Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Leaves of Fall by Patricia Lynne

Post one: Five facts about trees

Five Incredible Fact about Trees

It's only apt that since trees are a major character in Leaves of Fall that I share just how incredible they are in real life (despite not being able to shape shift into human form.) Here are five incredible facts about trees.


1: Trees can tell if deer are trying to eat them. Due to their ability to detect deer saliva, trees defend themselves by producing excess acids that cause their buds to taste bitter so that the deer will lose interest and leave them alone. (source)

2:

















3: One of the most dangerous trees in the world is the manchineel tree found in Florida and the Caribbean. Its sap is so poisonous and acidic that merest contact with human skin causes a breakout of blisters, and blindness can occur if it touches a person's eyes. (source)

4:















5: Trees that live in cold climates stop growing during fall in anticipation of the first frost. Trees that had been embryos during cold winters stop growing a few weeks earlier than the rest of the forest. (source)

Blurb:

Armory was born into a post-apocalyptic world torn apart by war between man and nature. Trees are the enemy. But when she’s kidnapped by nomads and taken far from her home, a tree nymph is the one who comes to her rescue.

Birch promises he can get Armory home. He says not all trees wanted a war. Armory has no choice to trust him if she wants to see her family again.

Together, they trek across the ruins of America, meeting both human and trees who want nothing more than the fighting to stop. But the hatred between the two may be too deep to heal. Armory isn’t sure her friendship with Birch will be enough to convince the human race to take a chance on peace. Birch has a plan, though. He’s just not sure he’ll survive.


Snag on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, iTunes, or Smashwords for $2.99. (or 99cents if the pre-order price hasn't changed yet. ^_~)


a Rafflecopter giveaway


About the Author

Patricia Lynne is the author of Young Adult Paranormal, Fantasy, and Sci-Fi books. She actually never set out to become a writer, and in fact, she was more interested in art and band in high school and college On a whim, she wrote down a story bouncing in her head and began learning all she could about writing. That was the start of it, and she hasn't regretted a moment. When she's not writing, she's watching Doctor Who or reading about serial killers. She's an avid knitter. One can never have too much yarn. She writes New Adult Urban Fantasy and Sci-Fi Romance under the name Patricia Josephine.

Patricia lives with her husband in Michigan, hopes one day to have what will resemble a small petting zoo, and has a fondness for dying her hair the colors of the rainbow.

Find Patricia around the web.
Website - http://www.patricialynne.com
Twitter - https://twitter.com/plynne_writes
Facebook -  https://www.facebook.com/plynnewrites/
Patreon -  https://www.patreon.com/patricialynne07
Goodreads - http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/635444.Patricia_Lynne
Amazon Author Page - https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01EM6YLAW
Smashwords - https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/patricialynne

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

#AuthorToolBox Blog Hop: May 2019

Much thanks to Raimey Gallant for running the monthly blog hop, Author Tool Box. I learn a few things every month from the talented and smart writers who participate. Find the entire list here. I try to visit every blog because I don't want to miss anything.

Like many writers who have been in this business for a while, I've had publishers close their doors or as one said, change their direction, leaving my published books as orphans. When this happens, there are two choices. Publish the books myself or find a publisher who will take on a previously published novel.

It would be nice if I never had to make that decision because the small presses I've been contracted with never went bankrupt. But it happens all the time. So far, I've had three different small presses go away while my books were with them. The first one declared bankruptcy and all the authors had their rights tied up for months. Fortunately, RWA stepped in with a legal team and helped us. My book hadn't even been published yet, but it was under contract.  I did learn that those bankruptcy clauses in contracts are meaningless.

A little more than two years ago, I had two different fantasy series with two different small presses. I had signed a four book contract with one and had two books under contract with the other. Both publishers closed their doors within weeks of each other and within days of one of my books being released. I had blog appearances and other promotions all lined up when it happened. At least both presses made sure to return rights without any prompting.

It's difficult to tell how reliable a small press is and if they will stay in business. I've avoided self-publishing because I'm too lazy to do all the work involved. I want to write, edit, and rewrite, not design covers or hire outside editors. I don't want to do formatting or deal with Amazon. So, my romance publisher, NCP,  offered to take on the four book fantasy series. It hasn't sold a lot but I trust the publisher to stay in business.

The second series has been sitting while I work on my romance career. I was determined to find a small press that would take on a previously published book. I've gathered three rejections and am waiting to hear back from another submission. I don't send out queries to just any small press. Here are the things I do first:

*Is their website professional?
*Is it more than a one person operation?
*How long have they been in business?
*How many books have they published?
*How many authors write for them?
*Are their book covers professional and attention grabbing?
*Do their books have good rankings and reviews on Amazon and Goodreads?
*I always buy and read at least two of their books in my genre to check quality of writing and editing.
*Check their social media to see if the publisher does promotion.

The small press I'm waiting to hear from fits all the above criteria. Hopefully, by next month, I can tell you if they've accepted my submission. If not, it's back to the search.

Do you or have you worked with a small press? Have you ever tried to place a previously published book with another publisher? Have you had the frustrating and depressing experience of having a publisher close on you?


