Wednesday, February 4, 2015

IWSG -- Under Pressure -- and Where's PK? MIA?

Hey there! Long time no write, eh? Click on the picture above to get to IWSG HQ and see all the participants. I've been a bit MIA on the ol' blog here as of late, but I'm still around and kickin'. Lots has happened over the last two months and I needed a bit of a blogging break.

For starters, my father-in-law lost his battle with cancer in December, about a week before Christmas. If you've been following this blog, you'll know that he was diagnosed with kidney cancer last May, and later they found it had spread to his lungs and brain. He fought as hard as he could and tried everything to rid his body of this ruthless infection, but in the end, it was just too far advanced.

He passed three days before his 70th birthday.

But the family is all doing well and nothing came as a surprise. The obvious deterioration brought on by the cancer left no confusion as to what surely awaited. My husband got to be there for his father's final days, and eventually, his final breath.

Life goes on for the rest of us, and during these last few weeks I've learned a few things about myself and my goals as a writer.

For one, I'm much happier and excited to write when I take the pressure off. In early 2014 I wrote a prequel to my Butterman series, as well as a sequel, and published both. I also met with Queena's mother and collected data and wrote the first half of her memoir, in addition to running a successful Kickstarter campaign.

I do not in any way feel I wasn't productive. On the contrary, I probably applied a teensy too much pressure, and by the end of the year, I was feeling it. I think it's natural to want your work to succeed so much that you pile on the pressure, but in the end, it has an adverse effect and I found myself wondering what it was all for ...

When someone close to us dies, it inevitably puts life in a new perspective, and for me, that meant slowing down to appreciate what I already have.

Secondly, I learned that I need other creative endeavors to stimulate me. Something happened to me after I published Induction Day and I sort of lost my writer's mojo. Not in a bad way though, because what occurred as a result is hours on end of handcrafting my pixies. By December I had enough to do two local art shows plus some, and the response I got from my inventory was exciting. People were digging my art and little girls were going nuts for PK's Pixies.

So I made more, and did more art shows. Needless to say, it's proving to be a worthy endeavor. I know it's not going to make me rich or anything, but it's an immediate high when I can display my art and see the smiles it brings, as well as collect some cash for it.


And the cool thing is, it helped me rediscover my writing mojo. I need that alternate creativity to fuel my writing creativity, and I wasn't allowing myself time for it because I was putting too much pressure on myself to write.

Every writer is different, and some won't need that alternate creativity, but what I learned about myself is that I do.

And I'm totally cool with that.

Third, I was reminded that these years with my family are truly precious and I can't let anything take me away from that for long. My children are still young, and my parents are getting more fragile. This is no time to separate myself from any of them by the crazed need to put out three or more books a year. It's just not possible for me.

Which brings me to another point I learned: slow and steady wins this writer's race to the finish line. It's not a sprint, and there is no need to keep up with other writers who can put out three or more books a year.

So with the start of 2015, I'm feeling that I'm in a much more realistic and better place. I've got more art shows lined up, and of course I have my writing goals. I finished my short piece From Passion to Publication, which is a special gift to those on my email list. Anyone who joins will receive a link to this courtesy PDF about my journey and my advice.

I'll be on my first panel in June at UtopYA in Nashville, and I'm excited about that. It's the only conference I'm doing this year, which is another change I made. The panel is on time travel--will it be possible in the future? And get this--I'll be on it with the top selling time travel author for the last two years, Rysa Walker. Coolness, right?

If you've stuck with me this far in this post, you're a superstar! Thank you so much for your support and encouragement over the years. As I shift more and more to my website and email newsletter, I use this blog less and less. But it isn't forgotten! Anything important will always find a place here.

Oh and that's another thing I've changed-- no more book promo unless it's a close friend. I got so burnt out with posting book promo, and seeing it, last year. I don't want this blog to be a commercial, but as always, a means of support and friendship with other writers and readers.

Thanks so much for stopping by! I'm posting on Operation Awesome every other Tuesday, and still serve as the speculative fiction ambassador on NA Alley.

