Friday, November 16, 2018

REVIEW: Pub Site

When offered the chance to explore, experiment with, and review Pub Site, I jumped at the opportunity. In the past, for my own author needs, I've simply used Blogger, but there are more advanced and targeted tools out there for authors. Pub Site is one of those tools, and I was curious to learn more.





..........

"Up and running within an hour." - - - Okay. I'd take that challenge. I set a timer for 60 minutes and started from scratch, knowing nothing about the site. 


Here are the important items I learned in 60 minutes:

1. The tools on Pub Site made the process quick and easy for me to get started.

2. I followed their step-by-step process.

3. Pub Site offered ten templates to choose from and color variants within each.

4. Once I chose my template, a box popped up offering a tutorial video to help me customize my template. Because I wanted to see how long it would take me on my own, I waited to watch the video later.

5. The "Add Titles" option was confusing to me at first, because I thought it meant add headers or banners to the various pages of the website, but it actually meant add titles of books or other products I wanted to sell on the site. And upon closer examination, I realized when you hover your mouse over the icon, the site pops up an explanation that clicking here will allow you to add products to your site. Admittedly, I was rushing, trying to beat that 60 minute timer to build my site. My advice: take your time and read the little pop ups that are offering assistance.

6. I didn't understand the field "order by" . . . Most fields I was able to figure out, but this one left me baffled.

7. Pub Site offers tons of fields to add purchase links, which look very professional in the final web page.

8. For traditionally published authors, I'm not certain how necessary the "e-commerce" pages are, but I can see that these would be especially beneficial for self-published authors, publishing companies, and collaborative ventures.

9. Since the site gives you the option to add multiple authors, I see the potential for group marketing that could benefit all involved. Small publishers may find this web service especially helpful in designing a professional site.

10. After 50 minutes of adding content for myself as the author and for one of my books, I clicked on "view site." WOW. I had high expectations, and yet, I was still pleasantly surprised at how professional the site looked after only a short amount of time invested by me.

11. I was also pleased to see in the "view site" option, there were many easy-to-click edit buttons to add taglines and additional content.

12. I was confused on how to add a blog page - but keep in mind, I did not watch the tutorial before experimenting to see what I could accomplish in the first 60 minutes.

So, there you have it. Those twelve items listed are the major things I accomplished and learned in the first 60 minutes. No. My site was not finished. But I was thrilled with how it looked after just one hour invested. I'd predict, it would probably take at least another hour to get it closer to being finished. If you have more than five books to enter data for, it would take even longer. Probably plan data entry time of about 5-10 minutes per book, depending upon whether or not you already have the content created. For me, it was simple to copy and paste the data into the new website.





But that's not all. 

After signing up for my free 14-day trial, I received an email from the company welcoming me and offering to personally answer any questions I had. I replied and asked about setting up the blog page (see #12 above). I received an immediate response with helpful tips.

Terms of Use
While I am not a lawyer and cannot offer legal advice, the terms of use appeared pretty standard. Nothing popped out at me as alarming or unusual. The terms are long and thorough, but I encourage you to take the necessary time to read before agreeing to them.

14-day Free Trial
I highly encourage you to take advantage of the free trial to experiment with the site and see if it works for you.

So, how much does it cost?
According to the site: "Streamlined and affordable pricing - Our all-in-one package is just $19.99 a month and includes all of our current and future releases and features, including a complete ecommerce solution, and book-specific features. It also includes industry leading website hosting."



Final opinion from me:

I had high expectations of Pub Site and was still pleasantly surprised at how professional my author website looked after only fifty minutes entering content into Pub Site's easy-to-use template.




Wednesday, November 7, 2018

IWSG: Seeing Creativity in Life

First Wednesday of the month = Insecure Writer's Support Group. If you've not heard of it before, check out the complete details by clicking here.

The purpose of the group is "to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!"


http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/


This month's question: How has your creativity in life evolved since you began writing?

My answer: I see world building elements, richer character development, and plot twists in most everything I study now. For example, even when I'm quilting, I see ways to make the whole quilt more dynamic based on the "world" of the quilt, the fabrics chosen for their "character" and the unusual surprises I can include.


How about you? How has your creativity in life evolved since you began writing?


Monday, October 15, 2018

Book Review: HOW TO FRACTURE A FAIRY TALE by Jane Yolen

When offered the chance to read an early copy of Jane Yolen's collection of fractured fairy tales, I jumped at the opportunity! Scroll down to read my full review.


