Saturday, September 14, 2019

Top 3 Snacks to Eat While Writing (Julie)

How many of you love to eat while writing? I certainly do, despite the warnings. I may not start out writing with food nearby but invariably I will get up and find something to munch on while working on my WIP. There are many go-to snacks, but I've narrowed it down to three top choices for me.

Let me start by saying, chocolate is not on the list. Its a given that that yummy substance would be the top choice of anyone(except maybe my sister;) So I'm going to give "other" options for creative thinking foods.

3) Nuts (I have to put at least one healthy choice on here). I specifically like eating almonds while working. They are easy to eat, just pop a few in your mouth and chew. And they don't make your fingers greasy.

2) Ice cream. As long as I don't eat it too fast and get a brain freeze!! But there's something so energizing about eating a cold, smooth bite of ice cream.

1) Popcorn. I love popping a bag of kernels and sitting and munching on them while writing. The only downside to eating popcorn is I can only type with one hand until I'm finished. Unless I want greasy computer keys. It's satisfying and for some reason helps me focus. 

What about you? What is your go-to snack of choice while writing?

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Facebook Party Tips (Laurie)

Back in 2017 (how was it that long ago??), I did an "All About" series where I talked about various aspects of marketing and book launches. In case you're interested, they discussed Cover Reveals, Street Teams & Newsletters, and Reviews, ARCs, & Beta Readers. I always meant to do a fourth installment on Facebook parties, but when my book launch came up in early 2018, apparently I never got around to it! Since I happened to be a guest author in a Facebook party just this past weekend, I figured now would be a great time to finally share my thoughts on the subject :)

If you're not familiar with Facebook parties, they're events that happen right on Facebook. Usually they run for a few hours, but sometimes events can be as lengthy as a day or even stretch over a week or month. During that time, people post in the Facebook event, creating a virtual "party" where anyone, regardless of their location, can participate from the comfort of their own homes. I enjoy Facebook parties because they can be a fantastic way to interact with readers, collaborate with fellow authors, and talk about books! Probably other things, too, but the Facebook parties I'm a part of always center around books :)

I've been involved in enough Facebook parties as either a host or guest author by this point that I have a pretty good sense for what works and what doesn't. I'm sure other authors may have slightly different advice, but here are a few tips from my own experiences:

1) Be interactive! The event is called a "party," after all, and nothing will kill the feel of a party more quickly than a string of promotional posts that don't invite others to participate in some way. There are so many options, including questions, gif wars, quizzes, games, etc. And, if your posts do invite interaction, then actually interact! Readers will quickly figure out that your statement of "I can't wait to learn more about you!" wasn't genuine if you never show any evidence of reading their comments. In a really active party (I've seen posts with 60+ comments), it clearly won't be possible to respond to everyone, but make an effort to show you're actively involved.

2) Don't be afraid to promote yourself! I know this seems to contradict what I just said, but read on! If you're hosting a Facebook party or have a slot as a guest author, you've put time and effort into planning for the party and may be offering a giveaway, so make sure you get something out of it! Not every post needs to be promotional, of course, but there are lots of ways to promote and interact at the same time. Find things readers have in common with your characters, share about the theme of your book and ask attendees about how that theme connects with them, make a quiz about the types of magic in your book, talk about the authors that inspire you and find out about everyone else's favorite authors - the possibilities are endless! And having participants sign up for your newsletter or follow you on social media can be a great way for them to enter a giveaway.

3) Graphics are attention-grabbing. Facebook parties can get very crowded with posts, so graphics can be a great way to help your posts stand out. My preference is to use a consistent background and fonts for all of my graphics so it's easy to distinguish my posts from what other authors are sharing, plus it gives off a professional vibe, but a more eclectic look can be fun, too! Either way, graphics can be a great way to highlight book covers, art connected with your books, giveaway prizes,and even a question you want people to answer. These are a few examples from my most recent party in case you're curious!

4) Be responsible. Hopefully this goes without saying, but I know these issues come up fairly often with these types of events so they're worth mentioning. If you are given or sign up for a certain period of time during which to post, make sure you follow through. Double check time zones, since those can get tricky when people from around the country or even world are involved. And if you have any concerns about being able to post during your time slot, you can always schedule them in advance. Dead space from an author no-show makes it really hard to keep the attention of party-goers. Also, if you offer a giveaway, make sure you actually pick a winner, contact him or her, and send the prize. Again, I know none of YOU would do these things, but it's still good to be aware :)

That's all I have for now! I could do a whole additional post on organizing a group Facebook party and finding opportunities to be a guest author, so if that would be helpful to anyone, let me know in the comments and I'll consider it for the future! And let me know if you have any questions! What's your take on Facebook parties? Have you ever been to one, or is the concept too bizarre?