Tell me what you've been up to ... can you relate to being under pressure? How do you alleviate it? Have you lost anyone you know to cancer? Fill me in on anything I've missed ....

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Hysteriata by DA Botta and IWSG Guide

Hello, friends! And Happy December! All decorated for the holidays yet? Here in the States, our family does ours the day after Thanksgiving, so our house is currently festive and jolly all around.

There are two books I want to share with you today so I'll get right to it ...

First up is my good friend DA Botta's series The Elyzian Chronicles. It's a New Adult fantasy. Think: adult style Harry Potter.

Emily Hobbs is off to Salem State College when a chance encounter with a fortuneteller changes everything. Emily is transported to the realm of Elyzia and learns that she is, in fact, one of the most powerful witches in existence.

Madame Lavache, the strict headmistress of Cedalion Covenstead, has her sights set on Emily. In her desperate cling to power, Lavache attempts to protect her tyranny by invoking sinister forces, including bloodthirsty pirates and The Devil himself, to rid Elyzia of the rebellious witch.

Along with her companions – an old hermit, a small coven of witches, and their totems – Emily sets out on a collision course with destiny.

Just as the tarot foretold.
A powerful witch
A simple tarot read
And all hell breaks loose

About DA Botta - D A Botta has written four New Adult Fantasy novels, The Elyzian Chronicles, and has also published a collection of poems There in Them Blues.  D A is currently working on a New Adult Mystery series, Seriously Confidant, projected for debut in the fall of 2015.  D A is a Fantasy Representative for NA Alley and frequents #NALitChat on Twitter.  When not writing, D A plays guitar and dabbles in graphic design.  D A lives with his family in Massachusetts.

Author links:

DA is one of the most genuine and supportive writers I know and he's finally stepping out into the world to promo his own books. If you haven't already met him, be sure to stop by all his social media outlets and say hello. He will no doubt become your new best friend. 

Today is also a special day for Insecure Writers Support Group! Because it's the official launch of 

And it's totally FREE!!!!!

Tapping into the expertise of over a hundred talented authors from around the globe, The IWSG Guide to Publishing and Beyond contains something for every writer. Whether you are starting out and need tips on the craft of writing, looking for encouragement as an already established author, taking the plunge into self-publishing, or seeking innovative ways to market and promote your work, this guide is a useful tool. Compiled into three key areas of writing, publishing, and marketing, this valuable resource offers inspirational articles, helpful anecdotes, and excellent advice on dos and don'ts that we all wish we knew when we first started out on this writing journey. 

Grab it now! 

And there you have it! Two smashing books to end the year with. I hope you're all having a fabulous month. It's a tough time for my family right now with my father-in-law's cancer rapidly progressing. I'm not online as much these days. I'm taking more time to slow down and relish family. I hope you are too. 

Congrats to the IWSG team for an amazing book launch, and congrats to DA Botta for finishing his series and getting the word out.

What are your goals for the end of the year? Did you win at NaNo? Any news to share? 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

IWSG- Wednesday

Happy November, everyone!

You may or may not have noticed I haven't been around the blogosphere as much lately. There are quite a few reasons that factor into this, but none of them are because I don't find value in the blogging world. On the contrary, I think that out of all the forms of social media out there, bloggers are the most supportive.

It's also the most time-consuming, and these days of epic projects I'm guilty of settling for the ease and convenience of Facebook group forums since I can access it on my iPhone from anywhere.

But the first Wednesday of every month is my favorite time to stop in and say hello.

For more details on the Insecure Writer's Support Group, click on the picture above to get to HQ. If you haven't already checked out the website, be sure to do that. It is chock full of so many resources and advice on how to make it in the writing/publishing world.

One of the most frequent questions I hear in the writer forums is what kind of editing one needs before indie publishing or submitting their story. Well back in the day, before the onslaught of indie pubbing and freelance editors, writers simply exchanged stories with each other and revised their stories based on feedback.