HOW TO FRACTURE A FAIRY TALE by Jane Yolen
November 5, 2018
Tachyon Publications
ISBN: 9781616963064


Description from Publisher

Fantasy legend Jane Yolen presents a wide-ranging offering of fractured fairy tales. Yolen fractures the classics to reveal their crystalline secrets, holding them to the light and presenting them entirely transformed; where a spinner of straw into gold becomes a money-changer and the big bad wolf retires to a nursing home. Rediscover the tales you once knew, rewritten and refined for the world we now live in―or a much better version of it.

About the Author

Jane Yolen is a novelist, poet, fantasist, journalist, songwriter, storyteller, folklorist, and children’s book author who has written more than three hundred books. Her accolades include the Caldecott Medal, two Nebula Awards, the World Fantasy Award, three Mythopoeic Awards, the Kerlan Award, two Christopher Awards, and six honorary doctorate degrees from colleges and universities in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Born and raised in New York City, the mother of three and the grandmother of six, Yolen lives in Massachusetts and St. Andrews, Scotland.


My Review

The title alone caught my attention, and then when I saw that this book was written by Jane Yolen, I knew I had to read it!

In an introduction by Marissa Meyer, she writes, "There is a history of tales told and retold that spans centuries--even millennia--and reaches to all corners of the globe."

How to Fracture a Fairy Tale, by Jane Yolen, is a collection of short stories and poems based on familiar fairy tales--but altered in fun, creepy, and imaginative ways. Yolen explains, "A fracture is a break . . . [it] can hurt like a sprain or reveal like a geode being split apart to show the jewels within."

Yolen takes well-known fairy tales and splits them apart, sometimes leaving them still quite familiar and other times shining a light from an unfamiliar angle to reveal new truths and possibilities.

This collection is a perfect choice to read when you have only a few minutes at a time to devote to the book. Read it while you're waiting at the doctor's office, or waiting in line to pick up your kids, or waiting anywhere!


Some of my favorite lines from the book:

"I felled her with a single blow of the fry pan." 

"Of course he had the big bran-muffin eyes and the sled-jump nose and the gingko-leaf ears that identify a troll immediately."

"Instead she floated like a swan and the river bore her on."




[I received an early copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influenced my opinion.]

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Fall 2018 - Young Adult Scavenger Hunt - #YASH






Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt! 



I'm Margo Kelly, and I'll be your hostess for this leg of the hunt. I write thrillers, and I'm excited to share my novel, UNLOCKED, with you during this event! Somewhere along this scavenger hunt, I've shared exclusive content related to UNLOCKED, and clear down at the bottom of this post, I'm giving away a signed hardback copy of it (exclusive to readers of this post)! Yup. That's right. 





(So be sure to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway at the bottom of this post before you hop off to the next site in the scavenger hunt!)



By the way, you are currently hunting on TEAM GOLD.







This bi-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors ... and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt.

Add up the clues, and you can enter for the prize -- one lucky winner will receive:
one book from each author on the GOLD team! 

But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online until noon on Sunday, October 7, 2018!


Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are multiple contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the GOLD TEAM -- but there are other teams, each with a different set of books!

If you'd like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.


SCAVENGER HUNT PUZZLE RULES

Directions: Below, you'll notice that I've listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the gold team, and then add them up (don't worry, you can use a calculator). 

Entry Form: Once you've added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.

Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian's permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by October 7, 2018, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.


SCAVENGER HUNT POST

I am happy to introduce you to the author I'm hosting for the hunt:
K.M. ROBINSON



"K.M. Robinson is a best selling young adult author of retellings, dystopians, fantasy, and mermaid books. She also teaches social media strategy to authors and photographers and has been interviewed by Facebook for her innovative work in the field, as well as recently represented the USA in a major World Social Media Day broadcast. She’s very active on her social platforms and loves talking to fans. Get free books at excerpts on her website, social media accounts, and newsletter."



"Goldilocks was never naive. She was sent on a mission and Dov Baer is her new target in this best selling epic fairytale retelling other best selling authors are calling a 'can't miss!'"



Find out more information by checking out K.M. Robinson's website or find more about her book here!




EXCLUSIVE CONTENT
 from K.M. Robinson


K.M. Robinson is offering TWO bonuses for the scavenger hunt! Right now, you can get two bonus scenes from her Goldilocks retelling AND play a special interactive, choose-your-own-adventure game and see how your choices affect that characters in Golden when you read the first book for free right now.


Click HERE to grab the bonus scenes.


Click HERE to grab the first book for free.


Click HERE to play the Golden mission and help Goldilocks locate the Baers…before she destroys them.


* * * * *


Now don't forget to enter the YASH contest for a chance to win a ton of books by me and 19 other authors on TEAM GOLD. Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on team gold, and you'll have all the secret code to enter for the grand prize!