Wednesday, May 8, 2019

D. M. Burton: Rescuing Mara's Father


I'm amazed over and over again by the wonderful books available for young people compared to the number of titles I had access to at the MG grade level and especially science fiction stories. I don't usually include excerpts when I have guests on my blog, but this short one from Diane is too good to not include. Take it away D.M.

Thanks, Susan, for inviting me to share my new release, Rescuing Mara’s Father, a science fiction adventure. This was my first attempt at writing juvenile fiction (suitable for age 9 & up). My older grandchildren (ages 9 and 12) have always known I write fiction and that they have to grow up before they can read my books. An idea popped into my head about a teen girl living with her father on the frontier of space, the Outer Rim. I was busy writing the fourth book in my Outer Rim series, a science fiction romance and ignored the idea. But each night before I went to sleep, the story of the girl and her father returned. Sometimes, a writer has to listen to her Muse.

Every writer knows that somedays the writing flows, you’re “in the zone.” And other days, it’s a struggle. Writing about Mara and her father seemed to flow, most of the time. I’m a pantser, writing by the seat of my pants, instead of a plotter. Generally, I know what will happen in the story. The big, black moment in this story gave me fits. I think I rewrote it five times. But once I found the right scene, the rest of the book flowed.

My grandchildren are reading the book now. Grandson (9) says it’s a lame title. He offered to help with the next story. 😊 He’s nothing if not outspoken. I hope my younger readers (and their parents) enjoy Rescuing Mara’s Father.

Blurb:

3 friends, a hidden starship, a quest

Her father is gone! Taken by the Queen of Compara’s agents. Mara has to rescue him before the Queen tortures and kills him.
Instead of the kind, loving father she’s always known, he’s become demanding, critical, with impossible expectations—not just as Father but also as the only teacher in their frontier outpost. Mara would rather scoop zircan poop than listen to another boring lecture about governments on Central Planets. Give her a starship engine to take apart or, better yet, fly, and she’s happy. Now, he’s gone.
Never mind, they’ve had a rocky road lately.
Never mind, Father promised she could go off planet to Tech Institute next month when she turns fifteen, where she’ll learn to fly starships.
Never mind, she ran away because she’s furious with him because he reneged on that promise. Father is her only parent. She has to save him.
Along with her best friend, eleven-year-old Jako, and his brother 15-year-old Lukus, Mara sets off to find her father. Her mentor, old spaceport mechanic, seems to know why the Queen captured Father. In fact, he seems to know her father well. But, does he tell her everything? Of course not. He dribbles out info like a mush-eating baby. Worse, he indicates he’ll be leaving them soon. And Lukus can’t wait to get off their planet. Mara’s afraid they will all leave, and she’ll be on her own. Despite her fears, Mara has to rescue her father.

Excerpt

“There you are!” Jako kneels next to me, his urgent voice and torchlight in my eyes wake me up.
I gasp, my heart racing. I must have fallen asleep. I was dreaming about being chased.
“I’ve been looking all over for you!” He lowers his torch and scoots back.
As I sit up, I shove my hair out of my eyes. My braid came undone while I was sleeping. Automatically, I reach up and use my fingers to comb through my long hair. Jako is breathing hard and heat rises off his small body.
“Why were you looking for me?” I ask as I rebraid my hair.
“I was afraid they got you, too.” He gasps for breath. “I didn’t see you when they took him on board, so I ran back to your house. The Dunpus brothers were laughing about how the goons hauled you away, screaming and crying. I knew they were lying. You wouldn’t cry.” His eyes grow wide. “You should’ve seen their ship, Mara. It was so cool. It was a—”
“Hold on. Took who?”
“Isn’t that why you came up here? To get away from them?”
“Them who?” I might be awake, but my mind is still muzzy. “Slow down. You aren’t making any sense.”
Jako grabs my arm. “Your father, Mara. Coalition goons arrested your father.”

Buy links:

Ebooks:  Amazon ~ Amazon UK ~ Kobo ~ B&N ~ Smashwords

Print:  Amazon

About the Author:

The first time D.M. Burton saw Star Wars IV: A New Hope, she was hooked on science fiction and space travel. The Star Trek movies made her want to travel to other planets. Alas, she is still Earth-bound. D.M. and her husband live in Michigan, close to their two children and five grandchildren.


Join D.M. Burton's readers’ group on Facebook.
For more info and excerpts, visit D.M.’s website: http://www.dmburton.com

She writes adult fiction as Diane Burton, where she combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction and romance into writing romantic fiction. Besides writing science fiction romance, she writes romantic suspense, and cozy mysteries.

For more info and excerpts from her books, visit Diane’s website: http://www.dianeburton.com

Connect with Diane Burton online.

                 http://www.dmburton.com
                    D.M. Burton’s sci-fi adventure group on Facebook
Goodreads:   Diane Burton Author
                        https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19005868.D_M_Burton
Sign up for Diane’s new release alert: http://eepurl.com/bdHtYf

 How cool would it be to live on the Outer Rim? I bet the stars are beautiful out there. Did a movie or book hook you on a particular genre? Can you beat Diane's five rewrites on a scene?


