Jack Canon's American Destiny

Saturday, April 26, 2014

@GaryTroia Shares Practical Advice for Writers #WriteTip #AmWriting #Fiction

Since I was a child in primary school I have always had a yearning to create stories from nothing. I left school without qualifications, but with some encouragement from certain teachers concerning a few stories I had written. Now I was out in the big world, and having to earn a living. I thought it was about time to forget the big idea of writing; but that yearning, so deep within me, just wouldn’t let it go.

I finally relented to the yearning and bought myself my first computer. I was so excited. Now I could write stories to my heart’s content. But there was a problem, a big problem. Every time I sat down in front of the computer, the blank white screen in front of me stared me down, winning every time. I had some ideas, but I just could never get beyond the first chapter. My first chapters were always quite good, which is not surprising, given the amount of time I worked on them, tinkering around and pondering essentials, such as should this be a comma, or perhaps; a semi colon? I ended up with a whole pile of excellent first chapters.

I decided that I would never know how those first chapters would turn out in the end, because I was far too fearful to let myself go and find out. If I ever did let myself go on the very infrequent second chapter, my ego would soon shut down proceedings by bombarding me with ideas of doubt, ridicule, and unworthiness. So I ended up giving in to fear and shutting the lid of my laptop on my dreams of writing.

One fine day, I was walking passed Richmond College, and there was an open day, so I decided to walk in and have a look. I naturally gravitated towards the literature side of things. I picked up a little booklet of courses, and saw immediately a course that was titled, How to write a…novel in a month. Needles to say I signed my name on the dotted line.

When I turned up for my first day, the class was packed. And no wonder, who would not want to learn of a way to write a novel in a month? I think many of those in the class thought they were going to get magical fairy dust sprinkled on them, but of course, it wasn’t that easy.

The idea of writing a novel in a month consisted in pledging oneself to write 1,677 words each day, so at the end of the month you would have 30,000 words of a novel, at least a first draft. I did it, and realised that the magic consisted not in fairy dust, but the magic of writing faster than your doubts can form, and making a pledge to keep you sat in the chair every day and write those 1,677 words. It is quite amazing what can be achieved with daily discipline.


For the first time ever, this collection of short stories by Gary Troia brings together, in chronological order stories and memoirs from Spanish Yarns and Beyond, English Yarns and Beyond and A Bricklayer’s Tales into one complete volume.

“Excellent! A collection of short stories about depression, alcoholism and drug use. Very compelling reading. I read this short story collection all in one go.” (Maria, Goodreads.)

A Bricklayer’s Tales is the ultimate “I hate this job” story, written as a collection of short stories and memoirs, each one revealing a snapshot in the life of Ray. Troia captures the tedium of working in a low paid, menial job and living hand to mouth. This book of short stories is sad and questions the reader to ask questions about their own life. This book achieves clarity without trying.

Ray has three expensive hobbies: drinking, drugs, and running away. Without the income that Bricklaying provides, he would not be able to maintain his chosen lifestyle, so he compromises his principles and continues with his trade.

A collection of short stories and memoirs that include:
The Cuckoo’s Egg. Boyhood antics lead to tragedy.

My Grandfather’s Shed. The making of an English key

No Comb on the Cock. Gypsies, champion fighting cocks, and career choices.

What I Did In My Summer Holidays In 1000 Words. Could having an idea ever be considered a criminal act?

My Best Mate’s Head. Did a weekend of boozing save Ray from certain death?

The Shetland Isles. A trip to sunny Benidorm, a chance meeting with some Glaswegians, and a cold, miserable job in Lerwick.

Pointing a House in Islington. Too much alcohol and cocaine don’t mix well on building sites!

Angel Dust. The peculiar story of a man whose new life in America leads to conversations with Ancient Greek philosophers

Peyote. Hippies, LSD and an idyllic refuge

Return Ticket. Handcuffed and ready for deportation. A sad departure from the States

When I Joined a Cult. Sober dating as Ray discovers religion.

Bilbao. How very, very English!

Teaching Other People. The grass is always greener-the escape from bricklaying.

A Week in the Life of Ray Dennis. With the prospect of no money for food or alcohol this Christmas, Ray has to find work quickly.

Catania. A meeting with a Sicilian fox, some Neapolitans, and a man with a camel haired coat.

Advert In The Art Shop Window. Will a new building job in Spain be the start of a new life?

Gaudi. A flight to Barcelona for a kebab, and a look at the Sagrada Familia.

The Day My Soul Left Me. “To be or not to be? That is the question”

How Not to Travel to The Alhambra. Hung-over, the wrong fuel, the car breaks down. Will they ever make it to Granada?

The Road To Ronda. A terrifying drive to Ronda, was it worth it?

Poking A Carob Tree. A new home and new neighbours, just in time for Christmas.

