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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Black & White by Nick Wilford

Today we welcome Nick Wilford to the blog to introduce his new book. And, of course, he's given us a "what if?" to ponder...

Say you existed in a perfect society with everything provided that you could wish for, but you had no knowledge of the outside world. What if you suddenly learn of the existence of another country which is blighted by poverty and disease, and have the chance to help at least one of its inhabitants, even though doing so means you risk being detected by the government and potentially never seeing your family again?




Title: Black & White
Author: Nick Wilford
Genre: YA dystopian Series #: 1 of 3
Release Date: 18th September 2017
Publisher: Superstar Peanut Publishing


Blurb:

What is the price paid for the creation of a perfect society? 

In Whitopolis, a gleamingly white city of the future where illness has been eradicated, shock waves run through the populace when a bedraggled, dirt-stricken boy materialises in the main street. Led by government propaganda, most citizens shun him as a demon, except for Wellesbury Noon – a high school student the same age as the boy. 

Upon befriending the boy, Wellesbury feels a connection that he can’t explain – as well as discovering that his new friend comes from a land that is stricken by disease and only has two weeks to live. Why do he and a girl named Ezmerelda Dontible appear to be the only ones who want to help? 

As they dig deeper, everything they know is turned on its head – and a race to save one boy becomes a struggle to redeem humanity.

Purchase Links:

Add it on Goodreads 

Meet the author:



Nick Wilford is a writer and stay-at-home dad. Once a journalist, he now makes use of those early morning times when the house is quiet to explore the realms of fiction, with a little freelance editing and formatting thrown in. When not working he can usually be found spending time with his family or cleaning something. He has four short stories published in Writer’s Muse magazine. Nick is also the editor of Overcoming Adversity: An Anthology for Andrew. Visit him at blog or connect with him on Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook, or Amazon

Enter the giveaway for a chance to win a copy of my collection A Change of Mind and Other Stories or a $10 giftcard! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

What I Learned in School

Today, M. J. Lovgren is back to give us another post. (If you recall, she wrote about accidental short stories back in March.) Take it away, M. J...


The great thing about Catholic school is that the survivors always recognize each other. You can be at a party or talking with someone at Starbucks or chatting in an elevator; and they’ll say, “I went to Saint Ignatius or Holy Apostles or Sacred Heart grammar school. It doesn’t matter where those schools were, you recognize each other. “Omigod, you say,” I went to Saint Catherine’s Academy in Podunk, Iowa.” The other person’s school was in Manhattan.

Doesn’t matter. It’s all the same, particularly if you’re of a certain age where there were no lay teachers and the nuns reigned supreme. Pretty soon you’re sharing stories of crowded classrooms, weekday Masses, singing Gregorian chants from phonetic lyrics on the blackboard. This works particularly well if you grew up on the Latin Mass.

St. Ambrose Elementary school is where I learned to write. The best thing about these old parish schools was their emphasis on the arts. We sang, we drew, we wrote. We learned grammar and spelling. We learned how to write essays. But most importantly, we learned something called “creative writing”. And we learned not to be afraid of a blank page.

To this day, I don’t outline, whether I’m writing an article, a blog, a short story, or even a novel. I just do what I learned to do at St. Ambrose. I think a little about what I’m going to write, and then I jot down some quick notes that will be my road map – a beginning, a middle, and an end. Even in my tender single-digit years I was learning classic story structure.

Anyone who’s ever taken a writing class or read a book on how to write knows about the shitty first draft. I learned this in grade school. The important thing is to get it down. Then you can go back and correct it, polish it, dress it up in its best clothes. I still do this. I’ve learned you can’t rush the process. Things will change as you go back over what you’ve written. They’re supposed to. No one wants to read your shitty first draft.

Take your time – even if you’re on deadline. It will come to you. It will happen. But you have to keep at it. For me, rewrite takes about three times what I spent writing the first draft. The third edit is the slowest. That’s where I haul out the Thesaurus, look for the right word, finalize the structure – you get the idea. It’s like polishing the silverware. I want to get rid of the last bit of tarnish and let its essence shine.

I also learned something important in my freshman year in college. I was lucky enough to go to Pomona College, one of the Claremont Colleges. In 1888, it set down in what is euphemistically called the Inland Empire in Southern California. Pomona College looks like New England stuck on the opposite coast. I applied there because I liked the ivy-covered buildings. True story.

I loved the English classes. They were unlike anything I’d previously encountered. The first semester was devoted to Anthropology – don’t ask me why. Ruth Benedict’s Patterns of Culture was quite the eye-opener to a Catholic school girl. But it was the second semester that focused on writing. We were used to fooling our high school teachers with vacuity disguised by padding. I think they must have graded us by the pound. Our professor was having none of this.

Our first assignment was to read and report on Faulkner’s short/long story, “The Bear”. We gave it our all, and I’m sure none of us understood it. I still don’t. But senseless prattle didn’t cut it in this classroom. We reeled under a torrent of “D”s and “F”s. Class discussion centered on our outrage.

“What did you mean by this?” our professor asked, his voice dripping with displeasure as he’d read passages from several papers. The hapless authors always gave answers as inane as their papers. Most common was, “I know what I mean, but I can’t explain it.”

“If you can’t explain it, you don’t know what it means,” he roared back. This man was obviously not going to be fooled by the weight of our papers. What to do? We decided we had to learn to write differently. That was a long time ago, but it’s yesterday in my mind. It’s important to be precise. To understand everything you put on paper, to know why it’s there, and communicate it clearly.

 Whenever I find I’ve written a bunch of pretty words that are actually obfuscation, I will ask myself:  “What does this really mean?” If I can’t answer that, I probably have to throw this out.

So what did I learn from these two classroom experiences? Think about what you want to write. Have a plan, but keep it simple. Just get it down, you’ll have to rewrite.

You learn the most from people who challenge you.

Above all, when you write, be sure you know what it means.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Three Authors - There Be Fantasy Here

Three of my favorite authors have books coming out this spring. Patricia Briggs, Margaret Weis, and Robin Hobbs are contributing to my bottomless desire for new reading.
Margaret Weis. Like other people seek oxygen, I inhaled the books of team Tracy Hickman/Margaret Weis in earlier times. I could never get enough. By the time Ms. Weis released the Star of the Guardian series, I thought I knew what I was getting. Boy Howdy was I wrong. The level of writing, the intrigue, the political morass; it was an amazing set of books, one of the kind of tales that I want to read again and again just to see if I missed something.
Enter Spymaster.
Released March 21st, this tome is sitting in an UPS truck and making its way to my home even as I type these words.



Patricia Briggs. Already at my side and consumed is Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs. Her continuation of the Mercy Thompson series came out March 7th. I was introduced to Ms. Briggs’ books via a wonderful employee at Barnes and Noble. It was the third book, Iron Kissed, but I was hooked even though I usually don't start a book series in the middle.

Her Alpha and Omega series branches off in another direction without losing the rich history of the shifters and werewolves. My personal favorite is Bran, the Marrok or leader of the werewolves. I sincerely want much more of him.

Silence Fallen


Robin Hobbs. Thanks to the advice of my good friend Marcy, I started a new series The Farseer Trilogy a couple years ago. Little did I know the journey I was about to take.
Fitz

Fitz and Fool evoke such emotions. Scenes about Nighteyes are wonderful, difficult, thought-provoking, and a dozen other emotions. Fifteen books later, my enthrallment has not waned.

May 9th, the release of the last of the Fitz and Fool trilogy is due, Assassin's Fate. The cliffhanger at the end of Fool's Quest was a killer, btw.

Assassin's Fate

If you like the urban fantasy/fantasy genre and haven't tried these, give them a go. It'll keep you in reading material for a long time.


Depending on how fast you read :D




Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Accidental Short Story

A topic that's come up in my writing group is blogging. (Apparently I'm the resident "expert".) I invited one of the members, M.J. Lovgren, to try her hand at writing a blog post. Let us know what you think... 



I saw myself as a novelist, and pooh-poohed short fiction – even though I loved reading it. Then I started writing short stories by accident. Here are some of the things I learned.

Making things shorter can be difficult. As Henry David Thoreau observed, “Not that the story need be long, but it will take a long while to make it short.”

A novel, by its very nature, allows the writer more time and more room. Short stories have to entice the reader and make a point within the same rules – a beginning (inciting incident), a middle (main story), and an end (climax and denouement). They just have to do it faster.

Even the definition of what is “short” can vary.  It can be as concise as flash fiction or almost as long as a novella. I’d put Alice Munro in the second category. (And she won the Nobel Prize for short stories.) Yet, one of my favorites is “Dinosaur,” a lovely 300 word tale published by Flash Fiction Online and The Sun.

