Saturday, October 25, 2014

Kirsten Mortensen's #WriteTip on Getting Under Your Characters Skin @KirstenWriter #Romance #Suspense

Under Their Skin. When Characters Become Real
By Kirsten Mortensen

I became a novelist so, so slowly!

It’s not that I didn’t want to devote myself to fiction. I did. I’ve wanted to spin stories for peoples’ enjoyment ever since I was about five years old.

But when I became an adult, I was deeply confused about how to go about it. Throughout my 20s and 30s, I started novels many times. But the process always felt forced. I understand, now, what I was doing wrong. I was working from my head, not my heart—not my imagination. But at the time, all I knew was that I felt lost, writing fiction. And when I read other authors saying things about how their characters would “come alive” or “take on lives of their own” I thought they were either telling white lies, or speaking figuratively.

That changed when someone I respected very much said something to me that, on the surface, was very hard. Cruel, even.

I was talking about how much I wished I could make a living as a novelist, and he looked at me and said: “I don’t believe you. I don’t believe really want to write a novel.”

It sounds mean, doesn’t it? It sounds like he was snatching my most precious dream, throwing it down onto the pavement and crushing it with his foot.

But that’s not what he was doing—and I knew it, even as he spoke.

He was challenging me to follow through on my so-called dream. He was challenging me to do more than just start a novel—he was challenging me to finish one.

So I did.

I’ve long since thrown that manuscript away—it was a typical first novel, so full of mistakes that newbie writers make!

But even though it wasn’t publishable, it served its purpose. It gave me the experience of practicing writing novels.

And the more I practice, the better I get.

And then, during novel #3, it happened.

My characters came alive.

Because it’s true. It really happens.

They begin to assert themselves. They do things you don’t expect. They stop you from forcing them into decisions that don’t suit them.

When I wrote that first novel, my characters were like puppets. I fashioned them, using words. I gave them physical characteristics. I picked out their clothes. I came up with plot twists and wrote how my characters reacted to them.

Today, when I write, my characters are no longer puppets. They’re more like entities you meet in dreams—demigods of my imagination. They awe me, they surprise me. I’m no longer their master—I’m more an observer, doing my best to transcribe what they see, think, feel, and do.

I’d be the last person to call myself a “great” writer. Ha. In my dreams.

But I do think that in my latest novel, Dark Chemistry, is the best I’ve written so far—and one major reason for that is that as I wrote it, my characters came alive. And judging on how readers are reacting to the novel, the characters seem alive to them!

If you’re a writer, have you noticed this happening while you write?

As a reader, do you notice when characters in novels seem real to you?


darkChemistry

A woman's worst nightmare

Drugged by something...that makes her think she's fallen in love.

All Haley Dubose has ever known is beaches and malls, clubs and cocktail dresses.

But now her father is dead.

And if she wants to inherit her father's fortune, she has to leave sunny Southern California
for a backwater little town near Syracuse, New York. She has to run RMB, the multimillion dollar
chemical company her father founded. And she has to run it well.


Keep RMB on track, and she'll be rich. Grow it, and she'll be even richer. But mess it up, and her inheritance will shrink away before she gets a chance to spend a dime.

Donavon Todde is her true love. But is it too late?

He's RMB's head of sales – and the more Donavon sees of Haley, the more he's smitten.
Sure, she comes across at first as naïve and superficial. But Donavon knew Haley's father. He can see the man's better qualities stirring to life in her eyes. And Donavon senses something else: Haley's father left her a legacy more important than money. He left her the chance to discover her true self.

Donavon has demons of his own.
 
He's reeling from a heartbreak that's taking far too long to heal. But he's captivated by this blond Californian, and not only because of her beauty. It's chemistry. They're right for each other. But has Donavon waited too long to woo this woman of his dreams? Because to his horror, his beautiful Haley falls under another spell. Gerad's spell.

A web of evil.

Gerad Picket was second-in-command at RMB when Haley's father was alive. And with Haley on the scene, he's in charge of her training. But there are things about RMB that Gerad doesn't want Haley to know.

And he must control her. Any way he can.

Romantic suspense for your Kindle

Will Haley realize that her feelings are not her TRUE feelings?
Does Donavon have the strength left to fight for the woman he loves?
Will the two of them uncover Gerad's plot to use RMB pheromones to enslave the world?
And even if they do – can they stop it?

