Sunday, February 23, 2014

Indie Awesome: part one

A year ago, you'd have been hard-pressed to find books by indie authors on my Kindle.  It wasn't that I was actively avoiding them, but more they weren't even on my radar.

Then I started my own publishing journey.  I realized there are great indie writers out there I was overlooking  -- with over a million books on Amazon it's too easy to slide down the charts if you don't have a big marketing budget.  And as a reader, it's too easy to just choose the top sellers rather than dig down a little bit further to find gold.

Thank God for book bloggers.  They do that digging for you.  Most of my fave finds come directly from their suggestions. 

I've read several indie books this past year.  There are some I hated, some I liked, some I loved.  This is not an all-inclusive love list.  That  would be too long (sorry!).  In fact, I even will have to break this list up, so you'll get four more titles at a later time. All on this list surprised me, inspired me or just really got to me:

Chasing the Star Garden (The Airship Racing Chronicles) by Melanie Karsak

Okay. I'm already cheating with this list.  I haven't technically finished reading this book yet.  But I'm halfway through and I freaking ADORE it.

I'm not normally a big steampunk novel fan (I do like the cool gadgets), but Melanie Karsak just made me one.  The writing and the world building are stellar.  And the characters, too -- Lily is a kickass air jockey and like no other character I've ever encountered. Karsak has written a fully rounded novel that engulfs me in 3D every time I turn a page.

Fairy, Texas by Margo Bond Collins

This novel reminded me why I ever started reading and writing YA:  It's fun.  That's all there is to it.
Margo Bond Collins takes me back to high school and fills the halls with mysterious winged creatures -- not angels for once! The dialogue in this novel is outstanding, as is Bond Collins' use of romantic tension.  You can leave me in a room with Mason or Josh anytime, babe.

Deer In Headlights (Good Gods Series #1) by Staci Hart

A totally modern take on Greek gods and how they pass eternity, this book by Staci Hart blew me away. It's innovative, intelligent and funny.

Yes, there's a lot of sex in this novel.  Yes, Hart totally got me me hot and bothered.  But the thing is, this book is soooooo much more than that.  And the kicker?  She even got those Greek myths I've always forgotten to stick in my brain.    

Rapeseed by Nancy Freund

The story of an American expat in England dealing with secrets that threaten to pop up, this book isn't what I usually read -- it's much more literary.  But it's accessible, enjoyable, and beautiful.

The writing is fantastic. Really.  Freund's fiction borders on poetic at times. It's the kind of book that if you start highlighting pretty turns of phrase, you'll end up with a novel that's as yellow on the inside as it is on the cover!

So those are my first four.   If you follow my blog, you've seen some of the novels I read earlier that I fell in love with  --- Until the End of the World by Sarah Lyons Flemming,  Someone Different by Kate Hanney,  and Where Bluebirds Fly by Wendy Storer, among others.

And what about you?  What are some books by lesser known indie authors you've discovered and would like to share with the world?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Book Cover Discovery #2: Guest Post by Emma 11, and Elodie, 7

The last time I did this was July 2013.  I figure it's time to get the kids' perspective on book covers once again because, well, it's just plain hilarious. 

So here's the deal: I show the girls a book and ask them what they think the book is about based on the cover and title.  To see their responses from last July, go here.

What's in a cover and title when you haven't heard the hype?

 Emma: A girl runs away from home and goes to the woods and finds a portal to another world.

 Elodie: A girl walks in the forest and meets an animal.  She tries to pet it and do lots with it, like talk to it and stuff.

Emma:  It's a beautiful girl that kills people in secret.       

Elodie:  She's a pretty girl who kills monsters but then there were even bigger, more terrible monsters and she want more power to kill them so she killed a person while training and then she killed all the monsters!                                                                                                  

Emma: I think it's about a devil who is disguised as an angel.

Elodie:  There was a dead angel but nobody knew it and nobody knew how he was killed.  Then there were some people who found old stuff [a.k.a: archaeologists] who found the wings and knew it was an angel and figured out how he died.