Monday, May 6, 2019

Optimistic Outlook

Whew, this writing business can get one down. Low royalty checks. Social media blues. Pirate sites and pirating writers. We can all afford to go after the thieves like Nora is, but we can cheer her on. Oops. I was feeling upbeat when I titled this post, but I might have depressed myself.

Those who wish to sing always find a song. Swedish proverb

Let me start all over again. About ten days from now, I'll be on my way to the 32nd Annual Pennwriters Conference. This year, the conference in being held in Pittsburgh, PA. It's about a four hour car drive for me, but I like driving. I like it best when I'm driving by myself. Lots of plotting gets done during that time. Once at the conference, I'll reconnect with friends I haven't seen for a year and make some new ones. There's is an amazing amount of energy and positive vibes during the three day event. I always come away with dozens of ideas and the motivation to do something with them.

In addition, there are speakers and workshops that will give me new ideas for editing, promotion, and networking. I'm on the Pennwriters' board of directors and this conference takes a lot of man hours (mostly woman hours) to put together. A lot of the work is done before time, but there's also things to take care of on the weekend. And all those hours are put in by volunteers. Most people know that but few take the time to thank all those people working behind and in front of the scenes.

Many online communities are the same. Maintained by volunteers. And they give us so much as they use their time, their writing time or family time, to keep websites and blogs current and helpful. I don't want to start naming the ones I visit regularly and benefit from because I don't want to forget any of my favorites. What I want to say is THANK YOU.

The upcoming conference, the newsletter I subscribe to, and all those websites that give me ideas and motivation keep me going even when industry news tries to knock me down.

Not sure how I'm feeling about this season of GoT. I was so excited about the season going in, but I'm afraid they might drop the ball on all the buildup they've done over the years. All the hints and prophesies couldn't be misdirection, could they? I'll have to wait and see.

On the other hand, my other favorite show, The 100, had a great first episode for this season. Hope it keeps up the twists and tension. And season 4 of Lucifer is coming to Netflix this week.

Also, please return to visit on Wednesday when Diane Burton will be my guest to talk about her MG novel, Rescuing Mara's Father.

In the bad news category, weather forecast is for rain nearly every day this week. Blah. The weeds are taking over my landscape. Please send a little sunshine by way.

When the Sun rises, it rises for everyone. Cuban proverb

Are you a volunteer for an online or other writing group? What motivates you to stay with your writing career if not the income?

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

IWSG: April 2019

Welcome to the monthly IWSG bloghop. This amazing group was started by Alex J. Cavanaugh years ago. LOL. Each month we share our concerns, give and take advice, and celebrate each other's successes. Find the entire list of participants here.

The optional question this month:

What was an early experience when you learned that language had power?

Can't think of a specific experience, but as I watch my granddaughter learn to talk, I believe that humans learn very early that language has power. Being able to communicate changes everything. She can let us know what she wants, what she needs, and comment on what's happening around her. Not all her words are clearly spoken, and I find myself acting as an interpreter for her with other people, but every day she learns a new word. It's always amazing to watch a child develop their language skills. She has many pieces of songs memorized and a few books such as Brown Bear.

I've finished that first draft of my next space opera romance that I expected to have finished a month ago. I'm letting it sit for at least another week before I start revising. Lots of works needs to be done before I send it off to my editor.

Happy May Day to all. The month of May come from the Roman goddess Maia, who oversaw the growth of plants. I wish Maia would slow down the growth of all the weeds in my flowerbeds. So much rain is making it impossible to keep up with them. I haven't even thought about planting yet.

Plan your year in the spring, your day at dawn."  Chinese Proverb

Game of Thrones has delivered on a terrific last season so far. I hate to see it end, but am also glad they're not trying to make it last beyond its story. Let's not talk about Avengers: End Game. Too soon.
Supernatural had an amazing cliffhanger to make sure I come back for its final season in the fall. The 100 returned for its short season on Tuesday so I have one show to keep me going through May and June. Killjoys will return sometime in the summer for its final season. Looking forward to it.

I started reading the Expanse books by James S. A. Corey on which the show was based. The books are pretty good. I've only read the first one and the TV series followed the books closer than most adaptations do.

Can't wait for fresh vegetables to be available at the local farmers' market. Cucumbers, sweet peppers, and berries of any kind are my favorites. I'm not so excited to have to mow the grass every six or seven days. A week without rain now and then would be good.

Are you ready for spring? Planting your own veggies this year? Any good TV you're looking forward to in the next few months?


Wednesday, April 17, 2019

#AuthorToolboxBlogHop: April 2019

The Author Toolbox Bloghop is a monthly blogging community led by Raimey Gallant. Join us and share our expertise on the challenging career of being a writer. Find the entire list and sign up here.

So many people are thinking about Game of Thrones this week. Well, for months perhaps. I'm sure social media will be awash in recaps, theories, celebrations, and complaints about what happens in this final season.

I thought it would be appropriate to share some George R.R. Martin writing wisdom for this month's post. Here is one of many articles that delve into the mind behind the mega-hit series.

