Monday, May 30, 2016

Swept Away Tour - guest post by Elizabeth Seckman

I'm excited to have the amazing Elizabeth Seckman on my blog today. I see some nerdiness coming up! I'm super excited. Take it away, Elizabeth!

* * * * * 

Hi Christine!  Thanks for having me over.

I know you like geeky things, so I thought I'd come and share my favorite tips for researching for fiction.

Have fun. Einstein can't be wrong. I enjoy museums, documentaries, and non-fiction books. By indulging in that sort of fun, I am not only working, I am becoming the one very wicked Trivial Pursuit competitor.

Talk to people. People are so full of stories and little-known facts. And all you need to do is ask and listen. My novel,  Past Due, is set in 1999, right after the Cape Hatteras lighthouse's historic move inland. I found all the boring facts on the net- things like distance traveled, who did it...yada, yada...All the stuff that would probably make a reader's eyes cross. The best information, I got from islanders. You'd be amazed how many people are eager to put in their two cents when they know you're researching for a book.

Watch people.  We all know this one, right? Watch how people they respond to situations...your world is full of amazing characters. You just need to take what they're doing and turn it into words.

Read memoirs and diaries. In writing Bella's Point, a historical novel set after the American Civil War, I read diaries from that era. It helped get my brain in that time period. Now, I know not everything is historically accurate in that story, but I like to think the flavor is palatable.

Use the net to your advantage. The world is at your finger tips. You can search pictures and facts- heck, you can even find people to chat with who are in the situations and places you are writing about. In Swept Away, Tucker is a former Marine. As a Marine, he should have picked up a certain amount of military lingo. I've never been in the military, so I went to Facebook (and my big brother who is former Army) and asked people who have served...what would you call this and that? Facebook is a great place for input. In writing Defying Reason, I wanted to know...if someone is arrested and put in jail, do they get to make phone calls home? I found out that all states have their own communication rules and at the time of the story, West Virginia did not allow calls to cell phone numbers. That tidbit worked perfectly into the Defying Reason plot.

Research after you write the story. For the minute details, research what needs filled in after the story is done. You want details to be accurate, but at the same time, you want those facts to be part  of the landscape of the story, not the highlights. Fiction isn't meant to read like an encyclopedia of facts, and I think sometimes, when we get excited about all the research we've dug up, we can dump it all in and bog a story down. So, finish the story, then during the edit stage, find the facts that support or compliment your tale. 

He came looking for a ghost. Instead, he found a girl. 

Tucker Boone is a war-hardened Marine on a ghost hunt. Fresh out of the corps, Tucker learns he has a missing half-sister, Maddy. The only clue to her whereabouts is a cryptic note…I’ve gone Mad, Mags. Tucker agrees to search for her and heads to Ocracoke, North Carolina where a ghost named Mad Mags is said to haunt the ancient graveyards dotting the island. 

The note doesn’t bring him any closer to finding Maddy, but it does offer him a diversion to the doldrums of civilian life— his new island neighbor, Josie McCoy. Tucker is drawn to her quiet spirit. There’s something special about Josie…a connection he can’t quite explain. 

By summer’s end, he’s mixed up in deception, murder, and the love of a lifetime. Logic tells him to head home and forget the truths he found on the island. But can he walk away? Josie offers him more than love; she offers him hope. When the clues pile up and it looks like she can never be the girl for him, he has to make a choice- play it safe and break her heart, or risk everything for a chance at being swept away.

Elizabeth is a multi-published author and family laundry wench.  She is the mother of four boys, who are quickly all becoming men! Her life is filled with stinky size-twelve shoes and beard clippings in the sink. Is it any wonder she enjoys days spent writing women's fiction of stories of romance and happily ever after? 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Friday Five for May 27, 2016

1. I survived talking to the university class. I didn't lose my voice or faint, and I remembered to wear pants. I even got a few laughs. So I'll count that as a win. Though, it was extremely awkward and nerve-wracking for me. Speaking in front of people is just not for me.

2. I'm still fussing with my Totem covers and their fonts. I think I might have one that works. Maybe. Ack! I need to stop messing with them and be done. It's stealing my writing time.

3. One short story competition loss this week. One short story submitted. Very little writing was done. I blame it on the fonts!

4. Yesterday was my son's kindergarten awards. He wore his bow tie shirt. So cute! Every child received a medal and a certificate. So sitting through eight classes took quite a while. My son also won a medal for the highest academic achievement for boys in his class. Proud mama right here. Today is his last day of school, and then it's ten weeks of summer break!