But before you go, you'll need to know that my favorite number is 11, and here is an exclusive Rafflecopter giveaway for you to win a signed hardback copy of UNLOCKED. (This contest is separate from the YASH contest. Only visitors here are eligible.)



CONTINUE THE HUNT

To keep going on your quest for the hunt, you need to check out the next author: L.H. Nicole



#IWSG: Do Major Life Events Affect Your Writing?

Time for our monthly post in The Insecure Writer's Support Group. If you've not heard of it before, check out the complete details by clicking here.

The purpose of the group is "to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!"



This Month's Question: How do major life events affect your writing? 

My Answer: Ugh. 

Seriously. The current national events have made me not only lose writing time, but I've also lost sleep and peace of mind. People have become so mean lately. People I've known and respected for years are suddenly sharing opinions that have left me dumbfounded. I've had trouble verbalizing how I truly feel about it all. When I've tried to write about it, I've been at a loss. Then, another video aired. This time: mockery of a sexual assault victim.

Maybe, one day, I'll be better able to articulate how I feel about the current events happening in our nation. Right now, this is all I have to say:

RAINN (the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization) has tips regarding how to speak to and treat sexual assault victims. Mockery is NOT acceptable. Be sensitive and speak with kindness. You don't know what others have experienced in their lives. For more information, visit the RAINN website: https://www.rainn.org/

Maybe next week more writing will be accomplished. Maybe next week people will be nicer to each other. Maybe we can each strive to be the reason someone else smiles, today. Don't wait for next week. 



Monday, October 1, 2018

Book Review: STAR-CROSSED by Pintip Dunn

STAR-CROSSED by Pintip Dunn
October 2, 2018
Publisher: Entangled Teen
ISBN: 978-1633752412

Publisher's Description:
Princess Vela's people are starving. Stranded on a planet that lacks food, Vela makes the ultimate sacrifice and becomes an Aegis for her people. Accepting a genetic modification that takes sixty years off her life, she can feed her colony via nutrition pills. But her best friend is still getting worse. And she's not the only one.

Now the king is dying, too.

When the boy she's had a crush on since childhood volunteers to give his life for her father's, Vela realizes her people need more than pills to survive. As tensions rise between Aegis and colonists, secrets and sabotage begin to threaten the future of the colony itself.
Unless Vela is brave enough to save them all… 


About the Author:
Pintip Dunn is a New York Times bestselling author of young adult fiction. She graduated from Harvard University, magna cum laude, with an A.B., and received her J.D. at Yale Law School. 

Her novel FORGET TOMORROW won the 2016 RWA RITA® for Best First Book, and SEIZE TODAY won the 2018 RITA for Best Young Adult Romance. Her books have been translated into four languages, and they have been nominated for the following awards: the Grand Prix del'Imaginaire; the Japanese Sakura Medal; the MASL Truman Award; the TomeSociety It list; and the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award. 

Her other titles include REMEMBER YESTERDAY, THE DARKEST LIE, GIRL ON THE VERGE, STAR-CROSSED, and MALICE.

She lives with her husband and children in Maryland. 


My Review:

Star-Crossed by Pintip Dunn made me want to read more quickly to find out what was going to happen next, but it also made me want to read more slowly to make the story last longer.

I've heard so many great things about Pintip Dunn's writing -- I was excited to finally jump in and read a book of hers. Star-Crossed exceeded my expectations! Set on a futuristic planet with problems and conspiracies and new-found love, Star-Crossed has elements that will appeal to most fan bases. But if you enjoy sci-fi and/or romance and/or mysteries - pick up this book for sure!

With captivating characters, a finely-layered plot, and a sci-fi setting, Pintip Dunn's Star-Crossed captured my interest on the first page and held tight through the final page. 

Some of my favorite lines from the story:

"This doesn't sound like my best friend. Gravity has never pulled so strongly on her words."

"He could give me the smallest look, or place the tiniest emphasis on a single word, and my nerves dart around like they're the flame to his flint."

"The tears poured out of me the way lava rushes from a volcano--fierce and unstoppable."

"The laughter bubbles inside me like carbonated soda, as if it was always there, waiting for the tab to be pulled."

"The next few hours pass like a swarm of bees--chaotic and fast, with one minute blending into the next. But once in a while, a moment lifts out of the fray and descends like an individual sting."

"Astana can't scream so we're doing it for her."

I highly recommend Star-Crossed by Pintip Dunn to all readers of all ages.




[I received an early copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influenced my opinion.]

