Thursday, April 16, 2015

Writing An Entire Series At Once, Or Am I Nuts For Doing This

Guest post by Jennifer Allis Provost...

A funny thing happened during NaNoWriMo 2014; okay, a few funny things happened.

Like many writers around the world, I look forward to participating in NaNo every November. (Don’t know what NaNoWriMo is? Learn more here.) In the past I’ve banged out full-length epic fantasies and short stories featuring everything from zombies to homicidal horses. I didn’t do anything like that for NaNo 2014.

I wrote a series.

Okay, so I didn’t finish the entire series by November 30. But I did finish book one, working title Changing Teams, in 19 days. In the remaining eleven I outlined the next three books and wrote a tie-in short story. Yeah, this series was happening in a big way.

I plunged ahead into book two, but when I was halfway in I decided it should be book three. Then I switched the protagonists for books two and four and added some backstory to book three, which meant that I needed to make some changes to book one. In essence, I was writing the entire series at once.

This was uncharted territory for me. I’ve written three series in the past—one epic fantasy, two urban fantasies—and I’ve always followed the same formula:

1.     Write book one (meaning the whole process including beta reading, editing, etc.)
2.     Check out the market, determine which agents and publishers are buying works similar to mine
3.     Write query letters, synopses, and submit away
4.     Commence nail biting
5.     If book one is picked up, consider series potential

This time around, instead of waiting for an agent or publisher to express interest in book one, I’ll have the entire series in my back pocket. If someone asks, “Hey, is there a sequel?” I can shoot it right over. If I decide to forgo traditional publishing and self-publish, I can release each title a month or two apart, and capitalize on series momentum. And, probably the best thing about writing the whole series at once is that I get to put in those little Easter eggs that fans love to find, and smooth out plot holes along the way.

Is writing an entire series simultaneously hard? You bet it is. But it’s a relatively simple trick from which I’m already reaping awards.

Bio: I'm Jennifer Allis Provost. I write books about faeries, orcs and elves. Zombies too. My latest release is Copper Ravens, book two of the Copper Legacy, in June 2014 from Spence City. Look for my next release, the epic fantasy Heir to the Sun, June 1 2015.
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Follow me on Twitter: @parthalan

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Kristin's Book Review: The Boys in the Boat

My friend Kristin Wroblewski, an avid reader, is a guest reviewer on this blog. This is her review of the NYT #1 bestseller, The Boys on The Boat, a Remarkable True Story


For readers of Unbroken, out of the depths of the Depression comes an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times—the improbable, intimate account of how nine working-class boys from the American West showed the world at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin what true grit really meant.

It was an unlikely quest from the start. With a team composed of the sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the University of Washington’s eight-oar crew team was never expected to defeat the elite teams of the East Coast and Great Britain, yet they did, going on to shock the world by defeating the German team rowing for Adolf Hitler. The emotional heart of the tale lies with Joe Rantz, a teenager without family or prospects, who rows not only to regain his shattered self-regard but also to find a real place for himself in the world. Drawing on the boys’ own journals and vivid memories of a once-in-a-lifetime shared dream, Brown has created an unforgettable portrait of an era, a celebration of a remarkable achievement, and a chronicle of one extraordinary young man’s personal quest.

The Boys In the Boat a Remarkable True Story

The generation of men who went off to war after Pearl Harbor were mercilessly
bombed on that fateful morning in December, are now referred to as, in
no small part thanks to Journalist Tom Brokaw, The Greatest Generation. They,
and the loved ones they left behind to fight the war on the Homefront are given
this label because they, without question, saw a call to duty to defend the

However, in the 1930's, America was in the gripes of The Great Depression
while across the ocean in Germany, a thug named Adolf Hitler was slowly
gaining momentum.There is another story as well. The story of the nine men
from the University of Washington and their remarkable journey to the 1936
Olympics in Berlin. They came from all over the state of Washington and all
socioeconomic backgrounds. They had a common bond, rowing. A sport that
is usually reserved for the elite boarding schools of Eaton and Harrow and
universities such as Oxford and Cambridge and Ivy League Institutions.
Schools such as Stanford and Cal Berkely fell into this category and already
had strong traditions by the time nine young men from Washington made
people sit up and take notice. Within this amazing story of courage and perseverance,
the stories of the rowers themselves are intertwined.

While the nine young men, their coach, and their boat maker were
not well known, there are three names you will come across that will be recognizable.
Jesse Owens, Louis Zamperini and a man, a Brit, by the last name of
Laurie. His son would become a very well known actor many years later.
There are so many stories about the Second World War on the market to
read. This is a good thing because it ensures that The Greatest Generation will
live on through their stories, even after they gone. 

