Thursday, July 2, 2015

Do You Have What it Takes to be a Part of a Book Bundle? by Melissa Keir

Do You Have What it Takes to be a Part of a Book Bundle?

Book bundles or anthologies are one of the hottest best-selling books right now. It’s a great way to get to know new-to-you authors and expand your sales base. I’m currently in four book bundles and love them!

Book bundles are sets of books set among a theme or by the same author. It’s a wonderful way to group stories. They can be full-length novels or shorter novellas. Some of the bundles contain brand new stories while others feature re-releases of an author’s popular work. They range from three to twelve stories and are usually priced at $0.99.

The hardest part isn’t writing your story. The hardest part is giving ALL members of the bundle, equal say. They have to agree on the blurb, the cover, and the promotions. The more members, the more challenging it is. And then, what happens if there is a disagreement? What happens if someone doesn’t do their share or is late in submitting their story?

This is why it’s important to plan for these things up front. Seriously, it’s happened. Even in one group, a person dropped out of the bundle and we had to reformat without them. In another group, the people couldn’t agree on the cover. Sometimes a problem can turn into a big deal and shut down the whole bundle or end a friendship. Many authors are using a book bundle service which allows for someone else to manage the money and handle the problems. This is a good idea but it does cost you a percent of your sales. You have to weigh the value.

As you can see there’s a lot more to a book bundle than just jumping in and writing your story. It’s best to talk these things through first and set a plan, then you can enjoy the fruits of your work without the stress or problems. 

Crashing Into Love:
Lost meets Romancing the Stone--action adventure, a dash of mystery, and romance to die for.

Seven planes lift off…seven planes crash…seven stories of struggle, passion and love in the barren Canadian Wilderness, the coast of England, or the steamy heat of a tropical island. Romance hangs in the balance between survival and death.

Brace for Impact by Daryl Devoré.
What could be simpler than a routine plane trip from Toronto, Canada to Caracas, Venezuela for rookie flight attendant, Lori, and sexy R.C.M.P. officer, Guy Lapierre? But Fate had other intentions.

Crashing into You by Lisa Kumar
When Ashlee Trent meets handsome businessman Kaiden West on a plane to Australia, he eases her fears even as he sets her heart ablaze. But after their plane crashes into the ocean and they wash ashore, will the secrets surrounding him send their budding relationship into a nosedive?

Crashing Through Time by Jenna Jaxon
The most dangerous thing about time travel is knowledge of the past: does she save him and change history, or let the tragic events play out and lose the love of her life?
More than hearts can be broken when you crash through time. 

Love Comes Crashing In by Brenda Dyer
Best friends find love in each other's arms, but can that love survive reality?

Falling Hard by D'Ann Lindun
He craves solitude to forget what a woman did to him. She needs one last chance before her career ends. Can a plane crash in the Canadian Rockies show them what really matters?

A Splash of Romance by Deb Julienne
Who knew a plane crash would lead to romance? Hannah Parks is a trauma nurse on her way to a symposium at the Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Institute. She just started her bucket list and a plane crash definitely isn't on it.  Oliver Lawson's divorce is final and he's looking to start over. A tropical island, a gorgeous woman. Romance is one thing, getting there as a result of a crash landing...who knew? 


About Melissa Keir:
For my wedding in Vegas, my books and computer came with me but there wasn't enough room for my wedding shoes. It’s all about priorities! As an avid reader, I was probably born with a book in hand. Luckily my mom was also an avid reader, so it was easy to "borrow" her books when my books were finished.
I was reading from an early age about dashing men on horseback riding to the rescue of strong willed and capable women who didn't really need rescuing. I came to expect that women in fairy tales should have fought their own battles. When I was older, I found Margaret Atwood and realized that women could re-tell history in their own way and I experimented with changing those basic fairy tales.
Fortunately for me, my husband allows me the opportunity to be myself (spend my salary on books) and still takes care of the really important things for me like killing spiders and opening jars. As an elementary teacher, teaching children about the many worlds inside of books is a gift that I’m lucky enough to do for a living. Teaching the next generation to love reading is a lot of fun! Reading the right book can make a new world come alive!
Currently living in the suburbs of Ann Arbor, Michigan with my darling husband, way-too-grown-up children and spoiled dogs, I enjoy getting away through a book to escape the harsh winters or summer road construction.

