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Ashley’s Bookshelf – Reviews and Interviews

Dagger&Brimstone quotes6Author Interview by Ashley’s Bookshelf

Ashley’s Bookshelf has been awesome in posting author interviews for indie authors. You can read about Town from Hell at Ashley’s Bookshelf, my favorite character from the book, some writing quirks, and my advice to writers.

Ashley’s Bookshelf, listed as a reviewer on The Indie View, features in-depth book reviews for paranormal, sci-fi/fantasy, romance, Christian fiction, YA, mystery, and suspense as well as cover reveals.

 

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Just Books Character Interview of Racer Roane

Dagger&Brimstone quotes7The story of “Dagger & Brimstone: Town from Hell” is told from Racer Roane’s point of view. He and his girlfriend Arloe Vitteo experienced the worst vacation ever when they chose to go to Winthrop, Nevada, over glittering Las Vegas. Unlike Vegas’ motto “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” this book tells all about Winthrop, the town from hell.

Just Books caught up with Racer Roane to get an interview about the experience. Read all about it at Just Books blog. You may find out what the factory really is, why the coyotes won’t go near the town, and why the remaining residents are more than a little strange.

 

 

Fallen Over Book Reviews Author Interview

DAB Page 7Read an excerpt from Dagger & Brimstone: Town from Hell at Fallen Over Book Reviews. It will give you an idea why the coyotes won’t venture into Winthrop.

Also, learn more about Town from Hell’s author with Fallen Over’s interview questions.

Have you ever had a nightmare and were able to remember it?

Nevada and Its Ghost Towns

Read about Nevada and its ghost towns and semi-ghost towns on the Totally Addicted to Reading blog. The guest post features the book Dagger & Brimstone: Town from Hell and the reason the story was set in Nevada. Click here to see the book trailer.Welcome to NV 5 small

Not Vamps this time…

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Racer finds out what’s under the step. You can, too.

Dagger & Brimstone: Town from Hell. Amazon .99 SALE.

In Time for Halloween

Dagger&Brimstone99centsale

Town from Hell is the first book in the Dagger & Brimstone series. It is young adult, paranormal/horror and recommended for readers 17+.

The Pot

Flower PotWith the arrival of fall, the 110-degree temperatures have passed in Vegas. It is time for my annual ritual of planting fall flowers to liven up the outdoors. A dozen flowers are a cheap hobby, great therapy, and make the yard pretty. If you thought this was a blog about cannabis, it’s not.

A Thought Steamrolled into a Blog, #amwriting

As I prepared the soil in a large plastic pot, I had a thought—several thoughts actually, but I frequently can’t stay on task. I’m supposed to be working on my website right now, so don’t tell my husband I’m planting and writing a blog instead. Anyway, the pot of dirt didn’t serve any purpose. It was plain, boring, and didn’t do anything.

I chose to plant three different flowers in the pot. I could’ve put only one type of flower, and the pot would’ve been pretty; however, the chrysanthemum, morning glory, and geranium are very different in shape, size, and color, and mixed together, they made the pot more interesting and beautiful.

Flowers Are Cool

The flowers do their own thing in the pot, regardless of what the other flowers do. They have plenty of room to grow to maturity and will provide a great service while they thrive. They will grow just as well in a $5 pot as they would in a $100 pot. Pots may look different on the outside, but it’s what goes on the inside that makes the difference. The flowers are what make the pot beautiful, and not the other way around.

Bees and hummingbirds will stop by the pot for food. Ladybugs, mantis, and other bugs will probably visit for shade and protection, too. The flowers will give off oxygen to benefit everyone. Of course, my friends and family will enjoy the beauty of the flowers when they visit, and I’ll take pictures of the flowers to post on ViewBug.

Fun Tip, Ceramics Idea, #OffTopicAgain

If you don’t know what to do with all those little ceramic pieces your children or friends’ children made and gave you, they add a little something extra to flower pots. They are weatherproof, so they won’t get ruined, and it makes them functional.

When the sizzling 110 temps return, it’ll fry their leaves, and they’ll shrivel up. Sometimes, they leave seeds behind, and the seedlings take over the pot. Until then, the flowers will wave in the breeze, lift their heads to the sun, and dance in the rare Vegas showers. It doesn’t matter to the flowers if some people do not see their beauty or their contribution to nature. The flowers will continue to do their own thing in their own space and make the yard a better place while they’re in it.

If you liked reading about my flower pot, you may like to read one of my books. I’d really like that. If horror and paranormal is your preference, Dagger & Brimstone: Town from Hell will be on sale for .99 on Amazon from Oct. 5 – Oct. 9. That’s a bargain you shouldn’t pass up!

A Writer’s Qualifications

Employers often compose job descriptions for a multitude of positions to include qualifications such as “You look forward to the challenge,” “You are a great communicator,” “You have strong organizational skills and attention to detail,” “You’re good at overcoming challenges,” “You are creative, self-motivated, and able to take constructive criticism.” After running those qualifications by the potential candidate, employers get to the nitty-gritty and list about a thousand things they need to be skilled in—along with several years of experience. Usually, typos are in many of the job ads. “Proficiency in using a spell checker” should be included as well as utilized.

Writers may not realize they have all these qualifications, but they do. It’s a given that successful writers self-motivate. Words won’t appear on the paper/screen unless a writer puts them there. They draw inspiration from many sources, and it’s imperative. A writer needs to find what inspires them to overcome writer’s block and procrastination. A writer’s skill set can easily match the above list.

Up for the Challenge—Ideas, Grammar, Content, Acceptance

Writing is a challenge. Coming up with ideas and finally finishing a poem, short story or novel is a challenge. Tweaking it until the writer feels it is perfect—challenging. Getting it published—greatest challenge of them all. Writers look forward to the challenge of creating something new, researching material to make their work complete and finding a new and creative way to get as well as hold a reader’s interest. They must overcome rejection of their work—tons of it, mostly in the form of agent rejection letters—or they will never succeed. Writers can’t give up if they want to become published authors one day. This is a driving force for many.

Communication—Persuade, Inform, Entertain

Whether to persuade, inform or entertain, writers need to communicate with readers. Material must be well-written to sway someone into taking a side or to teach them a concept. Even if material is purely for entertainment, a writer does their best to captivate the reader. The characters, setting and plot is communicated from the writer’s imagination to the reader through word choice and attention to detail. Writing isn’t easy, and not everyone can or wants to do it. That’s why companies hire writers.

Constructive Criticism

What exactly is constructive criticism? Definitions.net sums it up perfectly. “Constructive criticism is the process of offering valid and well-reasoned opinions about the work of others, usually involving both positive and negative comments, in a friendly manner rather than an oppositional one. The purpose of constructive criticism is to improve the outcome.” In other words, all writers need to be open to feedback to grow and improve. A first or tenth draft can be improved. Successful writers learn this. After presenting material for feedback from critique groups, agents and reviewers, writers toughen up if they want to remain writers.

Writing is an art. It takes creativity, time, patience and a lot of other skills. Writers are artists who enjoy their craft because it’s a creative release and good therapy. A side note: If someone makes an impression on a writer–good or bad–there’s a good chance they’ve just given them inspiration for more material.

 

Piratemania

tommy-blue-pirates

If you’re a pirate fan like I am, you’re probably looking forward to the next installment of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, which is set to be released in May 2017. Captain Jack Sparrow and the gang will undoubtedly bring more fun and adventure to the silver screen as they search for Poseidon’s trident.

In the meantime, landlubbers can get into the pirate mood by scouring free online pirate name generators and getting a moniker worthy of an old salt such a Peggy “Treasure Chest” Pigg or Scabby Syd Smythe. You can even name your imaginary pirate ship. All Things Boat has a list of real pirate ships from the Golden Age of Piracy, including Blackbeard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge, and a list of funny ship names to choose from. Maybe Peggy “Treasure Chest” Pigg captains the Hell and High-Water or the Howling Lusty Wench. Shiver me timbers!

If you are in the market for a website with a compilation of all things pirate, X marks the spot on author and historian Cindy Vallar’s Pirates and Privateers. The site is a treasure-trove of information with pirate articles and links. It also has an extensive Book Review section that covers picture books as well as fiction and non-fiction for children and adults.

Avast ye, settle down with a good read, such as Pirates Off the Deep End, and learn some pirate speak, matey. Rum is optional, but it may make ye pirate speak a bit more authentic.

 

 

Writing Children’s Books – My Thoughts

Little Alien

When I first starting my writing endeavor over nine years ago, it was exciting, and I had a blast creating and learning. I bought and read the book, The Business of Writing for Children by Aaron Shepard, and it sent me on my way. The author suggested joining a writing group, such as the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), which I did, and finding critique groups to bounce around ideas and share material with other writers. I did that as well, and it was a great piece of advice. It was the best step I took to improve my writing, meet great people, and have lasting friendships with people who support what I do.

Ways to Improve Writing Skills

I’ve been to many conferences and lectures to hear authors, agents, and writers’ advice on how to improve my writing. I’ve also paid to have agents critique my manuscripts at these events. All of these steps have improved my writing tremendously—or so I believe. I’ve always learned something from any writing event I’ve attended. If you do the research, you can find free and low-cost events as well as big conferences.

So Where Are the Big Bucks?

Good question. I went into writing knowing children’s authors overall don’t make much. I’ve actually spent more money than I’ve ever earned from book sales. I’ve bought more of my own books and given away for promotion than I can count. I don’t write just for the money because I have yet to see any. If anyone has tips on this, I’d like to hear them.

The Joys of Getting Published

I had my first book, Pirates Off the Deep End, published in 2013 by Short on Time Books, a small publisher. I was beyond thrilled to see my work escape the jammed-packed folders of my computer and sit on a shelf with a beautiful, glossy cover. I still am thrilled. Although I don’t have a huge following or really even a small following, many people have enjoyed my books, and it makes me happy. Good reviews make me even happier.

That’s the bottom line for me—writing makes me happy, and I want my writing to make others happy as well. If you’ve read this far, you’re now going to get the best advice I have to offer.

The Old Man, Boy, and Donkey

If you don’t know the Aesop’s fable with the old man, boy, and donkey about trying to please everyone, it’s worth reading. It ends with the old man and boy carrying the donkey over a bridge because someone shamed them into it. The donkey fell off the bridge. Use its moral in your writing, too. Getting a critique is great, but you can often wind up with contrasting opinions: too much detail vs. not enough; too much dialogue vs. not enough; etc.– you get the picture. You can change your manuscript back and forth forever, and not everyone that reads it will be satisfied. At some point, stop changing it when YOU’RE happy with it.

The “It Takes Over 100 Query Letters” Rule

I’ve read time and time again if authors haven’t sent out at least 100 query letters to agents for a single manuscript, they haven’t given it a chance. I would agree with that statement. Persistence is the key to getting published, but it can be frustrating.

For instance, I write children’s books specifically geared for boys but the majority of agents seem to be women. Thus, my dilemma is I have to “sell” manuscripts to women that have humor meant for little boys. Little boys and women don’t have the same taste in “funny.” Let’s do the math:

Subject                           +           Boys’ Reaction         –    Agent’s Reaction  = Accept/Reject

Alien blue fart bubble             Laughs hysterically      Grimaces                    No thank you.

Alien ninja skills                      Laughs hysterically      Moans                         Doesn’t reply

I think I could send 10,000 query letters, and Aliens at Camp will reside in my computer. I’ve read it several times and laughed out loud. It makes ME happy. All I can do is keep trying to find that one agent who shares the same sense of humor and wants a wacky boy’s book. In the meantime, I keep writing because I enjoy it.

Bottom line, I can’t lose sight of the fact that writing is fun for me, and when bad critiques, agent rejections, and non-existent sales get me down, I need to take a step back and rewind. My favorite quote came from a very wise man, Captain Jack Sparrow, and it applies here. “The problem is not the problem; the problem is your attitude about the problem.”