5. Friday Five will be on summer break too. It'll be back in August with a new logo. My blogging will be very light over the next two months. I have some incredible guests scheduled, though. Please come visit and let them know how awesome they are.

Have a fantastic weekend!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Word Witch Wednesday - finicky fonts

I've spent as much time looking at fonts as I have looking for images for my book covers. Fonts say a lot about a story. This includes the type you use inside a book and on the outside of it. They must fit the mood, tone, and voice.

Maybe I put more pressure on myself than I should when it comes to fonts. I am my own worst boss when it comes to these things. But if you look at your favorite book covers and take note of the title, you will see how much of an impact it has on your opinion of the story and the overall effect of the cover.

Here are five things to remember when choosing fonts for your books:

1) Fonts are like images. You can't use all of them without permission. Some you even have to pay to use. If you're on a tight budget, make certain you are using free fonts from sites like 1001 Free Fonts and DaFont.

2) Study book covers in your genre. You will see the majority of them use similar fonts. If you're unsure what types they are, here is an article with several popular fonts for each genre.

3) Experiment with effects. Not just the simple bold and italics. When I use Photoshop, there's a whole bunch of different font effect I can pick. Each one makes the font look so different.

4) Make certain the font is readable. No one will want to read your book if they can't figure out what the title is or if they get a headache reading the fancy script you chose for the story text itself.

5) Use a different font for the title and your name. Contrasting fonts draw the eye. Check out this article for a more in-depth explanation of contrasting fonts.

How do you choose fonts for your books? What types of fonts draw you as a reader?

Monday, May 23, 2016

Chrys Fey's Seismic Crimes Tour: Character Interview & #Giveaway

Character Interview with Beth Kennedy

1. In the beginning of Seismic Crimes, Donovan is dragged into an interrogation room as a suspected murderer. What went through your head?

A million and one things, but on the top was worry over whether he’d be arrested for murder and if I’d be charged as an accomplice, or worse, for what I did to help him. But I’d do it over again. All of it.

Chrys: Even venturing into hurricane weather to help him after his car crash?

Beth: Absolutely. I’d endure that danger and the injuries I sustained again. For him.

2. You didn’t know Donovan well when you fell in love with him. What was the most surprising thing you learned about him?

That he surfs! I love to be active and on the water. I’m a Florida girl with salt water in my veins, so I hope he’ll teach me to surf one day.

3. You get to spend the holidays with Donovan for the first time, but we don’t get to read about your New Year’s Eve celebration. What did the two of you do?

We had just returned home from Christmas in Michigan, so we didn’t feel up to going out. We stayed in, had shrimp cocktail and beer, watched the ball drop on the television, and shared a kiss at midnight, which . . . um . . . led to more . . . in the bedroom.

*Donovan walks in* And it was truly memorable.

Beth: Get out. This is my interview with Chrys. You already had your turn.

Donovan: Yes, I did. *winks*

Beth: *glares* Did he flirt with you, Chrys?

Chrys: What? NO!

Beth: Mm-hm.

Chrys: *swallows* Moving on.

4. With a bad car and limited funds, you never got to travel, but in Seismic Crimes, you go to California with Donovan. What was your favorite part of visiting San Francisco?

Definitely China Town. All of that culture packed together like that could be a bit jarring, but it was beautiful and fascinating. We went to a temple, ate dim sum, and explored every street.

5. It’s not hard to imagine what your lead favorite part was . . . the earthquake?

*sighs* The quake was frightening, being parted from Donovan was horrible, and what I saw after the quake was . . . *shakes her head* . . . it was all bad but the worst part was watching Donovan and Buck going at it, wanting to kill each other. They almost achieved it too.

6. If you could go back in time to tell Donovan and yourself something, what would it be?

Don’t lose the stun gun!

Chrys: Good tip.

Beth: *chuckles* Don’t I know it?

Title: Seismic Crimes
Author: Chrys Fey
Series: Disaster Crimes Series (Book Two)
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Format: Digital and Print
Page Count: 282




An Internal Affairs Investigator was murdered and his brother, Donovan Goldwyn, was framed. Now Donovan is desperate to prove his innocence. And the one person who can do that is the woman who saved him from a deadly hurricane—Beth Kennedy. From the moment their fates intertwined, passion consumed him. He wants her in his arms. More, he wants her by his side in his darkest moments.

Beth Kennedy may not know everything about Donovan, but she can’t deny what she feels for him. It’s her love for him that pushes her to do whatever she has to do to help him get justice, including putting herself in a criminal’s crosshairs.