I'm a big fan of large, sprawling fantasy worlds as created by Martin and Brandon Sanderson. Unlike older fantasy novels such as Tolkien's Lord of the Rings where the bad guys were bad and the good guys were good, Martin's characters are much more complex. Sometimes they do bad things for selfish reasons but sometimes they do bad things when they're trying to do the right thing. Except for the Night King and the walking dead, all the characters believe they're acting within their rights and that their side is the right side. Martin's characters suffer and act out because of that suffering. Complexity keeps the fans reading and watching.

The other big advice I agree with from George is write what you know. He's not talking about facts, though he's a big fan of research, he's talking about emotions. When you're writing about something sad, find those sad memories in your own heart. We all have them. Is one of your characters joyful or thrilled about something? Can you remember such a moment in your own life? The birth of a child or perhaps when you won an award. Emotion isn't always easy to get on the page. Delve inside yourself to find the right words to convey the feelings your characters are experiencing.

Some things that George RR Martin can't teach us? How to write fast! LOL How many fans will finish reading the book series if they're not satisfied with how the TV series ends?

Do you feel like your characters are complex enough? Do you make yourself cry when you're writing an emotional scene?  What is the longest it has taken you to complete a writing project?




Wednesday, April 3, 2019

IWSG: April 2019

The first Wednesday of the month means time for the monthly bloghop of IWSG members. Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh and all the wonderful administrators of the group, we have this safe place to share concerns, victories, and ask questions. Find the entire list of participants here.

This month's optional question:

If you could use a wish to help you write just one scene/chapter of your book, which one would it be?

I thought I didn't have an answer to this question, but then I realized I would like that magic wish for the first chapter in the new epic fantasy series. I'm only in the world-building/plotting stage so far, but we all know how important that first chapter is when we start to query. I'm going to try all the big traditional publishing houses again.

In place of wishes, I'm still working hard on the next book in my Generation Ship series. I'm nearly at the end.

"You can't wait for inspiration. Sometimes you have to go after it with a club." Jack London

How exciting is this month in entertainment? End Game from the Avengers, the final season of Game of Thrones, and the return of my favorite TV show, The 100. It seems like there is a new trailer from Thrones or Marvel every few days. It is so exciting.

I finally watched Aquaman last weekend. It was really entertaining and more fun than any of the previous DC movies. I'm looking forward to Shazam coming up this month, too.

The announcement that Supernatural will end after next season was bittersweet. I feel like the show has been at its best the last two years, but I'm glad they're going out before they lose their mojo. I have to wonder about the ending. Can it make sense for the main characters to get out of it alive?

I caught up to The Expanse on Amazon recently and really enjoyed it. Has anyone read the books? Are they good? Though my TBR shelf is sagging under the weight of all the books awaiting my attention.

Factoid from The Old Farmer's Almanac:
On this day in 1860, the Pony Express began postal service.

Do you have a special writing wish? Is 2019 a great year for entertainment or what? Have any predictions on who will survive End Game of GoT season 8? Do you think mail delivery has improved since the Pony Express?




Monday, April 1, 2019

It's A Person Thing, Sandra M. Bush


Please welcome, my good friend, author Sandy Bush. Sandy is as much fun in person as she is in her writing. 

It’s A Person Thing
By Sandy Bush

For Christmas, I bought myself a new computer. My old one, an Apple Mac Book, circa 2008 ran slower with each passing day. decided to make the switch to the dark side and buy something using Windows 10. Best Buy helped me with my purchase, talked my husband and I into the extra year of unlimited support from the Geek Squad, and transferred the stuff from my Mac to my new Lenovo Yoga.

When I picked up my computer, during the busy Christmas season, the store was crowded, and the line to speak with the Geek Squad twisted all the way to the greeter desk at the front of the store. The young man (i.e. kid) who completed our transaction, rapidly ran through the basics of operating my new computer. Confident I could manage and figure it out, we left after a few minutes, relieved to know the Geek Squad could rescue me whenever I needed help.

Christmas chaos left little time for learning to operate my new computer. I loved it, but it was a different operating system than I was used to. Even simple tasks required me to rethink everything. Frustrated and challenged, I wanted to figure things out on my own.

Fast forward to March, and I continued to putz and putter on my new machine. I grew more anxious, having made little progress. A few times I called the Geek Squad 800 number for help, and they did. They remoted into my machine and helped me access my photos—oddly in a billion small folders—and explained how to navigate through a few problems. But they’re busy people. They’ve got tons of other baby boomers to talk off the ledge.

After three months, I admitted I needed professional help and booked an appointment at the store with the Geek Squad. I arrived armed with my list of questions for the man- child who assisted me. He barely looked old enough to drive or shave and radiated an aura of boredom and disgust. For about twenty minutes, Geek Squad Boy begrudgingly helped me, anxious to be rid of me and my middle-aged questions. He lectured and shamed me to overcome my fears.

 “You can’t be afraid to use it. There isn’t anything you can do that we can’t help you fix, unless you drop it…” During his rant, I made eye contact with an elderly woman who waited in line for help. She smiled at me, understanding my embarrassment.

“Honestly, I think it’s a generational thing,” I said.

