Not all writers use beta readers, and not all writers offer their services as beta readers, but both of these things can serve as a huge help in our writing. Looking at it from the writer’s side first, it’s important to know what it is that you’d like your beta reader to do for your story, if there is anything in particular that you do want. Don’t be shy to ask if you suspect a weakness in any area.
In general, as well as glaring plot holes and so on, your beta reader will spot things like continuity problems, or hair that started out blonde and suddenly changed to auburn half way through the story. These are big deal issues for your future readers and often things that we miss because of our closeness to the story. For the same reason, we may leave out crucial descriptive passages or backstory because we know what’s going on. Beta readers could help you find typos and grammar gremlins too if that’s what you want and they’re so inclined.
When looking for beta readers, firstly look for those who enjoy reading the type of book you’ve written. A sparkly vampire book will probably not appeal to someone who thinks that Dostoevsky is the greatest thing since cream cheese. Be wary of those who are blatantly overcritical online. Some people just enjoy finding fault, and that’s not who you’re going for. Other writers generally make the best beta readers, because they know how to write, and mostly they’re kind too.
Be grateful for the service they’re offering you. Beta reading requires more than just reading a book, and all writers are busy bunnies, so giving you their precious time is a favour indeed – try and return it if you can, but even if you don’t, always appreciate it.
Don’t take all input to heart. Any critique can cut like a knife, but really make sure that you never, ever react to any of it with aggression. By the same token, you don’t have to agree with it, or implement any changes suggested if you don’t think that they fit your story or your particular writing style.
When you are the beta reader, on the other hand, always try and remain neutral when it comes to any of your personal pet peeves. We all have them, and they are most certainly not universal. Some people find particular words offensive. Others demand that NO telling at all be allowed in any tale – it must all be show, and show only.
Be kind. There are ways of critiquing that don’t have to include things like, “Your entire third chapter is a load of codswallop – delete it all!” Even if you do spot glaring and tragic errors and writing that grates on your very bones, be polite when returning your comments, while still remaining truthful.
In the end, remember that when it comes to the flesh of your story, and also your unique writer’s voice, you do not have to change any of it. Be open though, to the advice of those who don’t have a vested interest in your scribbles, and just take a deep breath or twenty, and try and take it for what it is – help.
*The author provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review which follows*
FROM THE AUTHOR:
Humanity starts over. Again.
It’s New Year’s Eve, the year of 2099, but the distinguished guests aboard the Pearseus won’t get to countdown seconds; soon they’ll be counting bodies and survivors after the spaceship’s crash landing on another planet.
The good news? The planet is seemingly hospitable both in resources and in terms of the natives’ attitude towards earthlings.
The bad news? They might have come on this planet bare of possessions, but what they haven’t been able to shed are the shortcomings of their human nature. Will that be the sole threat to a unified future, or is the new land and its first inhabitants not as innocent as they look?
Schism is the prequel to the Amazon best-selling series, Pearseus.
I don’t know how I did it, but it appears that after reading the Pearseus series, I neglected to read the very first book, a prequel novel, you could say. Without further ado, I contacted the author, Nicholas Rossis, and he kindly provided me with a copy. And… let me tell you! I was glad I did!
To read my reviews of Pearseus, Books 1 – 3: Rise of the Prince, Mad Water, and Vigil, click here.
Just to be sure that I understood what I was reading, I looked up the word “Schism.” Dictionary.com explains that a schism means “a division or disunion, especially into mutually opposed parties.” I don’t think the author could have chosen a better word for the title of his book.
Schism begins when the “Pearseus,” a spaceship, crashes on an unknown planet due to the negligence of one of its top officers. Chaos ensues and the survivors have nothing left to do but to create a new civilization in order to survive. Much in the same way man has conquered the continents on earth, the survivors drive the natural inhabitants of the planet to a remote area far away leaving the survivors to rule the area they have settled.
However, factions within the surviving party have a different agenda. True to human nature, corruption within the rank and file causes some of the survivors to scheme on their own. A darkness creeps into the group of a kind that mankind has never seen before. The civilization known as Pearseus begins to fall apart. The schism is now complete and the stage is set for the Pearseus series.
I am so happy that I had the opportunity to read this first book. Although Nicholas Rossis does a superb job at keeping you abreast of the happenings in each book, this first book gives you a glimpse into the personalities of the crew and the catalyst that set the whole series into motion. You won’t want to leave this book out!
Character Believability: 5 Flow and Pace: 5 Reader Engagement: 5 Reader Enrichment: 5 Reader Enjoyment: 5 Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 stars
Author, Nicholas Rossis
About Nicholas Rossis:
Nicholas Rossis lives to write and does so from his cottage on the edge of a magical forest in Athens, Greece. When not composing epic fantasies or short sci-fi stories, he chats with fans and colleagues, writes blog posts, walks his dog, and enjoys the antics of two silly cats, one of whom claims his lap as home. His children’s book, Runaway Smile, earned a finalist slot in the 2015 International Book Awards.
What readers are saying about Nick’s fantasies:
“Most avid readers still have books from their childhood which they read over and over again. ‘Runaway Smile’ has joined the list.”
“From the very first sentence I realized I was not reading a book, I was going on an adventure.”
Here we are on LitWorldInterviews with our first of many Genre oriented surveys. The success of our previous survey “Why do people stop reading a book?” and the response in the comments prompted a more detailed evaluation of the topic.
Please reblog and sharethis with as many people as you can so we have a lot of responses to make the data we share as accurate as can be expected.
We need at least 100 responses or there’s no reason to post the results.
This month’s survey is the genre of Mystery.