Spain Reborn.No more commuting to London. Lets celebrate!

Home From Home. A parallel world where the Spanish have taken over Weymouth.

Three Common Carp.An epic battle with a whale and marlin it is not.

Mrs. McClintock. An absurd farce in which a Glaswegian couple retire to Spain

Steak, Egg and Intensive Care. A harmless dinner leads to hospitalisation.

The Unchangeable Chameleon. Can a leopard change it’s spots?

A Bricklayer’s Tale. The story of a disillusioned, alcoholic bricklayer

A collection short stories and memoirs of British dark humour.
 Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre - Fiction, Short Stories
Rating - PG-16
More details about the author
Connect with Gary Troia on Facebook & Twitter

Friday, April 25, 2014

Murder Strikes a Pose (A Downward Dog #Mystery) by @TracyWeberTypes #Giveaway #TBR

In this excerpt, Kate and Rene have gone to the main office of Dollars for Change, the newspaper that employed the murder victim. Kate questions the receptionist while Rene flirts with a male employee to get information.
Rene whispered in my ear. “You take her. I’ve got handsome back there.” She ambled around the room, pretending to examine the assorted newspaper clippings tacked along the wall. She eventually arrived at the coffee area, where she stopped to pour a glass of water.
“Good morning, can I help you two?” asked the friendly-looking receptionist. She wore red oval glasses. They perfectly matched the heart trapped in the center of her spider web tattoo. Her name plate read Tali Rodriguez.
“Hi. I’m Kate, and I sure hope so. This is kind of awkward, but I was hoping to talk to someone in your Human Resources department.”
“You’re looking at it. We all pretty much do everything around here.” She took off her glasses, seemingly confused. “Are you here for a job? You don’t seem like one of our typical vendors.”
“Oh, no, sorry, I’m not. Actually, I’m a friend of one of your vendors, or at least I used to be. He died recently. I’m trying to locate his family, and I thought you might have his emergency contact information.”
I launched into Bella’s story. I basically stuck to the truth, though I may have exaggerated about the direness of her circumstances. I might have even hinted that she only had a day or two left before she’d be sent to the great doggy playground in the sky. I certainly didn’t divulge the fact that I had already spoken to George’s daughter.
As Tali and I talked, I surreptitiously monitored Rene’s progress. She continued to wander around the room, pretending to be engrossed in the posted articles. She made her way to the ponytailed man’s makeshift office, leaned against one of the file cabinets, and started whispering. Not long after, I heard girlish giggles and the deeper voice of an appreciative male.
Did he seriously offer her a cigarette? And did she take it? I couldn’t help but be amused at the thought of Rene, a militant nonsmoker, trying to look sexy while gagging on a menthol light. She leaned in closer, suggestively touching her hair and playfully punching her new friend in the arm. Pulllease. Sidekick indeed. All she would get from this sort of behavior were the guy’s phone number and an embarrassing outbreak of some social disease.
Rene was useless. Our sleuthing success would be solely up to me. I flashed a winning smile, fully expecting Tali to give me everything I requested.
She responded by shaking her head. “I’m afraid I can’t help you. We don’t keep many records here. Frankly, some of our folks have disappeared from their families for good reason. They’d just as soon stay lost, if you know what I mean.”
“Maybe you could connect me to some of George’s friends, then. Did he hang out with any of the other vendors?”
Tali’s reply was firm. “I’m sorry. We don’t give out any information about our staff members. These folks lead difficult lives. Many of them have been traumatized—abused even. I understand your dilemma, but our vendors are finally taking steps to improve their situations. We won’t do anything that could jeopardize that. Unless you have a court order, my hands are tied.”
“But the dog—”
Tali’s courteous tone vanished.
“The dog is irrelevant. Society may not treat these people much better than animals, but they are certainly more important than some dog. Now, I’m busy, so if you don’t mind—” She put her glasses back on and resumed typing.
I was completely out of cash, and I suspected bribery wouldn’t work with Tali anyway. I was about to give begging a try when Rene sidled up beside me and whispered, “I’ve got it. Let’s go.”
Her ponytailed friend stood up in his cubical. “See you at seven, Suzie! I’m looking forward to our date!” Rene grabbed my hand and practically dragged me to the door.
“Suzie?” I asked as we bolted for the car.
“Well you didn’t expect me to give him my real name, did you? I’m a married woman! Now hop in, we’re off to the U district!”

