Monday, 30 September 2013

Spotlight: An Interview With Tony Walkden

According to the Writers AMuse Me website, Tony Walkden has spent his life studying and learning about the world around him. He has developed a great understanding of nature and the challenges faced by many species. His ambition is to help educate people about the need to protect and preserve the environment. Anthony has spent his life in western Canada where he has taken every opportunity to increase his knowledge of local fauna.

His full name is Anthony Douglas Walkden. He will sometimes acknowledge Anthony, but he says 'my friends call me Tony'.



With A Dying Breath is a wonderfully written, well-researched book by one of the most passionate people on this earth. You will be amazed to learn of all of the preventative measures that can help slow and one day, hopefully stop the extinction of so many of the Earth’s gorgeous creatures. Mr. Walkden has put so much love into his work and should be very proud of his efforts to raise awareness for these animals. 

Complete with pictures donated by over 70 photographers and artists, this book discusses why some of theses species are endangered, why recovery is a challenge, and what we can be doing to help, before more of these amazing animals are gone forever. All royalties raised from the sale of this book will be donated to the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) and the IUCN Red List. 



Mariah: Which came first, the desire to write a book, or the desire to help animals?

Tony: That’s an easy one. The desire to help animals came first. It’s all I’ve wanted to do. The book came about when I was given a school assignment (I was home schooled because of my autism). I can read with no problem, but I have what my mom calls a ‘disconnect’ when I try to write. The message gets lost between my brain, my eye, and my hand, so even to write my name is really challenging, no matter how much I practice. The assignment was to write about three endangered animals on each continent so that I would have more practice with writing, but it grew from that.

Mariah: What were some of the unique challenges you faced writing and publishing your book, With a Dying Breath?

Tony: The first challenge would be that I have a very hard time writing. My mom created work sheets for every animal, so I could research it and write down the information. That helped a lot. When it came time to turn it into a book, I would read what I had written on my sheets, and Mom would type it for me. For some of the animals, finding verified information was a bit more challenging because they were so rare and not much was known about them. Another huge challenge was to find pictures of all of them, especially the very rare and endangered ones. We were able to contact people through the internet though, and the result is that we had photographers and artists from around the world donate their work to the book. There were over 70 contributors.

Mariah: Besides award winning author, what would your dream job be?

Tony: Working with animals, especially endangered ones. I was lucky enough to be Zoo Keeper For a Day at the Kamloops Wildlife Park. It was heaven. Now whenever I go there, they let me help out with the animals. You can see a video we made about it here.

MariahDo you have any unique talents or hobbies?

Tony: I do a lot of photography, especially of wildlife, and I draw a lot of animals. I am also taking a course through the University of Calgary on Paleontology  It’s my first university course, and I love it. It won’t be my last.

Mariah: I imagine it must have been challenging to collect all the photographs for your book. Was there an animal that was particularly hard to get a photograph of?

Tony: There were several, and there are two or three in the book that we have no picture or artwork for. The Riverine Rabbit was very hard to find, so we had an artist provide that one, as well as the image for the Smith’s Dwarf Chameleon. Some of the ocean animals as well were a problem, but we managed to find almost all of them. The Speartooth shark we could not get at all, and Baiji, an Yangtze River dolphin also was too elusive, and in fact, between the time we started the book, and the time it was published, the Baiji was declared extinct.

Mariah: What was your favorite animal from your book? If you can't narrow it down to just one, a top five will do nicely also

TonyThis is like asking my mom which of her kids is her favorite (of course, it would be me). I love the big cats but also the sharks. Some of the animals in the book impacted me more because of the ridiculous reasons for them being in peril. Some are beautiful, some have amazing abilities... I just love them all.

Mariah: If there is one message you could send the world, what would it be?

Tony: That there is still hope. These animals can still be helped. We don’t need to see any more animals going extinct. Every one that we lose does impact us... we may not know how, but eventually, it will impact us, so we have to protect them, and their environments, in order to protect ourselves.