Thank you to the following 19 bloggers for making our previous survey such a success by reblogging the survey:
Meet YA Fantasy author D Nichole King and watch as she reads from THE SPIRIT, Book one in The Spirit trilogy. Then get to know her as she shares a favorite quote and poses a fun trivia question. Be sure to leave a comment to enter to win a signed paperback of The Spirit, book one in The Spirit trilogy by d. Nichole King. The contest is open internationally although an international winner will receive an ebook, rather than the paperback.
Summary: While seventeen year-old Carrie Reese’s parents were working out the details of their divorce, she headed to Villisca, Iowa to stay with her grandparents.
Villisca was home to the infamous Axe Murder House… It’s known to be haunted by the ghosts of the victims and their killer. Carrie doesn’t believe in ghosts, but the moving curtains and red flashes of light in the windows of Lot 310 were starting to give her reason to watch her back.
Then in walked Lucas… Within days, Carrie knew she was in love. But Lucas seemed strange: his hands were cool and hollow, he barely touched his food, and there was sadness behind his brilliant green eyes. Lucas was falling for Carrie but knowing that loving her puts her in grave danger, he reluctantly slips out of her life…. He struggles between staying away and telling Carrie his darkest secret. Unable to stand being apart from her any longer, he decides she must know.
Interview by Book Nerd Paradise
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GET TWO FREE EBOOKS – Power of the Heir’s Passion (Prequel) and Blast of the Dragon’s Fury (Book One) in the award-winning Andy Smithson coming-of-age epic fantasy series are available for free download. Just tell L. R. W. Lee where to send them.
Title: The Fireman Author: Joe Hill ISBN13: 978-0062200648 ASIN: B016P01YCQ Published: May 17th 2016 Pages: 768 Genre: Contemporary Fiction/ Science-Fiction/ Action-Adventure
Sorry for being a bit scarce on the posts, but we’ve had some health problems in the family and although hopefully things are better, I’m still trying to catch up with everything. But I’ve managed to do a bit of reading and I thought I’d try and share some of those with you all.
Today’s novel is by an author I’m keeping watch for. I’ve mentioned before that I love horror (although I don’t read it all that often these days) and I’m a big fan of Stephen King. Well, if you haven’t met him yet, let me introduce you to the latest book by one of his sons, Joe Hill.
First, the description:
From the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of NOS4A2 and Heart-Shaped Boxcomes a chilling novel about a worldwide pandemic of spontaneous combustion that threatens to reduce civilization to ashes and a band of improbable heroes who battle to save it, led by one powerful and enigmatic man known as the Fireman.
The fireman is coming. Stay cool.
No one knows exactly when it began or where it originated. A terrifying new plague is spreading like wildfire across the country, striking cities one by one: Boston, Detroit, Seattle. The doctors call it Draco Incendia Trychophyton. To everyone else it’s Dragonscale, a highly contagious, deadly spore that marks its hosts with beautiful black and gold marks across their bodies—before causing them to burst into flames. Millions are infected; blazes erupt everywhere. There is no antidote. No one is safe.
Harper Grayson, a compassionate, dedicated nurse as pragmatic as Mary Poppins, treated hundreds of infected patients before her hospital burned to the ground. Now she’s discovered the telltale gold-flecked marks on her skin. When the outbreak first began, she and her husband, Jakob, had made a pact: they would take matters into their own hands if they became infected. To Jakob’s dismay, Harper wants to live—at least until the fetus she is carrying comes to term. At the hospital, she witnessed infected mothers give birth to healthy babies and believes hers will be fine too. . . if she can live long enough to deliver the child.
Convinced that his do-gooding wife has made him sick, Jakob becomes unhinged, and eventually abandons her as their placid New England community collapses in terror. The chaos gives rise to ruthless Cremation Squads—armed, self-appointed posses roaming the streets and woods to exterminate those who they believe carry the spore. But Harper isn’t as alone as she fears: a mysterious and compelling stranger she briefly met at the hospital, a man in a dirty yellow fire fighter’s jacket, carrying a hooked iron bar, straddles the abyss between insanity and death. Known as The Fireman, he strolls the ruins of New Hampshire, a madman afflicted with Dragonscale who has learned to control the fire within himself, using it as a shield to protect the hunted . . . and as a weapon to avenge the wronged.
In the desperate season to come, as the world burns out of control, Harper must learn the Fireman’s secrets before her life—and that of her unborn child—goes up in smoke.
Now, my review.
Thanks to Orion Publishing Group Gollancz and to Net Galley for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.
I have read three books by Joe Hill before, enjoyed them and I was excited when I saw his new novel on offer at Net Galley. In short, the book offers a post-apocalyptic vision of a world decimated by a fungus with a lyrical name, Draco incendia trychophyton (or Dragonscale for friends), that turns human beings into torches, and the adventures of a particular group of sufferers.
Joe Hill thanks both J. K. Rowling and his father, Stephen King, for the inspiration, and indeed that’s quite evident throughout the book, together with many references to a variety of pop-culture items: songs from musicals, songs from pop and rock groups (yes, there’s a fair amount of singing), hymns, foodstuffs, cars, TV cult series and books, many books. Those will, no doubt, enhance the reading experience of people in the know, although should not affect the understanding or enjoyment of the story for those who might not be fully conversant with all of them.