Nowadays, developmental editors are on the rise, and it's not uncommon for writers to jump in and hire one, forking over some serious cash in the process. It can get extremely expensive, and rightfully so, since it's an enormous undertaking. But I see so many newer writers assuming they need to pay this kind of cash to develop their stories, when the truth is, they haven't found worthy critique partners yet to help shape their stories beforehand, which allows the writer a necessary growth.

This is why I've started up Story Scientist. For an affordable flat rate, I'll put your story under the microscope and dissect it. Or, for even less of a flat rate, I'll observe the story as a whole and give you my best feedback.

I will help you determine the best type of editing your story needs--whether it be something we can fix together, or if you need further editing beyond what I can offer.

Note: this should not take the place of a proofread or copyedit.

But it will be a huge step in the right direction.

If you think you're ready to query but still feel your story is missing something, Story Scientist is for you.
If you're stacking up the rejections from agents or publishers but don't know why, Story Scientist is for you.
If you've got your heart set on self-publishing, but not sure which type of editor to hire, Story Scientist is for you.
Or if you simply don't have time to exchange a critique or beta read with another author but need the feedback on your own story, Story Scientist is for you.

My Qualifications:

I've been writing fiction for six years, blogging non-fiction for four. I've written seven novels, published three of them on my own. Signed with an agent for an earlier novel after a complete revise and resubmit. I've been exchanging and critiquing stories with other writers for five years. My long time critique partner is traditionally published. I've worked with seasoned authors, as well as brand new ones. I've attended various conferences and writer workshops, including intensive deep editing courses. I've served on first page panels for agent submissions.

Does any of that make me an expert? Not really. But it does give me a pretty solid idea of what works in a story and what doesn't. I love beta reading and critiquing because every time I do it, it adds to my skill set and helps me pinpoint areas for improvement in my own craft. The fact is, it takes a lot of time (time spent that is worth doing) and although helping other authors is my main goal, I have to account for that time with payment, or else it takes away from other potentially profitable projects.

That being said, I've made my rates affordable so as not to take advantage of my fellow writers and still going above and beyond to push your story and writing to its fullest potential. Check out my web page for more details and for a contact link. I will do a sample edit on your first five pages to make sure we are a good fit.

Full story dissection including all of the above with marginal manuscript notations and line edits:
$100 flat rate for stories 50K -60K words
$100 flat rate plus $2 per each additional page for stories over 60K words
OBSERVATION  opera,glasses
A full read through of your story and my feedback on your story as a whole in summary form. Does not include marginal manuscript notes or line edits.
$40 flat rate for stories 20K-50K words
$60 flat rate for stories 50K-70K words
$80 flat rate for stories 70K-80K words
$100 flat rate for stories 80K-100k words
Anything over 100K words will be the $100 flat rate plus $20 for each 20K words additional.
My blog here contains a number of posts on craft in the archives, as well as a list of writing guides on the Writers Bookshelf page, and a detailed page on How I Write.

NOTE: My services do not include literary grammatical edits. I believe a writer's voice should stay true to the narrator's style, and often that means minor grammatical errors which lend to a deeper point of view. I do not believe in tampering with this by correcting grammar. However, if sentence structure is off or basic grammar skills are looked over, I will note in the margin as a suggestion to correct.   

If you're feeling insecure about your writing, consider this service to help you figure out what you could be doing better. Not only do you get my honest, unbiased, and straightforward feedback, but I'll be available via email afterward for brainstorming. 

How can I take on this new project when I have so many already?? Yeah, I know, I'm a bit of a madwoman. But as I've mentioned, critiquing and beta reading helps me grow too, and reading is something every writer should be doing. 

On a side note, our Kickstarter project Mended by Love reached its goal!! Queena and her family are overjoyed. Thanks to all who shared and supported this endeavor. I can't wait for it to reach the world!

Thanks so much for stopping by! The Blogger Book Fair will be happening on the 10th, so please stop back by for that special event! 

If you're doing NaNo---I'm wishing you many creative vibes. I'm participating loosely. lol And I can't wait to share the non-fiction project I'm working on with another author. 

How about you? What are you up to?

