who has stumbled on this anew, please keep posting comments. We’ll be listening. 



Author Photos– A Worthy Investment

  Posted by mlebleek in Bleeker Street, 28 September 2015 · 30 views

This past week I did something that is somewhat out of my comfort zone: I had my picture taken. Okay, not just any picture, not even a super awesome selfie. This past week I participated in a photo shoot in hopes of selecting a new author photo for my March 15th, 2016 release, WHEN I’M GONE.

The importance of an author photo

Now it is pretty accepted that author photos are important. When you think of an author photo you might think of them from a reader’s perspective, the curiosity fueled flip to the end of a book in an effort to put a face to the mind you’ve been living in. But there are so many uses for an author photo that you don’t readily think of. In a way, your author photo becomes your logo.


You use an author photo on your website, on your author page on Amazon, on your FB page, on your Twitter page, in any interviews you do. You send it out in your press kit and it’s used in any print or online articles. You also use it on business cards, in promo materials and, of course, in your book. No pressure…no…none at all.

Your author photo is an investment

So I look at a potential photo as an investment and as such it’s important to go into it with an end in mind. As such I feel like, for me, it was important to save up and invest in a professional. Both of my photos (for WRECKAGE and now for WHEN I’M GONE) were taken by talented professionals. If you want to read about my experience with Angel Clark of Angel Clark Photography from my WRECKAGE photo shoot you can see a wonderful blog post she wrote last summer.

This past week I went on a new adventure with the talented photographer/stylist, Amber Linderman of Amber Linderman Photography. I’m a nervous subject. I’ve been told most of my life that I’m not photogenic and I guess if you are told something often enough you start to believe it.

This is me:

(circa 1994)


After a speech tournament.


Assistant director/seamstress. I think the kilt wins the fashion award in the picture.

Even when I tried to dress up back in the day I always picked something a little off the wall like:


My mom’s old prom dress

$8 vintage thrift store dress. I LOVED this dress.

$8 vintage thrift store dress. I LOVED this dress.

Even now, nearly twenty years later, when I close my eyes I see that girl in my mind’s eye. I don’t mind the quirkiness, in fact, I’ve come to own it! But I also have never really felt like I take good pictures. Now my clothing choices might be a part of the issue, I won’t deny that, but in general I feel very self-conscious when I have my picture taken and then again when I review the photos. So when it was time to get a new author photo for WHEN I’M GONE I was nervous.


I found there two qualities were most important for me when selecting a photographer. First, was my comfort level with the photographer and second was that her aesthetic matched my expectations of a photo. Remember-you have to know you audience when you publicize your book as much as when you write your book. If you are looking for a photographer for your author photo, make sure to take a look through his/her portfolio and see if you feel like you are a match.

Amber Linderman Photography

Photographer Amber Linderman

As for me, I selected a photographer who I was very familiar with and whose work I’d admired for years. Amber Linderman (Amber Linderman Photography) does such lovely work, check out her website if you don’t believe me. Beyond her extreme talent, I know Amber fairly well. Our kids are similar ages and she is also developing her profession as an artist while doing her job as a stay-at-home mom, just like me. I was excited to work with someone I already knew, hoping my comfort level would increase and I wouldn’t look like a constipated robot during the shoot. Click here to visit Amber’s photography Facebook page.


Choose clothes that are appealing to your genre and target audience. Now, that doesn’t mean if you write fantasy that you need to dress up in cosplay but feel free to show your accessibility to your audience.

As you can see above, I needed help with picking out the right clothes for my shoot. Amber is also a stylist so she went shopping with me and picked out my outfit and accessories. It was a fun process, but it was interesting to watch her pick things with a purpose. I was impressed when she asked me what my target demographic is for my books and then used that information to help her select each piece of clothing and jewelry.


Amber Linderman Photography

You don’t need a stylist/photographer to get a great look for your author photo, just take a look through Pinterest or google at the different author photos in your genre to get an idea of what would work for your book and genre.


