Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Getting Ready For the A to Z Challenge

Do you know what next week is? It's the A to Z challenge, of course. I was filled with trepidation when I thought about doing this. How could I possibly blog 26 out of 30 days? Now however, I'm super excited! Why you ask... because I have an awesome plan.

Each day, I will give you a word (and the definition) that corresponds with that day's letter. You in turn will write a sentence in the comments containing that word. The hard part is the sentences have to make up a story with the previous days sentences. Each night at 10 PM CST, I will randomly pick a sentence from the comments. The next day, I will give you the previous sentences and at the end of the 26 days we will have a short story. For example: if the A word was apples and the sentence picked was "Zack loved to eat apples." On the next day I will give you the apples sentence and the word for B. I have all the words for the month already picked. They were randomly chosen; either I picked the first word that popped in my head for that letter or I perused a dictionary. I made some words simple and some words a little more difficult, with no common thread. Good luck. I can't wait to see what you come up with.

Sound fun? I think so. Are you up to the challenge? I am! There is only one problem... I can't do this without you. I need you to stop by each day and give me the sentences. Think you can do this? :) I hope so.

Are you doing the A to Z Challenge? Do you have a theme planned out or are you winging it? Looking forward to it or dreading it? See you next week.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Guest Post, Aris Whittier: Why Does a Writer Self-Publish?

Today Aris Whittier is stopping by to talk about self-publishing. Thank you so much for coming, Aris.

Why Does a Writer Self-Publish?

As both a traditionally published author and a self-published author I can see the benefits of both and I can attest to the fact that each has their advantages/disadvantages and money can be made both ways.
There are many reasons why a writer chooses to self-publish. It could be as simple and they couldn’t’ find representation for their book so they chose to publish it themselves. Others don’t want to go through the whole querying and rejections process—it can be brutal and disappointing.
Lately I’m seeing a lot of established writers whose books were once traditionally published but have fallen out of print and whose rights have reverted to them and they are republishing. I fall into this category myself. My backlist books do very well and I’ve squeezed a lot of life out of them through self-publishing.
The current economic situation isn’t helping much either. Many of the NY publishing houses are laying off editors and cutting production. Small brick and mortar bookstores are closing and the big chain stores aren’t fairing much better.
Some writers are niche writers and there isn’t a huge market for their type of book so none of the Big 6 will even look at their manuscript. Other writers don’t want to wait for their book to be conventionally published. It can take a year or more to see your book in print once it’s been sold to a publisher. That’s a long wait for some authors. A lot of writers self-publish simply for control. They can manage and direct every aspect of the book. With a transitional publisher you don’t have much say over cover art, what reviewers it’s sent to, whether it will be released in hard or paperback, pricing, format, distribution,…you get the picture.There are a handful of authors who have used self-publishing to get their foot into the traditionally published door. Just look at Amanda Hocking (she secured a 6 figured deal on her self-published books), H.P. Mallory (secured a 3 book deal with a publisher), and Lisa Grace’s first two self-published books have been optioned by Motion Picture Pro Studios.
Whatever your reasons to self-publish remember there is no right or wrong way—do what works for you and your book. Success and money can be made if you’ve written a good book and work hard to get it in the reader’s hands.

Aris Whittier is a romance writer. She writes suspense, contemporary, and commercial woman's fiction. Her debut novel, Fatal Embrace is a romantic suspense that was featured in Cosmopolitan Magazine as a Red-Hot Read. Foolish Notions is a contemporary romance that has just a touch a mystery too. Across Eternity is a beautiful love story that transcends time. You can find Aris at

You can find her books on Smashwords and Amazon: Fatal Embrace, Foolish Notions Across Eternity, and Secrets

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Author Interview Elle Stauss

 Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to Elle Stauss. Elle is an author and well known blogger. Even with self-publishing a YA book in November and a MG last month, she was nice enough to find time to stop by. Thank you Elle for coming by and answering all my crazy questions.

JS: You have self-published two books, can you tell us a little about them?

 ES: Clockwise is a YA time travel rom/com about a teen time traveler who accidentally takes her secret crush back in time. Awkward.

It’s a Little Haywire is a MG story about a rich city kid who forgets about his own problems long enough to helps a poor sleepy town. A supernatural encounter with a fog train gives him inspiration.

JS: You have also published an anthology with some other authors; can you tell us about that one?  