“No,” said the boy computer guru, “It’s a person thing.”

I felt my face grow red. I glanced over at my new friend in line. “I agree with her,” she said.

I zipped up my computer case and walked away, smiling and giving a silent thumbs up to the lady who’d come to my rescue. Maybe it is a person thing.


A graduate of The Pennsylvania State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications, Arts and Sciences and a Minor in English, Sandy has a background in Federal, State and County Government.
Her first novel, Money Man was published January 2018 (Year of the Book Press). She has published articles in the Pennsylvania School Board Association’s magazine The Bulletin, online magazine Keystone Edge, and has worked in advertising, and museum script writing (Oil Heritage Museum, Titusville, PA).

Sandy, a freelance writer, is completing her second novel. She is serving her second term on the Pennwriters Board of Directors as the Area 5 Representative. She and her husband Todd are the parents of two daughters and one grumpy cat.  
Can you empathize with Sandy's visit to the Geek squad? Do you think we approach tech in certain ways because of who we are or what generation we are?



Wednesday, March 20, 2019

#AuthorToolBoxBlogHop March 2019

I'm thrilled to be participating once again in the Author Toolbox Blog Hop, the brainchild of Raimey Gallant. Join fellow writers as we share some insights and advice on this writing life.

Two months from now, I'll be packing for my trip to Pittsburgh, PA where I'll be attending the 32nd annual Pennwriters Conference for three days. I've been a member of Pennwriters for fifteen years. It's a writing group covering the entire state and all writing careers. There are 40+ hours of workshop sessions and appointments to be had for pitches to attending agents and editors. Keynote speakers will share insights and expertise. I'm not pitching the conference because I'm on the board, though it is an excellent conference if you're in the area. I'm pitching workshops and conferences in general.

The board of on Pennwriters recently debated the question of whether or not younger writers are as keen to attend and join writing groups and conferences that meet in the flesh. One side believes that younger writers find their network and tribe online. Unlike those of us who have been in the business to a long time when the only support was found in local writing group, the first place writers look today is online.

The Insecure Writers Support Group is one example of an excellent online group. RWA, despite recent updates that don't seem like updates, has forums and their online classes. Blog hops like this one can lead to networking opportunities. Critique partners are found through Facebook groups. Why spend the money to travel and attend a workshop or conference?

I've been published by a small press for over twelve years, but I know there are zillions of ways to improve my writing and at least that many things I don't know that I don't know. Every time I attend a conference or workshop, I learn something I didn't know. And not always from the presenter. Sometimes, I pick up things from the person I sit with at lunch or at the bar in the evening. Sometime, it's the person who sits beside me in a workshop. Or the free literature sitting around in the hospitality suite or included in the welcome folder. There are always craft and marketing books for sale, too. I found my first critique partner at my first writing conference. It might be a cliche, but we met on the elevator.

My local chapter of RWA held a one day workshop last November. It was a terrific, well-spent day that included lunch and only cost $50 for many pointers on marketing and platform.

Our Pennwriters board didn't come to a conclusion or ways we can draw more young writers to our organization. I thought this was the perfect spot to pick the brains of writers. Where do you make your networking and support connections as a writer? Do you enjoy in person meetings and workshops? What do you look for if attending a conference? What might entice you to attend a workshop?

Please visit the other participants of this bloghop.




Wednesday, March 6, 2019

IWSG: March 2019

Welcome to the monthly bloghop created by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Join us as we share advice, insecurities and all things writing. Find the complete list of participants on the IWSG site.

Each month an optional question is thrown out there. This month's question:
Whose perspective do you like to write from best, the hero (protagonist) or the villain (antagonist)? And why?

I enjoy both perspectives but find the antagonist easier to write for. I like to get in the villain's mind so the reader can see why the bad guy thinks he's the good guy. That's more fun than pure evil.

If you're in the northeast like me, you were swatted with three snowstorms in four and a half days that wound up Monday morning. I'm tired of snow, but my granddaughter loves it. Shoveling and sled riding. Grammy has been walking a lot of hills this winter. I'm ready to plant some flowers.

"Gardeners, I think, dream bigger dreams than emperors." Mary Cantwell

This cold, snowy winter is really difficult for the homeless. I hope you remember the shelters and churches, and food banks that help those people.

"What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others remains immortal." Albert Pike

Participating in IWSG always reminds me how fast time is flying by. My granddaughter turned two years old this past weekend. Where does the time go?

The excitement is really building for the last season of Game of Thrones. I can't imagine the pressure the writers must feel with the weight of viewers expectations upon them. We all have our theories and want our favorites to survive. We all have anticipations about the upcoming reunions and hope they're as emotionally fulfilling as we expect. We all have a few characters we hope get their due. There will so much judgement when it's finally over.

"There has never been a statue set up in honor of a critic." Jean Sibelius

I recently binged The Umbrella Academy on Netflix. It was entertaining but not great. I do hope for a second season. Any suggestions on what to binge while I'm visiting blogs today?

A lot of things are going on this week. Ash Wednesday is today. Friday is International Women's Day and Captain Marvel comes out appropriately that day. It's also my youngest son's birthday. His closest friends always text him on his birthday and wish him Happy International Women's Day instead of happy birthday.

"It is the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Next weekend, Daylight Savings Time begins. A lot of people don't like the time change and I hate losing the hour of sleep, but I like having dark in the morning and sunlight later in the day.

Do you like reading the antagonist's POV? Do you have some expectations for season 8 of Thrones that will influence your enjoyment of the series' end? Are you a Daylight Savings Time fan or do you hate it?




Monday, February 25, 2019

Dead of Winter: Sherry Knowlton


I'd like to welcome Sherry Knowlton today. She writes in one of my favorites genres, mystery and suspense with a bit of romance. 

Thanks, Susan, for inviting me onto your blog today. 

My Alexa Williams series is mystery/suspense with a nice dollop of romance.  My stories are set in the present day but are somewhat unique in that they contain a parallel historical story that intersects with the contemporary mystery at some point in the book.  So, it’s particularly important that each story contains a few key elements that help ground it in the correct era.

In the newest book, Dead of Winter, I looked to drone technology to provide that sense of early 21st century setting.  The heroine, Alexa, and her friends discover a disturbing image on the video footage they’ve just filmed with their drone.  That discovery leads Alexa into big trouble. In contrast, the parallel story is set in pre-Civil war days and follows a young slave in his escape from a Virginia plantation. The most cutting edge technology in that story is a horse and wagon.

Of course, there are many things an author can use to ground a story in an era or a region. For example, I used style of dress, slang and music to help bring the hippie era to life in Dead of Summer. Speech patterns and entirely different set of slang helped me set the stage for the Depression era subplot in my first book, Dead of Autumn.

In some ways, I find it easier to capture bygone eras by emphasizing a few of that time’s most distinctive characteristics than I do to depict the current day. Perhaps it’s because we are so immersed in our everyday environments that we must be especially keen observers to predict the items that will make future readers think, “Oh, this book is set in the early 21st century.”

But, my books also use issues that are ripped from today’s headlines as the background or key components of the plot.  So, those issues provide much of the contemporary flavor.  I guess you’ll need to read of one the books to discover whether I’ve been successful in nailing the proper sense of time and place. Dead of Winter is the newest with a release date of February 19th.


Dead of Winter
“With riveting suspense and vivid details, Dead of Winter by Sherry Knowlton brings the towns and forests of Southcentral Pennsylvania to vivid life as cultures and beliefs clash in a searing tale of murder, love, and communal fear.  From flying drones to police investigations and legal wrangling, Dead of Winter will keep you guessing and glued raptly to your reading chair.” 

-          Gayle Lynds, New York Times best-selling author of The Assassins


A lighthearted trip to test a new drone turns deadly for attorney Alexa Williams
and two close friends when they find a stranger’s bullet-riddled body in a remote field in
rural Pennsylvania. Next to the dead man is a note that declares: Allahu Akbar.
When a second man is executed near Harpers Ferry, Alexa’s old flame, Reese, becomes a suspect, leading her to question just how much he changed while working in Africa. Fear of Islamic terrorism spreads like wildfire through Alexa’s small town after a third murder. After police arrest the oldest son of her Syrian refugee clients, the family becomes the focus of mounting anti-Muslim rage, and a dangerous militia group turns its sights on Alexa.
One dark night in the dead of winter, Alexa discovers who is behind the murders and must race to stop an attack that could kill hundreds. If she fails, she could lose everyone she loves.

Buy links:
·         Available at most online retailers and bookstores.
About Sherry: Sherry Knowlton is the author of the Alexa Williams series of suspense novels: Dead of Autumn, Dead of Summer, Dead of Spring and the most recent release, Dead of Winter.  Passionate
about books at an early age, she was that kid who would sneak a flashlight to bed at night so she could read beneath the covers. All the local librarians knew her by name. When not writing the next Alexa Williams thriller, Knowlton works on her health care consulting business or travels around the world. She and her husband live in the mountains of South Central Pennsylvania. 




Connect with Sherry at:

Do you think drones can help solve crimes or perhaps discover crimes? Is that title hitting right in the cold spot for this time of year? 

Thanks, Sherry, for visiting today.



Wednesday, February 20, 2019

#AuthorToolboxBlogHop: Feb. 2019

Much thanks to Raimey Gallant for creating and organizing this blog hop where writers can share information and learn something new. Find the rules and a list of all participants here.

I learned a lot of things in January which was my first month participating in this blog hop. I'm sure this month will be the same.

As is probably the case with you, since I've become a writer, I've become a more discerning reader. Life is too short to read books or stories we're not enjoying. With a terrific library only a few minutes driving time from my house, I have access to a lot of books. I often pick up a book because I heard about it or saw it on some kind of list.

Sometimes, I find a new author that I've never read before this way and immediately gobble up everything that they've written. But then there are the ones that I can't finish. I try, usually for a few chapters or at least fifty pages. I don't have more time than that for a book I can't get into. But finding those books has helped me be a better writer. Or, I hope so.

Every time I don't finish a book, I analyze why it didn't work for me. At the very top of that list is unlikable characters. Then I have to figure out why I can't bring myself to care about those characters. Are they whiny, immature, selfish, or TSTL (too stupid to live)? They have fifty pages for me to believe they're going to grow or change.

