Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Mid-Winter Blahs

Posted by: Cindy Spencer Pape
The blahs. Not the blues, exactly. I mean, we all know about lack of sunshine causing drops invitamins C & D, and seasonal effective disorder. But there's something else, something deeper about the dreary days before spring begins. It might be a combination of post holiday let-down and being sick of mud and slush. I suspect it's a litlle different for my friends in the southern hemisphere.

So what do you do to beat the blahs? I do supplement my C &D vitamins, which helps. I've started swimming again at the local pool. For me, being in the water helps take me away from everything related to real life. My daughter-in-law and I have been doing a lot of household rearrangment. She's also fallen in love with bath bombs. I think I've been wearing lipstick more often. None of this has really helped writing wise, but I'm definitely more cheerful, which is a big plus.

As far as the writing goes, I think that's going to have to be a combination of caffiene and sheer determination to get it back on track. Since it's sunny today, maybe I'll just perch in a chair by a window with my laptop and some iced tea or Diet Coke. Whatever works, right?

Meanwhile, all tips and hints would be appreciated in the comments. I promise to pick at least one and give it a try, with follow-up comments!

Happy not-quite spring!


Cindy Spencer Pape firmly believes in happily-ever-after and brings that to her writing. Multiple award-winning author of the best-selling Gaslight Chronicles, she has released almost sixty novels and stories, which blend fantasy, adventure, science fiction, suspense, history and romance.

Cindy lives in southeast Michigan with her family and several spoiled dogs. When not hard at work writing she can be found restoring her 1870 house, dressing up for steampunk parties and Renaissance fairs, or with her nose buried in a book.

Newsletter group:  

Monday, February 26, 2018

Here Be News

Posted by: Veronica Scott
New Releases:
Jenny Schwartz published a coming of age book THE TROLL BRIDGE. Here's the plot: Trolls aren't born. They're made, and they fight for the kingdom of Adynn. They are its first and fiercest protectors, guarding the roads into the mountain kingdom.

When young Morgana befriends a newly made troll boy and names him Peter, she unwittingly reveals her magic to his creator. Sorcerer Veritas removes her from her remote village to the School of Sorcery. There she will learn to cast spells and forge charms, but she’ll also learn the high price of friendship, and the reality that someone with her magical ability will always be a target for others who seek power.

War is coming to the kingdom of Adynn. The Vlad Empire, with its death magic and slaves, is closing in. Morgana will be trained as a war wizard, but in her heart she resists the role. She doesn’t want to fight and she refuses to kill. So Sorcerer Veritas will provide a little motivation.


Veronica Scott released STAR CRUISE: SONGBIRD, a scifi rock star romance. The blurb: This novella was previously released in the Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2 anthology.

Grant Barton, a Security Officer on the Nebula Zephyr, is less than thrilled with his current assignment to guard an Interstellar singing sensation while she’s on board the ship. It doesn’t help that he and his military war bird Valkyr are dealing with their recent separation from the Sectors Special Forces and uncertainty over their future, with their own planet in ruins.

Karissa Dawnstar is on top of the charts and seemingly has it all – talent, fame, fortune and devoted fans, but behind her brave smile and upbeat lyrics she hides an aching heart. When a publicity stunt goes wrong, Karissa finds herself in the arms of the security officer assigned to protect her – and discovers a mutual attraction she can’t ignore.

Trouble continues to plague the pair, driving a wedge between them and leaving Grant certain that Karissa is in more danger than she realizes, from overzealous fans and her own management. Grant is determined to protect Karissa whether she wants his help or not. Can he discover the truth behind what’s going on before he loses Karissa or is there someone else plotting to keep them apart – permanently?
Amazon     iBooks     Kobo     B&N
Other News:

Veronica Scott is now a monthly contributor to the Magi Romance podcast. Here's a link to her first interview with the team - Anna Hackett, author of the Hell Squad scifi romance series.