I’d love to hear from you!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

On Rejection and Keep on Writing by S.G. Rogers

“What does not destroy me, makes me stronger.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

My sword and sorcery fantasy novel, Tournament of Chance: Dragon Rebel has just been published. I couldn’t be more pleased, especially considering its inauspicious beginnings. You see, I originally wrote Tournament of Chance as a short story (around 8,000 words). I submitted the short to several fantasy magazines, and although the feedback was positive, I couldn’t find a magazine willing to publish it. Battered and bruised, I ordinarily would have chucked the manuscript into a folder marked REJECTS, licked my wounds, and moved on to something else.

 But I just couldn’t let it go.

 I liked the concept of a young woman striving to break through the glass ceiling between commoners and royalty by honing her skills as an archer. In the back of my mind, I knew there was more to the story than the 8,000 words I’d written. So in between revising, editing, and promoting my other titles, I allowed the full-length version of Tournament of Chance to unfold. Unlike other, more disciplined authors, I usually let my stories discover themselves. As the novel moved along, I was actually quite surprised at all the twists, turns, and events in store for me. For example, who knew time travel and shape shifters would find their way into the mix? It took about six months to finish Tournament of Chance: Dragon Rebel, and it incorporates many of my favorite things – peacocks, lava tubes, caves, volcanoes, dragons, wizards, romance, and magic. It also deals with some very human foibles, such as deceit, treachery, false hope, envy, abuse of power, and pride.

 So if it weren’t for the rejections I experienced, Tournament of Chance: Dragon Rebel would never have been published as a full-length novel. Perhaps it’s the fighting Irish in me, but when I get knocked down, I get up again…and then I write some more. I’m not sure I agree with the Nietzsche quote, above, one hundred percent of the time, but it’s better than the alternative.

 Has rejection ever motivated you to succeed? ~ S.G. Rogers

 Here is a brief intro to S.G,'s latest release.

If Heather manages to win the Tournament of Chance, she’ll be the first commoner to earn a place at court. Instead of a glorious victory, however, she’s arrested and marked for execution. After a daring escape, she joins the Dragon Rebels, who seek to overthrow the despotic monarchy and restore the former kingdom of Ormaria. Amongst the rebels are three shape-shifting wizards who claim to be rulers from the past. On a perilous quest to free the wizards’ magic, Heather battles wild dragons, vicious predators, angry trolls, and unexpected traitors. When a horrendous accident sends her back in time to fulfill a mysterious prophecy, she must rely on her warrior skills, wits, and endurance to survive. To read an excerpt from Tournament of Chance: Dragon Rebel, please click here. To read excerpts from other books by S.G. Rogers please click here.
S.G. Rogers lives with her husband and son in romantic Savannah, Georgia, on an island populated by deer, exotic birds, and the occasional gator. She's owned by two Sphynx cats, Houdini and Nikita. Movies, books, and writing are her passions. Learn more about S.G. Rogers on her blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter. Also, be sure to check out the website for the Sweet Romance written by S.G. Rogers.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Behind the Scenes: Editing By Vicki Lesage

Behind the Scenes: Editing
By Vicki Lesage of Velvet Morning Press

Hello, romance readers and writers! I’m here to talk about editing.... But first, a quick submissions alert: My indie publishing house, Velvet Morning Press, is seeking submissions of romance novels with strong female protagonists. If you’re interested please send a short cover letter, a synopsis, and the first five pages of your book to

And now, some editing tips…

*Clickety-clack-type-type* Done! Isn't it the greatest feeling when you've finished writing your book/blog post/autograph on a fan's t-shirt? All that hard work is behind you and now you can bask in the... Oh wait. Now you have to edit.

The editing process is different for everyone. It depends on your personal style, how thorough you were on your first draft, and how much persistence you have to read your work YET AGAIN. Ideally, for important pieces of work (i.e. an article or guest post), you'll have at least one other pair of eyeballs on it. For a published book, you'll want a few sets of eyes on it, preferably at least one professional.

But before you get to that point, take it as far as you can yourself. That ensures that your work remains as close as possible to your tone and style, and, particularly in the cases where you're not paying someone else to review your work (unless hugs or beer count), you minimize the effort they have to put into it.

"Give me specifics, Vicki!" you're saying. OK, you've got it! Here's an inside look into my book editing process:

First Pass

I aim to write 3-5 pages per day, then re-read it every 20-30 pages. It's hard to switch back and forth between writing and editing so I don't like to do it too often, but I don't want to get too far away from what I've written before re-reading it.

On this pass, I do the following:

1. Fix any typos.

2. Fill in gaps and fix errors. For example, in one chapter of Confessions of a Paris Potty Trainer, I recount a doctor's appointment and by the end of the chapter, my husband is there with me, spouting out dialogue. But when I re-read it, I realized I hadn't specified that he'd gone to the appointment with me. Since my book is a memoir, he was right there in my memory so I didn't even notice that he wasn't there on the pages.

3. Check that I have the right level of description. In two of my books, I write about my life in Paris. Since I've been living here for 9 years, I can picture scenes and locations perfectly. But for my mainly American readers, they may not know what a Préfecture is or have a visual of a typical Parisian street. Sometimes just adding one sentence - "The wide tree-lined boulevard in front of my house was great for long walks, as long as you avoided the dog poop." - paints a picture of my neighborhood.

4. See if I can turn any narrative into dialogue. In my first draft, I just want to get my ideas out and since I'm writing about my own life, it ends up taking on a narrative tone. But converting some narrative to dialogue helps break up long sections and is easier for the reader to digest. It also allows my characters to be funny or slip in some description without my character going on and on herself.


First draft:
I ran into Chris and Dave, fellow expats, at the ball and we chatted over champagne. It was crazy just how small the world was!

Second draft:
"Hey there, stranger!"

I turned to see Chris and her husband, Dave. "Well, hello there! Fancy meeting you here," I said, kissing each of them on the cheek.

"We've actually run into a few other people as well. Reminds me just how small the English-speaking world in Paris is," Chris said.

"And how much we all like to drink!" Dave added. We all laughed.

"Well, we'll let you youngsters get on with it," Chris said. "Maybe we'll run into you later?"

The second version is more fun to read, provides a little characterization of Chris and Dave (they're married, they're older than me, they like to drink), and moves the scene along.

The easiest way to see if you need to convert narrative to dialogue is if you're talking about talking. Instead of "the doctor gave me the worst news possible" have the doctor actually SAY the bad news to you and show your reaction.

Second Pass

I run a search on a list of words that I know I overuse. It's tedious to search for each instance of each word, but it really pays off. Here are some of my common offenders:

"If he could just hurry up, we wouldn't be late."
"If he would hurry up, we wouldn't be late."

See? It reads just fine without "just."

think, feel
"I think it has to do with the French administration's desire to deforest the planet."
"Clearly, the French administration's sole goal is to deforest the planet."

It's your book! We know you think/feel it!

get, put, pull, take
"After the doors to the Préfecture open, you get in line and take your dossier out, naively thinking your turn is coming up soon."
"After the doors to the Préfecture open, you jump in line, whipping your dossier out of your bag with an enthusiasm that is totally uncalled for - your turn is hours from now."

Replace boring verbs with more descriptive ones that show movement or feelings.

try, start, decide
"I tried to decide which pastry to order, but there were too many choices."
"Ogling the display case in the boulangerie, I was unable to make a decision."

In the wise words of Yoda, "There is no try, only do."

"The immigration video was very boring and it was all I could do to stay awake."
"The immigration video was soul-crushingly dull, making it near impossible to stay awake."

As our beloved professor in "Dead Poets Society" taught us:

"So avoid using the word 'very' because it's lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don't use very sad, use morose. Language was invented for one reason, boys - to woo women - and, in that endeavor, laziness will not do. It also won't do in your essays."

