Monday, October 16, 2017

Why Some Films Tank While Others Fly: Learning From Hollywood

Has anyone else noticed how many Hollywood films have tanked lately? I'd say the vast majority. There's a specific reason for that, and we writers can learn a lot from it.
Disclaimer: While I am going to mention the political clime in a very general way, this is not a political post. Not bipartisan. My own political beliefs will not be mentioned. This is simply about good story-telling.
The political climate, both in the U.S. and around the world, is highly charged at the moment, and has been all year. Probably won't calm down anytime soon either.
Unfortunately, many people continually try to force their beliefs on others. One way this is done is through film. (Also through books, songs, commericals, social media, and many other ways, but I'm just going to focus on films for this post.)
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If you aren't aware, the Hollywood film that's done the best in past months is IT, adapted from Stephen King's horror classic.
That may seem counter-intuitive to those who refuse to see the film.
(If clowns traumatize you, I'm NOT going to recommend that you see this film. If you liked the book, I think you'll enjoy the movie. I thought they did an excellent job with it. They stayed away from gratuitous gore and some of the weirder (not in a good way) aspects of the novel. Truly it was more creepy than violent, which is how I prefer my horror.)
Even if you have no plans to see the film, check out these facts below:
  • IT has been at the top of the box office for longer than almost any other film of 2017.
  • It's made over $300 million domestically.
  • It's also popping all kinds of records internationally. (Source)
  • It's being hailed as the Highest-Grossing R-Rated Horror Film of all Time (Source)

So why is it doing so well? There are several possibilities.
1. They did such a great job making it. They really did! I know lots of people who love the 80s mini-series. If you do, more power to ya. I, personally, was not a fan. It's probably because I only watched it a couple of years ago, and it's really old. I didn't feel like it did the book justice. As with anything, now that we have better technology and movie magic at our fingertips, an update is just plain cooler.
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On the other hand, MOST films are pretty well-made these days. Audiences demand it. There are plenty of other films out that also did a great job, and didn't hit nearly the same box office level as IT. So I don't think we can attribute it's success only to a well-made film.
2. It's a Stephen King Classic. Very true. Even if pee-your-pants horror isn't your thing, or King's content is too over-the-top for you, IT is one of the most well-written stories I've ever read, which is the main reason I like it.
On the other hand, many of Stephen King's books have been made into films, and many of them have flopped at the box office. So his name or stories alone don't guarantee box office cha-ching, you know?
So what I am getting at here? What does this have to do with the political clime I mentioned earlier?
The fact of the matter is that many attempts have been made to cram various agendas down the public's throats using film. No matter which way you lean politically, it simply doesn't make for great story-telling. These types of things (film or otherwise) almost always flop because they have an obvious agenda.
It's the first rule of writing: tell a story. Don't preach to your audience.
I find it super-interesting that of all the films put out this summer (and summer is usually a time for blockbusters) the film that's blowing all others out of the water is story about children fighting monsters.
(It makes me smile.)
  • There are no well-known, A-List actors in it. Not a single one. 
  • While there is some great clown makeup happening, there aren't any massive, stuff-blowing-up, StarTrekkian special effects involved. 
  • The score is great. Very appropriate for the story. But no songs by the biggest pop or rock'n'roll band on the market right now.
It's simply a great story, with a premise people can get behind. It's about flawed kids dealing with real problems (abuse, bullying, peer pressure, hormones) that don't have particularly great adult role models. So they create a group of friends, Band-of-Brothers-style, to fight a monster that's haunting their hometown.
It's simple, human, and compelling.
No matter what a person's political beliefs, when they want to be entertained (by film, books, music, sports, anything else) they aren't looking for an agenda. They're looking for a great story that will entertain them and cause an emotional catharsis.
In many ways, it's simply good business. It has nothing to do with belief or agendas. Give the customer what they want. And when they want to be entertained, they want great entertainment.
It's the first rule of writing, so most writers already know this (we hope!) but we have proof of it playing out around this film.
Give your readers the emotion, not the agenda. And your story, too, will fly.

Thoughts?

Friday, August 11, 2017

Pre-Orders and Book Sales! Woot, woot! 🎉🎉🎉

Good morning! Today is a very important day. No, I'm not referring to National Raspberry Tart Day. (Although that's important too. I don't think I have a tart pan, but I'm totally making a raspberry pie for after dinner tonight. Yum! ;D)
What I meant was…

***Damaged Hope is now available for pre-order on Amazon!***

I'd encourage you to pre-order now, as it's currently priced at $0.99. It will stay at that price for three weeks. Then the price will increase. So pre-order now! Click HERE to pre-order.

