On Writing: For Novels and for Screen

Guest Post by Sandra Perez Gluschankoff: Is it a movie or a book?

screenwriting tipsBeginning, end, middle. Set up, confrontation, resolution. Act one, act two, act three. Any which way these three examples are presented they define the structure of a story.  But what kind of story do they tell? Take your pick. A juicy gossip shared by friends over some elaborated and overpriced coffee drinks. Michael Angelo’s frescoes on the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling. A movie. A novel.

I wouldn’t know what to do with a brush, so I will not get into the artistic painting process. I would never admit in public of enjoying every once in a while a good piece of gossip. But, I would definitely get into the two storytelling forms I’m very familiar with: Screenwriting and novel writing.

Even though both writing forms can tell the same story; they are both driven by fear of death or loss, and the main character’s journey to attain redemption or validation of his or her existence, they do it differently.

How many times have we gone to the movies to experience a book we loved on the big screen only to walk away unfulfilled? It has happened to me and the reasons are simple. Screenwriting is subjected to rules that limit the characters’ abilities to cocoon themselves into the many feelings and thoughts that cannot be spoken or showed. Audiences are not mind readers.  A movie plagued with voice over narration becomes tedious, and too many flashbacks intended to show a character’s backstory only succeeds in confusing the moviegoer.  A screenplay must have a beginning, middle and end, filled with subplots, and it must maintain a balance of show and tell, of dialog and narrative. Pages and pages of narrative are translated into minutes and minutes of silent action on the screen. Pages and pages of long uninterrupted speeches turn the characters into chatterboxes.

Another important aspect to take in consideration when writing a screenplay is page count. Every page makes up for a minute of movie time, 90 pages, 90 minutes and so on and so forth. Unlike a book, which we can put down at any moment, go about our days and then pick it up again whenever we have the time, that is not the case with movies. The moviegoer’s time is precious. Screenwriters should take into account the audience’s attention span. They should treat the theater as a classroom and deliver their masterpiece in no more than 120 minutes.  Yes, there are some movies that tie the audience three hours to their seat, but that is a risky gamble done usually with highly successful adaptations of sci-fi novels.

Many of the characteristics attributed to screenwriting apply to the writing of a novel. However, in this form the writer has a different kind of freedom. Novel writing amounts to the author’s use of words aimed to create a visual image in the reader’s head. Characters can be explored deeply; the author can write their inner thoughts, describe their inner turmoil. Unlike screenwriting, the writing of a novel is not a small percentage or blueprint of the storytelling process, it is its all. A novelist owns his or her product and all of its creation without being subjected to changes necessary to appeal this or that audience, attract this or that actor. After the edits are done, a novel is ready for publication. After the edits are done, a screenplay is ready to undergo as many rewrites as necessary to satisfy the many other departments that make up for the production of a movie and the millions invested to make it happen.

Whether it is gossip, stick figures on a cave’s wall, a blog, a novel or a screenplay, we all contribute in our way to the most ancient tradition known to humankind; storytelling.

Keep the ball rolling and write!

About the Author

I was born and raised in Argentina. My mother, born in a refugee camp in Italy, my grandparents Romanians Jews, and World War Two survivors. From my father’s side the flavor of the Middle East. A mixture of the legendary traditions and art of Safed, Israel and Lebanon.

Different languages, colors and food were my everyday. So, was silence and fear. My childhood happened during the years of the dirty war, the military regime. I was extremely fortunate to have the best teachers, who would risk their lives by closing the classrooms doors and hush to us the truth of what was happening out there.

While my academic background is in psychoanalysis (a Freudian girl, gotta love the divan!), anthropology, Judaic studies, and Hebrew teaching, my interest turned to writing. I have written six feature screenplays, one original T.V pilot, and a reality show concept. My thriller “Voices From The Tomato Fields,” placed as a semifinalist in the Write Movies International Screenplay Contest in 2004, and placed in the top one hundred in Project Greenlight the same year.

For three consecutive years, I served as a Judge for the Brass Brad Screenwriting Mentorship Award and in 2012 I was honored to be part of the judging panel for the U.C.S.B. Student Screenwriting Competition.

A couple of years before writing my first novel The Last Fernandez, I kept busy as a freelance writer and script consultant.

Follow me: Twitter | Website | Amazon

photo credit: kevin dooley via photopin cc


J to tha M: On Marketing

Marketing Free or Free Marketing

medium_7869728560M:  You had a Release Day this past weekend – Yay!

that’s exciting-puking-scary-thrilling all at once

J:  well, it was part of an already crazy weekend, so I had no time for puking

mostly, I was nervous about formatting. that what I saw wasn’t what everyone else would see

but thank you. I’m so, so, so excited to finally get Going Under out there

now… marketing. (dun dun dunnnnn)

and, as you know, this is not much fun.

this is actually the scary pukey part for me

and I feel like I’m already failing

M:  Yes, not only a release day, which is exciting enough, but your first self-published release

J:  right

which may or may not have been a good idea. jury’s still out

M:  that’s got to be a little more like free-falling

still super exciting but super scary

J:  really, the whole publishing part was…cool. easier than I thought

but now… I sit and watch

will it catch on? will people like it? will I be crucified for not having a publisher?

it did well in its first few days. still in the top 100 for children’s urban fantasy

which is whoa

but the momentum is already slowing

and I’m thinking “too soon for free days?”

which seemed to do wonders for Wraith Enchanted

Miss Number One in Her Category

nice work

M:  Thank you! I was really pleased with the free days

J:  but there’s got to be a more…lucrative way to market

besides just giving away free things. Still, if all those people tell one person

it’s super worth it

M:  I’m still kind of not understanding how that’s not lucrative marketing

I mean, think about it

it doesn’t cost you one cent to give away kindle copies

and you reach thousands of people

isn’t that reaching beyond the goal of getting your name and work in the hands and minds of readers?

J:  oh no. I understand THAT part of it

it’s definitely lucrative in that way

M:  what way isn’t it lucrative?

J:  well, I guess that it’s thousands of people who won’t pay for that book

maybe your next one, yes

thousands who probably wouldn’t have found it otherwise

I’m on board with that

I see the marketing side of it

but the bank account side of it still stings a little

M:  but it doesn’t really

I look at it this way

My sales of both books were okay but not super stellar

and during the free days, and even after, I saw the best sales on my first book that I’ve seen since the first month it came out – even better for a few days

sales I would not have seen had the second book not been offered free

and it didn’t cost me anything

J:  now that I can see

M:  and now, I have a whole bunch of new people who have my books, who will hopefully like them and have some sort of name recognition for my next works

and not only did it not cost me anything, I gave something fun, and actually made something besides feeling good in sales on my first book, and hopefully through word of mouth on both books

J:  and I don’t want you to think I’m against free days

I’m NOT

I just try not to think about the royalties I might have earned if all those people actually paid for it and I can be hap-happy

M:  gonna be honest – you cannot think that way

J:  hahahaha

my husband makes me

i get dirty looks when I say “it’s not REALLY about the money”

M:  I’d venture a pure guess that probably most of those people who downloaded the book free would never have paid for it

so how can you count that as lost sales?

Count it as a huge positive, because now they have a chance to read your work, hopefully like it, buy more, and tell their friends

you didn’t lose sales

you gained a bunch

J:  and I know it’s not. It’s about getting it out there, getting some notice

I’m not arguing. Just lamenting. it’s a difficult balance

M:  it really is

here’s the other way I look at giving away free books or putting them on sale

I have a huge list of book and authors I want to read. I can’t afford to buy them all – no way

so I get excited when a book I find intriguing goes free or on sale

and I snatch it up, and I read it

and then, if I liked it, I go and buy all of their backlist I can afford and tell everyone I know to try them out

How many sales did they make there?

when before, I never would have had the chance to find them and try the stories and recommend

that’s a loss to everyone

I mean, some of my new fave authors I discovered that way

Kate SeRine, Kit Rocha, Kristen Ashley

J:  I’m afraid I sound whiny

M:  no, you just sound like the other side of the debate

a lot of people feel that way

J:  it’s not my intention to sound whiny

M:  probably more than feel my side

J:  because I fully understand the benefit

and can’t wait until it’s time to do free days for Oracles

M:  I think a lot of authors fall into only seeing lost sales on those thousands of downloads

but you can’t see them as lost sales – most of those people would never have paid full price in the first place

sure, some of them, maybe, but the few that might have are made up by the word of mouth and sales resulting from those reads that never otherwise would have happened

J:  another benefit to self-publishing is setting my own price

M:  yes, price setting is a huge benefit

and being able to make changes at any time, when those pesky errors pop up

that’s probably not as big of a deal to you – heh

J:  I could have asked a lot more, but I thought the lowest possible price was still really fair

M:  yeah. I just want to get my stories into as many hands as possible. I’d love for everyone to be able to afford all the books they find interesting

and still allow the authors to make some sort of living

J:  now, I know how you feel about the Goodreads giveaways

like maybe you don’t see as much of a benefit

but since mine went live this morning, more people have added to the to-read lists

maybe they will, maybe they won’t buy it

but the giveaway at least put it on their radar

M:  that’s true. anything that gets the info out there is good

J:  but it gets the book in front of even more people

because those people who put it on their to-read lists are then seen by their friends

who might also find it interesting

does it translate to more sales?

no clue

but people know my name and my book

oh

do know what has helped me find books to buy?

the lists on goodreads

when I’m on my geeky hero kick, I search the lists

I’ve bought at least five that I found on those lists

it’s how I found Ruthie Knox and Delphine Dryden

M:  I find books by word of mouth or blog and publishers sites and reviewers I trust

J:  word of mouth is still definitely the most powerful

Tiff’s reading Red

and LOVING it

I feel accomplished

M:  see

I might still not have purchased Red off my want-to-read list if Kate hadn’t offered it for free, and then never rec’d to you or everyone else

J:  but Tiff wouldn’t have read it if we hadn’t talked about it

and I know two other people who bought the series after reading my rec on twitter

M:  right. but we wouldn’t have talked about it if I hadn’t read it

and I might not have read it if it hadn’t been free

J:  nope

but you can see how both worked

M:  so that whole chain reaction goes back to her offering the ebook free for a couple days

J:  perhaps, but if I hadn’t tweeted it, it would have stopped with me

M:  but I wouldn’t have started if it hadn’t been free. And boy, did I rec it after I was finished reading.

J:  and I discovered Charlotte Stein because Ruthie Knox told me on twitter to check her out

M:  and I only bought both Knox and Stein because they were on sale or free, no matter your rec

so it’s all intertwined

J:  one to spark, the other to fan the flame

M:  the best thing in the world is to get people talking

and offering your book on sale or free is a very lucrative way to do that

J:  Talking is good. I’ll start my plan for the Oracles free days

brb

photo credit: <a


J to tha M: On Marketing

Marketing Free or Free Marketing

medium_7869728560M:  You had a Release Day this past weekend – Yay!

that’s exciting-puking-scary-thrilling all at once

J:  well, it was part of an already crazy weekend, so I had no time for puking

mostly, I was nervous about formatting. that what I saw wasn’t what everyone else would see

but thank you. I’m so, so, so excited to finally get Going Under out there

now… marketing. (dun dun dunnnnn)

and, as you know, this is not much fun.

this is actually the scary pukey part for me

and I feel like I’m already failing

M:  Yes, not only a release day, which is exciting enough, but your first self-published release

J:  right

which may or may not have been a good idea. jury’s still out

M:  that’s got to be a little more like free-falling

still super exciting but super scary

J:  really, the whole publishing part was…cool. easier than I thought

but now… I sit and watch

will it catch on? will people like it? will I be crucified for not having a publisher?

it did well in its first few days. still in the top 100 for children’s urban fantasy

which is whoa

but the momentum is already slowing

and I’m thinking “too soon for free days?”

which seemed to do wonders for Wraith Enchanted

Miss Number One in Her Category

nice work

M:  Thank you! I was really pleased with the free days

J:  but there’s got to be a more…lucrative way to market

besides just giving away free things. Still, if all those people tell one person

it’s super worth it

M:  I’m still kind of not understanding how that’s not lucrative marketing

I mean, think about it

it doesn’t cost you one cent to give away kindle copies

and you reach thousands of people

isn’t that reaching beyond the goal of getting your name and work in the hands and minds of readers?

J:  oh no. I understand THAT part of it

it’s definitely lucrative in that way

M:  what way isn’t it lucrative?

J:  well, I guess that it’s thousands of people who won’t pay for that book

maybe your next one, yes

thousands who probably wouldn’t have found it otherwise

I’m on board with that

I see the marketing side of it

but the bank account side of it still stings a little

M:  but it doesn’t really

I look at it this way

My sales of both books were okay but not super stellar

and during the free days, and even after, I saw the best sales on my first book that I’ve seen since the first month it came out – even better for a few days

sales I would not have seen had the second book not been offered free

and it didn’t cost me anything

J:  now that I can see

M:  and now, I have a whole bunch of new people who have my books, who will hopefully like them and have some sort of name recognition for my next works

and not only did it not cost me anything, I gave something fun, and actually made something besides feeling good in sales on my first book, and hopefully through word of mouth on both books

J:  and I don’t want you to think I’m against free days

I’m NOT

I just try not to think about the royalties I might have earned if all those people actually paid for it and I can be hap-happy

M:  gonna be honest – you cannot think that way

J:  hahahaha

my husband makes me

i get dirty looks when I say “it’s not REALLY about the money”

M:  I’d venture a pure guess that probably most of those people who downloaded the book free would never have paid for it

so how can you count that as lost sales?

Count it as a huge positive, because now they have a chance to read your work, hopefully like it, buy more, and tell their friends

you didn’t lose sales

you gained a bunch

J:  and I know it’s not. It’s about getting it out there, getting some notice

I’m not arguing. Just lamenting. it’s a difficult balance

M:  it really is

here’s the other way I look at giving away free books or putting them on sale

I have a huge list of book and authors I want to read. I can’t afford to buy them all – no way

so I get excited when a book I find intriguing goes free or on sale

and I snatch it up, and I read it

and then, if I liked it, I go and buy all of their backlist I can afford and tell everyone I know to try them out

How many sales did they make there?

when before, I never would have had the chance to find them and try the stories and recommend

that’s a loss to everyone

I mean, some of my new fave authors I discovered that way

Kate SeRine, Kit Rocha, Kristen Ashley

J:  I’m afraid I sound whiny

M:  no, you just sound like the other side of the debate

a lot of people feel that way

J:  it’s not my intention to sound whiny

M:  probably more than feel my side

J:  because I fully understand the benefit

and can’t wait until it’s time to do free days for Oracles

M:  I think a lot of authors fall into only seeing lost sales on those thousands of downloads

but you can’t see them as lost sales – most of those people would never have paid full price in the first place

sure, some of them, maybe, but the few that might have are made up by the word of mouth and sales resulting from those reads that never otherwise would have happened

J:  another benefit to self-publishing is setting my own price

M:  yes, price setting is a huge benefit

and being able to make changes at any time, when those pesky errors pop up

that’s probably not as big of a deal to you – heh

J:  I could have asked a lot more, but I thought the lowest possible price was still really fair

M:  yeah. I just want to get my stories into as many hands as possible. I’d love for everyone to be able to afford all the books they find interesting

and still allow the authors to make some sort of living

J:  now, I know how you feel about the Goodreads giveaways

like maybe you don’t see as much of a benefit

but since mine went live this morning, more people have added to the to-read lists

maybe they will, maybe they won’t buy it

but the giveaway at least put it on their radar

M:  that’s true. anything that gets the info out there is good

J:  but it gets the book in front of even more people

because those people who put it on their to-read lists are then seen by their friends

who might also find it interesting

does it translate to more sales?

no clue

but people know my name and my book

oh

do know what has helped me find books to buy?

the lists on goodreads

when I’m on my geeky hero kick, I search the lists

I’ve bought at least five that I found on those lists

it’s how I found Ruthie Knox and Delphine Dryden

M:  I find books by word of mouth or blog and publishers sites and reviewers I trust

J:  word of mouth is still definitely the most powerful

Tiff’s reading Red

and LOVING it

I feel accomplished

M:  see

I might still not have purchased Red off my want-to-read list if Kate hadn’t offered it for free, and then never rec’d to you or everyone else

J:  but Tiff wouldn’t have read it if we hadn’t talked about it

and I know two other people who bought the series after reading my rec on twitter

M:  right. but we wouldn’t have talked about it if I hadn’t read it

and I might not have read it if it hadn’t been free

J:  nope

but you can see how both worked

M:  so that whole chain reaction goes back to her offering the ebook free for a couple days

J:  perhaps, but if I hadn’t tweeted it, it would have stopped with me

M:  but I wouldn’t have started if it hadn’t been free. And boy, did I rec it after I was finished reading.

J:  and I discovered Charlotte Stein because Ruthie Knox told me on twitter to check her out

M:  and I only bought both Knox and Stein because they were on sale or free, no matter your rec

so it’s all intertwined

J:  one to spark, the other to fan the flame

M:  the best thing in the world is to get people talking

and offering your book on sale or free is a very lucrative way to do that

J:  Talking is good. I’ll start my plan for the Oracles free days

brb

photo credit: <a


Book Review: Never Google Heartbreak by Emma Garcia

Guest Review and Commentary by Eva Pugzlyte

book review never google heartbreak emma garciaVivienne Summers got dumped by her fiancé, Rob, thrice, yet she prefers to look at it as being “on a break” and is certain he will return to her with the wedding ring and she can finally start living the perfect life as Rob’s wife. Clearly Viv doesn’t make the same mistake twice. She makes it thrice, just to be sure. As much as I wanted to shake her – because, Hello! Girl, you are you blind or stupid or both? This guy is clearly no good and you deserve so much better than this! – I couldn’t help but feel an embarrassing solidarity with her, because even though I’ve never even been close to the altar, I’ve been there. My girlfriends have been there and most likely youve been there, too. Oh you’re a “strong independent woman who don’t need no man”? You’ve so been there and don’t even try to deny it.

So there is Viv, in her crappy “temporary” (whatever you want to tell yourself) apartment, so deep in denial that it’s about to cross the core–mantle boundary of the planet. After all he just needs time to realise he can’t live without her and then he’ll be back. In fact she will show up at their mutual friends’ wedding looking fabulous and show him what he’s missing. (Oh boy…) And then he calls and tells her he’ll be with someone and for a moment I was really sure she had seen him for the bastard he is (even if we’re only on page 55 of 339), but instead she decides to bring a date, too (I can’t watch this…).