When a tip reveals the killer's location, they travel to California, but then an earthquake of catastrophic proportions separates them. As aftershocks roll the land, Beth and Donovan have to endure dangerous conditions while trying to find their way back to one another. Will they reunite and find the killer, or will they lose everything?


Amazon CA / NOOK / KOBO 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, May 20, 2016

Friday Five for May 20, 2016

1. I managed to get a little more writing done this week, but I got sidetracked by research. A lot. I must learn to be more disciplined when reading about fascinating stuff!

2. Tomorrow is my local critique group meeting. I sent in my newest flash piece for them to rip apart. Next Tuesday, the group will be doing a panel for a class at the local university. My nervousness about it has not eased. Talking in front of people terrifies me, but that's why I do it.

3. I started reading the first Harry Potter book with my son. He's not nearly excited about it as I am! He's much more into his Greek Myth book lately. He's obsessed with minotaurs and mazes and wants a three-headed dog named Cerebus! Hey little guy, there's a three-headed dog in Harry Potter. Hehehe!

4. One week of school left. I must write like a madwoman this coming week!

5. I had a terrific time at the zoo yesterday with my son and his classmates... and forty-eight other busloads of children from various schools. What was the zoo thinking?!

Go forth and have an awesome weekend!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Word Witch Wednesday - tips for image shopping

What do you think of the new name for my Wednesday feature? I decided to change it, because there are a lot of "Wicked Wednesdays" out there. Originally I intended to talk about paranormal romance on Wednesdays, but it has grown past that. I talk about all aspects of being a writer, or rather, a word witch!

Last month I was gifted a subscription to BigStock. (Thanks, Mom!) I checked around, and they have one of the best deals for images.

Shopping for images is glorious and grueling. I spent hours upon hours looking at pictures. In the end, I was happy with what I found, and I learned a lot along the way.

Whether you're shopping images for book covers, ads, or blogs, here are five tips that can help make your job easier.

1) Know exactly what you want. Don't even go in with a vague idea, because it's easy to get click happy and buy several pretty pictures that you won't use. Use specific words and filter your image search.

2) For that image search, be aware that one word might not bring up what you want. Typing in "blonde" will get you many things along with a blonde woman. Be descriptive. "Serious blonde woman standing." You'll still get brunettes and smiling models, but the number of images will be much smaller.

Bonus tip: if you want a great moody image of a person that isn't smiling, try typing in "vogue shot" with your description.

3) Turn the safe search off. What? How naughty of me? So many images get pegged as unsafe for one reason or another, and it doesn't mean they're risque pictures. (Though, yes, some are!) You can double your search results by not having the safe search on.

4) If the site allows it, click on specific photographers and models. You might find the perfect model for your cover, but the poses that come up in the original search aren't what you want. Click on the photographer or model, and you'll usually discover many more images to choose from.

Bonus tip: I found that I was drawn to a few photographers. Take the time to check out the portfolios of ones you like. It's like finding buried treasure!

5) When you type in your search, the most popular images come up first. I have seen so many overused and familiar images. (At one point, I was certain almost every author and publisher got their images from BigStock!) Dig deep into the site. Click past those super popular images and find something you've never seen before.

Have you ever bought pictures from a stock image site? Do you have any tips to share?

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Hey! I'm over there!

I'm over at the Untethered Realms blog today with five tips on creating book ads! Surf on over and chat with me about ads.

Ads like this one:

Friday, May 13, 2016

Friday Five for May 13, 2016

1. One short story rejection. One new flash piece written. I sent it in to my local critique group for this month's meeting.

2. Writing is still going slow. I should skip over the first chapter that's giving me trouble, but I keep digging in my heels. I only need one little idea to make it work. It hasn't come to me yet.

3. Two weeks left of school. I'm not ready yet! Next week, I'm a chaperone for my son's school zoo trip. His school does not allow chaperones to ride on the buses, so I'll have to drive to the zoo and meet them there. You would think the teachers would like to have the extra help on the bus during the hour ride there and back!

4. I was asked by one of the authors in my local group to participate in a panel for a class at the university. I agreed... and now I'm super anxious! I love to talk about writing, but I've never been good in front of an audience. As long as I don't faint and/or lose my voice, I think I'll be okay.

5. On the agenda for my weekend: a kid's birthday party and gardening. I need to get those seedlings in the ground before it rains again! Maybe we'll take our little guy to his first drive-in movie too. Everyone needs to experience the drive-in at least once. Have you ever been to a drive-in?