Woot, woot! Raspberry tarts and Damaged Hope! We should all eat desert. (Hey, I jogged today. For like five minutes.)



***Quantum Entanglement Book Sale!***

Quantum Entanglement (Interchron #2) is part of a 99 cent promo this month. Which means it's priced at *drum roll, please!* $0.99 this month. Woot, woot!
You can get Persistence of Vision, Book 1 by joining my Story Squad. Go HERE. It's also free on most platforms.

So hop on over and pick up a copy of book 2. This is the cheapest price you'll see for it.


Have a great weekend! And hop over to the Giveaway tab for some great free books. Cheers!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Cover Reveal: Damaged Hope!

Good morning, Lovely Readers! How is everyone's week going?

Couple of orders of business today. It's been an insane few weeks, but I am slowly and surely getting work done. I have a sneaking hunch Fall might prove even busier. Let's hope not. 😉

1. I can now reveal the cover of book 3 of Street Games!

Two weeks ago, my Story Squad members voted for the title, Damaged Hope. Well, the wonderful Kealan Patrick Burke (my cover designer for this series; see www.kealanpatrickburke.com) has put together a beautiful cover for me.

Here it is!


Isn't it lovely!?! I love how he incorporated the red lighting of the Mire.

Fun fact: I decided to incorporate a lightning storm into the end of the book. I hadn't planned the weather element originally, but I saw this and knew I had to do it. If anything, it will just make the ending that much more dramatic. (Hooray for drama on the page! 😂)

2. It is looking like the release of book 3 will be pushed back to September. (Didn't I tell you that would happen?) The editing is taking longer than anticipated, so it probably won't be out until the end of 9/17. I'll keep you updated of course, and let you know when I have a firm date. It's getting close, though. Truly. Be patient with me. It's coming!


Well, have a great week! And happy reading!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Editing for Crutch Words and Passive Voice + Title Chosen!

Good morning and Happy Friday! Hope everyone's week has gone well.

I have a busy day and weekend ahead of me, so without ado, I have two orders of business. Really they're announcements. (I'll get more writing-centric posts up on this blog eventually. I promise. ;D)

1. I'm happy to announce that I have a new title for the third book of Street Games. It will be out in less than two months and my cover designer is hard at work. As I got close to finishing the writing on this book, I still had no idea what the title would be. (And of course you can't really make a cover without a title. ;D)





So I got out the index card that had my themes on it and pulled up my trusty online thesaurus. I started putting words together, looking for a title that would go well with the first two in the series and also encapsulate some of the themes I’m working with.

I got my critique group involved and came up with six possible titles that I liked. I then sent a pole to my Story Squad and they voted. The title of Street Games #3 will be…

(drum roll please)

Damaged Hope


It's an interesting choice, really. Even though it has the "damaged" in front of it, it still strikes me as the most positive title of all the options I gave. So it's super interesting to me that this is the one my readers wanted.

Anyway, I think it's a great title and I hope to have a cover to show off soon. (So excited!)

2. I finally finished my book on Editing for Crutch Words. I've been working on this for weeks and finally managed to get it uploaded to Amazon. That's the only platform it's on, currently, in ebook format. I don't plan to put it on other platforms unless I get a lot of specific requests for it.

I've gotten amazingly positive feedback on this book. It helps writers learn how to scrub crutch words and passive voice from their writing, which automatically makes it 200% stronger, tighter, and more professional-sounding.


It's geared toward fiction authors, but any editor can use these techniques to improve and it can be used on fiction and non-fiction writing alike.

Authors: No matter how much you self-edit, do you sometimes still feel like your writing sounds trite or amateurish? Editors, do you ever come across a sentence you KNOW needs fixing, but can't figure out how to fix it without changing the meaning? This is the book for you. Chances are you're dealing with the Evil Geniuses of the writing world: Crutch Words. Writers, this book will teach you how to edit for them and elevate your writing into the big leagues. Editors, this will make you into the kind of editor writers will line up to work with! Come, learn, write extraordinary!

I'd love some reviews. Click the link below if you feel so inclined. 