Enter Max Kelly, a six-foot-two, scruffy, dark curly-haired, poetry writing, motorbike riding, guitar playing, Irish painter, who happens to be Vivienne’s best friend. (Viv, is he single? Why is he single? Can I have his number? Oh my God, what happened to your hair?!) Five minutes  with Max and it’s already plainly obvious he’s in love with her and mercilessly friend-zoned. (Oh please. Yeah sure, Viv, he’s not friend-zoned. And Guantanamo Bay is an all-inclusive holiday resort.)

Let’s skip to the wedding and Rob’s someone, an urban goddess shrouded in class and sophistication. (I understand you need a drink, Viv, but I really don’t think that’s a good idea. Oh that’s definitely a bad idea… Max, do something!)

The next several chapters are spent anaesthetising the previous chapters with vodka, champagne or a near lethal combination of both, breaking every glass in the flat and crying herself in to a stupor, achingly familiar to that time I spent a Saturday in bed with a bottle of wine and half a rainforest worth of tissues bemoaning a guy who dumped me via text message (Wait. What? I admit nothing.) In my mind I unconsciously start singing All by myself…

In the meantime she starts a website about heartbreak (because there seem to be a lot of brokenhearted people on the internet), while trying to keep her own head as well as that of her dim-witted assistant above water as they both are at danger of losing their jobs. And worst of all everyone around her seems to find sex or love or even worse…both. Even her nana! Is there anything worse than lovesick people all around you when you feel like your heart has been dug out of your chest cavity with a spoon? And then she picks up her last stuff at her ex’s house, her ex-house, which has been re-decorated by his now fiancée and she’s fighting with her best girlfriend (Here, Viv, you definitely need this drink more than I do.) and the hurt is so great she would do anything, anything, to not feel it even if it’s for a span of 30 seconds and Max is there like a gorgeous, rogue,Irish morphine patch and she surrenders to it (I don’t blame you, Viv. I resent you slightly, but I don’t blame you) and for a little while she can breathe again, but then Rob returns from their “break” and he’s on one knee and he’s holding a diamond ring, her diamond ring (Don’t you even think about it, Viv! Do you hear me?!) and it’s all she ever thought she wanted, but why does it feel so out of place in her flat and her life all of a sudden? And where is Max?

A girlfriend gave me this book saying she loved it because it felt so familiar (She has definitely been there). I took it with a smile, yet expecting it to be the thirteenth chick-flick in a baker’s dozen and I ended up pleasantly surprised, because Viv isn’t perfect (Sorry, Viv, I love you but you’re a mess). Viv is you. She is your best friend. She is your colleague. She’s the random girl you’re sharing an elevator with. You laugh with her, you cry with her, you root for her, you scold her. You have imaginary arguments with her in your head and then you make up with her. She’s the voice in your head. She is the worst of you  and the best. She’s iconic. And that’s what makes this book so enjoyable.

Oh and Max is a sweater made out of sexy boyfriend material. (Yes, he’s yours, Viv. Let a girl dream… Get another bottle of wine, will you? Night’s young.)

Book Review never google heartbreak by emma garcia

About the Author

Emma Garcia has completed an MA in Creative Writing at Roehampton University and has published three children’s books (Boxer books). NEVER GOOGLE HEARTBREAK is her first adult novel loosely based around her own experiences of being in her thirties and single in London, of being dumped, getting over it, falling in love and getting married. She has worked as a waitress, technical assistant, chambermaid, sandwich designer, product manager, illustrator and teacher, and spent a long time travelling and working in Asia.

She lives in Yorkshire with her husband and three children, and is currently working on the second book in the series, OMG BABY.

About the Book

Top tips to get over a broken heart
Don’t embarrass yourself in front of your ex
Avoid sleeping with your best friend
No drunken dialling!
… And never, ever Google heartbreak

After her ex-fiancé Rob breaks off their engagement for the third time, Viv knows she needs help to get over it. And, as she searches through tales of heartbreak online, inspiration strikes – she needs to set up her own website! A one-stop shop for the broken-hearted.

However, the advice she begins getting on it doesn’t seem to be helping her win Rob back. On the contrary, it seems to be pointing her in the direction of her best friend and partner-in-crime Max.

But where is Max when Viv needs him most? Will Rob ever see the error of his ways?
And, ultimately, is there a search engine powerful enough to stop us getting our hearts broken… or to stop us breaking anyone else’s?

About the Reviewer

Thinker. Dreamer. Independent. Observer. Night owl. Frank. Stubborn. Easygoing on the surface, but shy underneath. Prone to sarcastic remarks. Ticklish. Lover of arts. Foodie. Would never exchange the feel of paper under her fingertips for an e-reader. Often talks in references. Could eat her weight in licorice. Secretly suspects her house is trying to kill her and shall deny every accusation of klutzery on her behalf. Is known to on occasion name inanimate objects and oftentimes can’t decide whether she loves something because it’s beautiful, or whether it’s beautiful because she loves it.


Guest Post: Marketing Doohickeys

More Marketing Tips for Authors

author marketing tipsA librarian told me that writing the book is half the work; selling it makes up the other 50%. As a writer, how can you stand out in a world of other books? Try these personalized marketing tricks:

QR code.

Traditional marketing plans involve making postcards and bookmarks with your cover image and book information on them. (I’ve also heard of bracelets, necklaces, shirts, and cookies used for swag.) One way to make the bland postcard or bookmark more alluring (and to tie in new technology) is to use a QR code.

QR codes are those black and white fuzzy squares now appearing on posters, newsletters, and even cereal boxes. When somebody scans them with their smartphone, the code takes them to a web URL you set (the publisher’s site, the author website, Amazon.com, or even a secret download—like an extra short story).

There are free QR code generators, like http://www.free-qr-code.net/ or http://goqr.me/. Some printing companies like MOO.com offer the service when creating promotional materials. Sites like https://bitly.com/ can also track who’s been clicking on your code (but you have to sign up for a free account).

Customized goodies.

Giveaways are quite popular. Sometimes the prizes involve something monetary, like a Barnes and Noble gift card. One way to spark more interest, though, is to make a book-themed basket. Is your story set in the classic Hollywood era? Maybe a set of black and white films will entice potential readers.

