Friday, November 6, 2015

So, I've been on Hiatus...

You may have noticed that I haven't written a blog post in a while. And, I'm sad to say that it may be some time before I get back to writing regular posts. When I started this blog it was important to me that I make a post at least once a week, and I did pretty well at that for a long time. For over two years I kept to that "one post a week" schedule pretty well, sometimes even exceeding my own expectations. But, lately it just hasn't been so.

So, what's the deal?

Have I given up?

Absolutely not.

Writing is a life-long journey, and like everything in life, it has it's ups and downs. It's not that I don't have anything to say anymore. I promise, even if I don't have the time to write a post I'm still jotting down ideas for later. Life, my life outside of the worlds I create with pen and paper, is crazy at the moment. I've gotten a promotion at work, I'm planning a wedding, and I'm going to school for my Master's degree. Needless to say I've had to reorganize a few things and at the moment much of my writing has gotten bumped. But, I haven't stopped all together.

I'm still working on Unearthed After Sunset, as well as a few other stories. I'm not able to devote as much time to them as I had in the past, but they haven't been forgotten. Right now, I'm typing away at 12:21 at night to get this post written, just because I had a moment to share my thoughts.

So here's the deal.

Writing isn't a hobby for me. It's not just a dream. Writing is what I love, and you will see me returning to regular posts and publishing stories, because this is apart of who I am. But, right now I've got some other things to sort out.

Basically, I'm saying stay tuned.

I may be quite right now, but I still have a lot to say.

So, until later, happy reading, happy writing.

I'll be back soon.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Publishing Postponed

Lovely readers, I have some not-so-cheery news to share. I had originally planned to publish my next novel, Unearthed after Sunset this fall, but I am going to have to postpone its publication.

Sadly, Unearthed after Sunset's Kickstarter campaign didn't meet it's goal. However, I don't think it was completely unsuccessful. Unearthed had five wonderful backers and dozens of fans spreading the word about this novel. Hundreds of people read the first chapter for free on my blog and it founds its way into many fans "to read" list on Goodreads.

I think the experience of using Kickstarter was a great one, and I think it helped me spread the word about this novel.

That said, life has been a little crazy for me lately, and with my Kickstarter not meeting it's goal I'm going to need to postpone the publication of Unearthed after Sunset. I haven't yet mentioned this to any of my fans, but I recently got engaged! And, I'm going back to school for my Master's degree. Between school, planning a wedding and trying to save money for both, my writing has taken a backseat to pretty much everything else.

The truth is, I'm behind schedule on editing, and as I said in my Kickstarter campaign, I really want to take this novel to a new level of professionalism, compared to my past books. To do so will take more money than I've currently set aside for this project, and I don't want to lose quality by pushing myself to finish editing faster or cutting my budget.

The good news is that Unearthed after Sunset will be published. It's just going to take a little longer than I'd originally planned. Right now, I'm setting a tentative release date of Spring of 2016, and I hope anyone who's been interested in this book will continue to follow me on my publishing journey by following me on twitter, facebook, or by reading my blog.

If you haven't already, read the first chapter of Unearthed after Sunset here, and add it to your Goodreads "to read" list.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Read the First Chapter of Unearthed After Sunset

My next novel, an Urban Fantasy vampire story, will be available this fall. But, you can read the first chapter right now, for free!

Enjoy this free chapter and please add this to your "To Read" list on Goodreads.

(Note: This is version of chapter one has not yet been professionally edited.)

An updated version of this post can be found here:

Read Chapter 1

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Kickstarter Announcement for Unearthed after Sunset!

I am so excited to announce that Unearthed after Sunset's Kickstarter campaign is now live!

Kickstarter is a crowdfuning platform that many creative-types, including indie authors, use to help raise money to fund their projects. Backers pledge money to help bring a project to life, and in return receive gifts like signed postcards, swag packs, and free books.

Unearthed after Sunset is an Urban Fantasy vampire novel, that I am currently trying to raise $1,000 to publish. I have set up a Kickstarter campaign that will run until August 25th to help me reach this goal.

About the Book: When Greg Erickson is killed by sultry and seductive vampire Lila, he wakes up cold and alone in a wooden box. After clawing his way out he finds himself thrust into a vampire turf war, unsure of exactly what he’s fighting for. Greg discovers that it’s not easy to be human one day and hunting humans the next, and while his new vampire cohorts try to get him to accept his newfound existence there’s one girl from his human life he’s unable to forget.

Caroline Christensen lived a normal life once. Then her brother was killed by vampires and her family legacy as a vampire hunter was handed down to her. When she meets Greg out at the bar one night they both feel a connection. Then Greg discovers Caroline’s secret and she worries he’ll never talk to her again, but soon she finds out that he has a very different reason for not calling – he’s dead.

