Thursday, August 29, 2013

Destined to release new books

Of course, I'm not the only person with a new book coming out soon. Click here to find out more about Bethlehem's Baby, and see below for another great book, coming soon from the author of the middle grade novels, The Chosen and Nature's Unbalance, and the autobiographical My Open Heart.  Destiny starts a new YA series for this author and I'm delighted to join other bloggers in revealing its truly gorgeous cover! Enjoy (and see below for a blurb and excerpt too!).

Coming Soon


Constantly teased and taunted by the popular girls, Elena Baxter desperately wants to fit in. On her sweet sixteenth, she receives two shocking gifts: telekinesis and the surprising truth about her heritage. With high hopes that things will be different now, Elena returns to school to find that nothing has changed. Only this time her hurt feelings and frustration boil into something even she cannot understand. 
When her powers explode, chaos ensues and she learns that her new ability is greater than she ever desired. As she learns to control her powers, Elena discovers there’s so much more to her heritage than she ever imagined.

As Elena bounded back up the stairs, her mom watched, smiling, thinking about the last 16 years, and of all this next one would bring.  She knew there would be a lot of changes, more so than Elena could possibly know, and she was looking forward to every one of them.  She could hardly wait for Isabel’s arrival the next day so they could finally tell Elena the truth about who she was, and help her to blossom and start to become whom she was meant to be.

Andrea Buginsky is a freelance writer and author. “The Chosen,” a middle-grade fantasy novelette, was her first book, and was followed by “My Open Heart,” an autobiography about growing up with heart disease. “Nature’s Unbalance” is the second story in THE CHOSEN series. Andrea is currently working on another series: a YA fantasy. To learn more about Andrea, visit her on her website.

Going Pro, by author Danika Stone

I'm delighted to welcome author Danika Stone to my blog today. I recently read and reviewed her fascinating two-part novel, Intaglio (find my reviews here: Intaglio 1, the Snake and the Coins: Intaglio 2, Dragons all the way down), and I'm very much looking forward to reading CtrlZ soon.

Intaglio includes some of the most authentic descriptions of the artistic muse that I've ever read, but how did this artist/educator become a successfully self-published author? Danika describes her experience in the following five step program, and if you've got that writing bug, you really should read this. So, over to you Danika, and thank you for visiting my blog.

Going Pro:
Five (not-so-easy) Steps for the Self-Published Writer,
by Danika Stone
For as long as I can remember, books have been my obsession.  I was the kid who slept through first period because I’d stayed up all night reading by flashlight.  The one who read the assigned novel in a day, while the rest of the class plodded along for the month.  I anticipated book releases with the same enthusiasm my friends had for boy bands, and when reading wasn’t enough, I made the leap into writing too.
Sound familiar?  Yes.  You probably have the writing bug too.
But what is a writer in today’s changing publishing field? Everyone – from your Aunt Madge bragging to her Bridge Club, to your best friend who doesn’t understand why you can’t stop writing to discuss bridesmaid dresses – thinks they know what you do. Adding self-publishing to the mix has only made the question more difficult to answer.

When I wrote my first book, I assumed that I’d query the manuscript, and with any luck, find myself an agent who could get it into the hands of publishers, and from there to my local bookstore.  Many ‘thanks but no thanks’ rejection letters later, I realized that my dreams would have to take a detour.  While the traditional publishing door seemed stubbornly closed, the self-publishing window was one I could happily climb through.  Eloping with Amazon might not be the way I’d intended to get my novel out there, but it was better than languishing on my computer forever.

I only had the vaguest notion what I was doing when I started.  While some people have a marketing plan, others (like me) fake it really well. Strangely enough, that approach led me right back to where I wanted to be: an author represented by a well-connected literary agency and a novel headed to the traditional publishing stream.  So how did I get from point A to point B?  Here’s the eighteen month ride that led up to a contract in my hands.