Character-themed goodies also work. Silk, one of the main characters in my debut novel, has emotional memories tied to cherry blossoms. These flowers adorn the prizes in my gift giveaways.

author marketing tips

Autographed copies.

People enjoy getting free copies of your book. When you add a signature, though, it adds a sense of specialness to the receiver. Make sure to personalize the inscription to best reflect the reader. An inscribed copy is a way for people to show off their uniqueness and ensure that they’ll keep the copy in their library.

Which idea did you like? How have you made marketing more interesting and specific to your book?  

About the Author

Jennifer J. Chow, an Asian-American writer, holds a Bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and a Master’s in Social Welfare from UCLA. Her geriatric work experience has informed her stories.  She lives near Los Angeles, California.

Her fiction has appeared in Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, IdeaGems Magazine, and Mouse Tales Press.  Her Taiwanese-American novel, The 228 Legacy, made it to the second round of the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest and was published by Martin Sisters Publishing in July 2013.
photo credit: TMAB2003 via photopin cc


J to tha M: What We’re Reading

In Which We Go From Bitching to Snot-Sobbing

2010-10-04-DeadPoetsSociety1989CD2.avi_003839798J:  What’s up today? You’ve had marketing on the brain

M:  Ugh. No fun. Let’s talk fun. What have you been reading – that’s fun. Plus, I’d like to readdress my feelings on the Kristen Ashely Rock Chick books at some point

J:  I don’t know if I’ve read much I could crow about lately

everything’s been just…nice

I read another Entangled Bliss

part of a series or collection by Sara Daniel

Cute

M:  I haven’t heard of her

J:  I’d read another that was also cute but the end was laugh out loud while also a little swoony

so I gave this one a shot

and it was just cute

then I read one of the novellas in my quest for the hottest geeks

um, shit

what was the name?

Gaming for Keeps

good. lots of good tension

but another of those where the characters had to out-geek each other with all their nerd references

M:  again, too much of a good things sometimes isn’t good

That’s exactly what I ran into with the Rock Chick series

J:  nope

really he was an alpha who knew a lot about geeky things

M:  ohh, yeah, that’s not a true geek hero

although an alpha who knows geeky things sounds pretty good to me

J:  oh well

siiiigh

you know what I want

that guy who’s adoring and tongue tied and maybe a terrible dresser

M:  haha

we have such different tastes

J:  but underneath he’s strong and funny and a perfect partner

and he says those things that make you swoon inside because you know it’s not a line

you know it’s exactly what he means

and that he had to really work hard to get the words out, to put himself out there

and he loves fiercely, though shyly

yeah

anyway

Rock Chick and too much of a good thing

M:  haha

yeah, but actually too much of the exact same thing

exact

same

thing

and I mean, the same scene, setting, dialog – almost letter for letter

just different book title and different character names

I guess I should have figured when I noticed all the books have almost exactly the same cover, just different colors

and that exactly reflects the contents

bottom line is, I read I think through the sixth or seventh one in the series

and I did enjoy enough to buy at full price and keep reading

but I facekindled when I got to that exact same dialog and setting and topic scene

word for frickin word

J:  *grumble*

it’s the same thing Evanovich did

M:  well, it’s worse than Evanovich

at least with Stephanie Plum, it actually IS the same character, so acting and talking and using the exact same style is acceptable

J:  oh!

these are all different Rock Chicks?

I assumed it was all the same character

M:  these books are all about different characters, but they all act exactly the same. the writing style is exactly the same. their speech patterns and thoughts, actions and words, behaviors

all exactly the same

oh yes, each book is about a different couple

well, different names. slightly different situations – but only slightly

J:  I felt Evanovich’s other series were Plum in different places with different names

the Motor Mouth and the whatever the one with Diesel is

I didn’t even finish the one book I picked up

and I frickin’ LOVED Plum for a long long time

M:  yes, she does have a style. and style is okay. The Rock Chicks were Exactly The Same

J:  wild

I hate that for you. You were so into it

M:  yeah, the first one in the series was awesome. the second one was great. Even the third I really liked

but I was starting to think…weird. all these couple argue about the same thing, in the same way, with the same behavior and habits and ticks and thoughts and ideas and…

wait a minute

it is all the same

AND THEN

I read about the newest and supposedly last book of the series that just came out this week

and I heard she did a self insert into the book

J:  oh nooooooo

M:  oh yes nooooooo

J:  Clive Cussler!

M:  yes

she hinted that one of the minor secondary characters had leaked stories about the Rock Chicks and the Hot Bunch (a whole ‘nother >.< there about that name)

but this character figured they wouldn’t mind or notice (a whole ‘nother plot point that is >.< after she’s built their personalities throughout the series, but okay)

and so this secondary character decided to write books about them, and her pen name is Kristen Ashley

J:  I’m really confused

M:  Yeah. Exactly. So I really think it’s a good idea for me to not read the last one

J:  it’s probably okay if I stay that way

M:  well, I’d recommend reading the first two or four

and I really recommend reading her not-self-published book I read – Own the Wind

a lot of what I found “huh” in her earlier stories was absent in that one

I’m really glad I read that first, and I will buy the second, Fire Inside

and like I mentioned in my mini review thing on Saturday, I loooooved Knight

J:  well, I hope her whole “same story, different cover” doesn’t carry over to other series

M:  yeah. anyway

I’m in the mood for a snot-sobby story

J:  O.O

I’m never in the mood for those

M:  haha – I know

J:  but I’ve heard The Fault in Our Stars is a good contender

or did you already read that one?

M:  I even just looked through Harper Fox‘s backlist. She does great sobby m/m

I haven’t read the Fault book

I want more relationship snot sobby, not I’m-sick-and-dying sobby

J:  I kind of have a hard time picturing you snot-sobbing

not gonna lie

M:  you do have a point there

I can’t think of the last time a book made me snot-sobby

J:  I get teary-eyed over geeky love confessions

so, let’s be honest, a tearjerker isn’t a great idea for me

M:  Not like Dead Poets Society

J:  oh God

I tear up just thinking the title

M:  that makes me ugly cry every damn time

J:  ugh. I cried when the dog died in Grey’s Anatomy. stop.