The members of the University of Washington rowing team who went to Berlin in 1936 are all deceased now. Their contribution to the war effort was not through physical
fighting, although many of them did enlist after Pearl Harbor. Theirs was a victory
of the hearts and the minds of America. In the face of tyranny, they made

America believe.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

9 Ways to Promote Your Book—Guest Post by author and internet marketer, Sara Crawford

These days, it’s not enough to write a great book. Whether you self-publish, publish with an independent or small publisher, or even land a big book deal with one of the “Big Five” publishers, you need to do as much of your own marketing and promotion as you can. Here are some tools you can use.

1. E-mail lists – Statistics show that e-mail marketing is still one of the most effective strategies. Encourage readers, visitors to your blog, and social media followers to sign up for your mailing list. Give people an incentive to sign up, whether it’s a discount on your book, a free bookmark, a free chapter sample, or something else. Find a way to make your e-mails more than just promotional. Include beneficial information related to your book. (For example, if your book is set in the South and features a lot of Southern cooking, include some fun recipes. Get creative!)

2. Social media – Every social network has a different audience and a different purpose. Get to know the different social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, Goodreads etc.) and find out which sites your target audience visits most often. (Tumblr is popular among teenagers, for example. If your book features fashionable or crafty characters, Pinterest may be a good place to promote it.) Don’t just use the social networks to be promotional, though. Support other writers, engage with your readers, and post interesting, funny, or thought-provoking posts.

3. Swag – Whether it’s a bookmark, coffee mug, t-shirt, bracelet, postcard, journal, or any other item, merch is an excellent way to get the word out about your book. You may have to invest a little money, but these physical items can often make people remember you and your book. I used to be in a band called Pocket the Moon. I ordered a ton of plastic toy unicorns, wrote our band name on them, and we sold these at our shows for five bucks. We also gave out free moon pies. These kinds of unique items helped people to remember us, and it made our shows a more fun experience. Find some creative swag that will make people remember your book.

4. Contests and giveaways – These are a great way to create buzz around your book. You can host a giveaway or contest on your website, Goodreads, YouTube, or many other places. You can give away signed copies of your book or some of the fun swag mentioned above. You can team up with local bookstores and giveaway coupons or gift certificates.

5. Blog tours – A blog tour is a virtual tour to help an author promote his or her book. These “tours” go from one book blog to the next with interesting posts such as reviews, guest blog posts, cover reveals, etc., and they are a useful tool to help you connect with potential readers. While it is possible to organize your own blog tour, there are many different services that will do this for you for a low fee.

6. Attend or organize live events – Contact your local library or bookstore to schedule a reading or a signing. Visit nearby schools to discuss your book with students (particularly if your book is for children or teens). Schedule talks and/or workshops about writing and sell your book in the back of the room. Find book festivals and conferences you can attend, and see if you can get on one of the panels. You can also schedule unconventional events. For example, if your book is about music, maybe organize a live musical performance and read a short section in between performers.

7. Team up with other authors – Find two or three authors with books in your genre, and organize events. These may be panel discussions, readings, or book signings. It’s easier to do a regional or even national promotional book tour as well if you have other authors to split expenses, especially if you don’t have a huge marketing budget.

8. Encourage readers to leave reviews and spread the word – A lot of authors have a section at the end of their books (I see this a lot with e-books especially) asking readers specifically to review their book on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, etc. if they enjoyed it. You could also just mention this when you do live events. Readers are more likely to leave reviews if you ask!

9. Think outside of the box – How can you make your book promotion fun for both you and your readers? Are there any unique products you can create based on the content of your book? Can you organize events that tie in with any sort of organization or cause related to the subject matter of your book? These are great questions to ask yourself when coming up with a marketing plan.

Other resources:

Sara Crawford is a writer and internet marketer from Atlanta, Georgia. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of New Orleans. Her upcoming debut young adult novel is called WE OWN THE SKY. In addition to her writing blog, she maintains THE DAILY WRITER mailing list providing daily inspiration for writers.

You can visit Sara here:

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The re-release of BETWEEN THESE LINES by Jennifer Murgia

Young Adult Contemporary
Birch House Press
eBook – format
Summary: When a Social Communications class assignment brings quiet Chase Mitman and popular Evie Cunningham together, it's a real eye-opener. Haunted and damaged in their own way, they have only shown others what they want them to see--not that they each hold a terrible secret deep inside, or that they have more in common than they'd ever like anyone to realize.
But then it happens. The sweaty palms. The kiss. And something worse . . . and Chase is there to pick up the pieces.

