Monday, February 29, 2016

Laugh, Encourage, Inspire! The MEME Blog Hop

Not only does winter keep poking us, but today is Monday! I can't wait for some funny, encouraging, and inspiring memes!

I am hosting this blog hop with the marvelous C. Lee McKenzie and Tara Tyler. You can post any day this week. Just sign up by clicking on the link below.


Easy Peasy "rules":
1) Post a MEME during the week (use your own pic or an easy meme maker app) - and if you can't think of anything, pass on encouraging words from one of your reviews, or an inspiring quote! 
2) Visit others. (I apologize for not being able to get the link to work and show the participants on my blog. I have no idea why the code isn't working. You can click on the sign up link and see all the participants there.)

That's it! Then your awesome hostesses will hop around and ooo and ahh and choose one entry each to win an ebook. AND two lucky random participants will win a $20 gift card.

I want to share some adorable cat laughs. Here is my amazing cat Thunder in his MEME debut!


Friday, February 26, 2016

Friday Five for February 26, 2016

1. Big week next week! First off, it's the MEME Blog Hop. I'm hosting with the wonderful C. Lee McKenzie and Tara Tyler. Help us chase away the winter blues. Be it funny, encouraging, or inspiring, we want to see your memes. Join us through February 29th - March 4th. There will be prizes and a giveaway for participants! Sign up HERE!

2. I'm excited to be co-hosting the IWSG on Wednesday. This will be my second time, and I think I'm less nervous than the first time.

3. Thanks to everyone who gave a shout-out for the release of Big Yearning. I didn't have too much time to prepare for the release, but with your help, it went wonderfully.

4. I'm so close to finishing Totem #3. I'm writing the final battle. It's hard to stop when my little guy gets home from school. If I give it that old NaNoWriMo push, maybe I can finish it by tonight.

5. Depending on the weird weather, we might go to my son's school's movie night tonight. They're playing The Good Dinosaur. But that's all the plans we have for the weekend other than getting out to enjoy the warm afternoons if we get them. (Sidenote: I have watched so many hours of the Weather Channel this winter!) Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Wicked Wednesday - do the yucky things

In case you're wondering, yes, those are real lungs in the picture. A local college brought them to the recent Math & Science Night at my son's school. No one got sick or ran off screaming. The children thought it was awesome.

Did I touch the lungs too? You betcha!

We often hear the more we live, the better writers we will be. I completely agree. But it isn't all about doing exciting, clean things. We should experience the stuff that grosses us out too.

Change a baby's stinky diaper, make a bug pie, or walk through the mud with bare feet. And if you're brave, you can go to the next level. I've walked through a swamp and sewage, sat in the back of a garbage truck, and been in the back of a funeral home.

We writers do have spectacular imaginations, but experiencing something will make our writing better. Will I ever write about a character touching lungs? I don't know, but I know how they feel now, and it's not what you would expect.

Go out there and do something yucky!

What is the yuckiest thing you've ever experienced?

* * * * *

Only five days until the MEME Blog Hop!

I'm hosting this awesome blog hop with the wonderful C. Lee McKenzie and Tara Tyler. Be it funny, encouraging, or inspiring, we want to see them. Join us the week of February 29th - March 4th. There will be prizes and a giveaway for participants!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Release day for Fable Ranger!

Take care of what you wish for. You just might get it.
Twelve-year-old Casey doesn’t think life could get anymore unfair. Plans for her special basketball tournament are tossed aside by her sister’s change in wedding plans. She even has to be a bridesmaid now, with all the lace and silk and - oh the horror! All she wants is an escape, but she never imagined she’d be swept away to a world of Mother Goose rhymes, fairy tales, stories of Arabian Nights, and oh, by the way, all but one fairy godmother is kidnapped.
Casey learns she’s been summoned as the Fable Ranger to lead the search and rescue of the missing wish-makers. She also discovers she isn’t the hero they would accept. In the world of fairy tales, damsels aren't meant to swoop in to save the day.
Now all Casey wants is to go home, a wish easy to grant if the veil between worlds weren’t on lockdown. Taking fate into her own hands, she embarks on an airship flight to find the phoenix tears that can help open her way home. Her journey would’ve gone as smooth as the perfect layup if it weren’t for that pesky bounty the evil Dovetail placed on her head. Casey refuses to fail knowing it would allow the legends of Arabian Nights to disappear forever and leave her trapped in a world unraveling one fairy tale at a time.