The story is told (mostly, apart from a few brief chapters) in third person from the point of view of Harper, a school nurse who volunteers to work in a hospital treating those affected when the school she worked at closes doors due to the spread of the infection and its terrible effects (the fungus makes people ignite, and with them, the things and beings around them. And it can set off a chain reaction of burners too). Unfortunately, she becomes infected and shortly after discovers that she’s pregnant. She also discovers that her perfect marriage to Jakob is anything but, and she ends up taking refuge at an old campsite where a group of affected individuals have discovered a way to control the illness. They welcome her into their congregation/community and although she finds it difficult to fit in at first, she becomes a member of the group, joining in the Bright (you need to read it to know what this means, but let’s say it’s a way of sharing and communicating that the younger generation refers to as social networking) and comes to love many of the residents. She also discovers things about herself she didn’t know, and of course, she meets the Fireman, John, and Englishman who seems to have learnt to control the Dragonscale much better than anybody else, and goes around driving an old fire truck and dressed in a fireman’s uniform. In a nod to Ray Bradbury, this Fireman controls fire and sets things alight, rather than putting fires out. He is a larger than life character, although we discover later in the books that he’s all too human.
As is the case in all crises, they seem to bring both the best and the worst in people, and if the point of view we follow puts readers in a sympathetic frame of mind towards Dragonscale sufferers, we gradually see that things are not black and white and not all is harmony. The congregation seems happy and a haven for people infected at first (indeed for a while it’s a case of those infected —at least the members of the group— appearing to be more humane and morally right than healthy individuals), but over time we discover that whilst the fungus seems to enjoy people’s connectedness and happy emotions, there are risks involved in channelling such power and following blindly what ends up looking scarily like a cult. There are thefts, accusations and resentments, and when two prisoners are rescued, terrible things happen and ugly behaviours rear their heads. There are many secrets, and although we might have our suspicions, by being inside of Harper’s head we only have access to her opinions and thoughts. She is curious and finds out some interesting first-hand information that helps us understand the illness (I loved some of the theories behind its spread, however fanciful they were), but she is also a human being with feelings and emotions. She doesn’t always make rational decisions and she is often wrong. And she wrongfoots us.
The characters are distinct and unique, the good, the bad, and the truly human. I liked and cared for Harper, who is a pretty special individual who comes into her own as the book advances and who indeed is one of the people who grow. She matures and becomes a hero. If her husband tells her he had expected her to be his inspiration, she finds a real family and a calling during her adventures. The Fireman is a fantastic character and I enjoyed the mystery around him at first, and also getting to know more of his circumstances. Many of the secondary characters are also memorable. Nick, the deaf boy who steals everybody’s heart; Allie, his sister, a totally believable teenager who deserves a book of her own; fantastic Renée with her love for books and her courage…
The books is beautifully written, the descriptions not overbearing but vivid and lyrical at times, the story moves along at good rhythm, with chapters that are more contemplative and share information (like the diary Harper reads), and others packed with intrigue, action and a healthy dose of fright. I thoroughly enjoyed it, although I did not find it truly scary (but that’s not necessarily a recommendation for general readers, as I love horror and don’t scare easy). With regards to its genre, I’ve read a few post-apocalyptic stories but I’m not a real buff. To give you some idea based on my previous reading, I’d say that Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel is more contemplative, challenging, philosophical, and made me think more. The Dead Lands by Dylan Morgan (that is more sci-fi) is scarier and grittier but more interested in action and weaponry.
I had a look at the reviews and comments about the book to see if I could shed light or at least my own opinion on the matter. I saw that many people compared it negatively to King’s The Stand, but although I love Stephen King’s books, I have not read all of them and that one has escaped me so far, so I can’t comment on that (although the reviews made me want to read it. The Fireman is much shorter, though). So if you’ve read The Stand and loved it you might want to read the comments first. Of course, you might want to make your own mind up.
Some others didn’t find Harper’s romantic relationship (I’m trying not to reveal any spoilers here) realistic and they think it seems very sudden and as if come out of nowhere. On that subject I agree that there does not seem to be a big build-up or many hints as to the interest between the two, but there are some subtle indications that they are matching souls, and it’s true that at times of emotional turmoil when life might come to an end at any minute one might hold on to the little moments of joy (that without taking into account the interesting effects of the Dragonscale). The novel would have worked without the relationship, but for me it rounds it up.
I enjoyed it as a great yarn, with strong characters easy to root for (and others easy to hate) and great quality writing. I’m not sure it will beat all other post-apocalyptic stories for those who love the genre, but it’s a good read. I look forward to Joe Hill’s next book.
I mention in the review that I’ve read three of his books. These was before I started publishing my own books and I didn’t write detailed reviews, although I wholeheartedly recommend Heart-Shaped Box and 20th Century Ghosts (if you love ghosts and short-stories, some of them are masterpieces). I also read Horns that is a very quirky book (I prefer the other two but this one is perhaps more mainstream. I haven’t watched the movie with Daniel Radcliffe and can’t comment on how good or bad it is).
He’s written many more things and some of his stories appear in collections, so you might want to check his Amazon page where I got this from:
The author of the critically acclaimed Heart-Shaped Box and 20th Century Ghosts, Joe Hill is a two-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award, and a past recipient of the Ray Bradbury Fellowship. His stories have appeared in a variety of journals and Year’s Best collections. He calls New England home.
By the way, when I checked his Twitter account it seems he’s in England with the Fireman, so you might want to keep an eye open for him.
Realistic Characterization: 4/5 Made Me Think: 4/5 Overall enjoyment: 4.5/5 Readability: 4.5/5 Recommended: 4/5 Overall Rating: 4.5/5
I have a few issues with the writing style, which brought me out of the narrative with the interruptions every few paragraphs. While I appreciate that she is drawing in the readers with a chat type narrative, I honestly do not believe that she sits in her living room with her friends and interrupts herself in the middle of a story to say, “Now friend, have you ever had this…?” I would have much preferred the entire short story, then the “Dear friend, this is the point…” and then the next narrative in order to keep the flow a bit more smooth.
Also, while this book is definitely geared toward mothers, it speaks a lot about husbands and a bit about in-laws as well. As a woman who is a single mother those parts felt a bit grating to me. They were interesting tid-bits about her life, but didn’t have much for me laced through them. (I’m sure married women will get much more out of them!)
There are some really difficult discussions housed within this short book. In 204 pages she discusses marriage, plans that never work out, insecurities, fears, miscarriages, and faith. The idea of motherhood and faith ties everything together. This little book definitely packs a big wallop.
This book has earned a 3.73 stars from me, the narration interruptus having knocked the score down considerably for me. However, if you are a Mother of young children (or any age, really) and any sort of Christian, I think you might enjoy this.
A fun tale with a hint of Russian history mixed in. That’s how I summarize The Crown’s Game by debut author Evelyn Skye.
SUMMARY (from back): Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side. And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.
Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?
For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.
And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love . . . or be killed himself.
As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear . . . the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.
WHAT I THOUGHT: The concept of a wizarding duel is what hooked me on the book. Well, that and the amazing cover. That said though, I felt like the book didn’t quite live up to the expectations set.
The book started out slow. The first half was filled with introducing characters etc, and I nearly put it down. But with the promise built up for the book, and the fact that it’s traditionally published, I hung in there.
I enjoyed the three main characters: Vika, Nikolai and Pasha. Vika and Nikolai are enchanters while Pasha is heir to the throne of Russia. The three end up in a love triangle, which I didn’t mind, but my problem is I don’t feel like I got t o know the characters well enough to cheer for any of them. Things happen, but I’m left feeling incomplete. I wanted more depth.
As for the plot, this, too, disappointed. I was never clear why either character chose to do what he/she did each turn. Short of one-ups-man-ship, I found what they did creative, but lacking context other than, do the next move bigger.
Then there was the ending. I was hoping neither protagonist had to really die, that their magic would save the day somehow. I was disappointed.
This is the debut of YA author Evelyn Skye so I will give her that, yet with it being traditionally published, I’d hope for more. I give this book 3 stars.
All occupations have hazards, and one that I particularly dread in my line of work is for anything to go wrong with an eyeball.
Unfortunately this week I have been stricken in the orb department, and try as I might, I couldn’t see much of what I was trying to do with this week’s LWI article to share with you guys. So rather than post photos of the chickpeas I took shots of last week for my recipe book, in the misguided belief that they are in fact the screenshots I took for what I was planning on sharing today, I thought I’d post something that you might enjoy having a look at and discussing in the comment section.
I really enjoyed Steven Pressfield’s book, The War of Art, so much so that I heartily recommend it to all writers and creatives. Right now, for a limited time – till 30 June only, he’s offering free copies of his latest book for anyone with access to the link. I downloaded it a couple of days ago, but zooming through it today—with said one remaining strained and not very functional, watering eyeball—I’m not sure that I would recommend it at all. So I’m going to add the link here for any of you who feel like a little discussion about it. It’s quite a short book, but even so, you can pick up quite a bit by just glossing over it. Love it or not, it’s always great to get insights into the thought processes of great authors. I look forward to seeing what you have to say one way or another.
*The author provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review which follows*
FROM THE AUTHOR:
“When Sofia falls in love, a mourning spirit begins to haunt her… The Storm is the concluding part of the trilogy where the two stories of Sofia and Laura merge into one and redemption seems finally possible…
Sofia does her best to get over Danny, but The Lady won’t leave her in peace. The spirit guides her to meet more people who knew Laura and now begins to haunt Danny as well. What will happen when he wears Christian’s scarf? And who is the third person being haunted, and why?
Laura is relieved to hear about Christian’s narrow escape from Dunkirk, despite his serious injury. Things at home are as harrowing as ever, but she holds on to a glimmer of hope. When he discovers an old secret, Christian returns to Brighton. Will the old sweethearts find happiness at last or will Charles never allow it?”
“The Lady of the Pier – The Storm,” is the third installment in the exciting and mysterious paranormal romance called the Lady of the Pier Trilogy. To read my review of the first book, The Lady of the Pier – The Ebb, click here. To read my review of the second book, The Lady of the Pier – The Flow, click here.
The Lady of the Pier trilogy leads you on a supernatural trip between two time periods. The story fluctuates between Laura and Christian in Brighton in 1940 and Sofia and Danny in Brighton in 1988.
At the heart of the two intertwining love stories are the piers – one in Brighton, and the other in Corfu, Greece. Sofia and Laura are connected through haunting dreams, even though they are separated by fifty years.
I absolutely loved the way these two stories twisted together supported by an enigmatic thread of paranormal activity that let the reader know there is more going on here than meets the eye. It appeared to me that both Sofia and Laura must learn about love the hard way, through their own choices. I was not far off in this assumption.
For me, the Brighton Pier was the symbolic element that acted as the bridge between both eras and both women. In the second book, I felt the tightening of the plot drawing both women along on a path to a destiny that must intersect in the last novel. In the first novel, there were two piers, one in Corfu and one in Brighton. In the second part of the series the two piers have merged into just one, the Brighton Pier where the stories of both women unfold.
By the time I reached the last book, The Storm, I was dying to understand the mystery of the Lady of the Pier, which linked these two couples together between the two intertwining stories. The writing stage had been skillfully set by Effrosyni Moschoudi and I was not disappointed in the revelations. The mystery had deepened to such an extreme I could not put this third book down. I literally finished the book in two nights!
