Guest Posts

Guest Blogger: Isabelle Peterson – Originality in Stories

Posted by on Jun 25, 2014 in Guest Posts | 0 comments

Guest Blogger: Isabelle Peterson – Originality in Stories

Please welcome today’s Guest Blogger, author Isabelle Peterson, who’s here to talk about originality in stories. ~oOo~   Originality in Stories   I hear it every day. “I read a book like that once.” And to that I say, “So what?” That’s the brilliance of books. And movies and songs and every other artistic adventure. I could bore you with the various lists out there, the unique names to each theme and theme set, but it boils down to the frequently spouted: There are only seven basic stories out there, just all told in a unique way.**  Even writings dating back to Aristotle say there are only six stories. Some groups will cite more “basic plots”—up to thirty-six; however, many of those thirty-six are subcategories of the ‘basic seven.’ The key part of that saying is the just all told in a unique way part. Why do I bring this up? Why do I say, “So what?” Let’s analyze three stories being told in various ways: The story of King Arthur J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series Each features a young man who was orphaned, left to be raised by someone other than his parents, unaware of his full heritage: Arthur, a king; Aragorn, also a king; and Harry, a wizard. Each young man is set on an incredible quest: the search for the Holy Grail; the destruction of the Ring; and, well, Harry had several, starting with with the protection of the Philosopher’s Stone. Each employs a wise, old, magical man with a long white beard: Merlin, Gandalf, and Dumbledore. And each vanquishes a villain: Mordred, Sauron, and Voldemort—excuse me, “He-Who-Should-Not-Be-Named.” And I could go on… When the Crossfire Series by Sylvia Day came out, so many people were furious that the story seems “so closely patterned” after E.L. James’ Fifty Shades series. Christian Grey vs. Gideon Cross (C.G. versus G.C.), Ana vs Eva (a female name with three letters), younger woman falling for an older, billionaire man—who is incredibly powerful at a young age for the business world—with a dark, troubled past that influences his present self, where said younger woman helps to free or tame these demons. I’m sure that if we sat down and talked, we could come up with dozens of books. In fact, my book, Ditching the Dream, has rung a similar chord with other books out there, namely the Temptation Series by K.M. Golland and Jani Kay’s Open Your Eyes.  Each of our stories have heroines who are older, in her late thirties to midforties. Married or just out of marriage. Maybe a love triangle. Similar words of wisdom are woven in. But guess what, folks? REAL LIFE IS LIKE THIS, TOO!  I’m not the only mother of two teens out there in the world, in my state, or even in my town. Maybe those other moms drive a car like mine. Perhaps they also have husbands who commute into the city daily with occasional out of town trips. In fact—I can guarantee it. But there are so many things in our lives that make our stories different. And this is precisely what happens with similar stories. Things are similar, but there is usually so much more that has meaning to the story that makes it different. Unique. Exciting. So, get out there. Tell the story bouncing in your head the way you want to tell it. It may have similar ringings to other works out there, but your story will still be yours and will find an audience all the same. Sometimes it’s that very similarity that will lead readers to you. **Christopher Booker wrote a book released in 2004 titled The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories. It’s a very long book, so here are the CliffsNotes™ (extra points to those of you who know what CliffsNotes™ are). He states the seven basic plots as: Overcoming the Monster Rags to Riches The Quest Voyage and Return Comedy Tragedy Rebirth There are others who will say there are three, five, twenty, some analysts cite thirty-six. And because...

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Guest Blogger: Lisa N. Paul – Series Books in a Cliffhanger World

Posted by on May 28, 2014 in Guest Posts | 2 comments

Guest Blogger: Lisa N. Paul – Series Books in a Cliffhanger World

Today’s guest blogger is author Lisa N. Paul, who talks about her love of series books, something that is near and dear to my little series-loving heart!   Explaining Series Books in a Cliffhanger World by Lisa N. Paul   I’ve been an avid reader since I was a little girl—as far back as I can remember. And while I would read anything and everything I could get my little hands on, I always preferred related/connected books or series books. Why, you ask? Well, there was something comforting in taking a road trip back the world an author created and spending time with characters I’d formed a lasting relationship with. For example, as a small girl, I loved the Berenstain Bears books. My dad and I would cuddle up in my bed and read all about the silly country bears and their misadventures. We would giggle over how the Papa Bear would try with great passion to teach his cubs life lessons only to succeed by failing. But each time my dad and I would open a new release, I would get excited to see what kind of silliness my bear friends would find. From there my dad and I met Ramona Quimby and her sister Beatrice, as well as Fudge and his brothers, and enjoyed the easy way we slipped back into the lives of our friends time after time. The days of cute little bears, silly school mishaps, and reading with my dad were all but over the day I discovered Francine Pascal and her Sweet Valley High series. Those books became my hobby, part of my bedtime routine, the topic of conversation between my girlfriends and me, and my guilty pleasure all wrapped up in the brightly colored covers of multiple and continuing books.  What I found so extremely pleasing about that series was that in each book there was a story and at the end there was a resolution. (Instant gratification!!) However, when the next book came out, the characters, NOT the story, moved on. I mean, come on!! We were young, we were dealing with our changing bodies and boys—the LAST thing we needed was to have even more angst added on by having to wait for the next installment of SVH to see what happened to our book friends. If we wanted a cliffhanger, all we needed to do was watch Dallas and try to figure out who shot J.R. Ewing! That, my friends, is the difference between a cliffhanger and a series/connected book, television show, etc. Understand? A cliffhanger is one story told over more than one book. A series/connected story is multiple stories that are connected by either characters, place, or event. I may be missing something… but that’s the general idea. Nowadays, cliffhangers are all the rage. And… let’s be honest, they tend to cause some rage as well. Cliffhangers are the books readers love to hate. For me, personally, I don’t like them. I’m still an instant gratification kind of girl. As an adult, I have gravitated to the series books. I’ve found I am more invested in stories when I know I’ll get to spend more time with my friends. Yes, yes, I know it sounds a little crazy, but trust me, if you’re anything like me… you’re nodding with me right this minute. I see you. 😉 When I started my journey as a writer, I began writing my first scene and from the minute I introduced the two main characters, I knew there would be at least two books needed—hence, a series was born. As I delved deeper into my first novel, Thursday Nights, I realized that each of the characters was special and deserved a story of their own. I am working on the third book now. Two of the most frequent questions I get from potential readers is “Are your books cliffhangers?” and “Should I wait for all of them to be released before I read the first one?” My answer is always the same—NO!!! Not only are my stories NOT cliffhangers, they are...

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Guest Blogger: Jada D’Lee – Designing Your Book Cover

Posted by on Apr 30, 2014 in Guest Posts | 2 comments

Guest Blogger: Jada D’Lee – Designing Your Book Cover

 Designing Your Book Cover by Jada D’Lee   Today we have a special treat for our readers. Cover designer, trailer creator, animator, and all-around cool chick Jada D’Lee has stopped by for a visit and to bestow a little wisdom about designing your book cover. ~oOo~ Ever wonder what goes into designing a cover for a book? I’m guessing you probably haven’t. When you see a cover, you’re drawn to the book if it’s pretty, it intrigues you, it’s sexy—or maybe you don’t care about any of that and you just like the smell of books. But that’s a whole other topic, though, so we won’t go there. However, if you’re a new indie author, the topic of cover design is probably fresh in your mind. Let’s face it, when you lie in bed at night, envisioning the moment you become a published author, the image you see is the book cover. I’m assuming that the cover you see is something that’s also pretty intriguing and possibly something you’d like to smell as well… am I correct? Absolutely! It’s every author’s dream to be published, and so much rides on whether or not a cover will be liked. Readers can’t help it; most of the time they judge books by their covers. Which means all the time and energy you put into writing, editing, formatting—you name it—gets flushed right down the toilet if you have a bad cover! Eeeeeek!!! Sooooooo, how do you get that pretty cover!? Hey don’t sweat it, here are some tips on how to hook up with good designer and get started on that first cover. First, the designer: Ask around to see who other authors use, or if not, Google is your friend!  Once you find a few designers, look at their portfolios and see if you like the work. Then contact the designer or scroll through their website to find out prices. Once you have established that you like their designs and they’re in your price range, send the designer a few emails.  Get to know the person, give them a little insight into what you are looking for and what your book is about to see how they respond. If you feel like you’re talking to a robot and you have absolutely no spark with that designer, you’re probably not going to enjoy working with them. They may not “get” you. However, if by the third email you find yourself joking with your designer, and she/he in turn is saying all the right things to make you smile, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve found a winner! *thumbs up* Look, sometimes even the greatest designers out there just clash with an author, and it’s best to try to figure it out as soon as possible. You gotta be comfortable. Remember, this person is designing your dream! Second, a great photo or illustration: The easiest way to do this is to go to a stock photo site like istockphoto, pond5, colourbox, shutterstock, etc. Sometimes you can find a great deal, but if you have to spend a little more than you expected, usually you won’t regret it!  Your designer will be a big help in searching as well, so ask questions. Another way to get a great photo is to set up your own photo shoot. When I designed the cover for Animate Me by Ruth Clampett, not only did she do her own photo shoot but she also had the talented Juan Ortiz draw the illustration. That cover came out completely unique, and it’s definitely one of the most talked-about covers I’ve ever revealed! And of course the third option: combine both stock footage and your own photos. On the cover for Jeanne McDonald’s The Truth in Lies, not only did we use a stock photo of a beautiful woman, we also used the picture that I took at South Padre Island, about 20 minutes from my house. Hey, why not!  *smiles* The combination came out beautiful! Lastly, and this is a big one so listen up: Don’t be shy!  I repeat…DON’T BE SHY!...