Buy the book here: Amazon

Author bio: I am a lover of books - from classics to steampunk and everything in between. I've published Neverlove and They All Fall Down of the Shadow Jumpers series, Frailties of the Bond and Atone of the NEO Chronicles, and Beacon, a YA urban fantasy dystopian published by Evernight Teen publishing.
As A.L. Brown, I’m diving into the world of middle grade story telling with the release of FABLE RANGER: SUMMONS via Dingbat Publishing, an MG fairy tale mash up where it takes more than a wish to keep the legends of Arabian Nights and Sleeping Beauty from spiraling into disastrous never ever afters.
Haunt me links:

Monday, February 22, 2016

Taking on a Newsletter - guest post by Alex J. Cavanaugh

Taking on a Newsletter 

This month, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group launches its very first newsletter. It’s been a long time coming, but all of the elements had to fall into place first.

For those who don’t know, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group began September 2011 as a monthly blog hop. A comment by a fellow writer prompted my reply that he needed such a support group, and the idea for one stuck. So, I created a sign-up list, outlined the purpose and rules, and opened it up to others. We’ve been blogging the first Wednesday of the month ever since with 250-300+ blogs participating each time.

It was incredibly successful and rewarding, and I started thinking of how I could help other writers beyond the monthly blog posts. That’s when the idea of establishing a website hit me. I knew I couldn’t do it alone and enlisted six amazing writers as admins. They not only helped put together the website but established the Facebook groups as well. We built up the database of writing information and started inviting guest authors to join us in the weekly posts.

A newsletter was at the back of my mind, but since I’d never started or run one, I had no idea what to do. When the IWSG’s three-year anniversary date rolled around, we celebrated by inviting our members to submit to a writing book that would be free to all. It was a lot of fun to put together and gave us another way to help writers. (Links to download it HERE.)

I was still considering that newsletter last year. And still lost as how to do it. So instead, we held our first IWSG Anthology Contest. From the entries, ten stories were selected by a panel of agents and authors and Parallels: Felix Was Here will be released this May from Freedom Fox Press.

So now we had a monthly blog hop, a website, two Facebook groups, a free writing book, and a yearly anthology contest. Even our own t-shirt – but no newsletter! So after the New Year, I got serious. We had to start a newsletter, one that would benefit to writers and not be something just thrown together. It would require dedication and effort. All of the IWSG admins had their duties already, myself included. (Plus I didn’t know how to run a newsletter.) How could we make it happen?

Then it hit me – bring on another admin!

With the support of the other admins, I reached out to author Chrys Fey, and she agreed to run the newsletter. I got the MailChimp account set up and the newsletter header, and then Chrys and I planned the content. There will be an article from an industry leader, one from an IWSG admin, and one from an IWSG member. Plus, we’ll have helpful links, a member spotlight, news, and the upcoming IWSG blogging information. Our first issue goes out February 24 and you can sign up HERE.

So, after years of wanting a newsletter, we finally have one! Big thanks to Chrys for taking on such an important project. Now the idea of a newsletter no longer haunts me.

Still like to make the Writers’ Digest List of 101 Best Sites for Writers. Next year!

About Alex J. Cavanaugh: He has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design, graphics, and technical editing. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. He’s the author of Amazon Best-Sellers CassaStar, CassaFire, CassaStorm, and Dragon of the Stars. The author lives in the Carolinas with his wife.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Big Cheers for Big Yearning

The first book in the sizzling Sasquatch Susies series from Ellora's Cave.

Suzetta Hughes has it bad for gorgeous forest guide Rayce Webb, but her best friend already called dibs on him. He hasn't shown interest in anyone else other than Suzetta, though. Clearly that means the claim is canceled, but when Suzetta shares more than a kiss with him by the river, she feels her guilt weighing her down. After an intense fight with her friend, Suzetta flees into the Oregon wilderness to search for evidence of a Sasquatch in the area. Rayce finds her, but a rock slide traps them in a cave. The water level is slowly rising, and while help is on its way, it might not arrive in time. Will Rayce and Suzetta be able to dig themselves free, or will this hunt for Bigfoot be their last?

Buy the book:
Ellora's Cave * Amazon * Kobo * Google Play * B&N

The idea for this series came about when I'd seen all the ghost hunting shows that were playing during the hour I worked out. So I started watching shows about monster hunters. The majority of the hunters searched for Bigfoot. Some of these men were hardcore hunters with bushy beards, camouflage, and guns. They had names like One-Eye and Beard. There's even a show where they set traps to catch monsters. Pretty clever traps... that never catch a thing. These shows were far more outlandish and less believable than the ghost hunting ones. Not one had women as the hunters. So I created my own team of Bigfoot hunters without the guns and traps and ridiculousness. Well, there is an old guy named One Tooth in honor of the shows that inspired me!

The Sasquatch Susies consist of Suzetta, Susie, and Jill. Two sisters and their best friend. When they were young, they saw Bigfoot while camping in the Oregon wilderness. A gentle Sasquatch they named "Our Guy." They've been trying to find him again ever since.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Wicked Wednesday - shouting it out

When I meet someone or run in to a person I haven't seen in a long time, I do not announce that I'm a writer. In fact, I'm shy about telling people I write books, and it has nothing to do with the genres I write either.