In the final book, time and space merge in a reincarnation of the two time periods and the two couples. By the end of the book, I had stumbled upon the solution to the paranormal connection between the two couples. I was surprised by the depth and clarity of the characters and how neatly the story fit together. Some of the admissions from the characters caught me totally by surprise!
Once again, as with the previous two novels, the characters found a place in my heart. I was emotionally vested in the story. I literally shed tears at the explosive ending! In fact, I was sad to leave these characters behind. I finally understood them and learned that true love has no boundaries.
Of the three books in the Lady of the Pier series, I found The Storm to be the most satisfying. If you love a story that weaves supernatural events into a romantic storyline you will be thrilled with The Lady of the Pier, books one – three. This is one series I will read again and again when I want to be reminded of the power of everlasting love.
Character Believability: 5 Flow and Pace: 5 Reader Engagement: 5 Reader Enrichment: 5 Reader Enjoyment: 5 Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 stars
About Effrosyni Moschoudi:
Effrosyni Moschoudi was born and raised in Athens, Greece. As a child, she loved to sit alone in her garden scribbling rhymes about flowers, butterflies, and ants. Today, she writes novels with Greek lovers in mind. Her idea of a perfect day involves her three favorite things: books, movies, and the beach. She lives in a quaint seaside town near Athens with her husband Andy and a naughty cat called Felix, but her mind forever drifts to her beloved island of Corfu.
Effrosyni’s #1 Amazon bestseller, The Necklace of Goddess Athena, features an adorable Corfiot lady inspired by her grandmother. In her award-winning novel, The Ebb, she records several real memories from 1980s Corfu.
Effrosyni is a proud member of the writer’s groups, eNovel Authors at Work, ASMSG, and the Fantasy & SciFi Network.
**Visit her website for free excerpts, book trailers, a guide to Corfu, and to discover many other writers who set their books in Greece: http://www.effrosyniwrites.com
Meet YA Fantasy author Ali Cross and watch as she reads from BECOME, Book one in the Desolation series. Then get to know her as she shares a favorite quote and poses a fun trivia question. Be sure to leave a comment to enter the giveaway for one of two signed paperbacks of Become. Giveaway is open to domestic & international entrants.
Summary: The battle over Midgard begins with just one girl …
Earth has been without a Guardian since its creation, but Loki means to take it for himself. His daughter, sixteen-year-old Desolation, wants nothing more than to stay in Hel where it’s cold and lonely and totally predictable. Instead, she’s sent to Midgard to make her choice–and what she chooses will determine not only her own future but the fate of all the worlds.
Interview by Book Nerd Paradise
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GET TWO FREE EBOOKS of the award-winning Prequel and Blast of the Dragon’s Fury, the complete Book One in the Andy Smithson coming-of-age epic fantasy series. Just tell L. R. W. Lee where to send them.
One of the books just about every big writer, agent, publisher, or whatever in the industry says you should read as an author is Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. So what if it’s been nearly 17 years since it came out.
King covers everything from his childhood and a very bad case of poison ivy to his being hit by a driver that almost killed him. And from his first earnings as a writer from his mother paying for his childhood stories to his latest works around the year 2000. Mixing the two strings of discussion in such a way that you learn just as much about writing from reading the book as you do from what he says about writing in the book.
One thing I realize from Stephen King is, that no one is right all the time. Even King admits there isn’t a hard fast rule about writing. There are rules about writing, but not about writing. Did that make sense to you? Welcome to an example of how King sometimes gets his point across although it was my point in this instance.
Great things can be said by great people and garbage by even greater ones, but if you want to learn anything, listen to those who do things rather than talk about them. There is a reason you don’t see dozens of books about writing from King. He didn’t want to say anything unless he had something to say. It had to be different and it had to be useful information.
He succeeds on all counts. His examples are excellent and the encouragement one can get from following his path to success is inspiring. Even King had his moments of doubt but he never gave up. He hated one of the books that he is most identified with. He worked harder than most of us ever has, while continuing to write, write, and write some more.
It’s hard for me to believe I’d ever say that a book about writing is a page turner, but here I am saying exactly that.On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft is a page turner. You want to know what example he’ll use next; what nugget of wisdom he will share. You want to see if you are already doing things King mentions and give yourself kudos for it, while telling King he’s wrong about the things you disagree with, but know he’s correct all the same.
King is the antithesis of what so many point to in regards to classic writing, but he’s not really. He still tells tales in that big epic manner while doing so in a modern fast paced way that holds attention. How can you read his books in one sitting? People do it.
Every book is a classroom. You either learn how to write or how not to write. King is the classic read-as-much-as-possible writer. He’s read more books than I’ve heard scanned the titles of and that’s something that needs to change, and I’m doing so.
I recommend Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft to anyone who is or wants to be a writer. The sooner you read it in your career the better. Why waste time doing things the wrong way when we have help out there telling us the right way?
My next book on writing to speak about will be Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass. I started it quite some time ago, but it’s not quite the page turner like King’s. It’s not meant to be, but it does have its merits and I’ve used what Maass said in my debut novel that has pretty good ratings so far. Until next time;
Procrastination doesn’t set in because you suddenly see your writing as work, and all work must by its very nature be nasty. Procrastination generally sets in when you subconsciously convince yourself that you are going to fail. I read a very interesting article on a pretty good way to beat procrastination. Sit down quietly and visualise yourself – you, living your life from that point on.