The second thing that might turn me off is an unbelievable relationship. Did a couple fall in love for no reason other than the other person being pretty? Did one of them do something so mean or unforgivable yet they are forgiven because they're sexy?

Third are the flawless or totally dark characters. No one should be perfectly angelic and no would should be completely evil, at least not if they're human. Characters who are too good can be boring. Their ethics and morally need to challenged.

A fourth element that makes me put a book down is the setting. For whatever personal quirk, I can't read books about the entertainment industry or politics. I usually won't even start a book set in one of those arenas.

Coming in at number five is when nothing happens. No action, no drama, no tension, maybe not even a change in the weather. The story needs to move forward. Maybe the last one hundred pages are great, but the author is going to lose me before I get there.

There are many smaller things that turn me off to a book, but those above are things that guide me in my own writing. It gives me pause when a reviewer remarks that they didn't think the central relationship was realistic. I listen because that is one of my pet peeves. I like snarky characters with flaws, but I don't want my protagonist to be cruel or vicious. Each time I read a book, I try to figure how why it didn't work. Most writers will agree that reading is very important to being a writer.

"If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all else: read a lot and write a lot." Stephen King

I read at least two books per week of varying genres. Currently, I'm catching up with Jane Harper. I read her first book, The Dry and am into Force of Nature right now. I'll get her third book, The Lost Man from my local library. I love her setting and she surrounds her main protagonist with interesting characters. I also like reading about a law enforcement officer who isn't drunk and lacking in discipline and common sense but is still bringing personal issues to the table.
Another favorite author I read and re-read is John Hart. I never skim over a word in his books even when I'm reading them for the second time. If you haven't read him before, start with The Last Child.

Do you read a lot? Any good recommendations? What turns you off from a book? Does your reading help your writing?

We're bracing for another snowstorm today in PA, so I'll visit other blogs when I can.




Monday, February 18, 2019

Corruption by Nick Wilford

Hi Susan! Thanks for hosting me as part of my tour. Today, we're going to go live to one of Harmonia's top investigative TV shows for an interview with the youngest member of the science team.
*
I’m Mark Tangleford from Harmonia Happenings, and today we’ve got something exciting for you – an insight into the hitherto secretive world of the Whitopolis science labs through the eyes of its youngest member, Dr Daniel Carrickson.
Let’s introduce you to our viewers. Can you tell our viewers a bit about yourself and how you got started in the exciting world of science?
(Clears throat nervously) Well, sure, Mark. Um, let me see. I guess I was always fascinated by science, all the wonderful things around us that make our lives better. Most people take them for granted, like the food transmission units – they just produce a delicious plate of food out of nothing, and it wasn’t always like that. When I was eight I tried to take ours apart at home to see how it worked. My parents had to spend five hundred dollars on repairs, so they weren’t too happy, but when I was leaving school my dad – who works as a government adviser – heard about an opening for a trainee scientist and put my name forward.
Yes, under the old system it seemed to be very much about having connections if you wanted to get anywhere in government. Now it seems they’re trying to make things a lot more open. Can you tell me about how things have changed?
Yeah, well, I’d only been in about my job for about a year you see when Wellesbury Noon overthrew the Reformers. So I wasn’t too set in my ways, unlike some of my older team members who, um, weren’t particularly happy about it! I don’t want to say anything bad, so I’ll leave it there. But yeah, it does seem more open, transparent you could say. We get groups of visitors who come round to see how everything’s done. It doesn’t seem like we keep secrets any more, whereas before people didn’t even know where the labs were. It was like a fortress.
Now tell me what’s coming up in the world of science. I hear you’re going to be part of a very special mission to Loretania.
That’s right, we’re preparing mass quantities of the disease antidote to help all the people over there who are suffering so much. That’s another thing I’m glad is out in the open. Of course, all of us who were behind the scenes, you could say, knew about what things were like there, but it was kept hidden from the population. It was the biggest secret of all. So yes, I’m really excited about that. It’s going to make a real difference and I hope it leads to some sort of interaction between the two countries.
Thank you for talking with us today, Daniel. I’ll let you get back to your important work now.
Thank you. It was a pleasure!
Title: Corruption
Author: Nick Wilford
Genre: YA dystopian Series: Black & White Series #: 2 of 3
Release date: 11th February 2019
Publisher: Superstar Peanut Publishing
Blurb:
Wellesbury Noon and Ezmerelda Dontible have found themselves in a position where they can make their native land somewhere that lives up to its name: Harmonia. However, they’re setting their sights further afield for their number one task: eradicating the disease that has plagued the neighbouring country of Loretania for generations and allowed the privileged Harmonians to live in a sterile environment.

After dispatching a team of scientists to Loretania, armed with cratefuls of an antidote and vaccine and headed up by their friend, Dr George Tindleson, Welles, Ez, and Welles’s brother Mal – who grew up in that benighted nation – start to worry when they hear nothing back, despite what they had agreed. Commandeering a fishing boat to follow the science team over the sea, they soon find that, while the disease may be on the way out, a new kind of infection has set in – the corruption they thought they had stamped out in Harmonia.