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

IWSG Anniversary! And Anthology Entry

Today is the one year anniversary of the uber helpful Insecure Writer's Support Group website. If you haven't had the chance to stop by and visit, you're missing out on a wealth of information exclusively for writers, no matter what stage you're in.

Big congrats to IWSG admin because you guys are just rockin' it. I'm talkin' HARDCORE. Ya with me??

                                                          (one of my all time fave movies :) )

Today is also the day bloggers post their entries for the IWSG anthology on writing, publishing, and marketing.

Here's mine:

*permission to use in the publication of this anthology

PK Hrezo - YA and NA author
Follow me :

On Creative Marketing

Over the last five years I've studied the craft of writing religiously, absorbing every nugget and kernel of wisdom, advice, technique that I possibly could. In return, I've become a halfway decent writer--an expert by no means, but then, that's the thing about writing ... there's always opportunity to grow.

Honing craft is good and important, but there comes a time in a writer's career when they have to shift the focus from craft to marketing. We all wish books would simply sell themselves, and that word of mouth would whip readers into a frenzy over our books. Fact is, that's rare. In this brave new world of publishing, authors absolutely must market their books themselves, regardless of being traditionally or independently published. But it doesn't have to be grueling, or give you a dirty feeling.

It can actually be quite fun! Think outside the box. Get creative. We're writers, creating is what we do. That shouldn't stop when it comes time to market our work. We're not pushing insurance. We are treating potential readers to entertainment that we ourselves adore. Embrace this opportunity to find readers and share your art. It's fun and rewarding, and you, in turn, are rewarded with sales and true fans.

Use your creative marketing ideas to reach new readers and keep older ones. In addition, follow these tips to ensure you keep a momentum:

  • Draw up a marketing plan (You can't do this too early. Have one, and add to it as you ready your story.)
  • Commit to building a fanbase of 1000 readers over the next five years.
  • Create a newsletter or email list.
  • Make sure all of your social media and published works funnel into your email list. 
  • Be regular on your social media platforms. Pick your top three and stick to them.
  • Focus on building genuine relationships, not on getting people to buy your book.
  • Find ways to help others. (This is the purest way to get noticed and establish genuine relationships.)
  • Make mistakes (It's okay and the only way we learn, so try new things and learn from them when they don't work.)
  • Respond to fans, readers, followers by name. (Show them you're a real person, not a snooty author.)
  • Target your audience, then go where they are and be visible, helpful, and available.
  • Offer to guest post on other blogs (Always leave a link to your website or email list ... remember the funnel!)
  • Read marketing guide books like Let's Get Visible, Write.Publish.Repeat.,Your First 1000 Copies. There are plenty on the market. Glean all you can from these experienced authors.

Those are just a few basics to get you started. Remember, marketing is only fun if we make it fun. If you're not enjoying your own marketing, no one else will either. When we're first starting out, no endeavor is too small. Try everything, be genuine, and keep revising your marketing plan.

Being an author is no get-rich-quick scheme. It's a slow build, and only the strong survive. It's also sheer joy connecting with new people who enjoy our work, so hold onto them and keep them invested in your products, as well as yourself as a person and author.

Thanks again to the IWSG crew for this awesome anthology!

On a side note, I'd like to welcome all of you to the revamped and sparkly NA Alley blog for all things in the New Adult category.

I'm excited for what this means--that authors are stepping out and showing the world NA encompasses all genres, and I hope you'll pop over and visit because NA Alley would love to have you!

Monday, September 22, 2014


Hey it's been awhile since the blogosphere has had a good 'ol fashioned blogfest. I miss them. They're such a great way to have fun and connect with other bloggers.

Click on the picture above to get to Alex J. Cavanaugh's blog--the HQ for all things underrated. Er, wait... that sounded off. LOL But you know what I mean. *wink wink*

What came to mind for me is an album I stumbled onto while listening to one of my Pandora stations a couple of years ago. The song was called Memories and I immediately bought the album. I'm pretty hard to impress when it comes to music. I'm not a music snob by any means, but it's rare that new music hooks me enough to buy an album. This one did ...

                                                    The Silent Force bWithin Temptation

They were way underrated when I first heard them. Nobody knew the album or the band. They're a little bit like Evanescence. I wrote my entire YA sci-fi novel The Desiree to this album. It was so perfect.

I think Within Temptation may have more of a following now, but still way underrated. My favorite songs on the album are Angels, Memories, and Somewhere. They have more albums out now too.

Oh and here's a book that's underrated.... actually an entire box set!

I'm so excited to be a part of this box set and it's only .99 for all 8 titles! We are having a Facebook release party tonight (Monday) to celebrate. I hope you'll join us. 7pm-11pm eastern. Just stop by anytime you can and say hello. We'll have prizes and fun!

Click HERE to join the party!

Find At First Sight on iBooks, Amazon

Thanks for stoppin by! Have you ever heard of The Silent Force? What are some other underrated artists or stories you can think of? Please share ...

UPDATE on the Kickstarter Mended by Love memoir project: We've raised just over $1600 and have a little more than a month to go! Thanks so much to everyone who has shared and donated! Every single one counts!! :D

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Write Path is Here!!

Do you remember a couple of months ago we held a How I Found the Write Path blog hop where writers around the blogosphere could share letters to their newbie writer selves?

Well, it's here! And it's stupendous!

And it's FREE!!

We love free, and we love sharing advice to anyone trying to find their own Write Path. Over sixty writers have shared and are now published in this ebook. If you're one of them, grab the cover and links and share everywhere!Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Google +, LinkedIn, etc,

I can't tell you how excited I am about this book. There is seriously SO much great advice compiled in this baby. No matter what stage you're in of your writing, you will most definitely find something beneficial in this book. And most likely, you'll be nodding your head in agreement as you read. (I sure was!)
Please copy the below links and share:










Thank you so much to all who participated! And if you didn't, that's okay because you can still download the book and enjoy the read. 

By the way, the ranking on Amazon US is not too shabby at the moment:

        Someone else has a book coming out soon ...

        Shunned by her family back home, she followed her best friend to New York with aspirations to start over. Now broke and homeless with two guys vying for her affection, she realizes she made a colossal mistake. If she gives in to her desires, will she only be breaking the rule she set for herself, or will she also be proving she’s the disappointment her family sees her as?

        Coming next month! Add it to your GoodRead's shelf HERE

        Find Jennifer Ann on her blog HERE. And there's an amazing GIVEAWAY right HERE

        So tell me are you an author in The Write Path? Have you read the book yet? If you didn't participate, what's some advice you'd give a new writer?

        Monday, September 15, 2014

        The Big C

        Today, bloggers around the Web are sharing stories of how cancer has affected their lives. This collection of posts will go on to be part of an anthology ebook and all proceeds will go toward the medical expenses of our beloved friend, Melissa Bradley.

        Melissa was recently diagnosed with cancer, and she and my good friend Michael Di Gesu have come together to host this fantastic blog hop to promote awareness, share stories, and join cyber hands to show no one has to go through it alone.

        This post in particular is dedicated to my amazing father-in-law, Ray Hrezo.

        A few months ago, Ray went to the doctor for a chronic cough that, despite great efforts, he just couldn't beat. The doctor decided they should do a full body CT scan, and they found a mass in one of his kidneys. A biopsy was done that later confirmed the worst news any one can hear.


        My husband is one of six kids. You can imagine the kind of man it takes to raise six kids successfully. Wow. I only have two and there are days I wonder if I'll ever survive it. But six? Not only do you have to parent six kids, you have to be able to support a family of eight on one salary. Ray sometimes worked three different jobs in the 1980s in order to provide for the family.

        Still, they went on cross-country camp outs, trips to Disney World, long fishing trips, and managed to ensure everyone had a good Christmas every year. One of my husband's favorite memories growing up is when Ray would allow him to "skip" school and take him fishing for the day for some one-on-one father and son time. Not an easy feat when you work three jobs and have six kids, so allowing a skip day was the ideal quality time, and absolute thrill to a young boy who should've been doing math work and reading.

        Ray is also an engineer, a golfer, a photographer, and dabbles in music with his wife, who plays the organ. (insert whatever organ joke you like cuz we've told them He's a Mr. Fix-It too, and thankfully, my husband picked up this trait, because if anything is broke, the Hrezo men can fix it. Ray rarely took an item, device, machine, whatever! to someone else to repair. He did all his own work and encouraged his sons to look on and learn as much as they could.

        To give you a good image of Ray Hrezo, think of the guy who you can always pick out in a crowd because he's a head taller than everyone else. At about 6'2, he has a commanding voice (needed for six kids) and a deep hearty laugh that you can't help but smile when you hear. If Ray were a writer, he'd be a hardcore plotter. This man can make some plans, and diagram them, and have everything figured out before you ever arrive. Engineerical. (Yes I made up that word but it fits and you can now use it for yourself, permission granted.)

        Of all people to be rendered weak by a sometimes debilitating disease, Ray Hrezo is the last one you'd imagine. Yet, it happened, and although we don't know why or how, we know that this is one man who will fight til the very end, and if anyone can weather the storm, it's him. Throughout these past few months he's been the most positive, optimistic sick person I've ever met. We are continuously baffled by his eagerness to get well and stay confident and cheerful.

        After having the affected kidney removed and recovering fully--to the point of even mowing his own lawn again--a CT scan showed spots on Ray's lungs. Cancerous spots, that were the culprit of Ray's chronic coughing. After weeks of chemo, the spots did not retreat as the doctors had hoped, and a different type of chemo began. The radiation kind that makes your hair fall out.

        Chemo is a tough treatment. It often makes patients feel nauseous and dehydrated, among other discomforts. The treatment itself is what causes cancer patients to look sick, not always the sickness itself. In August, Ray was given the green light by his doctor to travel across the country to Alaska and spend time at Denali and Mt. McKinley. This was a bucket trip destination for Ray, and just knowing that he and his wife were there gave my husband and I all sorts of smiles.

        Now, that Ray is back home, and returned to regular radiation treatments, his body is feeling the brunt of it. He was admitted into the emergency room this past weekend for pain and dehydration. More tests are being run this week to see if the cancer has spread to his liver and other kidney.  On this very day, my husband is driving across the state to visit his dad, do whatever work around the house is needed, and spend as much time with him as possible to show his love and support to a father who was always there, who always provided, and who always served as the kind of role model every boy needs.

        And I'd just like to show my appreciation to a man who raised and taught my husband what it means to be a good father and loving husband, because my hubby is the kind of spouse that you just can't ask for better of--and if you did, he'd work at being better.

        We know Ray will stay strong and kick this thing in the keister, because that's just the kind of guy he is. When you're faced with something as life threatening as the Big C, you begin to realize just how valuable family and friends are. Faith grows, courage reveals itself, and love is what heals a broken heart.

        To anyone and everyone who has had cancer creep into their lives, know that prayers go up around the world for you. Hope, harmony, and positive cosmic vibes are all around. Tap into them if you can, because I assure you they are there.

        The human spirit is strong. That may be hard to remember when the body begins to whither, but hold fast to that which makes you, you. Your spirit will keep you fighting, and no disease can beat that. YOU CAN DO IT!

        Thanks again to Melissa Bradley and Michael Di Gesu for this special opportunity. All the very best to Melissa for her strength and courage. I know her spirit is strong and amazing! For more posts on The Big C, go here.

        On a separate note, I'd like to offer my sincere gratitude to everyone who's shared and donated to the Queena Kickstarter campaign. We are so thrilled with the response so far. Please continue to share this project with others. For links and badges, please see this POST. Our local newspaper wants to run an article and we are so excited about that.

        Thank you so much for stopping by! I'm so privileged to be a part of such an awesome writing community. The love and support for Tina Downey and her family just weakens my knees. Not to mention this project for Melissa, and your encouragement for the Queena memoir. Makes me feel like ...

         Tell me, do you know someone battling the Big C? What do you do to stay positive when life seems to be pressing down on you? Please share ...