I know lots of writers have the same problem. I promised myself that this year I would be more bold. When I fill out forms for the doctor or dentist, I won't put homemaker as my job. I'll put author. When someone asks what I do for a living, I will declare I'm a writer. Well, I might get a little squirmy and blush and mumble, but I'll get it out.

I had my first opportunity last week (not including my dentist appointment last month!). My husband and I were working out at the gym, and we ran into a guy my husband used to work with. He's a friendly, everyday sort of guy.

I was already red and sweaty from being on a machine. So I thought here's my chance. I can do this!

When the guy asked what I've been doing, I told him I was a writer. He perked up, interested in hearing more, and asked what I wrote. I replied, "I write books for adults."
I received an odd look. He said, "Oh yeah?"
I took a deep breath. "Yeah, I write books for grown-ups." Not any better. Come on, come on. "Urban fantasy and paranormal stories. And erotic romance."

Ha! I said it out loud. Yes!

The guy was very cool about it. He asked if I had a fun pen name and if I had a publisher. He thinks I should have gone with a funny pen name, but at least we were all laughing and talking about it.

If you're a writer, do you proudly declare it to everyone or are you shy about it?

And speaking of books for adults, you can pre-order Big Yearning on Amazon and Kobo. Two more days until the release!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Review for The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller

In 1960’s London, British Intelligence agent Peter Stoller is next in line to run the Agency—until he falls in love with cab driver, Charles, and his life goes off the road. When Charles is accused of treason, Peter is guilty by association. Peter manages to extract them both, but the seeds of doubt have been planted, putting Peter’s mind and heart at war. Is ignorance truly bliss or merely deadly?

My review:
British Intelligence agent Peter Stoller is at the top of his game. He's next in line to run the Agency but is comfortable with the position he's in. The single ladies at work vie for his affection, but it is a cab driver by the name of Charles who draws Peter's attention. Their relationship progresses swiftly, and when Charles is brought in for possible treason, Peter helps him escape. They run off together, but Peter wonders how well he truly knows Charles. Will following his heart over his head be the death of him?

An incredibly written story of intrigue, love, and betrayal. The one thing that always hooks me is great characterization. This book is rich with it. Peter Stoller is an immensely intelligent and observant man with a strong moral code, and he's also very subtle. Don't expect someone who is in your face or seeking an action-packed adventure. With Peter's narration, the reader is lead through gripping scenes high with tension, where the quiet makes it even more provocative. I wondered with Peter about Charles' loyalties and those of his colleagues and felt my heart twist with each turn in the plot. The whole cast of characters is thick with layers. Two of my favorites being Simeon and Gamby.

I found it difficult to put my ereader down as each chapter beckoned me on to the next. There is a little quirkiness to the style which I thoroughly enjoyed, and it fits a man like Peter. I highly recommend The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller to everyone, not just the suspense and spy thriller fans.

Buy the book:

Find out more about M. Pepper Langlinais here!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Friday Five for February 12, 2016

1. BIG news! I have the release date of my first novella in the Sasquatch Susies series. Big Yearning comes out.... IN ONE WEEK! *falls over* You can add it to read on Goodreads here. They're moving fast with this series. But they haven't skimped on the covers. Mmmm... Check out Rayce from Big Yearning.

2. This week, I didn't get a lot of writing done on my latest WIP. Monday was a short story day. I revised one story and sent it to my local critique group for our meeting on the 20th. I also edited two other short stories and submitted them. I'm on track with my short stories goal for the year.

3. I'm also on track with my reading goal even though I binge watched the latest season of Orphan Black. Now I have to wait several weeks for the new season! ACK!

4. I always get a lot of people asking me what I'm doing for Valentine's Day. That day is mostly for my little guy. We'll have a treat, and this year, we got him new swim goggles, so we'll likely be spending half the day at the pool! Though, my husband and I do have plans for tonight. Deadpool! Very romantic, yes?

5. Don't forget to sign up for the MEME Blog Hop. I'm hosting with the wonderful C. Lee McKenzie and Tara Tyler. Be it funny, encouraging, or inspiring, we want to see them. Join us the week of February 29th - March 4th. There will be prizes and a giveaway for participants!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Wicked Wednesday - the marketing conumdrum

(Jay Sherman from The Critic. Geek points if you remember the show!)

Last week for the IWSG, I shared my insecurities about marketing. I already knew many writers have the same worries about promotion, but it amazed me just how many had no idea what was working and what wasn't. Everyone just keeps pushing onward, hoping something might click.