Knowing their relationship comes at a price, Chase’s life collides with Evie’s in the most beautiful and tragic way, until the unthinkable happens. The party. An innocent prank turns ugly. An anonymous note changes everything. And lives at Whitley Prep will never be the same.
Buy the book NOW:           
Amazon Tiny Url:

Author Bio: Jennifer Murgia writes moody fiction for teens—from paranormal fantasy (Angel Star, LemniscateThe Bliss), to contemporary gut-punchers (Between These Lines). Her latest, Forest of Whispers, a 17th century historical mystery (about witches!) was a School Library Journal Fall 2014 HOT TITLE, and a 2014 Moonbeam Children’s Literature Award Winner. Look for the sequel, Castle of Sighs, to hit shelves 9.15.15 from Spencer Hill Press. In 2012, Jennifer Co-Founded YA FEST with YA author/friend, Cyn Balog. She coordinates this unique annual festival, bringing teens and fellow Young Adult authors together at her hometown library in Easton, PA. Visit her at

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"BETWEEN THESE LINES is an astounding story, told from alternating perspectives, about two people finding not only their true selves, but each other. Filled with heart-racing tension, this unique story left me breathless and craving more! It is Cruel Intensions meets Perfect Chemistry. I will be thinking about these characters for days to come.”
~ Jennifer Anne Davis (author of THE VOICE)

“With its perfectly realized characters and an ending that knocked me to my knees, BETWEEN THESE LINES delivers a profound message that strength can be found even in brokenness.”
~Darby Karchut (author of GRIFFIN RISING and FINN FINNEGAN)

“I was pulled in; just one more page, one more chapter, to the very end—which I never saw coming. BETWEEN THESE LINES is a touching, strike-at-your-heart story.”
~ Charlotte Bennardo (author of the Sirenz series, and the upcoming BLONDE OPS)

“YA author Jennifer Murgia (ANGEL STAR, LEMNISCATE, and THE BLISS) has created another chilling story in BETWEEN THESE LINES. Chase, restrained and reserved for a shocking reason, and Evie, trapped in a game she never entered have just found each other when the unthinkable happens. If this is star-crossed love, sign me up! Fans of Simone Elkeles and Tammara Webber will love Murgia!”
~ Laura Anderson Kurk, author of GLASS GIRL

Friday, March 20, 2015

MTV news exclusive cover reveal for my next book UNTIL BETH--today!!

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Girl on the Train—Guest reviewer Kristin Wroblewski-Retar

My guest reviewer, Kristin, is an avid reader and my "go-to" person for great reads. She's helped me to go beyond my usual YA reading habits and has not failed me yet. Here is her review for a book we both devoured.

The Girl on the Train 

The Girl on the Train, a taut thriller worth the time.

When you take a long trip, whether by train or
plane, the mind wanders. You might find yourself
thinking about family or work or watching other
passengers making up scenarios about their lives
based on just what you see.

This is the opening of The Girl on the Train
Rachel travels from her home to her job in London on the same
train, day in and day out. As the train rattles its
way down the track past well-appointed houses Rachel
creates scenarios based on what she sees out the

It is while stopped at a signal thats she looks into
one house in particular every day. She names the people she sees
"Jess and Jason." 

Rachel imagines their life is perfect, even as her own life is rapidly falling apart.
One day, while at the signal, Rachel sees something
shocking. It happens fast, but Rachel is sure of
what she saw so she shares everything with police.

However, the deeper the reader goes, the more
unreliable the narrative becomes. The reader
discovers early on that the characters are not likable.

They all have very little, if any redeeming
qualities and this is what keeps the reader coming
back for more. The inquisitive reader wants to know
to what depths these characters will sink.

The unreliable narrative is an often underused or even
misused device in an author's arsenal. Paula Hawkins
has elevated this narrative from the likes of Gillian
Flynn and her novel Gone Girl. The ending will even leave
you much more satisfied. 

The Girl on the Train is a spectacular debut that will leave you thinking about
it long after it is finished.

Kristin Wroblewski-Retar is a stay at home mom to her
daughter Addison. She has a degree in English from the
Ohio State University, is married to her husband Brian,
has two step sons, and a cat named George. She lives in Ohio.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Six things that make a good cover: Some cover design advice from the trenches.

1.    Concept. Your cover should reflect the atmosphere and genre of your book, but it’s not supposed to tell the story. It’s meant to intrigue, tease, and entice a potential reader to WANT to read it. Try for originality. Copying existing covers will bore your viewer and possibly turn them off.