Will you be inside or outside? Will you be in front of a backdrop, foliage or maybe a Christmas tree (don’t do that…please)? It is best to avoid extremes in background or theme (don’t want to distract from your lovely self) but feel free to make it personal.

For my shoot, we went down to the main street of a local town. We’d planned to go to the downtown area of my small town, but there was a homecoming parade (how quaint!) that night so it was far too crowded. The shots turned out lovely even with the change in plans. One thing that amazed me about Amber was how she found potential in some seemingly average places for some wonderful photographs.

Below are Amber’s pictures next to some simple iPhone photographs of what the backgrounds look like in “real life”. (Note: All the photographs of me are credited to Amber Linderman Photography. All the other ones are credited to Emily Bleeker’s iPhone)

IMG_2500  emily-30




If your author photo is an investment, so are you! Take the time to get gussied up and look your best. After all, thousands of people are going to see this picture! Maybe more. (Am I freaking you out yet?)

Besides getting a new outfit for the shoot, I also went and got my hair and makeup done. I don’t know that it was necessary, but I know that it gave me extra confidence that I needed. If you don’t want to pay for another item while preparing for the photo then just invest in a new tube of lipgloss or time the photos around your routine haircut. Make the day special and it will be easier to FEEL special in the pictures.

Most importantly, don’t sweat it. You are going to do great. Try not to get up inside your head. I know it’s hard. We are writers, we live a large percentage of our lives up in our heads, but unless you are imagining something that will make you smile or pout or inspire the right look for your photos, get out of there! The more you listen to the voices saying “Am I doing this right?” inside your head, the harder it is to get the results you desire.

The final product

When it comes down to picking THE picture for your book and promotional materials I suggest you explore all your photo options (hopefully you and your photographer got lots of different backgrounds, shots, angles and maybe even more than one “look”). I always like getting some feedback from trusted friends and family but ultimately it comes down to which photo you are ready to live with for the foreseeable future.

My favorite picture, the one I’m going to adopt as my author photo for WHEN I’M GONE and all my promotions, was taken as I was laughing with my photographer about a particularly hilarious way to get a nice, soft smile. I like thinking that whenever someone picks up my book or visits one of my pages that they will be laughing along with me.


Amber Linderman Photography



October Events

  Posted by Deb Borys in Debra R. Borys, 23 September 2015 · 39 views

I can’t believe October is almost here, but I’m loving this fall weather. If I can just pretend winter snows and cold aren’t right behind autumn, I can be a happy camper. I’m also happy about a couple of events … Continue reading



Extraction and Rebellion E-Books On Sale for $2.99 - Spread the Word to Win Prizes!

  Posted by Stephanie Diaz in Stephanie Diaz, 21 September 2015 · 61 views

Hey guys!! I'm resurrecting this blog to make a very special announcement...

As you may have already heard, Evolution, the third and final book in the Extraction series, went on sale on September 8th! The series is officially complete! You can buy your copy of Evolution on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple iBooks, Book Depository, or at your local indie!

To celebrate Evolution's release, my publisher has put the first two books in the series -- Extraction and Rebellion -- on sale for only $2.99 each for all e-book formats! This sale will only last for a limited time, so snatch up your copy now! ***And read on to find out how to win prizes by spreading the word!***

Buy Extraction for only $2.99:

Buy Rebellion for only $2.99:

Because I am super grateful for you guys for all you've done for me, I've decided to launch a special giveaway to coincide with the e-book sale. Help me spread the word about the sale on social media and you will be entered to win:

- (1) signed hardcover copy of Evolution,
annotated with behind-the-scenes facts and series secrets (limited edition!)
- (1) limited edition LEGO Clementine model
- (1) limited edition LEGO Logan model
- signed swag

This contest is open internationally. How do you enter to win? There are several ways (Which means you can earn more than one entry! But no more than 1 entry per option):

On Instagram:
Post the Extraction series e-book sale picture (see above), link to my Instagram account @StephanieEDiaz, and tag it #BookBargain.

Alternately, you can re-gram my Instagram post from here.

