Friday, March 23, 2012

AN INSPIRATIONAL POST!

Happy Friday everyone.

I hope you are all geared up for the weekend. With the north temps rivaling the one's in the south we should ALL be away from our computers and out in the spring sunshine!

I would like to thank all my blogger buddies for the wonderful support I received from my last post. I have to admit I was a bit bummed not getting into the quarter finals of the ABNA contest for the THIRD year in a row.

As I was cruising the blogosphere yesterday I came across and incredible post written by a fellow blogger friend, E.J. Wesley, of The Open Vein. If you don't know E.J. and you need some inspiration about the pitfalls of getting "hit below the belt" from the publishing/writing world, then hop over there NOW.

Basically E.J. states that we, as writers, need to get back into the ring even though we may get knocked out on more than one occasion. Persistence and perseverance will get us where we want to go.

It's funny, a close friend wrote to me after I told her I didn't make the next cut. What she told me took me for a loop. "Well, Michael, you gave it your best shot. No one will think less of you, if you give up on this writing thing. After all, you did write two books and nothing happened with either. It might be time to focus on something else."

IS SHE INSANE?! Does she not KNOW ME?! Do you honestly think one contest is going make me throw in the towel? HA! Previous to entering this contest, I had sent two queries of BG out into the query world and BOTH times I was asked for fulls. Now the first, I did receive a rejection, BUT, it was an amazing one. And I am still waiting to hear from the other.

Do you know what I did after I finished ranting about not getting in? I sent out two more queries. That's right. I don't give up that easily and NEITHER SHOULD ANY OF YOU. Plus I will be spending this weekend researching more agents that might be a good fit for BG.

I do have better things to do with my time then wallow in self pity. LoL. Not to mention I am finishing up some adorable illustrations for a charming childrens' short story a fellow blogger, N. R. Williams wrote. I will keep you posted on that when I am done and we have it available for all of you to see.

Anyway,  stay healthy and enjoy the lovely weather this weekend. See you all on Monday.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

THE RESULTS ARE IN FOR ABNA SEMI FINALISTS ....

Hello everyone,

Well, the results for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Semi finalists are in. Unfortunately THE BLINDED GARDENER was passed over, BUT three of my blogger friends made it through to the QUARTER FINALISTS!

CONGRATS to HART JOHNSON and LEGACY, ROLAND YEOMANS', THE BEAR WITH TWO SHADOWS, and THERSA MILSTEIN'S, THE NAKED EYE!

I wish all three of you the best of luck in the forthcoming round! ENJOY YOUR DAY!

AND, if I missed any one of my wonderful friends, I apologize and  PLEASE let me know, so I can add you to the list!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A YEAR PLUS BLOGGING ... DO YOU REMEMBER WHY YOU STARTED TO BLOG?

Happy Sunday everyone.

I normally don't post on Sunday, but it's a lovely sunny morning here in Central Florida, and I was thinking about my cyber sister Siv of Been there, done that. She lives in the frozen north in Norway and has a month long blogfest for her one year blogoversary. She is asking blogger buddies to post their first post or write a post on why they started to blog.

Unfortunately, I deleted my first few posts. Damn. I would love to get a good laugh, catching all my typos and bad grammar. LOL.

Yes, thanks to my wonderful blogger friends I have improved over a thousand percent. You all have been very supportive and patient with me. Entering the blogging world truly changed my life.

My tale begins with ABNA 2010. Many of you know my story, so please forgive me while I retell it to my new blogger friends.

After the miracle of making the first cut, I anxiously awaited for round two results. I didn't make it into the quarter finals, but I was going to get two reviews and I was quite excited about that. In 2010, ABNA was a bit unorganized and I had to wait weeks more for the reviews.

Nails biting, and with the tension building, they finally were posted. I freaked! Not the best, and one reviewer called my writing amateur. Crushed, I posted my results on the threads through ABNA. One shining star came to my aide. Furious, Erica of erica and christy, wrote a comment stating that we are ALL amateurs and that review was hurtful and unprofessional. She had offered to be my crit partner for a while until I could manage to fix my manuscript myself.

Well, she had mentioned blogging to me. I have never thought about it and decided to haunt her new blog and discovered many others that I really enjoyed reading. About a month later my blog debuted. Of course, Erica was my first follower.

And now I have over five hundred friends who I admire and try desperately to keep in touch with. As we all know it isn't easy, but as a community we stand strong. Thank you all for sharing my ups and downs, but mainly for your heart and soul. You have lifted my spirits more than I can possibly say.

