Monday, September 1, 2014

Creating Suspense~


A friend called me the other day and said she was reading my book, but she needed to know if the ending was sad. She was worried it would make her cry. That’s when I knew I had her in suspense, that deliciously awful feeling you get when you don’t know what will happen, but you know it could be really bad.

How did I do it? I don’t know exactly. Foreshadowing, maybe? But you know what I think it all comes down to? Character.

You can drop all the little hints of impending doom you want, but if nobody cares about your character, then they won’t care if something happens to that character.

I’ve read books where all sorts of disasters befall the hero, but I find the character’s personality so grating, I wasn’t that worried about him. In one instance, I was actually hoping the character would get hurt or die, just for some excitement. There were no stakes. He tackled every problem head on and solved it without the slightest bit of mental anguish and hardly any physical exertion. Everything was easy for him. I had no fear, no suspense, no concern for him whatsoever.

So I guess the rule is simple. 1) Make a character I can sympathize with, someone I can admire, or at least like and then, 2) put that person in the fight of their life. Make it so I can’t even tell who’s gonna make it out alive. Then I’ll be in suspense and you’ll have a great story.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Cover Reveal: The Artisans by Julie Reece and Giveaway #M9BFridayReveals


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Welcome to the Cover Reveal for

The Artisans by Julie Reece

presented by Month9Books!
Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!

The Artisans

They say death can be beautiful. But after the death of her mother, seventeen-year-old RAVEN WEATHERSBY gives up her dream of becoming a fashion designer, barely surviving life in the South Carolina lowlands.
To make ends meet, Raven works after school as a seamstress creating stunning works of fashion that often rival the great names of the day.
Instead of making things easier on the high school senior, her stepdad's drinking leads to a run in with the highly reclusive heir to the Maddox family fortune, Gideon Maddox.
But Raven's stepdad's drying out and in no condition to attend the meeting with Maddox. So Raven volunteers to take his place and offers to repay the debt in order to keep the only father she's ever known out of jail, or worse.
Gideon Maddox agrees, outlining an outrageous demand: Raven must live in his home for a year while she designs for Maddox Industries' clothing line, signing over her creative rights.
Her handsome young captor is arrogant and infuriating to the nth degree, and Raven can't imagine working for him, let alone sharing the same space for more than five minutes.
But nothing is ever as it seems. Is Gideon Maddox the monster the world believes him to be? And can he stand to let the young seamstress see him as he really is?
The Artisans is a delectably rich, layered and dark YA Southern Gothic inspired by Jeanne Marie Leprince de Beaumont's classic Beauty and the Beast.
"The Artisans has all the elements I love - spooky intrigue, strong friendships, and a romantic tension to be savored." ~ Wendy Higgins, New York Times bestselling author of the Sweet Evil trilogy.

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Title: The Artisans
Publication date: May 2015
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Julie Reece

Chapter-by-Chapter-header---About-the-Author

Julie Reece

Born in Ohio, I lived next to my grandfather’s horse farm until the fourth grade. Summers were about riding, fishing and make-believe, while winter brought sledding and ice-skating on frozen ponds. Most of life was magical, but not all.
I struggled with multiple learning disabilities, did not excel in school. I spent much of my time looking out windows and daydreaming. In the fourth grade (with the help of one very nice teacher) I fought dyslexia for my right to read, like a prince fights a dragon in order to free the princess locked in a tower, and I won.
Afterwards, I read like a fiend. I invented stories where I could be the princess… or a gifted heroine from another world who kicked bad guy butt to win the heart of a charismatic hero. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that? Later, I moved to Florida where I continued to fantasize about superpowers and monsters, fabricating stories (my mother called it lying) and sharing them with my friends.
Then I thought I’d write one down…
Hooked, I’ve been writing ever since. I write historical, contemporary, urban fantasy, adventure, and young adult romances. I love strong heroines, sweeping tales of mystery and epic adventure… which must include a really hot guy. My writing is proof you can work hard to overcome any obstacle. Don’t give up. I say, if you write, write on!

