Saturday, June 24, 2017
A Small Gang of Authors: Goofy Post Day at #OurAuthorGang: By Erika My idea of dressing up had always been comfi, faded jeans and t-shirt since I was a very young child. My mother's idea, ...
My idea of dressing up had always been comfi, faded jeans and t-shirt since I was a very young child. My mother's idea, on the other hand, was fluffy dresses, adorned with lots of lace, and huge bows in my hair. Gosh, I hated those bows! I remember the day when this picture was taken in the photographer's studio.
I felt miserable, and it shows in the picture. No matter what my mom promised or even threatened to take away, I refused to smile.
Mom didn't give up to have a perfect picture taken of me dressed in her favorite outfit, so when we got home, she made me pose under the acacia tree that was filled with flowers. Unnoticed by her because she was busy setting the camera, I inched my way closer and closer to the tree branches.
To my great satisfaction, the hated bow got caught and tangled in the branch and when I yanked my head, the sharp thorns ripped the silk bow to shreds.
One glance at mom's angry eyebrows told me I was in big trouble, so I started running toward the front porch to reach the safety of my dad's embrace that always saved me from my mother's wrath. But in my haste, I stepped into the dog's water bowl, skidded, and fell into the muddy flower bed that dad just finished watering. My fluffy dress was ruined but the pitiful look on my face must have softened mom's anger because she quietly put the camera away and never again forced me to wear the enormous bows and fluffy dresses.
Here I sit, all alone on our faded cream sofa.
My feet are hanging over one of the dark wooden arms, as my hand grasps the tumbler ever tighter.
The half-empty bottle on the coffee table speaks volumes, as my eyes shed droplets like the whiskey tears running down the outside of the glass.
Was it only last week that she packed her bags and left, clearing out the bank account on her way to meet her new lover?
Someone I knew so very, very well; my mate and my best friend.
I really, really . . . miss him.
Friday, June 23, 2017
All You Have To Do Is Bleed - Part 3
In the winter of 2008 I gave Dorgo a dowsing rod as a tool, a divination wand to help him solve magical crimes. I began writing up a storm and was almost finished with "Mad Shadows: The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dowser" when the company I worked for since 1978 closed its doors. Once again my world was turned upside down. But I persisted, I became a bull dog, determined to finish the book and get it published. But a weird thing happened during the final proof for the publisher: I discovered a theme running throughout the six novellas that make up the book. That theme was loss — the loss of family and loved ones, the loss of wealth, comrades, and the loss of one's soul. This had all crept into my stories unconsciously. I didn't plan on it: I was just writing pulp fiction.
But there it was: a theme. Loss.
Since then I have published five novels and seven short stories, with a two more novels on the way, at the time of this blog. (I have also written numerous articles and book reviews for Black Gate e-zine.) But I swear — I never set out to write about loss in any of those stories. The theme just keeps creeping in: my fear of loss, my fear of growing old, of dying all alone and no one finding my body for weeks. There are some minor themes, too, such as my need to search for something that is missing in my life, something I may never find.
So I guess I had to go through some very personal pain, experience some very heavy-duty loss, before I could write anything of any substance, of any value and merit and even meaning. All this, like some cosmic or divine plan, had to happen, could not happen, until I lost my job, and more importantly, lost the two people I loved the most in this world: my parents. My writing could not take any kind of coherent shape until I had my world turned upside down a few times. Since then, besides losing my job, losing love and suffering one heart break after another, I've lost many more family members, friends and loved ones. I guess writing is way of processing all my grief, despair, fears and heartaches. It slips into my work without my even realizing it. It has helped me cope, but I still have a long way to go before I reach a place of happiness again. But this is what happens when you write, when your emotions are channeled through your words. For me, it's a form of therapy, as much as it is a need and a desire to entertain people. I was blessed with parents who always believed in me, supported me in everything I wanted to do and tried to do. They knew I'd get published one day. Sadly, it all had to happen after they were gone. I'm still searching for that kind of love, that kind of support, that kind of happiness.
In the immortal words of my Mom, “Hang up the fucking guitar and write, damn it! That's what you were born to do.”
I guess I should never have doubted her.
So that's why I write the way I write, the way I want and try to write: from and for the heart. I'll leave writing for the brain to the scholars and academics out there. I want you to feel what I feel, what my characters feel, and if I've touched even a handful of readers out there, then I've succeeded.
Writing may be easy for some . . . for me it's really hard work. But for all of us who write, it's the same:
All we have to do is bleed.
The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dowser
Winner of the 2017 Golden Book Readers' Choice Award for Best Fantasy.
Available on hardcover, paperback, Kindle, and Nook editions
Mad Shadows II:
Dorgo the Dowser and the Order of the Serpent
Available in paperback, Kindle, and Nook editions.
Until next week . . . goodbye and thank you!
Thursday, June 22, 2017
Author Brands Are Important - Part 2
By Mackenzie Flohr
"Which brand would you like more: one that says that it is nice or one that does something for you?"