See yourself pointedly not writing. Making coffee, washing long departed Granny Sue’s apron by hand on the off chance that you will ever desperately need to wear it. See your manuscript – just sitting there – not growing. See this going on for the next few weeks or months – or years. Then look that future self up in your head and say, “Hi.” Tell yourself how fabulous your new jeans are, and ask your future self how she/he feels about you not making the effort to write your book way back then, when the apron seemed so important. Caring about your future self and well being is actually a very big deal in the procrastination busting department. Feel the disappointment when old Future tells you that she’s totally lost the desire to write, and that there is no way of ever knowing just how different your life would have been if that book had been brought into the world.
It’s a very odd experience feeling the hurt of hurting your future self like that by your own free choice. Odd enough maybe to just get your superhero all fired up enough to put rear in chair and get to getting on with it. If that doesn’t work though, sometimes it’s a good idea to build yourself a Procrastination Palace. I’ve been working on ideas for this for the workbook I’m working on right now, so I’ll share one of my favourites with you.
Rather than just make list of your possible plot holes, get a little crafty with your writer’s block. Buy a whole pile of sticky notes, or just cut up some paper into squares. Think of this as your procrastination busting jigsaw puzzle. Write a character on a square, together with all his fabulousnesses and foibles, and the way that he looks too. Turn it over and write a bit about his role in your book. Do this especially with people who seem not to have any further direction in your story. Write out some pivotal scenes the same way. Scenes already written, scenes that you’ve been planning to write, and scenes that just pop into your head while you’re playing with your puzzle. Move them around. Talk to them. Ask them kindly if you can assist them in any way to move forward. It’s probably not a good idea to do this in a coffee shop unless everyone there already knows that you’re a writer by the way. Amazing the stuff that we can get away with. And you may also be amazed at the ideas that pop up this way while you’re seeing the parts of your story as physically different parts, and physically interacting with them, even if in a strange way.
Go ahead. Have fun with your procrastination. Wear a jolly hat and scarf to get in the mood. It’s really hard for fear (fear = blockage) to retain its grip when you’re having a ball, and before you know it you’ll be scribbling away.
Genres: Action, Adventure, Science Fiction, Fantasy
From the Author:
“Keep an eye on them, Federi!”
Captain Rushka Donegal on the bridge! But the young girl doesn’t feel up to running a ship full of unruly young crew. And then they come across disaster…
So it falls to Federi to pick up the pieces while his Captain is not aboard. And while he rolls his dramatic eyes and gets things done, Paean Donegal arms up and signs on for the Fight for Freedom.
*The author provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review which follows*
“Freedom Fighter,” is the third installment in the intriguing Solar Wind series. To read my review of the first book, The Mystery of the Solar Wind, click here. To read my review of the second book, The Assassin, click here.
I have to tell you all, I am hopelessly in love with this series. The characters have found their way into my heart. I feel pained every time I come to the end of another exciting installment because I want to know more! I think I must have some gypsy blood running through my veins!
What happens next? I’m dying to find out!
Freedom Fighter finds Captain Radomir Lascek up to his neck in negotiations with the Unicate and other warring factions as he tries to carve out a peaceful treaty to the new world order that has taken over the earth. So much so, that he has no choice but to make his daughter, Rushka Donegal, the captain of the Solar Wind.
Rushka, married to Paean Donegal’s brother, finds herself in quite the predicament. Pregnant with twins and suffering from horrible bouts of morning sickness, Rushka is forced to count on the experience and expertise from Federi, the gypsy, when it comes to the obstacles the Solar Wind is forced to endure. This causes a rift between Rushka and her husband, as he is the second mate on the ship, even though he does not possess the experience needed to man the craft alone.
Meanwhile, Paean has her own problems dealing with her gypsy husband. Still a teenager, she grapples with the feelings of love she has for Federi. She knows there is a physical part of loving her gypsy but understands that she is not ready for that step. Federi pulls away from Paean trying to respect her age. He is willing to wait until she is older to consummate their marriage. Paean believes the gypsy is reconsidering his marriage to her. A genius at manipulating cells, Paean brews a love potion sure to win over Federi’s heart, with disastrous results!
Nevertheless, their bond is strong as Paean becomes Federi’s backup in the war against the Unicate. In no time, Paean proves to be quite the pugilist and earns the recognition from the captain as “The Captain’s Little Freedom Fighter.” Federi is consumed with jealousy and reminds Paean that she belongs only to him.
This novel takes on a more mysterious and sinister air than the previous two installments. Something is happening to the sea life in the oceans. It is up to Federi and Paean to solve this mystery.
However, I find there are still many unanswered questions. Why is the Unicate hunting down the Donegal Troubles? Why did the Unicate want the Donegal’s mother dead? Lyz Russo skillfully drops hints that Paean is the key to the whole mystery…
Now, I can’t wait to read Solar Wind Book 4, Raiders! If you love science fiction with a pirate twist you will love the Solar Wind series. Freedom Fighter deals with the theme of relationships. Love, lust, desire, and greed! Throw in some gypsy magic to keep things real and you are ready for another great adventure.
Yarrr!What are you waiting for me maties?
Character Believability: 5 Flow and Pace: 4 Reader Engagement: 5 Reader Enrichment: 4 Reader Enjoyment: 5 Overall Rate: 4.5 out of 5 stars
About Lyz Russo:
I’m a South African writer and musician. Between running a violin studio and raising 3 beautiful children, and writing through nights, I also run a maverick indie publishing house in South Africa called P’kaboo Publishers.
Meet YA Fantasy author R.K. Ryals and watch as she reads from MARK OF THE MAGE, Book one in the Scribes of Medeisia series. Then get to know her as she shares a favorite quote and poses a fun trivia question. Be sure to leave a comment to enter the giveaway for one of two signed paperbacks of Mark of the Mage. Giveaway is open to domestic & international entrants.
Summary: Books never die, but they can be forbidden.
Medeisia is a country in turmoil ruled by a blood thirsty king who has outlawed the use of magic and anything pertaining to knowledge. Magery and scribery are forbidden. All who practice are marked with a tattoo branded onto their wrists, their futures precarious.
Sixteen year-old Drastona Consta-Mayria lives secluded, spending her spare time in the Archives of her father’s manor surrounded by scribes. She wants nothing more than to become one of them, but when the scribes are royally disbanded, she is thrust into a harsh world where the marked must survive or die.
So my question is this: what makes you, as a lover of mystery, scared when it comes to villains? What makes you so afraid, that you can’t sleep at night, yet it’s hard putting the book down? Is it their method of crime? Their personality? Whatever it is, write it down in the comments. Explain what frightens you.
Mysteries are one of the most popular of genres. Particularly murder mysteries. It’s odd, isn’t it, how in real life, we hate the way the world works? We hate when we turn on the news and find out someone committed a senseless murder. Yet we turn to shows like CSI and Law and Order, read books, watch movies, anything to do with murder. It excites us in some strange, twisted way. A lot of us love the idea of being scared, getting into the mind of a killer, solving a crime.
There are some stories that you just know are going to irrevocably change you. Stories that you get into and realize, belatedly, that they are unmaking and remaking parts of your sense of self, your reader’s soul, and you will never be the same. I was about 1/3 of the way through listening to The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater when I was blasted with the realization that this was to be one of those books. I thought lightening probably wouldn’t strike twice, or at least not so sharply, and listened to Dream Thieves. Then I thought surely 3 times is too much to ask…Blue Lily, Lily Blue proved that thought a lie. So I bought the entire set. It wasn’t enough to listen to them, I had to have them in physical form on my shelf, within easy reach when I needed them… And Then The Raven King happened.
I don’t have the words or the emotional fortitude left to explain how it all worked on me. I can piece bits together…like the fact that when a certain someone speaks of being fully of the white fuzzy light, I felt it right along with them. When the fear and terrible hope for and because of a best friend lit through them all, I was there. Maggie’s writing drew me, a 31-year-old author and teacher, into the world of magic and high school so completely that I had to wrench myself back into reality with much more effort than it should ever have to take. At page 416, Chapter 65, of The Raven King I had to stop. I literally couldn’t take it anymore (in the best of ways) and HAD to go refill my coffee, take a potty break, check the laundry, and allow myself to sob uncontrollably for exactly 45 seconds. The things that we always knew would happen. That we learned of in the first chapter of the first book before any of us knew the characters that now inhabit our hearts and minds and souls…they hurt more for the fact that we can’t do anything but watch and ache with them. Like being the helpless bystander of a horrendous accident.
This book, this finale to a series much beloved, destroyed me, remade me, and then kicked my ass before telling me it loved me and stroking my hair as a cried and giggled. This devastated me in the best possible of ways. Maggie Stiefvater has said she may revisit this world when she’s lived another 20 or so years…I beg of you Maggie, don’t leave it that long.
Overarching Storyline for the Series – Is one of love, friendship, growth, discovery, and magic…always magic.
We spend 4 books in suspense, waiting to see if the first thing we’re told about two main characters will culminate into a truth that will destroy the lot of us, ripping our hearts out and stomping all over our emotions. We are not disappointed in any way. From the first book we are drawn in to Blue’s psychic family, we feel her frustration and distress at being an ‘amplifier’ with a terrible destiny…if she wants to ever date anyone, that is, and we are bowled over by her extremely intense beliefs. One such strong held belief is that the Raven Boys of Aglionby Academy are the worst sort…which is, of course, why her future revolves around and intertwines with that of 4 such boys. The different personalities, backstories, and paths of each character take the reader on a roller coaster across the The Raven Cycle and it is unlike any other, and well worth with the price of the ride.
I give this series 5 out of 5 dragons, 5 out of 5 stars, and all 4 sections of my heart…one for each of them.
The best place to look for information on how to publish your book for paper with CreateSpace is actually in your collection of traditionally published fiction and non-fiction. In their eBook, Building Your Book for Kindle, Amazon suggests both indenting the first sentence of paragraphs and also inserting empty space between paragraphs. A lot of Indies, myself included, made the mistake of using the same system for our paper books.
It’s not the end of the world, and doesn’t look terrible, but the way it’s usually done is either using indents with no spaces between paragraphs – apart from the first paragraphs of every chapter, which are not indented, or having the spaces between, but not indenting any of the paragraphs. Amazon recommend paragraph indents of 0.5” in Kindle books, and again, a lot of us carried that figure over when we formatted for our paper books. It also doesn’t look terrible, and most readers probably won’t notice, but if you look again at your fiction collection, you’ll see that they mostly use smaller paragraph indents. To set yours, click on the little arrow to the right of the Paragraph box, and adjust the settings for both the indentation and the spacing there. Remember to select the portion of your book where you want this to happen accordingly.
You might also fancy having a drop cap in the first paragraph of every chapter. All you do in Word is highlight the paragraph and click on Insert, then select Drop Cap and choose the style you want.
If you want to use a different font to the text for your drop cap, highlight only the first letter and select Drop Cap. Go back to your Home ribbon and open the font box. As you move down and hover over selections, you’ll see the end result appear on the page.
If you’re looking for free and paid for new fonts, head over to Font Squirrel and download away. Always be very sure to read the licence terms for any free font, as some require attribution. Most of these fonts will embed nicely in your PDF file for uploading to CreateSpace, and if they don’t, just don’t use them. All of the standard fonts that come with Word will work great. You could also use Wingdings or other font illustrations as a drop cap with a space after it and begin the paragraph normally.
Right now, I’m living with two people, two cats and a dog. As I’m sure you can imagine, it’s difficult as a writer to be focused on the story you’re trying to tell. The distractions are countless, and it’s irritating, especially when you’re mind is on fire, but then someone starts talking to you, or the dog barks, or heaven forbid, your cat jumps onto the computer desk and sits on the keyboard.
As writers, we are in need of quiet time. And sometimes it gets tough to earn that quiet time. A lot of writers have children to care for or other demanding jobs. Right now, I’m searching for a job, so I have a lot of time on my hands. However, I don’t always get to have my quiet time because of the noise that surrounds me. I sometimes get so frustrated with a chapter, that I just want to scream, “please, give me a little peace!”
If I don’t find that peace, then it makes it even harder for me to find my “creativity” time. I found that lately for me, my creativity time is usually early in the morning, as soon as my step-father leaves for work. That’s around six thirty. I’m usually up by then, and the house is silent. I get up before I can think about what I’m doing, and hop onto the computer (kind of the way I treat exercising. Do it before your brain realizes it’s being forced to work). Then I write a few hours, and my mom wakes up. Sometimes she stays in her room to watch TV, other times she goes to the living room, where I’m working on my manuscript. Depending on the show she’s watching, I’m able to continue writing, but oftentimes, my concentration breaks. This primarily happens when I once again change where my story is going (I seem to do that often. Anyone else have that problem? It gets stressful and irritating.).
What I wouldn’t give to find a place where I can be alone, a place where I can get that creativity flowing in peace. But because there isn’t a place that I’ve thought of, I have to make due with what I’ve been given. In the morning, it seems to be easiest for me when no one is around, but sometimes, especially the weekends, I have to deal with distractions.
I found that listening to music helps me. At first, I was trying to find good music that could be considered mysterious, in order to help me work on my mysteries. I soon found out that words tend to throw me off track. So I decided to opt for listening to instrumental like Dave Koz or Jim Brickman. Either one of those, particularly Jim Brickman is my go to music of choice when I decide to listen to music while writing. I can get lost in the music, at the same time get lost in the stories my characters are telling.
I’ve also been on the lookout for other good solitude places to write. But so far, I haven’t thought of anywhere. I tend to go straight to the computer in our living room each morning rather than anywhere else.
Where you write is just as important as writing during your best creativity time. Even if no one is around, there can be distractions, like the television. In my last apartment, I had an office where my laptop was, but there was no TV. I didn’t allow it because I knew that I’d be distracted while trying to work on my book.
What are some of the ways and places that allow you to write and shut out the crazy noises of the world?
Genres: Children’s Books (ages 6 – 14), Literature, Fiction, Short Story Collections
**The author provided me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review which follows**
In the Author’s Words:
“Why is all the toilet paper disappearing? Will Kyle escape the banana warriors? Can Marty save everyone from the mushroom zombies? Find the answers inside Willakaville: Amazing Adventures of Astronomical Awesomeness. Follow intelligent children as they solve supernatural issues and find out about themselves along the way. The book is full to the brim with time machines, magic, mayhem, aliens, cats, mystery, secrets, strange lands, rockets, evil villains, and a pencil. If you are into action, adventure and awesomeness, this is the book for you!”
My secret is out! I love children’s books and this was one of the cutest kid’s books I have read in a long time. I only wish my own grandchildren were still young enough to enjoy this collection!
The stories are set in the mysterious town of Willakaville. Each tale is filled with humor and descriptions that will have your child hooting with laughter! (I did). While reading, I could imagine myself sitting with my own children and grandchildren on my lap as we read the stories out loud together. I really got the sense the book was meant to be shared as a family. I know it would encourage many family discussions. Anytime you can get your children to talk to you and read at the same time is a plus in my book!
Mathew Heinecke has struck the mother lode in children’s storytelling by writing with a combination of imagination and exciting life lessons skillfully woven into each yarn. I really liked the idea that there was a problem presented within each storyline and the characters had to figure out how to solve the issue. This is a great way to introduce problem-solving skills to young children.
I especially loved the inclusion of numerous poems that I thought would be fun and entertaining to read to a younger child. What a great way to encourage the love of poetry at an early age.
Now, if I can figure out some children to buy these books for…
Character Believability: 5 Flow and Pace: 4 Reader Engagement: 5 Reader Enrichment: 5 Reader Enjoyment: 5 Overall Rate: 4.5 out of 5 stars
About Mathew Heinecke:
Mathew Heinecke is an emerging author of children’s books. He enjoys making up wacky science fiction stories and poems for his children. His Willakaville series books have put these in print for others to enjoy with the goal of tackling the many different issues children will face. (He wants to ensure he is using the full spectrum of his imagination)
As a graduate of the University of Utah with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering, he has worked for many years as a mechanical engineer in both the aerospace and transportation industries. This coincides with his passion for learning about new technologies and innovations. (He really wants to be a galactic space fighter)
Mathew grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah where he enjoyed visiting the nearby Rocky Mountains and the colorful landscapes of southern Utah. As a child, he played several sports such as; football, soccer, rugby, basketball, snowboarding, skiing, hiking, fishing mountain biking, golf, and tennis. Now he just plays a little golf and tennis (and has a small protrusion of his belly to show for it) He continues to enjoy sports and time outdoors with his wife, children, and friends.
Some of Mathew’s hobbies include illustration, painting, t-shirt and logo design, gardening, and movies. (He likes to keep busy) His favorite movies are Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings.