Thursday, November 29, 2012

It's only Thursday

Be sure to check out my blog post as the blog tour is still underway! You can go back on previous stops and enter each giveaway to increase your chances to win the cool prize package! We are also planning a tour for "Closer", so keep an eye out for that one.

What I'm listening to this morning:

I pushed working on paperbacks until next week. I still have a few things to do with 'Sterling' and to be honest, I have so much going on right now that I'm trying to prioritize so that I can focus more of my free time on writing. So many small things are starting to eat up my day, so I'm having to find a way to manage it all so that I'm allotting myself more time to write-edit. I'm not one of the fortunate powerball lottery winners last night, nor do I have the option to even stay home.

I hope that things get easier in the future, and that I can look back on this time and know that it was worth spending every waking hour on. I did manage to squeeze in reading three books over the past two weeks (Rock Chick), which is pretty good, but I'm going to put that on pause because as mentioned before, I'm trying to find a balance to get the actual writing done. Books on audio is something I should check out sometime; it might work out better on my commute to/from work vs reading in the car. (I swear, I only do it at lights)

It's a little disturbing to think that Christmas is almost here, so I should probably try to be festive and decorate this weekend. Sigh.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Book Marathon

I've managed to write a marathon this weekend.


I'm unstoppable. Once I got home from holidays with the family, I spent the entire time working on two books as planned, and a LOT was accomplished.

The reader response has really been phenomenal, and I can truly promise that the very last book in this series will wrap up tight with a great ending. You may experience joy, sorrow, anger, and other emotions along the way, but hopefully at the end of the journey, I'll have a Mageri fan for life. Then we can start plugging this for TV (ha). No, actually I have more projects on the back burner (I almost typed back burger, because I'm hungry).

I'd love for Book White to be the dark horse and make a surprise appearance on Amazon next year, but it's a "wait and see" thing.

I've been thinking about buying a new laptop. This one has had miles put on it and I'm embarrassed to admit I actually have scotch tape holding one of the slots closed. I'm picky when it comes to electronics, so I'm going to be scoping out different models and sizes for a while. I'm undecided because it's not a necessity - not like fixing the air conditioner that went out in my car this week.

At least it's November.

And the POLL! Check out the poll on my blog (Left hand side) and cast your vote for your favorite characters in Impulse! Some of the results are quite...interesting.

PS: Support Indie authors you love in every way you can.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The 12 days of Closer

I just looked at the countdown and realized that there are only twelve more days until "Closer" is published. It's going live on a Friday, which means I'll be hitting the publish button on Thursday night, so that there's plenty of time for the Amazon machine to gobble it up and spit it out. Anyone who picks it up should have it read by the weekend as it's a novella (on the meatier side), so I hope you have a chance to post a review!

Thanksgiving was very low key and I ate way too much pie. You see, I have a weakness when it comes to apple pie. I'm surprised that I didn't replace all the donut scenes in "Twist" with apple pie, because that's how much I love it.

I also spent time writing.

Yes, writing. As of yesterday I wrote 5K words in "Book White" (see my WIP page), but as of this morning, my holiday count is now up to 14K. The book is now around 40K, and that's pretty impressive. The story just flowed and I kept getting ideas. But I really like pausing and revisiting it. Also, it gives me time to comb over previously written chapters and keep refining it.

MB4 is my priority.
Not as much word count, but the drafting process is meticulous. It's like taking a slab of clay and shaping shoulders and a head, but you haven't quite carved all the details out so that it resembles a person.

Over Thanksgiving, we were talking about typewriters. Mom was contemplating selling her old one that was up in the attic. The one that the keys would get stuck together, and you'd have to put liquid paper on your document and back it up one to correct. I know this because as I've mentioned before, I got a typewriter for my sixteenth birthday. Mind you, I'm only in my thirties, so it's not like typewriters were all the rage when I was a teenager. My friend were getting cars or guitars. (Well, I did get a guitar, but that was the previous year). At the time, I think we had an old IBM, but I don't recall having a printer which may be why I wanted one, so that I can write on it and save all of my stuff in a folder. Anyhow, back then anything you printed came out on thin paper with holes on either side.

I have several movies to watch this weekend. Promethius vs Magic Mike. Hmm. I don't do the Thanksgiving weekend shopping; I hate fighting the crowds. I'm going to tweak my cover today, submit it for another proof run, and then edit MB4 for the remainder of the weekend. I feel like the first draft is my big hurdle.

I hope everyone is following the blog tour! It's been a lot of fun with some great posts, not to mention the giveaway you can continue entering.



1. "Grease". Okay, maybe I'm afraid to admit it. I don't watch this movie anymore, but I went through a serious Grease phase in my teens, mostly because me and my BFF would sing along and make fun of Sandy. She even bought me the collector's edition VHS. Yeah, VHS, because that's how long ago I was into Grease. *cough*

2. "Last of the Mohicans". Same as above, really. Every time it came on TV, I'd call up my BFF so we could watch it on the phone together. I never liked Lewis's story as much as I enjoyed his Indian brother, whose name I can't remember but I would bet dollars to donuts that my BFF knows. Seriously, the scene where he dies for her? By then, we would have had too many wine coolers, and would declare that love isn't real unless he jumps off of a cliff for you.

