Saturday, June 28, 2014

Has Nice Gone Out of Style??

This question has plagued me for awhile now, and I'm not sure if anyone can really answer it. But seriously, what is happening to our society? I'll admit, I may have some bitterness harbored up inside my soul from years of working for an airline and dealing with the public. But it's not just about my job--it's life in general.

It's like the art of being nice, polite, and considerate have fallen to the wayside. They're luxuries our modern day society can no longer afford. Who has the time? And why bother when there's nothing in it for us?

I feel like that's the mentality, and it's everywhere from kids to neighbors to strangers in the parking lot of the nearest supermarket. People don't take the time to be courteous anymore. And what's worse, the negativity that's circulating in our world as I type this, is damaging our children in a way that can't be repaired. It's damaging ourselves. The cycle is getting darker and deeper with each go round.

It's why I can't watch the news anymore. The hatred and violence is too much. But I don't have to watch the news to be aware of violence and anger. It's everywhere. It's the guy who flicks me off because I have the nerve to beep my horn when he cuts me off driving. It's the woman who doesn't bother to hold the door open for me when I'm two steps behind her. It's the couple who refuses to lower their voice in the row behind me at the movie theater so I have to listen to them talk instead of getting lost in the film I just paid half an hours paycheck for.

These courtesies and niceties used to matter. People used to be aware of them. Now, if you make mention of someone who may be disturbing or rude, you risk getting your brains blown out when they pull out the gun they're packing.

How did we get to this point? And what will it take for nice to be in again?

In some ways, we've come so far, and in others, we've regressed in an awful, ugly way.

The other day I was walking my dog in my neighborhood, like I always do, and we passed a house that we pass everyday, but on this day, the garage was open and a little scrappy dog came bolting out and jumped onto my dog. Now, my dog is big, but he's a teddy bear. Sweet and calm. A teenage girl was standing in the driveway with her mom and they passed it off, called their dog, Princess, back to the garage. But Princess didn't go. She began biting my dog in his hind legs and back. Literally biting and growling. Such a vicious little thing. I pulled my dog away but Princess followed, still sinking her teeth into my dog.

The girl was beside us now but made no motion to pick up Princess. "Come on, Princess," she said. "Come here."

"She's biting my dog," I told her.

"Oh she's just a little dog, she won't hurt him."

"It doesn't matter, she could have something," I said. "Please don't let her bite him."

The girl glowered at me, still making no motion to pick up her dog. "She ain't got nothing."

"I don't know that. Get her off my dog."

 I led my dog all the way down the sidewalk to the stop sign with Princess still biting him and the girl still NOT picking up her dog. I told her I'd have to call someone if she didn't take care of her dog and pick her up. She told me she didn't care and I could go call whoever I wanted f***ing b***ch.

She still hadn't picked up her dog. Finally I stopped in front of her and said, "PICK UP YOUR DOG."

You know what she said to me? "Don't you tell me what to do you f***ing b***ch I'll knock you on your ass." And she got in my face to threaten me.

This from a teenage girl. Huh?

If you're curious to know how I handled it, I was pretty irritated by that point and told her to go ahead and knock me down and see what happens. She picked up her dog by then and my dog and I turned down the next street. But all the time I was wondering what in the world could've possibly put so much anger into that teenage girl? To physically threaten an adult who had done nothing but walked past her house with her dog?

I was mystified. I never would've even considered speaking to an adult that way when I was a teen. My mom woulda slapped me upside the head so fast I'd seen stars. You know what that girl's mom did? Nothing.

Could that be the problem we're facing as a society? Hmmm. I'm not condoning domestic violence or anything like that, but where is the line? At what points do parents need to step up to the plate and teach their kids how to be respectful?

Where do these violent tendencies in teens come from? I don't have to mention the recent shootings because they're fresh and obvious. But how about the teen serving a life sentence for assaulting a teenage girl at the library five years ago? I'm writing her mother's memoir right now--the mother of a once healthy vibrant girl, now confined to a wheelchair and eating through straws, no longer with use of her speech or legs, or even full vision.

All because she returned books to the library, and this teenage boy decided he'd rape and strangle her til her brain suffered a stroke. He was sixteen years old when he committed this act of violence. And left her for dead in an alligator infested swamp. He went back to the library the next day. As if nothing happened.

Huh?

What's happening to our children, to our society? How do we fix it? Were these teens mean and quick to violence because someone wasn't nice to them? A lot of people maybe? How much did they themselves have to endure to make them into such hateful beings?

My daughter is seven. She just finished second grade. You know what she told me a few months ago? "My friends aren't really all that nice."

"Huh? They're not nice?"

"No," she said. "They're my friends, and I like them, but my best friends in my class are rude to me and each other. No one is nice."

She told me this again in different variations throughout the rest of the school year. Yes, she liked her friends. Yes, she remained friends with them. But did they make her feel loved as a human being. No. They weren't nice kids.

Why? What's happening? Why aren't we nice to each other?

A few years ago I had to change my job function with the airline so I could only speak to people in the UK. Why? Because they're nicer. Sorry, but it's true. Not everyone, of course, but in general, they still mind their manners and maintain politeness even when upset. I'm not saying all Americans are rude, and it's certainly not only an American issue, but it is what it is.

I'm in no way suggesting I'm above anyone else. I have my moments of improper manners just like everyone else, but I try really hard to be courteous and polite at all times. And respectful. Maybe it's just that we don't respect each other anymore. How do we get that back? What do we have to do to teach our kids respect? That it's not all about me, me, me?

I fear for my children. I really do. If they're having to deal with rudeness now in elementary school, what does the future hold?

Being nice does not mean you have to let people walk all over you. You can teach a child to be thoughtful and courteous and still stand up for themselves. Are we doing this? Are we setting the right examples?

Are we being nice to each other? Are we taking the time to be nice to kids and teens so they'll in turn be nice to each other?

Niceness is not a sign of weakness. It's a sign of peace and friendship and beauty. And it spreads like wildfire when given the chance!

Next time you have the opportunity to go out of your way and be nice to someone, I hope you take it. I hope you don't skip over it because you're in a hurry, or because it's not important. It IS important.

This is our world we're talking about--our children and future. If we're not being nice, why should they?

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Starry Nights EPIC Giveaway!


 I'm so excited to be a part of the Sci-fi Romance Brigade's annual Midsummer Blog Hop!This group has been a treat to find-- Authors who love sci-fi and love romance and aren't afraid to mix it all together. If you haven't stumbled onto the group blog, check it out HERE.

And wait til you see what's in this epic giveaway! But first read on ...

We all know THIS starry night, right?                         
But what about this one?


This one?


Or this one?


Here's a fun one ...


Thought it was really cool to see one man's artistic version of a starry night altered in so many creative ways. Stories are like that too. We can take someone else's general idea and retell it in our own way. Happens all the time, and fairy tale retellings are some of the most popular. 

Stars have a significance in Butterman (Time) Travel, Inc because my main character, Bianca, has two small star tattoos on her face. Here's a close up of one of the Bianca ornaments I made for swag:


And here's a pic I stumbled onto of a girl who just happens to have star tats on her face:


And I'll have some pics to post of my own star tats this weekend (temp of course) because I'll be at UtopYA in Nashville while this is going on. Many pictures to come! Please check back and/or check out my Twitter feed with the hashtag #UtopYA2014 for lots of great pics. You might just see some more authors you know!


Now for the giveaway! Wait til you see all the prizes!!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


And be sure to check out all the other bloggers so you can enter again and again.


Thank you SO much for stopping by and tune in next time for my UtopYA recap, BIG thanks to the SFR Brigade for a stellar blog hop and giveaway! And check out my previous post for a separate NA giveaway! So much to win! So many amazing authors!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Your How-To Audiobook Guide and Summer Reads Giveaway!

Summer is here! Thus begins the ultimate juggling act of kids, work, and all things writing. Luckily, my kids are old enough now to entertain themselves, but that only lasts so long before those dreaded words emerge from their lips, "I'm bored."

I can't even remember what that word means, can you? lol (side effects of parenting)

Aside from that, we get to sleep in and that makes it all okay. :)

So earlier this year I put Butterman (Time) Travel, Inc. up on ACX to turn it into an audiobook. Many of you asked me how it works and what to do, so I thought I'd share the basics, because it's finally out for sale! Yay! (Linked in my sidebar)

This was a pretty big project, and while I initiated everything on my own, I was fortunate enough to connect with a fantastic narrator to partner with. Bryarly Bishop found Butterman and sent me an audition, and right away it was a win/win. Seriously, you gotta check out how cute she is. I'm so thrilled with her voice for Bianca Butterman.

So how did I make it happen? Well this is basically ACX 101--the very basics of how to get started. Mind you, Butterman is an indie pub, so if you don't own your own rights to your story, you need to check with your agent and/or publisher.


  1.  First off, you put your title up on ACX.com and confirm your rights and create a profile. You'll need to upload part of your story as a word doc, and this is what the narrator will read from when you need a sample.
  2. Next, you need to find a producer. A producer is the person who will narrate and create your actual audiobook. You can certainly be your own producer if you have the time and equipment to do so. Only you know exactly how your story should be told, so this is an excellent project to take on if you can make it happen. Plus, there's a real market for it if you're any good. ACX has in depth how-to instructions and will help you get started with equipment.

           * Finding a producer can be a tad tricky. There are a couple of ways to handle it:

  • You can search for one on the ACX site. Browsing producers is fun and most have sample readings on their profile pages so you can get a feel for their voice. If you find one you like, simply make an offer through the ACX site. 

         Note: You will first need to decide how you want to go into this contract. You can pay your producer          upfront (anywhere from $3000-$6000)and keep all the profits from the audiobook sales, or you can            opt for a Royalty Share contract, where you pay nothing upfront and share all profits from the sales. If          you go the way of a Royalty Share, be aware some producers will not accept. There is also something          called a stipend and that's where ACX will pay a bonus to the producers for taking on your project as          a royalty share. In order to get a stipend on your project, you need to upload your work when it's
         selling the best. If you hit any Amazon bestseller lists, that's the perfect time to get your project up on
          ACX  and hopefully a stipend will appear as the perfect bait for awesome producers. (I learned about           the stipend later so I did not have it available on mine when I went into a contract)

      3.  Instead of searching for your producer, you can sit back and let them come to you. Many are eager              to work on interesting projects, and if they find one they like, they'll send you an audition. Everything              is done directly through ACX for legal purposes. Auditions, messages, and offers are all logged and              part of the legal contract.

At the time I uploaded Butterman, I didn't have time to search for producers, I just sorta put it up and left it aside. Nor did I have the finances to pay someone upfront, so I listed the project as a royalty share. Within a few weeks, I received two auditions, and they were both fabulous. Both producers were willing to do the royalty share, and Bryarly seemed a great fit.

            NOTE: Once you receive an audition, you can ask for more of a reading before going into a                         contract. I did that with Bryarly, because I wanted to hear how she handled the male voices, and she              sent me an  additional 15 minutes of narration before I made my decision.

After we agreed to work together, we officially started the project. We got in right before the big royalty cut back on Audible was announced, and since then, there's been a lot of controversy about ACX. Just be sure to read all the fine print and know exactly what you're agreeing to. ACX is very easy to navigate and quite interesting, at that. I highly recommend taking time to delve into all their info before making any decisions.

So I gave Bryarly two months to complete the project, and on the day of the deadline I had a full 7 hours of audio to listen to and approve. That may seem a bit daunting at first, right? Who has all that time? But it's the nature of the beast, and hearing your own words read back to you is all kinds of exciting. The audio is broken into chapters for easy listening. I made notes on any mistakes or mispronunciations and noted the exact time on the audio feed. I sent all the edits back to Bryarly and she handled the corrections.

After I approved the corrections ( I didn't have to listen to the whole book again--I could go to the exact time on the audio feed to verify) the project went to ACX administration for final approval, which took two weeks.

And now I'm the proud half-owner of Butterman (Time) Travel, Inc. audiobook. What's cool about the royalty share program, is that while I give up half of my profits, I also gain a partner in marketing. Bryarly has as much to gain in promoting this project as I do, and that was something I took into consideration before going into this agreement.

ACX also gives you a little welcome basket of gift codes to get you started, and I'm looking for a few people who enjoy audiobooks to gift to. If you think you'd like to listen to Butterman (Time) Travel, Inc. and can provide an honest review afterward on the Audible site, please email me at pakazo77@gmail.com and I'll get you set up. This is a $20 value for free!! But supplies are limited, so let me know asap, and only if you genuinely have time for it.

Hope some of this info helps. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to ask.

Now for a stupendous giveaway!!!


It is my honor and pleasure to share with you the 2014 NA Street Team Summer Reads List. To celebrate this occasion, we are conducting a rafflecopter giveaway.
Grand Prize Package (One Winner)
  Signed paperback copy of Butterman (Time) Travel, Inc. (US Only) – Sponsored by Author PK Hrezo
  Signed paperback copy of Another New Life & $10 Starbucks Gift Card – Sponsored by Author Sydney Aaliyah Michelle
  Ebook version of Winning the Player & $10 Amazon Gift Card – Sponsored by Author Leesa Bow
  $25 Amazon Gift Card – Sponsored by Author Katlyn Duncan
  Signed paperback copy of Adam’s List – Sponsored by Author Jennifer Ann
  Ebook version of Walk with Me & $10 Starbucks Gift Card – Sponsored by Author Kaitlyn Stone
  Signed paperback copy of Impulsion & $5 Amazon Gift Card – Sponsored by Author Jamie Magee

Is that great, or what! This giveaway goes live at 8pm Eastern tonight. Enter to win below:

        a Rafflecopter giveaway

And come back to enter as many times as you like!

A BIG shout out to Mary Weibel for her release of The Mystery Prince:


Tristan enjoys being in the shadows as Prince Rand's bodyguard. Similar in looks, the two often exchanged places in their youth, but he never expected the king to order him to impersonate the heir to the throne in order to win the hand of a princess.