Mariah: Are you working on any new projects?

Tony: I’m right now working on three new books – another on endangered animals, one on introduced species around the world and what harm they can do, and one on recently extinct animals, the ones since the dinosaurs, although I would also love to do a book about dinosaurs. Who wouldn’t want to write about them – but I think I have my mom convinced to include that in one of her books instead.

*     *     *

I want to take a moment to thank Tony Walkden for the amazing work he has done on this book and for his commitment to helping the animals of our world. I want to also take this opportunity to show everyone what some other people are saying about With A Dying Breath.

 
“With a Dying Breath” is an amazing book about our world’s precious wildlife.  So many animals today are being faced with challenges to thrive in the wild, and Tony Walkden tells the stories of some of the rarest creatures on Earth!”

Jack Hanna,
Director Emeritus, Columbus Zoo
Host, TV’s “Into the Wild” and “Wild Countdown"
  ~~ * ~~

Tony, you are an inspiration. Thank you for all you do for our world, and never give up! You bring home to us all.

Philippe Cousteau

~~*~~
Dear Tony, Congratulations on this important book. Thank you so much for sending me a copy. I hope it finds a wide audience, especially in school.

David Suzuki
~~*~~

Dear Tony, Very many congratulations for producing such a fabulous book. With A Dying Breath is a fantastic collection of informative writing. All the best,

Stephen Fry

Thanks for stopping by, Tony. It was a pleasure hosting this interview. 

Friday, 27 September 2013

Get Out of Your Way

Will Rogers was a smart man.

I've heard this many times. The writer who has an awesome idea, but spends weeks...sometimes months, trying to perfect the first few pages before moving on. You'll never get anywhere by spinning your wheels.

It's like Hemingway said (he was another smart man, by the way) The first draft of anything is shit. That's right, folks. So don't sit on your first few pages, toiling over the placement of the word THE, and trying to decide if it should be a comma or a semi colon. Write it and move on or you'll end up running yourself over. Because, even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there. (See, I told you he was smart.)

Get out of your way. Give yourself permission to write that first shitty draft and accept it for what it is, a draft. It's not the final product, so stop treating it like it is. There will likely be a few different drafts before you end up with something you could publish. The term 'first draft' wouldn't exist if everything came out perfect the first time.

Sit down, write with wild abandon and DO NOT LOOK BACK. Write until you reach those two glorious words that feel like heaven on earth to write...The End. Once you reach those two little words, then go forth in pursuit of perfection, because then, and ONLY then, will there be something to perfect.

I will leave you with some words to live and write by.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Luck is a Myth

I'm the kind of person that likes to have things to do. I have my writing, I have my family to take care of and now I've started taking a few online courses as well. With the weekly author interviews and helping Amber with her upcoming book launch, I think it's more important than ever to manage my time better.

I just discovered that Google has a Calendar function. Imagine my happiness when I learned that I can have a calendar on my computer that tells me when I should have stuff completed by. Technology is amazing, I know.

All kidding aside, I've scheduled my next week with not only real life stuff like parent teacher interviews and eye appointments, but I've set goals for my writing and set deadlines to have other tasks, like questions for upcoming author interviews, completed. (I also have to find 6 stunning book covers for our next indie author cover art contest, so if you have any favorite's drop the links in the comments to nominate them.)

At this point, you might want to ask me why I'm rambling on about this nonsense. Well, it's simple. I want to be successful at what I do, at everything I do. And I think that proper time management is key to this. No. I know proper time management is key to this. You see, there is no such thing as luck. Luck is a myth. Luck is when preparation meets opportunity. I'm not going to miss out on my opportunities because I didn't manage my time properly and set constant goals for myself so I could be prepared.

After you read this, do me a favor. No, scratch that, do yourself a favor. Make time for your joy because no one will hand it to you. You must scrape it out of every place you can. You were not put on this planet to simply be another cog in the machine. Chase your dreams, follow your joy.

Well, that's all the time I have scheduled to write this post. (kidding)

Do you have any time management tricks you can pass along?