Connect with the Author: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Chapter-by-Chapter-header---Giveaway
Complete the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win!
(Winners will receive their book on release day)


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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Place Ideas Come From~


Hush Puppy started years ago as a correspondence course assignment consisting of just three chapters and an outline. I like to think of that book as an ode to my childhood, growing up in the South with the ever present racial and social divides between people. You’d think these things would be dead and buried in the past, but you still see them every day on the news.  I originally set Hush Puppy in the 1980’s to be more like the world I knew, but an agent asked me “Does it have to be in the past?” The answer was no, because racism and discrimination are still happening today.

More and more, I find myself mining fiction ideas from what I see going on in the world around me. In my upcoming novel, Vessel, I wondered about modern e-books. What if all our written knowledge became digital in the future and we suddenly lost it all? What would life be like without books?? Kind of a terrifying thought.

A lot of my ideas come from themes that strike me as especially poignant in my own life. Themes in Hush Puppy include accepting yourself for who you are, as well as accepting others, and resisting the temptation to try to change others.

My current work in progress (title is still kind of a secret) has themes of doing the best we can with the hand we’ve been dealt and not letting that hand get the better of us. It’s also about following your bliss, no matter how hard that might be. A lot of kids out there (and adults) are not “living the dream” as defined by popular media. I write because I want those kids to know they aren’t alone, that lots of us aren’t living in a pop culture wonderland either. Life can be hard. It can also be very beautiful. Those beautiful moments are what make the hard times worth it and they are the inspiration for my stories. Enjoy~

Monday, August 25, 2014

~Avian Blog Tour (The Dragonride​r Chronicles #2) by Nicole Conway~



Come along as author Nicole Conway interviews her character Javid Broadfeather~

and don't miss the GIVEAWAY at the bottom!


He’s insanely brave, a terrible dancer, and the dragonrider who might just save two kingdoms from ruin—meet the mysterious Jaevid Broadfeather!


Hello and welcome, Jaevid! I understand this is your first interview. Can you tell us why you have been so reluctant to make a public appearance?

“To be honest, I’m not very good at public speaking. I grew up trying my best to remain unnoticed because any attention I received was the pretty much always the negative kind. It’s only been recently that I’ve found courage to step into the spotlight regardless of what people think of me.”

You’ve certainly come a long way. Do you have any advice for others who may be dealing with some bullying or discrimination?

“I’m not sure this counts as advice, but I know the point when things started to change for me was when I began to realize that the things other people hated about me were things I couldn’t change. They hated me just because they didn’t understand who I was or where I’d come from. But I am who I am, and those differences that set me apart from everyone else aren’t my weaknesses anymore. It can be the same for you, too. What makes you different doesn’t have to be something you’re ashamed of—in fact, it can be your greatest strength.”

 That’s such an inspiring testimony! So, what’s it like to have a dragon so closely bonded with you?

“It can be the most amazing thing in the world, as long as he’s not hungry. Mavrik has been there for me during some really rough times. I tell people all the time—he’s not mount, he’s my friend. But sharing thoughts with him when he’s thinking about chomping into a deer or a cow is something I could do without.”

Yikes! That would be a pretty nasty image. Speaking of tough times, though, we heard this year’s battle scenario is supposed to be the hardest part of your training. Are you feeling confident about it?

 “As confident as I can be. I’ve made it through some tough scrapes and close calls before. Hopefully it won’t be as bad as everyone says.”

 Can you tell us anything about what you might expect to happen?

“Well, I know they’ll be testing our resolve in interrogation training. Supposedly they beat you up pretty badly, you know, to make sure you aren’t going to crack under pressure. That’s nothing new for me, though. I get beat up all the time! Then they force you to test your survival skills in the jungle. That’ll be extra difficult since this jungle is supposed to have a lot of dangerous wildlife from Luntharda.”

 That sounds tough. Do you think everyone is up to that challenge?

 “We’ve all gotten the same training. My instructor, Lieutenant Jace Rordin, tells me that morale is everything and these things are decided when we take our first step. If you have the wrong mindset, you’re doomed before you ever get started. Felix gets cocky sometimes, but he’s usually strong enough to back it up. Lyon? Well, he’s more of a follower. Hopefully he won’t get led into any more trouble.”

 We can only hope, right? Well, we’re all dying to know about the upcoming annual officer’s ball. Do you have a special lady in mind you’d like to see there?