On Tumblr:
Reblog my tumblr post from here.

On Twitter:
Tweet the following message: DEAL ALERT! Grab e-books of 's EXTRACTION and REBELLION for only $2.99 each for a limited time! 

Alternately, you can retweet my twitter post from here.

On Facebook:
Post the Extraction series e-book sale picture on this page, link to either this website or one of the books, and tag it #BookBargain.

Alternately, you can share my facebook post from here.

The book sale will last for one month, but I will be selecting one winner for the giveaway on Monday, October 5th to receive the grand prize. Again, this contest is open to everyone, whether you live in the U.S. or otherwise. Thank you so much for helping me spread the word!



THE MIRRORMASTERS Has Found a Publishing Home!

  Posted by Lora Palmer in Lora Palmer's Blog, 18 September 2015 · 64 views

I'm so excited to announce that I have signed the contract with Clean Reads (formerly Astraea Press) for my debut novel, THE MIRRORMASTERS! Clean Reads publishes books free of profanity, graphic violence, or explicit intimacy--a mission I'm proud to become part of. More details will be forthcoming, but the release will be ebook first. 

It's been quite a journey to reach this point! Over the past few years on and off, I queried MIRRORMASTERS. A couple years back, I submitted to Astraea Press following a full request from a Savvy Authors pitch opportunity. It didn't work out at that time, but I kept querying, revising, getting feedback from beta readers, more revising, and more querying. And then, following #pit2pub in July, two of my pitches were favorited by Stephanie Taylor, owner and Editor-In-Chief of Clean Reads, and my full manuscript was requested. After doing a little dance of joy, I submitted again, noting that I'd made substantial revisions since my previous submission, and a few weeks later, I woke up to a lovely email that included a contract!

Thank you to everyone at Novelty Fiction, AQC, QueryTracker, WriteOnCon, and everyone who has generously offered their time and feedback, and knowledge of the publishing industry!  You've all been so wonderful, supportive, and a tremendous help! 



Cover Reveal for DARKEST DAWN

  Posted by Michelle4Laughs in Michelle4Laughs: It's in the Details, 11 September 2015 · 34 views

I am super excited to share the amazing cover for DARKEST DAWN, the first book in a new series by Author Katlyn Duncan. DARKEST DAWN releases next week on September 17th and is available to pre-order now!

In addition to the reveal of this gorgeous cover, the reveal includes an eBook giveaway for one of the author’s previously released titles. Be sure to head down to the Rafflecopter for a chance to win after you’ve checked out the cover!

The Cover Revealed!

Author: Katlyn Duncan
Release date: September 17, 2015
Publisher: Carina
Format: eBook


One desperate journey for the truth

Returning to Willows Lake eleven years after her mother’s tragic death, Sloane Baker knows she will finally get the answers she needs! She always suspected that there was something more sinister at the heart of the accident that claimed her mother’s life, but a cryptic note could be the key to her past…

Two lives changed forever

The small town has always seemed safe to Brianna Taylor – until a mysterious new girl arrives who looks exactly like Bri! Now everything Bri knew has been thrown into question and Sloane’s arrival has changed the world of Willows Lake forever.

Strange things are happening in Willows Lake. But when they turn deadly, Bri and Sloane must find a way to save each other or risk losing everything they hold dear…

Pre-order it:



About Katlyn Duncan


Katlyn Duncan was born and raised in a small town in western Massachusetts. Her overactive imagination involved invisible friends, wanting to be a Disney Princess and making up her own stories. Her bibliophile mom always encouraged her love of reading and that stayed with her since. Even though she works full time in the medical field Katlyn has always made time for books, whether she is reading or writing them.

Katlyn now lives in southern Connecticut with her husband and adorable Wheaten Terrier and she is thrilled to finally share her stories with the world.

Find her:


The Giveaway

There is a blast-wide giveaway for...

  • ONE (1) eBook copy of any one of the author’s backlist titles in Mobi or PDF format.