Once upon a time, it wasn't an author's job to market their work. The publisher did it. Nowadays, the responsibility rests solely upon the writer. It doesn't matter if you're self-published or traditionally published. We now have to be both the artist and marketer. Most of us just aren't built that way. We prefer to stay hidden away in our writing caves and not have to deal with it.

But we have to get our work out there in front of readers. Painful as it is, we have to promote.

You can read all the articles on marketing you want and take a dozen workshops, but sad to say it, it might not help. What works for one author might not work for another. In fact, there are so many different ways to promote your work that very few paths will be the same.

And in the end, it takes a big dose of good luck to succeed.

So why do all that work then? If it's all about luck, there's no point in stressing over marketing. Goodness knows I'd prefer to write stories and not stand out on a street corner shouting, "Buy my book! Buy my book!" Because that's how marketing my books feels to me.

Here's the thing: each reader you reach increases your chances of being lucky. All it takes is that one person to set off a chain reaction.
Do everything you can to attract readers. Try it all at least once. It's immensely stressful, but in the end, your hard work will pay off.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Have you signed up for the MEME Blog Hop yet?

C. Lee McKenzie, Tara Tyler, and I are hosting A MEME Blog Hop!
We want to help chase away the winter blues with some Encouraging, Inspiring, and Funny MEMEs! Join us the week of February 29 - March 4!

Easy Peasy "rules":
1) Post a MEME during the week (use your own pic or an easy meme maker app) - and if you can't think of anything, pass on encouraging words from one of your reviews, or an inspiring quote! 
2) Visit others.
That's it! Then, your awesome hostesses will hop around and ooo and ahh and choose one entry each to win an ebook. AND two lucky random participants will win a $20 gift card.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Friday Five for February 5, 2016

1. Today is the last day of The Paramours Tour. I'll be over at Megan Morgan's blog and Long and Short Reviews today. It's been a really fun week, but I'm ready for a break this weekend. You still can enter the giveaway for a chance to win a $20 gift card.

2. The edits are finished on Big Yearning, the first book of The Sasquatch Susies series. I'll have a release date very soon. I've also seen the covers. Oh my! When they're finalized, I'll unveil them... Well, there's no veils involved. In fact, there's very little clothing at all!

3. It's funny that while I write erotica, I do get all shy when seeing the covers. The Paramours' covers are conservative in the erotica world (even though I really love them), but the Susies books have a ton more beefcake! Everything about these novellas is BIG.

4. I've been working on the third book for my Totem series. It's going a lot slower than I thought it would. The protagonist and her hero aren't chatty types. And the protagonist swears a lot. I have threatened them that if they don't start talking, I'm going to throw the baddies at them much sooner than I planned. They think I'm bluffing. Ha!

5. I've no plans this weekend except to take full advantage of the unseasonably warm weather. Time to get out and enjoy the sunshine before crawling back into my writer's cave when the cold comes back. Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

#IWSG for February 2016

The Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG) is the brilliant idea of Alex J. Cavanaugh. The purpose of the group is to share doubts and insecurities and to encourage one another. Please visit the other participants and share your support. A kind word goes a long way.

The awesome co-hosts for this month are Allison Gammons, Tamara Narayan, Eva E. Solar, Rachel Pattison, and Ann V. Friend! Thank you!

This month I'm feeling insecure about marketing. Yes, I feel like that most of the time, but it's a painful pinch this month.

There are the usual questions: am I doing enough? Is what I'm doing beneficial? What works and what doesn't and how do I tell? Why can't every writer be granted a free marketer by a genie?

I'm at the point where I don't know if anything works. I sigh and hang my head, muttering "what's the point?" How well our books do seem to fall into the hands of the Fates. It's all about luck.

Okay. So maybe I don't fully believe that. Hard work and perseverance will get you there. But you have to find out what works for you. That's no easy thing. Where's that genie with all the answers?

I'm doing a short tour right now for my Paramours series, but I'm searching for ways to promote beyond the usual routes. Any advice and suggestions are greatly welcomed.

Monday, February 1, 2016

More Woo Than Boo - The Paramours Tour

It's the month of love and what better way to start it off than with The Paramours Tour. Guest posts, interviews, and a fantastic giveaway with the prize of a $20 gift card! One week of paranormal romance fun. With the supernatural a little extra steamy!

Tour stops:
February 1: Behind Closed Doors
February 1: Blog of Jacey Holbrand
February 2: TF Walsh
February 3: BooksChatter
February 3: Decadent Kane

February 4: The Waiting is the Hardest Part
February 4:
Harps Romance Book Review
February 5: Megan Morgan
February 5: Long and Short Reviews

Thank you to all the hosts and to Goddess Fish Promotions.

And a big thank you to all of you for your support and encouragement.

As an added bonus, I'll be at the Untethered Realms blog tomorrow talking about the weather lore origins of Groundhog Day. (Bonus geek points to anyone who knows the marmot reference!)