Now I would love to hear your story.... Why did you start blogging? How has it inspired you?

Also, please stop by to Siv's blog here. You will LOVE her and she is hosting a contest for 500 followers.

I would like to leave you a bit of sea and sunshine.



Enjoy your Sunday everyone.

Monday, March 12, 2012

RACHEL MORGAN, AUTHOR of GUARDIAN and her EASY STEPS TO CREATING AN EBOOK COVER ...

Happy Monday everyone...

I hope you all had an awesome weekend. Well, as promised today is my interview with author Rachel Morgan. Her incredible new book, Guardian, launched last week to stellar reviews! Check out mine here.

Today, Rachel is going to tell us all how to create a ebook cover....

Take it away Rachel ...



Easy Steps To Creating An eBook Cover



When you’re a self-published author, cover design is something you have complete control over. Scary, but also fun! You can hire a professional designer to do it for you or, depending on what you want, it’s possible that YOU (the writer with minimal design skills) can do it yourself!



Here’s what I did:



Step 1: Purchase a royalty-free image 

You may think this is the easy part, but I spent literally HOURS searching through images to find the perfect one. And the perfect image for your book won’t always be perfect exactly the way you buy it. Perhaps you’ll zoom in and only use the bottom right corner. Or just cut out something on one side. So remember when you’re searching that it may not be for a specific image, but for a specific element that you can cut out of whatever image it happens to be in.

(Some royalty-free image websites: Fotolia, Shutterstock, Dreamstime, iStock)



Step 2: Make relevant adjustments to the image (if needed)

In my case, I needed Vi’s eyes and some of her hair to be purple.

Adobe Photoshop is complicated! It’s also super darn expensive. I downloaded a free trial version of Photoshop (which only lasts 30 days—and no, you can’t reinstall it after that—so the pressure was ON for me to make as many of my covers as possible before those 30 days were up!) and then I Googled things like “How to change hair color in Photoshop CS 5”. I never would have figured it out on my own!

There are also free programs (with fewer features) that you can download, like Paint.net and Gimp.




Step 3: Create a new PowerPoint document

Now this may seem weird to you, but PowerPoint is the program I do all the rest of the work in. You may be thinking, “But that’s a program for making slideshows for presentations.” And yes, you’re correct, but you can also save the individual slides as images.

To get the slide to be the right size for a book cover, you can change it under “Page Setup” on the “Design” tab (in Office 2007). I decided I wanted my covers to be 1080 x 1600 pixels (Why? I can't remember!). So… I went to Google once more and searched for “convert pixels to cm” and got the numbers I should insert into the “Page Setup” section of PowerPoint. Width: 25.58 cm, and height: 42.33 cm (you would search inches if your program is in inches).

(Hint: if you’re uploading to Amazon for Kindle and you want the image to fit the Kindle screen exactly, your cover image must be exactly 600 x 800 pixels)




Step 4: Find a font that is free for commercial use

Yes, you should read the license stuff, or next thing you’ll find out that the awesome “free” font you found is actually only free for personal use, and now you’ve plastered it all over the internet with your name attached to it! I like the website Font Squirrel because you can search for fonts by style and read the license for each one. If in doubt, there’s usually an email address you can send an enquiry to just to make sure you’re allowed to use the font. Also, some fonts are not good quality when the size is increased (like they would need to be for a book title), so check that out.




Step 5: Put all the elements together 

Insert your cover image into PowerPoint. You can use the crop tool to cut it to the right size, or cut out the part that you want. Insert textboxes for your title, series names, sub-title, author name, whatever. Move everything around until you're happy. 



Step 6: Save the slide as a .jpg

Click “Save As”. Next to “Save as type”, click the dropdown menu and select JPEG (*.jpg). Give your file a name, click “Save”, and when the little window pops up, click “Current slide only.




IMPORTANT POINTS TO REMEMBER:
  • Simple is usually better for an ebook. Too many elements could be too distracting, and appear too small on a computer screen.
  • Large, clear image. You need to be able to tell what the image is when it's shrunk down to the size it will be on an Amazon search page.
  • Large text. If the title is too small to be read when the book cover is shrunk, make it bigger.
  • Non-embellished text. The text may be large enough, but if it's so embellished that readers can't figure out what it says, that's no good.