3. "Pulp Fiction". I'm a Tarantino fan and I'm not afraid to admit it. While riddled with the F-word, this movie has great dialogue that outdoes any of the "action" scenes. That's great scriptwriting. Plus, everyone is just "cool" in this movie.

4. "The Matrix". This one hasn't been dusted from my shelf in a while, but I must have seen it so many times that I probably thought that I was living in the matrix. The concept was really unique, and at the time, the FX were groundbreaking.

5. "The Breakfast Club". And if you don't know why, you are a neomaxizoomdweebie.

'nuff said.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Paperbacks

This is one of those uber cool moments as a writer: when you get your book in paperback. Today, I received my first proof of Sterling. I needed to check out how the saturation levels of the artwork would be, as well as how the size of the fonts. Sometimes what you see on the virtual proof will differ from the printed copy. I didn't want to waste time stalling because I hadn't ironed out the back description, so I went ahead and ordered the proof. My expectation was I'd have some major adjustments, but I'm THRILLED with how it's turned out. Only some minor tweaking to the title on the spine, a little lightening in spots, and of course that pesky back text.

What sucks is that I can't really enjoy them, because just as soon as I got the books, I had to pack my backs and come to my parents house for Thanksgiving. So here I am, without my book. But I have way too much else going on and I can focus on it better when my vacation is over.

My guess is after the second proof, I should be ready to roll. I want to sit down and read through it, just to make sure nothing wonky happened during their printing. It would be a huge surprise if I could get this out in December, as my goal was always the first quarter of 2013.

It's an amazing feeling to actually hold my book in my hands, and especially knowing that it's mine from exterior to interior content. I'll keep this first proof as a memento (It has a big stamp of PROOF on the back page), since it's sentimental, even with it's flaws and not being finalized.

I feel more confident with how the Twist cover will turn out, now that I know my way around full book cover design. Impulse will require some work, because I need to resize i properly, so those books I'm going to tell you right now won't be ready until early next year. Which isn't that far off.

So now, for the first time, I get to empty one of my bookshelf cubes and make that mine. Home to my books.

It's a great feeling.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Point of View
Narrative Mode

1st person: The Narrator is a character within the story. Easy peasy.
2nd person: (rare): Narrator refers to one of the characters as "you", making the reader part of the story.
3rd person: The Narrator refers to characters as "he", "she", "they", but never says "I". They are often like a witness to the events, or could be told from a specific characters perspective, although again, not told in the 1st person.

1st and 3rd person being the most common, each has their pros and cons. Third person appears to have more flexibility, because it allows you to move around to different characters without getting stuck with one. When you are in 1st person mode, you have to follow that character in all their scenes, and never (or rarely) get to know what's going on elsewhere. However, sometimes third can be limiting. The narrative voice can convey feelings and thoughts, but sometimes readers like to be immersed in "being" that character. Sometimes the "I's" have it.

Usually, each genre seems to go with the flow and follow a norm. Urban fantasies are mostly told in 1st person. Paranormal romances (series books, in particular) seem to mostly be told in third person. There are outliers, of course, but that has been the norm from my reading experience. Usually an author sticks to their guns.

The biggest complaint of 1st person I've heard is that readers feel a little cheated. They'd love to be in another characters head, or at least know what they're feeling. Sometimes they get a little restless following the protagonist around. I feel the same way. That's why I've decided to write the story, the way I'd want to read it. All of my first person stories that I've written have third person POV. I think it adds depth, gives the reader a break, and allows you to part part of someone else's story.

I do them on either a break (indicated by ***) or a new chapter. This is another style which I considered may be a risk, but then again, this whole damn series has been nothing but a risk. Personally, I love writing my books this way. I do it only in a scene where the protagonist is not present, or they're unconscious. Otherwise, it's just weird.

In "STERLING", it allowed us to get in Adam's head. I wondered, "Who is this guy?" and "What was he thinking when he saw this woman running like crazy down a small town road?". Then in "TWIST", we not only got the side story of Knox, but we also got to see what was going on in Logan's head, and felt the protective emotions in a scene with Marco. So maybe in that scene, we felt a little more of his intent with her. In "IMPULSE", we get some Logan and Justus. I have to admit, writing Justus's scenes were the most difficult. Emotionally, that is. But I adore writing this man.


You will see more of this, and I hope it's a part of the read that you gain something from. We all have a story to tell, a point of view, and I want to allow the reader to experience that.

The third person books I've written always seem like more of a challenge than they should be. I am basically the outsider, writing what's going on. At first it flows easy, but then I always get a little frustrated because I'm so used to first person and switching. However, switching POV's in a third person story doesn't work. I have never done it, and I don't think I would. It would be far too confusing, and I might as well write it in 1st person if I were going to do that. It would seem like third person is the most preferred in romance writing, because the reader gets to know what's going on in both the male and female's head. We gain insight from each of them, feel their emotions, and are along for the ride.

