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Because Everyone Loves a Good FREEbie!

turbo n potde smallIt’s always nice when you watch a movie that you don’t expect to be good and it turns out to be a winner. It’s even better when you watched that movie for free. I’m giving everyone the opportunity to have that “feel good” moment by offering three of my books FREE for download for a limited time. There is a series for everyone of every age.

Dagger & Brimstone: Town from Hell – (YA/adult) – Horror, Comedy, Adventure – download for FREE on April 7 – April 11, 2020

Review Quote: “In order to enjoy this book you have to enjoy horror, mystery, and romance. I only enjoy one of those genres when its done right and only somewhat enjoy the other two when they are done exceptionally well. That being said, I am surprised to say I had a good time going through this book.”

The Troubled Souls of Goldie Rich: The Zombie Next Door – (YA/safe for Middle Grade) – Adventure, Comedy – download for FREE on April 14 – April 18, 2020.

Review Quote: “As a parent whose always on the look out for safe and fun reads for the kids to read, I cannot say enough about the first book in this series. Lots of action to keep your young readers attention (and their parents.. *coughing* I loved it) and also full of lots of places to giggle!”

Pirates Off the Deep End – (Middle Grade/Safe for Adult) – Adventure, Comedy – download for FREE on April 21 – April 25, 2020.

Review Quote: “This book was very entertaining. At times I felt like I was watching a movie and needed to close one eye to get just only a peek at what was to come. It totally held my interest and was just the right length. Loved the characters! Lot’s of fast moving action!

There you go. Save the date and get free books. Enjoy!

 

 

What Am I Reading?

Opt2- Lyric Thumbnail

Writers are told they will become better writers if they are also readers. While I’m working on my supernatural, new adult novel, The Knight in Tights, and the sequel to my supernatural YA/new adult sequel to Reno Red, I’m also reading…and listening.

I’m listening to an awesome podcast of a YA drama, Lyric Mother of a Faery Tale. The podcasts will be approximately 15 minutes each—perfect to listen to on the exercise bike, treadmill or anywhere really.

I highly recommend it. Click HERE for the link.

This is Lyrics summary:

Lyric is a 16-part YA audio drama about Ashley Scott, a college student whose life is magically transformed when her family legacy falls on her young shoulders. She planned to survive the summer working odd jobs around Eden College campus, but when mystical beings and reality collide, she’ll settle for keeping her sanity.

Besides the podcast, I have been reading, too. I like paper vs. tablet. Call me crazy.

I just finished Kelley Armstrong’s Visions book 2 in the Cainsville series. I loved Omens book 1, and book 2 is even better. I will be starting Deceptions book 3, soon. The Cainsville series is adult modern Gothic.

I also just finished Hear the Wind Sing (100 pages), and the second book of the trilogy Pinball, 1973 (135 pages) by Haruki Murakami. I don’t know how to describe the works, kind of like the Seinfeld show that was “about nothing,” but the books held my interest—and isn’t that what books are supposed to do.

Next up, Louise Penny’s Still Life, a Chief Inspector Gamache Mystery. Her series was recommended to me by a friend who read it in her book club.

I recommend any books/podcasts above. Please share what you have been reading. I’d be interested to find more good series.

Wacky, Weird, Wonderful, and Helpful, too!

 
The Rabbit Hole book cover

What happens when you ask a group of writers to write something weird? The Rabbit Hole: Weird Stories Volume 1. This anthology is a wonderful collection of stories and poems that showcase weirdness.

The best part of The Rabbit Hole is that is will be helpful. A percentage of the sales will help to fund mosquito netting in countries where malaria is a huge problem. A small book at a small price can help to buy a small net to save small children from a small insect. The Against Malaria Foundation provides the nets and the gruesome statistics on malaria.

You don’t need another book? Okay, you have friends, don’t you…and white elephant gifts to buy…stocking stuffers…waiting room material…

The paperback will be released soon on Amazon, but you can buy an electronic copy now.

Enjoy the weirdness, and thank you in advance if you decide to purchase a copy.

Reno Red Is a Character

Marisa and Reckless small

Reno Red is a very unique individual. The tiny, crossbow-wielding redhead is strong-willed, but she has a big heart toward animals and people in need–the catch is that her charitable heart doesn’t beat. The forever 20 year old is a vampire. A vegan vampire who sucks on beets.

You can follow what Reno Red is up to on her blog, The Misadventures of Reno Red. She’ll give you the scoop on vampire myths and facts, and you can learn about her latest adventure with Reckless. The first book in her novella series is also available, Reno Red Reckless.

 

April Blog Challenge “Art”

blog about it challengeThe Herd blog challenge continues with the theme of Art.

I decided to display art created by my talented artist friends. Most of the featured artists I met through my Nevada Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators group, and they have illustrated children’s books. One of the artists I met playing tennis and another I met from her book review blog. I have listed their websites where you can check out more of their amazing work. Enjoy!

Mayumi Kosaka has several books available featuring her wonderful artwork. Her stories and paintings are influenced from her native Japan.

Mayumi Art

Phyllis Mignard creates fun characters. For her book Draw Color Write (author Ann Pashak illustrator Phyllis Mignard), she created adorable Ro-Bits. Some are shown below.

 Phyllis art

 

Sharon Mann creates fantastic art with material as well as paint, pens, and graphics. She has a creative blog, Make Art Magic Happens where you can get a daily dose of art. She has illustrated many books including  Draw Doodle Color Write (author Ann Pashak illustrator Sharon Mann).   

 Sharon Art

Sharleen Collicott has written and illustrated several picture book series. Her illustrations are adorable, and she can even make bugs look cute.

Mildred and Sam series  

Toestomper and the Caterpillars   

Toestomper and the Bad Butterflies   

Seeing Stars   

 Sharleen Art

 Jerry Blank is not only artistic, but he has one heck of a tennis forehand. His new non-fiction, illustrated book is titled Backroads Nevada. The book delves into what you can find off the state’s major highways along with pen and ink and watercolor illustrations by Jerry.

Currently, he’s not selling paintings online, but you can contact him directly at http://www.goblankart.com/. 

Jazz Impressions: oil on canvas, framed, 48”x30″, Celebration:  oil on canvas, framed, 48”x30″, Tango: oil on canvas, 28”x40″, Lennon: Mixed media original. 22”x28”, Pirates: Mixed media original, 22”x28″, Einstein: oil on canvas, 20″x20″

 Jerry Art.jpg

Natasha Murray  lives in England. She is the author of several books including 3004 and Jack Solar’s Journal. Her Authors, Readers, Good Books and Book Promotions blog features book reviews (she provides free reviews to indie authors-check her guidelines) and author interviews as well as a page of book promotion ideas. Check out her books on the blog, too!     

Natasha Murray Art

 

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.

 

Welcome to the Fluffy Bunny…

TalesCoverArt

 

Welcome to the Fluffy Bunny, an adventurer’s bar, named after the blade used to slay the ancient dragon Thorenoak. The Fluffy Bunny is a place where tales are spun. Pull up a chair and join in on the adventure.

Among the wonderful tales about unusual names are A Pirate’s Dragon Tale. Find out what or who Puddles is and why the moniker.

Anthology available April 6, 2018.

Visit WolfSinger Publications.

 

 

The Man Behind the Beard – Writing Tips and a Bearded Men Quiz

     Writing tips and bearded men in one blog—just go with it. To make a fictional story come alive, writers need to create meaningful and memorable characters. The best characters, bearded or otherwise, are the ones that make the readers feel emotion while they read. If a protagonist is well-written, readers will want them to overcome conflict. They will feel heartbreak at a character’s misfortune. Readers will turn pages in hopes their beloved protagonist wins in the end. Unless, or course, the reader doesn’t like the protagonist.

Yin Yang

     Characters need a variety of traits. A character who is courageous and humorous could also be obnoxious and selfish. Antagonists shouldn’t be perfect, just like everyone else. Tony Stark saves the world and is likable, but he is a bit egotistical, too. However, egotistical people may not see a big ego as a flaw. Creating characters with a mixture of different traits allows readers to decide for themselves if they like a character or not.

Hunk, Babe, Troll

     Creating a great character takes a lot more effort than describing what they look like. For example, “the older man with a beard” could describe many guys, including the band ZZ Top and Santa. To add a little fun to this informational blog, here’s a history lesson that involves older men with beards. The answers will be at the end of the blog.

Men with Beards

     See if you can name all the bearded men. Getting all of them correct would be amazing. A score of five, six, or seven is impressive. Two to four correct answers is probably average. One correct answer is bad.

 Men with Beards

     Writing that is done well takes a lot of hard work. Many people underestimate what a good writer can do to make a story come alive, sway opinions, or make a company look good. It is a craft. It takes time, effort, and multiple revisions for writers to get an article, essay, or story from an idea to a finished product. Yet, many writers get paid .01 per word for their effort. This article would be worth $4.29.

Answers:

A. President Rutherford B. Hayes

B. Edmund Gwenn (Santa from the original movie Miracle on 34th Street)

C. Bram Stoker, author of Dracula

D. President Ulysses S. Grant

E. John Harvey Kellogg inventor of Corn Flakes and other breakfast cereals

F. John C. Fremont, American explorer

G. Buffalo Bill Cody, American scout and showman

H. President James A. Garfield

 Credits for photos: Hayes – biography.com; Grant –  quotesgram.com;  the rest – Pinterest

 

Give Wolves a Voice

Wolves Don't Play Dress Up Cover

I love wolves. They are my favorite animal and are pretty amazing when you take the time to learn about them. Unfortunately, they have received a bad rap for centuries. Fairy tales, other literature, and movies portray them as bloodthirsty killers. The creation of werewolves didn’t help their cause either.

Years ago, I wrote a story that would make wolves the good guys for once and educate people on some wolf facts. The story is too long to be a picture book and too short to be a book, so it has stayed in my laptop. Target stores is hosting a short story contest through Wattpad, looking for modern-day stories that involve a fairy tale or myth. It is perfect for my story, so I submitted it.

Since my following on Wattpad is small and only votes will push the story to the next level, it doesn’t stand a chance right now. If you would like to help me give wolves the voice they deserve, check out Wolves Don’t Play Dress Up. If you think it’s deserving, give it a vote. Thanks so much!

 

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.”