Monthly Archives: July 2013

Who are your favorite small press publishers?

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Small Presses are the happy medium between self-publishing and traditional publishing as you don’t always need to be represented by an agent to deal with a small press (from the little research I’ve done so far, most don’t need you to have an agent but will still consider agented work), and they will handle the editing and art (typically) for your covers as well as promotion.

Of course there’s a trade off that you have to share your royalties with them, but many that I’ve looked into have very reasonable percentages not far off from what you’d get if you published through Amazon.  You will still have a lot of control over your book but you’ll also, more than likely, be asked to do a significant amount of promotion as well.

My biggest problem with self-publishing is the promo aspect, especially with the new job, it has really fallen to the wayside and my sales have suffered. With all the changes in traditional publishing lately, I’m not sure it’s really the route I want to take anymore, hence looking into the small presses.  I do have some in my sights, but I know there are probably many more that I don’t know of, so let me know who some of your favorites are and why you like them.

Do you use them to publish your own stuff?

Do you like the books they put out?

Let me know!

Belated Book Birthday!

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Don't be sad Darcy! I'll make it up to you!

Don’t be sad Darcy! I’ll make it up to you!

So, bad book mommy that I am, I totally missed Tears of a Clown‘s first book birthday back on July 15th. How shameful of me. Poor Darcy was probably expecting balloons and a cake baked in the Kitchen Of Love.   What should I do to make it up to her?  Should I do a giveaway (keep in mind I cannot get rafflecopter to work here  for some reason…)? Should I lower the price for a bit? Should I offer a critique of the first 5 pages of someone’s WIP?

You guys tell me what you’d be interested in and I’ll work in some little extras along the way!

Let’s get ready to party!belated birthday

Book Review – Skin

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Title: Skin

Author: Donna Jo Napoli

Genre: Young Adult

Source:  Net Galley

Goodreads Rating: 3.25

My Rating: 3 stars

Worth it to stick with it.

Worth it to stick with it.

Summary (from Goodreads):

My lips are white. Sixteen-year-old Sep stares into the bathroom mirror on the first day of school. It’s not some weird lipstick (she never wears lipstick), she didn’t bump her lips or chew on ice. Her lips are just ? white. In a panic, she digs up an old lipstick and smears it on her colorless lips. But soon, more and more white spots begin to bloom, spreading their chalky tendrils across her olive brown skin. Does she have a disease? Is she turning into some kind of freak? Sep is usually the one who knows all the answers. With a quicksilver mind and a supple body, she’s happiest when she’s delving into the mysteries of animal biology or giving herself over to sweet, hot moves in Jazz Dance Club. Unlike her best friend, Devon, she’s never been in a rush to get a boyfriend. But as the white blotches spread, her dating days ? like the endangered species she studies ? seem numbered. So when Josh, a boy she’s always liked, makes a flirty advance, she wonders: why not grab pleasure while she can? Frank, funny, and full of passion, this compelling novel tells the empowering story of a strong, gifted teen who, as her life spins out of control, desperately tries to prove to the world ? and herself ? that she is deeper than skin.

Reaction: 

When it started off, the voice of Sep came off as really young. She’s meant to be a junior in high school and it was very odd to me that the author made the students think wearing lipstick was such a major thing. Teens wear make-up. I don’t think people really would have noticed or cared that Sep was suddenly wearing lipstick.

I also found it odd the author made such a big deal about the color of her skin, calling herself not white. I suppose she had to do it so when the disease kicked in, the reader would know that the spots really showed up, but I think it could have been handled better.

As the story continued, I came to like Sep more and thought the actions and emotions of a teen finding out she has a disease that everyone will see, was realistic. It did get a bit graphic in parts, which I don’t mind but seemed a bit surprising when it started out so tame. The speech her boyfriend gives at the end of the story was especially powerful.

All in all, an emotional and realistic read.

Teaser Thursday – Errand Girl of the Undead – Chapter 5

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Again, I’m too busy to get much writing done (but I’m trying to work it in, I promise!) but because I opted to have a nice day out on my day off yesterday, the blog post didn’t get written (bad, bad me). Therefore, you get a teaser instead! I know this will make my writing buddy happy, if no one else.

In case this is your first glance at my novella in process, here are links to the first four chapters posted earlier:

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4

As is with most of the teasers I post, these are unedited so please excuse any typos, grammatical errors or repetitiveness.

Enjoy!