That's it for me, today! Everyone have a fabulous weekend. (Monday is a Utah holiday, so I'm sure I'll get zero work done that day.)




What do you think of the title, Damaged Hope? How are you at editing for crutch words and passive voice? Would you like to learn more?

Friday, July 7, 2017

Hooray for Dragon Boards! Want to be a Collaborator?

Hi there and Hellodie! Happy Friday!


TGIF, right? Because of the holiday this week (which was a blast, of course) it's been a crazy week for me. Even after the holiday I was playing catch up, so it just seems like everything's been super crazy, even though that's probably just my perception of it.

How was your holiday 
(for those in the States who celebrated it)? We had a really good family turn out. Those are my favorite kinds of holidays: the ones where the entire extended family gets together, eats great food, and just visits and reminisces, telling the same old stories and jokes over and over again. (And of course a cool firework show afterward helps as well. 🎆🎇)

Desolate Mantle Contest:

Remember to check out the contest HERE. The prize money did actually go up a little bit this week. Not tons, but a little. Remember that it was at $100 last week. You'll have to click on THIS LINK to see what it's at today. 😉

While there you can also read the contest rules and consider participating. Who couldn't use an extra hundred bucks or more, right? 😀

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Dragon Magic

I've got some boards on Pinterest about this series. One is called "Dragons" (See HERE) where I collect cool dragon art of all kinds. I'm looking for collaborators for this board. If you want to help me find and pin dragon art, reply to this email and let me know. I'll invite you as a collaborator.

The other board is called "Dragon Magic" (See HERE) and I pin things there that are specifically relevant to the series. I may even do some giveaways and contests based around this board. Dragons make the best gifts. 🐲😉

So if you're interested--and you're an avid pinner, which I'm assuming you all are ;D--you can follow the individual boards at the links above, or else just follow me HERE.

And don't forget to check out the GIVEAWAY TAB for some FREE reads! 📚📚📚

I think that's it for me this week. Anyone have any fun weekend plans?

Friday, June 30, 2017

Desolate Mantle Contest: $100 Cash Prize + Free Dragon Reads for You!

Good Morning, Lovely Readers, and Happy Friday!

Couple of orders of business today. Contests with cash prizes, free books, dragons and more!

I've been working hard on building my VIP Story Squad and along with that, have updated some of my blog tabs, including Giveaways, which will feature current giveaways I'm involved in. Always lots of cool prizes, swag, free books and new authors to be discovered. If you feel so inclined, check out that tab, along with a few other new ones I've added.

My blog pages are a work in progress. I'm still working on getting links for all my books in place, but hopefully will be all updated in another week or two. Be patient with me. With the holiday coming, this next week will be crazy for me. 😉

Here's my exciting news for today: Pretty sure I've mentioned this before, but I'm promoting it more actively now that I have a release date for book 3. 

Awesome Book Contest Right Here!

Good Morning, Lovely Readers, and Happy Friday!

🎉🎉🎉 Here's my exciting news for today. The contest I’m currently running has to do with Street Games, my crime fiction series. Specifically book 2. 🎊🎊🎊



Don't worry, I won't give spoilers. But at the end of book 2, Desolate Mantle, let's just say there is a box with three items in it. The contest is to guess what those three items are.

The prize money is currently set at $100. I will be watching my sales and for each copy of Desolate Mantle sold, I will add a small portion of the sale to the pot. I'll update you weekly from here on out on what the price has raised to. You can also watch the thermometer widget on my blog rise on my Contest Page.

Book 3 of Street Games (title forthcoming) will be available August 28, 2017. That gives everyone roughly 60 days to read book 1 (Dark Remnants, which is permafree on most platforms and you should have received for joining my Story Squad) and book 2, and then entering the contest. Feel free to spread the word. The more people who purchase the book, the higher the prize money will go! The sky's the limit. 🌞🌠🔥

You can reply to this email with guesses or there's also an email I've placed at the end of the book where you can send guesses. I'll also let you know periodically how the guessing is going. If I say no one has guessed correctly, and you've submitted a guess, you can always try again. No limit on entries.

So that's it! Go for it and happy guessing. Feel free to reply with any questions.

Get Dark Remnants for FREE HERE or HERE.
Get Desolate Mantle (Book 2) at the following links or most major retailers:

   B&N   APPLE   KOBO   SMASHWORDS

🎉🎊 FREEBIE FOR YOU! 🎊🎉
So I recently finished and uploaded a short story called The Hatching. It falls into the epic fantasy genre. In fact, it's the story of a boy and a dragon.



