Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A PuZZle Wrapped in an Enigma

Welcome to the A to Z challenge - Zany!

A to Z Writing advice:
Zounds! – use ze senses! ze sights, ze sounds, ze smells, ze taste, and ze feel. When describing a scene, I try to imagine myself in it and try to describe it with as many senses as possible. Sight is obvious, but sounds and smells give that much more depth to a scene, as well as touch. And not only that, but what are the characters' reactions to these sensations? Put your reader into the scene!

Visiting BROKEN BRANCH FALLS (MG Fantasy):

Zolaf - since I needed a Z, I thought this name would do well in Book Three for the bad guy. He's the son of a werewolf and an ogre...

And for laughs:
Reasons Men are Happier People... 

Z is for Zee-man
If Laura, Kate and Sarah go out for lunch,
they will call each other Laura, Kate and Sarah.

If Mike, Dave and John go out,
they will affectionately refer to each other as Fat Boy, Dawg, and Long-John
(my son is J-Rob, dubbed by his baseball team)

Zero, zilch, zen - this is the end!
Din, dan, done - hope you all had fun!

A to Z 2014 was a blast! I will share my numbers on wrap up day, as usual. Had so much fun meeting a ton of new folks again this year! Thanks for all the wonderful comments and thanks again to our wonderful hosts:
Arlee Bird @ Tossing it Out 
Tina @ Life is Good 
Jeremy @ Being Retro 
Nicole Ayers - The Madlab Post  

I will be taking a break for most of May as I prepare for my June 24th release of BROKEN BRANCH FALLS, with cover reveal on May 5th. Plus, I have a book festival on the 10th. I also still have a couple of releases to help announce - and IWSG is on the 7th - don't forget!

And to all a good night! zzzzzzzzzzz

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Can You Handle the Truth?

Welcome to the A to Z challenge - Yowza! Don't leave without seeing the sweet cover reveal below!

A to Z Writing advice:
YES! – The always elusive positive response. Writing is like baseball, it's a game of overcoming failure. Batting averages are hardly even close to .500 (50%) Strikeouts, outs, and walks are common expectations. And that's just like writing. We work our butts off, and receive so much rejection! But when we do get a hit, we knock it out of the park! A "yes" is affirmation and it feels so good. Don't give up or let those strike outs get you down. The YES is coming soon!

Visiting BROKEN BRANCH FALLS (MG Fantasy):

Yellow teeth and eyes - unfortunately, ogres and trolls share the yellow teeth trait due to lack of hygene... the eyes are just what they were dealt.

And for laughs:
Reasons Men are Happier People... 

Y is for Yes, Dear
A woman has the last word in any argument.
Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument.

YET! (that means wait please!)
YAAAAAY for Elizabeth Seckman! A Cover Reveal that will yank at your heartstrings and make you yearn for more of this yarn by golly!

Did you know? After the American Civil War, food was scarce. A common staple was hard tack.  A mix of flour, salt, and water spread thin, cut into squares and baked. 

Isabella Troy Stanley is a divorced, slave freeing pariah surviving in the shattered post Civil War south the only way a fallen debutante knows how... She heads to a Yankee prison and buys herself a husband. 

Jack Byron is the former Troy plantation stable boy and object of young Bella's affection. He rejected her then, and he's still not sold on the idea of marrying her now.  

It’s complicated.

Though to Bella, it’s simple: make Jack love her, marry her, and live happily ever after. The plan seems to least until her secret is revealed.

Gorgeous, isn't it! And what a juicy historical romance!

Elizabeth Seckman is a wife, a mom, and a writer. She has four wonderful boys, one dusty house, and three published books to her credit. Feel free to check them out and buy them HERE! Erm, the books, not the kids or the house...though all things in life are negotiable ;)

You can find her here - Blog // Facebook // Twitter

Cover art by Sprinkles on Top Studios.

Monday, April 28, 2014

PhoeniX From Ashes

Welcome to the A to Z challenge - Xactomundo!

A to Z Writing advice:
eXceptions – Sometimes you have to break the rules. We need to follow those basic writing guidelines, but we also need to eXpress ourselves to show our true characters and tell a good story. It can be hard to tell when breaking the rules works or not, but that's what critique partners are for - they will give you their opinion, as will an editor, but even then, you have to make the final call. You are the author and what you say should be the final word - just remember you also have to live with your choices, and reviewers are not always good with too much outside the boX... These are tough decisions! Go with your gut! (btw, those men jokes have Xceptions too - love all your comments!!)