M:  but I do like reading a snot-sobby that gets a tear in my eye. maybe rolling down a cheek if it’s really good

I think Harper Fox was the last one to do that

No, wait

Definitely Ben Monopoli

J:  ugh

sobs

but I love him

I did sob

you know this

trying not to wake the husband at 2 am ’cause he’d think I was crazy

M:  Ben needs to publish another book

J:  he said he’s working on something, didn’t he?

oh the sequel to Porcupine City

which will take years

yearssssss

M:  let’s go bug him

brb


Book Review: Sweet Sacrifices by Gloria Davidson Marlow

Guest Review by Kerry A. Hartjen

Sweet Sacrifices Is a Sweet Read

Sweet Sacrifices by Gloria Davidson MarlowDon’t you just love it when a book surprises you?

Sometimes the surprises begin with the first line, but sadly, they end there as well. Other times, the surprises just keep coming from cover to cover, and keep the reader guessing what will happen next.

Gloria Davidson Marlow’s “Sweet Sacrifices” belongs, I am happy to say, in the second group. A tale of love requited and unrequited, of mysteries and intrigues, and of layers and layers of family secrets, it kept me not only interested but entertained throughout.

“Sweet Sacrifices” is, at its core, the story of a poor, beautiful young teacher who falls in love with a handsome stranger, believes that she has married him, becomes pregnant, is betrayed by him, and is then coerced into marrying his brother in order to insure that her infant son has a better life, and a better father, than she did.

Oh — and it also turns out the man she thought she had married, as well as his entire family — are enormously rich. And loaded with family skeletons in a variety of closets.

Admittedly, that is a gross oversimplification of the story. But should you decide to read this book (and I really think you should, especially if you like romantic suspense novels), I don’t want to give away too much of the plot.

Ms. Marlow has populated her novel with a cast of characters that seem to grow in depth and believability the more we get to know them. There are heroes and there are villains, of course. But the author rises above the mundane and predictable by giving her characters multi-dimensional personalities. She elevates them from the world of the cardboard stereotypes that populate the books of many less talented writers, into the realm of believable, individual people.

Another pleasant surprise for me was that “Sweet Sacrifices” has an almost gothic feel to it. There is a sense of oppression, of captivity and isolation that is so much a part of gothic literature. There is also the hint, and even the reality, of madness. Things are not as they appear. People may — or may not be — who or what they seem to be. Danger and betrayal lie around every corner, and the danger keeps growing.

That is another thing I enjoyed about this book: the way that the story kept developing, and how just when I thought I had it figured out, the author would throw in a clever twist, some new bit of information that spun the plot in an unforeseen direction. And her plot twists are not just random devices tossed in as a gimmick to hold the reader’s interest. Once they have been revealed, they make perfect sense and fit seamlessly into the storyline.

I love it when a book comes along and surprises me. When it leads me on a winding path filled with growing suspense and increasing tension from page to page, and pays off with dividends in the end, I love it even more.

“Sweet Sacrifices” did all that, and did it very well.

***

“Sweet Sacrifices” is available directly from the publisher at:

www.TheWildRosePress.com

Sweet Sacrifice by Gloria Davidson Marlow

About the Author

Gloria Davidson Marlow is the author of several romantic suspense novels. She resides in Northeast Florida with her husband, works as a paralegal at a local law firm, and spends as much time as possible with her three grandsons. Visit her blog or her website to learn more. You can also follow her on Twitter.

About the Reviewer

Kerry Hartjen is a former magician/clown/actor and an award-winning writer. He is a supporting member of the Horror Writers Association, a former member of the Dramatists Guild of America, West, and a graduate of The Hollywood Scriptwriting Institute. His poem “Homecoming” has just been published in the fourth issue of the online literary journal, HelloHorror.com. Kerry currently lives on a small island midway between Seattle, WA, Vancouver, B.C., and Victoria, B.C. with his wife and their cat, Max. His blog can be found at: www.raviolithewriter.com .


J to tha M: Trailers

The Book Kind of Trailers

medium_1369495998J:  I’m working on a book trailer. Let’s talk what we like, if they’re helpful, etc.

M:  Sure. you know a lot about them

J:  I don’t know if I know a lot about them

but I’ve seen quite a few

and I know what I do and don’t like about them

It’s like a dynamic way to read the book blurb

as the creator, you can set a tone for the book that the blurb might not completely convey

M:  I haven’t seen very many

J:  What did you like or dislike about the ones you saw?

M:  I get such vivid mental images from reading – the characters, the settings

and I’ve found trailers tend to change my perceptions

and honestly, I like what’s in my head better

I like the trailers that are more conceptual, ones that give feelings rather than images, because that’s what reading is about for me

J:  I’ve done some experimenting with them. Told full stories and just given the basic idea

I’m with you, after several attempts

conceptual

ideas, moods, the blurb

I actually saw one that had “acting” in it once

(acting in quotes for a reason)

unless the trailer is for a movie, I don’t think there should be speaking parts

M:  it’s kind of a fine line

I guess depending on what purpose the trailer is to serve

I mean, so many books are turned visual, into movies

and with the obvious huge success, we do like visual interpretations of books

but that’s completely different than a trailer level, I think

J:  I think, if done right, a trailer can hit that perfect note

that visual interpretation while still leaving plenty to the imagination

M:  and it still does go to what an individual likes

some want to give visual representations of what is in their head as they write

and some readers really enjoy that anchor

and some don’t.

so it’s kind of all back to personal preference

like with us – you like to have an actual picture of the characters

and to me, it doesn’t matter. I kind of prefer not to have anything concrete

J:  Oh, I do, but it’s usually one I create in my own

head. or associate in my own head

when given the image from the author, I usually don’t agree

M:  I can never find an actor or model or photo that looks like the characters do in my head

I can get inspiration, or a type

but I don’t usually think about having an actual physical image until you bring it up

heh

J:  when I’m writing, I like to have that concrete image so it doesn’t change throughout the book

blue eyes, curly hair, etc.

if my perception of the character changes over time, so does the description

M:  for me, once I’ve got the character, they come to complete life in my head

they’re like a real person. I see them, know them. they don’t change

and images just kind of mess with that

J:  I’m so backwards. I get to know my characters as I write them

M:  not backward, just we have different styles and methods when we write

J:  that’s why my editing process is so messy

because in the beginning, this character’s kind of an ass, but by the end, maybe he’s not so bad. But then I have to rearrange his behavior in the beginning so it makes sense

hahaha. I devolved from trailers to editing

welcome to my head, everyone. make yourselves comfy.

M:  but that’s character growth and development

heh

and now we’ve moved on to craft

J: know what stands out to me every time we have a chat?

we’re almost always on opposite sides of the debate

M:  that’s because we’re debating

you can’t really debate if there’s only one side

or the same side

J:  true. but they’re always so successful because we’re always on opposite sides. I kind of like it.

to sum up, as with almost anything, I’m a fan of trailers to a point. Not to the point of telling the whole story

or having the thing acted out by “actors”

M:  I honestly don’t watch them much. Not the first thing i go to when I’m looking at a book

I make my interest and purchase decisions more on the blurb, word of mouth, and excerpts or samples

but I do know a lot of people really enjoy them

and I do like them when they’re done well and represent the atmosphere of the book

just like anything, I guess

J:  careful now. we might actually agree on something

M:  we tend to take the way around but generally agree on stuff

just different views

and the view today is too gorgeous to be behind a computer screen. Going for a beach walk to mull character points.

brb

photo credit: debaird™ via photopin cc


J to tha M Review: What M’s Been Reading

Our scheduled review and reviewer couldn’t make it today, so you get me again.

M Talks Kristen Ashley. And I Like

own-the-wind-2-3_4So, yeah, I’m may be late to the Kristen Ashley club, but boy, I have arrived. I’d heard her name and good things about her stories but never picked one up. Most of what I’d heard rumblings about was her Motorcycle Man books, and to be honest, that only slightly intrigued me. For no particular reason, really, other than I’ve simply never read any motorcycle club books or even watched Sons of Anarchy (although I have listened and grinned at J spouting all things Charlie Hunnan). But then, Ashley’s new Chaos series novel, Own the Wind, went on sale, and I do love a sale on a reputed good book, so I went and checked it out.

You all know how I love a well-written bad boy alpha hero with a heart of gold. Yep, sold. And swoon.

And, oh, Shy was. Swoony and alpha bad boy in all the good ways and a big old heart who loved his woman, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Yep, I got the starry eyes over him. And Tab was a great strong heroine who stayed true to herself while working to accept growing up and everything Shy was without wanting to change him. I love that, too.

Ashley has a unique writing style that took a little getting used to, but I fell right into the characters and story. The change in POV, and going from first to third in those changes, did throw me a little, but she didn’t use that often and while the technique did pull me out a bit, nothing that really bothered me. Also the time skipping ahead, the chapter and section breaks starting with “Three months later…” “Six Weeks later…” Wish that could have been smoother, but overall, very minor pulls out of the story and the story and characters were well worth the read.

I enjoyed the way Ashley handled the character growth while keeping true to their personalities and who they were at the core. A refreshing change from many romance plots, where often the alpha hero tuns into a whipped pile of whatev to prove he loves the heroine, or she becomes a doormat because he’s so hot. Both Shy and Tab did things they came to realize were mistakes, accepted their own failings as well as the others’, dealt with them, and moved on. Ashley is able to show you both sides of a situation, put you right in a character’s head and make you feel  their thoughts and actions are the right ones, then make you see the errors of their ways right along with that character, see both sides, balance and deal with them, and then move forward right along with the hero and heroine.

I also really liked the way she handled the “outing” of Tab and Shy’s relationship. They tried to keep their burgeoning feelings quiet to settle in and be comfortable themselves first, but when they are inevitably found out, instead of groveling for everyone’s forgiveness, Ashley had them handle it head on, stand up for themselves, point out how it’s no one’s business who they sleep with, they have no obligation to tell everyone who they’re sleeping with, and it’s no one’s place to make judgements about what they choose to make common knowledge about who they’re sleeping with. Bravo! So refreshing and yay! And even better, Ashley addresses both sides, showing how their friends and family could still be upset- and make that sound reasonable, too – that they felt they should hide their relationship for any other reason that those Tab gets into their shit about. I was cheering the whole way through that scene. I love getting pulled in and taking a side of one character, only to have the author skillfully show the other side, and have you cheer for them, too, and then take in the entirety of the whole situation. I wish we all had that ability in real life, and I don’t just mean writing about it.

So, yeah. I loved Own the Wind and will definitely by the next in the series, Fire Inside, and then go buy the precursor, the Dream Man series.

6538757What I did buy after finishing was another Kristen Ashley book that was on sale, Rock Chick. I liked this one, too. Reminded me of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, but better, and Linda Howard’s To Die For. Light, silly, sexy, and fun. Ashley gives great bad boy alpha heroes. I’ll definitely continue on with this series. Each features different characters but includes old favorites, and they sound just as sexy-heroed and fun as the first.

And then. Looking through more of Ashley’s back list, what do I see? A series of anti-heroes? Be still my heart. I mean, I love a well-written bad boy alpha hero, but a bad boy alpha anti-hero? My excitement and joy knew no bounds. So, I bought Knight, and oh yeah. Very nicely done. Sexy and uncomfortable and wow and amazing and holy shit all in one. Not for the faint of heart, but if that’s your kink like it is mine, you’re in for a ride. I’m still a hot mess and conflicted and loving it all at once.

41S8guclCULAshley shows great versatility in her ability to go from a tough guy motorcycle club, a light hearted comedic romp, and a darkish erotica, although her heroes have a strong common thread of that bad boy dangerous alpha. Her unique writing style quirks and dialog style remain a little too similar throughout the 3 1/2 books I’ve read so far despite the vastly different sub-genres. That hasn’t really bothered me too much yet as it is different, fun, and sexy, but we’ll see as I read more into her backlist.

With more than twenty books in her backlist, I think you’ll find one that intrigues and I definitely recommend giving her books a shot if you haven’t already. If you have, give J and I your thoughts on what you’ve read and what you’d recommend a latecomer to the Kristen Ashely fanclub.

About the Author:

Kristen Ashley was born in Gary, Indiana, USA and nearly killed her mother and herself making it into the world, seeing as she had the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck (already attempting to accessorise and she hadn’t taken her first breath!). Her mother said they took Kristen away, put her Mom back in her room, her mother looked out the window, and Gary was on fire (Dr. King had been assassinated four days before). Kristen’s Mom remembered thinking it was the end of the world. Quite the dramatic beginning.

