Monday, August 29, 2016

Writing About: Blizzards



Another disaster I highlighted in my 2015 A to Z Challenge was blizzards. Most northern states and Canada experience blizzards and snowstorms. The threat of a blizzard arises every winter in these places, so it’s not a stretch to think a fiction story set in the north during the winter may include at least a snowstorm that cancels school for a day or two, but with our current hostile weather a strong blizzard isn’t out of the question.

Now if you write a blizzard into your book it should either be a major plot or at least last for several chapters (3-4).

Image from Pixabay


Here are a few things to remember if you ever write about 
a blizzard:


- Weather Reports

Your characters should tune into the weather every morning and night. Even if you don’t detail a whole weather report, you can have your character hear something in the background or tune in for the highlights.

- Storm Preparations

Your characters should be ready for a snowstorm with a stock of firewood, water, canned goods, blankets, and warm clothing. Snow tires and shovels are also a must. Plus, a generator since snow and ice can knock out power easily.

- Blizzard Names

Just like tropical storms and hurricanes have names, blizzards also have names. To make the storm real and to give it personification, give the storm in your story a name. You don’t even have to follow the name already selected and waiting for a storm, but come up with your own, as I did with Hurricane Sabrina in Hurricane Crimes.

- Snowfall

Describe the snow as it begins to fall and have your character watch it get higher, creeping up the porch steps, burying the mailbox, and turning everything white.

- Snowdrifts

Wind is a big factor in a snowstorm. When the wind is strong, the falling snow can be piled into drifts that can cover houses.

Image from Pixabay

- Cold

During a blizzard, endearing the cold is probably the hardest part. Even if you have a fireplace, the house is still incredibly cold. You have to bundle up and move around to stay warm. Have your characters do the same.

- Boredom

The next biggest hurdle after dealing with the cold is overcoming boredom. When you’re trapped in a house with no electricity and you have to wait days for it to stop snowing, cabin fever sets in. Card games and board games are popular time killers. Reading, writing, and drawing by candlelight (or electric lanterns) are also activities that’ll take up time. Have your character struggle to find ways to take up the time. And if they’re not alone, this would be a good opportunity to share family moments or let new lovers get to know each other more.

- Digging Out

Once the blizzard passes, it comes time for the digging out process. This is never fun or easy. It takes a lot of time and effort to dig a path from the door to the driveway. Then, of course, the driveway has to be shoveled. But you won’t be going anywhere until snowplows clear the streets. And when it gets warm, lets not forget all of the melting snow...flooding.

Image from Pixabay

Blizzards can add excitement to a winter story and give your characters a chance to bond. You will also have fun bonding with them while you write these scenes.



QUESTIONS: Have you ever been in a blizzard? Tell me about it. Is there a detail not in this post that is important? Share it.


Friday, August 26, 2016

Turtle Bread Recipe



Not to worry. I'm not talking about a real turtle, but bread shaped like a turtle. This is so much fun to do with kids. And it's so yummy. We gobble this bread up whenever I make it with my nephews.


The finished Turtle Bread


Turtle Bread


Need:
- 2 ½ to 3 cups of flour
- 1 package of quick-rising active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- ½ cup of water
- ½ cup of milk
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- 1 egg


Instructions:

1. Mix 1 ½ cups of flour with the yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl.

2. Heat water, milk and butter in a sauce pan. Stir in yeast/flour mixture.

3. Add egg and remaining flour until the dough is easy to handle.

4. Dust a clean surface with flour. Knead dough until smooth and elastic (5 minutes).
5. Cover and rest for 10 minutes.

6. Lightly grease a cookie sheet.

Ready to bake.

7. Shape a 2-inch piece of dough into a ball for a head. Shape 4 smaller pieces into balls for feet. Shape 1 piece of dough into a tail.

8. Shape the rest of the bowl into a ball for the body. Place on cookie sheet and flatter slightly.

9. Attach the head, feet and tail by flattening an edge of the ball under the body to secure it.

10. Cover and let rise for 20 minutes. Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

11. Make crisscross cut marks with a knife across the body about ¼ inch deep so it looks like a turtle’s shell.

12. Bake until golden brown 20-25 minutes. Cool then enjoy!


My youngest nephew LOVES to play with flour.


QUESTIONS: Would you try Turtle Bread? What's your favorite bread to bake? I also love to make banana bread.


Monday, August 22, 2016

How to Create a Newsletter


Since this is a long post, I created a downloadable PDF for anyone who wants to save this information for later. :) To download it click: How to Create a Newsletter


I started my author newsletter last year, and I love it! (Some authors decide not to do one for various reasons, which is just fine. The decision is up to the author.)