Buy Now @ Amazon & Smashwords
Genre – Romantic suspense
Rating – PG-13
More details about the author
Connect with Kirsten Mortensen through Facebook Twitter

Thursday, October 16, 2014

What Freedom Smells Like : A #Memoir by Amy Lewis @AmyLewisAuthor #AmReading #Memoir #Relationships

Why did I stay? I used to yell to the women on Oprah, Why would you stay? I had options. I had a family who loved me, who would take care of me if I left. I wasn’t married to him nor did we have children together. The only tie we had was the business, and on paper we owned it fifty/fifty. Why put up with this? What is wrong with you?

I don’t have a good answer. Not a logical one, only emotional answers. When I fell in love with him, I fell too far to get out on my own. Maybe this was the “has difficulty functioning in a way society accepts as normal” part of my borderline personality. I saw the abusive Truth as an imposter, and the real Truth, the one I loved, was locked somewhere inside. If I tried hard enough, loved deeply enough, I could find him. I might even say – rescue him. 

As my self-esteem began to shatter, it became impossible to put me back together, and shattered young women do not make the best rescuers. When Truth exploded, along with the hitting, he threatened me with much worse actions if I didn’t stay in line. “I’ll kill you; I’ll kill your entire family.” The threats felt even more painful than when he laid hands on me; eventually the physical abuse came only in spurts – maybe once or twice one month then no flair ups for a few months. He had learned how to control me without it – just a look would be enough.

During the abuse, I split myself into many different parts. Time stretched and molded to fit my needs. The tiniest expression of love or moment of joy – a good night – expanded like a rubber band into a whole month. The moments of greatest fear and terror collapsed into a blink of the eye. I became author of my own fictional tale. I used my imagination to create a portrait of a livable life. If you keep your eyes closed and your mouth shut, you can exist forever in that state. If you saw me on the street and asked how I was doing. I would smile and say fine. I’m doing just fine. If you weren’t really paying attention, you would believe me.

Sometimes during our worst fights, everything seemed to happen in slow motion, and an orchestral score played in the background. The strings increased in intensity as I retreated away from him, the beating of the percussions as he followed me, the flutes as I tried to calm him, as his hands met my body, the crescendo hit with symbols clapping together at the finale of a symphony. 

I heard the music we listened to in my dreams as two cultured, mature adults in love and enjoying the arts. As I reached up to my face or back or stomach or chest to feel the damage, I heard the audience applauding, jumping to their feet with a standing ovation. Bravo! Bravo! Tears started to pour out of me, and the rest of the audience, inspired by the music. The show had ended, and as the sophisticated, art-appreciating couples walked to their cars to begin talking about how the music reminded them of this or that, Truth came to me and apologized. He didn’t mean for it to go this far. His most vulnerable expressions to me came directly after his explosions. How everything felt wrong. How he shouldn’t let stress do this to him. How it would never happen again.

whatFreedomSmellsLike
Diagnosed with Borderline Personality disorder, Amy struggled with depression and an addiction to sharp objects. Even hospitalization didn't help to heal her destructive tendencies. It took a tumultuous relationship with a man named Truth to bring her back from the depths of her own self-made hell.Amy's marriage to dark, intriguing Truth was both passionate and stormy. She was a fair-skinned southern girl from New Orleans. He was a charming black man with tribal tattoos, piercings, and a mysterious past. They made an unlikely pair, but something clicked. During their early marriage, they pulled themselves out of abject poverty into wealth and financial security practically overnight. Then things began to fall apart.
 Passionate and protective, Truth also proved violent and abusive. Amy’s own self-destructive tendencies created a powerful symmetry. His sudden death left Amy with an intense and warring set of emotions: grief for the loss of the man she loved, relief she was no longer a target for his aggression.

Conflicted and grieving, Amy found herself at a spiritual and emotional crossroads, only to receive help from an unlikely source: Truth himself. Feeling his otherworldly presence in her dreams, Amy seeks help from a famous medium.

Her spiritual encounters change Amy forever. Through Truth, she learns her soul is eternal and indestructible, a knowledge that gives Amy the courage to pursue her own dreams and transform herself both physically and emotionally. Her supernatural encounters help Amy resolve the internal anger and self-destructive tendencies standing between her and happiness, culminating in a sense of spiritual fulfillment she never dreamed possible.

An amazing true story, What Freedom Smells Like is told with courage, honesty, and a devilishly dark sense of humor.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Memoir
Rating – PG-13
More details about the author
Connect with Amy Lewis through Twitter

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Kimberly Shursen on Every Writer's Nightmare of Being Stuck @KimberlyShursen #WriteTip #AmWriting #Thriller

Help! I’m Stuck in the Middle and I Can’t Get Out
By Kimberly Shursen, Author of Itsy Bitsy Spider, Hush, and Lottery

Ever get to the middle of writing your book and didn’t have a clue what to do next? You’ve set up the story; you’ve described the characters, the scenery, the wallpaper in the kitchen, and now what? You’re excited to write that unbelievable ending you already have conjured in your head, but how in the world are you going to get there?

Answer: resolve the issue before you start staring at those intimidating blank pages on the screen.
  1.  Have a secondary plot. By this I don’t mean a separate plot, but one that weaves nicely into your story. Using my novel HUSH as an example, there is Ann and Ben’s life, and then there’s Ann’s lawyer Mac McConaughey’s story. The plot remains focused on the main characters, however, Mac and his wife Jazz’s life is a secondary heart-warming storyline readers can identify with.
  1. When you’re stuck, think of the most pivotal moments of your life; the birth of a child, a challenging life hurdle you’ve finally succeeded in overcoming, or the feeling of finally letting go and falling in love. Bring these pivotal moments to life in your characters. Set the platform in the first few chapters of your book and you will have a beginning, a middle, and an end that, although cliché, will wrap up into one sweet little package. Never write a chapter that doesn’t have substance or doesn’t move the story forward. Each single word, sentence, and chapter needs to have meaning; so no cheating filling in with drawn out dissertations of the scenery.
  1. I never place my novels in one city as it’s just too much fun to travel via the net. It is important that my characters and the places they live or travel not become redundant. In HUSH, there are three cities I visited in cyberspace. How do I do this? Just as a couple of examples, I use images, descriptions of buildings and restaurants, and neighborhood overviews found in personal travel documentations, along with studying the official websites of the city. I do a ton of research so that if anyone who lives in these cities or neighborhoods happens to read my book, they would think I’d been there not just once, but several times. The bulk of HUSH was set in Minneapolis, and even though I lived in Minneapolis for many years, I still had to check out the facts. How many miles around is Lake Minnetonka where Mac’s wife Jazz lived? How far was it from Dinky Town where Ann lived to the courthouse? Where are the prestigious neighborhoods in Minneapolis? Which suburbs are the poorest? Mileage from one place to the next takes me to Mapquest.
When I took HUSH to Lake Geneva, Switzerland was when I really had to  dig deep into the bowels of the net, close my eyes and envision not only the Jet d'Eau that surges 459 feet above the lake, but the Swiss Alps, and the peaceful inlet of water that borders this quaint, wealthy city.

Don’t be afraid to reach the middle; embrace it. If you’ve done your homework, and set up your storylines, there will be nothing to fear when you proudly present your baby to the public.

hush

Soon after Ann Ferguson and Ben Grable marry, and Ben unseals his adoption papers, their perfect life together is torn apart, sending the couple to opposite sides of the courtroom.

Representing Ann, lawyer Michael J. McConaughey (Mac) feels this is the case that could have far-reaching, judicial effects -- the one he's been waiting for.

Opposing counsel knows this high profile case happens just once in a lifetime.

And when the silent protest known as HUSH sweeps the nation, making international news, the CEO of one of the top ten pharmaceutical companies in the world plots to derail the trial that could cost his company billions.

Critically acclaimed literary thriller HUSH not only questions one of the most controversial laws that has divided the nation for over four decades, but captures a story of the far-reaching ties of family that surpasses time and distance.

*** Hush does not have political or religious content. The story is built around the emotions and thoughts of two people who differ in their beliefs.
 EDITORIAL REVIEW: "Suspenseful and well-researched, this action-packed legal thriller will take readers on a journey through the trials and tribulations of one of the most controversial subjects in society today." - Katie French author of "The Breeders," "The Believer's," and "Eyes Ever To The Sky."

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Thriller
Rating – PG-13
More details about the author
Connect with Kimberly Shursen through Facebook and Twitter

@GaryTroia Shares 10 Tips for Becoming a Better Writer #SelfPub #ShortStories #WriteTip

1, The first tip is essential and obvious. If you want to be a decent writer: Read a lot and write a lot. If you want to be an athlete: Eat well and train hard.
2, Read excellent writers and classics. See how they go about the craft.
3, Read poor writers for no other reason than to feel better about yourself.
4, If you want to excel at anything, discipline is the key. Set achievable goals that can be reached every day.
5, There is no such thing as writers’ block. If you think you have it, write about your day. I have never heard of bricklayer’s block, or surgeon’s block, or…you get the point, don’t you?
6, Don’t force yourself to learn new words, you learn new words naturally by reading.
7, Don’t try to write like you think a writer should write, just write like only you know how to write.
8, Write quicker than your doubts can form.
9, Write a first draft with freedom and without a critical eye. Add a critical eye on all subsequent drafts.
10, The last tip is as important as the first. If you want to be a decent writer: Read a lot and write a lot.
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 AlhambraHung-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 HomeA 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, October 10, 2014

@MarcADiGiacomo on What Inspired "IN A SMALL TOWN" #Thriller #GoodReads #AmReading

What inspired me to write In A Small Town?
I always believed I had a book somewhere within my warped brain. Its one thing to have that feeling about yourself but to actually write that book is a story within itself. How do you motivate one’s self to follow through on a conceptualized idea? For me, I have three small children. Only my oldest will remember the late night/early morning calls from the police department notifying me of the latest crime to occur within our boundaries. He would watch his father leave with bright, wide opened eyes fully believing I would return as soon as I could. Truth be told; it was very difficult to leave him, but I had a job to do, a responsibility to others I was sworn to uphold.
When I retired from the police department after a string of back injuries and surgery, I needed to set a new course for myself. My back injury makes it difficult for me sometimes but it was just another challenge I needed to overcome. What started off as a memoir of a small town cop’s career quickly grew legs and became an organized crime thriller. I had a very unique police career working for such a small town; I wanted to emphasize to others even though I worked for a small town, big crime still happens and needs to be solved.
The encouragement I received from my oldest son was all I needed. His face upon seeing In A Small Town, was a priceless memory I will never forget. He’s only eleven, and will not be reading any of my books for quite some time, but his praise and reassurances have motivated me to write more. So, I write for my kids, and one day, when they read my books, they will know a little piece of their father is alive and well within those pages.
InASmallTown

The shotgun blast catches Detective Matthew Longo by surprise. His world unravels into a nightmare that seemingly won't end. Murder, rapes, pedophiles, the small town of Hutchville, N.Y. is changing. It is up to him to make a difference.

While partner Donny Mello is in Italy attending a funeral for a family member who is connected, to say the least, a beautiful F.B.I. agent waits to question him about his family business. Can Matt keep from answering the Agent’s questions? More importantly, can he hide a potentially career-ending secret from his community, his brother, and most especially Agent Cynthia Shyler?

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre - Thriller
Rating – R
More details about the author
Connect with Marc A. DiGiacomo on Facebook & Twitter
backintown

The small town of Hutchville, New York is turned upside down. No longer is it the quaint, sleepy, suburb of New York City. Detective Matt Longo is back on the job and embroiled in his latest nightmare. Further complicating matters is the revelation of his partner’s corruption and organized crime ties; Donny Mello has left a bitter trail of lies and deceit. With his kid brother and newly promoted Detective Franny Longo by his side, will Matt be able to put his past behind him?

Special Agent Cynthia Shyler, (F.B.I.) has been reassigned due to her meeting with Matt Longo. Will this move complicate their relationship? Or will a new stranger in town spin a web that entangles the entire Hutchville Police Department, especially our most seasoned detective, Matt Longo?
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Thriller
Rating – R
More details about the author
Connect with Marc A. DiGiacomo on Facebook & Twitter

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

@Marie_McKean Shares Her Thoughts on Creating a Stand Out #BookCover - #AmWriting #Paranormal

A simple google search on the importance of a good book cover will tell you that an excellent cover is as important as a fantastic story and a great edit. That’s how you attract readers. If your cover is bad, someone who might otherwise LOVE your story just might pass it up.
Think about it. How often do you choose a book solely on its cover? I’d venture to guess quite a bit. Now, times that by the millions of people who are browsing amazon everyday . . . and you have a lot of potential readers. Here’s the kicker, not only does your cover have to look great, but it also has to be exceptional in thumbnail size. Because the truth of the matter is, that’s the way most of your target audience is going to get their first acquaintance with your book. 
So, what can you do to make yourself stand out from the rest of the masses?
Create a stand-out cover!
Now, I am in no way an expert on how to do this. I write stories and that is about as far as my artistic ability reaches. However, I happen to be great at rationalizing what expenditures are worth it and which ones are not. Book covers and edits are worth every penny. Seriously, Every. Penny. Sure, you could make your own cover. But unless you are gifted that way, well I don’t think I’d recommend it.
What I did was find a graphic designer. I found mine randomly, one thing lead to another, and there I was, just happening to be browsing through his deviantArt page. One look at his work, and it was love at first sight. This is what I recommend to do. Find a graphic artist whose work you just love, and then reach out to them. After all, if you don’t love their work, what makes you think that you’re going to love your cover? Next, make sure you can work with them. Do they catch your vision? Are you catching theirs? And most importantly, Can you meet in the middle? If you can, then proceed.
When all’s said and done that cover is going to be what helps make or break you, so make sure you put the time, and money, into making sure its done right. You’ll know if it is or not, your numbers will be proof of it.

YOU CANNOT CHANGE THE LIFE YOU’VE BEEN GIVEN.
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

TWELVE HOUSES #Excerpt by Olga Soaje #AmReading #WomensFic #Literary

Once we’re outside, Chloe asks me if I’d like to go for a walk along the wharf. She seems to be seeing me in a new light, kind of the way she used to see toys she had forgotten when they were suddenly discovered by her brother or a friend. The newfound joy and thrill were always the same for her.
Whatever her reasons for inviting me here to visit her, or for the walk, I can’t help feel grateful and think that Nathan is somehow doing magic from up there. As we walk along the pier, the fresh salt air is calming to my soul. I have the feeling she’s gathering her courage for something, so I look at her and ask, “Chloe, would you like to talk about something?”
“What makes you say that?”
“Because I know you, and I can see you’re upset about something.”
I’m thinking she’s scared of motherhood and the changes ahead, on top of all the changes I’ve seen so far. Maybe she needs to ask me about the astrological chart I gave her. But instead she takes a deep, purposeful, salt-tinged breath. “Mom, did you ever contemplate a separation?”
“Separation?” I repeat, trying to gather my thoughts—or form a response, for that matter. She stops walking and looks at me, daring me with her eyes. Her shoulders drop, signaling she has relaxed, since part of her secret is out. I almost can hear Magda spell out, “Uranus just walked in,” referring to the planet that represents sudden and unexpected changes. Ruler of originality and freedom.
“Our marriage wasn’t perfect, Chloe. It had its ups and downs, like many marriages do.” She looks irritated as I walk to a bench and signal for her to join me. I can sense this isn’t the answer she was looking for, nor for that matter, is what I’m about to say next. “But to answer your question, no, I never considered it. We had an unspoken understanding that we could fight, but we’d always find a loving way to understand each other after the fireworks of anger had left.”
She looks disappointed. “I just wish Brian understood me.”
I take her fingers, which are resting on her leg, and give them a squeeze as I ask, “How long have you felt like this?”
She looks at the sea in front of her and begins to whisper, as if talking to the wind. “For some time now, I’ve had the feeling that he’s rushing through life, from the office to the house, and everything in between is a task on his to-do list, and that includes me.” I stroke her hand gently to show my support while she continues to talk. “I tried not to focus on it, to find things to do together, even to get the house to seem more comfortable. But he remained the same, and I…I’m not.”
“Honey, when you two got married three years ago, you both seemed like that. Very serious about life, yourselves, and very career driven.”
A tear slowly glides down her cheek, and I want to reach out and wipe it, but I contain myself and only look at the ocean as I speak. “I can see how changed you are,” I say. “This must be daunting and challenging for your husband, as you’re changing before his eyes and he probably has no clue to what to do.” Then I make myself say what I might regret, but I have to know. “What opened you up? Is there someone else?”
The question is out. When she looks at me, her eyes show a tiny bit of guilt, and she remains silent. So I say, “Honey, I know I’m not your first option for talking, but I’m here and I love you.” I feel joy at having the opportunity to say what so many times I couldn’t, but her reaction startles me. She throws herself at me, rests her head on my shoulder, and cries openly.
“I…I…”
I make her stop talking as I stroke her hair and say, “It’s OK, it’s OK. Whatever it is, it’ll be OK.” My heart is racing, and I’m thinking the unthinkable. My daughter, my pregnant daughter, might be having an affair.

Can anything good follow the best thing that ever happened to you?
Amelia Weiss loved her husband of thirty-five years very much, but now he’s left her a widow. Without him, she is unable to work in her sculpture studio without crying. She no longer has a bridge to her estranged daughter. And she can’t seem to keep her mind in the present.
But when her daughter reaches out asking for her help and her agent threatens a lawsuit if Amelia doesn’t deliver for an upcoming exhibit, she’s forced to make a choice. Will she reengage with her life and the people in it—allowing room for things to be different than they were before? Or, will she remain stuck in the past, choosing her memories over real-life relationships?
Thrust fully into the present, Amelia stumbles into a surprising journey of self-discovery.
Buy @ Amazon
Genre – Contemporary Fiction, Literary Fiction, Women’s Fiction
Rating – PG-13
More details about the author
Connect with Olga Soaje on Facebook

Craig Staufenberg on Two Realities About Publishing @YouMakeArtDumb #AmWriting #SelfPub #WriteTip

Pet Peeves of the Publishing Industry
I’m annoyed by how nice everyone in the publishing is. Really. I’m sure there are some rude people, but I haven’t encountered them. Only nice folks, and that makes it hard to dislike the publishing industry as a whole. It’s much easier when you see “publishing” as this monolithic beast with a stranglehold on creativity, especially your own creativity. But that’s just not the case.
Which means there are two realities you have to face about publishing.
One, that it’s not out to get you. It’s not prejudiced against you. If it rejects you there are reasons for doing so, and not because the people are mean, jealous and spiteful.
Two, the publishing industry is trying to do something very, very difficult. Namely promote art, entertainment, and creativity, all while still keeping the lights on. Anyone who has tried to support themselves via their creative output knows how difficult this is. Now multiply that difficulty—think about trying to support an entire company, or even an entire industry, on creative work. It’s insanity, and I’m surprised publishing companies have been as successful as they have.
Really, think about it for a second. We’re not talking about selling widgets here. We aren’t talking about the success of an industry that sells bathroom cleaner. There’s nothing predictable about books. As long as the bathroom cleaner works, and as long as you market it, then you’re going to do alright. The same can’t be said about books. Even if a book is good, and even if you market it, there’s no guarantee it’s going to sell enough to warrant its investment. Now consider the fact bathroom cleaner companies don’t have to reinvent their product hundreds of times a year, and publishing companies do, and you see it’s sheer madness this whole industry works at all.
OK, it’s not a perfect analogy. The way publishing company’s sell their back catalogue and the works of established authors operates a lot like selling widgets. Pretty reliable. But still, publishing is trying to do something very challenging—balancing the demands of art and commerce, which have, as Linds Redding noted in his must-read post, always been strange bedfellows. Especially since publishing companies need hits to thrive and not merely survive, and these companies are completely unable to predict what the next hit is going to be. No one predicted Twilight. No one predicted Fifty Shades of Grey. Or Harry Potter.
In fact, when it comes to the book trade, the only people who have an even harder time than publishing companies are the authors themselves. While publishing companies are able to spread their bets across a large number of different books a year, even an ultra-prolific author isn’t going to crank out more than a few. The odds a publishing company will hit a home run on any given year is much higher than the odds a single author will.
Which, I suppose, is my biggest pet peeve of the publishing companies. They survive, while many, if not most, of their authors who fail. An author can spend their whole life writing books that don’t do spectacularly well, and that author could easily live a lower compensated, less comfortable, and less protected life than the employees and owners running the publishing companies. Publishers take on much smaller risks than authors. Publishers make small financial gambles, while authors bet their lives. Yet publishers have much higher upside than authors.
Bear in mind, this is an institutional issue. No evil genius thought this up. It’s how pretty much every large creative industry operates—from books to movies to music. But we’re not powerless here. And I’d like to see a publishing industry where the authors themselves are better rewarded, or at least better protected, than the companies that publish them, as the authors, always, are putting much more on the line.

When you die, your spirit wakes in the north, in the City of the Dead. There, you wander the cold until one of your living loved ones finds you, says “Goodbye,” and Sends you to the next world. 

After her parents die, 12-year-old Sophie refuses to release their spirits. Instead, she resolves to travel to the City of the Dead to bring her mother and father’s spirits back home with her. 

Taking the long pilgrimage north with her gruff & distant grandmother—by train, by foot, by boat; over ruined mountains and plains and oceans—Sophie struggles to return what death stole from her. Yet the journey offers her many hard, unexpected lessons—what to hold on to, when to let go, and who she must truly bring back to life.
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Genre – Middle Grade
Rating – PG-13
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