What’s Better Than Releasing Your First Book?

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The answer: Releasing your new and improved first book!

When I wrote Noble Courage almost ten years ago, I was a very green writer with the dreams of being a bestselling author. I fantasized about my series becoming a movie series  or some blockbuster television series. I had my cast lined up and I could see the whole book in motion picture within my mind. I did have high hopes.

The problem was that I chose badly when I submitted my work to a publisher. This company did not care about my book, me as a writer, or my aspirations. They just wanted my money. I haven’t sold a single copy in many years because they didn’t care enough about anything to do it all right the first time around. Luckily, I never signed my digital or movie rights to them and I am free to publish ebooks as I wish. I’m wiping my brow…that was close!

Long story short, I finally had an editor look through my manuscript and make some suggestions and some changes to Noble Courage. These have been a long time in coming! Her efforts in cleaning up my baby do not go unappreciated!

And so after waiting and waiting, I am finally able re-release Noble Courage and feel proud. Holding my head up high, I am preparing for a great promotion! A Kindle giveaway! I have the machine, still in its original packaging, not even opened (Although I am dying to look at it!).

As soon as Noble Courage is made “live” with the new manuscript and cover, I will be putting it on sale…this is supposed to happen tomorrow, 12-15-14!

So what’s this promo all about? Well, if you do me a HUGE favor, I will do one for you! I’m looking for reviews, guys. There are some pretty scary ones on Amazon that have to do with typo errors and such. I’m offering you a copy of my book next to nothing and I’m asking you for a review in return. When you leave your thoughts on Amazon, I will enter your name into a drawing for the Kindle on December 21st!

Please note that there is only one entry per person. Amazon does have to approve your thoughts before it will post. If you have issues with that, please email me: darktowerfamily@yahoo.com. If you have already left a review for Noble Courage, feel free to review any of the other books and it will still count! I do not want to feel like I’m punishing anyone for being a great fan!

Let’s have a great time with this…help me make it a GREAT event! Please share me, reblog me, and talk about me all you want! I will smile!

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Today is the day! Brand new COVER REVEALS!

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Some of you may know that I am a 41 year old student earning a bachelor degree in natural medicine. It is a very aggressive program that has taken 99% of my time this last year! Alas, my writing has suffered so much and my brain is now overflowing with conversations between characters. This obviously gets me down when I can’t just get it all out! So I finished my last assignment, my editor finished helping me revamp Noble Courage, and I decided it was time to make new covers for the Aspen Series books!

My goal was to make them representative of the series while still making them match and look cohesive. One day, I happened to be watching “The Deathly Hallows 1 & 2” and the animated story of The Three Brothers came on. It was a concept that really spoke to me! The back silhouetted figures against rich backgrounds told the story and I fell in love.

So while my last book of the series is still under construction, I managed to deck my other books in these amazing cloaks of story telling. And it seems, as of late, that Aspen has been screaming at me daily to create a Christmas story indicative of the Medieval times. And so, I am working feverishly on the creation of “The Christmas Spirits”. I think it has a very cool storyline that you will all love…even if you don’t read Medieval fiction.

And so, without further ado, I am revealing to you the new and improved Aspen Series!

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I am still working on covers for Tales of Elgolan No. 1-5. I will show you those when I get them finished! So how great are these?!? My plan is to have the new covers uploaded every where by the 10th of December so they will be ready for Christmas! The Christmas Spirits should be on Kindle before then if all goes well!

On December 15th, I plan to launch a huge promo where I’m giving away a Kindle! Stay tuned for that!

Currently, all my books are available on Amazon.com and can be downloaded from the Kindle store immediately. Please remember that it takes time to get covers changed and Noble Courage will get a makeover on the inside too as my editor just finished sprucing up the story.

I’m thankful for so many things in my  life! Aspen is one of those. Her voice has helped me in so many ways! Thank you for being a fan and a reader! I appreciate your support more than you know!

Holy Cow! Technology is awesome when it works!

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So I have been MIA for quite a while due to a problem with my computer! Yes, I need to go buy a new one…so go buy all my books a hundred times, please. I’m just kidding. So, I thought I would take this opportunity to write a little post.

Life has been crazy. I’m sure you all know what I’m talking about. This girl is happy that school has started and all the pressures of the summer are over. Now, I can concentrate on some of the important things…like writing. Oh yeah, and that school thing.

I miss interacting with all of you each day. I’m so sorry to have been gone so long.

