Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Upcoming Rerelease: Moonlight and Shadows... Plus Other News

Cover art: SelfPubBookCovers.com/Shardel
Oh gosh, I haven't had a release in forever. It's been about a year or so, I think. Believe it or not, I'm back to writing daily, but I'm still not as productive as I was before I got sick earlier this year. Just this week, I moved my computer stuff back into my office...after months of not being well enough to hang out in here. So, once I found myself back in the saddle, the first thing I did was start prepping the Werekind books for rerelease through Smashwords.

There are a lot of books, and all of them need work, formatting, and new covers. It's a labor of love, though, and I'm determined to do it. They've been out of print for a while now, and in the future I want to have them available online as both singles and in an omnibus/author collection format. A tall order, while continuing to write new materieal, but the heart wants what it wants.

Today I purchased the cover for Moonlight and Shadows. It's one of my favorite Werekind books, and it's actually a spin off of the original Colorado wolves. The book will be rereleased very soon with minor changes and a new epilogue attached. All it's lacking right now is the formatting. Once that's out of the way, it will be ready to upload. I'll post an update with links after the files are uploaded to Smashwords. I'm very excited to be getting this story back on the shelf.

In other news, I should know within the next two weeks if my old projects and book covers will be salvagable. I'm waiting for a new IDE/SATA to USB cable to arrive so I can pick through the hardrive of my old Acer desktop. As it is, the comp is dead. It won't turn on, so...we'll see what happens once I pull the harddrive and pick through it...if it isn't fried. *bites nails* I hope it's okay. I've left the tower untouched all this time, waiting for when I felt strong enough to break out the tools and deal with the transfer. So, fingers crossed. The Acer has my covers and files for Vampyre Night, Wicked Temptation, and a few other books on it. I'll be so relieved if I'm able to rescue just that small handful of files! But if I can't retrieve them, sadly, I'll have to let them go.

Lastly, my website... Yes, yes, I need to update it. I've started working on it. I'm completely aware a lot of the books shown are out of print. New editions are on the way; I promise. That said, I better get to work. So much to do, so little time! ♥oxooxo

Oh! One more thing...I'm no longer syndicating through Networked Blogs. They completely changed their service, and I can't do another subscription fee right now. So, if you'd like to receive my blog posts elsewhere instead of visiting here, please follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or add me to your circles via Google+.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Friday Fun: The Anatomy of a Grammar Nerd (the infographic)

Anatomy of a Grammar Nerd Infographic

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Writing Craft Books vs. the Dreaded Sagging Middle

I'm on a mission to find the best books and articles that target "the dreaded sagging middle." I'm especially interested in craft books that dissect and thoroughly explain the structure of the middle act in a romance novel, aka act two in the three act structure, or acts two and three in a four act structure.

Recently, I noticed there are many craft books out there (print and digital editions), as well as a heap of blog articles, that thoroughly cover writing story beginnings. There are books available that discuss how to make the most of your first x amount of pages, from the opening scene to the inciting incident. It's no mysery why. Agents and editors that request partials look at roughly the first five to fifty pages. Writing contests often require participants to send in their (polished) first five to fifty pages for judging. Beginnings are important. They're the first thing people read when they pick up your book or manuscript.

Here's the thing. When I talk to other writerly peeps, it seems most of us struggle with writing the scenes that come after the inciting incident...that's the open door to act 2. Almost everyone I asked through email, on Facebook, and elsewhere have said they have the most trouble with middles - not beginnings.

Earlier this week I went to Amazon to research this phenomenon, and I discovered there are very few books that specifically cover the structuring of middles. I found only three books that deal directly and specifically with middles, although there are a few others that cover the topic in greater depth than the standard writing guide.

Books I've found that specifically discuss middles:
Write Your Novel From the Middle by James Scott Bell 
Trough of Hell by H.R. D'Costa
and Vicki Hinze 12 Essential Writing Skills : Novel Middles (Only 28 pages long. I bought it, but haven't read it yet.)

Other craft books that spend time discussing middles in detail include:
Nancy Kress's Beginning, Middles, and Ends.
Structuring your Novel by K.M. Weiland (rec'd to me, but I can't remember if I've read this one)
Save the Cat by Blake Snyder (love)
Screenplay by Syd Field (a personal favorite!)
and The Love Plot by Katherine King (great for category romances)

I would really, really like to add to these lists. If you can make a recommendation, please let me know in the comments or contact me on Facebook or Twitter. A couple of kind folks sent me several google search lists pointing out a ton articles about sagging middles. I've waded through pages and pages of those articles, some good and some bad. What I keep seeing in the results are older craft articles (pre-2013), articles that are vague in explaining the structure of the second act, articles that don't seem geared toward romance or any other specific genre, articles that suggest changing pacing or adding tension (or some other missing element) or reworking your characters to prop up the middle, and some articles only touch on the actual midpoint itself. What I'm not seeing in the search results are printed books available on the topic; nor does there seem to be a unified, semi-universal, or accepted structure for middles the way we see with beginnings, climaxes, and endings. Perhaps this is why sagging middles are still an issue for so many writers?

If you're a writer, what are your thoughts on this? What part of writing a novel do you struggle with the most?  Do you have any tips or tricks for writing engaging story middles? Also, if you have book recommendations for writing guides that target middles, I'd love to hear about them. ☺

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Verdict: My Paperbackswap Experience

Okay, so a while back I wrote a blog post stating that I'd joined Paperbackswap, but I didn't say much more than that about it because I hadn't used the service enough to give a fair appraisal. Well, I've been a member for long enough now...or rather, I've sunk enough money into it at this point...that I feel I can give my honest opinion about it.

I'm going to start by saying that I have a few friends who are members of the site as well, so I initially felt confident joining the site. Their membership seemed almost like a stamp of approval for me, at first. I viewed the site, and although skeptical, it seemed like it would save you money to swap books there, because essentially it's easy to look at the site and believe that you're going to be basically swapping books for a small swap fee, receive a credit and that's it. Well....

Here's how using the service has gone down for me:

When I joined, I listed 10 romances (never read, no spine creases) from my "wanted it, but never gonna read it" paperback shelf. I usually reserve those books for relatives or giveaways, so no big loss there, although, I did pay for those books at some point. For signing up at PBS (paperbackswap), I received two free swaps. I wanted to dive head first into trading, so I began a search for books on my wish list. However, none of the books on my immediate wish list were available for order. Hmm. I should've taken that as a sign and backed out of the program right there. But I went ahead and browsed through the titles until I found something interesting to order - which was a couple of horror novels. I tend to read a lot of horror, category romance, and erotica, so you think it would be easier to find posted books. That definitely wasn't the case for me.

Okay, so after those initial free swaps, I received swap requests for three of the books on my list. I dutifully printed the labels, and hauled these bad boys to the post office. I didn't use the paperbackswap printable shipping, because sure enough it wouldn't have been enough for the books I was mailing. I went to the post office and each book shipped with delivery confirmation was about $3.50. So, let's just say $10.00 spent right away. (That's not counting the value of the books, of course, which were between $4.88 and $6.97 per book at Walmart prices.)

About two weeks later, I got notice from paperback swap that two of the books had been received, which gave me two credits total. I thought, cool! I'll go in and order another book. The thing is, I was out of free swaps. Since that was the case, like a fool, I went ahead and paid for a $20.00 yearly membership that gives you "free swaps" (that really aren't free anyway you slice it) thinking that would help save me money.

After ordering two more books using those "free" book credits (the ones I got from my books being received by the people who requested them), I was out of book credits again. Since no one had requested any of the other books I had posted, and the other person hadn't given me credit for their book's receipt yet, the only way for me to get more book credits was to buy them at a cost of $3.95 for 1-2 credits, or $3.79 for 3+ credits. Plus a paypal fee, which is shady territory.

Anyway, you can buy book credits straight up using paypal, or you can buy paperbackswap money and then buy the credits through the PBS site. Either way you go about it, if you buy one credit, once you factor in the .50 cent paypal fee on every transaction**, that's over four dollars...for a used book.

This is why I do not see that as a savings of any kind: You can buy used paperbacks for a penny all day long on Amazon (the shipping will be standard $3.99, which totals out to $4.00, and no paypal fee), and you get to choose the vendor you're buying from and at least get an idea of the condition of the book you'll receive - more about that in a minute.

The fact of the deal is that paperbackswap money doesn't go very far. Paperbackswap money can be used for kiosk transactions, for swaps, fees, and book credits. However, if you go with "a la carte" membership, unless you post a metric shit ton of newly released, high in demand books, (to keep people requesting your books so you can accumulate credits that can in turn be used to keep books coming to your door), you're going to have to pay swap fees, plus paypal transaction fees, plus book credit fees. And if you mail out a book, you're going to be paying shipping fees as well, since you cover the shipping on any book you send out. Basically, paperback swap is good in theory, but this is a fairly expensive service, and you're not swapping anything for free - not even your own books. While I'm sure there are people who love the service and get a lot of mileage out of it, I am not one of those people.  I'm presently out about $40.00 from using paperback swap, and the books I have received are in a condition NOTHING like what I sent out. One book had the wrong cover from what I requested, and the rest were very, very worn. Not "good condition" as the site demands. People are sending out books that need to be retired, end of story.