Friday, September 14, 2018

Where I Want to Be Right Now

My spirit craves the mountains, the rivers, and the trees. Writing in the outdoors with the breeze and the birds is invigorating, and I miss it! My husband and I are eager to go again before the snow falls, but there is so much smoke in the mountains from all the fires, I'm not sure we'll go. Until we can, I'll lift my spirits with pictures! :) 





Wednesday, September 5, 2018

#IWSG: 2018 Annual Anthology Contest



Word count: 3500-6000

Genre: Young Adult Romance

Theme: Masquerade
A Masquerade can be a false show or pretense, someone pretending to be someone they aren't. It can be a ball, a fancy dress party, it can be a mask. Open to interpretation.

Submissions accepted: September 5 - November 4, 2018

How to enter: Send your polished, formatted (Double spaced, no page numbers), previously unpublished story to admin @ insecurewriterssupportgroup . com (without spaces) before the deadline passes. Please include your contact details, your social links, and if you are part of the Blogging, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter IWSG group.

Judging: The IWSG admins will create a shortlist of the best stories. The shortlist will then be sent to our official judges who will be announced September 5.

Prizes: The winning stories will be edited and published by Freedom Fox Press next year in the IWSG anthology. Authors will receive royalties on books sold, both print and eBook. The top story will have the honor of giving the anthology its title.

For more information visit: http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Book Review: SURFACE TENSION by Mike Mullin

SURFACE TENSION by Mike Mullin
May 8, 2018
Publisher: Tanglewood
ISBN: 978-1939100160


Description from the Publisher:

After witnessing an act of domestic terrorism while training on his bike, Jake is found near death, with a serious head injury and unable to remember the plane crash or the aftermath that landed him in the hospital.

A terrorist leader’s teenage daughter, Betsy, is sent to kill Jake and eliminate him as a possible witness. When Jake’s mother blames his head injury for his tales of attempted murder, he has to rely on his girlfriend, Laurissa, to help him escape the killers and the law enforcement agents convinced that Jake himself had a role in the crash.


About the Author:

Mike Mullin’s first job was scraping the gum off the undersides of desks at his high school. From there, things went steadily downhill. He almost got fired by the owner of a bookstore due to his poor taste in earrings. He worked at a place that showed slides of poopy diapers during lunch (it did cut down on the cafeteria budget). The hazing process at the next company included eating live termites raised by the resident entomologist, so that didn’t last long either. For a while Mike juggled bottles at a wine shop, sometimes to disastrous effect. Oh, and then there was the job where swarms of wasps occasionally tried to chase him off ladders. So he’s really glad this writing thing seems to be working out. Mike​ lives in ​Danville, Indiana with his wife and her three cats. His debut novel, Ashfall, was named one of the top five young adult novels of 2011 by National Public Radio, a Best Teen Book of 2011 by Kirkus Reviews, and a New Voices selection by the American Booksellers Association​. Learn more at: mikemullinauthor.com


My Review:

Surface Tension by Mike Mullin features dynamic characters fighting for their lives in a compelling plot of murder and mayhem.

There are many elements to praise about Surface Tension, including its interesting premise and well-told story. There were also a few things that made me scrunch my forehead in frustration. These included hard to believe elements in the plot line and character behaviors, forced dialogue, and a nonlinear timeline. A nonlinear timeline by itself is not an issue; however, in Surface Tension, when the point of view would shift from Jake to Betsy or vice versa, sometimes the story would jump backward in time, which often left me confused and forced me to read the passage again. 

Some of my favorite lines from the book:

"It's not easy growing up with a memory instead of a mother." (page 52)

"I ride fast, trying to out-pedal all my doubts and fears." (page 138)




[I received a copy of this book from SoCal Public Relations in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influenced my opinion.]

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

#IWSG: The Number One Pitfall Writers Should Avoid

Today is the first Wednesday of the month, which means it is time for The Insecure Writer's Support Group. If you've not heard of it before, check out the complete details by clicking here.

The purpose of the group is "to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!"



This month's question is: What pitfalls would you warn other writers to avoid on their publication journey?

My answer: The number one pitfall to avoid is submitting your manuscript (to agents, editors, or anywhere else) before it's polished and ready. Revision fatigue is a real thing, and sometimes as writers, we think we just need to be done with the freaking thing. But either take a break from it and come back with fresh eyes or take the time to have a new critique partner review it. Then revise it again. How do you know when it's done? You'll know, because bells will sound, angels will sing, and the heavens will open and pour money down upon you. Just kidding. There's no way to know for sure, but if you push through the revision fatigue, get another set of eyes on it, walk away from it for a while, and then make one more pass, chances are, your manuscript will be better because of it.