When George and Bella—a homeless alcoholic and his intimidating German shepherd—disturb the peace outside her studio, yoga instructor Kate Davidson’s Zen-like calm is stretched to the breaking point. Kate tries to get rid of them before Bella scares the yoga pants off her students. Instead, the three form an unlikely friendship.
One night Kate finds George’s body behind her studio. The police dismiss his murder as a drug-related street crime, but she knows George wasn’t a dealer. So Kate starts digging into George’s past while also looking for someone to adopt Bella before she’s sent to the big dog park in the sky. With the murderer nipping at her heels, Kate has to work fast or her next Corpse Pose may be for real.
Cozy fans will eagerly await the next installment.” —PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
Murder Strikes a Pose, by Tracy Weber, is a delightful debut novel featuring Kate Davidson, a caring but feist yoga teacher . . . Namaste to Weber and her fresh, new heroine!” PENNY WARNER,AUTHOR OFHOW TO DINE ON KILLER WINE
“[T]his charming debut mystery . . . pieces together a skillful collage of mystery, yoga, and plenty of dog stories against the unique backdrop of Seattle characters and neighborhoods. The delightful start of a promising new series. I couldn’t put it down!” WAVERLY FITZGERALD, AUTHOR OF DIAL C FOR CHIHUAHUA
“Three woofs for Tracy Weber’s first Downward Dog Mystery, Murder STrikes a Pose. Great characters, keep-you-guessing plot, plenty of laughs, and dogswhat more could we want? Ah, yesthe next book!” SHEILA WEBSTER BONEHAM, AUTHOR OF DROP DEAD ON RECALL
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Cozy Mystery
Rating – PG
More details about the author
Connect with Tracy Weber on Facebook & Twitter
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Thursday, April 24, 2014

@MorganRichter Shares The Science of Self-Editing #AmWriting #WriteTip #ChickLit

Your manuscript is done, or at least it’s done-ish. It’s in decent shape; your characters are original and behave in logical ways, your storyline has a clear beginning, middle and end, your point-of-view is consistent, and your dialogue sounds authentic. And yet… in some hard-to-define way, you know it’s not quite right. It seems a little unpolished, clunky, unsophisticated. It doesn’t read like a professionally-edited novel.
This is where a comprehensive knowledge of advanced self-editing techniques will save you. Everything I’m going to address here is covered more elegantly and in much more detail in Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, an indispensable book by Renni Browne and Dave King. Their advice is essential; every writer should read it and take it to heart.
Because concrete examples are always useful, let’s look at a short paragraph from the first draft of my in-progress novel, Preppies of the Apocalypse, and then let’s hack it to pieces:
With one final concerned glance at Valentine, Ivy left the operating chamber. The hallway was cold and deserted. She sat down on the floor of the hallway, leaning her back against the cold earth wall opposite the entrance to the chamber. She couldn’t see the operating table from her vantage point, but she felt she should stay as close as she could. Just in case things went wonky, she wanted to be nearby.
Well. It’s got some problems. Let’s fix them, shall we?
First and foremost: Repetition. There are under a hundred words in that paragraph, and yet I managed to repeat “operating”, “chamber”, “hallway”, and “cold”. Ditch the duplicates. Also, “she felt she should stay as close as she could”and “she wanted to be nearby” both say the same thing; it’s only necessary to make that point once.
Second: This chapter is told from Ivy’s perspective, and thus all the interior monologue is hers alone. Since we’re already inside Ivy’s head, writing “she felt” and “she wanted” is unnecessary and only builds distance between Ivy and the readers. Eliminating those phrases bridges that distance.
Third: “leaning her back against the cold earth wall” is weak, because: a) it sticks that bit of action inside a dependent clause, and b) it suggests two separate actions are taking place simultaneously, i.e. she’s leaning while she’s sitting. This was not my intention: she sits down, then she leans. Getting rid of the dependent clause adds clarity and strengthens the sentence.
Fourth: Word choice. I’m on the fence about “wonky”; it’s a fun word, and I’m using it correctly, but my gut tells me it’s too flippant for this situation. “Vantage point” is dead wrong: It suggests a position with a view, whereas Ivydoesn’t have a view of Valentine from where she’s sitting. Ordinarily I’d consider “things” too vague, but in this case, Ivy’s not just worried about Valentine’s surgery going awry; she and Valentine are stranded in a dangerous land, surrounded by vicious supernatural creatures, and she doesn’t have a firm grasp on their situation. The fuzziness of “things” seems apt here.
Here’s what the paragraph looks like after applying those fixes:
Ivy glanced at Valentine one final time and left the chamber. The hallway was deserted. She sat on the floor across from the entrance and leaned her back against the cold earth wall. She couldn’t see the operating table from here, but at least she was nearby in case things went wrong.
The changes are subtle (and I’m not going to argue that either version is super-awesome), but the revised version reads better.
Notice that every sentence has been altered from the original. Is this usual? Sadly, yes; in all of my novels, the percentage of sentences that remain intact from my first draft through the final rewrite is… zero. Self-editing is a meticulous, tedious, brutal business… but it’s also essential for turning out the strongest possible version of your work.