Again, it's a short story, not a novel. But it's a prequel to my Dragon Magic series. I'm hoping to have book 1 of that series out before the end of the year. (Aiming for October but it's not set in stone.)

I'm giving this story away for free to build my high fantasy readership, so I'm sending it to all of my wonder story squad here. Below is the link to download it. It's short and fun.

Click HERE for your free copy.

I'd love to hear your thoughts! What did you think of the story? What would you like to see in the coming series?

Life Updates
The next five days will be SUPER busy for me. My sister's wedding is on Saturday, 7/1. There's a baby blessing the day after that, which always ends up being a huge family event. (Baby Hudson below. Isn't he just a little charmer?)



Monday should be relatively calm but, you know, a Monday. And then there's our fabulous country's birthday on July 4th, for which I'll more than likely be barbecuing for 30+ people and hosting a fireworks show on the street outside our house. Good times.

I'll update you with the exciting stuff (let's hope nothing disastrous) next week.

Everyone in the States have a wonderful, safe 4th and let's remember how blessed we are to live in this wonderful country.



Have a great holiday Everyone! 

"Writing is a struggle against silence." --Carlos Fuentes
"Literacy is vital to democracy. For if the governed can neither understand their leaders nor distinguish truth from lies, then a democracy descends into oligarchy, a government by and for the elite few." --John Stauffer 
"Oh that my words were now written! Oh that they were printed in a book! That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock forever!" --Job 19:23-24

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Ever Wanted to Appear in a Fictional Novel?

Good morning! How was everyone's weekend!

Happy Belated Mother's Day for those who celebrated it this past weekend, and to those who celebrate it at other times, Happy Mother's Day to you too! Mothers are amazing! 👶

I spent the day getting mannies and petties 💅 with my mom, two of my sisters, and my niece. My brother came to breakfast with us, and he asked if he wanted to join us at the salon, but apparently he has ridiculously ticklish feet. 👣 You gotta understand, my bro is 6'2" and built like a linebacker. I had this hysterical image of him kicking the poor, 90-pound Asian salon lady in the fact while she tried to give him a pedicure. Or better yet, her hanging on to his foot while he kicked, flying through the air like an attached streamer.

Yeah, my imagination went a little wild. I had a super busy week, but not a bad one. Here's a ridiculously adorable picture of my toddlers falling asleep on one another. The baby is in her car seat next to them, but she's facing the other way, so you can't see that she, too, fell asleep. Gotta love that hot, Utah sun! ;D

So, question for you: have you ever wanted to appear in a fictional novel? Lots of writers base personalities or certain traits of characters on people in their lives or acquaintances they've met.

Pretty much all my characters have parts of me in them, especially the female ones. I don't think I've ever based a character's personality completely on someone I've known, but I have drawn specific aspects from various real life sources.

So have you ever thought about this next question: would you ever want to appear in a fictional novel, specifically as a villain? 😈 I'm gonna take a wild guess and say, probably not. That's why you must always mind your manners around an author. 
Otherwise, you might end up immortalized for something that's less than flattering. ;D


For example, this is song rather than fiction, but did you know that Carly Simon wrote the song "You're so Vain" about an ex-boyfriend. It's about Warren Beatty, whom she dated and, apparently, wasn't too impressed with. Ouch. 😉

So tell me, who are your favorite villains?

I don't know that I could choose just one. There are those villains, like serial killers, who are usually the creepiest and most fascinating. But then you gotta love those hilarious villains that are just so happy to be evil. They always make me smile (while rooting for the hero to take them out, of course. 💪👊)

Crime Fic:

Starting today, check out this promotion for mysteries and thrillers through Instafreebie. Lots of fun books up for grabs. It will run through the 24th. Check it out HERE. 



As you can see from this Scrivner screenshot, Book 3 of Street Games is coming along.


Stay tuned over the next few weeks. As I get closer to completing it, I'll ask for help from all of you in choosing a title.

Histfic:

Remember that Bastions of Blood comes out in exactly one week! I'm so excited for you guys to finally get book 2. You can still pre-order the book for $1.99. That's a dollar cheaper than what it will be when it comes out. Just saying. Pre-order HERE



Remember that I'll be having a Facebook launch party where I'll be giving away prizes including free books and Amazon gift cards. It will run from 7-8:30 MST on May 23rd. Go to THIS LINK to join the event.