Monday, 23 September 2013

Spotlight: An Interview with Michael Frissore

According to the Writers Amuse Me Publishing's web page, Michael Frissore has published two adorable poetry chapbooks called Poetry is Dead and Long Blue Boomerangand a lovely, easy to carry, ebook called The Thief. His work has appeared, as if by magic, in nearly 100 publications in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Best of the Web series. He also still brags about being included in a humor collection alongside comedians Patton Oswalt, Sarah Silverman and David Cross a few years ago. Mike is currently working on a novel about professional wrestling. He grew up in a fictional town in Massachusetts and now lives in Oro Valley, Arizona with his wife, two children, two cats, and a little cartoon alien only he can see. He blogs at http://themikefrizz.blogspot.com/



He has also published a collection of short stories titled Puppet Shows. A kindly organ grinder and his performing monkey adopt a young boy after his father spontaneously combusts; a barber living inside a whiskey bottle confronts the neighborhood nuisance who wields a dead squirrel like a pair of nunchucks; and an unruly gang of sock puppets are born in a basement dojo. Welcome to Puppet Shows, thirteen outlandish stories from a writer Tucson Weekly called "a very funny weirdo."

“Puppet Shows is absurdism at its best.” – Bradley Sands, author of Sorry I Ruined Your Orgy






Mariah: Where does your love of storytelling come from?

Michael: I think it was just growing up as a consumer of stories. I enjoyed reading as a kid, but it didn't matter where the stories came from. I was an avid watcher of professional wrestling and Days of Our Lives for years, and I have the returned love letters I wrote to Melissa Reeves to prove it. Soaps and wrestling, however much people might knock them, are really good for storytelling. As children, we take that love of storytelling and make our own stories. I watch my son play with his action figures and he creates his own stories. It's kind of like fan fiction, really. So I never grew out of that. No writer does.
  

Mariah: Do you have any unique hobbies or talents?

Michael: None. Well, one. I'm a Power Ranger. Don't tell my son. He doesn't know I fight Nylocks and Moogers. I'm also pretty good at spotting an opportunity for a "That's what she said" joke. I don't know whether that's unique though.


Mariah: What do you like to read in your spare time?

Michael: Right now I'm reading The Medical Staff Services Handbook: Second Edition, on my way to one day being certified as a Credentialing Specialist. Exciting, right? I do have two books on request at my local library and they represent what I enjoy reading pretty well. One is Jeff Guinn's biography of Charles Manson. I loved his book about Bonnie and Clyde. It was amazingly researched and I'm excited to see what he does with Manson. The second one is retired pro wrestler Lex Luger's autobiography Wrestling with the Devil

Okay, so it ain't Finnegan's Wake. Cut me some slack. I’m trying to get certified here.


Mariah: You published your book, Puppet Shows through Writers Amuse Me Publishing? What is the best thing about going with a small publisher?

Michael: It's kind of like a family. Everyone's very supportive and helpful to each other. I don't imagine you would get that from a larger publisher. So it’s great


 Mariah: Your book, Puppet Shows, is a collection of thirteen outlandish stories--where did the inspiration for that book come from?

Michael: A few years ago an editor rejected a couple of my stories, writing, "You're hilarious, but you treat your characters like puppets." It didn't offend me because he was right and I kind if owned that at the time. I said then that if I ever have a collection of stories published, I'm calling it "Puppet Shows." I used the word "outlandish" in the description and I took that from the description of the W.C. Fields film Never Give a Sucker an Even Break. In that film he has an "outlandish" script that he pitches to a dumbfounded studio executive. I feel like that was what editors were like when reading my stories.


Mariah: Tell me about your favorite story from Puppet Shows

Michael: My favorite is "Heckle," which was born out of two shorter pieces. In the first part a boy sees his father literally explode, then in the second part he's adopted by an Italian organ grinder and his performing monkey. I spent 20-30 minutes on the organ grinding Wikipedia page researching for that story. I was so proud of myself.