Dispel the idea that it’ll take too much time. Once you create one newsletter to email to your subscribers, you can use that format to make another one in just minutes. And don't believe that you need hundreds of readers either. You can get subscribers to your newsletter without having readers.



BEFORE YOU START: 

Set up an email address domain. What is this? An email address domain is special, and it’s just for you. After the @ symbol, instead of yahoo.com or gmail.com, it’ll be your website domain. Such as Chrys@ChrysFey.com

Note: You don't need a website, though. All you need is a domain name. It can be one you've already purchased or you can purchase one when you create your email.

Why do I say to do this? Because personal email addresses from Yahoo, AOL, Gmail, and Hotmail won’t work well. These email hosts make it extremely difficult to deliver mass emails. Many of them may not be delivered into your subscribers' inboxes and could bounce because the receivers' server could mark it as spam. If you don’t get a domain email address, you’re taking a big risk of being continuously marked as spam, which will blacklist your email address.


There are many sites that offer email address domains:

1. Zoho.com (free) This is the one I used.
2. Hover.com
3. Register.com
4. GoDaddy.com


Now that you have your spiffy new email address domain for the FROM SENDER ADDRESS, let’s get started on your newsletter:


1. There are a lot of email hosts out there.

Do some research, compare the features and prices, make your choice, and sign up!

I use VerticalResponse for my author newsletter, and work with Mail Chimp for the IWSG newsletter. Both are great and free up to a certain number of subscribers.

2. Know what you want to name your author newsletter.

Mine is Chrys’ Chronicles. Nora Roberts’ is Nora’s News. It can be catchy or straight forward. This is also what you’ll put in the Subject Line for your subscribers to see.
TIP #1: In the subject line also try to include the month or something catchy.
For example: Chrys’ Chronicles - August 
3. Have a Banner

Make sure your banner has the same feel and graphics as the banner you use for your blog/website, etc. The banner for my newsletter has sparks on it. So does my banner for my blog and website. There are even sparks on my business card!

4. Select a Design/Layout

There are many designs for newsletters in VerticalResponse that you can choose from. Think about your personality, your blog/website’s look, and try to find something to match it. Plus, check out the layout (single column, two columns) to see if you’ll be able to include what you plan to share in your newsletter, such as images.

5. Build Your First Newsletter

After selecting your design and giving it a name, you need to make it look attractive. Most email hosts let you easily drag and drop the things you want into your newsletter. So if you want to add text, select the “text” block, drag it to your newsletter’s body, and drop it where you want it to go.
TIP #2: Include a short bio and your author photo at the end of your newsletter. After all, you’re an author and you want people to know about you. Sometimes I change my photo for fun.
Bottom of my newsletter.
You can see a divider, my bio, and follow buttons.
TIP #3: You may have to fiddle around with these tools before you get it to look how you want it to look. Experiment before you start emailing subscribers.
6. Share Features

Include social media share buttons at the top of your newsletter so people can share your newsletter. You want them to be able to do this, because if they do, their followers may be interested in signing up.
TIP #4: VerticalResponse allows you to add a button that subscribers can click on. Add a button linked to your opt-in form URL. This is a must if you allow subscribers to forward it to people they know. (See image above.)
7. Follow Features

Also add the follow buttons so people who have signed up for your newsletter can easily follow you on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

8. Add an Extra Button

I have a button in my newsletter called “Visit My Website!” If someone clicks on it, it brings them to www.ChrysFey.com.

9. Use Dividers

If you have a lot of different, small content, keep it neat and orderly with dividers. These dividers are black lines that separate things nicely. 

10. Put the title of your newsletter beneath the banner and in bold font.

Top of my newsletter.
You can see the banner, share buttons, and the beginning of my Welcome Message.

11. Include a “Welcome Message” and make it a little different for each newsletter by briefly updating your subscribers on what you’ve been up to.

12. Save it.

When your newsletter looks good and has all the content, save it. You don’t have to email it yet. You can keep it as a draft or schedule it to go out later.

13. Create an Opt-In (Sign Up) Form

Add your banner to the sign-up form. Put the title of your newsletter first in bold type. Include a short message telling people what they can expect to get with your newsletter. Then select the information you’ll want to ask subscribers for.
TIP #5: Keep the information you ask for simple. Obviously ask for their email and their names. That’s it!
My Newsletter Opt-In Form
The banner is tiny because this was on my phone.

14.
Create a “Thank You” page

Once you save the details for your sign-up form, you’ll be able to design the “Thank You” page. Again, add you banner. Include a header such as “Thank you!” Then add a short message of thanks and a note to remind them to check for the email confirmation. For the IWSG Newsletter, I added a clickable gift.

My old "Thank You" Page.

15. Put the sign up form on your blog and website.

Once you’re done with the “Thank You” page, you’ll get a link. Use this link to create a separate page on your blog and website (yes, both!) so people can sign up. Title this page “Newsletter” or “Newsletter Sign Up.” This is essential! New visitors won't know you have a newsletter otherwise.

16. Share the link

Share the link on your social media and blog to let followers know they can sign up for your newsletter.

17. Create a badge for your blog and website

If you are good with computers and images, create a badge to put in the sidebar of your blog and website. Make it clickable by adding a link.

Here is my badge:



18. Add a “Newsletter Sign Up” APP to your Facebook page

I know MailChimp has one that allows you to add it by integrating MailChimp with your Facebook account. If you can’t do that, though, search for “Static HTML – Thunderpenny” in your FB search bar.
-       Click on “Go to App” then click “Add Static HTML to a Page”
-       Choose your page and add the app.
-       Now your page is a newsletter box. Hover over the App image and click on the little pencil icon in the corner then click “edit settings.”
-       Change the image. I used the badge I made BUT it has to be exactly 111 x 74 pixels, so make sure to resize it. If it’s off by a smidge, it won’t upload.
-       Customize the tab name to something like “Newsletter” or “Newsletter Sign Up.”
-       Now click the tab and click “edit tab.” At the top it’ll say Static HTML. Paste in the HTML code for your newsletter. You will get one at the same time as you get the link to your sign up form.
-       Click “Save and publish” then “Done editing tab.”
-       Finally, go to your page and test out the tab, even test out the form to make sure it works. If it doesn’t, try pasting in the HTML again.

19. Get subscribers

Now that your newsletter is ready, the sign-up form is done, and you’ve added an App to your FB page, it’s time to get subscribers.
TIP #6: Do a giveaway where people have to sign up for your newsletter to be eligible to win. I did this and got an amazing response! 
TIP #7: Pass around a clipboard with sign-up sheets for your newsletter while you’re doing a reading, so interested people can put down their name and email address.
TIP #8: Have a sign-up sheet at your table when you’re doing a signing or book event.
TIP #9: Place a fishbowl on your table with a stack of white paper for people to write down their name and email address to enter some kind of giveaway and sign up for your newsletter. Make sure they know you’ll be signing them up!
TIP #10: When you host a Facebook party, share a link to your sign-up form and ask them to sign up. Tell them that new subscribers will be entered into a giveaway for something. Make the offer good!
TIP #11: Include a sign-up link in your email signatures.

20. Set a date each month to send out your newsletter.

Try not to do it within the first few days of the month because that’s when EVERYONE sends out their newsletters. Yours will get lost in the mix.

The day your newsletter goes out, go back to your account, click on the sent newsletter, and check out the stats. In VerticalResponse, the stats will show you how many people opened your newsletter, who those people are, how many people unsubscribed or clicked on something within your newsletter, and emails that bounced. MailChimp doesn't show all of this. 
TIP #12: Make your newsletter unique and don’t make it all about you. That’s boring! You can highlight one of your books but do it in a way that’ll be interesting to your readers. And don’t just use your newsletter to be all me-me-me or my book this, my book that. Give subscribers something more! 
TIP #13: Offer occasional prizes only to those who have subscribed. You can give it to everyone (if it’s something easily email-able), do a drawing (Rafflecopter), or first-come-first-serve by sending you an email.
TIP #14: Tell your newsletter subscribers your good news first before you share it anywhere else. This will make them feel valued and in-the-loop.
TIP #15: Share teasers from your WIP or an upcoming book, announce sales and giveaways, share recipes and poetry and photos from your life. Make it worthwhile for subscribers.


QUESTION: What do you like to see in author newsletters?


Friday, August 19, 2016

Author Interview with Joe Evener / The Elders



Today I have a guest returning to Write with Fey. Joe Evener shared "Journey to Seras" here years ago, and now he's back for Book 2! Welcome back, Joe!


Genre: Fantasy/Young Adult
Publisher: Rogue Phoenix Press
Release Date: September 15, 2015


BLURB: "The Elders" – book two in The Heart of Seras series.