**Giveaway ends on September 17th at 8:00 AM Eastern. There will be ONE winner**

Enter in the Rafflecopter below...

a Rafflecopter giveaway



New...Well, everything.

Posted by DebsBlueRoses in Ramblings and Hand Cramps, 10 September 2015 · 65 views

Well, it's been 3 years and 2 months since I've posted in this blog! That's because, obviously, I had a blog which I linked, and I still do. BUT, it's under a new name and link, which I've connected here.

Also, if you are still following this blog (bless you) and haven't clicked over to what is now The Write Mage at Blogger, I was published at the beginning of this year by Cactus Heart Press! It was a great way to start my year, and I hope it's only the beginning. :smile:

I also have a new pen name, which, as it's the one I was born with, I plan on keeping, and that is Debra Renée. I no longer felt McKellan fit me, though I still love the series from which I borrowed it. My new non-pen also is who I am, and while I will always feel like Deborah is the name of an 80-year-old woman, I am happily embracing it. :wub:

Oh! And right now, I'm doing Pitmad, and I have two favorites on my MS I've been working on since before I joined AQC, and I must thank the people here, because I knew nothing of the ins and outs after you write "The End" for the first time until I came here.


Southern Cargo Packers and Movers in Airoli

Posted by southernmovers in southernmovers' Blog, 14 August 2015 · 168 views
Packers and Movers in Airoli and 1 more...

Packers and Movers in Airoli Navi Mumbai
Packers and Movers in Airoli
Expert packers as well as movers India primarily based businesses have focused team associated with specialists that has diligent individuals, specialist packers & movers, trained owners, along with dispatchers. Consequently it is certain that having a appropriate moving company inside India you'll have a safe and sound and also content new house purchase practical knowledge due to the fact your own things end up being managed carefully in addition to transferred to your new place safely in time.
For more info visit us at Southern Cargo Packers and Movers

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Author Interview at Books and Ladders Blog

  Posted by LucidDreamer in LucidDreamer's Blog, 10 August 2015 · 76 views

Thanks to Jamie at Books and Ladders blog for this interview! http://booksandladders.blogspot.com/2015/08/author-interview-vicki-weavil.html    



mulberry messenger bags may be together

Posted by gamomu sewas in Luxury Trends, 07 August 2015 · 83 views

Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart Didn Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart were rumored to have secretly confirmed they were a couple mulberry briefcases sale to Oprah but it looks like this may have just been another rumor.
On Wednesday, Pattinson and Stewart representatives were suppose to have confirmed and validified the duo as being in a relationship to http://www.mulberrybagsale.com/ Oprah or soE! Online reported.
However, the problem is that now other sources show that Gossip Cop has mulberry tote sale done it own research on the issue and found that nope, there were no mysterious off camera reps confirming anything to anyone.
Gossip Cop cited the contradiction between a statement Kristen Stewart made earlier this week to mulberry clutch Elle magazine where she said, would never cheapen my relationships by talking about them, Mulberry Bags Outletand the supposed confirmation that she was with Robert Pattinson.
Futhermore, Gossip Cop stated: mulberry messenger bags may be together, but one thingGossip Cop Mulberry Bag Saleknows for a fact " after spending a good part of the day working on this " is that NO reps ever confirmed it to Oprah.
That scenario never happened, and when asked mulberry satchel outlet whether Oprah got the scoop offcamera because she simply had to know, a rep for the talk Mulberry Bagshow queen tells Gossip Cop its not true. They really don need to explain anything to any of us but I still like to know.


Mom's Favorite Bread and Rolls Recipe

Posted by BakingMom1234 in BakingMom1234's Blog, 28 July 2015 · 69 views
Bread, Rolls, Moms, Hot Bread and 3 more...

Mom's Favorite Bread and Rolls Recipe My mother made this recipe for many years for our family when we had a holiday or special meal. This is my favorite recipe for rolls or bread.