ES: This was really fun. The theme was to write a short story from the point of view of the love interest from one of our books. I told the story from Nate’s point of view in CLOCKWISE when he gets dared by his friends to ask the tall quiet girl to dance. He’s in for the TIME of his life in By the Firelight.

JS: How did you come up with the idea of time traveling?
 ES: That’s a good question. I can’t say exactly. I wrote my first time travel story back in the nineties, long before the recent trends.

JS:  Why did you decide to self publish vs. traditional publishing? (Even with an Agent?)  
ES: Some times things just don’t work out due to timing, trends, subjective opinions. When my former agent first shopped CLOCKWISE, the feeling in trad publishing was that time travel and YA didn’t mix. Now they’ve changed their minds about that, but they want darker/edgier material. Clockwise is light and fun, and I didn’t want to change that.

JS: What book has been your favorite to write?  

ES: Last year I would’ve said Clockwise, but now I’d say It’s a Little Haywire. I drew a lot on my personal childhood experiences with that book and also strong inspiration from certain family members. 

 JS: Who is your favorite character and why?
 ES: I’m assuming you mean from my books? Casey Donovan from Clockwise, hands down.

JS: How did you get your ideas?
ES: Ideas come from everywhere. Books, movies, the news, random conversation, memories, dreams, kids.

JS: What would be your advise to anyone who wants to self-publish? ES: I think I could write a book on that now. J The biggest thing to decide is are you self-publishing just for your inner circle, so that friends and family can read and you have something fun to put on your shelf, or are you starting a small business?

You’re approach will be very different depending on your answer. If you’re starting a small business you need start up finances. You can’t cut corners with covers, editing and marketing.

JS:  What is the hardest part of self-publishing?  

ES: It’s all hard. Ha. Right now, I’d have to say marketing.

JS:  What are you working on now?  
ES: I have the sequel to Clockwise coming out in April and a companion book in June.

JS: How long on average does it take you to write a book?  

ES: It used to take a lot longer, but now because I’m more experienced and I’m making it my full time job, I’d say three to four months.

Random Questions

1. Vanilla or chocolate?
2. Coffee or tea? coffee  
3. Beach or snow? beach  
4. Last book read? I’m currently reading The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
5. Favorite author? That’s always changing =)  

6. Most played song on iPod? I don’t have an iPod  
7. Favorite movie? Pride & Prejudice  
8. Outliner or panster? outliner  
9. Flats or heels? flats  
10. Lipstick or chapstick? chapstick

Bio: Elle Strauss writes Young Adult and Middle Grade fiction. She's a married mom of four, and lives in the beautiful Okanagan Valley, famous for beaches and vineyards. She's fond of Lindt's sea salt dark chocolate and hiking in good weather. Her Young Adult rom/com time-travel CLOCKWISE and contemporary/otherworldly Middle Grade IT'S A LITTLE HAYWIRE are now available on Amazon.

 Elle's books are avalable at Amazon: Clockwise, It's a Little Haywire, and In His Eyes


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Second Campaigner Challenge

This is the second challenge for the Platform Campaigners Challenge. I have to say this one was a challenge. If you want to find out more about the campaigners challenge head over to Rachael Harrie's blog. Here's the challenge:

Prompt 1:
Two people are sitting together under the remains of a concrete bridge. Their backs are against a rusted bridge support. One person’s leg is cut. The other person has wet hair.

Prompt 2:

Prompt 3
Prompt 4
Prompt 5

Second Campaigner Challenge

Do one or more of the following:
  1. Write a pitch/logline for a book based on the prompts (less than 100 words)-done
  2. Write a short story/flash fiction piece of less than 200 words based on the prompts-done
  3. Write a poem with a twist using the prompts as inspiration (in less than 200 words)-done
  4. Write a story/poem in five sentences, each sentence based on one of the prompts
  5. Write a poem/flash fiction piece (in less than 200 words) about the water pear *without* using the words “pear”, “spoon”, or “droplet”.

My Entries
     1. Pitch for "The Ones"

      The day that The Ones show up at the labor mines is the last day that’s normal for Anna and Jake. Now on the run, they must find the boy in red before The Ones find them. However, when they find out the reason why The Ones are really after Anna, and Jake's true identity, they may just wish they’d died at the mines with everyone else. Unfortunately, there’s no one else who can save them and the rest of the humans.

     2. Flash Fiction "The Ones"

                Slowly the blackness that clouded my mind receded and awareness took its place. Blinking, I glanced around taking stock of my surroundings. Jake and I were huddled together under what looked like some sort of old rusted bridge.
                “Thank God, you’re awake. How’s your head feeling?” Jake asked.
                Reaching my hand up to my wet hair, I gingerly touch the large bump that had formed on my head. “I have a little headache, but I’m okay. How did we get here?”
                “You mean you don’t remember?” he stared at me with concern. Unable to keep his gaze, my eyes dropped down, noticing for the first time a large gash on his right leg. “Concentrate Anna, I need you to remember.”
                “I remember working in the labor mines… then beautiful lights were everywhere,” I struggled to remember, and gasped. “The Ones came didn’t they?”
                “Just like they said they would, in a water vessel. The lights came first and then out of nowhere the water drop appeared and out they came,” Jake whispered.
                “We have to find the boy in red,” I state stoically. “Before they find me.”

    3. Poem

    Overwhelming are the lights,
    it makes me long for dark of nights.
    Swirls of colors, different hues,
    crimson, amber, whites and blues.
    Water comes then, formed as tears,
    to bring forth your worst of fears.
                A disease designed to rot your brain,
                it’s twisted shape like a hurricane.
                Out it spews The Ones that come,
                the evil spreads and devours some.
                Your only hope, if they should choose,
                for both these two have nothing to loose.
                To find the boy in red,
                  and save us all before we’re dead.

    I hope you enjoyed my second ever flash fiction piece and my poem. Feel free to critique it in the comments, just please be nice. I appreciate all the advice.

    Also if you liked it, you can "like it" HERE, I'm #79.

    Wednesday, March 7, 2012

    IWSG #7- Am I a Writer?

    It's the first Wednesday of the month, so you know what that means... Insecure Writer's Support Group. The monthly post where we get to air out all our writer's dirty laundry, Oh wait wrong post, I mean insecurities. This of course was thought up by the brilliant ninja master Alex J. Cavanaugh.

    Last week I was at work talking to a couple of my co-workers, one of them being a good friend of mine. We somehow got on the subject of my blog. The conversation went a little like this:

    Me: I'm a blogger.
    Co-worker: Oh, what do you blog about?
    Me: This and that, nothing much really.
    Co-worker: Is it a well followed blog?
    Me: I have a few followers.
    My friend: Really, Jessica? She actually blogs about writing because she's also writer and she has almost 200 followers.
    Here it comes...the dreaded question.
    Co-worker: Do you have anything published? Can I find it on Amazon?
    Me: No.
    My friend: (who is now looking a little disgusted with me) She is half way through her first book.
    Co-worker: Cool. Can I check out your blog?

    I can readily admit I'm a blogger. I tell people about my blog if they're interested. I'll even give them my website. I'll even call myself a blogger, but not a writer. I write a blog. I've written over 30,000 words on my WIP, but yet I don't feel comfortable calling myself a writer. I feel like I'm pretending to be something I'm not if I say it. It would be like if I'm at work and I told everyone I was a doctor when really I'm a nurse.  

    What qualifies you as a writer? When do you get to say I'm a writer? I once heard somewhere that if you write, you are a writer, but is that true? When do you feel like a writer?

    Thursday, March 1, 2012

    Get Fired Up

    Get Fired Up blogfest is being host by Melissa Sugar. It's all about helping a new blogger. So, I thought I'd give some tips that I wish I knew when I started.

    Ways to get more followers:
    • Follow other people's blogs. People usually follow back.
    • Comment on other people's blogs.
    • Participate in blogfests. This has been the number one way I have gotten followers. (A to Z Challenge is coming up and will be a great way to get followers.  Go HERE for more info.)

    Some other helpful tips:
    • Plan ahead, use the schedule option on your posts. You can write next weeks posts this week and have them automatically publish. (Expand post options at the bottom of the edit posts screen. Under post date and time click on scheduled at and then put in the time and date you would like it to self publish. When your done writing your post select publish post.)
    • Attach an email address to your name. It's much easier for people to respond to your comments. Plus, then you don't have to remember which posts you commented on and check back to see if they responded.
    • Turn off the word verification for comments. It's annoying for people, plus it makes it difficult for people to comment on phones, iPads, etc. See this great post by J A Bennett on how to turn it off:
    • Use google reader to help organize your followers. Even if you only have a few, I would suggest starting now so that you don't get overwhelmed when you get more. Here is a great post by Alex J. Cavanaugh on how to use this:

    I've passed all my limited blogging knowledge on to my friend Kelly Kizer Whitt. So go check out her blog out if you get a chance.

    What tips do you wish you had when you started blogging?