Books I & II of The Lova Chronicles is available now!

The Lova Chronicles kicked off with The Earthen Shroud in August 2013!

Want Your Book to Read Like a Movie?

Check out my book trailer and see how I did it!

Author Book Signing

I've only done this once, but I had the time of my life! You can too; see how.

Food-Inspired Art

Check out my guest post on Notebook Blogairy about how food inspires my writing.

Pages From My Diary

I started a new blog series: awesome, intimate, legendary.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Book-to-Movie Classics: A Christmas Carol

In the festive spirit of Christmas, I wanted to be able to talk about a movie that I, and maybe you too, watch every year.  A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens has been rewritten and remixed a million times.  You see the multiple variations on Hallmark Channel, GMC and ABC Family.  I've even written my own version of the classic story.  Everyone has their favorites, but I'm going to share mine here today.

First, let me say the novel is fantastic.  It is a classic you cannot go your whole life without reading; I read my well-worn copy every year.  "The Marleys were dead to begin with; dead as a doornail."  What a way to start a story, and literally that is the very first sentence in this novel.  Dickens manages to be both inspiring and frightening simultaneously in this tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, a decrepit and greedy miser.  He has alienated his nephew, the only member left of his family, and ostracized anyone else who was remotely interested in getting close to him.  His focus is to spend as little money as possible and ignore the plight of those around him, even his faithful clerk, Bob Cratchit, who has a very sick young son.  The story is set in the early 1800s, although I've seen it modernized in several variations.



I have three favorite movie translations of this classic story.  The first is the George C. Scott version (1984).  I love it primarily for its brilliant acting, as evidenced by the clip I've included for you here.  But also, it reflects the true heart of the story.  Scrooge doesn't convert too fast, and is deliciously delightful to hate!  The screenwriter and director have done a wonderful job of sticking as close to the original story as possible while adding a theatrical element that keeps you from getting bored.  The music in this movie steals the show!  Man, whoever directed the orchestra in this film knew how to evoke an emotion!  The drama is played perfectly; you even catch yourself laughing at the disillusioned Scrooge and his crude, "hum bug" disposition, especially when he's being mocked.  If you liked that clip, you can watch the whole version here.

Disney, being the wonderfully talented animators they are, put out their own version of this classic tale in 2010.  It is available in 3D, as well as standard DVD and Blu-ray formats.  It stars none other than the fabulously versatile Jim Carrey, whom I also loved in Disney's How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  He has a knack for capturing a character and accentuating their strengths and weaknesses.  Jim, also being a comedian, has added the traditional humor to the story in places you wouldn't have expected it, but shows he can also be terrifyingly mean in Scrooge's notoriously dramatic speeches.  Reminiscent of Tom Hanks' turn in The Polar Express, Carrey plays multiple parts.  In addition to Scrooge, you will see him as the Ghosts of  Marley, Christmas Past and Present, and young Ebenezer.  I will warn parents that although it says Disney, this movie has some very stark and frightening elements that could scare or be too adult for younger children.

My absolute FAVORITE version of this book (and ultimately, my favorite Christmas movie PERIOD) is The Muppet Christmas CarolYes, it's the Muppets, which immediately makes it a musical, but this, in my opinion is the best version for children.  Like the previous two movies I've mentioned, it too sticks very closely to the story, but of course, livens it up in a way no previous story could ever do it.  After all, it's the Muppets!  Who can tell a story better than the Henson crew?  The Great Gonzo takes the helm as Charles Dickens, narrating the story almost verbatim from the original text of the book.  You can't get more classic than that.  The DVD offers an extended version, too, that has some songs and scenes the theatrical version lacked.  It also has a "making of" featurette, but if your kids are anything like mine, they won't want to know the Muppets, or any puppet for that matter, isn't actually a real person (haha!).  Kermit and Miss Piggy are the humble Cratchits and Michael Caine stars as the infamous Ebenezer.

