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Don't let #Doubt extinguish your #Sparks. Find the #Sparks you need to ignite your stories, dreams, and life.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Blurbs, Excerpts, Taglines and Loglines OH MY!


A blurb is a summary for a short story or book both fiction and nonfiction that should tempt a reader into wanting to purchase and read the book/eBook. Blurbs reveal the goal of the protagonist (or hero and heroine for a romance), why he/she wants what he/she wants, and the conflict that stops him/her from having it. This is called GMC (Goal, Motivation and Conflict.) For romance, the blurb usually has one paragraph for the heroine and one for the hero, even if the story is only in one of their point-of-views.
TIP #1: Read several blurbs for books you like to get an idea of what you could write for yours. 
TIP #2: Have a few people read you blurb and offer an opinion on it. You should ask someone who has read your story and someone who hasn’t to see if your blurb is satisfactory and tempting for both.
An excerpt is an alluring scene taken directly from the story. It’s usually one page long. For romance, the excerpt should be a romantic passage between your hero and heroine. For erotic, the excerpt should be steamy. For a suspense story, the excerpt should be thrilling. Search your manuscript for a scene that really conveys what your story is about, without giving away the ending, and select about one page from that scene to serve as your excerpt.

Image from PixaBay

A tagline is defined as a single sentence that describes a story. Just like everything else this is meant to entice, but with the fewest words possible, like a catch phrase. It can be a statement or a question. Taglines can be found on book covers.

Examples of taglines:

Don’t go into the water! – Jaws
One ring to rule them all. – Lord of the Rings

A logline is defined as another type of summary but is longer than a tagline (can be up to three sentences) and includes more information such as who the story is about and the problem/conflict.

FYI: You don't have to follow these rules though. My loglines are usually a single sentence, and my taglines, if I use one, are roughly 5-7 words long.

Here are my loglines:

Hurricane Crimes: During a hurricane, Beth Kennedy finds herself trapped with a man who might be a murderer.

30 Seconds: When a woman finds herself in the middle of a war between a police force and a Mob, 30 SECONDS is a long time.

Witch of Death: Murder isn’t always committed with magick, unless a witch is involved.

Ghost of Death: Dead men may not talk, but dead girls do.


SHARE: Your favorite tagline and/or logline for one of your books.


QUESTION: Do you have a favorite tag/logline for a book or movie?



Friday, March 27, 2015

Author Interview with Kenneth E. Hautala (Pulp Fantasy)

Attention pulp/epic fantasy fans! Today I am bringing you an interview with Kenneth E. Hautala, so he can tell you about his debut novel, Haruffa Tales. Kenneth is a Canadian author and is being hailed for bringing pulp back.

Check out the promo video for Haruffa Tales:



Please tell us about your current release, Kenneth.

Haruffa Tales is a Retro Pulp Fantasy novel written as a tribute to works like Robert E. Howard’s, Conan-Hour of the Dragon which first appeared in Weird Tales, 1935. 

Title: Haruffa Tales (Book One)
Author: Kenneth E. Hautala
Genre: Pulp Fiction
Length: 352 Pages
Publisher: FriesenPress
Release Date: November 5, 2014

BOOK LINKS:


1. What books would you compare to Haruffa Tales?

Edgar Rice Burroughs (Tarzan, John Carter of Mars), Robert E. Howard (Conan), One Thousand and One Nights aka Arabian Nights, John Norman (The Gor series). Classic pulp fantasy.

2. Since I read Haruffa Tales, I can definitely see that. Is this book part of a series?

This is the first book in the series. At this point I have 3 additional books in the hopper.

3. How did you pick the title for your book?

The main character Haruffa got his name from The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad (1958) by Ray Harryhausen.  Harufa (as it was originally spelled) was Sinbad’s first mate and like so many supporting characters died prematurely.

4. I didn't know that! Why did you choose the setting for Haruffa Tales?

In keeping with the Arabian Nights/Sinbad theme I wanted a Middle Eastern/ East Indian setting.

5. Did you do special research for Haruffa Tales?

Hours and hours. Thank god for dogpile.com. Since I was tapping into so many different cultures the research needed was immense. On the plus side, I certainly learned a lot…Like I really want to go to Ireland and India!

6. I've never used dogpile.com. I'll have to check it out. What movies inspired your book?

The works of Ray Harryhausen to be sure.  Sinbad, Jason and the Argonaughts etc. but I have to include the collected works of Ralph Bakshi.  If you’re not familiar, I would encourage you to watch his version of The Lord of the Rings, Fire & Ice and Wizards.  It was mind blowing stuff when it came out decades ago and still holds its own to this day.

7. What would we find in your heroine’s purse if we went snooping?

A shortened life expectancy…

8. Interesting. if you could give your book to anyone in the world to read (dead or alive) who would it be and why?

My grandfather. No person living or dead have I ever had more respect for than my grandfather. He published a few articles but always wanted to write a book about his experiences growing up as an orphan in Finland during the Finnish/Russian conflict.

9. Your advice to new writers.

Never give up.  If it is a passion that burns inside you and you just don’t can’t let go.  Don’t.  Even if you only write for fun, don’t stifle yourself.  It’s not healthy.

10. Tell us about your writing process.

My writing process is pretty fractured.  I figure out where I want to begin and end and then how to get there. I run seemingly endless scenarios in my mind, fine tune them over and over and eventually piece the best of them together like a jigsaw puzzle, all the while immersed in some form of music.  Strange I know but it works for me.


AUTHOR BIO:

From the time he was a young teenager, Kenneth E. Hautala fanned the spark of creative inspiration into flame through his innate love of storytelling. As a carpenter and construction health and safety professional, he has a deep respect for the value of hard work and skill—a characteristic he applies to his life as a writer. An avid fisherman and outdoorsman, he lives in Newmarket, Ontario with his beautiful wife, Linda, his beloved mother-in-law, Vivian, and their St. Bernard, Xuber.

Author Links:


Thank you for chatting with me, Kenneth! Best of luck to you with Haruffa Tales!

Please leave Kenneth pulp love.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Writing About: A Magickal Battle


If you're looking for my A to Z Theme Reveal go HERE.


In my short story, Witch of Death, there is a magickal battle at the end that was so much fun to write. I love the paranormal and love action, so when I got to blend both for the climax, I was very excited.

Here are 10 things to consider if you ever write about a magickal battle:

1.    Make it clear who is in the battle. Is it between two of your characters or two separate groups? Is one side good and the other bad?

2.    Why does the magickal battle happen? Battles, done with magick or with guns, don’t just happen for no reason at all. The reason for the magickal battle in your story should be obvious. In Witch of Death, my heroine fights the witch who has been murdering people throughout the story.

3.    How does the battle start? Do your characters agreement to meet each other to fight it out, or does one side surprise attack the other? Who makes the first move?

4.    Know your characters’ strengths. Consider what kind of powers you want to give your protagonist and antagonist. These are the powers they will be using on each other during the battle.

An artist made for my flash fiction piece, The Summer Bride.

5.    Know your characters’ weaknesses. If your protagonist is afraid of fire, the antagonist could use fire to his/her advantage. If your protagonist is in love, his/her lover could be used as a pawn to emotionally compromise the protagonist. A weakness can be anything!

6.    Describe your characters’ appearance. In Witch of Death, my heroine’s eyes turn completely white and luminous when she uses her powers. Your characters’ appearances can change drastically when they call upon their powers. You can even use the changes to hint at who is good and who is evil.

For example: You can morph the face of the antagonist to make him/her look sinister.

7.    Describe your characters as they use their powers. Can they wield a power or element (like fire or water) with their hand? Give your readers details, so they can picture the whirl of flames in your character’s cupped hand or a stream of water flowing from his/her palm.

8.    What happens to the surroundings? If your characters are outside, perhaps trees bend away from them with the force of their powers. If your characters are inside, objects can explode or even levitate. When magick is involved, anything can happen.