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Top 3's: A Birthday Celebration! (Katie)

Top 3 Birthdays! (Katie)

Hi everyone! In case you didn't know, today is my birthday! Hip hip hooray! In celebration, I am doing a giveaway (you can find the details at the end of this post)! I mostly like my birthday, and I haven't ever been too caught up on getting older. I get that it's a touchy subject for a lot of people, and I also understand that many people take the "you're only as old as you feel" stand. I am not one of either of those types. I absolutely feel my age (OK, usually I feel older than my age), but it doesn't bother me in the least. 

So, Happy Birthday to me! Today, I'm sharing 3 of my top birthday memories. Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, not all of my birthday memories are great. Like all of us, I have had ups and downs. But some of my birthdays have been exceptionally nice.

# 3

Sweet 16! My best friends threw me a slumber party at one of their houses. We ate pizza and ice cream and went swimming, and I remember having a really GREAT time. I've got lots of good memories from that party.


Turning 18! So, my husband and I weren't allowed to start dating until I turned 18. That meant our first official date got to happen right around my 18th birthday. Sure, we had lots of fun times with friends and family before that date, but it was the "official" beginning of a wonderful thing!


Birthday of 2018! OK, so this was just last year! We went to Walt Disney World for my birthday, and it was Ah-Maze-Ing! We've been to Disney World a few times, and it's my favorite place, but we have to work hard to make those trips happen. It usually includes lots of scrimping and saving, as well as picking up side writing jobs to make extra money. Last year we were in Magic Kingdom for my birthday, where we got my little boy's first haircut at the little barber shop on Main Street USA. We also had a hoe down with Mickey Mouse himself, which was super fun. It is currently my favorite birthday memory!

***How about you?! Share a great birthday memory and in celebration I will enter you to win an e-copy of your choice of one of my books!***

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Fairyeater and Heartmender | What We're Reading (Lauricia)

As summer is binge-reading time, I have a stack of books I'd like to share with y'all (for those who don't speak Texan, that's you + all: y'all). Unfortunately, there are more books than there are days to read them in a lifetime. I can't share insights to everything I've recently read and loved, but I can bend the rules a little today and tell you about two (instead of my usual one): Fairyeater by Pam Halter and Heartmender by V. Romas Burton.

Fairyeater by Pam Halter

Fifteen years ago, Tzmet’s father was defeated in his attempt at world domination. Since then, Tzmet has preyed upon the earth fairies in order to weaken their power enough to facilitate her father’s return.

Akeela is a fifteen-year-old with the power to see the aura of living things and the ability to see fairies for what they are, not the disguises they wear. These things, combined with an unusual birthmark that she has to keep hidden, point to Akeela’s future as the next Fairy Guardian. Charged with the task of protecting fairies from the Dark Lord and his daughter Tzmet, Akeela must choose between living the life she wants an fulfilling the purpose for which she was born.

Charged with painful moments of beautiful sacrifice, Fairyeater is a story of facing the difficult truths of life and honoring what is right over what is comfortable, easy, or even greatly desired. I was first drawn to this book by its concept and its cover. I was impacted by this book through its unflinching but gracious treatment of some of the truths about life that contemporary readers desperately need to wrestle with. Fairyeater is an excellent story about sacrifice, love, and finding friendship in unusual places.

Heartmender by V. Romas Burton

Heartmender is the tale of Addie, a teenage girl who lives in a world where hearts are extracted before they can become hard and dead and are then traded for the bearer’s greatest wish. However, Addie’s heart is neither hard nor dead, and her greatest wish is not to be granted at the fair. In order to obtain her wish, Addie must protect her extracted heart from those who seek to possess it and must overcome a series of trials that very few survive.

I was drawn to Heartmender because of its eerie, surreal tone and the realistic but kind depiction of crippling anxiety. The more I read, the more I enjoyed this story, especially for the way it resonates with the cinematic otherworldly feel of Mirrormask and Pan’s Labyrinth. The artistry is hauntingly surreal yet truthful for its depiction of a young woman who must overcome the trials of life that blindside so many of us. An enchanting allegory, Heartmender is a story that will be greatly enjoyed by readers of clean YA fantasy.

Now that I've shared my newest discoveries with you,  I'd love to hear what you've been reading. Let me know your to favorites "so far" in the comments.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Top 3 Old Books in My Collection (Lizzie)

I love old books and have collected several over the years. Some I inherited from my grandmother (and her mother) and some I bought at thrift stores or the library book store. Today, I going to introduce you to my Top 3 Old Books in My Collection.

1) The Poetical Works of Sir Walter Scott in Ten Volumes. Vol. VII. The Lady of the Lake. Date: 1821.
I found this book in a charity shop in North Yorkshire, England, a few years ago. That fact alone makes me special to me. It’s had some water damage and has more of a musty odor than a pleasant old book odor, but it’s still neat to have a book so old. The cover is solid and the book heavy, and the spine has lovely designs.

2) A Children’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson. Illustrated by Jessie Willcox Smith. Date: Unknown (the title page is missing). This is a local thrift store find. I loved Stevenson’s adventures Treasure Island and Kidnapped, and so I was pleased and surprised to see a book of children’s poems. I’ve enjoyed reading the poems and looking at the simple illustrations. I’d love to read this to my children one day.

3) The Five Little Peppers Midway by Margaret Sidney. Date 1893.
My grandmother gave me this. It’s been too well loved in the past for me to read now, but I love the decorative cover. I read a copy of the first Five Little Peppers book when I was in elementary school and really enjoyed it, so having an antique copy of part of the series, and one that belonged to my great-grandmother, is special to me.

Do you like old books or have any in your collection?

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

The Beginnings (Julie)

I would safely wager a bet that most if not all authors are avid readers (in my head it doesn't make sense
if you wrote but hated reading). It was probably reading that spurred the interest in writing your own book. That's how it was for me. I was reading so many kid's fantasy books that one day I decided I should just write my own. And I am!

Since my interest revolved around fantasy, I guess I naturally veered toward a fantasy novel. That's what I loved to read so it made sense that I'd love to write it too.

What about you writers? Was it a love for reading a certain genre that brought you into the world of writing? 

It wasn't just reading that started a desire to story-tell, but also a very over active imagination. I constantly have stories going on in my head and even in my dreams. The idea for my current WIP came from a dream I had one night (after reading a fantasy novel of course). Surprisingly when I woke, I remembered enough of the dream to write it down and from that, a trilogy was born.

So, what led you to writing? An obsession with reading or an active imagination?

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Top 3 Small Presses (Laurie)

A few weeks ago, Katie shared her Top 3 Benefits of Being in the Bookish Community, and I completely agreed with everything she said! Her post led me to reflect on how I've changed as a reader since becoming a writer. In addition to knowing more about writing techniques (which can be both a plus and a minus as a reader!), my to-read pile has practically exploded as I've met and interacted with so many fellow authors at conferences, in my writing group, and online. As a result, I've gone from reading mostly popular, big name books to many self-published and small press stories. And I love it! There are so many gems out there I would've never found out about if left to my own devices. So today, I want to celebrate my three favorite small presses! For each graphic, I included only the books I've actually read, which it turns out, are quite a few! :)

3. Pelican Book Group (PBG)

You may notice a theme in this first graphic - Pelican Book Group (PBG) made my list in large part because they made the excellent decision to publish the sweet and talented Katie Clark! Her Enslaved series (the three books in the middle of the top row) was my first introduction to PBG, and I was hooked! I absolutely fell in love with the characters, and the mysteries and suspense in her dystopian world kept me on the edge of my seat. Since then, Katie's released two books in her Beguiled series (so fun and creative!), The Rejected Princess (one of my favorite books last year!), and a few sweet romances. PBG also releases a set of Christmas novellas each year, of which I've especially enjoyed A Match of Sorts and The Widow's Captive by Lucette Nel. I so appreciate that PBG is publishing quality, entertaining Christian fiction!

2. Uncommon Universes Press (UUP)

I've had the opportunity to get to know a few of the amazing ladies involved with Uncommon Universes Press, so it came as no surprise that the books they produce are fabulous! I love that their books are clean with great messages but aren't specifically Christian. And the writing and world-building in every one of these books has blown me away! Cool fantasy / steampunk settings, swoony romances, plus such gorgeous covers - what's not to like? I very much look forward to seeing what UUP has coming up next!

1. Love2ReadLove2Write Publishing (L2L2)

Okay, so maybe I'm a little biased since this happens to be my publisher :) But seriously, the covers alone are enough to catch anyone's attention! And the stories inside are just as incredible! I read a few Love2ReadLove2Write titles before I submitted my manuscript and was so impressed by their depth and creativity. There's something about L2L2's stories that makes for really engaging, immersive reads no matter the author or genre. Following the publication of Common, I've had the opportunity to endorse many of their subsequent books and have been whole-heartedly enthusiastic about every one! It's such a blessing that my story found such a wonderful publishing home.

How about you? Do you read books from mostly big name publishers, or have you explored some self-published and small press titles? Do you have any favorite small presses?

Thanks for reading!