Friday, January 31, 2014

~ Removed ~

Today I'm thrilled to review a New Adult book I've recently had the pleasure of reading, and eager to share it with you, since it's a non-contemporary new adult (like mine.) Right now New Adult tends to conjure steamy chick-lit type stories, but it's so much more, as authors like S.J. Pajonas and myself are hoping to show readers. So let me tell you a little about Removed ...



Let me introduced this story in a few words:

futuristic,  dystopic,  romantic,  and  culture-rich.

Removed is a unique fusion of the modern and traditional. I relished the artful way this story was put together--from the martial arts and sword fighting, to the futuristic dome world of Japan--this elegantly told sci-fi tale is a treat for readers who crave a decadent dollop of culture atop their stories du jour.

20-year-old, Sanaa, is a sweet, but sassy protagonist. Naive in some ways, but far from ignorant. Throughout the story her personality is painted in such a way, that envisioning her is effortless.
And while Sanaa is a delightful character, by the end of the book, she kicks total butt. My kinda girl. Having been orphaned very young, she was raised by her aunties--another element I thought was done well by incorporating a diverse family unit that I'm positive will be even more common in the future--and is about to learn the secret of her parents and who she is meant to become. Her growth by the end of the story is one worth cheering for.

I don't want to give too much away, but I'll say the plot offers some nice surprises, while a side dish of romance is served alongside it. Which brings me to Sanaa's love interest, Jiro. *sigh* He was a refreshing change. Skilled, clever, and down to earth. Did I mention his crazy cool tattoos? Yep, he's got them.

Have you noticed all my food metaphors? That's because after reading this book I've got food on the brain! Pajonas' brief but thoughtful descriptions of the Japanese cuisine left my mouth watering. Bento box, anyone? Yum!

And the fabrics and fashion? *swoon* One of my favorite parts of visiting Asia (besides the food) is all the lush silks and detailed embroidery. Pajonas does not disappoint by leaving these out. There's no doubt the author knows the Japanese culture well, and weaves it in with the storytelling seamlessly.

Having been to Japan a few times myself, I can say from experience, the foreign culture takes a short adjustment period if you're from my side of the world. That's typical. All countries do. And similarly, there's a brief adjustment required in reading this story because of the rich language and traits, but that's part of what makes it so real and so grand. Once you get used to the combination of languages, you gain a genuine appreciation of the time and thought the author put into this story's authenticity.

And since Japan always seems to be on the cutting edge of technology, imagining it home to the future of society makes a whole lot of sense.

If you're looking for something unique and imaginative to read, you should give this first book in the Nogiku Series a try, and I'm quite certain you'll be glad you did.





  S. J. lives with her husband and two children just outside of New York City. She loves reading, writing, film, J- and K-dramas, knitting, and astrology. Her favorite author is Haruki Murakami and favorite book is The Wind-up Bird Chronicle.

You can find and contact her here:
- Website
- Facebook
- Twitter
- Goodreads
- Pinterest
- Flickr
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There is a tour wide giveaway for the blog tour of the Nogiku series. These are the prizes you can win: Amazon Gift Cards, copies of REMOVED, and eBook copies of two fantastic Japanese books: JAPANESE SOUL COOKING and THE SAKE HANDBOOK. Both will be gifted through either Amazon (kindle) or Barnes&Noble (nook).
Here are the links to both books on Amazon:
Sake Handbook on amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sake-Handbook-John-Gauntner-ebook/dp/B007H9GVMI/
Japanese Soul Cooking: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00BVJG5GC/

You can enter the tour wide giveaway here:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks so much for stopping by! I hope you'll stop by SJ Pajonas' web haunts to say hello. She's super friendly and fun!

And for those who tried guessing my lie from Jamie Ayres' book release post, it was # 3. I do not have two tattoos, I only have one. All the rest are true. I cut my own hair because it's long and easy to manage. Anything more than a trim requires a professional. :) And I did pierce my own ear once in college just to see if I could do it. It took me like an hour to work the needle all the way through, but I still wear an earring in the hole to this day. And I LOVE to mow. I know, I'm crazy, right? But it's a great workout and theraputic. And I'm a firm believer that any woe can be cured by sweating it out with manual labor. :)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Truth Comes Out!

Today's the book birthday of writer and blogger friend, Jamie Ayres, and to celebrate the release of her sequel, 18 Truths, I'm sharing three truths and one lie about myself. Can you guess which is which?


          Lying is unbearable, betrayal is inevitable, and       choosing which path to take is impossible.

Jamie is also offering to donate all her sales from this week to her middle school and the Mito Foundation. Wow, that is awesome!! I hope you'll consider downloading a copy!

You can get it right now by clicking right here

Now, can you pick out which of these statements about me is a lie??

1. I cut my own hair.
2. I once pierced my own ear.
3. I have two tattoos.
4. I mow my own lawn.


There you go! Add your answer in the comments and don't forget to stop by and visit Jamie on her blog by clicking HERE

Psst! I apologize my blog visits are backed up due to a very sick kid at home right now, but I'll be getting caught up soon! Mwah!

Don't forget to stop by and visit Jamie

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Power of Names

Today I'm excited to have Nutschell Windsor here talking about naming our characters and her new book, Story Sprouts.

Take it away, Nutschell ...

“Names have power.”

 - Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson Series

In the tale of Rumplestilkskin, the queen was only able to break the unfair deal she made with him when she found out Rumple’s true name. In Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle magicians can take over a person’s mind if they knew that person’s true name. Both stories illustrate that to know something’s name is to have power over it.
It may not be as drastic, but in real life, names do hold power. When you see a friend on the street and call out, you’re able to make that person turn and search for you in a crowd. If you’re a regular at a restaurant/shop, you might know the owner’s name and he yours, and whether you mean to or not, you develop a special rapport with each other.
Many psychologists believe that the names parents choose for their children often determine their outcomes later in life. Psychologists Simon Laham and Peter Koval discovered that most people prefer politicians with simpler names, and that in American firms, the lawyers who rise up to partner more quickly, are those with fluent names.
This knowledge about the power of names is important for writers. Just as expecting parents take time to think of a name for their baby, so must authors choose their characters’ names carefully.
Here are some tips for finding the perfect name for your characters:

1.      Collect interesting street names, product names or even animal names that you come across.
2.      Stay for the closing credits of movies and take note of interesting names.
3.      Sherrilyn Kenyon’s The Writer’s Digest Character Naming Sourcebook is another great resource. It lists more than 25,000 first and last names from all corners of the world, along with their meanings and pronunciations.
4.      Sites like www.babynames.com , www.babyhold.com , and www.babynamesworld.parentsconnect.com hold a wealth of names. They list them down by letter, gender, and ethnicity, meaning and even list down variations in different cultures.
5.      Other sites like http://www.rinkworks.com/namegen/ , http://www.seventhsanctum.com/index-name.php, http://www.angelfire.com/tx/afira/six.html offer name generators specifically targeted for your fantasy novels.
6.      For more links to character names and name generators, you can also check out the list I’ve compiled on my own site. http://www.thewritingnut.com/writing-resources/fantasy-writers/
Parents may pick a name based on how it sounds or based on who/what the name is associated with. They might name their baby after a person they admire, maybe a famous personality they hope their child might one day emulate. They might name their baby after a beloved family member as a way of honoring them. They might even give their kid a unique name because they want the child to stand out and make their own mark on the world, or they might choose a name based on its meaning or what it symbolizes.
As a writer you could take the same approach. You could name your character after someone you know who embodies some of your character’s traits, or you could name your character after a good friend as a way of honoring them. J.M. Barrie named his characters after close family friend Arthur Llewelyn Davies’s sons John, Michael, Peter, and George who were very dear to him.
More often than not, writers name their characters based on sound and symbolism. Whether he knew it or not, J.M. Barrie actually picked the perfect name for his protagonist. “Peter” means “stone” or “rock”, and much like one, Peter Pan stubbornly refused to change or grow up. In Greek mythology, Pan was the pipe-playing, mischief-loving, goat-legged god of shepherds and flocks. Peter Pan lives up to his name when he leads his own flock of mischief-loving lost boys.  
Names are powerful because they carry a lot of information about the person. One glance at a name can tell you about the person’s gender, ethnicity, race and even social class. A person can be judged solely by his/her name alone. A study by psychologists Bertrand & Mullainathan showed that a person with an African-American sounding name is less likely to get a job interview call back, compared to a person with a white-sounding name.
So take great care to find names that truly embody your character—one whose meaning readers can grasp consciously or subconsciously.  Use the power of names in your own stories and watch your characters come to life.

*************************************************************************************
Super thanks for having me on your blog, PK!