Now Greg has become the thing Caroline is supposed to hunt, but can she bring herself to kill him? Greg, however, isn’t Caroline’s only concern. There’s something going on with the vampires. They’re fighting over something and she’s determined to find out what it is.

Find out more about Unearthed after Sunset

Become a Backer and you can help this novel get published! I am trying to raise $1000 to help with the costs of things like hiring a professional editor, buying an ISBN number, and marketing. By going to my Kickstarter page you can pledge money, any amount from $1 to the entire $1,000 I need, or more, and in return I am giving away prizes such as signed postcards and books.

Please, help me publish this book. Even if you can't give much, every penny counts, and if you can't give anything you can still help by sharing this blog post on Facebook and Twitter.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Amazon May be Deleting Your Book Reviews!

Has Amazon killed the publishing gatekeepers just to change the locks on Indie Authors? To be fair the gatekeepers aren’t dead, and Amazon is not solely responsible for opening up the door for Independent Authors to self-publish. But, they have been a large piece of the puzzle.

However, for as much good as Amazon has done good for indies,  every few months I hear a new complaint about their business practices. They pissed off Hatchett. Some say KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited limit authors. They’ve changed their algorithms dozens of times, making it harder for Indie Authors to be seen and make a profit. And, I could deal with all of that. To me those changes were just the nature of the beast. They were the turbulent seas of the publishing world I attempted to navigate in a tiny inner tube. Recently however, I heard that Amazon has started deleting reviews, and I can no longer sit by quietly paddling in my float. I have signal flares in my hands and I’m waving them around, screaming that this is wrong.

Here’s the deal, Amazon is now automatically removing reviews that meet certain criteria. In other words they are removed by a bot, not an actual human being capable of looking at the review and seeing if it appears genuine.

The most common reason I’ve heard for reviews being removed is because Amazon believes the reviewer knows the author personally. First, dear Amazon, how do you know whether or not I have a personal relationship with a reviewer? Either you are guessing, or you have seriously invaded my privacy and neither case grants you permission to make decisions based upon this judgement. Second, why should those who know me personally not be allowed to comment on my work?

If you are afraid a reviewer's comments may be biased, why not implement some kind of notice to flag that review, like you do with “Amazon’s verified purchases,” instead of deleting it? Wouldn’t that do more to inform customers about the product instead of keeping information from them?

And thirdly, how close does someone have to be to me in order for my relationship with them to be considered “personal”? Must I have met them in person? Does sending me an e-mail telling me how they loved or hated my work count? Isn’t this rather subjective, and again, I refer back to my first point, how do you know?

I’ve heard Amazon is deleting reviews of authors who have reviewed each other’s work, and that possibly they are looking at people who have friended authors on Goodreads. Now, I want to point out this will help remove the possibility of “Review Swapping” where authors trade books and give each other 5 Star reviews – which is wrong. But, it will also remove honest reviews from honest fans, and punish authors for reaching out to their fans. Furthermore, honesty is not being rewarded. Even if a reviewer fully discloses their relationship to the author in their review, it can get removed, because once again, this process is done by bots not people.

I am an indie author. I do not have millions of fans. I’m lucky if I have a dozen who truly love my work. If I have one person in the entire world who ranks me among their favorite authors, I feel blessed. Because of this I respond to every e-mail a fan sends me. I friend every fan who reaches out to me on Goodreads. I respond to every tweet that mentions my name or work. To some extent, I do know many of my fans “personally”. But they are my fans because of my work, and I truly believe every review I have from my fans is an honest one. And yes, if I have a fan who is an author sometimes I check out their work as well. But, as an Indie Author, I hold myself to a high level of integrity and will only write and ask for honest reviews.

Deleting reviews will only further inspire deception by those who are abusing reviews, and it will hurt the people who are using them correctly. Review swaps will continue, authors will simply set up separate Amazon accounts. But those of us who review correctly, who take the time to inform readers about books, and do so honestly, we will be punished. This will hurt me both as an Indie Author and as a consumer, and for that I am greatly disappointed in Amazon.

So I ask Amazon, why are you doing this? If it’s to protect your customers then you’ve failed. The cheaters will continue to cheat the system, while the rest of us suffer and your lovely customers will be denied reviews allowing them to make educated decisions about their purchases. Are you trying to become the gatekeepers of the indie publishing world by deciding which reviews are worthy, and in turn choosing which books receive attention over others? Or, maybe you’ve just realized you’ve made a monster you can no longer control. The indie world has grown. We’re bigger and stronger now. We are the Frankenstein monster of the publishing world. You helped give us life and now you’re chasing us with pitchforks. But I must ask, did Frankenstein not deserve to live?