The Evolution of a Cover



Cover reject 1: Way too many elements. Font for Creepy Hollow too embellished. Main image too small. Can you even see that that's a 1 in the top left corner? (The title was going to be in the blank, black space)

Cover reject 2: I now had a much larger, clearer image (yay!) but the curly bits at the top next to Creepy Hollow were a bit skinny, and the title font, while I absolutely loved it, just wasn't legible enough when the cover was shrunk.

Cover reject 3: Okay, fixed up the title font. Then I wanted something “magical” in the black part at the top. Those are meant to be stars or sparkles, but they just ended up looking like littel white spots.

Cover reject 4: This was actually my “final” cover that I revealed to the world, but after it'd been out there for a little while, I decided I didn't like the sparkles hanging around the right side of the word Guardian (I called them fruit flies; my boyfriend called them dandruff. Either way, they had to go!)





So here's what ended up being the final final cover:




I hope you like it as much as I do!


And wait! Before you go . . . There's a giveaway!



Friday, March 9, 2012

A SLOW DRIVE TO KEY WEST AND WHAT I DISCOVERED ...

Only 180 miles south Miami, a slow drive down US1 brings the adventurer to an exotic local: Key West. Many have heard of this tropical paradise 90 miles away from Cuba. But how many have you visited there?

(Pic of Fort Lauderdale Beach... I had to put it in...)

I know of a few bloggers that had jumped from key to key crossed inlets and seas to reach Key West. I did twice in the past few weeks. The true beauty of the ride is when one gets past south Miami, Homestead, and Florida City.

The turquoise and white extension bridge carries you to the first key... Key Largo. The 70's song played in my head for miles "We had it all .... Just like Boggie and Bacall ... playing in our own Late Late show... sailing away to Key Largo ..."

How the lyrics haunted me during the drive through the first and largest key. As the traffic thins arriving to the next key, the crystal, sea foam green water streaked with vibrant violet, greets the weary driver with almost a shocking display. It torments and teases you, knowing you can't stop to admire its beauty, but the glimpses out of the corners of your eyes is enough to feast upon.

Each key is a jewel. Many are nothing more that a few stunning homes caressed by the emerald green seas. It takes some time to finally make it to Isla Mirada: a group of keys, which are more commercialized with many hotels, restaurants, shops, and even a Starbucks...

In the lower keys the shades of blues, greens, and violets blend together seamlessly with the periwinkle blue skies dotted with a streak of white cotton. Could an image be any more perfect? Perhaps, but the drive is not over yet.

Another hour or so, the Marathon chain of keys pops into view. By this point the driver longs to reach their destination. Too much of the same isn't a good thing, but the prize awaits and the driver is patient.

As one approaches the seven mile bridge, the excitement returns and once again the seas captivate and seduce the senses more than anyone could imagine.

Key West is close now. As the driver approaches more commercialize properties litter the landscape. Fifties architecture dominates mixed with new construction. Is this Hemingway's Key West?

No, not at all, but it's the Key West that the driver sees until he arrives into Old Town... Ah, now that's worth the wait.

Thankfully it takes only a moment to arrive in Old Town. Charming historic homes, many turned into guest houses, are painted in pastel colors with white gingerbread trim. If one travels to Key West this is the area to reside in. Thankfully my final destination was smack in the center of Old Town.

At this point the driver should LEAVE the car and continue on foot. Weaving through the quaint narrow streets, the visitor feels like you entered a different era. Most homes for the 1800's are lovingly preserved. Guests sitting on front porches wave to new friends strolling by. A light a carefree time awaits all who cross over into this tropical paradise ...

As a writer I thought it was important to paint the scene with words, now for those of you who are screaming for pics, here they are ... enjoy .... Make that frozen cocktail and dream about sitting under the swaying palms this weekend and have a wonderful time.


Hemingway's House represents Key West at its finest


The lush gardens ...


One of the six-toed descendent's from Hemingway's original cats


The lighthouse just steps away in Old Town


A lovely white-washed church ... there are several of these scattered throughout Old Town


Another GORGEOUS sunset ending another perfect day in paradise



Morning coffee on the front porch ... I know had to "strike that pose"... I am a former model after all ... blushes now.







Tuesday, March 6, 2012

INSECURE WRITER'S GROUP ... A DIFFERENT TAKE.

As we all know the first Wednesday of the month is The Insecure Writer's Group hosted by our Ninja leader Alex J. Cavanaugh.

My post today came to me as I was sitting in a karaoke bar last night. With only a handful of performers I had the opportunity to study each and every one.