So which do I prefer?
Oddly enough, first person. When I wrote a few books in first person, I decided to challenge myself with the third person books. Those seemed to fall more under paranormal romance, although my books in those genres don't seem to follow a formula either. But I would get a little antsy, and want to jump to another 1st person book. I feel more connected writing a 1st person POV book. It's like choosing to either be an actor, or be the narrative voice in the story. But some POV's just work better for certain stories. It's hard to say how I decide, but usually it's determined by whether or not I'm going to follow the same person in each book, or if if book in the series will be completely someone else's story. Those can be 1st person as well, not to say I'll never try it because I'm always up for a challenge.

I've never contemplated this before writing a story. Oddly, I just know how it should be written - what feels right. I can't recall having written anything and gone back to switch the POV.

Some readers have mentioned a preference, and often stick to that, or complain if a book goes out of their comfort zone. But aside from what you may be used to, some books are just told better from another perspective.

And now, Dannika Dark will close this thoughtful post so that she can turn on the coffee maker and get started with her day.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Progress Report

I really like how this turned out, and it made me realize that I don't spend enough time creating digital art. I'm also busy writing or editing, but this is the sort of thing that makes me unwind and relax.

I've released a description for the book and a few images, but I'm not sure readers really know what this is about. Frankly, I'm not sure how to categorize it. It's a novella, but it falls within a paranormal romance type of genre. This is not erotica, so if you're looking for BDSM or the like, keep on truckin'. If you like character-driven books, this one may be for you. There's a lot of emotion going on in this little book and several betas and test readers really fell in love with it.

So I'm really looking forward to introducing you to Kane. He's that persistent bastard that kept pacing around in my head when I was busy editing "Impulse". He just demanded my attention, so that I could tell his story. I'm glad I lent him an ear, because sometimes your characters are hanging around for a reason. He was a definite left-fielder.

The blog tour is going amazing! It's been so much fun stopping off at all of these great book review and blogger websites. I have a lot of fun guest posts planned, and you can visit all of the previous stops and enter for a chance to win the swag!

So click on BLOG TOUR at the top of my page to catch up on all the stops we've had so far!

And check out those custom keychains and car charm: you know you want one.

If you already own the Mageri series books, we will convert that to a gift card of equal value.

Then there's that fun surprise gift from Justus. Oooo

MB4 PROGRESS REPORT (Mageri Series: Book 4)
I'm 50% through the first draft. It's rough, and my eyeballs hurt. As with every single book that I've released in this series, I keep thinking to myself that readers may never know what's coming. I can't predict if that's a good or a bad thing, but I've felt an overwhelming amount of support for the series, so I guess that means you guys have faith that despite whatever your expectations, the story will be worth it.

You just might need a seatbelt for Book 4.

I'm trying really hard not to think about the cover I'll be designing at some point. The right cover always stresses  me out!! I think I know exactly what the insert image is going to be, because I've been planning on that one for a year. As I continue editing MB4 (I swear that will change as soon as I pick a name for the book), I can't help but wonder if a novella is going to be necessary. I have several reasons for this I can't elaborate on. The cool thing is while sifting through my notes, I found the final paragraph of the last book that will be written. I know exactly the tone and scene that I want to end this series on. And I can't tell you how many times I read it over because I loved it that much.

I guess it's time to start Christmas shopping soon. Keep in mind that ebooks can also be given as gifts, and scheduled for a Christmas delivery to anyone's Kindle. If you know anyone who might enjoy the Mageri Series who hasn't read it, feel free to tuck it in their stocking.

If you have a moment this holiday season, zip over to Amazon and write up a review. The reader support has placed "Impulse" on the top rated book list (#10 in Contemporary fantasy, and #21 in Fantasy). That visibility is a tremendous leg-up for an Indie. So reviews count more than you realize, aside from helping new readers determine if this series is right for them.

Currently, IMPULSE is holding it's own in Contemporary Fantasy at the #3 spot. 

I was joking with a friend because they have author rankings, and mine is #20. Stephen King was #21, and I felt like a bolt of lighting was going to strike me in the arse. You just do NOT rank above Stephen King. I did another check and now he's at #18, and I feel like I can sleep more soundly tonight.

I've been really blessed with the book release, and I hope this series continues to find its audience. That "Book White" has really been on my mind lately because the flow was very different from the Mageri series (not so serious) and that was a refreshing pace, because the Mageri Series gets a little heavy. Not that Book White won't get there at some point, but I've paced it differently. It's going to be fun to work on it again when I have free time. I'd love for it to be a surprise release for 2013, but we'll see.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Closer Quote

She wasn’t listening as her kiss moved like fire burning away the edges of paper, and Kane was about to become a pile of ash

A secret society exists among humans, comprised of immortals and gifted supernaturals. Kane is a Sensor, able to experience emotional energy through touch. Despite his good looks and easy-going personality, Kane lives a solitary life because unlike other Sensors, he is unnaturally hypersensitive. Touch brings pain.