In "The Journey to Seras" we met Julie Ayers, a fifteen year old girl living in the quiet town of Sunset, Ohio. Her world was turned upside down by the arrival of the school’s new teacher, Marcus Campbell. 

Her teacher, Marcus Campbell had a secret. He was a warrior from a medieval dimension searching for the mythical "Heart" - a hero given to the people of Seras to rid their world of impending evil. Marcus’s quest was challenged when he realized that the "Heart" was the vibrant teenage girl. Against his better judgment he convinced Julie to go to his world and begin preparation to face whatever evil laid ahead while keeping his bigger secret, that he is part demon and was once a ruthless leader who terrorized Seras, from his young protégé.

The evil Julie must face was manifested in the form of Queen Pallanex. She was a wandering follower of the Elderess Eryx, displaced by her temple leaders as being dangerous and unholy. Little did they know that was the type of follower Eryx preferred. Pallanex was young, beautiful, and flirty. She seduced the aging Canis, father of Marcus, and became his queen...and his downfall. What secrets does she have? With the help of William, a demonic warrior equal to Marcus and his former comrade, Queen Pallanex has a plan that threatens both worlds.  

In "The Elders," we find Julie Ayer's reeling from her freshman year of high school, and how horribly it ended. Now Marcus Campbell must try to convince her to return to Seras to learn the secrets of Seras from the mysterious immortal, Redderick Bobo. Going back to Seras is the last thing on Julie's mind. She wants no part of Seras, or her teacher. What secrets does Redderick Bobo have to tell? Who were the Elders known as "The Five Lions of God"? Why is Julie Ayers the chosen savior of Seras? 


Only returning to the dreaded dimension will answer these questions and more for Julie. Can she bring herself to forgive Marcus, and return to Seras? The future of Seras and Earth depends on it.

Books Links:


1. What inspired you to write this book?

I started writing this book series in 2005 during my first year of college (I was 41 years old at the time), after being inspired by a freshman writing class which had the first three books of Harry Potter as textbooks, and Classical Mythology 101. While I have always had a vivid imagination, I just had to put the idea I had to paper. I got inspired to the point that it was impossible to ignore. I started to put that together with my love of books, television and movies like "Lord of the Rings," "Gladiator," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Angel," "Highlander," "The Hobbit" and many others. I came up with an idea in which a normal teenage girl is whisked away into a medieval time by a trusted teacher who has a secret and is really a warrior with an even darker secret. I often joke that if you could picture Buffy the Vampire Slayer being in Tolkien’s Middle Earth, you would get a good idea of what I was putting together.

2. Is this book part of a series?

This is book two of the six part The Heart of Seras series. Book one, "Journey to Seras" was released in 2013. I am currently working on book three, "Revelation." Book four (The Dark Warrior), book five (Into the Abyss), and book six (Journey's End) are all outlined, and just waiting for me to get to them.

3. What movies inspired your book?
I'm a huge movie buff, so there have been a lot of movies that have inspired me: "Gladiator," "BraveHeart," The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Harry Potter series, "Star Wars," and "King Arthur" are the major ones. I'm sure there have been bits and parts from other movies, like "The Terminator," and "Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves," and I love Disney movies from my childhood.
4. Which actors would play your hero and heroine in a movie?

Well, I've always had trouble with this. In writing them I have people in mind, for Julie it's a young Valerie Bertinelli (think "One Day at a Time"), but I saw a picture of Danielle Campbell from "The Originals," and she would be a great match. For Marcus, I think Stephen Amell from "Arrow" would be perfect. Now if I could get someone to make my books into movies.

5. Is there a teacher (or teachers) you would like to personally thank for his/her influence?

I would start with my fourth grade teacher, Miss Blatt. She was the first teacher that inspired my love for writing. I wrote two stories called "Super Joe" that I shared in her class. Mr. Pry, my sixth grade teacher was a positive role model. In high school, I had several teachers that were positive influences: Joyce Barker (English/Drama), Ed Foster (Physical Education), and Lou Sartori (History/Motivation).  

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

The person I would most like to give my book to would be J.R.R. Tolkien. He was the master of the genre, and if I could have him read it, I would be on cloud nine. Tolkien created an intricate world, complete with individualized histories, religions and languages. I would love to get his input.  

7. J.R.R. Tolkien is an excellent choice! What’s on your bucket list?

I've checked off a lot of things on my bucket list so far: sing karaoke, do stand-up comedy, get my master's degree, become a teacher, run road races, and write a book. I have travel Europe, and travel across the western part of the USA left to do. Have my track team win a state title. Run a marathon. I would say those are my big four left to do: 1) win a team state title, 2) travel across Europe, 3) travel across the western half of the US, and 4) run a marathon.