Mariah: Were there any stories that didn't make the final cut? 

Michael: One of the first stories I had published was called "Calista Flockhart and the MySpace Hoax." It was either that story or "The Lookist" that was going to get the last spot. I like both stories, but the characters in them are by far the least puppet-like and the most real. So the question was did they fit. "Calista" is also kind of a creepy story and MySpace is so irrelevant now. I thought about changing Flockhart to Zooey Deschanel and MySpace to Facebook or Twitter and calling the story "Catfishing," which is what the story's about. But I still like it as is.
  

Mariah: What was the hardest scene you've ever written?

Michael: I'm working on a novel now and I'm finding that the scenes that have delayed my writing of the story always focus on the characters traveling. It's set just outside of Boston, but there's quite a bit of travel involved. So I'm Google Mapping specific areas around the country. I spent a week looking up neighborhoods in and around Dallas. It sounds simple, but nothing Ive written has required research before other than the wonderful organ grinding bit.


Mariah: What can your readers look forward to seeing from you in the future?

Michael: Well, I've mentioned this novel I'm writing, and I've mentioned pro wrestling, which is what the novel's about. I'm hoping it will appeal to wrestling fans, but also have enough else within the story to appeal to the average reader as well. I'm actually quite optimistic about that.

Good Luck with your novel writing, Michael, and thank you for stopping by. It was a pleasure having you.

Friday, 20 September 2013

When Stars Die Trailer Reveal!

Turns out, Amber Skye Forbes has one pretty talented fiance. They put their heads together and crafted this simple, yet completely stunning book trailer for her upcoming novel, When Stars Die.


When Stars Die is a Paranormal Romance slated for release by AEC Stellar Publising on October 22 2013!

Now, let's leave some nice comments for Amber and her fiance. The video is simply stunning.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Work In Progress Report

It's been awhile since I've blogged about my current work in progress, The Demon in Him. On your left is a teaser I made for it some time ago now.

I'm happy to report that I'm more than half way finished. When last you heard from me, I was on chapter twelve. This morning I completed chapter twenty-two. I'm almost at forty-two thousand words and with forty chapters to write that should put the finished product somewhere between seventy-five and eighty-five thousand words. 

I've gone through several stages of self doubt with this project. Self doubt is the destroyer of writers dreams. It can, single handed, bury manuscripts for eternity. It's a hard thing to power through sometimes, but I keep doing it, because, ultimately, I have to tell this story. That is also why I'm imposing a deadline of November 1st for this draft to be finished. I have forty three days to go and eighteen chapter to write. I can make it. That's only another thirty five thousand words or so. If NaNoWriMo taught me anything, it's that I can slam out that many words in that short amount of time. Heck, other people have written entire first drafts in a matter of a week or so. 

I've been keeping pretty busy helping Amber Skye Forbes with the upcoming release of her novel, and working in the 10th issue of The Corner Club Press, AND searching for paranormal submissions for our upcoming paranormal special, but I will get this done. 

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Spotlight: An Interview with Amber Skye Forbes

I had the pleasure of interviewing Amber Skye Forbes about her debut novel, When Stars Die. When Stars Die is a paranormal romance slated for release on October 22nd, 2013 from AEC Stellar Publishing.

Synopsis: Amelia Gareth's brother is a witch and the only way to save her family from the taint in his blood is to become a professed nun at Cathedral Reims in the snowy city of Malva. However, in order to become professed, she must endure trials that all nuns must face.

Surviving these trials is not easy, especially for Amelia, who is being stalked by shadowy beings only she can see. They're searching for people they can physically touch, because only those they can touch can see them. Amelia soon learns why she is being stalked when she accidentally harms her best friend with fire during the third trial. Fire is a witch's signature. The shadows are after witches.

Now Amelia must decide what to do: should she continue on her path to profession knowing there is no redemption, or should she give up on her dream and turn away from Cathedral Reims in order to stop the shadows who plan to destroy everything she loves?


MariahYou started writing this book when you were just fifteen years old. If you could go back in time and tell your younger self one thing, what would you say?

Amber I would tell myself not to expect publication for quite a few more years because you're still young and your writing and storytelling skills are still immature. But they're good for being fifteen--not so much for publication.

Mariah: When Stars Die is set in a fictional place named Malva, and much of the story happens in a convent named Cathedral Reims? How hard was it to fashion a world out of nothing? 

Amber It was incredibly difficult to start a world from scratch. I started creating this world at fourteen, and it was a monstrosity originally. I developed the entire thing over 180,000 words because I had no idea how to cram such a big world into far less words. Originally Warbele was going to be a continent among other made-up continents, so essentially it was going to be an entirely new world, but I began to realize how unnecessary that was. And even though I don't mention this in When Stars Die, Warbele is a country situated near Denmark. So it's in our world. 

Mariah: There are witches in your book, but are they the kind of witches you would usually read about in other novels? If not, explain how your witches are different.

Amber:  I haven't read about witches that are like mine. For one thing, mine are born of the Seven Deadly Sins committed by parents, so they're a punishment for parents who have sinned for too long. They also have only one power, which is fire, and that power's only purpose is to mark a witch and nothing else. It's rare that a witch can control his/her fire, but it is doable. When witches die, they also die into something else. They don't die into Paradise or go to hell or anything like that. And then when they die again, they die for good, into nothingness. They cease to exist. 

Mariah: Where did the idea for the Shadowmen come from?

AmberI can't even tell you, honestly. It was years ago when I came up with the concept for these these guys. All I can remember is I had a nightmare about a girl in a black cloak going around and killing everyone. She was paler than snow,  had deep, black eyes, and she was ruthless. Now Shadowmen aren't inherently ruthless, but they do harbor a lot of hatred--and for good reason.

MariahYou've mentioned before that you were inspired largely by the Victorian era while writing this book. Is there anything specific about that era that attracted you to it? Why did you want to specifically draw from that time period? 

AmberI primarily love the fashion and love all the intricate mannerisms and social interactions. Now I wouldn't want to be a woman during that time, but it's just interesting how regulated everything was among the aristocracy. I drew from that time period because it was a very restrictive period for women--they were second class citizens, trapped by the whims of their husbands or whatever male figures were in their lives. So Amelia is doubly restricted because she is both a woman and a witch, so the victorian era is very challenging for Amelia. 

Mariah: What was the hardest part about writing When Stars Die?

Amber: The hardest part about writing When Stars Die was trying to make it dark. Sometimes I didn't think I was making it dark enough, and other times I thought I was making it too dark. But I am very much satisfied with the final outcome of the darkness of the book. I think it's just right.

Mariah: You explained the stars motif in a guest post recently. Did you originally plan to include that specific motif? 

AmberI did not plan to include that motif at all. It just happened because I am obsessed with relating life to stars. I have to be very careful though because I don't want every single book I write to be loaded with star motifs. In fact, I don't want the star motif to go beyond the trilogy because then I'll just be drawing from my own tropes.

Mariah: What piece of advice would you offer a young writer?

AmberWrite constantly. Read all the time and try to analyze how the author wrote the book. Don't listen to too much strict writing advice, either. Don't become enamored with Elmore Leonard, especially.

MariahWhat future projects can your readers look forward too?

Amber I am working on the sequel to When Stars Die, whose title I actually changed to Stars Will Rise (and the third book will be The Stars Are Infinite). I also have a contemporary fantasy about a boy who can transcend his existence if only he can stabilize his mental health first. I also have a short fiction coming out in an anthology titled "I Am the Bell Jar" about two teens in a relationship and what happens when both teens are struggling with mental illness. I am also outlining a novel involving more mental illness. 

Thank you for the awesome interview, Amber. Once again, congratulations on the upcoming release of your novel.

Remember, When Stars Die will be released on October 22nd. This is one book you don't want to miss out on. Don't forget to stop by and enter her Game of Thrones giveaway and stop by the book cover contest to choose your favorite. 


Thursday, 12 September 2013

Game of Thrones Giveaway!

Amber Skye Forbes is giving away a box set of Game of Thrones in honor of the upcoming release of her novel, When Stars Die. Read about it, then enter below.

Isn't it beautiful?
Isn’t it beautiful?
In honor of When Stars Die, I am doing another giveaway. The paranormal book giveaway was a success, and the winner has already been chosen and notified via e-mail. This will be done via Rafflecopter, so just follow what the rafflecopter shows, and you will be entered! This will go on for 3 weeks. Currently the box set of GoT is very cheap, but that may change, so I want to make certain I have enough time to scrounge together some money for this–while also having extra padding.





Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Spotlight: An Interview with Sorin Suciu

I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing author Sorin Suciu. His novel, The Scriptlings, is slated to release September 22nd from AEC Stellar Publishing.

According to the AEC Stellar website, Sorin Suciu is a gamer by vocation and an office dweller by dint of circumstance, Sorin lives in the beautiful city of Vancouver with his wonderful wife and their vicious parrot. Born in Romania, Sorin has stubbornly resisted the temptation to learn English for well over twenty years. When he finally gave up, it was not work and nor was it video games that weakened his resolve, but rather the mindboggling discovery of Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams and Monty Python. With such teachers, it is no wonder that, much in the same way some lucky people learn to ride before they walk, Sorin has learned to be funny before being fluent.

Now a fluently funny author, he is equally thrilled and terrified to share his debut novel The Scriptlings with the rest of the geeks out there.

Mariah: When did you decide to become a writer?
Sorin: I believe the conscious decision to become a writer came to me the day I finished what was at the time the last novel in the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. I felt that, having devoured all humorous fantasy I could find, the only sensible thing to do was to start producing some on my own.

Mariah: Tell me a bit about your book?
Sorin: I’m sure you have already found this description on my website, but I’m quite fond of it so I will use it again.

The Scriptlings is a tongue-in-cheek contemporary fantasy aimed at geeks and mortals alike. It has been best described as the unlikely, yet strangely charismatic lovechild you would expect if Magic and Science were to have one too many drinks during a stand-up comedy show in Vegas.

Sales pitch aside, it is a fun story, full of geeky references and unusual characters who will compete for your attention, and quite possibly, affection.

Mariah: What drew you to this particular genre?
Sorin: I regard humor and fantasy as two of the pinnacle achievements of the human mind, right next to the metric system and the automatic transmission. Humorous fantasy should, therefore, generate the kind of synergy rivaled only by that of the automatic metric transmission. It’s a fact.

Mariah: Where did your idea for The Scriptlings come from?
Sorin: As I have mentioned in other interviews, and I apologize for repeating this word for word, I believe the main idea behind the story – that of Syntax being the language of both computers and magic − was inspired by Richard Dawkins and his “The machine code of the genes is uncannily computer-like.” (River Out of Eden, 1995).
Sure enough, the way genes trigger various actions is hard to distinguish from object-oriented programming. The very fact that we have discovered this similarity after actually inventing the first programming language is remarkable.

Mariah: Are there vocabulary words or concepts in your book that may be new to readers? Define some of those.
Sorin:  Well, the title itself is a word you won’t find in any dictionary… yet. As a side comment, I’ve recently learned that they’ve introduced the words “twerking” and “selfie” in the Oxford dictionary. So, you never know.
The word “scriptling” refers to a magician apprentice, and it is formed from the root “script” (as in computer script) and the suffix “–ling”, used here to suggest a sense of belonging.
Another unusual word, and this one I didn’t have to create myself, is Merkin – one of my main characters. I have written a nice little article about the origins of this word on my blog, so make sure to check it out.

Mariah: Who is your favorite character in your book? Why?
Sorin: I’m kind of torn between Merkin and Stapley. Both of them are extremely fun to write and have very strong voices. But if I had to choose, then I’ll probably go with Stapley, who is a magical personal assistant, bearing a completely accidental resemblance to Microsoft’s Office Assistant – Clippy, while acting a lot like P.G. Woodehouse’s Jeeves. He is loyal, obsequious to the point of being annoying, full of hidden talents and, all in all, the best friend you could ask for.

Mariah: If you could introduce your main character to a fictional character from any book, who would it be, and what would they talk about?
Sorin: I think my Buggeroff would enjoy the company of Arthur Dent. They are both charmingly clueless, well intended, unwilling heroes; and it would be nice for them to sit down and enjoy a gin and tonic without being forced into saving the world, for once.

Mariah: What future projects can your readers look forward to?
Sorin: I started blogging, which is an interesting experience to say the least. Other than that, I’m gathering material for a sequel to The Scriptlings, called The Masters, and for a standalone novel, tentatively titled Son of Neither.

Links:
Website
The Scriptlings on Facebook
Visit Sorin Suciu on Facebook

I would like to thank Sorin for being my very first author interview. Congratulations on the upcoming release of your novel, Sorin.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Authors Are People

I have no idea about the truth to this tale, but I read about an author who wrote a blog post about his current struggle with depression. I heard that after a few days, his agent made him pull the post. If this is true, it makes me sad.

Authors are people. We live, we love, we laugh, and we cry; just like the rest of the world. It may seem like we are some sort of super human entity with our awesome ability to pull stories out of thin air, but we're not. We're people like the rest of you with real people problems. It saddens me that this agent made his author pull such a personal post.

As a reader, I want to know about authors. I want to know what they're like, what they do for fun, where they've been. I want to know that they put their pants on, one leg at a time, just like the rest of us. I could care less what month is your worst for sales or how much an advertisement cost you. I don't want to read one thousand links to your book on my twitter feed. I want to hear about you.

I want to hear about more than just your writing process. I want to read about your life. I want to read about your victories and your struggles. Our struggles connect us to people. It makes us feel that we are not alone in our misery. If you're depressed, or having a bad time with something, it's okay to post about it. You're not going to turn your readers away by revealing your human side to them. In fact, you might find that your readers will invest more into you, if you open yourself up to them.


Thursday, 5 September 2013

When Stars Die: A Book Review

Synopsis: Amelia Gareth's brother is a witch and the only way to save her family from the taint in his blood is to become a professed nun at Cathedral Reims in the snowy city of Malva. However, in order to become professed, she must endure trials that all nuns must face.

Surviving these trials is not easy, especially for Amelia, who is being stalked by shadowy beings only she can see. They're searching for people they can physically touch, because only those they can touch can see them. Amelia soon learns why she is being stalked when she accidentally harms her best friend with fire during the third trial. Fire is a witch's signature. The shadows are after witches.

Now Amelia must decide what to do: should she continue on her path to profession knowing there is no redemption, or should she give up on her dream and turn away from Cathedral Reims in order to stop the shadows who plan to destroy everything she loves? 


Amelia is instantly likable. Her dedication and her commitment to her promise is noble, her intentions are pure and honest. She's an easy character to like and it's even easier to root for her when the Shadowmen appear. It's clear they have a dark agenda, but it is not clear as to exactly what they want. The mystery drew me right in.

Amber took me on a journey of mystery, danger and young love. Who can resist young love? Oliver and Amelia? Can a girl who is determined to become a nun stifle her feelings for a boy that is also a priest? A relationship between them is strictly forbidden, but will they pursue it regardless of the consequences?

I loved this book. The story gripped me from the first page and held me until the last. It moves fast, which is important to me because I have very little tolerance for boredom. Her characters are real and so are their motivations. I especially enjoyed the element of suspense in the book. Forbes did a wonderful job writing this book, it really does have all my favorite features, suspense, mystery, love, danger, and most important, the opportunity for a sequel...or two...

When Stars Die is slated for release in October 2013 by AEC Stellar Publishing

Connect with Amber Forbes:

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Wednesday, 4 September 2013

The Secret World of Beta Reading!