Step 1: Build your Brand
Your author website is the equivalent of an online resume.  You wouldn’t hand in a handwritten CV on lined binder paper, so don’t plan on using your personal blog. A domain name based around your name is standard for professional writers. This is your brand and it needs to stick.  Work hard.  Don’t scrimp.  And if you have no idea what you’re doing, take a course, or, better yet, beg your cousin who hasn’t left his parents’ basement since 1985 to help you set up your website.  
With your ‘official’ page ready to go, start building your online presence.  Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, Tumblr and Facebook are a few I use, but there are new ones popping up daily. If you’re the kind of person who is always the centre of attention at parties, you’ll love this part of marketing yourself.  If you’re a wallflower by nature, you’ll hate it.  But there’s no getting around the fact that today’s authors – self-published and traditional – need a connection to their readers.  An unexpected bonus? Meeting other people in the industry.  Looking for an agent wishlist? Stop wishing. Tumblr already has it.  Need support from other independent authors? ASMSG is growing by the day. The internet is a potential wealth of support, insight and advice.  Embrace it.
Next step. Get your book on the shelves so you can—

 photo 16-Nooooooooo_zps9ec550c8.gif

Step 2: Look the Part
Rushing a book to print is another place where self-published writers stumble.  Getting the interior proofed by an editor (rather than a friend) is just the start. Your cover needs to be AMAZING.  Mess up the design and it’ll follow you around like that terrible photo of you in acid wash jeans that keeps showing up on Facebook.  Covers, like your website, need an expert’s touch, because agents will see them.  Don’t do this part yourself.  Don’t get your fourteen year old niece who is good with Photoshop to do it either (unless you REALLY like Comic Sans and that guy from Twilight.)  And for the love of readers everywhere, DON’T use those prefab covers that print-on-demand places offer.  (I love free stuff, but… no.)  
Be as professional about what surrounds your book as what goes into it.  Be willing to pay an artist if you can’t do it yourself.  (DeviantArt is a fantastic place to connect with digital artists.)  And if you like the idea of staying litigation-free, purchase legitimate artwork, take your own photographs, or use images available through creative commons licensing.  Pixabay, Flickr, Shutterstock and Google advanced search are all great places to begin.

Step 3: Read and Review

Once you’ve got your book out there, forget about making money.  
No. I’m not kidding… that comes later.  First, you need to build your readership.  One of the best ways to do this is to get your book reviewed. If your novel is available on Amazon, you can check out the Amazon Top Customer Reviewers list.  Not all reviewers provide contact information, but some do, and you can offer them a free book for an honest review.  Finding reviewers is just as tedious and time consuming as it sounds but it’s a necessary evil.  One good part of this process is that many of those people who do review are willing to cross-post reviews to Goodreads, Barnes and Noble, and other venues.
Another great place to build readership is through book blogs and author interviews.  Some of the bigger blogs will only review if you have a certain number of reviews to begin with, while others do not accept print-on-demand titles.  Remember: Getting your book noticed so that agents notice it is the bigger goal. If that means duct taping yourself to your laptop and emailing review requests forever, get out the tape and DO IT.  Exposure is the name of the game.
Step 4: Stay in the Public Eye
Book trailers are another way to market, but the rule of thumb is that they need to be done well, or not at all.  (Search ‘book trailer’ on youtube, and you will see how bad some of them can be!)  I’m fortunate my nine-to-five job happens to be in the IT field, so trailers were relatively easy step forward.  But even if you aren’t, as with book covers, there are still options.  Multi-media promotions are becoming increasingly important in today’s market, and a person who has mastered this starts the race two steps ahead of the pack.

Many self-published writers get caught up in the rinse, lather, repeat cycle of self-promotion, but if the end goal is to transition over to traditional publishing, you can’t stop there.  Read everything that’s out: good and bad.  Celebrate your successes.  Learn from your mistakes.  Write another manuscript.  Write ten more!  Enter your books into contests, and online publications. 
Most importantly: Keep moving forward. 
Step 5: Do it All Again
When I wrote Intaglio, I thought it’d be ‘the one’ but it took me on a completely different journey than I’d expected.  It might not have been the door I was looking for, but by going through the self-publishing window, I wrote and learned more than I ever had before. With this experience under my belt, I queried another novel.  It was a radically different experience from the previous year.  I had replies from agents within hours of emailing. Some mentioned that they’d checked the reviews on my previous books, others congratulated me on making the ABNA quarterfinals.  Small steps – but all worth the effort! Within a week, I had five agents request the full manuscript.  When I received two separate emails advising me to "get in contact if anyone else makes an offer", I knew it was going to happen.
It did!
In the end, I think the biggest part of transitioning from self-published to a traditional author was the decision that I wasn’t going to stop just because someone had said ‘no’.  I’d find a way or make one, but I’d get there no matter what.  To quote Tracy McMillan: “Everything works out in the end. If it hasn't worked out yet, then it's not the end.”  Haven’t found your own fairytale ending?  Keep going.  The destination is waiting, but you have to walk the path yourself.