And my new cover.  They're somewhat familiar with the book, but based on the cover:

Emma: *Sighs*  When you know the story already you can't think of it as anything but that.  It's this girl who has power to go out of her body and...there you go.  You know the rest, Mom.

Elodie: There was a girl with another girl. One girl was dying and was losing her body and the other girl looked at her and was sad.  Can I play the Wii now?

Thank you, girls!  You're still a little warped.  Guess it's true that the apple doesn't fall far from tree.

Monday, February 10, 2014

My Writing Process Blog Tour

Sylvia Petter, a wonderful writer  I met through the Geneva Writers' Group, asked me to participate on this blog tour about the writing process.  Though I met Sylvia here in Geneva, she now lives in Austria and is keeping herself very busy there.  You can find out all about what she writes on her blog, Merc's World .  She writes literary pieces, short and long, as well as some steamy erotica. She is involved in organizing the International Conference on the Short Story in English in Vienna this summer.

So...without further ado, here are the blog tour questions:

1. What am I working on?

I finished the first novel in my Roanoke series, called The Mask Between Us, in early December.  Then I sent it out to beta readers.  Now, I'm doing some rewriting based on the critiques -- I want to make this the best it can be, so I find it hard to pass up a chance to rewrite --rewriting is my favorite part of the writing process! At the same time, I am also working on a novella related to the series.  Everything has a supernatural edge although I'd say this series is more dark fantasy than pure paranormal.  It's wild and crazy and weird.  I'm enjoying writing it.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Ugh. I hate this question.  I guess I'd say that when I write or read paranormal, I do so to escape from reality.  However, my goal in writing is to create an escape from reality that somehow amplifies reality.  My novels should (I hope) not only carry the reader along with the plot, but also bring up questions on a deeper level. Ahem.

3. Why do I write what I do?

 I write what I'd like to read. The paranormal, yes, but also how the characters are flawed and human, how there is no clear cut divide between good and evil, and how men can be of interest romantically even if they aren't overly possessive and borderline violent.  (I see way too much of that in YA novels.)

4. How does your writing process work?

The first draft is pretty much spewed onto the page, completely written from my gut and not my head.  I am not an idea person, so the first draft is extremely difficult for me and takes a long time to get down.  The subsequent drafts, however, are more fun!  I adore the whole process of wrangling with something that's already on the page, expanding and exploring it.  I'm a fanatic re-writer.  And with every rewrite, the story changes significantly. I regularly ask my critiquing group for feedback (and rewrite after their comments).  I also use beta readers.  And I take what they say seriously.

Next on the blog tour: I've tagged two writers I've never met in person, but have had exchanges with over Twitter and Facebook and e-mail.  Both Sutton and Susan have invited me to participate in giveaways on their blogs in the past, and I've found they were extremely generous and supportive. Let's just say they give me the warm fuzzies. So here's a shout out to them and you can see their posts on the writing process on their blogs next week:

Sutton Shields:  
Sutton's Blog
Sutton's Amazon page
Sutton is a handbag-loving gal who LOVES to watch sports--football, baseball, basketball, NASCAR, you name it. She takes being a fan very seriously. ;)  She's a dreamer, believer in the unbelievable, and author of the series The Merworld Water Wars.  The first two books in the series, FINNED (Wave One) and OVERFALLS (Wave Two) are currently available at Amazon. Hook (pun totally intended): "Take a fish-phobic girl, divide her by one hot merman, add a splash of his crazy ex-merbitch, and you get one stinky school year."

Susan Fodor:
Susan's Blog
Susan's Silver Tides Amazon page 
Susan is a vagabond with a Theology degree, who spends her days fantasizing about happily ever after. Currently residing on the sunny Mid-North Coast of Australia, she spends her days completing the Silver Tides Series and caring for her daughter, husband and cat. With too many ideas and not enough time, the best place to find her is on social media---doesn't that make a whole lot of sense?  

Check out their blogs next Monday, February 17th!