Here’s the accident part.

I didn’t start out to write a short story. I simply wanted to take a little side trip to discover more about my novel’s antagonist. A nasty piece of work, William was (and is) a middle-aged sociopathic killer. I just couldn’t grasp what made him tick, even though I had done plenty of research. It is generally thought that sociopaths (aka psychopaths) are born not made.

So I tried writing about him as a pre-teen. His anger and frustration with his next door neighbor, Mary Ellen, came pouring out of the computer. The short story is set in the same place and time I experienced as an eleven-year-old tomboy. But this time it’s William and Mary Ellen climbing the trees in the vacant lot behind my house. What happens next told me how William viewed the world and what motivated his actions.

This is one way to develop a back story and biography for a main character – something we are continually advised to do. Approaching this in the usual way, i.e. answering standard questions about the character, didn’t work for me. I found it tedious and boring. But turning this exercise into a short story made me immediately understand this character who had been so elusive.

So, if you find you’re stuck trying to make a character come alive, and the conventional methods don’t work, try writing a short story about him or her. You might like it!

Posted by M.J. Lovgren

...And for what it's worth, I've read a good portion of this novel, and William is... scary...

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Time & Circumstance by Theresa Milstein

Today we welcome Theresa Milstein to the blog for the release of her new book, Time & Circumstance. She's been kind enough to give us a "what if?", and scroll to the bottom to enter her contest. 

What if you could control time? What would I do?

If I wanted to control time for my own gains, I could buy stock in Apple when it was low or something like that to make me rich. Then I could write full time, have a cool place to live in the city, and a nice house on the beach.

Or if I wanted to control time so I had more time, I could slow it down and finish all the to-do items on my list. My stress level would go down. Weekends could be mine again!

If I could control time, I would love to relive special moments. One example is the trip my family took to Paris many years ago. We each picked on thing that we wanted to do. My daughter chose the Eiffel Tower. Her face lit up when we rounded a corner and it first appeared before her. I took a photo to capture it. My son chose the Arc de Triomphe. I enjoyed watching him stare at all the details up close. The last night we ate at a restaurant that served all of our favorite foods. I would love to relive that trip again.

Many poems in my collection are about recollecting a poignant period of time in my life: “1986,” “First Apartment,” “Un-Perfect Moment,” “Measure,” “Concert,” and “Summer Song.” For me, writing vignettes help me capture those all-too-fleeting moments.


“The trunk of this family is lost to history / Photo fragments remain as shadows”

With subtle wit, and poignant imagery, the unrelenting passage of time connects the vignettes in Theresa Milstein’s Time and Circumstance. This reflective collection of real and imagined poetry and prose, speculates on an erratic childhood, the uncertainty of adolescence, and the reality of parenthood, through flashbacks of love lost and found.

“This everyday, why again, sometimes / ignored tune has measured time in notes, / seconds, minutes, days, years, and so it goes. / It’s a measure of the man he will become.”

TIME & CIRCUMSTANCE is available.







About the author:

Theresa Milstein writes middle grade and YA, but poetry is her secret passion. Her vignette collection, TIME & CIRCUMSTANCE, will be published by Vine Leaves Press in March 21, 2017. She lives near Boston Massachusetts with her husband, two children, a dog-like cat, and a cat-like dog. For her day job, she works as a special education teacher in a public school, which gives her ample opportunity to observe teens and tweens in their natural habitat.


Leave a comment, and you’re eligible to win a prize during my blog tour! 

1 $25 Amazon gift card
1 signed paperback copy
1 ebook

Answer the question:
“If you could relive any moment in time, what would it be?”


Extra entries if you share on Facebook or Twitter and link it to me.
@TheresaMilstein on Twitter.
@Theresa Milstein on Facebook
#ReliveMoment or #TimeandCircumstance

Winners will be announced on April 5, 2017

Friday, February 24, 2017

Fantasy Novel Match


So, um, ahem... It's been a while. I meant to post something this week about something, but stress got in the way. Long story, that.

But, when I want to zone out, sometimes I find quizzes to play online. Test my knowledge and all that. So, that's what I'm going to leave you with today. A quiz.

Fantasy Novel Match


It's timed. You only get so many chances. But you'll probably do better than my dismal 60%. Feel free to brag in the comments.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Let's Write a Story


I totally meant to write something this week. And life kind of got in the way. That's kind of how my writing's been going lately, too.

So, let's jump start our writing. You know the game. I start us off with a sentence. In the comments, you continue the story. You may write as much or as little as you like, just so long as you continue the story where it left off with the last commenter.

The doorway shimmered in the fading light until it almost disappeared...

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Small Press: How Solvent?

After an agent accepts our manuscript, euphoria erupts. We turn virtual handsprings and tell everyone the good news.

Your words. Your manuscript. You dream of the New York Times Bestseller list, fame, money, news conferences. But, not so fast.

The agent who you worshipped, the one who offered you a contract, just quit her job at the literary agency. And the agency isn’t interested in your baby. So, you begin again to find representation.

Or let’s say you submitted to a small press. They accept and seem to adore your writing. You sign a contract and you are back in business.

Then, the unthinkable happens and the publisher declares bankruptcy and all your efforts are for naught.

So, what are some of the reasons?

My publisher, Musa, was amazing. To all their authors and
employees, Musa seemed solvent. I received my checks on time and they answered emails promptly. Sadly, I didn’t appreciate how fantastic they were until after they shut their doors two years ago.

The publisher seemed to be going strong. They’d hired more staff, publicists, editors, and creative talent. E-books were offered rather than print. An E-zine was popular. And yet, they couldn’t do it. Maybe they tried to expand too much, an overload of authors. Don’t know. Bottom line, it didn’t work out.

But they did right by us. They promptly return our rights and we received our last checks, every penny.

Example of another, less scrupulous publisher is All Romance e-Books, ARe. They gave their authors three days notice and generously offered ten cents on the dollar for the last quarter.

They came to the decision to keep ninety percent for themselves, you see, so they can avoid bankruptcy. Not that they weren’t raking in the cash. They just decided to keep it.

All the time, they were offering gift cards before Christmas and asking authors if they wanted to advertise on their site. I received a request about the middle of December for an advert spot. Imagine my displeasure if I’d taken them up on it.

They knew they were having trouble but chose to slither along. 

Romance Writers of America, RWA, released a statement that read in part:
RWA finds it unconscionable for the owner of ARe to withhold information so long and to continue selling books through the end of the month when the company cannot pay commissions. RWA contacted ARe but has not yet received a response.
As a last kick in the pants, ARe email to authors stated:
“...published authors are offered rights reversion on condition that they consider this "a negotiated settlement of your account to be 'paid in full'...”
Ain’t that special? Holding the authors' rights hostage?

How do you know if your publisher is running out on you? Given the above examples, the good and the horrible, I'm not sure an author can. Some good links I have posted below might help but in the end, I think we take our chances. 

I'm sticking with self-publishing. Maybe I'm not making a ton of money but it's enough to pay the groceries. I'll be the first to know if my publisher—ME—decides to go out of business. 








Monday, January 2, 2017

Dear Unicorn Bell



Dear Unicorn Bell,

Two years ago, Kristin Smith asked me if I’d like to join Unicorn Bell. Huntress and the other moderators welcomed me with open arms. The fact that you all saw something in what I was doing on my blog, and you invited me to join you here, thrilled me. Thanks, ladies!

And thank you to all Unicorn Bell readers for embracing me and my Dear Writer posts. Your comments, shares, and support were amazing, I was honored to be able to share writing advice and writerly motivation. I truly hope I helped and inspired you.

Today is a new year, though. I am sorry to say that I will be stepping down from being a Unicorn Bell moderator to make room for other responsibilities. I’m going to continue blogging at Write with Fey, but even there I’ll be blogging a little less. This will allow me to focus on writing, freelance editing, and being an administrator for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (my big job with them is the monthly newsletter).

Before I go, let’s take a walk down memory lane. Here are all of my Dear Writer posts published on Unicorn Bell:

  
Writing Advice:

Writing Life:

Writing/Publishing:

Marketing:

Editing/Critiquing:

Goals:

Inspiration:


Thank you again for making my time at Unicorn Bell special.

I’ve cherished your friendship, and I look forward to continuing it. You can sign up for my free monthly newsletter for updates as well as giveaways. (I’m doing a 12-Month Book Giveaway throughout 2017!)

I’ll see you around the blogosphere. :)


XOXO,

Chrys Fey







Author of Hurricane Crimes, 30 Seconds, Ghost of Death, and Witch of Death. Blogger. Reader. Auntie. Vegetarian. Cat Lover.