When struggling actress Charlotte Dent is cast as a leggy killer robot in a big, brainless summer blockbuster, the subsequent hiccup of fame sends a shock wave through her life. The perks of entry-level celebrity are balanced by the drawbacks: destructive filmmakers, online ridicule, entitled costars, and an awkward, unsatisfying relationship with the film’s fragile leading man. Self-aware to a fault, Charlotte fights to carve out a unique identity in an industry determined to categorize her as just another starlet, disposable and replaceable. But unless she can find a way to turn her small burst of good fortune into a durable career, she’s destined to sink back into obscurity.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre - General Fiction, Chick Lit
Rating - PG
More details about the author
Connect with Morgan Richter on Facebook & Twitter

@GeorgiaLeCarre Shares an #Excerpt from Forty 2 Days (The Billionaire Banker) #Romance

I lick my lips slowly.
He eyes the journey my tongue undertakes avidly.  ‘That’s more like it.  That’s the mercenary bitch I know.’
One moment he is standing there cold and insulting, and the next he has thrust a rough hand into my hair and pulled my head back.  I gasp with shock, my eyes wide, his dark.  Like a desert storm he descends on my parted mouth.  There is no time even to pull one’s cloak about oneself.  So sudden.  So unexpected.  He tastes wild, the way the first drops of rain in the desert taste.  Full of minerals. Bringing life to all it touches.
He kisses me, as he has never done.  Roughly, painfully, violently, purposely bruising my lips, his mouth so savage that I utter a strangled, soundless cry.  The change, the extent of his anger, is impossible to comprehend.  He is different.  There is no longing.  Only an intense desire to hurt and have his revenge. This is not the same man.   My actions have unleashed something uncontrollable.  Something that wants to hurt me.  Alarm bells go off in my head.  It occurs to my fevered brain that he is ravenous, starving.  Then for some strange reason an image of him eating thin, almost transparent slices of cheese on biscuits flashes into my mind.  How civilized he was.  Then.  Before I betrayed him.
I taste the fury in his kiss: blood.
And my mind screams—this is abuse.  A moan gets caught in my throat, struggles vainly, and then escapes.  My hands reach up to push him away, but my palms meet the stone wall of his chest, and as if with minds of their own, push aside the lapels of his jacket and grip his shirt.  I know what once lived beneath the shirt and I want it.  I have always wanted this man.  As if my hands splayed across his chest have communicated my total submission, the kiss changes.  His tongue gentles, but demands more surrender.
The fingers grasping my hair hurt my scalp.  I feel the pain vaguely, but more than that I feel myself begin to drown in that vortex of sexual desire.  The violent, throbbing need between my legs finds its way into my veins and flesh.  Every cell in me wants him inside me. I am on fire. One year of waiting has made me hungry for him.  I want him.  I want him thrusting that enormous dick of his deep inside me.  For a year I have dreamed of him inside me, filling me.  I know how good he can make me feel.  My body tries to burrow closer to him, but I cannot get closer; his grip on my hair is relentless.  Desperately I push my hips towards him towards what I know will be delicious hardness.
As if that is some silent signal he puts me casually away from me.  And I am thrust back in a shitty back office in Kilburn High Street.  What the fuck am I doing?   He casually props himself against the desk, folds his arms across his chest, and looks at me calmly.
I cannot return the insult.  I am a mess.  I stand there frustrated beyond belief, breathing hard, the blood pounding like an African drum in my head.  My knickers are wet and between my legs I ache and pulse for him.  With every weak and trembling part of me I want him to finish what he started.  I want him so bad it is shocking.  I clench my hands at my sides and try to get myself under control.  I look at him, how cool and collected he is, as he watches me struggle to regain some measure of composure.
Then he smiles.  Oh! Cocky.  He shouldn’t have done that.  I feel maddened by the taunting smile.  How dare he?  He just wanted to humiliate me.
And then I see it.  Not so fast, Mr. Blake Law Barrington.
I take two steps forward, reach my hand out and put a finger on that madly beating pulse in his throat.  It drums into my skin.  The frantic beat is carried away by my blood up into my arm, my heart and into my brain.  Years later I will remember this moment when we are connected by his beating pulse.  We never break eye contact.  His eyes darken.  Now he knows that I know—my need may be obvious and easy to exploit, but he is not as unaffected as he pretends to be.  He was testing his own limits of control, but it hasn’t been as easy as he expected.
‘Is it sex when I want to see you come apart?’ he asks bitterly.
A breath dies in my chest.  I take my finger away from his throat.   ‘What do you want, Blake?’
‘I want you to finish your contract.’