- Author of the Social Brand
Before I had found a publisher, my friend and former colleague, Frank Tobin, from when we worked together for actress Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki Newman, The Young and the Restless) back in the 2000s, advised me to start thinking about creating something to market with my book. Originally I had thought about creating a replica of the king's Bynoch, which is similar to the manifested quartz crystal I wear around my neck. But then I realized I wanted something a bit more "cool".
In 2016, I commissioned Magical Alley, known for their beautiful, custom designed wands, including Pottermore wands, and there great customer service, to craft the wand known in my series belonging to the warlock, Mierta McKinnon!
Magical Alley started in 2004 as a dream to have a company that would be creative and fun, designing wooden products of the utmost craftsmanship and at a price that would be affordable. Their unique items range from lathe turned magic wands, many various hand carved or crafted artistic items. They offer one on one consultation with their customers, to create their very own custom designs for wands, wizard or walking staffs. Head of Magical Alley, is master craftsman Timothy Wood. He has been a professional craftsman with 30 years of woodcraft skills, ranging in Antique Restoration to Cabinet Making. Check out the video below of Tim demonstrating his craftsmanship!
Then, something "magical" happened. I learned actor Matt Smith, who inspired my main character, Mierta McKinnon, was going to be appearing at Wizard World Cleveland, which is where I grew up and my parents still live. A thought started to turn around in my head that maybe I could bring the wand to him and he could sign it! Then for the rest of my days whenever I needed some extra inspiration, I could look at the wand or even hold it, knowing it would forever be a special moment for me. I contacted Magical Alley and asked them if they would be able to get the wand to me by then for I had someone I needed to bring it to.
Literally two days before the convention, my wand showed up at my door. I brought it to Matt, laid on the table in front of him, and just became lost in the moment. At first I don't think he even knew how he was going to sign it. The wand cost the same as much as Matt's VIP (just to give some perspective) due to rarity of the Gabon ebony wood. He stared at it for a while before signing it, picking it up, and swinging it at me. That moment is what changed my wand from just looking nice to doing something for me.
Over the past year, this story has gone viral around social media. One of the authors of BHC Press had learned of my story and passed the word onto her publisher. That is how the beginning of my journey began. Sometimes one must give to the universe and sometimes the universe will even give back.
Since, my brand, and my story has led me onto fantastic opportunities and connections with Genesee Davis, Rachel Caine, James Morris, Mini Matt Smith, DrWhoOnline, and Jake Dudman.
I'm excited to see what the future has in store for me and thrilled to have you, my readers, along for the ride.
2017 Book of the Year Nominee
I'm excited to announce The Rite of Wands has become a finalist for Book of the Year through #BooksGoSocial. The winner will be based on both the popular choice and the judges decision. If I win, I will receive $99 of promotion, $151 in cash, and my book will be announced as the winner on June 24th at 9 PM GMT at the Dublin Writers Conference in Dublin, Ireland.
Will you please take a minute of your time and vote for my book!
And if you would like to see what my book is all about, check out the Universal Link for purchase.
Wednesday, June 21, 2017
In this competitive market, your manuscript has to shine, regardless of how you hope to publish it. An agent isn't going to look twice at a manuscript full of school-boy errors, and if you are thinking about self-publishing, then your book needs to be at least as good as those produced by the big publishing houses. A Copy Editor (Line Editor) is a must, but there is also a great deal of software out there that states it can help you with the writing process, but also with the editing as well — a bold claim indeed.
So today, I thought we would look at some of the software that is out there for purchase. Please feel free to write in the comment below if you have had success with the software I am going to show you today.
*Please note. I do not endorse any of the companies or software below. The blurb under the logos are the companies own words, not mine!*
Scrivener is a powerful content-generation tool for writers that allows you to concentrate on composing and structuring long and difficult documents. While it gives you complete control of the formatting, its focus is on helping you get to the end of that awkward first draft.
Our software helps turn your good writing into great writing.
Improve readability and eliminate errors.
Grammarly makes sure everything you type is easy to read, effective, and mistake-free.
Communicate quickly and accurately with Ginger Page's one stop writing shop – writing tools that help you express yourself better.
Meet your new critique partner.
The fresh set of eyes your manuscript needs.
Instant, unbiased feedback without the hassle
Save time and take control of the editing process.
Polish your manuscript and write better fiction.
Expresso is a little tool to edit texts and improve your writing style. It will teach you to express yourself through writing more efficiently and help make your texts more readable, precise, and engaging.
Scribophile is a respectful online writing workshop and writer’s community. Writers of all skill levels join to improve each other’s work with thoughtful critiques and by sharing their writing experience.
StyleWriter will make you a better writer – we guarantee it. A bold claim we know, but that’s what our users tell us. Thousands of people download StyleWriter every month and use it to edit advertising copy, business reports, contracts, manuals, newsletters or web pages. Even professional journalists and novelists use the program to polish their writing style.
If you're working on contracts, proposals, reports, technical documents, articles and books, PerfectIt saves time on copy-editing, so that authors can pay more attention to what matters most: the words and their meaning.
Hemingway makes your writing bold and clear. It's like a spellchecker, but for style. It makes sure that your readers will focus on your message, not your pose.
So there we have it. A list of software that claims they can help you with your writing and editing. Which software, if any, do you use? Let me know below.
Thanks for reading!