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Chapter Five

 

Being that there were several hours before the mysterious Mr. Abbate could show up, I checked messages and grabbed my job tickets.  There was a Selkie pelt to pick up from a fae dry cleaner–shocking as they don’t typically let anyone else touch their pelts. Maybe my client was a trusting progressive Selkie–, iron supplements to be bought and left in the mailbox of one of Josiah’s brood who was on a fasting cleanse, and a pair of hell hounds that needed to go to a down under groomer. Weird was my life and the list of jobs for the day certainly highlighted that.

Most of it was a breeze but wrestling the hounds was a challenge.  Not because they were mean and vicious–quite the opposite actually, unless ordered by their master to attack–but because they just wanted to play, knocking me down and covering me in dog slobber. Ugh. I liked animals, really, but those ones needed better manners.  The incessant crotch sniffing was especially embarrassing. I’d have to talk to their owner about some obedience classes if he wanted me to keep dealing with them.

By the time I was done dragging the sparkling pooches back home, the sun was dangerously low to dipping beneath the horizon.  I’d have to hurry back if I wanted to beat meet my new client to the shop.  While he didn’t give me an exact time he’d show up, something told me he’d be there as soon as it was possible for him to leave his daytime resting place.

Throwing my bag into the passenger seat, pink job slips belching from the top, I put the pedal to the metal, chanting a quick  no-see-um spell which would let me get away with speeding and not having to worry that the local cops would pull me over. Magic was really handy at times.

When I pulled into the lot, I saw a dark shadow creeping around my door. Samson? Or perhaps my newest client was older than I thought.  The older a vamp is, the less sleep they need, allowing them to rise earlier. Not that they can take the full sunlight of a summer afternoon, but twilight and a dusky dawn were do-able. Older also meant more powerful, which worried me.  I could handle my own against most, but some older vamps had powers I could only dream of.  I hoped that wouldn’t be the case with this guy.

“So sorry I’m late,” I called, hurrying from the car.  The shadow turned my way but said nothing. Miracles of miracles, I managed to find the shop key with no trouble and worked it into the lock, smooooth as could be.  The fluorescent lights flashed and flickered to life after the switch was thrown.

The silent shadow followed behind me causing the tiny hairs on the back of my neck to stand at attention. Goosebumps joined the party. I did not have a good feeling about this guy.  Trying to look nonchalant, my hand rummaged in my giant purse for the container of garlic spray I carried.  Garlic wasn’t deadly to vampires, but it acted like tear gas, annoying them enough to allow for a quick exit.

“That won’t be necessary Ms. Weston. I’m not here to harm you.”

The low timber of his voice sent chills down my spine. Regardless of his words, my brain was screaming “Danger! Danger! Danger!”  His words also had me worrying he was a mind reader. Those were the worst.

“Was I that obvious?” I gave a weak chuckle and was quick to move behind the counter wishing Samson would make one of his surprise visits.

“I apologize if my presence concerned you. Before the sun sets I am a mere…shadow of myself. Able to get around but not much else.”

When I saw out the window that the sun had indeed set, his explanation made sense but I was still weary.  Reaching under the counter, I set my phone down, Josiah’s number ready to dial in a heartbeat if needed. I grabbed the pink work pad, slapping it down on the countertop before picking out a purple pen from the cup next to the phone.

“Mr. Abbate, I assume?”  He nodded and pulled a case out of his suit jacket. It was a dull and battered gold rectangle, an art deco kind of design etched into the front, bold and geometric. With a flick of the wrist it flew open, revealing a neat row of cancer sticks.

“Please, call me Tomas. Mind if I smoke?”

I shrugged. I’m not a fan but he seemed like the kind of guy you wouldn’t want to say no to.

He removed one of the small cylinders with long deft fingers and place it in it his mouth. As he patted his pockets for a lighter, he spoke around the cigarette in his mouth.

“Dirty habit I know, but it’s not like it will kill me.”  The accompanying smile did a lot to calm me.  Nothing so evil could have such a stunning smile, could it?

He lit up and took a long slow draw. It was weird to see since vampires don’t need to breath.  The smoke undulated around him, adding to his mysterious aura. While he was enjoying his dirty habit, I looked him over, as discretely as I could. Tall, really tall, with a tapered swimmer type of body, broad at the shoulders and skinny at the waist.  His pallor was pale, as is with most vampires unless they’ve just fed. Black slicked back hair and shadows under his eyes gave him that typical Dracula look that people would normally associate with a vampire. I don’t know much about men’s clothes, but his suit fit perfectly and looked expensive. When I looked at his face, he grinned, raising an eyebrow.