Now, I have neglected to include Scrooged (1988) with Bill Murray.  I watch this whenever it comes on, and I do love it, but...it strays too much from the traditional version for me.  That's a good thing when you think about this movie and how it was done, and primarily it's purpose is to be humorous.  Even the scary parts turn out to be more funny than frightening.  But I love it because it makes me laugh.  Alfre Woodard is a brilliant Cratchit spin, and this is one of Bobcat Goldthwait's best appearances.  Again, there's just too much going on here for this to be one of my favorites, although I do love a good comedy.

Happy holidays everybody, and find A Christmas Carol that you love this season!  Don't forget to tell me all about it :-)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Soapbox Spotlight: Michelle Robinson

Welcome to another Soapbox Spotlight!  Today's guest is Michelle Robinson.  Michelle was born and raised in Oakland, CA. Oakland’s rich culture has laid the fabric for this story. She’s been doing hair for two decades. As a hairstylist, it’s safe to say she has also served as a therapist to her clients. She has heard and witnessed it all right behind her styling chair. From her experiences, she’s given advice to many and has watched people’s lives transition. With this driving force, she has finally penned her first novel, Right Before my Eyes.

Welcome, Michelle!  Can you tell our readers about yourself?

I love music. Compassionate. I’m a great friend, daughter, cousin, girlfriend, hairstylist, poet & thinker. I am a humanitarian. My belief is you owe it to life to give to others. I have a high moral background. I am a dreamer. As long as you have a dream, life should keep you busy. I am a believer that all things are possible. I’m also an artist so I creatively think outside the box. I’m a go-getter so I don’t take no as an option for me. I’m organized to the point that I can’t function in confusion. I can be the life of the party & also like spending time alone. I also love taking naps.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned since authorship?

It’s important to have a great editor.

Isn't that ever true!  What was your path towards publication like?

I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had two friends that were writing books who I could call on for help, referrals and advice. So I literally had to learn the steps along the way.  I prayed a lot, developed more patience and had to lean on my own understanding through this process. I had bad luck with two different editors. I learned that your editor should have a degree in English not Journalism. I ended up having to proofread my own book twice before I submitted it to my publisher because my second editor couldn’t spell or take criticism. But he fell in love with the story, gave a lot of compliments about my writing and gave me advice to write in past tense. I had to figure out that in order to get my book cover the way I dreamt of it, I had to hire a photographer and the models, so I did and my vision came to life.

How do you balance your life as an author with your duties as a business person, employee, parent and/or spouse?

I go to bed at a reasonable hour. That allows me to wake up a little earlier than I need to so that I have time to myself. I start my day praying and reflecting and then head to the gym or go for a walk. I take a day off during the week dedicated to writing. I run my business on the other four days. Weekends are for church, family, friends and fun and if not, then I write!

What can we expect from you in the future?

More books, maybe a movie.

What is your best advice for getting past writer's block?

Don’t end your writing at the end of a chapter. Stop in the middle of the sentence. That gives you a good jump start and get the creative juices flowing on the next time you begin writing.

Great tip!  I'll have to try that.  What was the best writing-related advice you ever received?

To just keep writing.
Thanks for joining us today, Michelle!

You can find Michelle at the following links:

Email: rightbeforemyeyes@yahoo.com
Website: www.michellerobinsonauthor.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mrob.robinson
Twitter: @BooksbyMichelle
Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/RightBeforeMyEyes?ref=ts&fref=ts


You can find Michelle's book at the following links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Right-Before-Eyes-Michelle-Robinson/dp/1463430337/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1347481337&sr=8-1&keywords=michelle+robinson

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/right-before-my-eyes-michelle-robinson/1109350562?ean=9781463430337

Authorhouse: http://bookstore.authorhouse.com/Products/SKU-000477760/Right-Before-My-Eyes.aspx

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Soapbox Spotlight: Yvonne Harriott

Thank you for joining us today on Soapbox Spotlight!  I hope you're getting your turkey ready!  Today's featured author is Yvonne Harriott, a romance author from Canada.  She's here to talk to us about her latest work, Cat 'N Mouse.

Great photo!  Tell us more about you, Yvonne.

Well, I’m from Canada, and a member of Romance Writers of America.  I love to read. Writing is my passion. I always have a book with me. Since I purchased my Kindle back in February, I can now carry over a hundred books with me. I love to travel and I have a sweet tooth. Lay’s potato chips are my Achilles Heel.