Can they get to the root of the problem and eliminate it before even more damage is done to an innocent people?

*** Warning – this book contains themes that some sensitive readers may find upsetting. ***
Purchase Links:
Meet the author:
Nick Wilford is a writer and stay-at-home dad. Once a journalist, he now makes use of those early morning times when the house is quiet to explore the realms of fiction, with a little freelance editing and formatting thrown in. When not working he can usually be found spending time with his family or cleaning something. He has four short stories published in Writer’s Muse magazine. Nick is also the editor of Overcoming Adversity: An Anthology for Andrew. Visit him at his blog or connect with him on Twitter, GoodreadsFacebook, or Amazon.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

IWSG: February 2019

The year is already zipping along. The first Wednesday of the month mean IWSG, the monthly bloghop and brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh. Please share your questions, failures, victories, and inspirations with the group. Find the entire list here.

The optional question for hop participants this month: Besides writing, what other creative outlets do you have?

Not as many as I used to. LOL. Time being a factor. I love cross-stitch and have done some pretty nice projects with it, if I do say so myself. I also love to crochet and I love to bake and try new recipes. I don't do much of the latter anymore. With my kids all grown up, baking is a very bad idea for my husband and me. It's only us to eat those goodies. I have no one to crochet a blanket for either though my granddaughter is getting one as soon as she's old enough to pick her colors.

Hope you all didn't suffer too much in the recent deep freeze. It was really miserable. I'm dreading the electric bill which will probably be posted today or tomorrow. Could be a record for us. It's warmer than average now, but who knows what is on the horizon.

"A fair day in winter is the mother of a storm." English proverb

I've been reading a lot of statistics about publishing and how writers are faring in this ever more competitive field. Lots of numbers show that authors are making a lot less in the past year than they made a few years ago. Over-saturation of the market is one of factors most often cited. At a recent one-day workshop I attended, the presenter shared that 730 new romance novels are published every day. Wow! Romance readers are voracious, but those numbers are still unnerving. How does one get found by new readers?

Working on a new book and trying to keep my 1,000 words per day going like I have for the last four books I wrote. It took me a lot of years to figure out a process that works for me.

I'm enjoying the new FOX show, The Passage. It's a lot like the books, and the differences are working. It's getting the creep factor right. Another show I'm looking forward to in 2019 is the return to The 100, a CW show that gets better every year. Also, I heard this season of SYFY's Killjoys will be its last. This is a fun show if you haven't tried it before. In case you believe I only watch science fiction and fantasy show, I am really enjoying the new CBS show, FBI.

Saw on the news today that Pennsylvania's new budget is once again not increasing the funding to public libraries. What are they thinking. It's one of those things I'm glad to pay taxes to support. Hope your home states or countries do better than mine. On the other hand, my local county has found more monies for libraries. I can't express how important libraries are and how much I love my local one.

Stay warm, friends, and keep on reading and writing. Do you have many creative outlets? Do you love your local library? Did the polar vortex get you? Any TV keeping your warm this winter?


Wednesday, January 16, 2019

#Author Toolbox Bloghop Jan2019

I'm so excited to read a lot of great posts this week. This is my first time joining the Author Toolbox Bloghop. Much thanks to Raimey Gallant for hosting and organizing it.

I've been published by a small press for almost twelve years now. Much has changed since I first started writing. Back at the beginning, I was lucky enough to find a local chapter of RWA who holds monthly meetings. I learned tons about formatting, query letters, synopsis, and all those other things we have to learn that aren't writing the current WIP but that we need to do.

Eager for information that would help me get published, every year I would buy the latest version of Writer's Digest thick book of agents and publishers. It was also at that time that everything had to submitted by snail mail in hard copy to any of the Big Publishers. I wasn't published and had no budget. I look back at the records I kept then and am horrified at how much I spent on postage. I also remember the hours I spent perusing that Writer's Digest guide. I spent money every month buying writing magazines. Looking for the secret to breaking into the business. I had two shelves in my office filled with writing books.

I'm not sure I'm wiser now, and the industry has really changed. Submissions are digital. The savings in postage, paper, ink as well as avoiding the very slow local post office make me very happy. No reason to buy that thick Writers Digest Guide to Editors and Agents. All that information is online. The information I read all those magazines for is now free online. The Write Life website recently posted their annual list of 100 Best Writing Websites: 2019.

The Writer's Digest magazine still tempts me with special offers and I take them up on it now and then. One of the best issues they put out is their version of 100 best websites for writers. Again, everything we writers need is online and most of it is free.

Looking back, I know I was using reading those writing books and magazines was a form of procrastination for me. I still have a lot to learn and hopefully will continue learning throughout my writing career, but I know the most important thing I can do with my time is write. I've also learned that there is no secret hidden in those books. It's all about hard work and persistence.

"Luck is not chance, it's toil; fortune's expensive smile is earned." Emily Dickinson

Do you remember the days of snail mail submissions? Do you still purchase writing magazines or writing books? Thanks, everyone, for welcoming me to your group.