Have a terrific weekend!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Cloaked in Blood Book Blitz

Cloaked in Blood
T.F. Walsh
(The Wulfkin Legacy #3)
Published by: Crimson Romance
Publication date: May 9th 2016
Genres: Adult, Paranormal
The daughter of a sultan alpha, Selena Kurt agrees to an arranged wulfkin mating to protect her sister from a dangerous alpha from the enemy clan. To her surprise, her match is Marcin Ulf, the next in line for the Hungarian throne . . . and the wulfkin who broke her heart years ago.
Marcin is just as shocked to learn he’ll be matched to the enemy’s daughter and the woman he’s never forgotten. Before they can be paired, however, they’re drawn into a tournament where Marcin will compete to free his estranged imprisoned brother, while Selena battles for the life of another wulfkin alpha. Both intend to seize this chance to save those they’re fighting for – even if it means facing off with one another just as their romance rekindles.
Will tribe loyalty triumph, or will they realize they’re better off as a team before it’s too late?
Cloaked in Blood is the book 3 in the Wulfkin Legacy series, but can be read a stand-alone-book.
Wulfkin Legacy Series:
Cloaked (prequel to #1) – Out now
Cloaked in Fur (Book #1) – Out now
Cloaked in Secrecy (Book #2) – Out now
Cloaked in Blood (Book #3) – Out now
Cloaked in Christmas – End of 2016
Sign up here for T.F. Walsh’s newsletter to keep up to date with latest releases, giveaways, and exclusive content.

Then another wulfkin entered the room behind him. Solid, tall, and all shoulders.
And suddenly my heart hammered so hard the walls seemed to be thumping too.
Windblown hair draped over his shoulders, tawny brown strands reaching halfway down his chest. His shirt was torn across his shoulder. Blood stained the fabric, worn as a badge of honor for whatever heroic deeds he’d accomplished.
Our gazes locked, and he stopped midstride. It was like a sucker punch to the gut. All the air left my lungs, leaving me light-headed.
Sea-spray blue eyes, darker than I remembered them, searched my face. Shock crammed behind his gaze as his cheeks blanched. He’d had no idea I was coming here—it was written all over his frozen expression, the way his mouth fell open, his breath hitched.
My wolf prodded me, stirring inside, well aware of who stood before us. Marcin had grown into even more of a wulfkin god: muscular, strong cheekbones, and a chest broad enough for me to sleep across. All I could think about was touching him to make sure he was real and not in my imagination.
Move closer. Take him.
I shouldn’t, yet every molecule in my body fought against the logic that said stay away.
Sure, I’d planned for this very moment and even practiced my nonchalant response in front of the mirror. Except now, my voice was wedged somewhere between my toes and head. My body shook with the desperate urge to be pressed up against him, feel his hungry kisses, and listen to his wicked whispers. I struggled with the charge in my veins screaming that I should run to him, throw my arms around his neck, and forget the past nine years. Forget that he tore out my soul. Forget that I mistook him as my mate because he’d lied to me. Abandoned me.

CIB Quote

Author Bio:
T.F. Walsh emigrated from Romania to Australia at the age of eight and now lives in a regional city south of Sydney with her husband. Growing up hearing dark fairytales, she's always had a passion for reading and writing horror, paranormal romance, urban fantasy and young adult stories. She balances all the dark with light fluffy stuff like baking and traveling.

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Monday, May 9, 2016

Blending Fantasy With Reality - guest post by Misha Gerrick

Blending Fantasy With Reality

Thanks for having me over, Christine!

I’m a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to genre. Endless, my current book, is Urban Fantasy. My previous one was Epic Fantasy. I think the next one will probably be Historical Romance.

I basically write and work on whatever I feel like, and often don’t assign a genre to the book until after I finished a rough draft. Some people might think it strange, but I think it comes in handy.

Why? Because my mind automatically goes into world-building mode regardless of genre. And because I come from Epic Fantasy, I know how to make it happen. You’d think that my Urban Fantasy world would be simpler to create than my Epic Fantasy one.

Urban Fantasy takes place in our world. So it just simplifies things, right? Eh… no. I’ve found that fitting a fantasy element into the reality everyone knows can be a tricky thing.

Because now there are a lot of things that people can correct me on. I had to create the cultures of my fantasy, but blend it with real aspects to life. Such as medical procedures as well as police procedures. Even then, I bent the rules every now and then and shifted the focus so that the procedures faded into the background. I wasn’t writing Gray’s Anatomy or Bones, even though one character’s a doctor and the other’s an FBI agent.