 “Uh . . . well, sort of. I guess so. Yes. But I’m not very good with girls. Felix has tried to teach me to be charming, but he says I’m too nice and I usually get so nervous that I do or say something embarrassing. It’s like girls have some kind of secret code, and I don’t understand any of it. Sometimes they tell me I’m handsome, but I can never tell if they’re joking or not.”

 Aww, I’m sure they’re being serious. So has becoming a dragonrider been everything you hoped it would be?

“I didn’t know what to expect when I started this journey. I never dreamed of being a dragonrider—I thought stuff like that was out of my reach. But being there now, and working so hard for this goal, has shown me that having a direction is the most important thing a man can have. It defines you, and it’s taught me to expect more from myself. So yes, I guess it has been everything I hoped. It’s been more than that, because now I have a chance at a future filled with pride rather than hiding in shame.”

Only last question, just because we’re all curious to learn more about who you really are behind the helmet. Once all this training is over, and the dust has finally settled, what will be your new goal to strive for?

 “I haven’t really thought that far. Right now, things are just a daily struggle to survive the next phase of training. But if I have to answer, I guess I look forward to having a family of my own. I’d like to get married, and I’d like to be a father. Maybe that sounds weird, but almost dying on a regular basis tends to shift your perspective on what’s important in life.”









ABOUT AVIAN:

Title: Avian (The Dragonrider Chronicles #2)

Publication date: August 26, 2014

Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.

Author: Nicole Conway

What kind of power is lurking inside him?

After a year of training to become a dragonrider, Jaevid Broadfeather has been sent home to rest during a three-month interlude. But when he returns to find the king drake has chosen Beckah Derrick as his new rider, Jaevid realizes something big is about to happen. Every fiber of his being is pushed to the breaking point as Jaevid battles through his avian year, preparing for the final graduation test of the battle scenario. But there is more standing in his way than a few pushups and fancy sword moves.


Jaevid must face a new fear as he is tormented by a gruesome nightmare of a mysterious gray elf warrior murdering the royal family of Maldobar. It seems obvious to him that this is some kind of message about how the war started long ago—until Felix assures him the king is very much alive. With his strange powers growing stronger by the day, and that violent dream replaying in his mind every night, Jaevid no longer wonders if he will pass his avian year or not . . . he wonders if he will even survive it.

The truth will soon be set loose.







ABOUT NICOLE CONWAY:

Nicole is the author of the children’s fantasy series, THE DRAGONRIDER CHRONICLES, about a young boy’s journey into manhood as he trains to become a dragonrider. She has completed the first two books in the series, and is now working on the third and final book.

Originally from a small town in North Alabama, Nicole moves frequently due to her husband’s career as a pilot for the United States Air Force. She received a B.A. in English with a concentration in Classics from Auburn University, and will soon attend graduate school.

She has previously worked as a freelance and graphic artist for promotional companies, but has now embraced writing as a full-time occupation.

Nicole enjoys hiking, camping, shopping, cooking, and spending time with her family and friends. She also loves watching children’s movies and collecting books. She lives at home with her husband, two cats, and dog.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook




Link to Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21525968-avian?ac=1


Purchase Links:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Chapters Indigo! | TBD | IndieBound | iBooks


Giveaway Information: Winner will be drawn September 26, 2014

· Four (4) winners will receive a digital copy of Avian by Nicole Conway (INT)

· One (1) winner will receive a digital copy of Avian by Nicole Conway AND a $10 Amazon Gift Card or B&N Gift Card – Winner’s Choice (INT)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

We don't just need diverse books, we need to market them too

Whether we all know it, diverse books are all around us. Many of us have been saying it for years. Some have only started to notice. There are authors and/or books who've been present for decades, and there are books and authors who make waves for themselves in our present.
When and however you've come to the conclusion, you've noticed that lack of representation in books is evident. The lack of people of color, the lack of characters whom are queer or with disabilities. It's disturbing just how little books with main characters who aren't white, able bodied, cis-gendered and/or queer are released in comparison to those that are not.
What's more disturbing is the lack of marketing books that highlight diversity in a positive light. Granted, marketing does not by any means guarantee sales. For the most part, no miracle amount of promotion can "guarantee" to generate sales. But often, authors of color, and authors who write diversely, do not receive strong marketing.
Authors who write any book can tell you, publishing companies nowadays expect a bit of marketing from the author themselves. But when a diverse book fails to generate sales, it's often blamed that it's because it's a diverse book.
We don't just need diverse books. We need smarter campaigns and marketing plans for diverse books as well.
Diverse Book Tours was founded by Sasha Beatty, book blogger of So Bookishly. She approached book bloggers interested in promoting diversity in books, and with everything we've learned book blogging about diversity on our blog Twinja Book Reviews, we were practically shoe-in's to be co-founders.
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We all have different experiences and ideas on why we came to the conclusion there needed to be a virtual blog tour company.
From the words of Libertad: That trip to the bookstore and the dangers of "othering"
It's always an interesting trip to the bookstore near my house. I just happen to live directly downtown in the smack of the Yale area in Connecticut. Sure there's a Starbucks at every corner, restaurants of different ethnicities in walking distance, and I don't think I could go six seconds without seeing someone who is not the same race as me as I journey to the Yale bookstore to scope out new releases.
I love looking at books. I love admiring interesting covers, reading blurbs, and checking out the tables with the new releases.
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But there's just one discrepancy. Much of the time I check out books, I walk away more frustrated than I started. Sometimes I'll see eight books with the same cover or blurb. Cute, virginal, Mary-sue archetype, in a pretty flowing dress, who just happens to be white, straight, cis-gendered and for the most part able bodied. I can't assume she is nuero typical, as it is a disability you cant see. But all I see are girls in pretty dresses. Women is a great start, but women should not just be a definition for white.
Books at major and indie bookstores sell more books when a cover is facing forward, but it takes more space to turn them this way, and books with main characters of color are often the ones they omit from the selling floor.
How are we supposed to know that books with diversity on the cover can sell, when they're not allowed the opportunities to do so?
Diversity shouldn't be something that has to be hidden. It should not have to be backdropped to push along the story of a main character whom is a "default."
Representation shouldn't just matter to those who are not being represented. It is a necessity that should be in books. It should be a necessity in life, but books are a great way to start. It doesn't surprise me that many do not see it as an issue, but representation should exist to eradicate this idea of "Othering", or an idea, that anyone different from you is an "other" and therefore not normal.
This is an idea we have to challenge. But we first need to realize there is a problem in the first place about the lack of marketing for diverse books.
From the words from Guinevere: Sales is great, but awareness is better
I'll be upfront. My words will be the most boring out of the three, but it'll be the most obtuse. They may be words that don't effect you now, but when you give yourself time with them, you'll make your opinion of them yourself.
When was the last time you saw a Science Fiction author of color interviewed on television? When was the last time you saw an fantasy author with a disability on television? How many queer/Quiltbag stories make your to-read lists? When was the last time you read a character with a religion different from your own?
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Hopefully your answer was similar or in the realms of my own answer: Yesterday. If it wasn't, well....when was the last time you consciously thought "have I read a narrative that I related to, that wasn't exactly the same as my own?"
For people with disabilities, it's nearly all the time. For people of color, it may be on the fence. People who identify with being queer, it's probably more times than you read your own narrative. The issue with this is, for the most part, people who come from marginalized groups have been reading and relating outside there own narratives for years, if not all their lives.
I myself, had never read a novel from the perspective of an Afro-Latina until last year. I turned 29 a week ago. You do the math. But somehow in 28 years, I managed to always enjoy reading. My head never exploded because a character wasn't Afro-Cuban. Ultimately, it was rather damaging to have no Afro-Latino role models in books looking back. But I found I didn't lack representation as far as my race went, as the 90's was much kinder to black women than it's ever been.
At the risk at sounding sarcastic, eyes don't bleed when you diversify the narrative you read from. But ideas might change. Your critical thinking might. Your ability to connect with people might. And by golly gee, you just might learn it reflects the world you already live in.
It's not enough to want diversity in books. It should be a need, a necessity, a given. But books are no where without leg work. Without word of mouth. Without reviews. Without those willing to promote them. Without those willing to read them. You have to be willing to tell EVERYONE. And when you've told everyone, you have to be willing to tell them again.
Promoting diverse books is more than just sales. Sales are great. Sales are amazing. But ultimately nothing can guarantee sales, not even a book tour company. But awareness is. Awareness is more than just sales. Awareness is knowing that these books exist. Where to find them. Where and how to purchase them. Who's read and loved them. Who's read and disliked them. Books can't move if people arent aware of them.
Our audience is small, but we also have an audience who would be most likely to be open to a diverse book. There are plenty of marketing options out there. Ones who've been around longer, and may promise more than we can. But there are little to no options specifically for those who write diversely. That needs to change.
From the words from Sasha: Why I started Diverse Book Tours
All around the world, people are looking to read books that are a breath of fresh air, that are unique, and that include characters who have a different perspective and background than readers themselves. If the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign is any indication whatsoever, then we’re well on our way. However, it’s sometimes difficult for readers to find these books in the first place.
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I started Diverse Book Tours because I wanted to not only promote the types of books that I seek out and love, but because I want to help facilitate connecting readers with these diverse books and authors in a fun, engaging way. I also wanted to help authors reach a wider audience online so that they can gain an online presence and receive recognition for the hard work they do writing diversity. With the help of my awesome team and partners, and the wonderful bloggers who have signed on to read, review, and promote these books, I’m hoping that we’ll be able to show the book community that diverse books are amazing, are exciting, and are here to stay!
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We're also offering tons of prizes for the launch of our tour company for those who sign up as Tour Hosts!
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Friday, August 22, 2014

