Escaping To Cliffehaven



As I woke this morning, padded my way to the kitchen to make my breakfast, and greeted my sweet puppy dogs with a ‘good morning’, I looked out my window and was immediately reminded of the Washington coast. The high clouds that filled the sky filtered the sunshine that fell so soft on the pine tree in my front yard that the needles looked vibrant and alive. If I closed my eyes, I could almost hear the sound of waves crashing over the beach, the smell of the salt water was not far from my memory.


And as it usually happens, my thoughts then turned to Aspen and where I had left her the last time I worked on her story. She was sitting calmly between the stone teeth atop Cliffehaven’s castle. War weighed heavily on her mind as she watched the village below her wake up. It was a cloudy morning, much like the one I was staring out at. She could hear the waves crashing on the cliffs and memories flooded her mind of the crescent shaped beach and the hidden garden of Eden where she had married Thorne. The sound of the waves brought her more comfort than disdain.

It felt like yesterday that Thorne had whisked her away on the king’s orders, to places she’d never imagine had existed, and places that were far from the sea. It was a sound she missed while they were away and it was the sound of the waves that welcomed them home again.

And so my fingers itch to tap into her life again and although war is looming over her, I miss her so much and look forward to moving forward beside her until the series ends. She may feel fearful in her cloudy morning but I feel hopeful in mine.

Are you just meeting Aspen through these posts? Get to know her better in Noble Courage

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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!

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!

Happy Birthday To Me! Oh Yeah! Aspen Too!

Yes, today is my birthday. I’m a whopping 41 years old! I just graduated my second son and will have 5 grand kids by the end of the year. I’m getting up there for sure.

So what’s so awesome about the day of my birth? I get to share it with the fictional part of me. Aspen Darktower is a very important woman in my life. You see, she is me in many ways.

Aspen is very much the girl I once was and grows into the woman I wish to be. She is how I think of myself when I was young, a dreamer, shy but intelligent, and a hopeless romantic. Yet she blossoms into what she was destined to be: a leader of people, a strong mother, a devoted wife who still values her independence. Yes, that’s still me. But she endures unimaginable challenges in her lifetime that I feel would break me. Perhaps that’s why I love her so much.

When I wrote Noble Courage, I had grand ideas of what the perfect story would be. It started as a book that I intended to be a male smack down. I spent air of my life fearing men and then as a young adult, my heart was shattered time and again. So much of my personal drama made a compelling story for one wishing to wallow in another’s misery. So I twisted the story, pulled at the story, and evolved it to be the hauntingly addictive story that it is today.

However, as I readied to publish my work, I did a horrid job in editing. I will say it again, I’m a writer not an editor. So I will be the first to say that it just sucked unless typos and errors do not bother you. But it bothered a lot of other people. I have endured my years locked in a contract with another publisher, one who didn’t care about my work or even as me, the author, unless I was handing them more money. I was embarrassed to hand a book to anyone at all and consequently, my work has gone unnoticed by just about everyone.

But that’s about to change! Noble Courage is currently with an editor and is about to re-release on July 29th! The new and improved story will upload to Kindle and we are praying to get it done in paperback again as a second edition!

While we are working hard with these changes and meetings on changes and dreaming about changes, you are about to be offered an awesome opportunity to win a Kindle just for you, complete with my series in the library! And I will take it even further and gift you the final installment of the series, Key of the Kingdom, when it’s ready for release! That’s right! You get the very first copy!

What I need from you is to stay tuned. Watch for my posts that will have updates and fun moments with my characters. Then, when the time comes, one lucky person will win the Kindle I have sitting in my home, unopened and brand new!

Sound good to you? It sounds pretty dang awesome to me! So spread the word, reblog my posts, recruit readers and help me make this the best celebration ever!

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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?!?

Hear Ye, Hear Ye! AWARDS TIME!

This has been a great week! Thank you to all who have interacted with me in comments, reblogging, and liking my work! Some posts take a HUGE amount of time and others don’t. But I’m all about giving back and extending my hand of friendship to those around me. The fact that you read my work and talk back to me about it means the world to me! Thank you!

So I want to give out some kudos to those who have been amazing this week. Now I want to do this each week, so you can rise through the ranks the more you visit and comment! I know, I know…I can’t hand out cool presents each week, but there are times I will do a random give-away for those who participate on a regular basis. I’m unpredictable that way.

Take a moment to take a peek at these awesome bloggers! Follow them, talk to them, love them!

Without further ado…Here are my awards for this week!

Royal Subjects: Award for following my blog!

photo attribution: guttenberg.org

photo attribution: guttenberg.org

 

Knights of the Crown: Award for comments on my posts!

Photo Attribution: Unknown

Photo Attribution: Unknown

 

Allies of the Kingdom: Award for reblogging my posts!

photo attribution: wikipedia.org

photo attribution: wikipedia.org

 

King’s Herald: Award for liking my posts!

Photo Attribution: Midsommer Actors via Flickr Creative Commons

Photo Attribution: Midsommer Actors via Flickr Creative Commons

 

Thank you sooo much for your love and support! I couldn’t keep going without you!

If you feel so inclined to read my books, you can find them all HERE! Just know that I appreciate you reading!