Danika Stone is a writer of contemporary fiction with a focus on strong female narratives.  An educator, artist, and mother of three, her involvement in the Arts and New Media has spanned a decade and a half.  Her novels include Intaglio: The Snake and the Coins (Volume 1), Intaglio: Dragons all the way Down (Volume 2) and Ctrl Z. Her upcoming novel, Tathagata, was selected as a Quarterfinalist in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel of the Year Award (2013).  Ms. Stone is represented by Morty Mint of the Mint Literary Agency, Nelson, BC. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Don't Let the Wind Catch You

It's sunny and it's summer. The wind is quiet. The fall is yet to come. But leaves are slowly beginning to turn and pine trees are dropping needles underfoot. Wind and winter are coming.

It's also the last day in Aaron Paul Lazar's Don't Let the Wind Catch You blog tour--and your last chance to try for free giveaways and ebooks. Just click on the blog tour image above, or scroll to the bottom of the page to find out more...

Don't Let the Wind Catch You is the title of Aaron Paul Lazar's recently released novel, the latest in
his beloved Gus LeGarde series of great mystery adventures. Earlier books are anchored by a pleasing family man--father, grandfather, friend--retired and enjoying the scenery and sometime peace of the Genesee Valley. But Grandfather Gus was once a twelve year old boy, on the cusp of adulthood, and Don't Let the Wind Catch You promises great coming of age mysteries and adventures from an earlier time, plus cross-generational enjoyment.

Gus’s best friend’s twin sister “didn’t scare easily now she was eleven,” says the author, and Gus doesn’t scare too easily either in this effortlessly evocative and haunting middle-grade/teen/adult novel. Quick sure writing with a clear young-teen point of view sets the scene of time and place. Three friends ride horses in the Genesee Valley, in a 1950s world where Mexican food was a new experience, neighbors were friends, and doors weren’t always locked. Mothers cook. Fathers go out to work. And the long summer stretches ahead of the children with all its promise and fun. But when Gus meets a strange old hermit in the forest, the past becomes more important than the future. Why does his sweet kind mother dislike the man so much? Who is the man’s mysteriously silent friend? And what really happened in that long-ago battle commemorated in stone?

Blending wonderful real-world detail with ghostly mystery and vivid characters, the writing pulls in readers of any age and offers wisdom beautifully cloaked in storytelling drama. Children’s fantasy, history’s error, and adult’s unthinking judgments all combine to make this a story filled with generous spirit and powerful authenticity.  There’s a thoroughly pleasing, thought-provoking honesty in these characters, and a truly enticing mystery to be solved, all convincingly wound around the thoughts of a young boy experiencing his first kiss, enjoying the music on his first transistor radio, and, for the most part, obeying his parents just as a young boy should.

Disclosure: I love the author’s books and jumped at the chance to read and review a free ecopy of this one during the blog tour.

• Bridges the gap between YA and adult ala Harry Potter
• “Suspenseful, satisfying, well-crafted, mood-capturing, for both adults and children.”
• Will appeal to readers who crave adventure, who love horses, the sea, or the outdoors, and who may be curious/nostalgic about children’s lives in 1965.
• Will appeal to teachers and parents who want to impart anti-bullying, anti-bigotry behavior; including compassion and acceptance in a thoughtful, sensitive manner.
• Will appeal to mystery buffs who loved the award-winning Tremolo: cry of the loon featuring Gus LeGarde in a prequel to the series in 1964.
• Showcases goodness, morality, understanding, acceptance, courage, persistence, and love.
• Readers can forget today’s furious Internet-driven scene and maybe evoke a few of their own comforting childhood memories and adventures

When young Gus LeGarde befriends a cranky old hermit in the woods who speaks to an Indian spirit, he wonders if the man is nuts. But when the ghostly Penni rattles tin cups, draws on dusty mirrors, and flips book pages, pestering him to find evidence to avenge her past, things change.

What Gus doesn’t understand is why his mother hates Tully, until his relentless investigation uncovers a hint of scandal about Tully and Gus’s grandfather, Marlowe Wright.

On horseback, Gus and his friends ride through woods overlooking Conesus Lake to Tully’s abandoned house, reportedly still infected with the Genesee Valley Fever from the 1700s. Unafraid, they enter and find shocking evidence that could rewrite history.

Can Gus convince his mother to forgive Tully? And will the proof he found free Penni’s spirit? 



Giveaway code a Rafflecopter giveaway