If you have a problem with this like I do, please sign this petition and leave a comment below!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Review for Ignite Me (Shatter Me #3) by Tahereh Mafi

4.5 Stars. Warren has won me over. I loved the relationship between Warren and Juliette in this book. Honestly, though, it was really all there was to the book. The rest of the plot, including Juliette’s plans to overthrow the Reestablishment felt kind of thrown together. In fact, the actual plan they devised to take Anderson out didn’t even sound like it would work.  However, I enjoyed seeing the characters interact and grow so much, I honestly didn’t care what they were doing. I just wanted to see more of these characters.

I ate up every page of this and it became my favorite of the series. I liked seeing Juliette’s friends slowly change their mind about Warren. There were some interesting moments between him and them. And we get to see new sides to all of their personalities, which I loved.

I did wish by the third book that we would have known more about where Juliette and the other’s powers had come from. There’s a lot of background that I’d been waiting to find out and it’s really never explained. But, this book really does make all the decisions that Juliette made in the first two books make sense. You can see the full spectrum of her character development in this book and who she is finally all comes together.

While this book didn't feel like it hit the mark plot wise, Juliette's character development was so prefect and her growing relationship with Warren so captivating I loved it all the same. If what you liked most about the first two books were the characters and relationships, this will not disappoint.

Read my Review of Shatter Me
Read my Review of Unravel Me (Shatter Me #2)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Book Trailer for Unearthed after Sunset

In the Valley of the Sun, Beware of Vampires

When Greg Erickson is killed by sultry and seductive vampire Lila, he wakes up cold and alone in a wooden box. After clawing his way out he finds himself thrust into a vampire turf war, unsure of exactly what he’s fighting for. Greg discovers that it’s not easy to be human one day and hunting humans the next, and while his new vampire cohorts try to get him to accept his newfound existence there’s one girl from his human life he’s unable to forget.

Unearthed after Sunset comes out fall of 2015.

Add it to your Goodreads to-read list:
Unearthed After Sunset (Cereus Vampire Chronicles #1)
Watch the trailer below.

Monday, June 8, 2015

8 Things I've Never Told You

Today I'm sharing all my secrets.

I post a lot of book reviews and writing tips. I often talk about the books I'm writing, but I haven't written a personal post in a while. Blogging isn't just about sharing information, it's about sharing your personality. Some of my favorite blogs are my favorites, not because of the subject matter they discuss, but because of how it's discussed. A blogger's voice, the person behind the words, that's what makes me read one blog over another.

So, today I'm sharing a few things with all of you about who I am.

Also, I think the best way to create a believable character is to truly know what makes a person who they are. It's easy to write a list of likes and dislikes. Which, is something many of us do when creating a character, but who they are goes deeper than that. Maybe finding out a little more about me will help you write deeper characters.

A doddle I doodled way back when

I have two dogs, that I love, but I think I might secretly be a cat person. I love my dogs. I do, but cats are so independent. They don't need to be taken for walks, and they certainly don't tug on the leash when they run after a squirrel.

My most prized possessions are not the things I've bought with my own money, but things that I couldn't have bought at all. My favorite things include a (perfectly seasoned) cast iron skillet, passed down to me from my great grandmother, and a stack of letters my boyfriend used to write me when we were first dating.

I don't want to be connected to social media 24/7. If it wasn't for my writing I probably wouldn't use social media at all. I don't think everyone needs to know what I'm doing every second of the day. I don't want my car and my phone and my Facebook and whatever else to all sync together. I don't want my GPS telling people where I am when I send out text messages. I'm not trying to hide anything, I just don't think it's anyone' business. (The only exception is my Kindle. I love that if I read something on my Kindle I can pick up in the same place on my smartphone the next day.)

I love being scared. I like horror movies, horror as a book genre, and just scary stuff all around. I grew up reading Stephen King, and though I really enjoy writing YA, I would love to write something dark and terrifying (and may have something like that in the works).

In my day job I work in youth services with at risk kids and teens. I would love to work full time as a writer, but since that isn't quite paying the bills yet, what I do now feels like the next best thing. I have a BA in Psychology and spend my days working with kids who either have cognitive disabilities or behavioral problems, and I love what I do.

I hate peanut butter cookies. Love peanut butter, love cookies, hate when the two come together. Honestly, I don't know what that's all about. I've just disliked them ever since I was a kid, and there's a lot of things I used to dislike as a kid that I've grown to enjoy, but peanut butter cookies just aren't one of them.

I truly enjoy reading indie books. I don't just support indie books because I'm an indie author and I want you to buy my books. I honestly enjoy reading indie books and try to make an effort to read just as many indies as I do traditionally published books.

