Gotta Catch ‘Em All!

So, unless you’ve been living under a rock or on a desert island with no wifi, you’ve probably heard of Pokemon GO, the mobile app that is sweeping the nations and probably has groups of random twenty-somethings wandering around your lawn at four in the morning trying to catch that darn Nidoran.  I’ll admit, I’m guilty of the wandering as well.  My sister and I grew up on Pokemon and now, to be able to go out and “catch” them in the real world… It’s SO much fun!  It’s really bringing out the nerd in me.

I’ve never openly admitted my love for Pokemon, but the truth is it was a huge part of my childhood and one of the very first things to really spark my creativity.  I loved the idea of these cute, beautiful, powerful animals hanging out and going out and learning about them.  Granted, I’m pretty sure if I was a real life Pokemon trainer, I wouldn’t actually battle them or even train them.  I’d catch all the cute ones and keep them as pets and love them and take them on adventures.

Last night, I was hanging out with my birds (my real birds, not all the Pidgeys that have flocked to my front porch), and I started thinking, “I wonder what my characters would be like if they were Pokemon trainers?”

This inspired me to try to find one of those websites where you can make your own character.  You know, there’s a mermaid one, a Lord of the Rings one, a Disney one, etc… Well, I couldn’t find one.  So I decided to attempt to draw the characters myself.

May I just say that although I enjoy drawing, I’m not very good at it.

I started with Mel Parker from Boy Band, simply because the new book just came out and she was pretty easy as far as drawing is concerned.  I also knew almost immediately which Pokemon she would pick.  So I made an attempt at drawing Mel with her Marill.

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I had a lot of fun with it.  I haven’t drawn anyone else yet, mostly because that one itty bitty drawing took me FOREVER.  But I want to.

Until I actually get around to it, however, I have been giving some thought as to who my other characters might pick as their Pokemon.

Luke Rainer from Cemetery Tours  is easy. He’d obviously have a Ghastly or a Haunter.  He’s far too obsessed with ghosts to have anything else.

At first I was thinking Kate Avery from Cemetery Tours might have a Mew, because of her sensitivity and sense of wonder, but then I reconsidered and realized she’d have something more like a Persian.  She’s a strong character.  And that’s not saying that Mew isn’t a strong Pokemon (it totally is), but I think a Persian suits her a little more.

As for Michael Sinclair?  He’d want something normal.  He’s all about lying low and fitting in.  I can see him with an Eevee.  Or anything that wouldn’t destroy his apartment.  He’d want a low-maintenance Pokemon.

Brink, on the other hand, would have something outrageous, like a Dragonite. The bigger and more destructive, the better.

Sam Morneau from Boy Band is very basic.  He’d totally have a Pikachu.

Oliver Berkley, for some reason, I can see with a Ponyta.  I think it’s because at first glance, Oliver is very meek and mellow, but he’s got a lot of spunk and fire in him.  A Ponyta would suit him.

Josh Chaill would have a Jigglypuff.  He wouldn’t want it, but that’s literally all he would be suited for.  Sorry, Josh.

Jesse Scott, I can see with a Wartortle (is that how you spell it?).  Not as cute and cuddly as Squirtle, but not as fierce as Blastoise.  But it can still pack a punch.

Cory Foreman, I think, would have something awkward like a Doduo or an Oddish.  He’s tall and awkward and the poor boy just doesn’t know what’s good for him.

His twin sister Joni, on the other hand, would probably have something like a Staryu.  I don’t know why, Staryu just always struck me as such a no-nonsense Pokemon, and Joni is the same way.

Now as for me, the author, I would want an Articuno.  I’ve ALWAYS wanted an Articuno because they’re pretty and blue and when they fly, they sparkle.  And even though I don’t necessarily enjoy the cold, I was born in the middle of a snowstorm, so you know, it fits.

What Pokemon would you choose?

 

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Spring Has Sprung

Hello, friends.  I’m sorry I haven’t been updating as much as I should.  Life, as usual, is quite busy.  My sister is home for spring break so I’ve been spending as much time with her as I can.  We went to see the stage production of The Little Mermaid on Sunday and once again, I cried my eyes out because Ariel is my childhood hero.  Then yesterday, we spent the morning at the Arboretum.

It was a beautiful day and the best way to welcome spring.

As for book updates, I’m having so much fun writing the third book in the Boy Band series.  I think it’s going to be my favorite.  I can’t wait to share it with all of you.

I’m also helping my cousin (whom I only recently connected with on Facebook) publish her book of poetry/memoir.

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The photo on the cover is hers as well.  It’s been a new experience.  This is the first time I will have published a book that is not my own.  I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out the best way to publish it so that the royalties go directly to her.  I think I’ve finally got it all sorted, but it’s been a challenge.

Of course, I’m hoping to one day get to the point where I publish a LOT of books, not just my own and my family members, and I’ve had some requests.  The thing is, I can’t work for free.  With Margaret, it’s different since she’s family.  Even still, I don’t want to be a pay-to-publish company, or a vanity press, if you will.  I want my authors to get paid.  Unfortunately, I don’t have the sort of money that would allow me to make an offer or a payment up front.  I think the best way to do it would be to publish and keep 25% of the royalties while the other 75% go to the author.  But that’s not going to happen for a while.  I’m still trying to make a name for myself as an author.  That’s my ultimate dream.

On the other hand, I am very seriously considering offering my services as a cover designer.  I have thousands of images that would work for book covers (NOT stock images) and it’s something I really and truly enjoy.

What do y’all think?

Indie Books and POGs

Last night, I found my old POG collection.  If you grew up in the 90s, chances are you also collected the little round pieces of cardboard that were apparently meant to be a game but really ended up just being shiny little circles we accumulated and hoarded like Smaug’s treasure in The Hobbit.

As I was looking through my old POGs, I noticed one had a ghost on it.  I thought, “Oh, that’s cute.  I should take a picture of it with Cemetery Tours.”

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So I did.

But I didn’t stop there.

Slowly but surely, my little idea to take a picture with the ghost POG became a full fledged POG and indie book photo shoot.

This isn’t the first time I’ve taken pictures of several (not all) of the indie books I own.  I have a whole photo album that I’ve dedicated to the #IndieBooksBeSeen movement on my Facebook page.

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There is a rhyme and reason to my madness.  Despite the fact that we call ourselves “Independent” authors, the truth is we are very much a community.  No one works alone.  We have editors and graphic designers and reviewers and marketing experts.  And we have each other.  As independent authors, we support each other 100%.  That’s one of the first things I learned about the community and one of my very favorite parts of being an independent author.  I never expected the warm reception or astounding support system when I first published Cemetery Tours, but it’s there.  And it’s so, so, so amazing.

There are several ways that authors support each other.  I have friends who Tweet and Retweet.  I have friends who share dozens of Facebook posts.  I have friends who review every book they read.  Me?  I definitely try to review at least every indie book I read.  But I like to take pictures.  It’s my favorite method of communication.  Funny, for a writer, I know.  But there’s a certain love to a beautiful image that words really can’t express.

I take pictures because these books need more exposure.  I want each and every one of these authors to know the same kind of love and praise and success that their traditionally published counterparts experience.  I want them to be interviewed and reviewed by Entertainment Weekly and fly to the top of the New York Times Bestsellers List.  I want independent books to become mainstream.  And I think they are well on their way.

 

 

In the City

Hello, friends!  Just a quick update!  I may not have any more deadlines for a while (Yay!) but life is still as busy as ever!

I’ve been enjoying a wonderful few days, celebrating the impending Christmas season with friends and family.

A few of my girlfriends and I had a Christmas crafts night.

Then my mom and my sister and I took a trip downtown to see the world premiere of the opera Becoming Santa Claus.

And life is only going to get busier!  Tonight, my friend and I are taking my sister out to celebrate her birthday.  Tomorrow night, a group of my friends from high school and I are going with our English teacher (our Mr. Feeny, if you will) to see MacBeth.  Thursday night, I’m going to a bachelorette party and Saturday is the wedding!  So much fun and merriment and all the while I keep thinking, “Oh my goodness!  I have to get the new book out!”  Then I remember it’s already out and I think to myself, “Oh, yay!  I love it when that happens!”

The new book is doing great.  And Boy Band is getting some new love because of it!

I’ve had two reviews in the past week that I particularly love.  One is from a new friend down in Mexico named Bryan.  You can check out his review here!

He also took this fabulous picture and I’ve got to be honest, it’s one of my favorite book portraits ever.

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The other is a review I believe I already shared, but I love it so much, I’m just going to share it again.

I love all my readers and reviewers and friends so, so much!  I don’t know if you realize it, but you make so many dreams come true just by doing what you love!  Thank you, thank you!

I hope you all are enjoying this most wonderful time of the year.

Wonderful Christmastime

Hi, friends!  Well, the new book is out, I enjoyed a wonderful evening at the Sanger Library as my last public book even for the year… I’m ready to enjoy the holidays!

It’s funny, I’ve had so many deadlines this year that every time I look at my phone and see the date, I think, “Oh my gosh! I need to hurry up and…”  And then I remember that I HAVE no more deadlines this year!  Yay!  It’s a pretty great feeling.  Not gonna lie.  And I’m proud of myself for sticking to them.  Now I just have to get them out of my head and relax and enjoy.  I’ve never considered myself a workaholic, but I am very goal oriented and I usually have to have SOMETHING I’m working on or toward or else I just don’t know what to do with myself.

But I DO have a lot of things to work on.  For one thing, I’m beta-reading my good friend’s first book!  Her name is April, but you might know her as A Well Read Woman.  I’m very much enjoying her book.  It’s taking me a bit longer to read than most books, however, because I’m going through and making notes.  I really enjoy beta-reading, especially because it means I get to read books before they’re released!

April was also sweet enough to read Boy Band and she wrote one of my most favorite reviews of all time.

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And no, I don’t JUST love it because she included a One Direction gif.

After I’m finished beta-reading, I’m really looking forward to reading the rest of the books on my TBR list for 2015.  I’m not sure I’ll finish them all by January 1, but I WILL finish.

If I could have one wish this Christmas, it would be for independent authors everywhere to enjoy the same amount of recognition, respect, and readership as our traditionally published colleagues.  If you have a reader in your life, visit Amazon.com or BarnesAndNoble.com and check out an independently published book.  I guarantee you you will make an author’s Christmas dream come true.  A reader’s as well.

Love you all!

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21

Today, my little sister turns 21.  I could very well make this a sentimental post about how she’s my best friend in the world and how she’s crossing a major milestone and how I’m so thankful to have her in my life, and all of that would be very, very true.  I don’t know where I’d be without her.

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In honor of her birthday, I decided to release my new book, Backstage, the sequel to Boy Band, a day early on Kindle.  I did this, in part, because she loves the first book so much.  We’re both big boy band fans in real life, and she was the one who really pushed me to finish the first book and to publish it.  She enjoyed Cemetery Tours also, but not like Boy Band.

That being said, I hope you all enjoy the second book!  I did my best not to end it on as BIG a cliffhanger as the first one, but rest assured there is a third one in the works!  Sam and Mel’s story isn’t quite finished yet!

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Love you all!

Backstage on Kindle

 

December Tidings

Hello, friends!

Oh my goodness, it feels like it’s been a while since I last posted.  Probably because it has been.  This has been quite a week though, let me tell you!

First of all, I hope all my American friends had a splendid Thanksgiving full of good food and good times spent with family and friends.  My Thanksgiving was pretty excellent, although as soon as I got home from our friends’ house, my throat began to hurt and I spent the next three days on the couch with The Crud that’s going around.  Thanks, Dad.  Fortunately, I didn’t get it nearly as bad as he did.

In much more exciting news, IT IS FINALLY DECEMBER!  It’s time for snowflakes and hot chocolate and Christmas lights and movie nights by the fire and all those wonderful winter things!  Now of course, once Christmas is over, I won’t be nearly as excited about the cold, but for the next 25 days, bring on the winter chill!

Even though it’s only the first day of December, it’s already turning out to be an incredibly busy month.  I’m giving a talk tonight at a local library about NaNoWriMo and what to do after you’ve finished your manuscript.  If I can figure out how to post the Power Point presentation here, I will.

I’m also giving another talk at another library NEXT week, but I need to check in and make sure everything is still on schedule for that!

Also… BACKSTAGE WILL BE AVAILABLE IN EXACTLY ONE WEEK!  I’m so excited for y’all to read it.  I would post the first chapter here, but it contains MAJOR spoilers for the first book, so I’m afraid y’all are just going to have to wait a week!  You can, however, enter to win a signed copy of BOTH BOOKS on GoodReads.

Once Backstage is released, I’m going to take some time just to enjoy the holidays, spend time with family and friends.  But I’m also going to be investigating a few new publishing platforms as well as a few new projects.  Oh, and I’m also going to be catching up on a LOT of reading.  My goodness, I am so behind.

Happy December, everyone!  It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

(Except for, you know, when it’s warm and sunny).

 

Fiction’s Females

Hello, friends.  Today, we’ll be talking about female characters in modern literature.

As a female myself, I identify with several aspects of several female characters.  For example, Cath Avery from Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl.  Like Cath, I spent a great deal of my time absorbed in fictional worlds.  Books are just so much safer than reality.  Or maybe Hermione Granger.  I wasn’t quite the know-it-all she was, but I was definitely teacher’s pet.  I also had the outrageous, uncontrollable curly hair.  Or what about Katniss Everdeen, perhaps my favorite modern literary heroine?  I would go to any lengths to protect my little sister.  I would rather die than let any harm come to her.  That’s what big sisters do, and Katniss is just… wow.  I love her.

Of course, all these characters have their flaws, too.  Cath is timid and antisocial.  Hermione is stubborn.  Katniss is cold and hardened after the loss of her father and having to become the primary caregiver and supplier for her entire family.

There is a big push today for writers – of books as well as movies – to create what is known as the STRONG female character.  We’re not talking about a damsel-in-distress whose one goal in life is to meet Prince Charming, fall in love, and live happily ever after.  Although I have to say, I have friends who want just that and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it.  Who doesn’t want to find companionship?  It’s a basic human need.

But you know what I’m talking about.  The swooning schoolgirl just isn’t “in” right now.  And that’s fine also!  I love female characters who are intelligent, ambitious, witty, independent, talented, powerful, etc…  What I don’t like is female characters who come off as rude, ungrateful, sarcastic, and pretentious.

Why do I bring this up?  Because I’m reading a book with exactly that type of “strong” female character right now.  Or should I say I WAS reading the book.  To be totally honest with you, I hate this girl so much that I probably won’t make it much farther.  Disappointing too, because this is a book I really thought I was going to like.  I downloaded it on Kindle on a total whim.  It wasn’t one I had planned on reading.  Now it’s on that I don’t plan on finishing.

I know what the author is trying to do.  She’s trying to make her female protagonist “different.”  She’s super smart, totally focused on her studies and her budding career (more power to her for that), but she’s totally aloof, unimpressed with anything the other girls find interesting.  That’s fine, you don’t have to fawn over Harry Styles if everyone else does, but don’t look down on them for doing so.  This girl acts so snobby and above-it-all that I can’t imagine why she has any friends in the first place!  She’s so completely rude and unappreciative to everyone she meets, even when they treat her with nothing but courtesy and respect because she’s so smart and special… It just drives me crazy!  Of course *spoiler alert* she gets the guy in the end, the one that she scoffed at all the other girls for swooning over.

I try to take a whole different approach to the STRONG female character in my books.  I like my heroines to be independent and smart and witty… but I also like the to be genuine.  I like them to be honest, to struggle over what’s right and wrong, to enjoy what they enjoy, and to not be ashamed of being themselves and loving what they love.

Take Mel in Boy Band.  She’s not particularly intelligent or ambitious, but she’s loyal and she’s a hard worker and in this new book, boy does she struggle with what’s right and what’s wrong.  She’s a good friend and she’s so completely in love with Sam, but that doesn’t make her weak or anti-feminist.  It makes her her.

Kate in Cemetery Tours is a bit different.  She’s older, more ambitious, more intelligent, and she doesn’t let anyone tell her what to do.  She’s brave and adventurous, but she also loves nothing more than sitting around in her pajamas and marathoning her favorite television show.

I love my female characters.  I wouldn’t enjoy writing them if I didn’t.  And I don’t love them because they’re STRONG.  I love them simply because they’re them.  They’re real to me.  That’s what I’ve always tried to achieve with all my characters.  I want them to feel like real, fleshed out people.  Not a jumble of characteristics on a page with a name attached to them.

It’s important for women to be strong, but it’s just as important for us to be real, to be genuine, and to be happy and proud of who we are no matter what.  We’re all different.  And there’s nothing wrong with that.  Nothing at all.

Backstage Soundtrack

With a little less than a month until Backstage is released, I figure it’s about time to share the soundtrack that helped inspire it!  Every time I come up with a new idea for a book, one of the first things I do is make a playlist of music to listen to that serves as a soundtrack that I listen to while the book plays out in my head.

You can find the Soundtrack to Boy Band here.

Note: I do not own any of these songs, nor am I profiting from them in any way.

  1. “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon
  2. “Little White Lies” by One Direction
  3. “Roller Coaster” by Bleachers
  4. “Ordinary Day” by Vanessa Carlton
  5. “Something Great” by One Direction
  6. “Good Girls” by 5 Seconds of Summer
  7. “The Great Escape” by Boys Like Girls
  8. “Don’t” by Ed Sheeran
  9. “Manhattan From the Sky” by Kate Voegele
  10. “Drag Me Down” by One Direction
  11. “Headphones” by Matt Nathanson
  12. “Disconnected” by 5 Seconds of Summer
  13. “Perfect” by One Direction

Backstage will be available on December 8!  Make sure to enter my GoodReads Giveaway for a chance to win signed copies of BOTH Backstage and Boy Band!

GIVEAWAY!

Hello Tuesday

Hi, friends!  I hope you all had a great weekend.  Mine was super busy.

For one thing, my dad had another eye surgery yesterday to take care of a nasty cataract which was a direct result of his last surgery.  Thankfully, everything went well.  It was a simple procedure and he was up on his feet and totally fine within about thirty minutes.  He still can’t drive, so my mom and I are helping him out there, but his vision has improved significantly in just twenty-four hours.  Pretty cool!

For another thing, I have been sending out review copies of my books like crazy.  And I still have more to send!

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I also finally made it to the mall to visit the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree.

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I usually don’t post about personal stuff like this, but every year, my sister and I adopt an angel.  I know that it’s always important to give things like food and clothes, practical items to those in need.  But I’ve always loved the Angel Tree because it gives me the opportunity to give those kids something more.  I love the idea of being able to make their holidays magical, to bring them a bit of joy.  By adopting an angel, you’re making a kid’s Christmas dream come true, a wish that may not have been granted otherwise.  So if you have a moment, or a few gifts to spare, stop by your local Angel Tree.  It’s so much fun to play Santa, and a beautiful reminder that this truly is the season of giving, of love, and of goodwill towards all men, women, and children.

This weekend, I also got to spend a bit of time outside, first with my friend and an adorable puppy named Kate, and then with my cousins at White Rock Lake.  I’m so happy to say it is finally feeling like fall.  I’ve been wearing my jeans and scarves and sweaters.  I love it!

Of course, I’ll only love it until December 26, but hey, I’m going to enjoy it while I can.

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Last but not least, I’ve been working tirelessly on Backstage, getting it ready for publication in less than a month!  Agh!

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On a similar and very fun note, there’s a new Twitter account called Niall (Horan) as Books.  I may have mentioned before that even though I am fond of all the 1D boys, I am very partial to the adorable blond Irishman.  Imagine how thrilled I was when this appeared in my Newsfeed:

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This is officially one of my favorite Tweets, along with a Tweet from a similar account, Harry (Styles) as Books!

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Yes, I am still a 1D fangirl and I am eagerly awaiting the release of Made in the AM this week!  I’m probably looking more forward to that than the release of my own book.

Well, maybe they’re tied.

Love you all!