2.     Simplicity. A good cover should not bombard your reader with chaotic images. Give it the three-second test. A viewer should be able to look at your cover and in three seconds, grasp the message the cover is intended to deliver.

3.    Visibility A good cover is visible at a very small size, as these days, that is the main way it will be presented to your reader.

4.     Typography. Call me a type snob, but if your type is poor, it doesn’t matter if Rembrandt himself designed your art. TYPE IS EVERYTHING. And what do I mean by that? Hierarchy: What’s important should LEAP out at you (as in your title). If the title is invisible against the background art because it is too small, not bold enough or too similar in tone or color to the background, or if the background is too bub. Legibilu

5      Color Is key. It is a tool to make your cover unique and set the mood.

Here are some covers I love and I'll tell you why. I'm not even going to see what they are about or even check their genre. I'm going to guess--because covers should speak for themselves. After I speak my opinion, I'm going to check the summaries after.

I like this cover because of its contemporary style and vibrant colors. 

It would certainly catch my eye. 

Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski’s strong suit. All throughout her life, she’s been the butt of every joke and the outsider in every conversation. When a final attempt at popularity fails, Elise nearly gives up. Then she stumbles upon a warehouse party where she meets Vicky, a girl in a band who accepts her; Char, a cute, yet mysterious disc jockey; Pippa, a carefree spirit from England; and most importantly, a love for DJing.

Told in a refreshingly genuine and laugh-out-loud funny voice, This Song Will Save Your Life is an exuberant novel about identity, friendship, and the power of music to bring people together.

I find this evocative. I LOVE the way the type is integrated into the image and the sunset colors of a beachside town. From the look of it, I can tell this is a northern locale. There is something disquieting about the image and I'm going to assume this is not a comedy.

Red Paint calls itself "the friendliest town in Maine," a place where everyone knows one another and nothing too disturbing ever happens. Native son Simon Howe is a sturdy family man--a good father and husband--and owner-editor of the town's newspaper. Because there's rarely any real news, he runs stories about Virgin Mary sightings, high school reunions, and petty criminals.

One day Simon's predictable and peaceful life is disrupted by the arrival of an anonymous postcard, the first in a series of increasingly menacing messages. He tries to ignore them, but the implied danger becomes more real, threatening to engulf his wife and son as well. The Howe family becomes engaged in a full-scale psychological battle with their unidentified stalker--without even knowing it. Secrets from Simon's past are uncovered, escalating toward a tense and unexpected climax.

More than a conventional mystery or thriller, Reunion at Red Paint Bay is an exploration of the consequences of guilt, denial, and moral absolutism. Harrar weaves a dramatic and suspenseful tale sure to spur readers into examining the limits of responsibility for one's actions.

See! I was right--an evocative thriller that takes place in Maine.

Ominous. Historic. Bad things are going to happen here, for sure.

 A move to a small seaside town gives Billie a chance at a new life and new love -- until the undertow of the past pulls her toward a shocking secret. 

When sixteen-year-old Billie Paradise unexpectedly inherits her grandmother's house, it couldn't come at a better time. With her stepdad abroad and her mom starting to lose it, moving from their cramped London apartment to an old house by the sea seems serendipitous. Maybe Billie, as she navigates the small-town social scene and falls for a certain intriguing older boy, can even find the father she never met. But her mom's remote childhood home, which she left in haste before Billie was born, harbors hints of suspicious long-ago deaths and family secrets. As Billie's story unfolds, flowing back and forth in time and through alternate points of view, it becomes clear that while people may die, the past lives forever.

See? Shocking family secrets!

I'm guessing, fast-paced, hip, flip, edgy. May be a black comedy?  I LOVE the way the author's name echoes the vertical type on the signs. 

 Sixteen-year-old Violet is thrilled when her father's new painting commission means a summer trip to Japan. But what starts as an exotic vacation quickly turns sour when a priceless sketch by van Gogh is stolen from her father's client and held ransom for a painting by the artist. The problem is that nobody knows where the painting is hidden, and until they find it, all their lives are in danger. 

Joined by her friend Reika, Violet searches for the missing van Gogh in a quest that takes her from the Seattle Art Museum to the yakuza-infested streets of Tokyo to a secluded inn in Kyoto. As the mystery deepens, Violet's not sure whom she can trust. But she knows one thing: she has to find the painting and the criminals--before it's too late.

Danger--doesn't seem to have much humor, but who can say?

If you want to check out my cover designs, visit me at: