Success only flourishes in perseverance -- ceaseless, restless perseverance.
--Baron Manfred Von Richtofen

Monday, October 31, 2011

All the Magic in the World...

Happy Halloween, everyone! Welcome to the Darkspell Launch Spookfesta!

Today my friend Elizabeth Mueller is celebrating the release of her YA paranormal romance Darkspell! I'm so, so happy for her. To celebrate, Elizabeth is hosting the Spookfesta blogfest. I get to post a picture of what I would do if I had all the magic in the world.

Wow. What a thought. All the magic in the world? Would I end hunger? Bring world peace? Tempting possibilities. However, even if I had all the magic in the world, I still wouldn't have the wisdom to know how to bring changes like that. (I think it's up to us to do those things without magic. Just sayin'.)

So, if I had all the magic in the world to do something a little selfish, I'd conjure up one of these for my very own. And give myself the ability to fly it!

So what about you? What would you do with all the magic in the world? You can join the Spookfesta here. And be sure to check out Elizabeth's new book:

Winter Sky believes she is everything ordinary . . .until she is kissed by Alex Stormhold.
As seer of Stormhold Coven, Alex is sworn to be Winter’s protector against the darkness that hunts her. Violently thrust into a magical realm she always thought impossible, she stumbles upon a disturbing secret of her own.
Will love prove thicker than magic?

Happy Book Birthday, Elizabeth! Visit her blog and website or order the book here!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Hidden Sun--A Review

A faraway kingdom

A beautiful princess

A courageous hero

A ruthless villain

An impossible choice

The Hidden Sun by J. Lloyd Morgan, 2nd edition is a fun medieval adventure, with plenty of intrigue, action, secrets, heroes and romance. This is actually my second time to read and review this book. I reviewed the first edition a little over a year ago. You can read that here. Since then, The Hidden Sun was picked up by my publisher, Walnut Springs, and issued in a shiny new edition, newly edited, with a new cover.

So, what do I think of the second edition? Same great story, wonderful new package! In my first review, my main complaint was a large number of typos that I found distracted me from the story. That issue has been resolved, and without those distractions, I found the story even more fun to read this time around.

I love the way Morgan uses symbolism in the book. His characters are well-developed and easy to love and root for. I found I really cared about what happened to them and to their beloved kingdom of Bariwon. But the story itself is not the only thing to love about this book. I had fun noticing (on my second time through), Morgan's skillful naming of characters and places. Can you guess the secret of Bariwon and it's seven districts (Erd, Grenoa, Lewyol, Regne, Lebu, Donigi, and Teviol)? Not to mention such events as the Mortentaun and Shoginoc.

The Hidden Sun is full of surprises. It's also a good, clean read with no objectionable content. Just the sort of thing I'm looking for!

Check out J. Lloyd Morgan's website for more about the book and purchasing information. I always like to give books for Christmas, and this one would make a great gift.

*Please note: I received a free copy of the book from the publisher to review.

Monday, October 24, 2011

On My Way!

Well, I did it. In spite of being on vacation and all, I achieved my goal for last week and got to page 185, so I am on track to hit my target and reach page 200 by the end of this week. (Or by next Monday, you know, if I still need extra time.)

It's amazing to me how setting a firm goal and having a strong desire to achieve it can be so motivating. For the past couple of weeks, I had been floundering, trying to write with no ideas coming to me, wondering if this stupid book was any good at all. Then, I made up my mind. I public declared my intentions, and suddenly the ideas started flowing. I got excited about the book again. Making a commitment like that was really quite liberating.

That is the power of goals. Do you find your goals do the same for you?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Biting the Bullet

I am sad to admit that I squandered away the first half of October, getting almost no writing done. (I have various excuses for this, but they are just that--excuses.) So now I'm buckling down. I'm biting the bullet. I am here to publicly declare my goal for the remainder of October.

I will write 25 pages by the end of the month to get to page 200 in my novel.

This is totally doable if I just put my mind to it and start making writing the top priority again. I've been a little lax this month.

I know this is nothing compared to those of you who are planning for NaNoWriMo next month, but for me it's a legitimate stretch.

Do you have any goals you're working on currently? Let me know. I'd love to cheer you on!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Three Stars, Anyone?

I've seen a lot of authors bemoaning three star ratings on Goodreads lately, as if it were a bad thing. And I'm thinking, what? I thought three stars was a good rating. I routinely give three stars to books that I like, because that's what it says when you hover over three stars:

I like it. 

So, if I've offended any of my author friends with a three star rating, please rest assured I mean it as a positive review. Three stars is kind of my default rating. I don't bother rating (or even finishing) books I don't like. Four stars go to books that have something special about them that I especially like. Five stars are reserved for books destined to be my all-time favorites. Ender's Game, Lord of the Rings ... you understand.

It's so hard to boil down how you feel about a book into a number between 1 and 5. That's why I don't particularly like Goodreads, actually.

What do you think? What kind of books do you give three or four or five stars to? Would you be offended with a three star rating?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Take Yourself Seriously

When I was young and first starting out, I read some great advice in a writing book. (Sorry, I don't remember which one.) It was this:

Take yourself seriously as a writer. Tell people you are a writer. As long as you are writing, you ARE a writer. 

I took that advice to heart. I told people I was a writer. I told myself I was a writer. I worked on stuff with the hope of publishing it. I didn't try to hide it. I forced some pretty awful early stories on kind friends and family members who continued to encourage me. (You know who you are.) I made a commitment to myself that I was going to do this. I made it a priority over less important activities. I learned and practiced. I submitted and got rejected and kept submitting. Heck, getting rejected just added credibility to the fact that I was a writer. It was nine years before I got a word published, but I considered myself a writer the entire time. And, no, I didn't use the word "aspiring." I don't really like that word. Well, in this context anyway.

I still have to take myself seriously as a writer every day. I still have to commit to myself to keep going. I'm so glad that I took that advice all those years ago. If I hadn't, I probably would have quit a long time ago.

So, my advice to you is the same.

Take yourself seriously!  You are a writer.

But, you know, don't take yourself too seriously. ;)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What Readers Don't Care About


Seriously. I talk to people who like to read, but aren't writers about stuff like dystopian, thriller, steampunk, paranormal romance and all I get back are blank stares. What are you even talking about?

I asked a question on my Facebook page about which speculative fiction genres people liked best. I listed all sorts of stuff like space opera, epic fantasy, hard science fiction, etc. No one answered.

I wondered if it hadn't shown up in the newsfeed or something. My son pointed out that he didn't understand the question, or the answers (and he's a pretty smart guy). Oh. Hadn't thought of that.

Sure, people understand the big categories romance, mystery, historical, science fiction, etc. But they don't really care about the labels we writers are so anxious to give our work. They just want to read the books they like to read. At least that's been my experience.

Of course, we need to care about what genre we're writing and what the audience expectations are for that genre and stuff like that. But when it comes to interacting with readers, remember what they really want is a good book.  Don't pigeonhole yourself too much. You never know who might pick up your book and decide that's the kind of thing they like to read, even if they've never read anything like it before.

And isn't that just what we're after?