9.    How does it end? Your protagonist can deliver a magickal blow that kills the antagonist or even strip the antagonist of his/her powers. Or the antagonist can win, it’s up to you!

10. See How to Write Action for additional tips on how to write action scenes. These tips will help you with writing methods.

Also see Writing About: A Fight for even more tips that you can use for your magickal battle.



QUESTION: If you could have any magickal power what would it be?

Want to help with my Witch + Ghost Blog Tour in May (or later)?


Monday, March 23, 2015

A to Z Theme Reveal


This is my 300th blog post! :D



This is my second year participating in the A to Z Challenge. Last year, I didn't do a theme reveal because I was sticking to the theme for my blog (writing). This year, though, I'm doing something different.

It wasn't difficult for me to figure out I wanted my theme to reflect my Disaster Crimes series. I mentioned this idea only a couple of times in comments and in my interview on the A to Z blog after last year's challenge ended. One person thought I'd do an A to Z on crimes. I'm not. I'm doing an A to Z on...

DISASTERS!

I'll be blogging about natural disasters and manmade disasters. I packed in interesting facts and even tips on how to survive certain disasters.

I hope you'll follow my blog and challenge!

Thanks for stopping by! :)



QUESTION: What do you think of my theme?



I'm a member of Tremp's Troops!

Want to help with my Witch + Ghost Blog Tour in May (or later)?



Friday, March 20, 2015

Blogger Interview with Gina Stoneheart

I am pleased to have my dear friend and fellow blogger, Gina Stoneheart, on my blog today for this special interview where she shares a deeply personal story with us. She inspires me every day with her words. I'm honored to have met her through She Writes and to have built a friendship with her through our blogs. I hope you enjoy her interview. 

1. Gina, tell us about your blog.

In the beginning, when I first started blogging, I was in a totally different place.  It began as a self-reflection of my past as well as my mother’s present state of alcoholism and liver failure.  At the time, she had just received a liver transplant six months earlier.  Without it, she would have died.  She was given this life saving organ the day after Christmas, 2012.

I used her situation and my own faults to dive into blogging.  I wanted to connect with my readers emotionally and I felt the need to let them into my past, present and preparation for a better future.  Like my mother, at one time in my life, I had let my demons bury my talents.  They ripped apart at my head and heart, constantly making me fall instead of rising.

When I learned to love myself and see the light again, this was around the time my mother was dying.  She had been sick for a year, resembling more of a yellow zombie rather than a beautiful human being, like she was before liver failure and how she is now after the liver transplant.  (She is doing incredibly, by the way, and you wouldn’t even recognize the new person she has become).

But during this time, I knew I had to quit my own demons and learn to love myself again, something my mother always had a hard time doing.  Since she was more like my sister and best friend, my habits reflected upon her own.  I knew I had to change and I knew I had to return to my haven – my writing.  It was a safe place and a space I often hid inside as a child. 

I returned to my poetry, picture books, and novels.  I heard about blogging and since I kept a diary, I figured I might as well share my story instead of keeping it to myself.  I wanted to move readers, to inspire them, make them laugh, cry and cope with my pain.  After all, isn’t this what writers do?

Presently, my blog is more about writing and my work as a children’s book author and aspiring fiction novelist.  Although I focus a lot more on book releases, author work, and the blogosphere, I also make sure to touch on the emotional subjects I feel are important to me and the rest of the world.


Image from Pixabay
2. I know “Stoneheart” is your pen name. Is there a special meaning behind it?

I chose “Stoneheart” because I have a heart which is as strong as stone.  It was once weak and terrible at making decisions.  However, I managed to find time to love the person within and discovered my heart is stronger than I ever gave it credit for.

3. What are the top 5 most-viewed posts on your blog?






4. How did you come up with the lovely quote on your blog banner? 

“Walking in the write direction, one story at a time.”

I was always good at coming up with titles and tag lines.  For some reason, they come so easy to me.  Even for my children’s books titles, I know them before I begin writing.  I currently have five picture books written (one published) and their titles were whispered into my ear by my muse. =)

Gina's Blog Banner
5. What do you love most about blogging?

I love how freeing it is and how even on a bad day, blogging can lift me up.  My mind and fingers work together effortlessly to express whatever is on my mind or weighing within my heart at the time.  I also love helping to spread word about other authors and their new releases or even old ones.  This community is incredible and I have met some of the most amazing people because of it.

6. Share your number one tip to bloggers just starting out.

If you are a woman, join She Writes.  This is where I established myself within the community when I first started blogging.  I met Quanie, Kelly, Karen, Claudine, you and several other amazing women through She Writes.  I will be forever grateful for this website. 

I would also suggest navigating around the community of bloggers and find the ones which fit your liking.  Seek out those who don’t just take, but give by visiting you back on your blog.  READ their posts, don’t just skim them and leave them one to five word comments.  Leave them comments that are meaningful and have something to do with their post!


Hyper Round:

1. Favorite time to post blogs?

Anytime before noon.  My favorite time is while the sun is rising because we have an amazing view of the mountains where the sun comes up from behind.

2. Blogger or Wordpress?

I use Wordpress for my children’s author work and Blogger for Gina Stoneheart.  Both!

3. Blog Hops: Yay or Nay?

Yay of course!  How else are we going to communicate and grow our audience?  Plus, they are so much fun!

4. Do you host guests?

I haven’t hosted guests yet but I would love to.  I am always open to hosting authors and the release of their new books.  I would also be open to hosting bloggers and anything they have to say!



BLOGGER BIO:

I graduated from Rutgers University in 2003 where I received a degree in English.  I published my first children's book in 2013 under a different pen name.  Over the past decade, I've been working closely with children and writing in any free time.  I love visiting schools while helping to encourage our youth to read, write, and celebrate their imaginations.  I'm also a huge anti-bullying advocate so I emphasis to everyone how important it is to be kind and courteous toward one another while pursuing one's potential and talent.

My passion resides within a dedication to my pen and power to help others run toward their dreams.  I love inspiring people because we all need a little encouragement at the end of the day.  This blog is dedicated to my musings and ventures as a fiction novelist.

LINKS: 


Thank you for sharing your story with us, Gina!


QUESTIONS: Have you or a family member struggled with alcoholism, or liver failure? 


Please leave a comment for Gina! :)


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Writer's Etiquette

Sometimes new/aspiring writers don’t know how to react in certain situations and tend to do the wrong thing. This post is full of DON’TS and will hopefully save many writers from committing these “crimes” that have no doubt aggravated others.


1. Don’t send agents/editors more than they want.

Closely read their submission guidelines on their website. First, make sure they are accepting submissions. Second, pay attention to how they want it. Some only accept e-queries. Some don’t want attachments. Third, double check their interests to make sure they accept your genre.

2. Don’t address your query letters with Dear Sir/Madam. (Same goes for emails to reviewers.)

Always know the agent’s/editor’s name and spell it correctly!

3. Don’t bug agents/editors.

In their guidelines, they often state how long you can expect to wait to get a reply back from them. Some will specifically say, “If you don’t hear back from us in yada-yada weeks then it’s a rejection.” Others will say, “If you don’t hear back from us in yada-yada weeks, send us an inquiry.” An inquiry through email or snail mail is a gentle reminder to check in on the status of your manuscript.

4. Don’t reply back to reviews on Amazon or Goodreads.

Not even if you want to thank someone for a good review and definitely not if you want to start a fight over a bad review. You can give a broad thank you statement in a Facebook status to thank everyone.

5. Don’t reply back to rejections!

You’re not the only one getting rejections, and far from the only person seeking publication. Rejections are part of the writer’s life and a badge all of us earn. Take the rejection graciously; crumple it up, set it on fire, or file it away, but don’t demand why you were rejected or say they made a mistake.
See: How to Handle Rejection
6. Don’t go back on your obligations.