Visiting BROKEN BRANCH FALLS (MG Fantasy):

Xandy - A purple pixie and the girlfriend of Argus the goblin, Gabe's friend. Shh! Don't tell!

And for laughs:
Reasons Men are Happier People... 

X is for Xmas
Men can do Christmas shopping for 25 relatives
on December 24 in 25 minutes.

Read all about it!
Carrie-Anne Brownian, writer of fantastic, intriguing historic fiction, is doing a guest post for her upcoming novel! I've followed Carrie-Anne for a long time, and if you haven't seen her a to z posts featuring gorgeous, European and Russian backdrops, you need to check them out!

Now, for a closer look at Carrie-Anne's latest work:

Sometimes painful real-life experience becomes unintentional firsthand research.  I created Jakob DeJonghe as a secondary character in 1995 and wrote a limp into his character in 1998, but I didn't have my own leg injury and resulting limp until 2003-04.  In 2006, I wrote a long short story/piece of backstory about him, which I was doing for a number of my European characters who are ultimately linked back to my Atlantic City characters, but it wasn't till 2012 that I got the idea to turn these stories into full novels.  Jakob's story was first, and ended up as two volumes.  The first tells his story from October 1940-May 1946, and the second is about his first year in America, May 1946-April 1947.

While writing everything that comes after Jakob severely breaks his right ankle and foot after jumping from a death train in November 1942, I just drew on my own memories (although unlike Jakob, I luckily was able to have surgery and morphine).  If I didn't have my own leg injury and limp, I couldn't have realistically depicted things like the terror of first bearing weight through the foot again, the staggering, robotic walk when you're just relearning how to walk normally, the panic at having to navigate stairs, the trick of learning to go up stairs backwards (either sitting or standing), how to hop downstairs while holding the banister on your stronger side, how you feel weather so keenly in the bones of your gimpy foot, learning to lead with the newly-dominant-by-default leg.

Jakob's frustration and embarrassment over being left with a limp also came from my experience.  I really did feel better about myself when I found out about some famous people who had limps.  In particular, since I'm a huge Three Stooges fan, finding out Curly Howard had a real-life limp gave me a huge boost of pride and self-confidence.  One of the book's dedications is to all my fellow limpers, past, present, and future.
Author:  Ursula Hartlein
Title:  And Jakob Flew the Fiend Away
Genre:  Historical fiction, Bildungsroman
Release date:  9 May 2014

Jakob DeJonghe can think of nothing but revenge when the Nazis coerce his father into suicide and his little sister mysteriously disappears the day before Yom Kippur.  As conditions in Amsterdam worsen, Jakob is determined to fight back and be the master of his own destiny, just as his heroes the Maccabees did in ancient times.

While en route from Westerbork, Jakob seizes an opportunity to jump from a death train, breaking his foot as he lands.  As he limps for his life toward a forest, he’s found by four young resistance fighters and taken to a safe house.  Even though Jakob has been left with a permanent limp, he’s still determined to defend his country and track down the men who killed his father. 

His dream comes true when he joins his new friends’ resistance group, but after a chance meeting with a spirited young woman on one of his missions, he’s jolted by emotions he thought he’d buried.  And when he’s recruited into the Princess Irene Brigade and made a real soldier, Jakob realizes his battle is only half-won.  If he ever wants to survive a world that will never be ordinary again, love and not hate will have to carry him through.  And if he finds his dream girl again, this painful readjustment just might be easier.

Originally from Pittsburgh, I've lived most of my life in Albany, NY and also spent a bit under six years in the Berkshires and the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts.  I've been a voracious, advanced reader since getting hyperlexia at age three, and have been writing since age four.  I have a BA in History and Russian and East European Studies from UMass-Amherst.  My areas of historical expertise are Russian history, the WWII/Shoah era, and 20th century American history.  Other areas of interest include the American Civil War, Japanese history, prehistory, and the High and Late Middle Ages.  I'm currently pursuing a belated MS in library science from the State University of NY at Albany.  My dream since age sixteen has been to earn a Ph.D. in Russian history, with a focus on GULAG and the Great Terror.  My ideal career would be to work in the Russian history or literature section of a museum, archive, or university library.  I also love world languages and religions, silent and early sound film, antique cars, vinyl records, vintage computers, and cross-stitch.  My ultimate dream is to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, though I'll settle for being remembered as a writer for all time like Shakespeare, with characters and storylines that resonate across eras and cultures.

Carrie-Anne has two pen names - Ursula Hartlein for more serious, heavy historicals and soft sci-fi and Carrie-Anne Brownian for shorter, more light-hearted historicals and family sagas featuring American-born characters.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

A Werewolf's Tale

Welcome to the A to Z challenge - Wondertastic!

A to Z Writing advice:
Who are you? – I have posted on this before as I try to get my own name out there. We may not be spotlight stealers or attention seekers, but to get our books sold, we must be noticed. Tara Tyler is an adventure writer in many genres. I like to keep it light and entertaining, with a moral to the story as a hidden surprise. I'm happy to say that I feel I'm accomplishing that goal. But, coming out of my shell isn't easy. Online we are more apt to meet others, it's in person we need to find a way to shine. So discover yourself and advertise your product, which is you and your writing!

Visiting BROKEN BRANCH FALLS (MG Fantasy):

Rove in cartoon
Werewolves - part wolf part humanoid, hairy with super sensitive smelling and hearing, also don't want to go wandering into their forest at night as that's when they hunt for their dinner
WHEN THE WIND BLOWS Book 3 in the Beast World Series. Evil is brewing in sector 9!

And for laughs:
Reasons Men are Happier People... 

W is for Wrinkles
Wrinkles add character on men's faces.

Men are unable to see wrinkles in clothes.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Vampire Currency

Welcome to the A to Z challenge - Verifiable!

Almost done! But, I wanted to mention, I hope you are getting lots of visitors! I know I am! Thanks so much! But the way to get comments is to go visit!

A to Z Writing advice:
Venting – We all get down. Life, bills, trials, pitfalls. Sometimes we just don't feel like writing. Or we get down about our writing. A few rejections, a bad review, a scene we can't figure out, or a blurb that just doesn't sound good - sometimes we wonder why we write at all. I say we, because we've all had these feelings. It's okay. They pass and we're back in the chair writing with gusto. So, if you ever need to vent, call on your fellow writers who understand. Tell someone who gets it! You will feel better after a good vent! (And if you haven't joined the Insecure Writer's Support Group, take a peek on Wednesday, May 7th and you'll see just what I mean!)

Visiting BROKEN BRANCH FALLS (MG Fantasy):

Vampires - part bat part humanoid, and blood is gold to them. Tho they don't seek out sentient beings to feed on, don't go wandering into their village at night

Vincent - a handsome, suave vampire and Gabe's rival for Ona, plus he's tall

And for laughs:
Reasons Men are Happier People... 

V is for Vacations
A five-day vacation requires only one suitcase for a man

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Up Down Hills

Welcome to the A to Z challenge - Undeniable!

A to Z Writing advice:
Unique – No two snowflakes are the same and no people have the same DNA (except identical twins, but even they have differences) It is also said that there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9) - everything has been done before, even in bible times. It's amazing how the same basic stories can be told over and over again with new twists to keep us reading! It's because we put our own unique spin of experiences into them, our unique imaginations, and our unique talents. The stories may be old, but the perspective of writers and readers keeps them fresh and flowing! So don't be discouraged - I urge you to write on!


Ugly Mountains - where the dumb, selfish trolls live

Up Down Hills the section of hilly land north of Black Dog Forest that grows into the Iridescent Mountains

And for laughs:
Reasons Men are Happier People... 

U is for Underwear
Men's underwear is $8.95 for a three-pack.

Men don't have strap problems in public,
or don't hesitate to fix them if they do.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Troll Trap

Welcome to the A to Z challenge - Totally Terrific!

First, I have to mention this coincidence - my oldest son shaved for the first time this morning. Wiping away a tear...

A to Z Writing advice:
Trailer – I'm not sure how much a book trailer will help with promotion. There are so many funny and entertaining videos, it will be hard to grab attention on its own. I have a couple, but I didn't spend money on them and I wouldn't recommend spending too much, because unless you have some footage of actors or something spectacular that goes viral, I don't think it's worth it. If you have a flair for making videos or experimenting, by all means, do some research, view some book trailers on youtube and get a feel for what would work for your book. My only advice, make it short and exciting, not too many words. (I need to work on my BBF trailer. I like dabbling, but it's more for me to show my friends than promote it...)

Visiting BROKEN BRANCH FALLS (MG Fantasy):
Gabe tutoring an ogre

Trolls - short, stocky, cave-dwelling, gem harvesters and dumb as the rocks they live in
Trickle Stream - a peaceful stream flowing from Blood Lake to the Steddy Rolling River
Tutoring the goblins have been "tutoring" the ogres for years, which means doing their homework for them - but that's about to change.

And for laughs:
Reasons Men are Happier People... 

T is for Toys
Men play with toys all their lives.