STORY SPROUTS: CBW-LA WRITING DAY EXERCISES & ANTHOLOGY 2013
·         Paperback: 240 pages
·         Publisher: CBW-LA Publications (October 18, 2013)
·         Edited by: Alana Garrigues, Nutschell Anne Windsor
·         Language: English
·         ISBN-10: 0989878791
·         ISBN-13: 978-0989878791
·         Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
·         Shipping Weight: 13.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)

STORY SPROUTS 2013 ANTHOLOGY STATISTICS:
·         19 Authors
·         38 Combined Anthology Entries – 2 per Contributing Author
·         6-hour Workshop
·         10 Writing Exercises (included in Story Sprouts)
·         Dozens of Photo, Character and Conflict Prompts (included in Story Sprouts)
·         240 pages

BLURB:
What happens when linguistic lovers and tale tellers workshop together? Inspiration. Wonder. Discovery. Growth. Magic.
Brave and talented, the writers featured in this anthology took on the challenge of dedicating one day to the raw and creative process of writing.
A rare view into the building blocks of composition, Story Sprouts is made up of nearly 40 works of poetry and prose from 19 published and aspiring children's book authors.
This compilation includes all of the anthology writing exercises and prompts, along with tips, techniques and free online writing resources to help writers improve their craft.

KINDLE & PRINT COPIES AVAILABLE THROUGH AMAZON.

LINKS:
Learn more about Story Sprouts at http://www.storysproutsanthology.com/
Join the Children’s Book Writers of Los Angeles at www.cbw-la.org 

Find Nutschell at:


Thanks for sharing all the great info, Nutschell! And funny thing here, since I work for an international airline, I see all kinds of names. I have an a notebook of interesting names I've collected over the years, some of them you'd never believe!

Thanks so much for stopping by! So tell me, how do you come up with character names?

BTW I shared my tattoo story with Sydney Aaliyah and you can read all about it here.  

Monday, January 20, 2014

Marketing Monday

Today bloggers around the sphere are sharing marketing tips. What worked and what hasn't. And let me tell you, I need to learn everything I can, how about you?


Hosted by Alex J Cavanaugh, Arlee Bird, Yolanda Renee, and Jeremy Hawkins.

Before I get to my tips, though, I wanted to give a shout out to Stina Lindenblatt whose NA debut, Tell Me When, launches today!



Check out her recent blogpost on stalking here, and get your copy of Tell Me When here.

Now, for my marketing stuff ...

First off, I'm still a total rookie. I've been reading all kinds of How-To guides and blogs and fumbling my way through this book marketing game. Luckily, Butterman (Time) Travel, Inc. has managed to stay on the front page of Amazon's Hot New Releases of its category since I launched it in November. I can't say for sure if that's helped, but I know it's a great place to be, and keeps my book visible for those searching my category, which is teen time travel stories.

How have I manged to stay on new releases so long? Well, every time I make an update to my price or tags, Amazon republishes my book, which means I get on that Hot New Release page again. So if your book gets to this important page, I suggest doing little tweaks every few weeks to keep it fresh for as long as possible, which means visibility that costs nothing.

Aside from that, I've run Facebook ads for $5 a day and $10 a day, and they've done pretty well in terms of sales bumps, but nothing like what I imagine a BookBub ad would accomplish. The good thing is, FB ads are cheap, so there's no big loss if it doesn't work. Just make sure you remember to set an end date or the ad keeps running continuously.

I also had postcards made up with my book cover on the front and a QR code linking right to my Amazon page on the back. I always keep these with me so wherever I am and whoever I may strike a conversation with, I can hand them a card. I also leave a few at various places, like coffee shops and bookstores. Recently I traveled to Utah and back with stops in Texas and I left these postcards at every eStation at every airport. I figured it couldn't hurt since people usually travel with eReaders.

Back in November, I did an art show for Pixie Patrol and brought books to sell as well as postcards. This was a wonderful way to meet people and talk about my book. Another author was there as well, selling his books and nothing else, so I didn't feel silly having brought mine. I plan to do this again when I can. I highly recommend checking for local art shows and signing up. It was a lot of fun and people are excited to meet authors.

I also started a prequel called Diary of a Teenage Time Traveler exclusively for Wattpad, and that's been a fun (albeit time consuming) way to garner interest. Recently I was contacted by the Wattpad admin because they want to feature Diary in their front pages, so that's really cool. I have to get to work on that since they need it finished, but that little endeavor has started paying off so I'm going to put writing my sequel on a brief hold to finish the prequel. Another free way to market!