What inspired you to write your first book, and what was it?

I’d written a collection of short stories over the years. Most of them were written for contests. Some have won and placed in contests. One particular short story entitled, “The Wedding” was published in Today’s Blackwoman Magazine, September 2001 issue. I compiled all the short stories that I’d written and divided them into two collections – a romantic and a dramatic collection. “The Wedding and Other Short Romantic Stories” – the romantic collection was the first book that I published.

What inspires you to write?

My imagination...just about anything. If I read an article in the paper or see something unusual on the street, whatever it may be, my mind is instantly thinking how can I incorporate it into a story. A perfect example…on my way into work last week I saw a woman, great shape, tanned and fit with long blond hair. She was wearing a black bustier (she was spilling out of it), black shorts and rubber boots walking a pit bull at seven o’clock in the morning. That’s a story waiting to be written.

Haha, nice!  How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I started off with a diary when I was very young and kept a journal, from there the fiction side developed. I would make up these stories and write them down.

That's very similar to how I started!  Do you travel much concerning your book(s)?

I try to vacation and visit the places where my books are set. If I can’t then the Internet is the next best thing. I was in Chicago back in June so my next romantic suspense or some of it will be set in Chicago.

How do you deal with rejection?

A big bag of Lay’s potato chips and a bottle of water. Then I move on.

My vice is ice cream.  What are your current writing projects now?

I’ve just started research for my next romantic suspense novel, Hit ‘N Run. Hit ‘N Run is the final book in the “N” series. I don’t even know if I should call it a series. After I wrote, Hide ‘N Seek, I couldn’t let go of the detective, Samuel O’Malley so I gave him his own book in Cat ‘N Mouse. Hit ‘N Run is Sydney’s story. She was a character in Hide ‘N Seek, living in the shadow of her sister. I hope to make her shine in Hit ‘N Run.

How did you come up with the title?

I can’t start a book or a short story without a title. Nine point nine times out of ten, the title I choose I stick with. I may have the story idea but my fingers don’t hit the keyboard until I have a title. That’s how it was with Cat ‘N Mouse. I know it’s weird.

Very interesting!  Can you tell us about the main character?

Alexandria ‘Princess’ Prescott is one of the most exciting characters I’ve ever created. I had so much fun bringing her to life on the page. She’s a daddy’s girl, stubborn, a little self centered, spoiled and rich. She’s also living a double life. One of my reviews on Amazon pointed out that she matures as the story unfolds. That’s so true. There is a transformation with her character and I think that’s when you fall in love with her.

Sam O’Malley, what can I say about Sam? He hates rich people and he’s a perfect match for Alexandria. He’s a control freak with all sorts of issues. He was shot in the line of duty and it messed him up. There are a lot of things going on with him that he needs to work out through out the story, yet he spends most of it in denial. Alexandria is the perfect love interest for him because she pushes him to his limits, constantly testing him.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

My characters are always going through some kind of drama or crisis, but it all works out in the end. Some times because of what the characters have experienced in their past they have emotional issues. The message is – it doesn’t matter what you are going through you can make it. Don’t let it take you under. Just hang on. There is quote by Franklin Roosevelt that says, “ When you’ve come to the end of your rope tie a knot and hang on.”

What do you look for in a cover?

It has to be sexy and eye-catching. From all the feedback I’ve gotten from Cat ‘N Mouse, it definitely did that. I believe that once a book cover catches your eye you have to pick the book up. I have a fantastic cover designer, Brian Da Silva briandasilva1@gmail.com.

Thanks for joining us, Yvonne!

You can find Yvonne at the following links:

Website: www.yvonneharriott.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/yvonne.harriott
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ritetorite

You can find Yvonne's books at the following links:

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Soapbox Spotlight: Susan Noble

I am so pleased to be able to share another Soapbox Spotlight with you this morning: Ms. Susan Noble.  Susan is a woman after my own heart, writing anything that moves her.  Her popularity, however, spawns from a fantasy trilogy called "The Elemental".  Please join me in welcoming her to our site!

Tell us about yourself, Susan.