Nothing’s changed.

Kristen grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana and has lived in Denver, Colorado and the West Country of England. Thus, she’s blessed to have friends and family around the globe. Her family was (is) loopy (to say the least) but loopy is good when you want to write. They all lived together on a very small farm in a small farm town in the heartland. She grew up with Glenn Miller, The Everly Brothers, REO Speedwagon and Whitesnake (and the wardrobes that matched).

Needless to say, growing up in a house full of music, clothes and love was a good way to grow up.

And as she keeps growing, it keeps getting better.


J to tha M Review: What M’s Been Reading

Our scheduled review and reviewer couldn’t make it today, so you get me again.

M Talks Kristen Ashley. And I Like

own-the-wind-2-3_4So, yeah, I’m may be late to the Kristen Ashley club, but boy, I have arrived. I’d heard her name and good things about her stories but never picked one up. Most of what I’d heard rumblings about was her Motorcycle Man books, and to be honest, that only slightly intrigued me. For no particular reason, really, other than I’ve simply never read any motorcycle club books or even watched Sons of Anarchy (although I have listened and grinned at J spouting all things Charlie Hunnan). But then, Ashley’s new Chaos series novel, Own the Wind, went on sale, and I do love a sale on a reputed good book, so I went and checked it out.

You all know how I love a well-written bad boy alpha hero with a heart of gold. Yep, sold. And swoon.

And, oh, Shy was. Swoony and alpha bad boy in all the good ways and a big old heart who loved his woman, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Yep, I got the starry eyes over him. And Tab was a great strong heroine who stayed true to herself while working to accept growing up and everything Shy was without wanting to change him. I love that, too.

Ashley has a unique writing style that took a little getting used to, but I fell right into the characters and story. The change in POV, and going from first to third in those changes, did throw me a little, but she didn’t use that often and while the technique did pull me out a bit, nothing that really bothered me. Also the time skipping ahead, the chapter and section breaks starting with “Three months later…” “Six Weeks later…” Wish that could have been smoother, but overall, very minor pulls out of the story and the story and characters were well worth the read.

I enjoyed the way Ashley handled the character growth while keeping true to their personalities and who they were at the core. A refreshing change from many romance plots, where often the alpha hero tuns into a whipped pile of whatev to prove he loves the heroine, or she becomes a doormat because he’s so hot. Both Shy and Tab did things they came to realize were mistakes, accepted their own failings as well as the others’, dealt with them, and moved on. Ashley is able to show you both sides of a situation, put you right in a character’s head and make you feel  their thoughts and actions are the right ones, then make you see the errors of their ways right along with that character, see both sides, balance and deal with them, and then move forward right along with the hero and heroine.

I also really liked the way she handled the “outing” of Tab and Shy’s relationship. They tried to keep their burgeoning feelings quiet to settle in and be comfortable themselves first, but when they are inevitably found out, instead of groveling for everyone’s forgiveness, Ashley had them handle it head on, stand up for themselves, point out how it’s no one’s business who they sleep with, they have no obligation to tell everyone who they’re sleeping with, and it’s no one’s place to make judgements about what they choose to make common knowledge about who they’re sleeping with. Bravo! So refreshing and yay! And even better, Ashley addresses both sides, showing how their friends and family could still be upset- and make that sound reasonable, too – that they felt they should hide their relationship for any other reason that those Tab gets into their shit about. I was cheering the whole way through that scene. I love getting pulled in and taking a side of one character, only to have the author skillfully show the other side, and have you cheer for them, too, and then take in the entirety of the whole situation. I wish we all had that ability in real life, and I don’t just mean writing about it.

So, yeah. I loved Own the Wind and will definitely by the next in the series, Fire Inside, and then go buy the precursor, the Dream Man series.

6538757What I did buy after finishing was another Kristen Ashley book that was on sale, Rock Chick. I liked this one, too. Reminded me of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, but better, and Linda Howard’s To Die For. Light, silly, sexy, and fun. Ashley gives great bad boy alpha heroes. I’ll definitely continue on with this series. Each features different characters but includes old favorites, and they sound just as sexy-heroed and fun as the first.

And then. Looking through more of Ashley’s back list, what do I see? A series of anti-heroes? Be still my heart. I mean, I love a well-written bad boy alpha hero, but a bad boy alpha anti-hero? My excitement and joy knew no bounds. So, I bought Knight, and oh yeah. Very nicely done. Sexy and uncomfortable and wow and amazing and holy shit all in one. Not for the faint of heart, but if that’s your kink like it is mine, you’re in for a ride. I’m still a hot mess and conflicted and loving it all at once.

41S8guclCULAshley shows great versatility in her ability to go from a tough guy motorcycle club, a light hearted comedic romp, and a darkish erotica, although her heroes have a strong common thread of that bad boy dangerous alpha. Her unique writing style quirks and dialog style remain a little too similar throughout the 3 1/2 books I’ve read so far despite the vastly different sub-genres. That hasn’t really bothered me too much yet as it is different, fun, and sexy, but we’ll see as I read more into her backlist.

With more than twenty books in her backlist, I think you’ll find one that intrigues and I definitely recommend giving her books a shot if you haven’t already. If you have, give J and I your thoughts on what you’ve read and what you’d recommend a latecomer to the Kristen Ashely fanclub.

About the Author:

Kristen Ashley was born in Gary, Indiana, USA and nearly killed her mother and herself making it into the world, seeing as she had the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck (already attempting to accessorise and she hadn’t taken her first breath!). Her mother said they took Kristen away, put her Mom back in her room, her mother looked out the window, and Gary was on fire (Dr. King had been assassinated four days before). Kristen’s Mom remembered thinking it was the end of the world. Quite the dramatic beginning.

Nothing’s changed.

Kristen grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana and has lived in Denver, Colorado and the West Country of England. Thus, she’s blessed to have friends and family around the globe. Her family was (is) loopy (to say the least) but loopy is good when you want to write. They all lived together on a very small farm in a small farm town in the heartland. She grew up with Glenn Miller, The Everly Brothers, REO Speedwagon and Whitesnake (and the wardrobes that matched).

Needless to say, growing up in a house full of music, clothes and love was a good way to grow up.

And as she keeps growing, it keeps getting better.