I left a comment on a friends blog the other day. It was an excerpt of his unpublished novel, a novel that I've read and completely enjoyed. I said something about how awesome it was to be a beta reader and his response hit the nail on the head. 

Being a beta-reader is like knowing a great secret that no one else knows. Kinda like a secret society.


It really is just how he says it is. It's marvelous to read these books that no one else gets to read (yet) It's like a sinfully delicious secret you have all to yourself. You get to experience these other worlds that are completely unknown to everyone else. 

I've been a beta reader for a few different people now, and I've also used beta readers before. I'll share some knowledge that I've learned along the way. 

First, don't ever send a beta a rough draft. A rough draft is exactly that, ROUGH. I suggest doing at least one thorough edit to iron out any consistency issues you can find. Clean up your punctuation and grammar the best you can (of course) and make sure you've made your story the strongest you can. You don't want to have to send the same book to the same beta readers over and over again. Their time is precious, just like yours. Don't waste it. 

Second, keep in touch with your quality beta readers. A quality beta reader is hard to find. Sure, many people will offer to read your story for you, but few actually will keep to their word and fewer still will return your manuscript to you in a timely fashion. And if all they're going to offer you at the end of it all is a vague "That was good." or even worse "That was bad." Why bother at all? A quality beta reader will be able to tell you not only what doesn't work with your story, but also what does work. And if they're really good, they'll tell you why it does or doesn't work. Why mess with a good thing, right? You don't want someone who will only point out your weaknesses. It's important to know where the strong points in your novel are, too. 

Third, to find a good beta reader, you must be a good beta reader. It's a give and take kind of thing. Over the years I've developed friendships with people who respect me enough to not pull any punches. I trust these people to be honest and tell me where my story falters. And I've also been honest with them when it's my turn to read their manuscripts. It's not a one way street. You can't expect to find a dozen beta readers if you're not willing to ever be one yourself. 

Last, don't ever offer to beta read if you don't plan on following through. Sure, sometimes life does get in the way, and I completely accept that. But if you aren't 100% sure that you can keep your commitment (barring disaster) then please, don't even offer. There is nothing more maddening than sending out your manuscript to people and NEVER hearing back from them. And if you do offer, and can't finish your commitment, send what notes you did manage to make before your life turned itself upside down. At least this way the author sees an attempt was made. 

If you're a writer, I encourage you to be also a beta reader. You can learn a lot about your own stories by ripping apart someone else's. 





Monday, 2 September 2013

It's Okay to Fail

As I stated in my last blog post, I have some specific goals for this fall. Yesterday I wrote chapter 15 of The Demon in Him and this morning I knocked out chapter 16. This has brought me to page 100 of my book! 29540 words in and I'm still pleased with the way the story is unfolding.

I have up until chapter 24 outlined and by the time I get there I'll know for sure what I want to happen in the chapters that follow it. I want to keep trying to do a chapter a day. This won't always be easy, or possible, but I would love to keep this momentum going. When this draft is done, I'm going to let it sit until December. I'll spend the Christmas month doing revisions so it can go out to my spectacular beta readers in January. This is my plan and I'm going to do my best to stick to it.

Image from
 http://mxkremzen.com/tag/writing-and-editing/
Why am I telling you all this? It's simple...I'm egotistical and I enjoy talking about myself. Should I admit that I'm egotistical? Why not? Being proud of yourself is far better than the alternative. This applies to everyone, in everything you do. Be proud of yourself. Be proud of what you accomplish, even if it's not as grand as what you originally set out to do. It's okay to try, and it's okay to fail. I've learned more this year than any other year simply because I've failed the most this year. Failing means you're trying and as long as you keep trying, you'll get there.

So go out and try things. Fail, learn, and explore. The only way you can figure out how much you can accomplish is to set goals. Sometimes we expect too much and set the bar too high, and that's fine too. We have to learn where our limits are so we can push beyond them.

Have you failed recently?