I am a stay-at-home mom, so I basically divide my time between raising my two children, volunteering at their schools and writing. I love magic and dragons so it just seemed natural to start writing about them. When I am not writing, taking care of the kids (or my husband and three cats), I try to find time to read.

How long have you been writing?

I have always been a writer. As a child I wrote short stories and poems. In high school, I wrote for the student newspaper and liked it enough to make journalism my major in college. However, it wasn’t until after college that I began working on my first novel, Summoned.

I got a similar start.  What first attracted you to this genre?

I have always liked stories of people with extraordinary power, whether it was magic, telekinesis or some other power that average people didn’t have. And of course since I love dragons, it was easy to decide to write fantasy novels.

Does the writing get easier with each new book?

Since I have been working on a trilogy, I would have to say that yes, it gets easier writing each new book. I already know most of the characters so it feels very familiar to keep writing about them. In fact, Tosh, the main character from The Search is also one of the main characters from my The Elemental trilogy so it was a breeze to write, too.

Do you consider yourself a pantser or plotter?

I would say a little of both. I do plot out a rough outline but then as I write I don’t always stick with it. I let the story develop and just try to go with the flow.  You never know where your characters will lead you.

I feel exactly the same way.  What about the title; how did you come up with it?

The title for The Search came pretty easily. The STACs, which a telepathic cats that can sense people who possess elemental power, have been on the search for the one person destined to save the Land.  They refer to this as “The Search” so that of course became the title for this short story. 

What are your current writing projects?

I am just finishing up Destiny, the third book in my The Elemental trilogy. It should be out by the end of this month. After that, I will begin work on a stand-alone book called Alexandria.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

I would say write because you love it. And don’t take criticism to heart. Not everyone is going to love your writing no matter how good it is.

Your writing space: neat or messy?

For as organized as I am in most parts of my life, my desk is awful messy. I just hate filing so everything ends up in piles on my desk.  And there is always at least one notepad sitting out for me to write down other things I need to do.

That's so true for me, too!  What genre of books do you read, or do you stick with the genre you write in?

I of course read fantasy but also enjoy romance, mysteries and suspense.
 
What do you do to unwind and relax?

Reading is my favorite way to relax though I sometimes don’t have enough time to do that.  I also like to watch a little TV sometimes. Once Upon a Time and Arrow (hmm, both fantasy based shows) are my favorites.

Haha, figures!  Thanks for joining us, Susan!

My pleasure, Ray.  Thank you for having me!

You can find Susan at the following links:

Readers can find more about me by visiting my blog, Into Another World, (http://susanleighnoble.wordpress.com/) or by checking out my author page on Independent Author’s Network.  (http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/susan-leigh-noble.html)

You can find Susan's books at the following links:

The Search can be purchased exclusively from Amazon.  http://amzn.com/B0098PHNW6

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Soapbox Spotlight: Tallis Piaget

Thank you for joining me for another Soapbox Spotlight!  Today's guest is Tallis Piaget, author of Black Boogiemen.  Tallis has spent most of his professional career as--get this--a biochemist, but has spent the last two years honing his creative writing skills.

Tell us about yourself, Tallis.

I am the author of the critically-acclaimed book, Black Boogiemen.  I am the executive editor of the Insight2Incite Magazine, as well as a co-host of the Insight Radio Show.  Though Black Boogiemen is my first published material, I’ve has been refining my craft for over 20 years.

I have undergone strenuous training in proper scientific, technical writing, and I’ve written creatively for years.  These two skills culminate into a unique writing style that’s leaving readers unable to close this book.  I am now earning my Masters in writing and plan on becoming a college professor.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

Yes I do.  In my fifth grade class I was introduced to an idea called “creative writing”.  Before then, I only remember writing papers in more of an essay format (i.e. book reports, history papers, civic papers etc.) Well, in this creative writing class, we were shown how to free write, and we were encouraged to create our own worlds with our words.  I loved it!  Not only did I love it, but I excelled at it.  My teacher constantly commended me on my writing and imaginative mind.  The rest is history.

What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general?