8. What is the silliest thing you ever did while writing a story?

I act out scenes all the time, especially the sword fighting. I want to see where the body position is, how to move, and stuff like that. When I was writing book one, I was working in a warehouse…pretty much by myself, so I had time to act out scenes. I'm sure I would have had a lot of explaining to do if someone walked in on me as I wielded a makeshift sword, having an imaginary battle against myself.

9. I act out action scenes, too! If you could write anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

I have written in some really cool places: Hawaii, Mexico, Puerto Rico, cruising the Caribbean, the Outer Banks, Cleveland during the championship celebration, Walt Disney World, and the Bahamas. But, if I had to pick one place where I would go, I would say London or Paris, maybe somewhere in Spain, or Prague. Gosh, I can't decide - it would be exotic, completely different, a different culture and atmosphere, any of those places would get the creative juices flowing in overdrive.

10. All amazing places. Do you listen to music while you write?

Oh yes, I listen to music constantly. If I am writing a fighting scene I will be blaring AC/DC, Van Halen, Aerosmith, or Heart. If I need something softer with a little more poignancy I go to The Police/Sting, Rod Stewart, Phil Collins, Joe Cocker, Seal, or Tom Petty. If I just want to unwind and have fun, I listen to everything from Justin Timberlake, to Earth, Wind, and Fire, Outkast, Dierks Bentley, Thomas Rhett, Stevie Wonder, anything from the 80s, and so many more. Listening to songs from musicals often get me going to – I love musicals: "Singing in the Rain," "High Society," "Oklahoma," and "Gigi" are among my favorites. My friends, family, and coworkers say I have the most eclectic taste of music of any person they know.    


BIO:

Joe Evener is currently preparing for his fourth year in the classroom, as well as his 23rd season as a girls' track and field coach, and writing his third book in The Heart of Seras series, "Revelation."     

Joe's first book from The Heart of Seras series, "Journey to Seras" came out November 20, 2013. His second book from The Heart of Seras series, "The Elders" came out September 15, 2015.



Author Links:

Thank you for being my guest today, Joe!
Please leave a comment for Joe. :)


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

R - Reviews for the Disaster Crimes Series





HURRICANE CRIMES REVIEWS:

“Hurricane crimes will keep you guessing until the very end. Someone has to die. Beth Kennedy. Donovan Goldwyn. Or a member of the Police Department. As the story progresses, the ending could go in a myriad of directions.” – Stephen Tremp, author of Salem’s Daughters

“The author drew me in and held me tight until the last word. Actually I was hungry for more but was satisfied with the ending anyway. This book is full of mystery, suspense, romance and passion. I would absolutely trade places with Beth Kennedy in order to have time with Donovan Goldwyn.” – Bookaholic Mama

“I held my breath as Beth rescued Donovan and as the hurricane tore at her house. It was fast-paced, never a dull moment. Beth was immediately likable and sympathetic. I especially liked she taught self-defense for a living. I already considered her a strong woman before learning that, but that was a bonus bit.” – Christine Rains, author of Of Blood and Sorrow

"Hurricane Crimes by Chrys Fey is a pure delight. It is a romance first and a suspense novella second, but both are combined in a perfect formula for a wonderful afternoon’s reading." - Readers' Favorite


DIGITAL LINKS:


SEISMIC CRIMES REVIEWS:

“Seismic Crimes is an action-packed novel that contains a little bit of everything. There's the suspense of a crime-fighting story, the adventure of surviving natural disasters, and the passion of romance. Just when you think the protagonists will get a break, something else happens. The action continues all the way into the last chapter.” – Sherry Ellis, author of children’s books

“The well-choreographed, sexy scenes between the two main characters will keep readers turning the pages as much as the chase and fight scenes do. Fey handles each of these intimate scenes amazingly well, setting a high bar for steamy romance writers.” – C. Lee McKenzie, author of Sliding on the Edge

“From the remnants of a Florida hurricane to a San Francisco earthquake, Fey puts you in the middle of the devastation as Donovan and Beth forge the bonds of new love while tracking a killer across the country in this nail-biting romantic suspense.” - Lilly Gayle, author of Slightly Noble

"The Disaster Crimes series has the potential to be a terrific series that is spell-binding and have readers on the edge of their seats." - InD'tale Magazine

DIGITAL LINKS:

PRINT LINKS:



QUESTION: Do these reviews pique your interest?


Popular Posts!

Join!

Follow!