Cover Reveal: VESSEL by Lisa T. Cresswell and Giveaway #M9BFridayReveals


M9B-Friday-Reveal
EEP!! I'm so excited!
Welcome to the Cover Reveal for my next book!

VESSEL by Lisa T. Cresswell

presented by Month9Books!
Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!

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The sun exploded on April 18, 2112 in a Class X solar storm the likes of which humankind had never seen.
They had exactly nineteen minutes.
Nineteen minutes until a geomagnetic wave washed over the Earth, frying every electrical device created by humans, blacking out entire continents, and every satellite in their sky.
Nineteen minutes to say goodbye to the world they knew, forever, and to prepare for a new Earth, a new Sun.

Generations after solar storms destroyed nearly all human technology on Earth, humans reverted to a middle ages-like existence, books are burned as heresy, and all knowledge of the remaining technology is kept hidden by a privileged few called the Reticents.
Alana, a disfigured slave girl, and Recks, a traveling minstrel and sometimes-thief, join forces to bring knowledge and books back to the human race. But when Alana is chosen against her will to be the Vessel, the living repository for all human knowledge, she must find the strength to be what the world needs even if it's the last thing she wants.

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Title: Vessel
Publication date: May 2015
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Lisa T. Cresswell

Chapter-by-Chapter-header---About-the-Author
In case you've never been to the blog before, here's a bit about me~

Lisa T. CresswellLisa, like most writers, began scribbling silly notes, stories, and poems at a very young age. Born in North Carolina, the South proved fertile ground to her imagination with its beautiful white sand beaches and red earth. In fifth grade, she wrote, directed and starred in a play "The Queen of the Nile" at school, despite the fact that she is decidedly un-Egyptian looking. Perhaps that's why she went on to become a real life archaeologist?
 
 Unexpectedly transplanted to Idaho as a teenager, Lisa learned to love the desert and the wide open skies out West. This is where her interest in cultures, both ancient and living, really took root, and she became a Great Basin archaeologist. However, the itch to write never did leave for long. Her first books became the middle grade fantasy trilogy, The Storyteller Series. Her first traditionally published work, Hush Puppy, is now available from Featherweight Press.

Lisa still lives in Idaho with her family and a menagerie of furry critters that includes way too many llamas!

Connect with the Author: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads
 
Well, what do you guys think?!?!
Be sure to add it to your Goodreads To Be Read pile!

Chapter-by-Chapter-header---Giveaway
Complete the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win!
(Winners will receive their book on release day)


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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Remember when I planted gladious?











They survived!  And bloomed. Aren't they gorgeous??









It just occurred to me that gardening is a little bit like writing. You plant the seeds (or bulbs in this case) and you water them, you nurture them, weed them, wait on them. You hope and wait and fertilize and finally, something beautiful emerges!

Come back tomorrow and see what emerges on the blog tomorrow ;)  Shhh...it's a secret....