Tuesday, December 24, 2013

50 States of Pray -- Florida

Merry Christmas Eve! Today, bloggers around the sphere are posting about blessings and giving back. A perfect time of year to be thankful and generous, but it shouldn't be limited to this one month only, right?

Mark Koopmans spawned the idea for this blogfest, and I hope you'll visit his blog today for a list of bloggers who are also sharing, representing the state of the U.S. they live in, as well as various parts of the world.

2013 has been a fantastic adventure for me. It's the year I became a published author, and watched fellow writer friends do the same. I'm so proud and honored to be a part of this writer/blogging community. So many of you helped spread the word on my book by participating in my time trip blogfest, as well as purchasing and reading and reviewing--not because I asked, but because you have genuine hearts of gold.

So from me to you, THANK YOU.

Karma is a reality. You truly do reap what you sow. So for all of you who give selflessly, it does come back around, sometimes in bigger ways than you ever expected.

I've been thinking of ways I can give back to this community. I purchase new releases when I can, and review them after I read, when I can. I think for all of us the biggest obstacle in our giving back is time. In this writerly world of creating the best possible story, exchanging critiques and beta reads, publishing and promos, aside from our daily jobs and families, we don't always have the luxury of reading everyone's full works, and/or reviewing.

That's why I'm opening up a monthly "Write It Right Review" as my way of giving back to you. It's simple enough. Each month around the 15th, I'll let you know when the window opens and closes, and during that time you can email me your query or blurb for a full critique. (No maximums, I'll take as many as I can during that window of a couple days.) We can always use many eyes on our "selling points" before querying agents or uploading eBooks, and I've been around long enough to know what's catchy, and what's not.

And I want to share that knowledge with you. There are some fabulous blogger resources already out there: Dianne K Salerni and Marcy Hatch do First Impressions on their blogs and give excellent feedback on first pages. Matthew MacNish has been doing public query critiques for years. And if you need someone to write your blurb for you, Michael di Gesu offers that paid service via his blog.

Not to mention all the wonderful writer sites and forums that offer similar opportunities. But this is just another way to get feedback, in private and free of charge. From me to you in the strictest of confidences. So take advantage if you need it. Just lookout for the notice here on my blog, as well as Twitter and my Author page on Facebook. (Links in my sidebar)

Here's to a magical holiday season, and stellar 2014! Now, it's back to the writing cave for me! I have a sequel to finish! May your new year be filled with peace, love, creativity, and productivity.

I leave you with some Random Acts of Kindness pictures that will warm your heart and make you smile.

35 Pictures That Prove the World isn't Such a Bad Place 

So tell me, how will you celebrate the new year?

Monday, December 16, 2013

YA Revolution and NA Feature

NA Thursday feature is at the bottom. Don't miss your chance to win!

The lovely Liz Fichera is starting a revolution for more diversity in US literature. She recently interviewed me on my use of Inuit culture in my YA story, The Desiree.

Liz also writes diverse characters and has a book out now, Captive Spirit, with a
Native American main character.

I hope you'll hop over and visit Liz and check out what prompted me to explore the Inuit culture.


This week's NA feature is

The Mythology department at prestigious Harvard University is tiny—and Mackenzie Duncan has just been selected as one of the lucky few. Her love for myths and legends is strong, but she never thought any of it could be real. 
After being attacked by a large wolf while walking home alone, Mackenzie realizes something is not right. She heals quickly, is suddenly super strong, and is experiencing mood swings that can't possibly be normal. The myths she's studying aren't myths at all. Werewolves are real and she's one of them. Fear of what she is, and who she might hurt sends Mackenzie running from the life she’s worked hard to build–and straight into the arms of a handsome Were named Geoff and into the home of his pack. Living with her new pack takes the edge off her confusion and self-loathing, but the arrival of new pack members changes the dynamic, and tests Geoff and Mackenzie’s growing relationship. 
The hardest part of being a werewolf is having no control and no memory of her time as a blood thirsty beast. When a moon cycle passes and she actually remembers bits and pieces of the night, she starts to ask questions, and the more questions she asks, the more she realizes she doesn’t like the answers. Can she set aside her own sense of morals to belong to a pack that is like a family or will she leave everything behind yet again in search of a life she can be proud of?

Growing up, Adrianne couldn't get her hands on enough books to satisfy her need for the make believe. If she finished a novel and didn't have a new one ready and waiting for her, she began to create her own tales of magic and wonder. Now, as an adult, books still make up majority of her free time, and now her tales get written down to be shared with the world.
During the day, Adrianne uses her camera to capture life's stories for clients of all ages and at night, after her two children are tucked in bed; she devotes herself to her written work. Adrianne is living the life she always wanted, surrounded by art and beauty, the written word and a loving family.

As a young adult and new adult author, Adrianne James has plans to bring stories of growing characters, a little romance, and perhaps a little magic and mythology down the line for her readers to enjoy.

To enter the giveaway, go to each blog and enter the corresponding code into the Rafflecopter!

This is Blog #16 and the code is: ADRIANNEPK

Blog #20: www.jcemery.com

Thanks so much for stopping by! Be sure to enter the Rafflecopter (linked above) for a chance to win a copy of The Tempering. You can also enter the Rafflecopter on the very first linked blog #1 for a chance to win a signed copy of my book, Butterman (Time) Travel, Inc. :)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Taking A Stand

I want to share something with you that recently happened to me. If you're looking for NA Thursday, it's at the bottom of this post. 

Just before my book, Butterman (Time) Travel, Inc. came out mid November, I stumbled onto a review site requesting sci-fi stories, both indie and traditional, for the month of November. I submitted my story, and they accepted it for review. I gave them a copy for free, in exchange for an honest review. 

My first mistake was that I didn't research this site better. 

But we all make mistakes, right? I'm a newly published author without a publicist, doing everything on my own to get my book in front of the right readers. 

A couple weeks after my book launch, reviews started to trickle in. There were some really good ones that just gave me a natural high to know others have enjoyed my story. That's why we do it, right?? I knew when I published BT it wasn't going to win any literary awards or anything. It's not that kind of story. It's simply put--a fun story. 

And then I got my first negative review. From that very review site I mentioned. I didn't go looking for it, it popped up on GoodReads and I found myself reading it before I realized it. I mentioned it on the ol' blog here last week, since it was my first experience with a cold review. I got over it, and I'm really okay with a reader not connecting with my book. This reviewer had a right to leave the same negative review on both GoodReads and Amazon, which she did.

This is the nature of the beast, and I accept that. The review felt intentionally hurtful, but I made my peace with it, because that's what we as authors do. My skin is thickening all the time.

But where do we draw the line? Isn't there some point when we deserve to be treated with respect, even though our art may not be appreciated? We are still humans, after all.

A week or two later, after I'd moved on from that review, I get a tweet from the same site who posted that negative review on GoodReads, letting me know their blog post was up with the same cold review.

Great. Thanks for the reminder that you didn't like my book. And thanks for tweeting the link with my name tagged next to it so everyone else could be sure to see it too.

But that's not all. Throughout the day, that tweet was repeatedly retweeted by thirty or more people affiliated with that review site, and every single time, I was tagged so that I could see the 2 star review and the link again and again. Every time, I was reminded that people all over Twitter were passing the link of my poor review around.

And the actual review site (who has over 23k followers I might add) repeatedly retweeted throughout the day.

Now, I'm pretty resilient as far as negativity goes, and I know why authors shouldn't respond to negative reviews, and I believe in that. But there's a time to be passive, and there's a time to stand up for yourself. And this kind of behavior from a review site was unacceptable, in my opinion.

If there's one skill I've learned in my sixteen years of working for an international airline, it's diplomacy. It's an absolute necessity when dealing with cultures from all over the world, as well as sometimes disgruntled passengers. I know better than to fly off the handle, or point fingers.

I may be a new author, and a rookie to reviews, but I also know that when something doesn't feel right, I shouldn't have to take it. Quite frankly, after enduring it for hours, I'd had enough of the tweets. I contacted the one person I knew affiliated with the review site and very politely asked why I was being tagged over and over for a poor review, and if it was necessary. This was via private Twitter message, mind you.

She responded a while later telling me to "calm down," and that a campaign had not been set against me, that the tweets would keep coming because of the original message.

Huh? What? This obviously wasn't going well, and now this person thought I was a ranting author on a tirade. Not what I wanted at all. We've all heard the horror stories of authors going ballistic over bad reviews. And now, here I was being treated like one.

I very politely responded back that I wasn't upset, nor did I have any argument with the actual review, but that the incessant tweeting of it while tagging me was not cool.

She realized I wasn't an irate author and said she'd remove my name from any future tweets, but I'd continue to get the tweets from earlier. I told her I realized that was the case and I'd tough it out, but to please see what she could do. And then I offered a polite suggestion: never tag the author with a poor review.

Now, we can never truly tell the tone of a text by simply reading it, but I could tell the vibe between us in these latter texts was no longer a negative one. This other person seemed to catch on to my feelings, and that I wasn't angry or bitter. She replied back to me a while later, saying that they removed the tweet from their channel so it could no longer be retweeted.

I thanked her immensely. She also thanked me for my previous suggestion and they'd take it into consideration. The evening was definitely ending on a much better note than it had started. Thankfully this person was level-headed and sympathetic enough to realize something wasn't right.

And believe me, I struggled with whether or not to say anything at all at first, because I didn't want to be that author. But had I not, I'd continue to receive all those insulting tweets, which would start to dig a little chip out of my shoulder while I tried to be resilient and pretend it didn't bother me.

So yeah, I took a stand and hopefully this review site will consider their actions in the future. I'll certainly never use them again, and a word to the wise, thoroughly research every review site before sending off your baby. It's one thing to get a negative review, but quite another to be bombarded with it repeatedly.

I won't mention the name of this review site because they have a right to handle their business as they see fit, but I also have the right as an author to share this information with my fellow authors and writers so you can be aware of how some people operate.

I don't believe this review site is out to be intentionally malicious, but I also don't believe they have the author's best interest in mind, so writers beware. And they did remove their original tweets, but the others who retweeted them, still have their tweets out there and I was tagged in new retweets for those the entire NEXT day too.

Two days of seeing that 2 star review next to my name, Over and over.

And now I ask you, how would you have handled this? Do you think I was out of line? What would you have done differently? Thanks for sharing.  

Read on for the New Adult features of the week!

Seventeen-year-old Zelene doesn't believe in magic or prophecies. When she's told she is part of the prophecy foretelling five powerful girls bringing peace to the war-torn worlds, she scoffs. The idea of other dimensions layered on top of the world she lives in is almost as ludicrous as the idea that she might be able to save them. After she is attacked by magic-wielding assassins, she finds she can't argue with reality.
As their enemies strike, the girls are taken back to their world and discover the ties binding them together. Rhaya has always had an uncanny knack for reading people, but can’t seem to unravel the mystery tying her to Isauria, the new friend she bonded with instantly. For years, Isauria has been dreaming of Terrena, a girl living her life on the run in a magical world ripped apart by the tragedies of war, completely unaware that she is psychically linked to the world she was born in.
Zelene views them all with a distrustful eye, familial bonds or no, and can think of a place or two she’d like to shove the crown she supposedly inherited. When she learns that her long-lost twin Ariana has been captured by the rebels, Zelene’s attitude changes. She doesn’t know how she is supposed to go against an army of magic-wielding rebels when her own ability to manipulate the elements is still locked within her. But can she trust the elders to rescue Ariana when it seems their medieval politics are what brought about the war in the first place? With all that is at stake, the answer becomes clear to Zelene.
Screw the worlds. She’s getting her sister back.