5-6 cups White Lily or King Arthur Flour
2 pkg Yeast
½ cup Sugar
1 ½ tsp Salt
1 stick Margarine, melted
1 ½ cups hot tap water (110 degrees F)
2 Eggs
Cooking Oil
Combine 2 cups of flour, yeast, sugar and salt in large mixing bowl. Stir well and add butter. Add hot tap water and beat with paddle attachment approximately 2 minutes. Add eggs and 1 more cup of flour. Beat on high speed until thick and elastic (about 1 minute). Change over to bread hook and add enough remaining flour to make dough that leaves the side of the bowl.
Turn out onto a floured surface and knead 5-10 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic. Cover with plastic wrap and towel. Let rest for 20 minutes.
Punch down and shape into 2 ½ dozen rolls or bread loaf dipping in oil before placing into pan. Cover with plastic wrap and towel. At this point, you can refrigerate for 2-24 hours. If you are baking without refrigeration, let rise until double. After refrigeration, let rise until double.
Bake at 350 degrees F until done. Bread will sound hollow when done.


I'm a Southern Gal Living in the Deep South Mississippi

Posted by BakingMom1234 in BakingMom1234's Blog, 28 July 2015 · 166 views
Deep South, Live Oaks, Palm Trees and 4 more...

I Love Living in the South – I’m a Southern Gal

Why do I love living in the Deep South? In one word “atmosphere” is why I love living in the South. The atmosphere is unique and charming. The large Live Oak Trees are so beautiful with their sprawled out branches and welcome shade. Long flowing palm trees lined up and down the white sand beaches.
Flowers are blooming year round bringing color and beauty when winter dumps snow and ice in the north. Everyone waves at you even though they don’t know who you are. Good manners are how we do it with a smile. People are genuine in the deep south and do what they say they will do.
Sweet Tea – – Speaking of sweet tea, this quintessentially Southern drink is made by brewing tea, adding lots of sugar, and serving it over ice, lots of ice. I like my tea with lemon.
Southern women are strong and high spirited. Southern women really are magnificent creatures, and I am certainly proud to be one. Southern Women are brought up with a very strict code of conduct and natural manners. We are polite, respectful, intelligent, loving, kind, generous and delicate.
“Y’all” is soft and inclusive and oh-so-lovely when uttered in a slow Southern drawl. It’s a linguistic gem that Southerners sprinkle into pretty much every conversation. Darling is a word that is long and drawn out and so nice to hear.
What I love most about the Deep South is cooking the Deep South way. I have collections of my mother and grandmothers favorite and famous recipes. We just know how to cook. We are experts at frying chicken golden crispy and dripping with Crisco or Lard. Rich pies with fresh blackberries or sweet strawberries from the vine in a delicious Crisco pie crust topped with fresh dairy whipped cream and Blue Bell Vanilla Ice Cream. Jams, Jellies and marmalade canned to perfection ready to spread on made from scratch fluffy hot from the oven buttermilk biscuits. Fluffy dumplings with chicken and a side of garden green beans cooked with ham hock. We are experts cooking up a meal of kale greens with fried pork chops and homemade apple sauce with a side of hot from the oven corn bread.
But, I also love to eat at the local restaurants that serve Fried chicken, Biscuits and gravy, Shrimp and grits are one of my favorites, Pulled pork, Cornbread, Brisket, Mac and cheese, Catfish Po boys, Beans and Rice, Moon Pies, Boiled Peanuts, fresh Gulf Shrimp, Fish and $5 a dozen Oysters, Sweet Potatoes and Sweet Potato Fries. You can have a cookout and bonfire on the beach or a wedding.
Farmer’s Markets are open year round selling all types of Plants, Bakery goodies, Local Honey, Vegetables, Fruits, Pralines and Sweet Potatoes.
Summer in the South is like living in a sauna, which means you don’t need any expensive spa treatments to clear your pores. Your skin never gets dry, which helps stave off wrinkles. Once you wipe off the thick layer of sweat, you’re met with the most lovely, glowing skin you’ll ever see in your life.
The Deep South grows on you and before you know it, you are in love with the easy going Southern life.

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