If you have a deadline, meet it or ask for an extension. If you are scheduled to be a guest on someone’s blog, send them everything they need at least one week ahead of time. I had one person not send me anything at all even after I reminded him and he said he’d get it to me the next day. Even when the date passed for his guest post I never heard back from him.

If you host guests on your blog, schedule their posts so you don’t accidentally forget to post it on time.

Snailmail...do you still use it?
Image From Pixabay

7. Don’t ignore guest blogging instructions.

If you want to be a guest on someone’s blog, pay attention to the instructions they give you in the email or .DOC attachment they send you. For my author interviews, I have a list of questions the author can choose from, and I state in bold, red letters to only answer a total of ten, but I still have the occasional person answering all 28!

8. Don’t send an author an email to say how you would’ve wrote their book, a specific scene, or character.

You didn’t write the book and you don’t have the right to tell the author this. Besides, if it’s published, there’s nothing the author can do to fix what you think is wrong. Keep this to yourself. You can, however, email an author to let him/her know how much you loved their book...we love this!

9. Don’t assume someone will read your book, even if they read something for you in the past.

Always ask politely if they have the time and want to read your story. Send it only when they agree to help.

10. Don’t tell someone you’ll buy, read, and review their published work if you don’t intend to do any of those things.

This only creates false hope. Wishing them luck and telling them their book sounds interesting, though, is a common statement to make and totally fine because there's no promise in that comment.

11. Don’t like hundreds of author Facebook pages to get likes back. (Same goes with following a ton of blogs.)

I knew someone who would like hundreds of random author pages to get likes in return. She even told me to do the same thing. (I guess she noticed my same numbers.) But I told her I was going to get my likes the old fashioned way, because I knew her large number didn't indicate real fans and wouldn't translate into sales. 

A better way to do this is to like pages for authors/bloggers you know personally and send them a polite message to let them know. You can even add a link to your page in the message and kindly mention they can follow you back if they're interested. I’ve done this before because I use a pen name, but I never expected likes in return.

12. Don’t be rude!

That’s what all of this boils down to.


More DONT'S from commenters:

Don't give all of your author friends 5-star reviews to get 5-star reviews back. Not only is this obvious, but they may not give you a 5-star back.

Don't engage trolls on social media. Rise above them.

Don't gossip or participate in controversial conversations on social media. It may come back to bite you.


Do be responsible and professional no matter what!


QUESTION: Do you have anything to add?



Want to help with my Witch + Ghost Blog Tour?





Monday, March 16, 2015

How to Handle Rejection

Something all writers eventually learn is that not everyone is going to like our writing and that is a tough lesson. The stories we write are so much a part of us that it can be painful to hear bad things about it, or to keep getting rejections for it.

Receiving form rejections are pretty painful. You know what I’m talking about...those rejections that begin with “Dear Author” and then reject you by saying your book isn’t right for them, even though you did your research and you know it’s perfect for them. They don’t offer you any other explanation than that and no advice on what you can do (if there is anything) to make your manuscript better. 


There are thoughtful editors/agents out there though who will offer advice, and if one does, TAKE IT! Take it, take it, take it! They know what they are talking about; it’s their job, so if an editor/agent tells you to fix something, they aren’t being mean, they are being helpful. Fix whatever it is and use that advice for your other stories.

Writing takes guts...guts when you first decide to write and then guts to continue writing after getting rejections. Once you get a rejection, though, shake it off and resend it somewhere else.

This message was scribbled on my query letter.

After getting so many rejections, you may start to doubt your story, but don’t ever give up on it! There are countless other agents/markets out there. All you need is for one of them to give you an acceptance. Just one.


When I'm looking to publish a story, I search markets and make a list of every possible place I can send it. As I get rejections, I work my way down the list. For my flash fiction story, Greeting Evil, I was at the very bottom of my list when it was finally accepted and published. So don’t ever lose hope!


QUESTION: How do you deal with rejection?


And yes...those are real rejections I've received in the past.



P.S. I'm looking for help with my Witch + Ghost Blog Tour.




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