"What does this have to do with writing?" you ask.

A lot.

Human nature runs the gamut in all walks of life and in every situation. Insecurity is insecurity whether it be in writing or in other aspects of life.

As writers we should study human nature in order to write about it. Don't we want our prose to be believable? Of course we do. So we have to study life, and in doing so record it accurately in our prose.

One performer stood out more than any other and I chose her to be the focus of this post. Shockingly this unbelievably talented singer was completely insecure.

It was an easy observation. The glass of alcohol never left her hand. As she poured her heart out in one of two songs I was fortunate to hear, she hid behind her 60's Barbara Streisand precision bob. The resemblance was unnerving. Picture Babs at twenty-one again a sensation right from the start. Elle has the same star quality.

BUT, unlike Babs, her insecurity was worn on her sleeve like an iron-on patch. Why would such a lovely and talented young woman with a voice to seduce the birds from the trees be insecure?

One can only guess. Which leads me to my next question. Why would talented writer's like ourselves be insecure? Why hide our amazing prose and keep it for our own eyes, terrified of the thought that someone, anyone, won't like what we've written?

It's time to stop relying on crutches to make our work SING. Elle needed alcohol to get through her song. What crutch are you relying on? It's time to throw them away and stand tall. You have honed your story, yes. it may not be perfect, BUT LET US BE THE JUDGE.

It terrifies me how many writers won't share their work with their extended writing family. We are here for you, WE NEVER JUDGE ... WE LISTEN to your words. WE MAKE suggestions to polish your story. So don't be afraid to trust us.

I hope Elle will trust in her piers and in her incredible talent. Talent is what makes artists of ALL kinds special and unique.

My passion for people and writing was rekindled in the past few weekends I had spent in Key West. I know I owe you pics and a post, but they had to be delayed for this very special edition of The Insecure Writer's Group.

I hope you will all drop by Alex's blog for more of these posts. They ARE truly inspirational. We all have our moments of insecurity, but please don't let them CRIPPLE your writing.

Have a wonderful day everyone. I promise, on Friday I will have an amazing Key West post.

Monday, March 5, 2012

CREEPY HOLLOW LAUNCH HAD NOW TAKEN OFF!

Welcome back everyone ...

I hope you all had a fantabulous weekend. I was fortunate enough to return to KEY WEST for another exciting weekend. More on that in tomorrow's post.

Well, as you all know from Friday's post today is THE day for launch of Rachel Morgan new novelette.

Today the Creepy Hollow series kicks off with the release of the first story, GUARDIAN!!

GUARDIAN introduces readers to the magical world of Creepy Hollow, a realm where fae creatures both safe and definitely-not-so-safe dwell. Things are cool as long the fae stick to their own realm. It's when they find their way into the human world that things start going wrong...





1. Receive assignment.
2. Save a life.
3. Sleep.
4. Repeat.

Protecting humans from dangerous magical creatures is all in a day’s work for a faerie training to be a guardian. Seventeen-year-old Violet Fairdale knows this better than anyone—she’s about to become the best guardian the Guild has seen in years. That is, until one of her assignments—a human boy who shouldn’t even be able to see her—follows her into the fae realm. Now she’s broken Guild Law, a crime that could lead to her expulsion.

The last thing Vi wants to do is spend any more time with the boy who got her into this mess, but the Guild requires that she return Nate to his home and make him forget everything he’s discovered of the fae realm. Easy, right? But Nate and Vi are about to land themselves in even bigger trouble—and it’ll take all Vi’s training to get them out alive.






The Creepy Hollow Series


Author Info


To find out more about the series, the author, and the characters, check out the blog tour that’s happening over the next two weeks.






Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B007FRJGXI
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B007FRJGXI
Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/137697


Now you have all the information on this amazing book. I had also written my review on Friday's post, so if you have missed it here it is again.

And please don't forget to stop by Rachel's blog if you have the time to congratulate her.

Have a GREAT day everyone and spread the blog love....


Creepy Hollow-Book One, is the first in a Y/A fantasy series. For those of you who know Rachel, you will not be at all surprised by the magic that exudes from this exciting introduction into the Fae world of Creepy Hollow.

From the first page the reader is drawn into the thoughts of Vi, a fairy, training to be a guardian. What does a guardian do you ask? Well, if I reveal too much, I will spoil it for you, won't I?