Princess Zoe needs to find a husband. After a year of searching with no success, her father insists on hosting a masquerade ball for the eligible princes of the nine kingdoms. Not one prince piques her interest, until she meets the mysterious stranger who won't tell her his name.

When Tristan meets Zoe he finds the girl of his dreams. The only problem? She's a princess and he's impersonating a prince―a crime punishable by imprisonment and floggings. Unable to tell Zoe his real name, he gives her a special navigation device. One that leads to the owner's true love. Will this magic device lead Zoe to Tristan, or will her true love forever remain a mystery prince?

Available now HERE.

Find Mary on her BLOG, FACEBOOK, TWITTER 

And Jessica Bell has a brand new writing guide out, Polish Your Fiction:


BTW I've got a little blurb in here.

Here's where you can purchase:

AMAZON, BARNES AND NOBLE, , iTUNES, KOBO

Tune in later this week for another epic giveaway!This month is full of prizes!!!

So tell me have you considered creating an audiobook or have you already made one? What are your thoughts or concerns on the process? Interested in listening to and reviewing mine? Limited time offer!

I'm over at Jessica Bell's blog talking about adding emotion to our work. Hop over and say hi!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

IWSG - and Write It Right


Welcome to the first Wednesday of the month when writers across the blogosphere share their ups and downs and come together for a virtual group hug. Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh for setting this successful event up, and to all the admin who keep it running smoothly. Facebook IWSG has over 1K members now! Wow!

Okay, I confess ... I've been struggling to keep up with everything. Busier than a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest. I won't bore you with the details, but believe me when I say, if I survive my to-do list this year without burning out, I'm taking a huge load off in 2015.

But we're all busy, right? I'm not special by any means. Being an indie author has opened up many doors, and while I don't have any astronomical sales to brag about, I've been able to connect with so many different people and the fact I can own the title of author has given me opportunities I didn't have before. That makes it all worth it.

I want to be careful not to overlook my wonderful writer friends, though. So for the month of June I'm opening up my Write It Right Review window all month long. What's Write It Right? That's where I'll read over your pitch, query, or cover blurb privately and offer feedback. Learn how it works by clicking HERE. (And don't worry ... I'm never too busy to help friends and I love doing these!)

So if you're feeling insecure about any of those, now is your chance to hit me up for a little support.

My Butterman sequel, Induction Day, is finished and in the hands of beta readers. I'm about to upload the prequel, Diary of a Teenage Time Traveler, to Amazon, and I'll be headed to Nashville later this month for a book signing and fun at UtopYA.

Also, I'm working on a mother's memoir for a local mom of a survivor. You may've seen me mention it before. Here's the link if you want to learn more about Queena and her story. I've been meeting with her mom while she relays events and I'm recording in the form of a memoir. I've never done a non-fic project like this before, but I've read lots of memoirs, so this is one endeavor that's taking me out of my comfort zone in a really demanding and uplifting way. I'll share more on that as I go. http://www.joinqueena.com/

How about some new releases??



Four brand new covers for S.J. Pajonas' Nogiku Series. I did a review on Removed a while back and it's full of awesome. Right now you can get it for only .99 and the novella Revealed for free! She's also got a GIVEAWAY happening so check it out ....



You can find Revealed: Part One: New Year’s Eve with Jiro and Mark on Goodreads You can buy Revealed here: - Amazon - Barnes & Noble - Kobo - iBooks

Also, Alicia Kat Vancil has released Beautiful Stranger. A novella in the Marked Ones trilogy. Isn't it striking?


We all have that one thing—that one thing we wish for on every first star of the night. Wealth. Fame. Love. For geeky artist Patrick Connolly, it is the attention of his beautiful and seemingly unattainable classmate Nualla Galathea. There’s just one problem—he’s got less than a snowball’s chance in hell, and that’s being generous.

However, when a heated argument erupts in the halls of Bayside Academy forcing Patrick and Nualla’s paths to collide, Nualla surprisingly jumps at the opportunity to be his date. Patrick may think his wish has just come true, but this gentle boy will need more than artistic talent to combat the deadly secrets lurking behind his dream girl’s veil of normality. Like the fact that she isn’t even human.


Find it on AMAZON and KOBO

And a BIG THANKS to all who participated in the How I Found the Write Path blogfest! It was a huge success and I'm still trying to get around to read them all. So exciting that it will soon be a part of a free ebook available to anyone! Be proud of your awesome work!


                                                            ^^ LOL... Isn't this guy great?? ^^

I'm so glad you stopped by. I'll be going on tour to do some guest blogging over the summer so if you'd like me to guest blog for you, let me know! Email me at pakazo77@gmail.com or leave your email in the comments and I'll be in touch. 

Is there anything you're feeling insecure over right now? Need an extra pair of eyes on your query/pitch/blurb? Or just tell me how you've been and what you're working on ....