Fate throws him a curve ball and in a most unusual set of circumstances, Kane must make a decision, each with its own moral consequence.

Two strangers collide, and a unique link brings them closer together as they grow further apart.

 Release date: December 7, 2012
 "Closer" is a 30,000 word novella. Add to your Goodreads bookshelf HERE

I'm working on the book jacket for "Sterling" this weekend and hope to have it finished up. The big question mark is when the paperback will be available, and I'm still saying next year. Once I receive a proof, I'll need to carefully review it. Right now, I have to pick my brain and write up a description for the back. WHY is this so important? This is the part where I stomp my feet like a two-year-old. If it were sold on bookshelves, then that would be the grab for someone to open it up or buy, but if readers can see read the description on Amazon or Nook, there's no need. Buggar. It has to look professional. Pffffttt. I'm thinking of going the silly route:

When Zoe Merrick became an immortal, she discovered that not only did she have special gifts that were unique to a Mage, but she would never have to suffer through PMS again.

Bam. Gold star. Total win.

Yeah, I'm working on it.

This is what's currently on my Kindle. It's a fun guilty pleasure read, although it's going a bit long for me. I'm not sure if it's the story or the fact I have a million other things happening at the moment. I can't strongly relate to the protagonist because her maturity level is a bit of a constant, but it has some funny moments and good tension between the couple. Will I continue the series? I'm undecided. I may try out another one of this Indie author's series because it's something refreshing.

I wish I could write as many books as she seems to have out; I don't know how some of these Indie authors manage it!

Five questions on Friday:


WHAT I'M DRINKING: Vitamin Water (Acai-blueberry-pomegranate)

WHAT THREE ITEMS ARE NEAR ME: Flash drive, outdoor thermometer, and a salt shaker. (I swear, that salt shaker travels with me)

WHAT SONG I HOPE I NEVER HEAR AGAIN: I love Adam Levine, but if I have to hear the "payphone song" one more time...

THREE CLASSIC ACTORS I LOVE: Sidney Poitier (Seriously, I love this guy!), Cary Grant for sure,, who gets the third slot? I think it's a tie between Jack Lemmon and Rock Hudson. Comedy is so underrated, and I've always adored actors who could make me laugh, and also do the dramatic roles.

Happy Friday! Hope you have a good book in hand.

My Favorite Childhood Movies

I may be an author, but not everything is all about books. I also love movies. There's something about combining the visual with the story that brings things to life, although we all know that a book plays out in our minds much the same and is less limiting than a film.

However, that being said, I still LOVE movies. ;-)

Just a short synopsis: I was a strange child. Blame my parents and how they raised us, but we didn't grow up on cartoon kid movies. I remember the occasional Benji or (I'm actually blanking out right now)... for the most part, we watched "family" films. Then again, I don't know how "family" a James Bond movies is. My parents just learned to cover our eyes at all the bad stuff. We didn't go out to movies often, so a lot of our viewing pleasure took place at home. We were one of the cool families that had a VCR, because living overseas, it was the only way we were going to be able to really watch anything good. Friends from the States mailed us videotapes, and we lent them out to neighbors, like a neighborhood video store.

So my childhood crack was "Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger", or "Xanadu". Yes, I lived on rollerskates for at least two years.

This morning, I was trying to think of movies I saw as a child that were influential "Children's movies" (in other words, not my parents version of "You can watch Cheech and Chong and we'll make you go to the kitchen to make popcorn when the drugs and sex come on...which was most of the film"). Hey, I came out all right.


This movie is awesome squared. Why? Because it doesn't dumb down kids' intelligence. It's smart, it's dark, it's funny, it's got a message. If I can conjure up the summary without Google, it was about these rats that were part of an experiment that made them intelligent. One woman (mousette?) is trying to get someone to move her house, because it's in danger of getting mowed by the farmer plow. Her husband is deceased, and secrets are uncovered that put her family in mortal danger. The ending is truly powerful, and has a great message. I made my Godson watch this with me when he was six, and his grandpa gave me a the stink-eye when he saw some of the "scary scenes". We can't protect our children from the evils that exist in the world, but help them understand how to face it.
Courage of the heart is very rare. The stone has a power when it's there.

(So sue me)

I related to this movie because I, like most kids, was made fun of. We all go through the petty torments of childhood. We're too fat, too thin, too tall, too short, big ears, small eyes, big nose, crooked teeth, red hair, silly laugh..etc.

Dumbo is the the story of a Circus elephant who gives birth to a baby with ridiculously large ears. Well, actually the stork delivers the baby, but you know that old story. He's made into a circus clown where he is taunted. His mother goes on a rampage to protect him from mockery, and is locked up as a "mad elephant". Dumbo befriends a mouse who is the most positive thinking and encouraging friend a person could hope for. I think movies today may be more politically correct than they once were, but some of the old ones really dealt with real life issues. I felt for the little guy, and seeing the mothers love for her child was heartbreaking. Dumbo eventually proves himself, but I hope what kids would take away from this is the feelings of others, and that we shouldn't treat people differently because they are unique.

Runners up are "Charlotte's Web", although that movie depresses me a little bit, and "101 Dalmatians". I just love a movie with a great Cruella DeVille villain. Poor little puppies, and she wanted a pelt coat made out of them.

So that is my random post for the day. It's difficult for me to get into some of these kid movies, and maybe it's because I don't have to watch them as I don't have kids. My nephew loves superhero movies (much like I did) and enjoys watching Flash Gordon, Spiderman, and Superman. I did like "Toy Story", because it was something that adults could relate to about their childhood.

Maybe that's what I take to heart in my writing. Making a reader be able to connect with a story through common ground. There are a lot of characters in the Mageri series that may be like people you know, but it also may have more to do with the issues that they've endured, and the challenges that they face. Things we may face in our own lives. There were a lot of great movies that swept me away in all the fantasy as a kid, but the ones that stuck with me were the ones that broke my heart and showed me what love was all about.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

All over the Blogosphere

I've already made two stops on my blog tour, so be sure to check them out and follow along!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012: 
Wednesday, November 14, 2012: 
It's been a busy week, and at work, they're gearing us up for the busy time of year. We're actually having a corporate pep rally on Thursday. How sad is that? I'm not really feeling like a team player this year; after a while, it becomes an old hat. Been there, done that. The holidays for me is nothing but work stress and long hours.
I've made it all the way to Chapter Five in MB4 (Mageri Book 4). I don't have a name for the book yet, so I don't want to grow tired of constantly calling it Mageri Book 4, hence, the nickname. I had to do a little expansion, and the first round of drafting is going to be very rough. I haven't touched this book in two years, so there is a lot of work to be done.
I made a vow to have my first paperback proof by Thanksgiving, and then I realized that Thanksgiving is next week. Crap. I'll see what I can manage to get accomplished this weekend, but I feel like I have too many irons in the fire. My brain is already having trouble switching gears, because I was writing BOOK WHITE for a few weeks, and now I have to get back inside Silver's head.

I'm still overwhelmed and appreciative of the initial reactions I've had over Impulse. I'm so glad that some of you really "Get it". This was a well thought out series, and isn't mapped out like other series books. It may be more catered to the reader who enjoys the characters journey's as much as the main plot. The stories within the books weave together, and you'll figure out where we're all going by the end. It's more of a complex read than it appears to be, and those who are re-reading the series are getting that. These were written over two years ago, and the only thing I'm doing now during their publication is working on drafting them out and editing. So if you're looking for a point A to B straight line book, this may not be it. I like geometry.

"Good books don't give up all their secrets at once.” - Stephen King

"Closer" is nearing it's publication date. 22 more days! woohoo. My first novella. These books are smaller than a novel, but mine is longer than most, and came very near to being the size of a novel.

I'm dreading the holidays just a little bit. It always seems like right at Thanksgiving or Christmas, someone in our family gets the plague. It's like holiday roulette. I'm hoping for a low-key dinner at my parents house, although in my family, we fly by the seat of our pants. If my brother decides he wants to host, we'll probably drive up there, which is fine with me, because I won't get stuck with a bunch of leftovers.

I'm pretty sure the meaning of Thanksgiving has been lost over the years, not that the holiday itself is really celebrating a period in time we should be proud of. Now, it's more or less yelling at the kids, slaving in the kitchen for hours, stuffing our faces until we can't even move, sitting in front of a football game with our pants unzipped, and finally taking a nap.

Hoorah for the holidays.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Let the Blog Tour Begin!

Welcome to the official kick-off of the IMPULSE blog tour to help celebrate the official launch of Book 3 of the Mageri Series! Follow the tour and read some fun posts we have in store, as well as increase your chances of winning the contest!

Tell me about the Mageri Series.
This Urban Fantasy Romance series follows the story of a young woman who is attacked by a stranger and left for dead, but Zoe Merrick didn't die. Immerse yourself into a secret world where immortals exist. Zoe is now a Mage, forced to leave her old life behind, while searching for her purpose in a world that she never chose to be a part of. Drama, action, romance, humor, and passion - unravel the mysteries with each book, and fall in love with the characters in a series that will capture your imagination.
There are three books: STERLING - TWIST - IMPULSE. Book four is due in 2013.


1 Box Set of The Mageri Series  
(Sterling, Twist, & Impulse)

Autographed Book Cover Cards (4x6) 
(Sterling & Twist)

1 Set of Key chains

1 Car Charm

1 Surprise Gift from Justus himself.

Pretty cool, huh?
Scroll down below to enter!

To start things off, I decided to have a Q&A. Readers were given a chance to ask me anything they wanted. So, as I sit in my virtual chair with a cup of cocoa, I'm anxiously awaiting what readers have to say (or throw) at me:

Q: With Silver, is her personality based on excellent research or personal experience?  
Wendy Ashcraft
A: Silver comes from a broken home, and I'm fortunate I never had such challenges. I have carved out a past for each one of them (whether it ends up in the story or not) and I can work from that to help me develop their personality, their flaws, their strengths. We don't always say or do the right things, and we're emotional beings, but we also shine in our best moments and change the lives of those around us whether we know it or not. Silver's personality is challenging because I have to write out her scenes to be honest with who she is, and part of who she is stems from the life she's led, and the experiences she's lived through. So an author has to remove the "What would I do" from their writing (And yes, that can be frustrating). Not to mention the pressure cooker situation she's living in. I'm very mellow and a talk-it-out kind of person. Silver gets emotional, but there's good reason for that one you understand who she is and what she's living through. So I've learned to walk a virtual mile in their shoes to give me a better idea of who they are.

QWhat is the usual length of your books, I.e word count? Also does sticking to a certain length add additional pressure ?
Lori Ann Worley
 A:  The first two books ranged in the 90,000 range. That may equal about 300 pages on a 5.25x8 size book. With Impulse, I did a lot of editing and decided not to restrict the length, so it stands around 129,000 respectively. I was very concerned it would turn off readers who were used to the quick pace of the previous two books, but after seeing how many people finished it in one day, those concerns are toast. As long as the quality of the story is there, the word count doesn't matter. Sterling started off at 130,00, but sometimes you have to kill your darlings, and snip away anything that doesn't contribute to the story in some way. Plus, I wanted to keep them at a nice, quick pace. I never set a word count when writing, nor do I have a problem with meeting one as I usually have a lot to say. ;-)

Q: I think my question would be: Will we be meeting even more new characters in the next book?
Rachel A Olson
 A:  There are always new characters, but I think that the main ones have been introduced at this point. I have no need to bombard readers with a gigantic cast; it's already big enough, and I was very careful about  gradually bringing them into the mix. However, there are always walk-in parts, and secondary characters. You can't have characters living in a world where they are the only ones that exist. Think about how many people you meet in your own life, and those who drift in and out of it. Some have larger roles, and some do not.

QHow did you create such original and unusual characters? Was it something you read or a movie you saw that was the spark (get it?) for the series?
Stacy Barraza
 A:  I wrote a few chapters of Vampire novel. It sucked. (pun intended). However, there were some ideas that I garnished from the book, one of which was the idea of a Mage. In the Vamp book I created a character called a Relic, with specific abilities.But I liked the idea of making them a familiar fantasy character so I incorporated those abilities (and expanded upon) in a Mage. It allowed me to put a spin on things in a believable way. I took the purpose of a Relics life, and wove that into a new fantasy creature. Sometimes you can find a diamond in manure. I also have a "what if" button in my brain that blinks at all times. I wasn't the "why is the sky blue" kid. I was the "what if the sky is really red and we all think it's blue?" kid.

QWhat do you feel is your most productive marketing method?
Brent Bakken
 A:  Luck. There's no sure-fire way to guarantee success when it comes to a profession that is subject to public opinion. All I can do is hope that readers love the series enough to recommend it and show their support in every way possible.

Q: Ok, so I am rereading, and I am at the part where Novis says "It's not uncommon for a Creator to have never met his progeny." So why was Justus so dumbfounded that Silver didn't know who her Creator was?
Stacy Barraza 
 A:  Great question. A Creator is a Mage who possesses the ability to make another Mage (not all of them can, it's an uncommon gift). Novis's meaning was that the Council's decide who is worthy to become part of their world - like an arranged marriage - so that they can maintain control in choosing their candidates. Justus was surprised and suspicious because Silver stated she had no idea who made her - which is unheard of. A Creator would never make another Mage and abandon them; what is the purpose?

Q: What is your Favorite Christian line?

Nina Lillard 
 A: Christian is one of those characters who walked into my story and gave me the finger. He's abrasive, Irish, and full of dry humor. One of my favorite lines? I kid you not, every time I would skim over it during my edits, I would laugh out loud. Readers often single out lines in my books that catch me by surprise, but I'll always have my personal faves.

"Thought you went to the toilet, so I waited by the door. Let me tell you that what goes on in the ladies room is no longer a fantasy. I thought you’d have puffy little pillows on sofa chairs where you lounged and buttered up your breasts with scented oils. My fantasies are ruined by the pungent smell of vomit and tramps spraying perfume on their fannies.”

Q: Without appearing intrusive could I ask how old you are , also do you have any photographs ?  Val Price

A:  Ermmm, you're not supposed to ask a woman her age! I'm 21. *whistles a song*. 
Actually, I do understand the curiosity. I've always liked the idea of the author being less important than the story; we're just the man behind the curtain. Or in this case, a woman. I'm in my 30's, and I have posed a couple of images on my "about me" page and elsewhere. (not sure I'd call it a pose) I'm not crazy about having my photo taken (who is?), but another aspect is retaining my privacy to a degree. At some point, I may get a better image so readers can make a connection, but I swear, I'm just an ordinary person who just happens to write books.

Q: If you could invite three of your characters to a small dinner party, who would they be and what would you like as a conversational topic?
Bonne Kelly
A: That's a fun one. Justus, Novis, and Leo. The topic would be: "What are some of your greatest achievements in life?" Followed by rapid fire questions on my end about all the things they've seen in their lifetime. I couldn't trust Simon to be serious in this convo, so he's out. I chose some of the older men because the idea of immortality is fascinating, and yet I wonder over time how it affects how they see the world and others. Novis seems to only attach himself to things that last, as he had once discouraged Silver from wasting her time with mortals. We dream up how great it would be to live forever, or at least, a very long time. But there must be downfalls to it, and I'd love to hear those personal stories.

Q: You mentioned having an especially hard year. My question is, how are you doing? 
Theresa Buckler-Jensen 
A: Thank you for asking; I'm doing wonderful. I had a rough start to the year when a mishap spiraled into a series of events that led to my being ill for at least three months. I was in agonizing pain 24 hours a day for 9 weeks straight before I began to see the light, and I'm not exaggerating by 24 hours a day. There were tough times that made me wonder if things would ever get better, but I tried to think of Silver's attitude through the series and all that she's gone through: Optimistic. I'm 100% back to my old self with a better appreciation for living in the moment, valuing my health, and pursuing my passions in life.

I hope you enjoyed the official tour kick-off! There were so many questions and I'll be saving up the ones I didn't get to for a later date! The tour dates are all listed HERE! Now, time for that giveaway....

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning!!  

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Quest for Stock

Readers may not give much thought to the images on book covers. I wish I could tell you that most of them came that way - premade - but that's not the case. I'm not speaking of having a cover artist design one for you, but when you are doing the work yourself. Stock websites simply do not have awesomeness squared images that are ready to go.

And even if they did, would I want to take a photo that has been un-tweaked, and slap it on my book? Eek. If it's THAT good, then chances are, we're going to see that cover a lot. Unless you're willing to shell out a lot of money, it's not likely that having exclusive rights to an image are an option. It boils down to being as creative as possible with the images you have access to, and making it your own.

The problem is finding those images. Sure, stock websites have BILLIONS (okay, maybe not billions, but it seems like it after 4 hours of searching) of images to choose from, but most of them are geared more toward commercial use. Ads, magazines, websites, etc. Sometimes it's using the right keywords, but even then, the results are mixed.

Keyword search: Sexy Man
Page 1 of "most relevant"


Or "I better run like hell because he's got two daggers and a hood?"

 I'm leaning toward the latter.

An image like this would not attract many female readers, it conjures up images of assassins, ninjas, and men who like to dress up for video game conventions. It's really hard slapping this on a UF or PNR cover and being taken seriously. Maybe I could put a woman in the background to soften it up?

No. That would make it even scarier.

Or Twilight?

Maybe that's Jacob. Or perhaps he's just a man who loves a Granny Smith. I don't usually trust strangers bearing apples; that may stem back to my early exposure to movies like Snow White, where it led to her falling into a coma.

Plus, there's not much man to look at here. How do I know he's sexy? What if those aren't really his arms, and someone else is standing behind him? Why is he wet? Does he normally eat produce in the shower?


Or faboo?

Actually, I think I might put this on my next paranormal romance series. Throw a wolf in the background, a full moon, maybe some crazy looking woman in black with fangs.

He would look good in profile or in other poses, but he needs to lose the Fraggle shawl and jammy bottoms. Maybe a pair of leathers and a nice tat?

Or, sexy?

Okay, he's sexy. But I've seen this image (and this guy) on a LOT of covers. And if I see an image I immediately recognize, I'll move on. The only exception to this rule is if I know that I can manipulate it in a way that a reader won't immediately recognize. The only thing about this image that bothers me (other than the fact that I'm not beside him) is the direction of his gaze. It gives a more 'whitish' appearance to his eyes, like a zombie.

Anyone need a sexy zombie cover?


Or, FAME! I wanna live forever! Baby, remember my name!

A creative artist might color his outfit black, and put a giant sword in his hand, with knives affixed to the inside of his jacket. Maybe put a skull and crossbones on the front of his hat.

I spend a lot of my free time searching for stock and purchasing for later use. I use them in not only my covers, but other art. It will also help me reduce the search time when I need a great image if I already have it.

Maybe this is the time for me to send out a plea to all photographers: There are a LOT of cover artists in search of specific models! Tough women in different positions, beautiful women who aren't modeling their face for a face cream ad, and vampires who aren't hissing in the picture.

I really hate hissing vampires.

In fact, there is little in this world that is more emasculating than a man hissing. I can barely take my own cat seriously when she hisses at me. I digress...

It seemed like a good topic to bring up, because readers may not have any clue how limiting our selections are, even while we have a number of resources. I have one photographer that I've purchased images through that aren't available for purchase elsewhere, but I don't have any papers for exclusive rights, nor did I pay any outrageous fee that would go along with that. But it's nice to know I have a couple of really cool images tucked away that aren't in mass distribution.

One of the covers I considered using for "Impulse" was an image that I ended up spotting on an erotica book. Then I saw it on at least three other books. After that, my choice was pretty solid on which model to go with.

Here's a sample of the image (and something I did with it)

 I'm not living under the fantasy that my images won't end up on another cover. There are far too many books out there for me to keep track of (past and future). I honestly think the key is making it your own. Flipping the images, changing the hair color, background, or eye color. Zoom in. Zoom out. Crop.

But ultimately, if I don't have good images to work with, then my work becomes even more difficult. And so my quest continues this morning, as I do my regularly scheduled Sunday Stock Search, until I reach a point of maniacal laughter and go back to writing.

If you've read this far, don't forget the blog tour starts tomorrow!!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


REMINDER: THE BLOG TOUR BEGINS ON NOVEMBER 12, 2012. BE THERE OR BE SQUARE. Go to my blog and view the Blog Tour page to follow the tour, enter for prizes, and enjoy some of the posts that will be going up. It will kickoff on my website!

It's been a week since the release of "Impulse", and I noticed a lot of curious chatter going on. I knew that readers of the Mageri series really loved TWIST over STERLING. How can a person top that kind of enthusiasm? So I posed the question:

"How many times have you read Impulse?"
(this was asked 6 days after the release)

Here were some of the responses:
  • I'm halfway through my second reading. There's not enough hours in the day, but I love catching all the details I missed the first time! 
  • Three times and each time I find something new
  • This is my fifth time
  • 2 times!!
  • To many times that I have lost count.
  • I'm on the 2nd read. After re-reading Sterling, & Twist. But first was the first read of Impulse. I'm soaking in Cognito! Having a real hard time re-entering the "real world."
  • At least four times now
  • I'm in the midst of my 3rd time
  • impulse twice. and now i started all over with Sterling.
  • 3 times from the middle to the end and twice from the beginning
  • 6 total and several times - reading book 2 & 3, my favorite Logan/Silver moments!

 As an author, I couldn't ask for more than that kind of passion and enthusiasm for a world I created. The nutty part of this whole journey is I was never confident that the Mageri series was the most compelling series that I've written, but it felt right to begin at the beginning.Even more amazing than the fan support has been the Facebook groups that have popped up for the Mageri series and Impulse, which are VERY active. Lots of theories floating around, but simply looking at how readers have connected and fallen for these characters make me feel all mushy inside. Sniffle

I'll be kicking off MB4 (Mageri Book 4, as it is currently unnamed) this weekend. Most of the weekend will be organizing a ton of notes I've taken over the year during my rewrites, reading the 1st draft that I already have and writing the outline, and then doing some organization. There will likely be some scenes that will shift to a book five, as I do not think I can possibly cram all that needs to happen in book four for the finale.

Good God, do I have my work cut out for me.

I'm not the kind of writer who can wants to go on for umpteen books. Once the spark starts to dissipate and the story feels either formulated, or without a clear direction, then I move on. It's risky, because it's safe to stick with a sure thing and continue the story so that fans never have to say goodbye. But I often have difficulties continuing with a series that goes on for too many books, because somewhere along the way, the magic is gone. At least, for me.

As I said, it's risky. Having to put out a whole new book/series for readers to warm up to? Will you like the story? The characters? The plot? Can you move on from the Mageri to something fresh? I certainly hope readers are willing to give me the chance.My novella, "Closer", just may be the test. Mageri will likely end at five, but I never close the door all the way. I can't say for sure, but I'm almost certain I can wrap it all up in the fifth book. But who knows, maybe a novella will be somewhere in the future if there's a story that I feel didn't get it's due.

I am SO in love with the stories and characters in my other books, and excited to start drafting them, and I hope that means something. 

IMPULSE is still kicking some serious butt on the Amazon charts. RAWR!! I really hope that you have the chance to recommend the series to friends/family that you think might enjoy it. (Did you know that Goodreads does not let me recommend my own books? Pffftt) Thank you to those who have posted a review on Amazon/Goodreads. Those really make a different in helping readers make an informed decision on an author they may have never heard of. Also, thanks to the readers who have been sending me emails and messages, blaming me for not having slept a wink the night before and arrived at work late.

The next Valium is on me.

So maybe I need to slap a warning label on Impulse, as it may have side effects that include (but are not limited to):
Decrease in appetite
Inability to concentrate
Muscle spasms that result in smacking forehead
Maniacal laughing
Change in speech that may include using words like 'fecking' and 'manwich'.
Hallucinations that include comparing real life people with the characters
Compulsive reading
Seeking out Mageri groups 
Sudden craving for sweets such as sugar donuts, cheesecake, and strawberries

Love you guys. Everyone should find a book or a series that gets them this excited about reading, AND supporting Indie authors.