I think I was born in the wrong era. I think I should have been born in the late sixties / early seventies. I hate Reality TV, I'd rather watch M*A*S*H. I'd trade 90% of the music they play on the radio to listen to The Stones or The Doors. There is no movie in existence that quite captures the drama of high-school like 80's flicks such as The Breakfast Club, or 16 Candles; and, well, you already read about how I feel about being connected to social media.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Reasons why Books are Better than TV

There's a reason we see TV shows and movies that are based on books and not the other way around. Simply put, books are better, and here's ten reasons why.

1. Books do not have commercials.

2. Books don't need to fit into a 45 minute time slot. They can be as long or as short as the story needs to be.

3. Reading improves your vocabulary. Watching TV decreases your attention span.

4. There are no special effects that your mind cannot create, and they never look cheesy in your head.

5. Saying you read a lot of books makes you sound smart. Saying you watch a lot of TV makes you sound lazy.

6. You don't have to worry about your favorite characters getting fired or quitting in your favorite books.

7. Books get you inside a characters head in a way that TV simply can't do.

8. You don't have to worry if your favorite book series are going to be canceled.

9. Books aren't censored. Characters can say or do whatever they need to in order to move the story forward without worrying about the FCC.

10. There is something beautiful about the written word that TV simply can't capture.

What do you think? Do you prefer to read over watching TV?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Review for Unravel Me (Shatter Me #2) by Tahereh Mafi

3.5 Stars. Character Driven, but just a Scene Setter for Book #3. I didn’t like this book as much as the first one, but having read the third book I can definitely say it’s worth reading Unravel Me to finish the series. This story takes a different turn in this book. Shatter Me felt more dystopia, this book felt more like X-men, which was cool, just very different. We see all of the characters growing up in this book. They take on new responsibilities, especially Juliette. Some characters grow closer while others grow apart.

Though Juliette’s relationships were a huge part of the plot in this book, like the first, Unravel Me focused a little more on the world that Juliette lives in and how Juliette can affect that world and help people. Still though, the heart of this story was with it’s characters.

I started to really love Kenji in this book, but he also seriously frustrated me when he complained about Juliette and Adam’s relationship. I get that Adam and Juliet were dramatic at times, but I felt like Kenji lost sight of how important Adam was to her. He acted like she was just any other girl with a boyfriend. But, that’s not what Adam was to her. For Juliette, losing Adam mean losing the ability to touch another human being. It meant being deprived of an entire aspect of love and affection. I just got annoyed with Kenji trivializing that. But, we also see Kenji and Juliette spending more time together in this book and the beginning of a great friendship starts to develop.

Spoiler: Juliette’s breakup with Adam was totally heartbreaking, and completely real. I liked that they tried to make it work, but things just kind of fell apart around them. As the book went on I kept wanting for them to get back together, but there was this moment when it just felt like too much time had passed. They’d missed their chance, and that was awful, but from that point on it just felt like it wouldn’t be the same if they got back together. I just loved how real it was.

The romance that starts to bloom between Warren and Juliet threw me at first. I enjoyed seeing another side of Warren’s personality, but I really hated him in the first book, so I didn’t like the idea of them being together. However, as the story went on he started to win me over. I also enjoyed that his character didn’t change too easily or too quickly. Spoiler: And, their almost-sex scene at the end was totally hot.

The end of this book left me rethinking who these characters were. Juliette is figuring out who she is and thrown into a social world for the first time. She grows up a lot. And, both Adam and Warner surprised me. I was left thinking that neither one of them were exactly who I thought they were in the first book.

Read my Review of Shatter Me


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Review for Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

4.5 Stars. Unique Writing Style, and an Intense Story.  This series blew me away. What I loved most was the growth Juliette’s character went through from the first book to the last. In Shatter Me there was a lot of description, especially in the first two chapters. The writing was beautiful, though a little wordy at times, but in a way that actually added to the story. The book is told through Juliette’s POV, so I could understand some of the repetition because these are her thoughts, and considering the book opens with her in an asylum it’s understandable that she’s going to have some jumbled thoughts. There are also some very interesting metaphors, some of which were things I’d never consider using to describe the things she was describing, but they added to Juliette’s personality. She’s quirky and a little crazy.

Juliette has a lot of growing to do in this book in order to be comfortable with who she is, but she’s still strong. I loved that despite everything she’s been through that she was able to hold herself together and hold on to her beliefs.

I also loved the romance between Adam and Juliette, though I felt like it happened a little quickly. I really wished there’d been a little more angst, and a little more build up between them. Having said that, after reading all three books, the pace of their relationship was perfect in retrospect.

In turn, the villain of this story, Warren, comes off as really sick and twisted, and he really gets into your head at the end of the book. When I first met him he wasn’t anything like what I was expecting him to be, and as the story progressed it was clear that there was more to his character than we got to see. There’s some mystery about him, and a vibrancy to his character that made me love to hate him.

This book starts out a little slow with Juliette locked up in the asylum, but it ends with plenty of action. I liked that Juliette takes the lead at the very end. For a little while it feels like she’s a bit of a damsel in distress having Adam save her, but she takes charge at the very end and ends up doing some saving herself.

Juliette is on a journey of self-discovery, she grows a lot in just this book, but even more as I look at the series as a whole. She’s very broken in Shatter Me, she’s afraid of what she can do, and this is just the beginning of her journey.


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Cover Reveal: Unearthed after Sunset

Last month I posted that I had a new novel I planned to release this fall. It's called Unearthed after Sunset, and is an Urban Fantasy novel about vampires. I've included a little info about it below, as well as the cover.

About the Book:
When Greg Erickson is killed by sultry and seductive vampire Lila, he wakes up cold and alone in a wooden box. After clawing his way out he finds himself thrust into a vampire turf war, unsure of exactly what he’s fighting for. Greg discovers that it’s not easy to be human one day and hunting humans the next, and while his new vampire cohorts try to get him to accept his newfound existence there’s one girl from his human life he’s unable to forget.

“Who are you?” I asked.

Her full lips, painted in bright red, twisted into a grin. I watched as she stood and circled me, unable to help eyeing her milky white legs. I traced their lines to the hem of her black floral dress, dark red flowers folded around her slim frame, as did a short, black leather jacket.

She ignored my question. “What are you doing here?” She asked instead. “Alone in the graveyard that is?”

“Could ask you the same thing,” I said, remembering how I’d said the same words to Caroline. I never realized how popular of a hangout the cemetery was until then.

She smiled again. “It wouldn’t make much sense to ask me such a thing…be like asking a chicken why she’s in the henhouse. I belong here; you’re the one that’s out of place.” She had a sultry voice, sensuous like a jazz singer. It slinked through the air and sent shivers across my skin.

I remembered that I should be scared of her, and I did feel the fear deep in my gut, but on the surface it was hard to be scared of something so beautiful. I still hadn’t learned that looks can be deceiving.

And now, the book cover reveal...

What do you think?

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Into the Deep is FREE today!

APRIL 26th - 28th

Awarded a 2012 IndieBRAG Medallion by the Book Readers Appreciation Group.

5 STARS “Well-written and emotionally charged, I found this book to be a total gem.” – Jen Naumann, author of Shymers

5 STARS “This starts off as interesting, and gets more and more so.” – Lucinda Elliot, author of That Scoundrel Emile Dubois

4 STARS “…an interesting storyline, an original spin on the paranormal, and well-written.” – Jen Minkman author of Shadow of Time

Ivy Daniels is a high school junior still learning who she is. After an accident, Ivy finds herself with an ability she doesn’t want, an ability to uncover secrets which quickly begins to redefine what she thinks about the people around her as well as herself. Because of this ability, Ivy becomes the one thing that stands between an angry teen and the death of every student on campus. The only problem is she doesn’t know who wants everyone dead. Will she figure out who has this dark secret, or will she fail to find him in time?

Through her search to do the right thing, Ivy discovers that knowing the thoughts and secrets of those around her may just tear her apart.

Into the Deep is a paranormal romance for mature young adults, that looks at how we define who we are, and what it means to feel alone. It contains minimal use of strong language and mild sensuality.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Thoughts on Translating Novels: Idioms and Pop-Culture Refrences

I was looking a book up on Goodreads the other day, and noticed how the book had different covers for the versions that were printed in different languages. This got me thinking about translating my books into other languages. I’ve never had any of my novels translated before, but this is something I’d love to do. However, every time I think about doing it, I worry that something will get lost in translation. 
For example, below is a quote from one of my new favorite book series, Shatter Me.
"Sticks and stones keep breaking my bones but these words, these words will kill me."
Tahereh Mafi (Unravel Me (Shatter Me, #2))
It's a twist on a phrase, and idiom, most American's know well. But, how well would that idiom translate into another language. Now, "Sticks and Stones" is a fairly literal idiom, which may not cause too much trouble in translation, but there are other's that aren't so straight forward.

For example, I was watching an episode of Archer the other day, where Archer is marooned on an island full of pirates who don’t speak any English. Archer is trying to talk to a group of pirates via a translator, but his translator keeps getting frustrated with him because Archer keeps using idioms.


“That won’t translate. That’s like last week when you said ‘lend me your ears.”

Most English-speaking people would understand the phrase “lend me your ears,” as meaning “listen,” but taken literally it doesn’t make any sense. (Can you just picture people going all Van-Gogh and throwing their ears at you?)