Get Joely Sue Burkhart's QUEEN TAKES KNIGHTS for free starting 2/26 and the second book, QUEEN TAKES KING, for only $.99!

Bring It Back(list) Feature: There was no backlist book this week.

Friday, February 23, 2018

One Photograph is Worth 80,000 Creative Words

Posted by: Maureen

By Maureen L. Bonatch

I love photographs, just not taking them. It seems that everyone is taking tons of pictures of everything these days. Whether it’s for social media, or their own collection, people seem to have a huge assortment of photographs. Everyone that is, except me.

While other people are Snapchatting and filling their Groovebooks and Instagram feed, I haven’t taken a picture in weeks. Often I realize with regret at the end of a celebration, or a holiday, that I forgot to take any pictures. Luckily, I have family members who are snap happy and I can copy their photographs so I have some of those memories to reflect back on.

Pictures That Stir the Imagination

I don’t have a huge collection of pictures, but I tend to believe that quality is better than quantity. When I say quality, I’m not talking about professional photographs that show the perfect angle, I’m talking about the ones that stir my creative imagination.

Usually my stories start with a title, or the first line and I go from there. But often while I’m writing the story, I come across something in reality that belongs in my story. How’d that get there?

My hubby has gotten accustomed to my abrupt stops while we are walking or bicycling. I pull out my phone and take a couple pictures (of what sometimes he mentions are the oddest things). I’ll stop and stare, slack jawed as I wonder how the settings of my story showed up unexpectedly, or I begin writing the story in my mind as a plot twist unwinds.

Going to Grandma Must Die’s Library

My Inspiration for GRANDMA MUST DIE
If you read GRANDMA MUST DIE, you’d know that the old churches were turned into libraries for banned books. 

I didn’t know this either while I was writing the story, until I came across the one where Carman, my heroine, worked. Imagine my surprise to see it rising up near the trail where we bicycle. I expanded details, and wrote many chapters while staring at this image. 

Since I realized this key setting detail in my book, I’ve since begun capturing photos of old and unusual churches for future books in the story. The hubs doesn’t blink an eye anymore when I stop and say, “Wait, I need a picture. That’s in my story.”

Care to Visit This Graveyard?

Inspiration for EVIL SPEAKS SOFTLY
This picture was given to me by someone a year or so before I wrote EVIL SPEAKS SOFTLY (she said it reminded her of my books). 

At the time, I knew there was a story behind it. I just didn’t know what it was. 

While writing the story in my panster way (By the seat of my pants. That way I get to find out what happens as the story unfolds too.) I realized just where this picture came into the story. It added a level of creepiness to this story that I hadn’t expected, but it was just what the story needed. It was the missing piece.
Evil Speaks Softly

Not Your Usual Cabin in The Woods

This was, by far, the creepiest old run-down building we’d ever come across while bicycling—and it ended up having a key place in Book 2 of The Enchantlings, NOT A CHANCE. 

I couldn’t wait to put it in the
story. My hubby, being the braver sort of the two of us, went inside and took more photos for me. They became the inspiration for my vivid imagination to further detail just what happened behind the closed doors of that dilapidated building from the days of the railroads.

I don't have a picture of the book to share, yet. It's still being written.

So, no. I don’t take many pictures. But I do enjoy the ones that I have. Because that one picture is worth more than 1,000 words, in fact, it’s worth more like 80,000 words. 

Do Your Photographs Tell a Story?

Author Bio: Maureen Bonatch grew up in small town Pennsylvania and her love of the four seasons—hockey, biking, sweat pants and hibernation—keeps her there. While immersed in writing or reading paranormal romance and fantasy, she survives on caffeine, wine, music, and laughter. A feisty Shih Tzu keeps her in line. Find Maureen on her websiteFacebookTwitter

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Making it easier to read ebooks again

Posted by: Angela Korra'ti
Holding the Kindle Oasis

Like a lot of writers—and really, a lot of creative people in general—I’ve been feeling a heavy hit to my ability to create art in the current political climate. I’ve seen a lot of different folks talk about their strategies for trying to rekindle that ability, and I am certainly trying several myself. One of these is an attempt to reconnect with what made me want to be a writer in the first place: the simple joy of reading a book.

And given that I’m a tech nerd who loves her some ebooks, this has meant making some changes in how I do that!

For the last few years my reading device of choice has been a Nook tablet. This has been partly because of my day job, where a big focus of what I do is testing web pages, and sometimes being able to do so on a mobile device is useful. So cutting down on the number of devices I carry with me on a daily commute was a goal. But a few things have all combined to make me want to switch back to an e-ink device to read my books.

One: Like it or not, I’m getting older and my eyes are getting weaker. I’ve had to start wearing reading glasses. And given that I spend a great deal of my day staring at various screens, reducing that by even a little will help make my eyes happier. Particularly if I’m reading in the evenings, after spending a long day working on computers at work as well as my computer at home.

Two: My day job’s focus has shifted and I haven’t had to do as much device testing in the last few years. So having a device with me that’s capable of doing web page testing is less important.

Three: I’ve been making an effort to cut down on the ways my mobile devices can distract me. Part of this has involved turning off almost all notifications they give me, as well as removing almost all social media apps from them (with the exception of Twitter, which I keep on my phone so I can check local traffic on my commutes).

And with that in mind, I’ve remembered how very nice it is to read on an e-ink device that has just one purpose in life: showing me whatever book I want to read. It can’t distract me with Facebook, or games, or the Internet in general.

(“Well, Angela,” I hear some of you suggesting, “you know what else does that? Print books!” You are correct, Internet readers. Let it be noted for the record that I do also want to return to my backlog of unread print books in my library, too! But this post is specifically about digital reading.)

The end result of all this?

I’ve gotten myself a new e-ink reader. Specifically, and to my own surprise, a Kindle Oasis. I didn’t buy a new e-ink Nook out of strong concern about the future of Barnes and Noble as a viable store. And while I do the majority of my ebook purchases from Kobo these days, they still don’t have a major presence in the States. So what kept me from getting a Kobo device was the low likelihood of being able to go talk to someone in person if it should happen to break.

Which left Amazon as my only other major option. And the good thing about the Oasis is, good gods this thing is pleasant to hold. It’s specifically designed to be held one-handed, with buttons I can click on with my thumb to turn the pages. Which will make reading on the bus a lot easier, particularly if I have to stand while I’m doing it. (A big risk, on the Seattle bus systems!)

Its screen is very crisp and clear, which is a bonus for my less-young-than-I’d-like eyes. And since the screen is backlit and can even adjust to ambient light, it’ll be easier for me to use it to read in low-light conditions. Like, say, a dimly lit bus during a Seattle winter.

With a nice origami-style cover for it, I can also stand it up to read hands-free. I like to read during my lunch break—and sometimes during dinner as well. So the ability to stand the reader up is critical.

Ready to Read
The one major drawback with dealing with an Amazon device now is that it doesn’t talk EPUB, which I do find annoying. But I am also very familiar with Calibre, having used it for years now to manage my huge ebook library. So I’m easily capable of converting an EPUB to a MOBI, and using Amazon’s Send to Kindle utility to shoot a given book over to the device.

Given the size of my library (we’re talking over 1,700 titles here, people, and that’s just my ebooks), it’s not practical for me to try to shove the entire lot of it onto the device at once. So I’ve had to think instead about doing it in waves. This means I’ve had to focus a bit more on the idea of “what do I think I’ll actually want to read next?”

But really, that’s all to the good. Because the entire point here is to reconnect me with my books. And so far, I’ve already started reading two different things on the Oasis!

I’m very much looking forward to reading more.

Angela writes the Free Court of Seattle urban fantasy series as Angela Korra’ti, and the Rebels of Adalonia epic fantasy trilogy as Angela Highland! Come geek out with her about books—her own, yours, or anybody else’s!—on her website at, on Facebook, or on Twitter!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

New Fantasy Novel - The Troll Bridge

Posted by: Jenny Schwartz
My fantasy novel, The Troll Bridge, has just released, and I thought I'd share an excerpt with you. First the blurb - and the enticing information that The Troll Bridge is currently only 99c on Amazon, or you can read it for free in Kindle Unlimited.

Buy link:


A witchling child befriends a troll boy and changes the fate of a kingdom.

Trolls aren't born. They're made, and they fight for the Kingdom of Adynn. They are its first and fiercest protectors, guarding the roads into the mountain kingdom.

When young Morgana befriends a newly made troll boy and names him Peter, she unwittingly reveals her magic to his creator. Sorcerer Veritas removes her from her remote village to the School of Sorcery. There she will learn to cast spells and forge charms, but she’ll also learn the high price of friendship, and the reality that someone with her magical ability will always be a target for others who seek power.

War is coming to the Kingdom of Adynn. The Vlad Empire, with its death magic and slaves, is closing in. Morgana will be trained as a war wizard, but in her heart she resists the role. She doesn’t want to fight and she refuses to kill. So Sorcerer Veritas will provide a little motivation.

A powerful story of friendship, magic and high adventure. 


Advocabit lux.” This time I summoned a palm-sized ball of light that floated between us.
“Very good.” Pavel turned to depart.
I tugged on his trousers before he could enter his lab. “But that’s not the light I want.”
He turned back to me, one eyebrow raised again. “There are different kinds of light?”
“Yes! I want the one like Sorceress Selina has drawn on her ceiling. I want it to work even when I’m not there. I want Peter to be able to touch it like Matron can make Sorceress Selina’s stairs move even though Matron has no magic.”
“Ah. Sigil magic is significantly more complicated.”
“I can read and write,” I said, in case that was the problem.
Pavel scratched his beard. The short bristles made a raspy sound. “Who is Peter? Does he have any magic of his own?”
“Peter is my friend,” I stated the most important bit first. “He’s the troll guarding the bridge to the school. I want to spend time with him, but he won’t let me stay out in the dark and cold.” I kicked the floor. “And it is dark under the bridge. Peter doesn’t feel the cold, but I don’t want him living in the dark.” I peeped up at Pavel, but couldn’t read the sorcerer’s expression. “Peter likes to read news-sheets. If he had a light, he could read in his home under the bridge.” 
"...home under the bridge.” Pavel sighed, heavily. “This is the troll Sorcerer Veritas created, yes?”

Continue reading at 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

From Print to Silver Screen - What Books Would You Like to See Made Into Film?

Posted by: Linda Mooney
Have you ever been in the mood for a good romantic movie?

There've been many times when I've wanted to watch one, rather than read one. But the past few times I've rented a "romance" movie, or caught one on cable, either the hero or heroine dies, or they don't have an HEA. That's when I got to thinking. What books have I read in the past would I like see become a feature film?

One question I often get asked, other than "Where do you get your ideas?", is "Which book of yours would you like see as a movie?" That answer is simple. It's The Battle Lord's Lady. In fact, I can easily see the entire Battle Lord Saga becoming a mini-series. The idea of it coming to life is a nice fantasy I'll never see actually happening, but it makes for terrific daydreaming.

Is there a particular book you'd like to see brought to film? Or maybe anything by an author you especially like?

Authors, which of your own books would you like see get the Hollywood treatment?

Oh, and since we're on the subject, I'd love recommendations for good, schmaltzy, HEA movies.

(The DVDs pictured above are from my special stash of guilty pleasures.)

The D'Jacques Dynasty, Book 1
Futuristic/Post-Apocalyptic Romance

Word Count: 64.5K
$3.99 e

As the youngest Battle Prince, Lucien D'Jacques is discouraged because the affinities with weapons that his siblings have shown aren’t showing up in him. Being half-Mutah, that little something extra should be a given, but he’s no better than the average Normal soldier.

Meanwhile, the Damaged are back and slowly taking over. After receiving word that neighboring compounds are suffering, Lucien is tapped by his parents, Yulen and Atty, the Battle Lord and Lady of Alta Novis, to accompany them on a rescue mission to Green River. Now would be a great time for those specialties to shine.

When fighting an invisible enemy, it’s almost impossible to tell who is friend or foe. But if left unchecked, that enemy could wipe out all Mutah. It’s up to the D’Jacques, with the help of their army and newfound allies, to defeat the Bloods and stop the spread of the maddening disease, before it’s too late.

Warning! Contains sneezing, tainted blood, mutant insects, rabid bats, a diabolical plan, a fake battle lord, a haunted compound, and one man trying to prove himself as he struggles to survive.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Here Be News

Posted by: Veronica Scott
New Releases:

Other News:
Veronica Scott's Star Cruise: Outbreak audiobook received 4.5 Stars in a review from Audiobook Reviewer!

Bring It Back(list) Feature:
Veronica Scott shared "Why I Wrote AYDARR," plus an excerpt for this past week's feature.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

A Few Tips on Crowdsource Funding

Posted by: Shawna Reppert

I’ve run a few moderately successful crowdsource funding campaigns. I don’t claim to be an expert, but I’ve sat at the feet of a few experts and soaked up their wisdom, plus picked up a few things from trial-and-error. Recently (well, kind-of recently, I procrastinate) a fellow author and a musician friend asked for tips, Since I was stuck for a blog topic, here we go. Free advice, guaranteed to be worth at least what you paid for it. Though my experience is primarily with fundraising to cover costs associated with publishing quality indie novels, the principles apply to most creative endeavors. (In fact, some of the tips I got early on were from Irish trad musicians.) 

The first thing you need to decide is what platform to use. Kickstarter used to be the big boy on the block, to the point where Kickstarter started being used as a generic term for crowdsource funding. It remains a viable choice, although the trend seems to be moving away, sort of like the migration from My Space to Facebook. They had a security leak a few years back that compromised some donors’ information, which left me a bit wary. 

The biggest downside to Kickstarter, though, is its all-or-nothing model. You set a goal, and if you don’t reach that goal, you get none of the monies pledged. Some people like this model, thinking it shows that you are more serious about needing the money and feeling that people are more likely to give if they think that the book/CD/film project will never be released if the creator doesn’t get whatever sum they decree is essential. To me, it feels like a weird combination of playing chicken and a hostage situation. If you are like most creative people, you are determined to find a way somehow, even if it means selling blood, busking on street corners, or working yourself into an early grave with a second job. Wouldn’t you rather get a little help than no help at all?

Indiegogo was the next crowdsource funding site to go big, and one of my musician friends said he’d had much more success on that site, so I used them for my second project. The biggest advantage to Indiegogo, in my opinion, if the flexible funding option. You can still play chicken if you want with an all-or-nothing goal, or you can set your campaign up so that you will get the funds pledged whether or not you make your goal. An artist friend of mine living in another country also said Indiegogo is much easier to use than Kickstarter if you are not based in the US.

Both Kickstarter and Indiegogo are intended to raise funds for a particular project to produce something tangible (a book, a CD, a computer game, etc.) You are expected to offer tangible ‘rewards’ at different donor levels. I used e-copies of short fiction at the lower levels, through e-copies of the future novel and on to physical copies of the novel. At the highest levels, a donor would get a physical copy of the novel plus a mention in the acknowledgements. You can limit the availability of a certain reward; for example, you could say that only 25 people could claim a place in the acknowledgements, and only one, for an even higher donation, could claim the dedication. If you are lucky, friends and associates in the creative world may donate a reward. For example, my editor offered a manuscript evaluation to be offered as a reward on my last campaign. (This worked out to everyone’s advantage since the person who claimed it went on to do a series with her and is doing fabulously well with it.)

Be creative in your rewards. I have seen musicians offer lessons and private house concerts (to be scheduled on mutual convenience, naturally.) Or an artist trying to raise funds for a print run might offer the print on t-shirts, sweatshirts and note cards. 

You want to be certain to offer rewards for a wide range of donor levels. One of the biggest pleasant surprises I had in the world of crowdfunding is the number of complete strangers who may have never heard of you or your work who see your campaign and are willing to kick in five bucks for an e-copy of whatever you’ve got plus the warm, fuzzy feeling that comes from helping make art happen. Depending on their budget, they may not have the ten dollars or feel comfortable giving it to a stranger. On the other hand, you never know when you might find a rich patron with money to burn who decides a private concert is the best way to celebrate a beloved’s birthday.

One bit of advice I got early on was not to offer a choice of rewards for one donation level. If, for example, you offer a choice of a t-shirt with your book cover or a framed print at the $25 donation level, some of your would-be supporters may spend so much time waffling between the two choices that they never get around to donating before the campaign is over.

The next thing to decide is how much to ask for. My approach is to make an honest assessment of what I absolutely need to cover expenses in order to bring my product to the market. Since my editor has a set per-book fee as does the company that does my formatting, that’s easy enough for me to calculate. I also state where any overage would go—in my case, to promotional costs to help the book reach a larger potential audience.  There are, however, many approaches to goal-setting. Some people set a pie-in-the-sky figure believing that will encourage people to donate more. Others feel if they set a smaller, more do-able figure they will look less greedy or more realistic. Honestly, I think it all comes down to guesswork.

You will need a graphic image for your campaign. Yes, both Kickstarter and Indiegogo will let you put up your campaign without one. Don’t. Remember that the internet is a very visual medium and you are competing for attention (and money). In terms of catching the eye, a picture is, quite literally, worth a thousand words. Also, you want to convince people that you are serious about the project and should be taken seriously.

Artists have it easy when it comes to a campaign image, since you can create your own. You will want to create your own to showcase your talents. Writers and musicians have it tougher. Your book or CD cover is the obvious choice, but if one of the expenses you need to cover is funds to pay a cover artist, it becomes a frustrating Catch-22. Musicians may have a nice gig photo (bonus points if it was taken at a well-regarded venue). Or you may already have in your PR kit a studio portrait of you with your instrument.

For the first book in the Ravensblood series, I cobbled together a cover using an image purchased from s stock-image site. It was. . . serviceable. But it got the series launched, at least, though I hope to redo the cover someday soon. For the second book, a very generous reader donated funds toward the cover. Since then, I have an amazing graphics artist who has been donating covers. Yes, I know how fortunate that makes me, and I’m aware that not everyone is so lucky. But just keep in mind that odd, unexpected things happen. Get creative and think laterally.

Next, you will need a video. Yes, you do. I tried launching the first campaign without one, and it lagged until I took the advice of a fellow author and put up a video. Now, that first video wasn’t fancy. I’m camera-shy so I got one of my long-time booster/beta readers to make the appeal over photos she had taken of places that appeared in the book. (That particular series is urban fantasy set in an alternate-universe Pacific Northwest.) Later videos were fancier, again thanks to volunteer labor, in this case a pair of dear friends who are talented musicians, one of who also knows how to edit audio and video. You can check one of the videos out here.

In the video department, musicians have the advantage, since you can just put a voice-over plea on top of one of your tunes. For artists and authors, if you don’t have generous volunteers there are companies that will make you a trailer for a price. Or, if you have confidence in your own charisma, you can just look into the camera lens and talk to your potential donors directly. However you get your video made, remember less is more. You don’t want to go much more than two minutes, or people will get bored and click to something else.

This is just a brief overview of some tips I have picked up along the way. Both Kickstarter and Indiegogo have extensive advice sections, as well as walking you step-by-step through the process of setting up your campaign and you will want to take advantage of those free resources.
Good luck!

 Shawna Reppert is an award-winning author of fantasy and steampunk and an Amazon best-seller. You can find her works on Amazon. To find out more, go to

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...