But I still needed to understand those procedures in order to understand how the characters would function in their jobs. Which choices they would make in a given situation and why. I needed to know the rules so that I could know when and why a character was breaking them.

In short, it’s all about balance. Yes, I had to create a world in which my fantasy elements could exist, but I had to overlay it with reality in order to make my story take place in a place that’s recognizable as our present Earth. Creating a fantasy without throwing away the rules, and knowing the rules without making them obscure the fantasy.

Anyone else have to combine reality with fantasy elements? How do you go about it?

About the Book

First, do no harm.” Blake Ryan swore that oath to become a doctor. Ironic, given that he spent most of his thousand year life sucking souls out of other immortals.

Things are different now. Using regular shots of morphine to keep his inner monster at bay, Ryan has led a quiet life since the Second World War. His thrills now come from saving lives, not taking them.

Until a plane crash brings Aleria into his hospital. Her life is vibrant. Crack to predators like him. She’s the exact sort of person they would hunt, and thanks to a severe case of amnesia, she’s all but defenseless.

Leaving Aleria vulnerable isn’t an option, but protecting her means unleashing his own inner monster. Which is a problem, because his inner monster wants her dead most of all.

About the Author

Misha Gerrick lives near Cape Town, South Africa, and can usually be found staring at her surroundings while figuring out her next book.

If you’d like to see what Misha’s up to at the moment, you can find her on these social networks:

Friday, May 6, 2016

Friday Five for May 6, 2016

1. Wait. It's May already? Time is flying by! There's three weeks left of school and then my little guy is on summer break. That means I'll be blogging light for June and July. I have some fantastic guests lined up for the next few months, though. If you're interested in doing a guest post, let me know, and I'll be happy to host you.

2. After finishing Totem #4, writing has been slow for me. I started on Totem #5, but I think the opening has fallen lame. It needs a better one, but while I know the rest of the story, I don't have the first chapter yet.

3. I spent April shopping for images from BigStock. I don't even know how many hours I spent clicking through picture after picture, looking for the perfect ones. I have everything I need to create the nine Totem covers, and tons of other spectacular pics for future books. I'd like to do some cleanup on my blog and make new banners, promos for my published books, and teasers for future ones. It will be slow coming, but be prepared for a new design coming before the fall.

4. A big happy Mother's Day to all the moms and like-moms out there! My weekend will be spent visiting the in-laws which means Rocket Science Ice Cream. Love this place because they make ice cream from scratch right in front of you and freeze it instantly with liquid nitrogen. Science has never tasted so good!

5. My final note: I received my contributor's copy of Eldritch Embraces! It looks gorgeous. My short story, "What Lay Below" is a Lovecraftian steampunk romance. Weird mix, but it worked so well. Our household Cthulhu approves!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

#IWSG for May 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.

A big thank you to the awesome co-hosts for this month's IWSG: Stephen Tremp, Fundy Blue, Viola Fury, MJ Fifield, Loni Townsend, Bish Denham, Susan Gourley, and Stephanie Faris.

What are my insecurities this month? All of them!

Lack of time, marketing, dying confidence, frustration, and a zillion other things. The life of a writer is not an easy one. I know this. Next week, I might be standing there with the light shining off my steel will and flexing my creative muscles as I shout, "I will prevail!" 

But not today. This week, I want to bang my head on the desk and wonder why I keep pushing forward for little to no gain.

What keeps you motivated when you're having a bad week?

Monday, May 2, 2016

The Sign of the Green Dragon is revealed!

When a wall of their cave hideout crumbles, three boys discover a skeleton, clutching a treasure map. They set off to trace the story of an old murder, but stumble into a modern crime, and confront ancient Chinese dragons.

Pre-order the book:
B&N * Kobo * Smashwords

Add it to read on Goodreads.

My review!

Author Bio: C. Lee McKenzie is a 4 & 5 star reviewed author. Her greatest passion is writing for young readers. Sign of the Green Dragon is her third Middle Grade novel. Alligators Overhead and the sequel, The Great Time Lock Disaster were her first two. She has traditionally published four young adult novels: Sliding on the Edge, The Princess of Las Pulgas, Double Negative and Sudden Secrets. 

Is Sign of the Green Dragon's cover cool? @TBRList #mglit #signofgreendragon 

Sign of the Green Dragon. #signofgreendragon @TYFofficial @IndBk @A1_BookTweeters 

Cover 4 Sign of the Green Dragon is here. #signofgreendragon @IndBk @A1_BookTweeters #mglit