Beyond the seductive power of immense wealth lies… Dark Secrets
Devastatingly handsome billionaire, Blake Law Barrington was Lana Blooms first and only love. From the moment they touched his power was overwhelming. Their arrangement quickly developed into a passionate romance that captivated her heart and took her on an incredible sexual journey she never wanted to end.
The future together looked bright until Lana made a terrible mistake. So, she did the only thing she could… she ran.
Away from her incredible life, away from the man of her dreams, but she should have known a man such as Blake Law Barrington was impossible to escape. Now, he’s back in her life and determined that she should taste the bitterness of his pain.
Shocked at how rough the sex has become and humiliated that she is actually participating so willingly in her punishment, she despairs if she will ever feel the warmth of his touch–the solidity of his trust again? And even if she can win his trust, loyalties are yet to be decided, and secrets to be revealed–secrets that will test them both to their limits.
Will Lana be able to tear down the walls that surround Blake’s heart, and break him free of the brutal power of immense wealth?
Can Blake hold on to Lana’s heart when she discovers the enormity of the dark secrets that inhabit the Barrington family?
Lana has always believed that love conquers all. She is about to test that belief…
Buy @ Amazon
Genre – Erotic Romance
Rating – PG-18
More details about the author
Connect with Georgia Le Carre on Facebook & Twitter

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Incitement by David Graham @DavidANGraham #BookClub #Mystery #MustRead



That was how many paces it took to patrol each side of the building. Two years of sentry duty meant he had walked the circuit thousands of times. There was a lot of time to think while working and, given his nature, that usually meant worrying about one thing or another. But even when his mind was otherwise occupied, he still subconsciously counted off the steps. He went over his checklist of current troubles. Maria had been unwell lately but she refused to visit the doctor, saying it was a waste of money. His eldest boy had been staying out later and later and he suspected his son was falling into bad company. More mundanely, as was usually the case, he was struggling financially. The younger children badly needed some new clothes and, once again, there was a problem with the starter motor on his truck.
Seventy-eight, seventy-nine, eighty. Turn the corner.
Roberto appreciated what he had. From his early days, scrabbling to make a living in the nearby Mexican border town of Conchillo, to the last couple of years working for El cártel de Zaragosa, there had been many reminders of how hard life could be. Some of the things he had seen were better forgotten. Sentry duty might be tedious but it provided for him and his family. His wife did not like him working for the cartel. She had reluctantly agreed only after he had pledged to limit his participation to guarding the compound outside town. The truth, however, was that all of them sometimes had to participate in the punishment of those who crossed the cartel. He hated the deception, but who could afford to pass up the chance of a steady wage?
Fifteen, sixteen, seventeen.
Patrol was the worst part of the night shift. At least if you were inside, you had company and even the chance to catch up on some sleep. Outside, you spent most of the time alone, pacing your circuit. He didn’t enjoy the violence; he never strutted around as some of the younger men did, infused with the sense of power that came with their brutality. Where he did find common ground with them was on the pointlessness of this monotonous work. Two pairs of men were assigned to each four-hour shift. One pair patrolled the perimeter fence, while the other took care of the building. The extensive security didn’t take into account the absence of any threat to the cartel: the dual strategy of intimidation and corruption had worked. Night after night, all this wasted effort.
Twenty-eight, twenty-nine, thirty.
Of course, the amount of effort expended could be disputed. While Roberto’s cautious outlook never allowed him to shirk work, others were less conscientious. Saul was on duty with him tonight. The traits that made Saul such a good drinking partner were not suited to the repetitive task at hand. He always tried to get by with the minimal amount of effort and, had it not been for an influential relative within the cartel, he wouldn’t have lasted long. Saul felt his mission was to get drunk and to get laid as often as possible. Life’s too short for worry, he said. Despite their basic differences, Roberto enjoyed his carefree co-worker’s company.
Fifty-four, fifty-five, fifty-six.
Maybe he could get Goyo to come over tomorrow morning. His neighbour had worked as a mechanic briefly and might be able to resurrect the vehicle. As for Juan, he would sit down with the boy, talk to him as an equal, and convince him that these friends were not the kind he should have. Maria, though, would be more difficult; her stubbornness was renowned, but he would win her over.
Seventy-five, seventy-six, seventy-seven.
Roberto was almost at the corner when a patch of darkness detached from its surroundings and moved languidly toward him. “So how many beers did you have tonight?” he asked, laughing.
It happened slowly, like a dream where you are unable to wake up. He felt his head being pulled forward and could not muster the strength to resist. What was Saul doing? This kind of horseplay wasn’t funny, and the grip at the back of his neck hurt. A dull impact hit him just above the chest, and he felt himself being dragged down as if by a heavy current. Roberto’s legs buckled, and the figure followed him to the ground. He felt the hot breath on his face and caught the smell of mint. The strong grip slowed his descent, breaking his fall, for which he felt strangely grateful. He tried to speak, but there was no sound except a soft rasping. That wasn’t him, was it? The hand on his neck tightened. Then he heard something being torn.

A brutal conflict unleashed.
Who stands to win?
A bloody massacre at a Mexican heroin refinery; a Miami-bound freight ship hijacked for its cargo of illegal narcotics; the ruthless assassination of a Kosovar drug lord – a war has erupted between two drugs superpowers.
As DEA Agent Diane Mesi investigates she becomes convinced that the conflict is being orchestrated by an unknown third party. But she is marginalised by her colleagues and her judgement is challenged at every turn. Only if she can expose the truth will she be able to stop the violence and save her career.
Michael Larsen is an ex-soldier and hired mercenary who has been contracted to fuel the conflict at every opportunity until it destroys both sides. As he battles his own demons, he hopes that by directing the violence he will attain some measure of redemption.
But neither Mesi nor Larsen know the full extent of the forces at play or of what is truly at stake. As they each pursue their own resolution, the violence escalates and they become increasingly vulnerable to the dangers that stalk them.
Incitement won the John Murray Show / RTE Guide / Kazoo Competition from over 500 entries.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Thriller
Rating – R
More details about the author
Connect with David Graham on Facebook & Twitter

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

J R Tague Shares Her Thoughts on Why Book Covers are So Important #WriteTip #BookMarketing

We all know the old adage about how you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, right? Riiiiight. And we also shouldn’t eat an entire bag of potato chips in one sitting, or stay up until 2am on a weeknight watching I ROBOT on TV for the hundredth time. But we still totally do. It can’t just be me, can it? So to that end, why live in denial? Why don’t we just embrace the fact? After all, there’s another saying: a picture’s worth a thousand words. I am just FULL of these today.

See, reading is all about imagination. A good book gives you just enough detail to get you started on imagining the world in which it takes place. The rest is up to the reader. That’s part of the pleasure. And also part of the reason why it’s so very hard to read when you’re tired. Because reading engages your brain. You combine the author’s words with your own visuals to create a beautiful collaboration born of your combined imaginations. Or, I dunno. Maybe you’re not good at imagining and it looks more like a crappy stick-figure land. I don’t know your life. But I was willing to give you the benefit of the doubt.

What I’m saying is, to get to that point in a book it takes some time. And most human beings are famously, annoyingly short on time. We’ve got chips to eat, Will Smith movies to watch. We ain’t got time to bleed...er, to waste on imaginary lands we’re not interested in. Therefore, we‘re always looking for shortcuts. We want some quick indication of whether a book is worth investing our time in or not.

And that is where book covers come in.

Book covers aren’t always an accurate representation of the story within. BUT WHAT IF THEY WERE? How great would that be? If I could pick up a book and immediately see dinosaurs with laser guns and exploding volcanos and hot-but-sensitive time traveler heroes riding said dinosaurs (any dude worth his salt would befriend dinosaurs instead of fighting them) and fighting robots, and I could know that’s actually what I’d find inside, I’d be all “sign me up!” That sale would be completed before it even started. (Somebody please write that book.)

However, if I found that book in a store today, I’d have to be cautious about my excitement. I’ve been burned too many times before, see. There are so many exciting covers out there that mask boring stories. And the reverse is true too. Anyone read Orson Scott Card’s Alvin Maker series? I got into it because I loved ENDER’S GAME and a friend suggested it to me. Also, the cover of the first book isn’t too awful. But by the time you get to HEARTFIRE, all bets are off. It looks like a cheesy dime store romance novel. Not an awesome alternate history fantasy adventure novel. I mean, yeah. The title doesn’t help much. But it’s the picture that makes it especially embarrassing.

Expectation is important in novels. You have to set up your reader with certain expectations…and then deliver on them. That’s how you keep readers happy. And the cover art for your book is the beginning of that. It needs to reflect what’s inside. It needs to capture the essence of your story. It needs to represent those thousand words, and hopefully more. 

Because if it doesn’t, you’re going to have at least one sad, disappointed reader with a new laser dino covered door prop.


Max McKay gets a second chance at life when, after a bizarre accident on his sixteenth birthday, he is reanimated as a new breed of thinking, feeling zombie. To secure a spot for his eternal soul, Max must use his video game prowess as well as the guidance of Steve the Death God to make friends and grow up. 

As if all that weren’t hard enough, Max discovers that he’s not the only zombie in town. As he enlists the help of his new friends, Adam and Penny, to solve the mystery of their un-dead classmate, Max discovers that he must level up his life experience in order to survive the trials and terrors of the upcoming zombie apocalypse. And, even worse, high school.

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – YA
Rating – PG
More details about the author
Connect with J R Tague on Facebook & Twitter

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Marie McKean's #WriteTip for Avoiding the Rejection Blues @Marie_McKean #AmWriting #Fantasy

Like it or not, rejection is a huge part of becoming a writer. Immediately after writing my first manuscript, I did a quick edit of the first chapter, and like a whirlwind sent it off to practically every agent on the planet. Okay, so maybe not every agent, but it was a lot of them.

And you know what happened?
One of two things. Either nothing, I’m talking crickets, or I received a polite, but still heart wrenching letter from an agent saying that my book just wasn’t right for them. 
What?! How could they do such a thing! Didn’t they know that my book was the best thing that had ever been written . . . ever! I was so convinced of this, and so sure that they were going to see it too, that with every rejection I was sure a piece of my soul was being chipped away and blasted into particle dust.

But you know what? They were right. It took me a few months before my wounded pride was wiling to see that I still had quite a bit of work to do, and like the novice that I was, I had completely jumped the gun. In truth I wasn’t ready to submit my query, manuscript, or anything else to any agent. I had to learn that the hard way.

The good news is there is a way to avoid feeling like your will to continue writing has not been completely sucked away, forever. What worked best for me was what had got me to send those query letters out in the first place: I believed in my story. I knew that what I had written was a story worth being told. Some people might hate it, but there was an equally good chance that some people might really like it, too. So I had faith. 
I stepped away from my manuscript for two months and then came back with a set of fresh eyes. I was mortified at what I saw. Boy oh boy did my book need some polishing. But that was something that could be done. So that’s what I did. When that was done, I found a graphic designer that I loved and had the cover made. When I was ready, and this time I made sure that I was ready and not just over-eager to get my book out there, only then did I release it. 
Then came another form of rejection: reviews

They came. Some were good, some were bad. But always, each one made my heart seize up inside of me. The good ones bolstered my spirits, while the bad ones made them sink. However, rather than get stuck in a sea of misery and woe, I took a lesson from what I had learned before and believed in my book. I still do. Enough that when a negative review comes in I don’t take it to heart. I wrote as story that I love, and that is what is most important. If you can’t love your story, than how could you expect others too as well?

 Born of Oak and Silver


All that you can do is make the most of what you’ve been dealt—fight a good fight, resist being beaten by circumstance, and hope that somehow, despite it all, you’re able to accomplish the impossible.

But even then you cannot change the fact that you were born cursed.

I am one of those unlucky few upon whom the Curse of the Four Fathers has fallen.

It is I who must bear the burden of having a life that is unchangeably intertwined with the Fae. A sorrow made all the more great by knowing that where they are tragedy, loss, misery, and despair most assuredly follow.

As a Druid it is my responsibility to uphold the boundaries that keep the worlds of the Tylwyth Teg, and our own, separate. As a man it is my only ambition to protect the family and woman I so desperately love.

The only problem: I'm not sure this curse will allow for me to do both.

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre - Paranormal Fantasy, Horror
Rating – PG-13
More details about the author
 Connect with Marie McKean on Twitter

Friday, April 18, 2014

Inside the Mind of Michael J. Webb – Michael J. Webb @mjwebbbooks


Inside the Mind of Michael J. Webb

Someone once said, “Inside every fat book is a thin book trying to get out . . .”  I can’t help myself–I write “fat” books! I’ve tried to write books under one hundred thousand words, but no matter how hard I try, I just can’t seem to lose the weight.

My very first novel started out at over two hundred thousand words–and became a trilogy. I’ve tried writing short stories and they turn into novellas.  I’ve tried novellas and they turn into full-blown novels. I’m a hopeless lover of deep characterization and back story, lots of action, and page-turning plots, something nearly impossible for me to do in less than one hundred thousand words.

I’m a storyteller at heart, and I love entertaining readers with pulse-pounding action, flawed–but intriguing–characters, and fascinating plots that have my readers asking, “How did he come up with that?”  My tagline is “stories that ignite imaginations and stir souls…”  I like to get people thinking about the world they live in from a very different perspective than they are used to, especially as it relates to the realm of the spirit, angels and demons, and the intersection of the biblical, scientific, and historical disciplines.

There is an ancient battle being fought around us on an hourly basis in the realm of the spirit.  It regularly manifests in the natural, terrestrial realm, yet few people really understand the true nature of the battle. Hence, many perish for lack of knowledge.  Like Toto in the Wizard of Oz, I love pulling back the curtain and exposing “the wizard” for who he is–a short, balding, fat man from Kansas!  That’s not to say the wizard doesn’t have power, he does.  But with the proper weapons of warfare we may lose a few battles, but we ultimately win the war.  I like to think that in some small way my stories have the potential to function like the red pill Nero took in The Matrix—we awaken and discover just how deep the rabbit hole is.   Once that happens, like Nero, we are accountable for our knowledge.

Nevertheless, while all of my suspense thrillers, including Infernal Gates, have the purpose of provoking my readers to examine their belief system, at their core I hope they are simply good stories; the kind that keep you turning pages long after the sun goes down and make you wish there was more to read once you’ve finished.  My heart is to figuratively serve up a ten course meal with each new story I tell, and leave my readers hungry for their next serving.

Don’t get me wrong, there is definitely a place in this world for short stories, novellas, and novels under a hundred thousand words. I just won’t be writing them anytime soon.

Infernal Gates

Ethan Freeman, ex-Special Forces Ranger, wakes up to discover he is the sole survivor of a fiery commercial airline crash that killed his entire family. His nightmare is only beginning when he becomes the FBI’s prime suspect. Only Ethan knows he’s not a cold-hearted murderer, but he has no idea what happened to him--and why he alone survived.

He finds an unlikely ally in Sam Weaver, the NTSB Chief Investigator. An ex-military pilot, Sam senses Ethan is innocent. She tries to remain dispassionate in her investigation of the crash even as she finds herself attracted to the man who may be America=s worst homegrown mass-murderer.

Neither Ethan nor Sam realize that shadowy spiritual forces are at work which will alter their lives forever.

A monstrous evil, imprisoned since the time of the Pharaohs, has been released by The Nine, a sinister group of powerful men and women who believe they are the direct descendants of the Anunnaki, ancient Sumerian gods. The demon they have unleashed intends to free The Destroyer from The Abyss, the angelic prison referred to in the Book of Revelation, and unleash a worldwide reign of terror and annihilation.

Facing impossible odds, time is running out for Ethan and all of humanity as he is drawn into an ever-deeper conspiracy--millennia in the making--and learns that he is the key to stopping The Nine. Will he overcome his deepest fears and find reserves of strength he never knew he had as he confronts pure evil in order to save himself and an unsuspecting world?

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Christian Thriller, Fantasy, Adventure

Rating – PG-13

More details about the author and the book

Connect with Michael J. Webb on Facebook & G+ & Twitter

Website http://www.michaeljwebbfiction.com/


The author is giving away the following prizes -- mailed directly to the winner’s email address from Amazon.com.


5 Kindle copies of Infernal Gates http://amzn.to/18HrDjY

5 Kindle copies of The Oldest Enemy http://amzn.to/RWyv4c

5 Kindle copies of The Master’s Quilt http://amzn.to/Z2SJQS

Thursday, April 17, 2014

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Becoming a Published Author – Pepper Winters @PepperWinters


10 Things You Didn’t Know About Becoming a Published Author

This is a good question and I’ve learned a lot along the way.

Tears of Tess is my debut book and I went into this completely clueless, but now I feel like I know a bit more and would like to share a bit of what I learned.

A 9-5 day isn’t existent when you’re a writer. I never stop thinking about writing, plotting, editing. It’s never ending

  1. Good days and bad days are constant and it’s hard to ride through the ‘’I suck, what am I doing days’’
  2. Start promotion WAY before you’re ready to publish. This is vital to get the word out before your book is published
  3. Drink caffeine. Lots of caffeine.
  4. Get a team of wonderful Beta Readers to help point of plot holes as you’ll want to patch those up before the reviews come in.
  5. Don’t read bad reviews. Ban yourself from Goodreads. I thought I had thick skin, but reading some so-so reviews can tear your heart out.
  6. Make sure your manuscript is in the best possible condition (edited, formatted) before pressing that published button.
  7. Just because you’re published it doesn’t mean you can relax. In fact, I’ve found I work harder now than I did before as I have ‘’fan mail’’ and social media piling up while trying to write.
  8. Write everyday. Even if you don’t want to. If you can’t write on your current story, start another. Just keep writing.
  9. Once you’re published it’s a full time job to keep the buzz and interest about your work. Run giveaways, and interact with your fans.

Hope that helps!

Tears of Tess

Tess Snow has everything she ever wanted: one more semester before a career in property development, a loving boyfriend, and a future dazzling bright with possibility.

For their two year anniversary, Brax surprises Tess with a romantic trip to Mexico. Sandy beaches, delicious cocktails, and soul-connecting sex set the mood for a wonderful holiday. With a full heart, and looking forward to a passion filled week, Tess is on top of the world.

But lusty paradise is shattered.

Kidnapped. Drugged. Stolen. Tess is forced into a world full of darkness and terror.

Captive and alone with no savior, no lover, no faith, no future, Tess evolves from terrified girl to fierce fighter. But no matter her strength, it can’t save her from the horror of being sold.

Can Brax find Tess before she’s broken and ruined, or will Tess’s new owner change her life forever?

Buy Now @ Amazon & Smashwords

Genre – Dark New Adult Contemporary Romance

Rating – PG-18

More details about the author

Connect with Pepper Winters on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://www.pepperwinters.wordpress.com/