Mara Valderran has been coming up with stories pretty almost since she could talk, often commandeering her brother's G.I. Joes to play out her fictional tales alongside her Barbies. Once she hit adolescence and realized playing with dolls wasn't cool anymore, she started putting her ideas to paper. And she hasn’t stopped since.

Mara has worn many different artistic hats throughout her life. She has dabbled in screenwriting, plucked guitars and basses, toyed with singing, retired from acting, and drawn some pretty mean stick figures in her time. However, writing books seems to fit her best as she finds nothing more fulfilling than creating worlds and characters she can lose herself in.

Mara lives in the south with her husband and demanding cat. When she’s not writing, you can find her reading, playing video games, or spending time at her favorite local coffee shop.

To enter the giveaway, go to each blog and enter the corresponding code into the Rafflecopter.

This is Blog #16 and the code is MARAPK

Blog #20: www.jcemery.com

Also celebrating a release is JT Lewis!

Finding an old yet infamous desk, Jesse Flanagan thinks he has died and gone to heaven when he also finds a mysterious old document hidden inside of it. Feeling like the luckiest man in the world, he turns to his old friend Abraham to have the items evaluated and put up for sale.

Arriving at Abe’s shop the next morning however, he stumbles upon the gruesome sight of his friend…murdered!

Removing the items to his own warehouse, he can only assume that Abe has been killed during a robbery attempt until he suddenly finds his own life in peril! 

Accidentally killing the man sent to kill him, Jesse must now go on the run as he tries to figure out who is after him…and why!

Congrats JT!

Find it on sale at Amazon
                           Barnes & Noble

And find JT on his blog, Twitter, and Facebook

Monday, December 9, 2013

Sci-fi, Fantasy, & Music ... My Kinda Girl

I'm excited to have a very smart and sweet lady with me on the blog today. Fellow time travel author, Sandra Ulbrich Almazan, is answering a few questions about what she writes, how she writes it, and who her favorite band is.

There's our lovely guest. Now let's find out what she has to say.

1.       Using only five words, tell us who you are as a person: 
       A curious, well-read, hard-working mother.

2.       How long have you been writing? How many books do you have published?
       I’ve been writing for about sixteen years. I have one short story traditionally published in an anthology, and I’ve self-published a novel, a novella, and four short stories.

3.       You’re an indie author (yay!), so tell us why you chose the indie path, and how it’s been for you thus far…. 
      I chose the indie path because it was a better fit for me and my work. As an indie, I can publish stories at the length I think works best for the story, and I have control over my work. I can also write the stories that need to be written without worrying how to sell them to publishers. I self-published my novella about two years ago. It’s taking a while to build sales and reviews, but I had some success with my promotion last month and got onto an Amazon best-seller list.

4.    You write sci-fi and fantasy both. Which do you find more challenging, and why?
      Science fiction is more challenging because it needs to follow the laws of reality and because you’re often projecting into the future and need to predict what the world will be like—and how it got that way.

5.      What inspires your work?
       Inspiration is everywhere. I get ideas from science articles, things I read, and daily life. One short story was inspired by an invitation to a graduate school reunion. Another one came from following my son around as he explored bouncy houses (giant inflatable structures for kids to play in). 

6.     What advice would you give a first time novelist wanting to create a speculative fiction story?
      Do a lot of research into any aspects of the world that are new to you, and make sure to thoroughly explore the implications of the speculative aspect of your story. 

7.     Is there a story you’ve written that’s especially near and dear to you? If so, why?
      Both Lyon’s Legacy and Twinned Universes are favorites of mine. I worked on both stories for a long time, and the main characters have a lot of me in them. There’s also a lot of Beatles influence and science in both stories.

8.   You’re a dedicated Beatles fan. How has their music inspired your work, if at all? And do you require the use of music to write any of your scenes?
      Although I wrote a bit in my early twenties, it wasn’t until I became a die-hard Beatles fan in my mid-twenties that I became especially inspired to write. The way the Beatles worked together inspired me to create a quartet of magicians that also had to work closely together. They’re at the heart of my fantasy Season Avatars series, which I plan to start publishing next year. (I’m currently revising the prequel.) Sean Lyon, a musician from Lyon’s Legacy and Twinned Universes, was inspired by John Lennon. I don’t necessarily require music to write, but I prefer it. 

9.    In your book, Twinned Universes, Paul travels between universes to a place called Cen-gen Earth. This reminds me a little of the Fringe concept. What brought about the idea for this, and what type of research did you do to make it work? 
      TwenCen is a nickname time travelers give to Twentieth Century Earth. It’s very similar to our world; in fact, the travelers aren’t sure what makes that Earth’s history diverge from their own, but they theorize they can travel from their universe to the TwenCen as long as the histories remain identical. So naturally, when someone like Joanna Lyon or Paul Harrison wants to save their ancestor from an unnaturally death, the travelers object....As for research, we go back to Chicago in two different years: 1962 and 1980. I had to research neighborhoods where Sean Lyon might have lived, what people wore in 1962, what movies were showing in November 1980—basically telling details to bring the eras to life.

10.   And lastly, what is the single piece of writing/publishing advice that has helped you press forward, even when you had doubts?
      Self-publishing is a long game. You can’t rely on a single book to be successful—and you shouldn’t rely on a single format or distributor for your sales. As Kristine Katherine Rusch advises, you need to write, publish, and repeat.

How true! That'why I keep reminding myself this is only the beginning. First book doesn't have to mean a ton of sales, it just has to get my name out there as an author so I can keep creating. 

Isn't Sandra great?? (And I know for a fact she tweets out great links, so make sure you follow her on Twitter, as well as her other sites: 

Thanks so much for being here today, Sandra! Click below to buy a copy of Twinned Universes and Lyon's Legacy:

By the way, there's a HUGE giveaway over on Candace's Book Blog and yours truly may or may not have a SIGNED copy she's giving away. Not to mention, all the other fabulous prizes! Head over and check it out. 

Thanks so much for stopping by! Don't forget to visit Sandra as well and help support an indie author! And I've been interviewed over at Awesome Gang. It's a great site where you can sign up to be interviewed as well. 

 How about you--is there a band or music that inspires your writing? If so, you've come to the right place 'cause Sandra and I want to hear all about it .... Spill it!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Dream Destination

This weekend Julie Flanders and Lexa Cain are hosting a jetsetting good time. Starting yesterday, bloggers have been posting their ultimate dream destinations. And there's still time to sign up and join the fun, so stop by and sign up at Julie's or Lexa's.

(BTW... it's Julie's birthday today, so be sure to wish her a happy one. :) )

Also today, Milo James Fowler is hosting the Tis More Blessed event, which will continue every Friday this month. Authors around the globe are offering up free copies of their books that YOU can win. Be sure to head over and check it out. My book may or may not be there. Just sayin'.

Okay so for my DREAM DESTINATION ...

I'm dying to get to New Zealand. I've always wanted to visit, but after seeing the first LOTR movie on the big screen, I knew I had to get there for sure. And I've only heard good things about the country since.

I'm a total outdoor girl, so the thought of hiking the countryside, hang-gliding over mountains, breathing all that fresh southern hemisphere air-- it'd be a dream come true. And seeing some of the places LOTR was filmed would be fantastic. (Yes I know Alex has the same dream... *highfive Alex*)

I'd hoped to go this year since I just turned 40, but the cost of releasing a book kinda took its place. Hubby and I decided to wait another year when he's almost 40, and make it a Bucket List trip for both of us. I can't wait.

So that's it. How about you? Are you participating in the blog hop? If not, where is your dream destination? Don't forget to stop by Milo's blog to enter for some free books!  

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

IWSG - Wednesday (Relentless Reviews!)

Happy Hump Day! And a very cheery December greetings to my fellow IWSG members! Where did the year go?? November was a complete blur. Mainly because I launched my first book and juggled that with everything else.

If you're here for NA Thursday, it's at the bottom of this post. :)

I admit, I've been stressing a bit more than usual lately. It's a different writer world when our books are really out there for anyone and everyone to judge. As an aspiring author, we struggle with agent/editor requests and rejections, critiques and beta reads, revisions and endless edits. But once we graduate to published author status, the game changes a little.

What I've learned in the five weeks my book has been for sale, is that it's the same as painting a picture, hanging it in grand Central Station, and asking for people to leave their opinions of it. And they will. Everyone has an opinion, and the interwebs allow them to share it with everyone.

What is an insecure writer to do??

First of all, I've learned the best remedy is not to read those opinions at all. Some will love our work, some will not. However, for an indie author like me who is %100 responsible for everything regarding my work, the good reviews do matter. And it's an accurate way to measure whether or not I'm wasting my time writing this type of story or not.

But how to sift through the good and the bad without exposing ourselves to the bad reviews? Hmm... this is debatable. Any thoughts? Love to hear them. Luckily, so far I've only received one two-star review from a reader who didn't care for my story at all--was expecting something completely different than a new adult time travel romance--and was quite cold in her review. I won't lie, when I stumbled onto it, it was a punch in the gut. But after a few days, I got over it completely. It was good to talk about it with other writers who've been there. I think that's important.

And what I learned was, 1. GoodReads is no place for an author; and 2. I need to be prepared for these types of opinions and still love my work. The best response an author can give to a negative review? None at all.

Very important for all of us to remember.

I've since come to the conclusion that if I can make a few people happy with my story--entertain just enough to make it worth writing the sequel, then I'm good. And it doesn't matter what the others think.

How about you? How do you deal with negative reviews? Or if you're not a published author, how do you deal with negative feedback from beta readers/CPs? 

Also, please visit the Insecure Writers Support Group website for a wealth of resources and a contest! Click on the pic below to get there.

NA Thursday is here!

“The Prelude is the part of a song that pulls you in, hypnotizing you with beauty.”

After finishing design school six months ago, Erin Angelo left her tragic past behind in the States and started a new life in Milan, Italy. Burying the grief, silencing her demons, and living a life without any real attachments has worked well for her so far. But when Erin secures her first real job as a budding clothing designer, her controlled world is shaken to its core by the mysteriously sexy director of the local symphony.Alek Dostov is a man who knows what he wants and how to get it. He's successful, hot, the son of a millionaire, and women all over the world flock to see one of his performances. For Alek, Erin represents the ultimate challenge: sexy, smart, and unaffected by his charms...or so she thinks. Just like Erin, Alek avoids attachments that leave him emotionally vulnerable. But unlike Erin, his pursuit of all things pleasurable is ruthless.
Knowing how wary they both are concerning any kind of committed relationship, Alek finds a way to pursue Erin, satisfying the intense attraction between them without sacrificing the freedom they both enjoy. Sometimes the deepest passion brings out the darkest emotions. And Erin finds herself completely unprepared for the forbidden world of the young maestro and his truths and even his secrets, as she struggles to deal with her own.
Music, passion, betrayal and forbidden love spun together in one of the most romantic cities in the world.
Author Bio:
KaSonndra Leigh lives in the City of Alchemy and Medicine, North Carolina. She lives in an L-shaped house with her two sons (nicknamed the X-men), a yorkiepoo, a cat named Hercules, and a guinea pig called Achilles. She has created a secret library complete with fairies, Venetian plastered walls, a desk made out of clear blue glass, and a garden dedicated to her grandmother.

To enter the giveaway, go to each blog and enter the corresponding code into the Rafflecopter.

This is Blog #16 and the code is KASPK

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