Based on what you've read so far in book 1, what do you predict will happen?

Dystopian:

Specifically, who is your favorite Dystopian villain? I'm just curious. Jeanine Matthews of Divergent? Big Brother of 1984? What do you think of B so far in Interchron?

Remember to check out the Epic Worlds Giveaway, if you haven't. It only runs until the 19th, so be sure to fill up on free books set in epic worlds. The clock is ticking! Check it out HERE.



Well, have a wonderful week. Whatever you're doing this week, be awesome at it. There's really no other way to go through life! ;D

"Writing is a struggle against silence." --Carlos Fuentes
"Literacy is vital to democracy. For if the governed can neither understand their leaders nor distinguish truth from lies, then a democracy descends into oligarchy, a government by and for the elite few." --John Stauffer 
"Oh that my words were now written! Oh that they were printed in a book! That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock forever!" --Job 19:23-24




Monday, May 15, 2017

Best Way I've Ever Found to Grow my Email List

Good morning! Yes, I know. I've been neglecting my blog again. Cest la vie. But here's the thing:

I've been super busy these past months, overhauling books, busy getting rights reversions, re-editing old works, and building my email list. All of this is in preparation for my "next phase" which will start when I release my next book in about a week. So... *rubs hands together*

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1. Instafreebie.

In February, I attended the LTUE conference in Provo, Utah. There, I was approached by a young woman who worked for a site called INSTAFREEBIE.

Anyone heard of it? I hadn't. So please listen. All you authors out there, if you're not on Instafreebie, YOU NEED TO BE ON INSTAFREEBIE.

It's by far the best way I've ever found to build my email. List. Basically, before Instafreebie (IF) I'd had about 30 people on my email list for the 3 years. I just had a really difficult time building it, as many authors do. I joined IF and started doing their promotions. (It is a paid service, but it's not expensive and the promos are free once you join.) In the past 6 weeks I've gained roughly 1800 subscribers. No lie. Here's proof: (Btw, I have different lists for the different genres I write, since not all people who read one genre will want emails about the others. That number represents my total current subscribers across all lists.)



It's by far the best site I've ever found for connecting authors and readers. Seriously, go join IF. Now.

2. I left one of my publishers. They nearly went out of business, but then were bought at the last minute by another company. The problem was, that company only published YA books. Mine are adult. So they didn't kick me to the curb, but they were very frank about the fact that they wouldn't be promoting my books. They said if I wanted to do a promo, they'd put it on their Facebook page, but that was all. So I had them revert the rights to me so I could self publish. I knew I would do better on my own.

I actually feel quite blessed with how well it went. It took some time, of course, but went very smoothly overall. I was able to obtain full rights on both novels I had with that publisher as well as usage of my covers. (Score!)

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But here's the kicker: I decided to re-edit Citadels of Fire, since it was one of the first novels I ever wrote. I have a new (relatively) method of editing my work that includes a specific way of editing for crutch words. I wanted to re-edit that manuscript just to see how bad my crutch word usage was back then. And guess what?

It was TERRIBLE! Obviously I've grown a lot as a writer since then, but the thing that was very eye-opening to me is that it was edited for publication by a professional editor. And they didn't catch any of the crutch words/passive voice. When I re-edited it myself a few weeks ago, I cut almost 5,000 words out of my manuscript without changing a single thing in the plot. It was just tightening things up. That's staggering.

So that inspired me to write a little pamphlet for authors about how to edit your own work and never have to pay a professional editor again. I'm working on that now. It won't be a very long book, and I hope to have it finished in the next few weeks.

Finally, Book 2 of Kremlins, Bastions of Blood, will be out next Tuesday, May 23rd. I'm going to have a Facebook Launch Party. (I'll put details in my post tomorrow.) This book really should have come out a year ago, but there was delay after delay at the publisher, before they finally went under/sold to another company. So I'm very excited to finally be able to publish book 2 of my trilogy.

Like I said, more details tomorrow.

Also, for the time being, I'll be publishing about once per week, just updating with news of all my genres. Normally it will probably be on Mondays, but this week I'll be posting it tomorrow. Wanted to do this post today by way of introduction to my new format.

Okay, I think that's all. See you tomorrow, and have a fantabulous Monday! ;D