Idioms have a way of creeping into our conversations, and you might use them more than you think. Have you ever offered someone a penny for their thoughts, ever felt under the weather, or had someone pull the wool over your eyes? These strange little saying have become a part of our everyday conversations. If I were to ever have any of my books translated it would have to be by someone who understood both English and whatever language I was translating my book into well enough to get the meaning of any idioms I was using across, and not just the literal words.

Idioms aren’t my only concern when I think about translating my books into other languages. I wonder about things like Pop-culture references. If one of my characters make a pop-culture reference of a popular movie or a particular pop-star, will people reading my book in another country even know what I'm talking about, or even if they do would there be something or someone else from their country who’d be a better fit for the statement my character is making?
For example, check out this quote from Jennifer Armentrout's Obsidian.
"My palms itched to have a close encounter of the bitch-slap kind with his face."
Jennifer L. Armentrout (Obsidian (Lux, #1))
Now, I know this book has been translated into a number of other languages including Spanish and Italian, and I'm curious if it still has that teen-speak sound to it. Is the "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," reference lost?

Things like idioms and pop-culture references are important in a story. Having a character, or narrator, use an idiom or pop-culture reference helps define that person’s voice. It adds to the story’s style and overall feel.

At the end of the day I wouldn’t care if one of my pop-culture references or idioms got switched out for something more culturally relevant to the language it’s being translated into. It’s not the exact words that are important, it’s the meaning they convey. What would be awful is if a pop-culture reference was removed completely because it didn’t translate well.

What do you think? Have you read any books that were originally written in another language? Did you feel like something was missing?

Thinking about having something translated, check out Smartling:

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

3 Books I'm Funding on KICKSTARTER and Why

A while ago I talked about the Morganville Vampires Kickstarter campaign, a project that I helped fund which turned one of my favorite books, "Glass House" into a web series. Since funding this project I've continued to browse through various Kickstarter campaigns and have continued to fund various projects, particularly those involving books.

For those of you unfamiliar with Kickstarter, it is a crowd-funding platform where people can acquire donations from friends, family, and complete strangers to help fund their projects. It's a great place for indie authors to acquire the funds needed to self-publish their books.

Below are three projects that I've pledged money to (if the authors meet their goal amounts Kickstarter will take the money out of my account and I'll get a few prizes from the authors). For each project I mention what the book is about, and why I decided to give the author money to help publish it.

I hope this post introduces more people to Kickstarter, and maybe generates a few more pledges for the following books.

Project #1: Switch: The Witches of Armour Hill

About the Book: Margaret May Reis knows how strange she is; people have been telling her for years. At sixteen years old, though, Maggie begins to realize that strangeness is only half the story. Maggie isn’t just strange – she’s a witch. READ MORE

Why I chose to help fund it: First I love anything paranormal, and this story sounds like a lot of fun. Second, the author has an organized Kickstarter page, and mentions that she's familiar with the self-publishing process. Third, she explains where the money she raises will go and seems to be asking for a fair amount. And, finally, the author talks about, which is all about helping others do the same thing that she's doing. With all that, I had to pledge a few bucks.

Project #2: Among the Shadows

About the Book: Experience the darker side of YA as 13 authors explore the places others prefer to leave among the shadows. READ MORE

Why I chose to help fund it: First I like that this is YA, and that it's an anthology. With my pledge I'll get a copy of the book and get to read stories from some new authors. Second, I like that this project is nearly completely funded. It's exciting to know that a project you're funding will come to life.

Project #3: The Border

About the Book: Eva Lockhart, vampire of the Kairi tribe, never even dreamed of crossing the border, a river that seperates her tribe from the Theon tribe. READ MORE

Why I chose to help fund it: When I pledged a donation to this book it had zero backers, which would normally make me a little wary about the project, but as I read on the author seemed truly passionate about writing. Her story sounds interesting, I love anything about vampires, and I like that I'll be inspiring another young writer to keep with it.

Books take a lot of time and money to publish. As a self-published author myself, I know how difficult the task can be. For the three books above, my contributions are merely a drop in the bucket. If any of the projects I've mentioned sound interesting, check out their Kickstarter campaigns. I'm always urging people to support indies, and pledging money to a Kickstarter campaign is a great way to do that.

How do you fell about Kickstarter? Have you ever helped fund a project, or ran a campaign of your own?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The 7 Most Influential Books in My Life

This list may surprise you. It's not filled with the most philosophical of reads, or hard to swallow literary-works. It's simply a list of the books that changed my life. It's a personal list. What I find most interesting about it is that (most of) the following books are not actually my favorite books. But they are the books that changed the way I read, that changed what I read, and ultimately what and how I write as well.

Books can immerse us in brand new worlds, they can provide an escape, they can teach us about the world, and they can teach us about ourselves.

The following books helped me discover not only what I truly love to read, but who I am as a writer as well.

Salem's Lot by Stephen King- I owe much of my love of reading to Stephen King. I ate his books up when I was growing up and they both terrified and amazed me. But, it was reading Salem's Lot in particular that made me realize how much scarier the written word can be than any other form of media. It was reading this book that I realized how much power the written word had. It also sparked my interest in the paranormal, the love of which has only grown since.

The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare- This play showed me that the best stories are eternal. Even though The Merchant of Venice was written over 400 years ago, the story was just as relatable as the more modern books I'd been reading. The push and pull of mercy and justice, portrayed through a colorful array of characters showed me that the things that best fuel a novel are the most basic of human emotions - like love and greed, and if you can write a story and keep one of those basic emotions at the core of it, then it will last forever.

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger- This is one of the few books I read in school that I read for pleasure as much as for the grade. This is the book that made me realize how much I appreciated reading a story through the perspective of a young adult, of someone trying to find their way in the world, someone like me. I was immersed in Holden's journey. After I was done reading this I went back to the horror novels I normally enjoyed in my spare time, but I found myself gravitating to ones with younger protagonists. I think the very next book I read was The Talisman by Stephen King, which managed to combine my love of monsters with this new interest of seeing the world through a young person's eyes.

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer- When Twilight first came out I refused to read it. Sparkling Vampires, I heard people say and I shook my head. Note the first book on this list. I didn't want to read about watered-down vampires. And, having read it, I will admit the writing isn't the greatest. But, this book opened my eyes to a genre I'd previously been ignoring- Romance. For all of Twilight's flaws it is a captivating love story that I hungrily consumed. From the moment I finished this book I craved love stories.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte-Yes, I did read this partly because Bella reads it in Twilight, I can admit that, and I'm glad I did because it quickly became one of my favorite books. What I loved about this story was the emotional drama. I'd read books with drama in the past, I'd read books that kept me on the edge of my seat, but Wuthering Height was different. The angst between Cathy and Heathcliff, the tension, the way their unhappiness was caused by their own stubbornness and vengeance. It showed that love can be beautiful and tragic at the same time; and that the most interesting thing about a love story is not the love but the journey it takes the characters to find it.

Smokeless Fire by Samantha Young- This is one of the first self-published novels I ever read, and though it had moments where it felt unpolished, it fascinated me. It was a story I easily fell into and it opened my eyes to a new world. This book taught me two things. First, there is a wealth of fabulous self-published stories out their waiting to be discovered. Second, publishing my stories was something that was entirely possible.

Into the Deep by Lauryn April- Yes, my book, and no this isn't shameless self-promotion. This is truly one of the most influential books in my life. Writing Into the Deep, creating that story and publishing it, changed my life. I love that story and being able to share it with people opened up a whole new world of possibilities. Reading the reviews on it helped me become a better writer, and every experience with it pushed me to do more, to write more, to pursue my passion.

Looking at this list I see books from various genre's, written in different styles, different time periods, and published in different ways. If writing this has taught me anything, it's that there's value in reading a variety of books. So, I urge you. Read something different. Go out of your comfort zone. You just might discover something new about yourself.

What books changed your life?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

6 Ways to Follow your Favorite Bloggers

Depending on your source, there are over 152,000,000 blogs in existence (as of 2014), and a new blog is being created every half a second. I currently follow 116 blogs, and I've heard others following anywhere from a few to a few hundred blogs.

With so many fascinating blogs out there, and everyone posting on different schedules, it can be easy to lose track of your favorite blogs.

If you stay connected to your favorite bloggers by just occasionally popping over to their page, you're probably missing a lot.

Whether you only follow one blog or a few hundred the following tips will help you find the best way to stay up to date with their posts and keep them organized.

1. Look for quick follow icons. Most bloggers will include on their main page icons that show you the social networking sites they belong to where you can follow them. At the top of my page, you can find my links where you can follow me on twitter, pinterest, facebook, goodreads, ect...

2. Join Bloglovin. Bloglovin is a social networking site dedicated to helping you find new blogs and keeping their posts organized in one place. Follow me on Bloglovin.

3. Get your favorite blogs to send their posts directly to your e-mail. Many bloggers will  have a Follow by E-mail submission box, like I do on the right hand side of my page. Enter your e-mail address in it and every time I publish a new post you'll get a notification in your inbox. (Note, you might want to see how often that particular blog posts, or your inbox might be filling up quickly. This option is best for a blog like mine that only posts a day a week.)

4. Use Google+, Twitter, or Yahoo to join the blog. This is a great option if you are a blogger yourself. When I join a blog via Google+ all the posts for that blog appear on my Reading List on my Blogger Dashboard. So, every time I log on to write a new blog post of my own I can easily scroll through the feed of blogs I follow.

5. Join Networked Blogs. Networked Blogs is similar to Bloglovin, but uses Facebook and Twitter to help you share the posts you're reading.

6. Follow your blogs via a Feed Reader. If you see a blog with a subscribe icon like the one below you can get that blog's RSS feed and follow it on a feed reader like Feedly, Curata, or Digg. If you like to read blog posts on multiple devices, particularly your smartphone, this might be the best option for you.

I hope these suggestions make it easier for you to stay connected to your favorite blogs, and remember, if you read a post you like, please share it!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Review for The One by Kiera Cass (The Selection #3)

Kept me hanging on every word, but the ending didn’t meet my expectations.

4 Stars. I couldn’t put this down. Cass sucked me in just like she did with the first two books. As usual there’s some beautiful imagery, some interesting tasks for the contestants to compete in, and a wonderful love story.

America is still stubborn and holds true to her values. I loved that even though she faced some hard choices she never wavered or compromised her beliefs. However, unlike the second book, she was smarter in the way she dealt with the things she felt passionately about that she knew the king would dislike.

I loved seeing America and the final contestants grow close. There’s a shift in this book where they stop competing and actually get to know one another. And, I loved seeing America and Maxon working together. They have a few experiences together outside the constraints of the selection contest, where it’s just the two of them, and I loved those moments.

However, I was a little annoyed that it took America so long to just tell Maxon how she felt about him. It seemed obvious that all he wanted was to hear that she loved him. I could understand that she was worried about putting herself out there, but it felt like Maxon had given her more than enough to know how he felt about her. However, when they finally do say their “I love you’s” it’s done in a way that’s really believable, and you know each of them mean it.

My only complaint was with the ending. It felt a little rushed and I wished America had had a more active role in it. She spent a good amount of time hidden in a safe room, and even though her earlier actions had led to a positive outcome, I wished she’d been able to contribute more in the moment.

I also wish the ending had been different overall. I feel like there was still more story to tell. There are a few secrets we discover at the end, including a big one with Kriss, that aren’t really explored as deeply as they could have been.

Spoiler: There were too many plot points left hanging, and I feel if the King and Queen hadn’t been killed off at the end that those points could have come up in a fourth book. For example, the power play going on between America and King Clarkson was a really interesting point of the story. I loved watching America defy him. I feared for her when she made him angry, and I was excited to see what he would throw at her next. I would have loved to have read a fourth book seeing America find her place within the castle as the princess, trying to support Maxon, and dealing with conflict between her and the king. Also, I disliked that the king and queen died off camera. I would have liked it better if we had seen those deaths. It would have made them more meaningful and poignant.

Overall, I loved this series and highly recommend it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Four Book Genre's you've Probably been Confusing

It seems to me that there are a lot more book genres these days than there used to be. Self-publishing has allowed for more niche genre's to develop and grow and because of that labeling a book has gotten a little more complicated.

Sometimes figuring out what a book is about based on its genre isn't that hard. For example anything labeled as a "Romance" whether it's "Contemporary Romance," or "Romantic Horror" will have romance as a key part of the plot. Others however aren't as easy to distinguish. For example, what's the difference between "Paranormal Romance" and "Urban Fantasy"?

So, I wanted to take a moment to talk about some of the new genre's that have emerged and what I think they mean.

Paranormal Romance (PNR) - A story with paranormal elements that has romance as the central plot. Note this may sometimes get confused with "Romantic Suspense" however, there are no paranormal elements in Romantic Suspense, even though there may be suspense in a Paranormal Romance. In a PNR the overarching theme is "Love conquers all."
-EXAMPLES: Twilight Series, Warm Bodies

Urban Fantasy (UF) - A story often set in modern times, in a city or urban environment that has fantasy or supernatural elements. Note the word "romance" is not in the title. Many Urban Fantasies have romantic subplots, but romance is not a driving force of the story. In a UF the overarching theme is "Good vs Evil."
EXAMPLES: Morganville Vampires Series, Mercy Thompson Series

For more clarification between PNR and UF check out this website.

Urban Fantasy Romance (UFR) - A story set in an urban setting with romance as a central theme and fantasy elements. While romance is a key element in these books, they tend to focus on the action more than a PNR story would.
EXAMPLES: Night Huntress Series, Mortal Instruments Series

Dark Fantasy (DF) - A fantasy novel with elements of horror. Also sometimes known as "Supernatural Horror." Sometimes these books will have a hero/heroine that may come across as more antagonistic.
EXAMPLES: The Darkest Part of the Forest, Red Queen

Along with genre there's also been more emphasis placed on point of view. Check out this blog post that take about what it means for a book to be labeled YA or NA.

What are some of your favorite books in these categories? Or, what books have you mistaken their genre. Share your thoughts below.

Indie Book Goal 2018