The positive side is that Noble Courage has been re-edited so I’m excited to bring you the new version! We are still working our way through the rest of the series, but I felt Noble Courage needed it the very most.

You know, it has been nice to connect with my characters again as I slowly forge forward with the last book of The Aspen Series, Key of the Kingdom. Often times, I think we have our eyes set on the goal line, finishing that long labored project and we lost contact with the characters we loved enough to start the first book.

My advice? If you are writing a series, return to that first work often. If you have a favorite part, read it again and again. Stay close with the people of your imagination and don’t rush that final installment of a series. Show the reader you love them as much in the last book as you did in the first.

Carry on.

Feel free to pick up my works at Amazon in the Kindle section!

Thinking the Plot is the Easy Part? Think Again…

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I love to write. We all know that.  But anyone can love to write and not everyone does it well. I’m humble enough to say that I’m no bestseller. I could be, no doubt about that… It is still a work in progress. But I’m not alone in my quest, swimming in the sea of literature millions deep and just as many wide.

The plot is essentially the foundation on which your story is built upon. I’m sure there will be those who argue with me. But even transparent characters can be made strong by a great plot. And there is no setting, no matter how fantastical, that can withstand a Swiss cheese plot. It must have a rhythm to it…a build up, a climax, and a resolution or ending. That is the one thing that really doesn’t differ from any fiction book or manuscript out there.

There are ratios out there for the recipe of a good book. There are some that say that only formally educated, with a degree, writers are worth a darn. I disagree with all those rules. The only one I do agree with is the rhythm. Anyone who tells you that you can’t write without a degree is wrong.

So focusing on the plot is so important. But think about yours…Is it twisted or predictable? If it’s predictable, are there elements to distract the reader? Is it slow moving? Is it boring? What elements have you included to make it more interesting? Characters and setting do not count. Get that all out of your head right now. If you think about a birthday cake, the plot should be the actual cake, the setting should be the frosting all over it, and the characters are all the pretty decorations on the frosting.

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Generally, the plot starts with an idea. Just one idea. The people you see may not be named yet or have hair color or eye color, but you see them living out this idea and it builds. Things happen, conflict usually ensues, and it comes to an end with loose ties neatly tied up in a pretty little package.

I used to read historical fiction and for years, I would crack a book and want to get lost in this parallel world to my reality. Not trying to slam true, historical fiction, but they are all essentially the same. There is a girl, girl meets boy, girl refuses boy until the very end of the book where they run off into the sunset together and live happily ever after. I stopped reading books because they were all the same…down to the kinds of racy covers they graced the shelves with. I grew bored.

Do you want this to happen to you? I didn’t think so.

What’s the solution to this problem? BE ORIGINAL! You don’t have to be so far out there that people can’t relate to you, but for crying out loud, own the story! Do something different!

Here is my recipe for Noble Courage:

Peasant girl meets boy (love at first sight)->Peasant girl is sold to a ruthless lord and is taken away from where her love at first sight boy is->Ruthless lord’s patience is tested to the limits->Love at first sight boy searches for the peasant girl->Peasant girl develops feelings for the ruthless lord->ruthless lord develops feelings for the peasant girl->Greedy king comes for a visit->Greedy king thinks he can outsmart the ruthless lord and the peasant girl->Peasant girl outsmarts the greedy king->Love at first sight boy outsmarts them all->Ruthless lord must band together with the greedy king to save the peasant girl->There is no happily ever after->Peasant girl, ruthless lord, greedy king, and love at first sight boy find the ways to put their lives back together->Set up the book for the rest of the series.

WHEW! See how different my story is over others?

Now think of your story and compare it to others in a similar genre. Do you copy their formula or have  you stood out on your own?

What about twists and turns? I think they are pretty important. Even my recipe above would be a little boring without the psychotic antagonist, the beatings, the kidnapping, the paternal revelation, the secret wedding, the war, the dungeons, the death, the traitors, and the post traumatic stress of all of the above. Twist it up until your readers feel like they are losing their minds! Make them really think about what is about to happen and be floored when they are wrong! The unpredictability is what makes it all interesting. It makes a reader want to keep reading when they turn that page or end that chapter.

I’m not going to tell you to leave sex out of a story or to force the hero to win or even to allow your heroine to only have sex with one person through the life of the book. That is up to you. But be wary of your target audience and write appropriately. I have sex scenes in my books and the older teenage girls love them, but mine are not a YA category either.

I remember reading “Flowers in the Attic” when I was first in high school. There was sexual content in that book…along with the rest of the series. I wasn’t the only teen who liked V.C. Andrews either. My word of advice: No matter what you write, make it tasteful and make it matter. Don’t riddle your book with scenes that could be very offensive to parts of your audience. Keep it balanced nicely.

You know, even for as many people love my books, there are those who fan themselves and slam the book shut claiming it is too sexual in nature. Well, if this was a common complaint, I could understand them. But when my pie is 90% readers who think it was tastefully done and 10% those who think it was too adult, I will place my bets with the vast majority. If it was the other way around, I might omit a scene or two.

Okay. Enough about sex.

So I am just trying to say: There are no rules in fiction, but bad fiction should never go out there. Your story should always move forward at a pace that relates well to your book.

I’m not a big outline person at all. I hate them, actually. But I have made them to keep track of events and the age of characters. But to merely jot down your own recipe to your plot will help you to know how to fill in the blanks to get from beginning to end. If you find that your book is very “cookie cutter”, change it. Please, for the love of books, change it! There’s enough bland books out there to bore you into oblivion. DON’T fall into that category!

I hope I told you something you might not have thought about. It is sad to me that I stopped reading because of a lack of originality. But I also find it sad that my work is discredited as an “indie” author, so it must suck. I beg to differ. I challenge you to read my books and guess where the story is going to go. No, I DARE you to! Right now, all of my books are available on the Kindle and book one is going through an intensive overhaul to be re-published. I love to hear if I shock your socks off! I will warn you, there are few who guess how it will all end. Muahaha!

Are you up for the challenge…ahem…dare?!?

Downton Abbey Meets Game of Thrones…

I was sitting in the coffee shop a few weeks ago, talking with my editor/publisher/friend at Twisted Willow Press. We were discussing things like merchandise, fun promotional ideas, and the progress of the new and improved “Noble Courage”.  It always helps to bounce thoughts and ideas off of another person and sometimes it can be lonely to be a writer as you have to keep your own secrets. I get tired of talking to myself so my times spent visiting with Jeriann are most important to me.

As we were talking that morning, I came to a realization: The Aspen Series is essentially Downton Abbey meets Game of Thrones. 

When I actually said that out loud, Jeriann sat thoughtful a moment before nodding her head and agreeing with me.

What makes me say that, you ask? How could I possibly compare my work to such amazing treasures as these? Well, I don’t claim to be some super amazing author, by any means. But my series incorporates the raw brutality and a mentally insane antagonist of Game of Thrones but also the romance and elegance of Downton Abbey.

But wait! Those aren’t even in the same periods of history! Well, you got me there. They are definitely not at all similar, but they mix very well indeed!

It is said that those who love Downton Abbey also love the Game of Thrones series. So if they are correct in that assumption, I have a super great series for you… Game of Thrones is only a season long, so you will spend the summer totally bored without it! But at the end of this post, I will give you the link that will save you from boredom! And as you read through The Aspen Series, think of it as a television series, watch those characters come to life before your very eyes, and love it for the story that it is.

THIS

This photo is from spultured.com.

This photo is from spultured.com.

PLUS THIS

This photo is from Rob Leigh on mirror.co.uk.

This photo is from Rob Leigh on mirror.co.uk.

EQUALS THIS

Cast Dungeon

You can find the first five books of The Aspen Series HERE, along with the prequel. The last book, The Key of the Kingdom, is in the works now!

 

 

 

The Benevolent Light on StoryFinds!

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So a fellow writer, Cheryl Alleway, turned me onto this site for authors called Story Finds. This is geared toward allowing authors to showcase their work to a whole new audience of readers. My books are listed there and The Benevolent Light was chosen to be featured in their Medieval Romance Week! You should visit me there, read the excerpt of said featured book, and watch the trailer!

There is also a poll that will be taking place the 23rd through the 30th of March! Yes, that is next week as well! This is where you can go to vote on a cover to help that author win a little more exposure! So I would assume that all you readers will head over there on Sunday to vote for The Benevolent Light’s cover, right??

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Story Finds is a great way to connect authors and readers. The best way to support an author is to be supportive of events and spread the word. Your word of mouth means everything to starving artists everywhere! The best part about that is it only takes one or two seconds to “share” an author with your friends so you really invest very little time in showing your support! But I guarantee you that it means the world to that person who dedicates hours upon hours to fill your mind with images and stories with their words. A “like” is just not enough, guys. They are appreciated, but that “share” is the frosting on that cake of success.

If you really love an author, your thoughts on the books you have read are vital. Don’t think of it as a formal review. We want your honest, constructive thoughts. Keep in mind that if a book just isn’t your style, don’t just head to Amazon and bash it. You are entitled to your opinion, but being nasty to someone who may not deserve it could ruin their writing career. In any book, you should be able to find at least one positive thought…even if it is that you liked the cover.

Be loving, be kind, be supportive! That is what makes the world go ’round! Don’t forget to visit me on Story Finds!

The Art of You “Finale” Part 12

Fly with the wings life gives you.

Fly with the wings life gives you.

 

 

 

 

It was a warm day, that third week of June when someone knocked at my door. Curious, I peeked out from between the blinds that hung in my front window and was very surprised to see Davis on my porch.

Opening the door, I felt a flood of emotions. “What do you want?” I asked none too friendly.

Davis pleaded with me through his eyes. “I need you to come with me, Ruby.”

I laughed at him. “Really? Well, I think not. Have a good one.”

I shut the door and he slid his foot in the way. “Please, Ruby. I need you to come with me.”

His insistence made me stop to wonder what was so important.

“Give me one good reason why,” I challenged.

“Well, I don’t have one. I have just been ordered to deliver you somewhere,” he said evasively.

I closed my eyes and rested my forehead on the edge of the front door. “I can’t bear it, Davis. This last year has been torture for me. I can’t go through all that again.”

“Come out of your cocoon, Ruby. Time to spread those wings wide and fly. Take a chance and get in the car…or do I have to put you there myself?” he added with a nostalgic grin.

I sighed and grabbed my purse shouting out to the boys that I would be back in a while. All I heard in reply was some noise that came out of their mouths mixed with the sounds of video games.

I found myself in the back seat once again. The car looked the same and it smelled the same. We drove through town and got onto the freeway that took us into the very outdoorsy town of Eagle. Taking the busy thoroughfare north, we pulled into the parking lot of a hotel by the river. I could see dozens of people poised with their cameras and ready to strike, as Jack had put it once. Davis came around and let me out and I just stood there not knowing where to go or what to do.

The cameras all clicked and flashed around me. Jack came out through the doors of the hotel. He smiled at me with that relaxed smile of his.

“Ruby!” he greeted pulling me into his embrace.

Shocked, I hugged him back but not knowing what to say or how to feel. I was shocked, to say the very least.

“What are you doing here?” I asked feeling breathless.

“Look. I have missed you and have thought of you many, many times over the last year. I came back here to take my stand against anyone who wants to tell me otherwise. You can see the art of me just as I can see the art of you. You taught me that. You have shown me that there aren’t many people who will ever just love you for who you are. And I know you don’t care about the fame or the money or you wouldn’t have been real with me last year. You are the one I want and you are just as pretty as the day I dropped you off…but I never said goodbye. You did, but not me. I didn’t want that to be the end. I’ve had my struggles as I am sure you have, but it is time I claimed my freedom too. Can you forgive me for how I handled ‘us’ last year and start again?” he asked me in front of all those cameras.

“I thought I hated you. I mean really hated you. I still want to hate you,” I started.

“Okay, I know you hate me. But think of what I was dealing with at the same time. You of all people should be able to understand all those emotions,” he defended himself.

I fluttered my eyelashes in irritation. “Let me finish. While I still want to hate you, I just found out that I forgave you a long time ago. I could never hate you because…well, because I love you too much. Maybe you don’t really want to hear that, but there it is.”

Jack laughed at my sentiment and hugged me tight again. I had found the door to save him when he cried for help and he led me from the darkness and into the light. We were there for each other when we needed each other the very most.

“For old time’s sake,” he said smiling huge and a sparkle in his eye.

Before I knew what was happening, he drew me up into his arms as he had the day we went for pancakes. The day his wife died. The day my dreams came to a screeching halt.

I squealed in surprise. “You still have those strong arms,” I remarked.

“All the better to carry you with. I plan to carry you anytime you need me to, Ruby.”

And then the prince took me into his castle where we would plot out the rest of our lives together. You notice I didn’t say “happily ever after”? Well, that’s because it is impossible to be normal people and not disagree ever, so I thought that politically incorrect to say. But I will say that he has made me very happy and I soar with those big butterfly wings from my cocoon, the very one he coaxed me out of knowing I was ready to fly.