I won't bore you with all 40+ words on my checklist but you get the idea. In looking at my examples, you can see that by running my list I'm not just replacing "get" with "jump" - I'm forcing myself to look at the whole sentence in a new light and see which additional changes could spice it up. In many cases, my edits actually make my sentences longer and that's fine. Editing isn't just about cutting things out, it's about improving your content to convey your thoughts in the best way possible. That may mean shortening, lengthening, describing more, or adding some "punch."

Third Pass

I print it out (sorry, forests of the world) and redline anything that isn't perfect. Thanks to a tip from "Your Novel: Day by Day" by Mary Anna Evans I edit in the following order:

1. Sentence. I scrutinize each sentence and see if there's a better way to say what I'm trying to say and if there's anything I can remove.

2. Paragraph. How does each sentence fit in the paragraph? Does it flow? Should I break out the paragraph? Is one sentence really just a repetition of another? Cut it out! No need to show off your writing skills by saying the same thing two different ways - show off your editing skills by deleting one of them.

3. Section. Does the section start and end on the right tone? Does it convey everything it needs to and nothing more?

4. Chapter. How does the chapter flow? Is it clear why each section is included? Anything to add/cut/move?

Every word/sentence/paragraph/section/chapter needs to contribute to the overall story. Does it match the theme? Could it be said better? If you remove it, do you miss it? Readers don't always notice tight writing but they definitely notice when it's not done right.

Fourth Pass

This is the hardest for me because I've already read the dang thing so many times. The goal is to read beginning to end as quickly as possible and as an actual reader would. It's best if you have an ereader so you don't have to print it out again, and it's really hard to do this sitting in front of your computer.

As you're reading, you're looking for overall readability and continuity. Does one chapter stick out to you as boring? Unnecessary? Repetitive? Do you have a bunch of action-packed chapters in a row and then a few that aren't as exciting? Should you change the order? Make the dull ones more interesting? Spread out the content? Only you know the answer, but you won't even know the problem until you can look at the book as a whole.

Try to read your book in a 2-5 day timespan so that you really get the overall feel. If you're a slow reader like me, that will be hard. But you can do it!


About Velvet Morning Press:

Velvet Morning Press is a boutique publishing house that discovers new authors and launches their careers. VMP publishes fiction in a variety of categories, short story anthologies and special projects. Adria J. Cimino and Vicki Lesage are the women behind VMP. Both authors themselves, Vicki and Adria use their experience in writing, editing, publishing and marketing to bring the work of other writers to bookshelves.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Science Fiction – An Evolving Genre by Tom Olbert

Science Fiction – An Evolving Genre by Tom Olbert

Speaking as a writer who primarily works in science fiction, I am painfully aware that the genre holds extremely limited appeal for the public. The genre has dropped out of popularity. Most of the general public doesn’t take SF seriously. Kid stuff, they assume.

 Maybe it started out that way, but the genre is evolving. The science fiction that has won current popularity in books and their big screen adaptations is the sub-genre we call post-apocalyptic science fiction (PASF). Stories that offer tortured young heroes and heroines struggling to find their purpose in dark, dystopian future worlds run by cold, duplicitous adults. And, if aimed and written properly, science fiction can be an excellent canvass for expressing such social themes and depicting characters who thrive in them, because it has no set limits or boundaries.

 The writer creates the world that is needed to illustrate the point and to channel the development of the protagonist. The challenge is in making that world seem relevant to an audience that tends to be skeptical of the genre. To be taken seriously, SF has to escape the stigma of glitz and gadgetry and offer stories that are actually character-centered. The setting must frame and present the character, not just use the character to present itself.

 One particularly dark and stinging PASF franchise is the CW’s “100” T.V. series, set in a post-war irradiated wilderness grown over the ruins of Washington D.C. Based on the Alloy books by Kass Morgan. A century after a nuclear war, the last survivors of humanity (or, so they think) live under harsh Draconian rule on an orbiting space colony beset by rapidly dwindling resources. They send a hundred of their incarcerated juvenile delinquents down to the surface to find out if it’s habitable. Turns out it is, but already inhabited, by two other groups of survivors. Warlike, savage tribes who live in the forests, and a technologically advanced but isolated society that’s lived inside a mountain bunker for the past 97 years.

 Character development is strong and intense, weaving through dark themes of society-building, tribalism, leadership dynamic, and such timeless moral themes as justice, capital punishment, and war. It’s a raw, gritty look at human nature in its purest form, and it spares us nothing. Its strength is definitely in its lead characters. Most notably Clarke, the teenaged daughter of the space colony’s chief medical officer (a mother who betrayed Clarke’s father to execution at the hands of the regime, justifying it for the greater good.)

 Thrust into circumstances beyond her control, Clarke reveals natural leadership ability and swiftly rises to power in her group. She soon has to face wrenching moral decisions that seem to echo the dark days of World War II. When the outwardly civilized, seemingly cordial mountain people start performing horrific Mengele-like experiments on the outsiders, draining their bone marrow in hopes of gaining their immunity to the radiation, Clarke must form an uneasy alliance with the savages to save her people. Clarke learns of an impending missile attack from the mountain through a spy she has on the inside, but decides not to warn her people about it, knowing it would tip off the enemy, robbing her side of the critical advantage. She must live with the guilt of her decision as dozens of her friends die a horrible fiery death while she gets herself to safety. A plot-point obviously alluding to Winston Churchill’s alleged similar decision at Coventry. When Clarke’s ally makes her own deal with the enemy, selling Clarke out to save her own people, Clarke must throw away the rule book to save her friends. She takes hostages and personally executes a prisoner just to make a point. When the enemy leader still won’t release her people, she makes the deliberate decision to commit genocide. Her hand pauses dramatically over the switch only a moment before she presses it, releasing deadly radiation into a bunker full of people, including innocent children and conscientious objectors who tried to help her people. The resulting nightmare scene of pleasant, family oriented cafeteria dining dissolving into excruciating death, bodies blistering from the radiation, women and children dying, conjures shades of Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

 “I tried to be one of the good guys,” Clarke later tells her mother. “Maybe, there are no good guys, Clarke,” mom replies. It’s not that everyone is out for number one, you understand. They’re all just doing their best to save their own people. Which is, of course worse. The story is a dark mirror of the world in which we live, but the characters have more life than that. We care about them, and they bring the dark lessons to life for us because their pain and conflict and love and hate for each other are potent.

In my SF novella “Black Goddess,” I combined theoretical quantum physics with the dark yearnings of a morally conflicted Gulf War vet who has lost his faith and becomes obsessed with finding the core of darkness at the beginning of time. The story deals with the real-life agony of torture and what it does to the soul, and asks the timeless questions of whether primal evil truly exists, if life is anything but blind chance, and if there is a God. At its core is a simple yearning for love.

  Quote: “Beneath her black head scarf, her dark eyes stabbed through him with a flaming hatred. Then…nothing. Like a black abyss where a soul had been a micro-second before. A strange kind of peace. More than that, a oneness. That look in her eyes. In his dad’s. It was the same as he’d seen in Lark’s memory…in the eyes of that kid in Uganda who’d held a knife to her throat. But, he hadn’t harmed her. Something had stopped him. When their eyes had met…something in her had pulled him back from the abyss.”

 To read more on Black Goddess please click a vendor's name Mocha Memoirs Press - Amazon

Tom Olbert lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts; cradle of the American Revolution, and home of University egg heads and kooky liberals. He loves it there. His work has most recently appeared in Musa Publishing. Previously in Mocha Memoirs Press, Eternal Press, and such anthologies as Ruthless, Fading Light: An Anthology of the Monstrous, Something Wicked Vol II, In the Bloodstream, and Torched. When he’s not working or writing sci-fi or horror, Tom volunteers for causes he cares about. He comes from a most interesting family; his mother, Norma Olbert is currently self-publishing a biography of the life of Tom’s dad Stan Olbert, a retired MIT physicist and veteran of the Polish underground during WWII. Tom’s sister Elizabeth Olbert is an artist, art teacher, and avid lover of horses.

 Learn more about Tom Olbert on his blog Other Dimensions.

Saturday, April 25, 2015