“Do I meet your approval?”

Heat came to my cheeks. “I don’t know what you’re referring to.” I tried to play it cool.  He continued to smile, knowing he caught me checking him out.

“So the job…” he started.

I nodded and put pen to pad. “Yes. What can I help you with?”

He took another drag and exhaled a smoke circle which floated in my direction.  “I fear there is a rogue werewolf in my neighborhood.”

My eyebrows rose. That could cause some serious damage. “Why come to me? Not that I don’t appreciate the work but…wouldn’t this be a job better suited for the local pack master?”

The vampire looked me over, his penetrating gaze sending another round of chills up my spine. “You could say…that the pack Alpha and I are not on the best of terms. I assure you, I will make the job worth your while.”

“Oh, I don’t doubt that. It’s just that…” How did I tell him I found it weird he wanted a seventeen year old girl to handle a rabid hybrid when another werewolf, with superhuman strength, would be the more logical choice? Sigh.

“Just what, my dear?”

I shook my head, clearing thoughts. Back to getting details. “What makes you think it’s a rogue wolf?”

“Mostly the decimated bodies, torn and tattered beyond recognition.”

Swallowing hard I tried to put the image out of my head. Had to get as much information out of Tomas as possible.

“Other creatures have been known to uhh…cause that kind of damage. Anything in particular that points towards wolf?”

He pondered my question for a few moments. “Well, it does always seem to happen on a full moon. Also, there was a wet dog smell lingering. After all these years, my sense of smell is very sensitive.”  I nodded, knowing that to be true. Josiah always complained if I wore any kind of perfume or scented lotion. It was kind of annoying actually.

“Normally, I’d say live and let live. Who am I to say one of my down under brethren should be tamed, but I fear their actions will leave people thinking the murders are my doing, and I just can’t have that…tarnish on my reputation.”

“I understand.”    It was true. If Josiah caught wind and thought Tomas was the cause, he’d have to be staked. While it’s not illegal for vampires to drink from humans–willing humans that was–killing them was an absolute no-no.

He had smoked the cigarette down to a small nub. I cringed when he put the lit tip to his skin, twisting it in small semi-circles. Tomas didn’t flinch and after he tossed the remaining filter into the nearby garbage I noticed the small red circle was already healing. Another perk of being a vamp.

“The next full moon is three days away. I know it does not give you much time but I’ve made a list of the killer’s previous…dinner locations. I thought you would want to see them.” He reached into his suit jacket again, opposite side from where his cigarette case was, and removed another white card like the one Samson had given me this morning.  He held it out to me with a smile.

“I’m afraid I have another appointment to get to my dear. Half of the payment is inside. You’ll receive the remainder when the job is completed.” He rose to his full height, causing me to crane my neck to look at him.  I took the offered card from his outstretched arm.

“And if I have any questions, how do I contact you?”

“I shall find you.”  He winked at me and before I could open my mouth to protest, he was gone, the card in my hand and the slowly closing door the only indications that he had been there.

 

 

 

 

Brainstorming

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You may remember, from years ago, your English teachers teaching you how to brainstorm before writing a story or even a research paper.  They had helpful little diagrams where you could write in your main idea and supporting details or you could just go all willy nilly and free form, jotting ideas on the paper. Have you ever tried it since leaving a school setting?

Why not?

Brainstorming is something both plotters and pantsers can take advantage of.  The ideas come and, in my opinion, it’s rare that you’ll know the whole outcome of the story before you sit down to write it. Brainstorming can help the plotter figure out the direction they want their novel to take.  For the pantser, it can be good to go in with ideas you may want to hit, but I also think it’s a good way to move forward on a story if you’re stuck.  Stop down and take a few minutes to jot down ideas about your plot line or your characters or the relationships they have. It could spark a new idea or direction for you to take.

Just be sure to remember that just because an idea comes out during brainstorming, that doesn’t  mean you have to use it.  Think of them as suggestions from your subconscious.

Do you brainstorm before or during your writing? Have you found it helps your process?

If you’re not into free form, here are some brainstorming diagrams that could help you:

brainstorming 2 brainstorming fishbonegraphicorganizer brainstorming storystar brainstorming 1