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Guest Blogger: M.C. Cerny – Parenthood

Posted by on Apr 2, 2014 in Guest Posts | 5 comments

Guest Blogger: M.C. Cerny – Parenthood

Today’s guest blogger is author M.C. Cerny, who talks about explaining her book to her smallest fan. ~Parenthood~ So have you told your kids you write trashy romance novels yet? My journey as an author is still in its infancy but I am often asked about my writing and what I tell my family. I had enough trouble explaining to my partner why I wanted to know what sex felt like from the male point of view. Interestingly though, people really want to know what I tell my daughter, who is only four. We barely survived potty training and sharing cookies as a couple. My writing was certainly on the backburner during this time, and there’s not a whole lot of conversation that doesn’t include a Disney movie or a book like the Rainbow Fish at this point. So explaining what mommy writes in the twilight hours just doesn’t happen. My thoughts, however, focus on when she reaches those heinous teenage years where everything is, “Oh Em Gee, Mom, could you be anymore embarrassing!?!?” I’m fairly certain I could find tons of ways to embarrass my daughter in the near future—and I plan to if she pushes my parenting buttons—but for now, she’s only four. I love that she’s four and really wish the busy bodies of the world would chill out and let me enjoy four because it’s only happening once.  I’m pretty confident her young friends haven’t read my books yet and if they do, then I have to question what their parents are doing and why the heck they are leaving such reading material lying around the house and easily accessible. Now if their moms and dads are reading my book, more props to them because my book is awesome, just not awesome for the four-year-old age group and definitely not the fourteen-year-old age group, either. I won’t be accused of giving adolescents ideas about running covert spy agencies and engaging in sexual behaviors they probably learned about by watching shows like Revenge and Scandal on television, anyway. So what do you, as an author of decidedly adult content, tell your child? I hadn’t thought about this before because I’m one of those live-in-the-moment people, and it hadn’t occurred to me until I received the pretty big brown box of paperback copies I had ordered from Create Space. Caught up in the moment of smelling that undeniable scent of words crafted onto paper, it took me a moment to realize that my daughter was looking at the cover of my book strangely. I’m not ashamed or embarrassed by my writing, but what concerns me is how others might perceive things or even treat my daughter differently. She is still too young to understand that what others may think of us is not our business and it’s more important to craft our own unique identities. Well, at least that how her badass momma likes to view the world. As a parent these are those unique gems of wisdom and opportunity we only get to experience fleetingly, to be transported back to the world of children and see exactly what they see and how innocent they are. She asked me in that adorable voice of hers, “Momma, what are these books and why did you order a billion copies of the same one?” Little smart-ass, this box only had fifteen copies of books, but apparently that’s a billion. “Well baby, Momma is a writer and these are my books. I bought them so I can share them with everyone I know.” “Okay. Will you read me a story from your book?” She looked at me with her wide, innocent green eyes. Now this was the stumper because of course I wouldn’t read the story to her. Heck, I was still hoping I’d convinced my mother not to read the book because she gave me the stink eye and whispered one night over pizza, “Gosh what if it has sex in it? How will I tell your grandmother?” Incidentally my grandmother enjoyed reading the book and told me the...

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Guest Blogger: N. Isabelle Blanco – Finding Your Voice

Posted by on Mar 19, 2014 in Guest Posts | 2 comments

Guest Blogger: N. Isabelle Blanco – Finding Your Voice

Today’s guest blogger is author and businesswoman N. Isabelle Blanco, whom I had the absolute pleasure of meeting this past weekend at the Authors in the City event in NYC.   Finding Your Voice: Writing in First Person (or Third)   No, no, no, and no. LOL, okay, I agree, some authors are a “one-voice” type of writer and should stick to one point of view only. However, I am completely against those who say all authors should stick to one point of view. I have read many authors who can write in each point of view—first-person present, first-person past tense, and third-person—brilliantly. I, myself, write in whatever point of view speaks to me during the writing of each story. And that’s the point. As an author, I advise you to sit down and see which one talks to you. Sometimes it’s not as simple as waiting for a point of view to come to you. Sometimes you have to try one on and see how it fits. For example, I’ve been writing between first-person past and third-person for years. I remember the first time I read a book in first-person present, and all I could think was,What the hell? It sounded so weird in my head. It was like my mind didn’t want to accept it. Then, boom, I started writing a story recently, and guess which point of view took over? Yup. First-person present. And guess what else? I write better, harder, faster in first-person present. Now, it’s my little go-to solution when facing writer’s block. The words won’t come? I rush into first-person present, and voilà. So far, it’s worked every time. Will it always work? I don’t know, but so far, it’s the charm. Bottom line: experiment. Don’t listen to anyone’s opinion about what point of view you should write in. Listen to your gut and your muse. They know what they’re saying ^_~ ~oOo~ About the author: N. Isabelle Blanco was born in Queens, NY (USA). At the age of three, due to an odd fascination with studying her mother’s handwriting, she began to read and write. By the time she’d reached kindergarten, she had an extensive vocabulary and her obsession with words began to bleed into every aspect of her life. An avid reader in her teens, her fascination with Japanese anime eventually led her to the universe of fan fiction, which became her on-again, off-again hobby for the next ten years. During that time she amassed a following of fans that, by her own admission, she would never be able to live without. It was those fans who encouraged her to step beyond the fan fiction realm and try her talent in the publishing world. N. Isabelle Blanco now has three novellas and two full-length novels under her belt, and spends her days working as an author, web programmer, marketer, and graphic designer. That is when she isn’t handling her “spawn”, as she calls her son, and brainstorming with him about his future career as a comic book illustrator. Find N. Isabelle Blanco on: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads...

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Guest Blogger: Sarahbeth Caplin – My “Other Job”

Posted by on Feb 19, 2014 in Guest Posts | 0 comments

Guest Blogger: Sarahbeth Caplin – My “Other Job”

In this week’s guest blog post, I’m happy to welcome Sarahbeth Caplin, author of Confessions of a Prodigal Daughter, Someone You Already Know, Public Displays of Convention, and Sorting Myself: a collection of poetry. ~oOo~ My “Other Job” by Sarahbeth Caplin To the woman who asked about my “other job”—because writing stories is tiddlywinks compared to being an Important Somebody in a corporate office: The size of my income aside (let’s face it: no one decides to call themselves a writer solely for the money), writing is more than just a “job” to me. Writing is my life. I am the girl who narrated life in her head as it was happening. I am the high-schooler who thought to herself, “This is only a plot twist, not the end,” when her Crush of the Week moved on to someone else. I am the college graduate who has had the honor of seeing her name in print and hearing the words “Your book has changed my life” from an earnest reviewer. Writing was a hobby before it became a desired career, but when someone writes a review explaining how my little book helped them cope with being a sexual abuse survivor, we are no longer discussing a “job,” but a vocation. Writers write for various reasons, so I can’t speak for them all. But for me, I write to process the world around me. Because reading and writing go hand in hand, finding a slice of my own story in that of a fictional character propels me to keep crafting stories. Sure, reading is entertainment, but it also speaks to the core of what it means to be human. There are books that speak to a person who is otherwise tempted to give up on relationships, as Lauren Winner’s book Girl Meets God did when I struggled to tell my Jewish parents I had become a Christian. There are books that resonate so deeply with a person who is convinced they are “different,” as Anne of Green Gables did in my childhood. But behind those moving works is a writer who has, to an extent, lived through it and is baring her soul at the risk of being scrutinized and rated on a 5-star system on Amazon, desperately hoping to reach that someone who is looking for solace and comfort. That is who I want to be as a writer. In addition, because I am an independent writer, or “indie,” without the backing of a traditional publishing house or agent, I not only wear the hat of “Writer” but also that of “Marketer,” “PR firm,” and “Entrepreneur.” The necessary expenses that go into producing a book are staggering: editing, cover design, product description, pricing. Not to mention building up a fan base so there will be a ready audience to not only purchase my book, but also recommend me to their friends. As it turns out, writing is not limited to pounding on keys and producing 70,000 words. It is teaching me the value of genuine relationships with readers and the art of networking—skills that you, I’m sure, use daily in your own profession and cannot stress enough to doe-eyed college students who are terrified at the prospect of navigating the seas of what we seasoned adults call The Job Market. What I may or may not earn financially I make up for in life experience, which is far more priceless than any number printed on a pay stub. What is my “other job,” you ask? I’m a businesswoman. Sure, my uniform involves yoga pants, but my profession is just as legitimate as yours.  ~oOo~ About the author Sarahbeth Caplin was born in Connecticut as Sarah Elizabeth Caplin and legally changed her name to Sarahbeth at the age of 22, thinking it would look more distinctive on future book covers. Off paper, she is primarily known as Beth and holds a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Kent State University. It was during college that she first saw her name in print as a columnist for her campus newspaper, The Daily...

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