The hardest part of writing is the editing process.  For a true writer, writing is actually quite easy.  It’s having to reread your work and seeing all of the mistakes that’s agonizing.  Also, getting the critiques from your beta readers can really hurt your feelings.  So the editing process is the most arduous part of the writing process. 

Did writing this new book teach you anything, and what was it?

Yes indeed.  If it is one thing I learned from writing this book, it is that we can truly do anything we set our minds to.  I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but for some reason I believed it to be out of my reach and more of a dream.  So accomplishing this writing feat has shown me that I can truly reach the stars if so choose.  I can truly live my dreams.
 
What is your greatest strength as a writer?

My greatest strength as a writer would be my analytical skills (intellect), and my ability to relate to almost anyone, and my unique way of thinking.  That relator skill allows me to build characters that leap off of the page and cause the reader to feel as though he knows my characters personally.  My analytical skills allow me to build scenarios that seem plausible and believable as opposed to situations that lack a logical flow.  And my unique mind forces me to think of stories that are extremely original which is important for any good author.   

Can you tell us about your main character?

My main character is Dr. Branch.  He is a PhD biochemist that was raised in the worse parts of the inner city.  He grows to become a world renowned scientist and of course leaves the impoverished community in which he was brought up.  He soon suffers a horrific calamity which causes him to become the leader that this country so sorely needs.  His tragedy becomes the catalyst needed to morph him into one of the most powerful people in history’s tomes.  He is somewhat a genius, he is a prolific speaker, and he believes himself to be extremely honorable.  Mainly, Dr. Branch truly represents the dichotomy of man: a really good person, that can do some really bad things.

How did you develop your plot and characters?

This may sound weird, but the plot developed as I wrote.  There were times when I didn’t know what my characters would do next or where the story would go… I merely listened to the muse whispering in my ear and wrote the information I attained from her sweet, wispy voice.  Amazingly the story coalesced into the finished novel “Black Boogiemen”.   Apparently my muse was at the top of her game while speaking to me :-)

What genre of books do you read, or do you stick with the genre you write in?

I prefer sci-fi and fantasy.  The worlds those writers build are just majestic, and it is such a pleasure visiting those ancient, mythical realms or visiting those distant future planets.   I do force myself to read non-fiction; I consider that exercising my brain.  But I prefer to read some good fiction.  

What was the hardest part about writing this book?

The hardest part about writing this book was airing black America’s dirty laundry.  When a person expounds on their ethnic group’s issues, usually they are ostracized and are considered pariahs.  The older you get the more you realize that people hate to hear the truth.  Though this book is fictional it is still filled with tons of truth.  To write some of the horrific statistics and to divulge some of the inner city machinations was really hard to do.

Would or have you considered writing in another genre?

Absolutely… I am an original thinker, I can not confine myself to one mode of writing.   So I am writing a mythical book, and I am also working on a great scifi novel.  I do not want to bore people with the same ideas over and over.  So I try my best to think outside the box.  I want to be known as a prolific writer and that will never happen if I stick to one genre.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

There is certainly a message in my book.  It is actually a universal message.  It basically states that if the proletariat ever wants their lifestyle to improve they must be the ones to initiate that process.  To expect the government to change anything is being naive.  It’s the systems job to keep status quo, and if we the people want a better life we will have to be the ones to get it.  We can not wait for any outside source to help us, we should and we can rely on ourselves.

And one final message is that each individual has the power to be something great, they just have to believe.

 Thank you for joining us, Tallis!

You can find Tallis at the following links:

Facebook and twitter name is simply “Black Boogiemen”.
Blog website: Blackboogiemen.authorxpress.com  
Book’s website: www.blackboogiemen.com
You can find Black Boogiemen at the following links:

www.blackboogiemen.com
Amazon or Barnes & Noble

Monday, November 5, 2012

10 Tips to Better Blogging

Blogging is hard.  There is certainly a joy in it, and writing blog posts helps me hone my writing skills.  But I needed to know how to make my blogging better and more efficient.  I took a blog course and conversed with my fellow bloggers.  Then, I took a good hard look at my blog and evaluated my style and desires.

Here are some tips I used to make my blog better.

1. Focus your content.  What are you writing about?  Sometimes, this question is better posed as What do you like?  That's what I asked myself when I started this blog.  I knew I wanted to share my writing experience, with my readers and with other writers.  And I knew I wanted to talk about books I was reading.  I also love movies.  So I developed features that revolved around these topics.

2. Be consistent.  You don't have to blog every day, or even every week if you can't find the time.  But be sure that you are consistent.  Humans, readers especially, are creatures of habit.  They want to know the next time they can find new content on your site.  On Soapbox, readers can expect an author spotlight every Wednesday, author tips on first (sometimes second) Mondays and Book-to-Movie Classics every last Friday.

3. Monitor your page views and statistics.  Readers don't always subscribe to your site, nor do they always comment.  Some are reading from RSS feeds, Twitter notices and Facebook posts. The best way to gauge your progress is by monitoring your page views and other blog statistics your host site provides on your dashboard.  From there, you can see what topics interest your readers most so you can continue building on your popularity.

4.  Guest blog.  You can often increase your readership by guest blogging.  The best way to get guest blog appearances on other sites is by offering them.  Many bloggers are willing to do guest exchanges so that both bloggers get exposure.  Google the topics you love to discuss on your blog and find other bloggers who write about the same things.  Then offer the orchestrator an opportunity to write a guest post on your topic.  If you're an author, like me, most other authors are looking for new venues to promote; offer them a feature on your site and typically, they offer an exchange appearance on theirs.  Remember to include the link to your blog or website in your post!

5. Add visual cues.  Each post you create should have some sort of visual.  Even during National Poetry Month--when I post my and other poets' prose--I always include a picture that I think accurately reflects the emotion of that poem.  When I first started this blog, it wasn't very visual at all.  I was just writing stuff I felt, hoping other people cared (haha!).  But I started researching other blogs, especially the ones with heavy readership, and I realized that the ones I liked most had colorful pictures and videos.  In this age of technology, we tend to want something interactive and eye-catching to keep our attention.  Beautify your post with attractive images, and watch your readership grow.

6. Be passionate.  I said in Why I Write that passion is essential to garnering a strong readership.  Of course, I was talking about authorship at the time, but it applies to blogging, too.  Blogging is writing, just on another venue.  The same passion for what you do needs to be present in your blog as well as your other writing; otherwise, why would anyone care?

7. Streamline.  Make things easy on yourself.  Use a blog host that allows you to schedule your posts ahead of time.  I only create posts on Tuesday mornings so that all my time isn't consumed with writing blogs.  It also helps to know what topics you're going to write about ahead of time.
     7a. Developing steady features can help with this task. I get asked all the time how I come up with topics. Like I said in the first tip, once I narrowed down the subjects I wanted to talk about, I created features that reflected those subjects.  I love books, so Soapbox Spotlight and RJS Reviews feature new indie authors and books I've read.  I love to write so I try to share the benefit of my wisdom in my Author Tips feature.  And movies are my guilty pastime so each month, I rate movies based on novels in my Book-to-Movie Classics.

8. Create backlinks.  I did it all throughout this post! Creating backlinks to your topics and posts, both in your own blogs and in guest features, is an easy and efficient way to build your SEO (search engine optimization), and gives your readers quick links to other related topics.

9. Mind your titles.  You want your topics to be easy to find on search engines.  Try to make your post titles simple but catchy.  It is this title after all that search engines are perusing, and it can make all the difference.  For example, one of my first blogs was about the correlation between suffering and aesthetic genius that hardly got any views.  After I changed the title and added a few pics, that post became one of my most popular blog posts to date.  Most blog hosts give you the option to change your post title, even after it's gone live, so you have more than one shot at it.  Make it count.

10. Do it because you love it.  If you're blogging just to advertise or make money, you're in the wrong business.  It is the rare occasion that an independent blogger can make a living running their own site.  The ones that do invested a lot of capital in order to hire writers, web designers, and IT techs.  If you're anything like me, you are not that person.  You need a heavy readership to garner any real money from ads and solicitation links, mostly because only a small percentage of internet viewers (something like 7%) click on relevant advertisements.  So until you get some outrageous daily view counts (something in the ball park of thousands), don't sweat the money.