And that's it for my tips. I'm having fun learning the ropes and getting creative. And one thing I've learned for sure, is constantly pushing your book on other writer forums is tasteless and pointless. I've seen it quite a bit, and can't figure out why authors are doing this when everyone has a book to sell.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to reading everyone else's tips and learning some more!!

How about you? Anything to share on the subject? What's worked for you? Be sure to visit Stina today and congratulate her!


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Indie Life - My Big Fish Story

Before I was married with kids, I went deep sea fishing from time to time. Charter boats leave the sponge docks of Tarpon Springs daily, and like my dad always says, even if you don't catch anything, it's still a nice day out on the water.

This one time I went with my dad and uncle and we bought regular bait fish--the good kind that catch the keepers. I'm no expert fisherman, but I grew up on a lake that we fished in all the time, so I was no stranger to baiting a hook either.

Still, deep sea fishing is quite a bit different than bass fishing in a lake. But the basics are there. So there I was--around 25 years old and one of very few females on the boat--and started baiting my hook with the frozen sardine. The first mate was walking by and he stopped and watched me, which I ignored.

Finally, he said, "Here, let me do that for you." And he reached for my bait and hook.

Now, I knew this guy was a pro--an expert fisherman for sure. This guy went out on the water daily, and probably caught more fish than my dad and me combined in our entire lives. So the easier, smarter thing to do was let this guy bait my hook for me.

Ah, but I'm such a rebel. I wanted to do it myself. I've never been the kind of female that needed guys to do things for me. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a feminist don't-you-dare-open-the-door-for-me kind of girl either. But I really enjoy figuring things out and doing them on my own. It's gratifying.

I might add, that so far, no one on the boat had caught anything worth keeping that day, except this first mate. I knew, because there's always a pool for the biggest fish caught of the day, and so far, this guy was the only contender. So if I let him bait my hook, maybe I'd catch the biggest fish and win the pool.

I turned away from the guy and told him no. He insisted he should at least show me how to bait it right, and again I told him no.

"I can do it," I said. "My way."

He looked at me like I was crazy. Of course my dad and uncle just laughed because they already knew this guy would never win.

So I baited my hook like I wanted it, and cast my line in that deep blue water. Within minutes I had something. Something big. After ten minutes of struggling and fighting, of which I accepted no help with, I pulled up a huge red grouper. Oh man, what a great feeling that was. It ended up being the second largest catch of the day, beaten out only by that same first mate.

My dad and I still talk about that day and how great it was that I caught that fish on my own. As an indie author, I'm feeling a lot like that. I didn't go with the pros, I chose to try it on my own, and maybe I'll catch something awesome, or maybe not, but trusting my instincts and making my own choices feels great. Overwhelming, and scary, but great. Just like pulling in my own fish.

For more Indie Life posts, click on the picture below.



*** Window now closed for Write It Right Review but will open again next month! Stay tuned***

Also, it's the first day and month of Write It Right! You know what that means, right? You've got 24 hours to send me your query, cover blurb, or pitch for a full and FREE critique. I'll critique any and all sent to me within that time frame. No catches, this is just my way of giving back to the awesome writing community. Email me at pakazo77@gmail.com

If yours isn't ready for critique yet, don't worry. The window will open again next month so look out for the notice here on my blog, my Facebook author page, and Twitter. Learn more about this free service by clicking here.

Do you have a big fish story? I promise mine is true. :) Share it with me in the comments!


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

IWSG - Writers Are Not Their Characters

First Wednesday of the month is the Insecure Writers Support Group day, when bloggers around the Web come together for a group cyber hug.


Click on the pic above to get to IWSG HQ and check out the other participants, and/or sign up to join in.

So this topic has come up quite a bit lately--writers feeling bad or guilty about the way they've written their characters. Feeling embarrassed to let family members read sexy scenes, or dirty when characters behave in a way some readers deem as tasteless. I'll admit, I've struggled a bit with knowing some of my family members will be reading Butterman (Time) Travel, Inc. because my characters curse from time to time.

Is that crazy, or what?? I'm a grown woman. Still, I worry about what they think of my filthy mind for allowing my characters to toss around profanity. Personally, I opt for more silly phrases like Holy Canoli, or Holy Smokes ... even Good Grief or Fudge. Using actual profanity doesn't add anything to what I say, and it doesn't do anything for me when I hear it from others. A curse word here and there is no biggie, but excessive use really annoys me.

In writing my previous stories, I let my characters assume my viewpoint on the matter. But this last time around, my characters used some profanity. I tried and tried to write it out of the story, but finally I conceded. I realized I was censoring them--trying like mad to find another way for them to express themselves. Why?

I was inflicting my personal beliefs on them. Yes, they're my creation and ultimately I have the final say, but I didn't like having that censorship. Once I accepted the fact they sometimes used profanity, it really set their characters free in my mind and I let them take control.

Now, don't get me wrong--I'm not suggesting writers make a point to use profanity in their work. I still don't care for it, but let's face it, others out there use it liberally. And the trick is to know who our characters are. Can we still convey our characters a certain way without allowing them to use it? Sure. We can find other ways for them to say what needs to be said. But I chose to write my characters as I heard them, and maybe I'll get the stink eye from some elderly conservative relatives and friends, or maybe they'll understand that just because my characters do something, doesn't mean it's a direct reflection of me as a person.

I am not my characters.

Like I mentioned, I've seen this issue pop up more and more on writer forums. It's definitely an insecurity issue. I even had one reviewer who really enjoyed my book comment on how she didn't care for the language and didn't understand why authors feel the need to drop the F bomb.

Hmm, well I certainly didn't do it just for kicks. If she only knew how tough it was for me to let those bombs fall. LOL

What are your thoughts on the matter? Ever have a reviewer or beta reader question your characters or imply their thoughts or actions were a reflection of you as a person? 

Don't forget the Moonless ( Who would you marry?) Blogfest on Feb 10th!! Sign up here.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Simon Cowell or Paula Abdul?

Remember the first few seasons of American Idol? Simon, Randy, and Paula were the panel of judges, and each had their own styles of critique.

Simon, of course, became known for his sometimes blatantly harsh feedback--sometimes bringing hopeful performers to tears. But when he gave someone praise, they were usually REALLY good. So it was one way of knowing someone had the it factor. And if I were a singer and Simon gave me a compliment, I'd know I for sure I had a real chance of a singing career. He predicted Carrie Underwood would go on to win the show as well as become a major star in the very beginning of her season. Look at her now.

Paula, on the other hand, never wanted to hurt anyone's feelings. She was polite, sensitive, and gentle. I often wondered if it was because her own singing voice was never very strong, although very unique. She really struggled with telling people their weaknesses, but at the same time, she helped balance the feedback that was given from the panel, and probably saved a lot of egos from sinking into a perpetual abyss of failure. Her agreeable style of feedback was a welcomed relief for many aspiring performers.

Randy was somewhere in the middle. Not as blunt as Simon, but not as gentle as Paula. His tastes in music seemed to vary, and he could enjoy a performance and style that Simon would scoff at. That was important too, since not everyone will be a mainstream hit. Randy represented the audiences that could march to a different beat, and that was cool. Because we NEED variety.

So you can see where I"m going with this, right? How each judge brought something important to the table. When you're critiquing someone's work, which judge are you more like? Or do you range between the three mentioned here?

For me personally, when someone's critiquing or beta reading my story, I want a little of each. I want honest feedback even if it hurts, so that I can fix what's wrong and grow as a writer. I want it to be softened with gentle words so my ego isn't ripped to shreds and I know I can press on. And I want my work to be seen as an individual piece of art that doesn't have to compare to what's already popular or mainstream.

This is also how I try to critique others. I believe the golden rule applies here more than any other. We all know how valuable it is to find CPs and betas who truly get our work and help make it shine. And critiquing others' work has helped me grow as a writer in so many ways. I've learned more from evaluating others' stories than any paid workshop has ever taught me, and it helps me pick out areas for improvement in my own work.

I say seek out new CPs and betas with each new story, and tell the ones you already have how much you appreciate them.

Hey, I've got some fun news! I'm co-hosting a blogfest with Crystal Collier and Tammy Theriault that will be a smashing good time! Get this, we want you to tell us who you'd have your parents arrange your marriage to, if you know, you lived in a time or place when that was commonplace. Here's where the fun comes in--it can be ANYBODY! Fictional characters, celebrities, politicians.... you name it! But we want to know why you picked them.

So put your thinking caps on and get creative, because this is going to be so much fun. I don't even have to think about who my arranged marriage should be to. I've swooned over him ever since I first read the book. :)



Sign up below and spread the word! The more the merrier!  

And Happy New Year!!

Tell me, do you find value in your critiques--the ones you give as well as receive? Are you Simon, Paula, or Randy? Or a little of all three? Please share ...