TUT TUT! Take a look at this!
Look what just arrived! My giveaways for Broken Branch Falls!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Steamy Situation

Welcome to the A to Z challenge!
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! Yeah. I said it.

A to Z Writing advice:
Salt – Take every piece of advice with a grain of salt. No one knows all. We base our advice on our particular experiences. Everyone is different. What works for some, may not for others. Listen, be gracious, but use what feels right for you. There's no one recipe for how to write a perfect MS. And you can't please everyone. Do what you think is best, then, keep polishing until you get your offer, and you will!

Visiting BROKEN BRANCH FALLS (MG Fantasy):

Sea of Notion - Where the mermaids live

Steddy Rolling River the river that runs from the Sea of Notion through Broken Branch Falls and lets out at Make a Wish Falls. So-named in honor of legendary fantasy writers.

And for laughs:
Reasons Men are Happier People... 

S is for Shaving
Men only have to shave their face and neck.

They have freedom of choice when it comes to growing a mustache.

They can wear shorts no matter how their legs look.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Through the River and Under the Bridge

Welcome to the A to Z challenge -Ridonkulous!

A to Z Writing advice:
READ! – You must find time to read! It's the best thing to do when you need:
  • a break from writing
  • research
  • knowledge
  • a good or bad example
  • hope
  • inspiration
  • an escape from reality
  • a reminder of why you write - to make great stories for others to read and be inspired!

Visiting BROKEN BRANCH FALLS (MG Fantasy):

Rove probably my favorite character, he's the calm, cool, collective werewolf, smart and subtle, reminds me of Steve McQueen.

And for laughs:
Reasons Men are Happier People... 

R is for Reason
Of course men are happier -
What do you expect from such simple creatures?
(Ignorance is bliss, right?)

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Werewolves? There Wolves (Question)

Quick - name that movie!
Welcome to the A to Z challenge!

A to Z Writing advice:
Querying – Similar to blurbs, query letters need to be quick, concise, to the point. Get in and get out and leave em hanging. Wham, bam, I want some more, ma'am! Here's my thoughts on writing queries:

  • try to use only two, or at most three, character names - not too much detail, it's confusing
  • introduce the MC, tell what goes wrong (the twist) why does he absolutely need to fix it? (motivation) and who or what is in his way?
  • and don't forget voice! give a taste with some spice to it!
  • the meat of a query shouldn't be more than two paragraphs, but you could add a hook sentence or two at the beginning - just don't make it too gimmicky or cheesy, and PLEASE do not start with, Mary had the perfect life... until... I have read that at the beginning of so many blurbs and queries... and agents have heard it umpteen times more!
  • which brings me to my last bit of advice - make sure you show them what's original about your story. make it stand out! what's so special about it?!

Visiting BROKEN BRANCH FALLS (MG Fantasy):
sQuirrelwhat the characters call someone who's afraid, instead of chicken (and instead of saying bawk, bawk, they make paws with their hands and mock buck teeth, like a squirrel!)

And for laughs:
Reasons Men are Happier People... 

Q is for Quick
Phone conversations with men are over in 30 seconds flat.

Men can be showered and ready to go in ten minutes or less.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Plan Hatched or Powder Keg Ignited

Welcome to the A to Z challenge - Perfect!

A to Z Writing advice:
Perseverance – The key to accomplishing anything is perseverance. If you don't try you won't fail but you won't succeed either. We must try! And keep on trying! If you give up, you'll never know the sweet reward of reaching the goal. You can get down, just get back up - and we are all here to help each other. Don't quit!

Visiting BROKEN BRANCH FALLS (MG Fantasy):
sketch by Laura Kramer
Piper - a special, sweet harpy with pheromones so strong, anyone close to her feels what she feels, not just other harpies.
Pixies - the same size as goblins, but more colorful in gem-toned skin and in their personalities - feisty troublemakers, using their wits for hijinks and mischief
Professor Hardaway - Gabe's respectable nemesis, a leader and teacher with good intentions, but Gabe completely disagrees with him

And for laughs:
Reasons Men are Happier People... 

P is for Politics
Men can be President. (soon to change!)

PAUSE! This is a great word to get kids to stop what they're doing so they can listen to you for a minute. Pause, you guys!
I have a super cool cover reveal from Nicole Zoltack!
by Nicole Zoltack
Release date: April 21

After destroying Skull Krusher, Nicholas Adams thinks Falledge is safe and becomes a security guard at the museum, watching a valuable statue. Unfortunately, the Egyptian statue houses the soul of a scorned witch, biding her time to have her revenge on the descendants of her cheating lover.

Kiya the witch isn't the only new foe in town as the drug that created Skull Krusher has now transformed a scientist into yet another monster, forcing Nicholas to don his Black Hellebore mask again and save Falledge.

Nicholas has no help this time as Kiya gains possession of his love Julianna's body and brings the soul of Justina, Nicholas's high school sweetheart and Julianna's twin, with her. Despite himself, Nicholas is torn between the sisters. If he can't stop the fiends from taking over the world and destroying humankind, he'd never be able to find lasting, true love.
Add it on Goodreads!

Nicole Zoltack loves to write in many genres, especially romance, whether fantasy, paranormal, or regency. When she’s not writing about knights, superheroes, or zombies, she loves to spend time with her loving husband and three energetic young boys. She enjoys riding horses (pretending they’re unicorns, of course!) and going to the PA Renaissance Faire, dressed in garb. She’ll also read anything she can get her hands on. Her current favorite TV show is The Walking Dead. To learn more about Nicole and her writing, visit her blog.

Congrats, Nicole! And haPPy Friday, you guys!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

My HerO

Welcome to the A to Z challenge - Outstanding!

A to Z Writing advice:
Outlining – Are you a pantster or a plotter? I need organization. I must outline! Nothing fancy, just a sentence or two for scenes or events. Then I rough draft in a notebook, and, finally I sit at the computer and type it up - adding more with each phase and each round of edits. But I have to start with that initial outline. I must be able to see the connections and then I can go back and add twists, tempting hints, foreshadowing, or red herrings, right?! What's your process?

Visiting BROKEN BRANCH FALLS (MG Fantasy):
Ogres - big, not-too-bright, proud of their ugliness humanoids with gray skin and yellowy eyes - the jocks at school.
OnaGabe's love interest, an uncommonly bright, unogre-like ogress

And for laughs:
Reasons Men are Happier People... 

O is for Optional
Men can wear a white T-shirt to a water park.
Men can wear NO shirt to a water park.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

No Pain, No Gain

Welcome to the A to Z challenge - Never say Never!

A to Z Writing advice:
Names – one of my favorite things to brainstorm! Names of people and posts are fun to create. Names of places I'm not as good at. I try to use character names that don't start with the same letter, unless they are related, to help the reader distinguish between them. Sometimes I use names of people I know, other times I just come up with what suits the character's personality. And when I need an ethnic name I turn to the internet. How do you come up with names?

Visiting BROKEN BRANCH FALLS (MG Fantasy):
Nuts - these are found a lot in BBF, some bigger than others, and some used as weapons!

And for laughs:
An alphabetical list of Reasons Men are Happier People... 

N is for Natural
Men wake up as good-looking as they went to bed.
Women somehow deteriorate during the night.

NO! That's NOT all!
You know what? We need an award! You've made it half-way thru the A to Z challenge, so you deserve it! Take the badge, post it, and pass it on!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Mind over Matter

Welcome to the A to Z challenge - Mucho!

A to Z Writing advice:
Marketing – writing the WIP is easy, it's the rest that's hard - editing, querying, synopsis and blurb writing. But once you get published (and you will!) marketing is the worst and hardest! But we must do it. Here's my advice so far:
  • social media will give you a good start, but you have to keep plugging after that, too. Have a webpage, facebook page, goodreads profile, etc. Make it easy for readers and potential fans to find you and like you! No more hiding!
  • Go to bookfairs, book conferences, book festivals, etc - readers will come!
  • Put your book on sale - when sales are stale, put it on sale! I plan to put mine on sale again this summer when the new one comes out.
  • Keep writing - I can't say this from experience, yet, but I hear this is the best way to get noticed - get more books out there!! They stimulate sales of previous books because if they like one, they will want more from you!

Visiting BROKEN BRANCH FALLS Teenage fantasy creatures in high school break the rules, causing chaos. Gabe the goblin leads a quest to find the Book of Ages, hoping it can help save BROKEN BRANCH FALLS:
Make a Wish Falls - these falls are gorgeous and treacherous and mysterious...
Merfolk - mermaids and mermen, you know! And in broken branch falls, their tears can heal and they age slowly.
Mud Pits - where the ogres live, of course, and their houses are mud adobes

And for laughs:
An alphabetical list of Reasons Men are Happier People... 

M is for Marriage
A woman worries about the future until she gets a husband.
A man never worries about the future until he gets a wife.
A woman marries a man expecting he will change, but he doesn't.
A man marries a woman expecting that she won't change, but she does.

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