But I will say, Rachel Morgan's choice in writing this story in first person, present, does add a crystal-clear facet that brilliantly shines in her prose. It takes fantasy to a whole new level, and I must say as a fantasy writer and lover, I throughly enjoyed it from start to finish.

Vi, is complex and real. Not your everyday fairy. She has a heart and soul .... almost too much for her young years.

As her last assignment goes awry, the human she's protecting follows her into the fairy realm. But how could he? He's human. No human could survive. Or, could they? Well, Nate did and throws a wrench in Vi's perfect record.

How will she get out of this mess? Trouble seems to follow both she and Nate in this dangerous and beautifully painted world of Creepy Hollow.

Ah, so many questions ... who wants the answers? I, for one, freaked when I arrived at the last page. Some questions were answered, but our delightful author, Rachel Morgan, left me wanting so much more.

Where is Book Two? Hopefully, Rachel won't let us wait too long. If she does ... she will only have herself to blame when we all are loading up her inbox demanding it.

March 5th is the official launch date of Creepy Hollow. I hope you will all join me in supporting Rachel. Drop by her blog, order her story, and wish her well. She deserves it. Here is all the info plus a blurb....

I will also be hosting a giveaway for and e-copy during the tour. More details for that on March 12th

Friday, March 2, 2012

BLOGGER FRIEND'S INCREDIBLE NOVELLETTE ... CREEPY HOLLOW ... BOOK ONE ... FIND OUT WHO!

Happy Friday everyone.

Today it gives me GREAT pleasure to feature an AMAZING new Novellette by author, Rachel Morgan.

Creepy Hollow-Book One, is the first in a Y/A fantasy series. For those of you who know Rachel, you will not be at all surprised by the magic that exudes from this exciting introduction into the Fae world of Creepy Hollow.

From the first page the reader is drawn into the thoughts of Vi, a fairy, training to be a guardian. What does a guardian do you ask? Well, if I reveal too much, I will spoil it for you, won't I?

But I will say, Rachel Morgan's choice in writing this story in first person, present, does add a crystal-clear facet that brilliantly shines in her prose. It takes fantasy to a whole new level, and I must say as a fantasy writer and lover, I throughly enjoyed it from start to finish.

Vi, is complex and real. Not your everyday fairy. She has a heart and soul .... almost too much for her young years.

As her last assignment goes awry, the human she's protecting follows her into the fairy realm. But how could he? He's human. No human could survive. Or, could they? Well, Nate did and throws a wrench in Vi's perfect record.

How will she get out of this mess? Trouble seems to follow both she and Nate in this dangerous and beautifully painted world of Creepy Hollow.

Ah, so many questions ... who wants the answers? I, for one, freaked when I arrived at the last page. Some questions were answered, but our delightful author, Rachel Morgan, left me wanting so much more.

Where is Book Two? Hopefully, Rachel won't let us wait too long. If she does ... she will only have herself to blame when we all are loading up her inbox demanding it.

March 5th is the official launch date of Creepy Hollow. I hope you will all join me in supporting Rachel. Drop by her blog, order her story, and wish her well. She deserves it. Here is all the info plus a blurb....

I will also be hosting a giveaway for and e-copy during the tour. More details on that next week.

Have a GREAT weekend everyone, and I hope to see you on Monday for the official launch date!


GUARDIAN is the first of the CREEPY HOLLOW stories, a series of YA paranormal fantasy novelettes.
Summary for GUARDIAN:

1. Receive assignment.

2. Save a life.

3. Sleep.

4. Repeat.



Protecting humans from dangerous magical creatures is all in a day’s work for a faerie training to be a guardian. Seventeen-year-old Violet Fairdale knows this better than anyone—she’s about to become the best guardian the Guild has seen in years. That is, until one of her assignments—a human boy who shouldn’t even be able to see her—follows her into the fae realm. Now she’s broken Guild Law, a crime that could lead to her expulsion.


The last thing Vi wants to do is spend any more time with the boy who got her into this mess, but the Guild requires that she return Nate to his home and make him forget everything he’s discovered of the fae realm. Easy, right? But Nate and Vi are about to land themselves in even bigger trouble—and it’ll take all Vi’s training to get them out alive.





Guardian (Creepy Hollow, #1) is launching on Monday 5th March!






Rachel Morgan was born in South Africa and spent a large portion of her childhood living in
a fantasy land of her own making. These days, in between teaching mathematics to high school children, she writes fiction for young adults.






The Creepy Hollow Series


Author Info