Anyway, my overall experience with the service has been anything but good. Sadly, I can't recommend this site to friends, and I will be closing my account there as soon as my last book request arrives...if it gets here. To me, it's not worth the expense. I get far more mileage out of buying penny books off Amazon, and using my $9.99 Kindle Unlimited service (which I love and have gotten a ton of mileage and savings out of since I started using it.) As for the books I'd hoped to swap at PBS, I will simply take them to my area used book store, or put them on the giveaway shelf at the local library to cut down the clutter at home. It's far, far cheaper to do that.

**Any paypalling you do from the site costs you .50 cents per transaction, and this is from the paperbackswap side of things. Basically, you are paying Paperbackswap's paypal fees for doing business. That's a tad shady if you ask me, since paypal charges businesses fees for using their service. That's what you're paying - Paperbackswap's business/seller fees.

If you've had a good or bad experience at Paperbackswap, I'd love to hear about it...just please no bashing. I don't welcome that here.

Until next time, happy reading! xoxo

Sommer Marsden's Haunted

I'm obsessed with books, photos, and TV shows about abandoned places, so when Sommer Marsden's Haunted appeared on Amazon, I knew I had to read it! Check out the blurb....

Sommer Marsden's Haunted 

Two people lost and alone in life searching for answers… 

Maddox visits abandoned sites to take photographs and figure out his future. He haunts the places that are monuments to the way he feels inside. Stark, empty, raw. And Olyvia searches for answers to her own painful loss by hunting ghosts. Trying to comfort herself by seeking proof of an afterlife. 

One haunted amusement park with a dark history… 

Maddox and Olyvia recognize kindred souls in one another. But a chance to fully explore their connection is a luxury they may not have. There’s a ghost stalking Screamland hell-bent on revenge. And it’s targeting them. ♦

I highly recommend this novella. It's a quick read, and if you're like me, you won't be able to put it down! 

Buy Link: 


Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Love Plot by Katherine King

I'm back again with another recommendation from my recently read list. I read a ton of non-fiction, specifically writing guides. The ones I find helpful, I shelve in my writing library. I'm always happy to recommend a good writing guide, and this is one of them.

I've had a hard time finding writing guides that delve very deeply into the crafting of category romance novels. This one does (although it also works for other types of romance), so The Love Plot gets a big thumbs up from me. If you're interested in writing category romance, this book digs deeper than most.  Check out the blurb...

The Love Plot (How to Plot Your Romance Novel) by Katherine King

Romance novels are a labor of love. But writing your book doesn't have to be laborious. Don't reinvent the wheel-- or the plot outline. The elements you need to get plotting and get writing are at your fingertips. Learn how to structure your book with the pivotal and connective scenes listed in the worksheets that get to the heart of the matter: the buildable plot.

Whether you're writing category romance or romance in general, The Love Plot can get you from the blank screen to the last page. Which is just what you need. No fuss, no frills, no filler. And that's just write. 

So grab your pen and create something your readers will love!

I highy recommend this book for aspiring authors looking for help crafting a category romance. I'm linking to both editions of the book, because I read the Kindle version through Kindle Unlimited first, then went back and bought a paperback copy.

Buy Links: 

Kindle edition: http://www.amazon.com/Love-Plot-Romance-Novel-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B00TEYW0OM/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Paperback Workbook: http://www.amazon.com/Love-Plot-Workbook-Romance-Chronicles/dp/1507722214/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

For His Brother's Wife by Kathie DeNosky

Forbidden romance alert! I've loved every title I've ever picked up by Kathie DeNosky, and as soon as I saw For His Brother's Wife on the store shelves, I knew I had to read it. Just check out that blurb!

For His Brother's Wife by Kathie DeNosky

The tornado that tore apart Royal, Texas, ripped Paige Richardson's world to shreds. She lost her husband, and she expected her husband's twin, construction tycoon Colby Richardson, to offer a shoulder to lean on. But instead, he's distant. Why? What happened to the closeness they once shared?  

For years, Cole has kept his distance, but now he's staying on Paige's ranch while he helps the town rebuild. It's only a matter of time before the feelings—and secrets—he's hidden all come to the surface.

I purchased my copy from Walpurgis Mart a few days ago, so its still on store shelves out here in the sticks. You can also pick up a copy at BN.com, Books A Million, Amazon, and at other book retailers. It's definitely worth a read! 

Buy Link: