October 19, 2014

A change in my tagline

My well-loved 'Level Up' binder

My well-loved ‘Level Up’ binder

Remember way back when I wrote this post about my semi-secret level-up project?

And then remember when I wrote about journaling my life rather than setting goals?

That’s kind of happening. I am still writing for all I’m worth. I’m also still trying to balance it with volunteer opportunities, running a household, and other great level-up projects that I love.

While I’m still very interested in marketing and plan to continue studying it (and posting about it), it’s begun to take a back seat to other interests. With that in mind, I thought a change in the purpose of this blog was called for.

I recently changed the tag line for my blog from ‘Writing, Marketing and Life’ to ‘Writing, balance and my level-up life.’ I may change it again, depending on how well it fits as I ramble on and on about whatever I want to. It may not always make sense, but it’s always aimed at making me a better person and on bringing as much joy as I can into the lives of everyone I meet. Even electronically.

Meanwhile, week three for the #burgersandbooks giveaway is beginning, and I am celebrating by reading book three in Charles Yallowitz’s Legends of Windemere series. Want to read with me?

 

October 18, 2014

Excellent weekend reading: The Prodigy of Rainbow Tower

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

I first read The Prodigy of Rainbow Tower back in 2013. Here’s the Amazon review I wrote for it:

Months after reading this book, my mind is still drawn to it. The fight scenes are descriptive without being overdone, the characters are realistic and dynamic, and there are surprise punches I just didn’t see coming. It’s a great adventure story. There’s a lot going on in this book, but Charles Yallowitz somehow made it all flow together seamlessly. I’ll continue to recommend this series to anyone who enjoys reading fantasy.

That holds as true now as it did when I first read the book. Nyx is a complex, exciting character who I feel really compliments Luke Callindor’s character. The fight scenes are realistic and the action is both fast-paced and smooth. It kept me reading and reading.

It’s been a busy week, so I haven’t finished reading through The Prodigy of Rainbow Tower the second time, but I’m enjoying what I have been able to read. I’m looking forward to finishing it again sometime soon.

I will say this: I don’t read every book twice. Especially when it comes to an entire series. Charles Yallowitz has done a great job with his books. (Check out his blog, and watch for his first video interview coming up on October 22).

From my blog review last year:

According to Dave Farland’s Million Dollar Outlines, books should evoke strong emotional responses. I would say Yallowitz’s settings do that for me. I’m only a third of the way through the book, but I had to fight myself to put it down long enough to blog about it.

If you’re looking for a book to really draw you in this weekend, this is a good one. I’m hoping for more entries to the #burgersandbooks giveaway this week so I can give this book away next Friday.

Happy reading!

 

October 18, 2014

Squirrels, apricot leather and sharing the joy of writing

 

The squirrel who ate dried apricot mush

The squirrel who ate dried apricot mush

A few years ago, my sister gave me a pair of shoes that I have absolutely loved.

She passed them on, not because they were worn out, but because she is much more fashion conscious than I am, and she knew it was time for her to try something different.

Now those shoes are about beat into the ground. The insides are falling apart and the sole is peeling off at the toes and the heels, and still I love them.

Here’s one reason why:

Two summers ago, I wore those shoes when I went to pick apricots. So many apricots had already fallen off the tree that they created slippery mushy spots on the ground. When I went home, my shoes were too yucky to take inside the house, so I set them outside in the sun to dry.

And dry they did. I had a veritable layer of apricot fruit leather baked all around the edges of my shoes.

I wore those shoes to garden in, after that, and then one day I wore them on a trip into the mountains with my mother and my children. After our picnic, I started taking photos of the scenery. My girls started laughing and pointing at my feet just as I felt something tickle the side of my right foot.

I looked down and saw a squirrel, peeling the apricot leather off my shoes.

I was reminded of this tonight in a strange way. I spent the day at a local pumpkin patch selling books with other local authors, and I thoroughly enjoyed the autumn-harvest-festival feelings that pervaded the little fair. For a moment, I felt a little bit like the squirrel–afraid of people I think are bigger than I am when it comes to writing, but so hopeful for a delicious successful-writer experience that I was willing to sneak up upon it and nibble at it.

It turned out well. I learned SOOO much from one day behind a table, and I had the opportunity to strengthen friendships with other writers and meet groups and groups of other locals. I actually sold books. Friends from my own neighborhood drove all the way to the pumpkin walk to support me. The sun was bright and cheerful, but it never got too hot, even in the late afternoon.

Marketing is a lot easier for me when I have a support group around me like that. By the end of the day, all of us were promoting each other’s books. There was a real sense of community lining our two tables. Until I returned home, I didn’t even remember that no one new entered the #burgersandbooks giveaway this week.

Now it doesn’t even matter. I plan to keep promoting books and holding give-aways, but that’s because I like them. It’s not really dependent on anyone else.

So I guess I really do feel like that squirrel. I glean happiness wherever I can find it.

Even if it’s not something I planned for.

Even if it’s not easy to access.

Even if I have to get out of my comfort zone to do it.

Overall, it was a smiley, feel-good day. Better than old shoes and apricot leather, and I plan to keep sharing the joy.

 

October 11, 2014

First winner for the #burgersandbooks #giveaway ! Prize: Beginning of a Hero, by Charles Yallowitz

Week one of the October #burgersandbooks #giveaway is down. The winner of Charles Yallowitz’s Beginning of a Hero is Kathy R. Congratulations, Kathy! I will send you your electronic copy tonight. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

Beginning of a Hero, by Charles Yallowitz--book one in the Legends of  Windemere series

Beginning of a Hero, by Charles Yallowitz–book one in the Legends of Windemere series

The first time I read Beginning of a Hero I was struck with the action. The fast-paced writing drew me in, and my mind created great and immediate images around Charles’ Yallowizt’s story.

It was one of those reading escapes in which I felt like I really was inside the book—climbing the stone walls, trudging through the swamp, and going through the training exercises.

If I had to pick a favorite reason why I enjoy this book now, I would have to say it’s the characters.

Luke Callindor is strong willed and stubborn, and maybe more than a little cocky. He ran into his fair share of trouble because of that, but he handled himself well in those times of trouble. That built my confidence in him as he built his own confidence in himself. For me, that made the entire story believable.

There were some strong female characters, which I always love to see. One of my favorites is Selenia Hamilton. Her role is a supporting one, but her character is steel-strong and absolutely immovable. I liked that she was a sort of mentor to Luke Callindor and that she learned to respect him as the book progressed.

One of Charles Yallowitz’s writing strengths is his ability to write in present-tense. I haven’t read many books written this way, and he does an amazing job of it.

I recommend this book and the rest of the Legends of Windemere series to other fantasy fans.

 

October 3, 2014

Burgers and books #free #giftcard #giveaway #promo

October is here! Celebrate with me!

October is here! Celebrate with me!

I had so much fun with last month’s giveaway that I decided not to wait to November for the next one, so I’m celebrating October with a gift card promo of a different kind!

My family and I love reading parties (in fact, we’re planning one for this Saturday evening). These are simple to plan and lots of fun. All you do is 1) stock up on good books, 2) stock up on yummy foods, and 3) sit in the same room together, reading and munching to your heart’s content.

Since I wanted to promote the idea of family reading parties, I settled on the following idea:

Each week in October, I’ll  give away a free book to whoever wins the drawing for that week. For this promo, I’m focusing on the Charles Yallowitz’s Legends of Windemere series. I’ll draw a name for electronic versions of book one on October 10, book 2 on October 17, book three on October 24, and book 4 on October 31. If you already have these books and you win, let me know–I’ll gift the book you won to a friend of your choice and send you an electronic version of Trusted, by Krista Wayment or Dark Birth by Scott Bryan instead.

Also on Halloween day, everyone who has entered during the month of October will have a chance in a drawing for a $15 Burger King gift card. Food for your personal reading party!!!

Sound fun? Here’s how to enter:

OPTION ONE:

On your blog, post a story, poem or opinion on this prompt: What makes a good fantasy character? Ping back to this article so I know you’ve entered.

OPTION TWO:

If you don’t have a blog, you can like my author page on Facebook and respond to the status with the same prompt. What makes a good fantasy character? Here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorGwenBristol.

Wishing everyone a Happy October, Happy Reading and a truly happy day!

 

 

September 27, 2014

There’s a winner! #nightones #giftcard #giveaway

 

I love rainy days when clouds sink low into the mountains, like this!

I love rainy days when clouds sink low into the mountains, like this! 

What a happy rainy day for a gift card drawing!

The winner is Heidi from Wyoming. Congratulations, Heidi! I hope you enjoy the gift card!

So what’s next in the Night Ones world?

Book two is still on schedule for a December release. The cover reveal will probably happen around Thanksgiving time, maybe a little bit before. LaRae Monroe has already agreed to create the book cover, and I’m so excited I can hardly wait for November. She’s an incredible artist. (Check out her Facebook Page!)

Meanwhile, some local authors are banding together to sell books at a pumpkin walk this year. I wasn’t going to print any physical copies of the book, but I do want to support my fellow writers–so I gave in.  I expect to have a small number of books in a week or two. My husband, a truly talented woodworker, also wants to sell some at a craft show on October 30. I guess we’ll see how it goes!

A poetry sample book is coming sometime soon, too. I meant this as a Mother’s Day gift two years ago. Due to some technical difficulties, I set it aside and only finally finished uploading it last night. I may get some physical copies of that one to give to loved ones, or to sell, if there seems to be a demand. I intend for it to be free on Kindle, maybe as soon as tomorrow.

I also have a stand-alone fantasy book I’m in the process of editing. I hope to have it completely edited by the end of October. At the request of someone dear to me, I’m sending out queries to traditional publishers for this one. I’m not holding my breath. It sounds like fun, but right now, I plan to self-publish this book after I receive all my rejection letters. :D

The critique group is coming along NICELY! I really love having people to bounce ideas back and forth with, and the writers in this area are packed with talent. It’s impossible to spend time with friends like these and not become a better writer. The larger writer’s group is lots of fun, too.

Journalism continues. I had three pieces published in September, which is the most work I’ve had published at once in about two years–I may have to slow down again, but I love writing these stories, so it’s hard to set aside. These articles are all fun, lighthearted stories focusing on the positive things in my world–incredible people with amazing talents and unique experiences to share. I love writing about good people who do great things in their spheres of influence!

And now, the news about more gift card give-aways: Yes, I’ll be doing another one in November!!! Stay tuned for more details! If you’ve already downloaded The Night Ones but haven’t had a chance to read it yet, now you have a head start! :)

If you’re interested in more information on my books, my give-aways, more frequent updates on my works-in-progress or other writing-related things I don’t always post on my blog, please send me your contact information! I’ll send out an e-mail once or twice  a quarter to let you know what’s up.

Wishing everyone a very happy day!

 

September 24, 2014

Impostor syndrome, writers and self-publishing our fiction

visit http://jewelallen.blogspot.com to learn more about this talented writer and her new book

visit http://jewelallen.blogspot.com to learn more about this talented writer and her new book

Last night my husband and I discussed Impostor Syndrome. I’m afraid I’ve got a case of it. I can never read my published work and not feel like somehow, some way, I could have done better.

Imagine my delight when I came across this paragraph in the blog post of one of my local writing friends, the talented Jewel Allen:

Having taken a leave of absence from the Tooele Transcript Bulletin, I’d missed writing articles. I also felt a little rusty. My confidence was shaky as I started with a blank page. Could I do this again?  But, like other deadline-driven times, I typed in my byline, and threw down the words like clay on a pottery wheel, shaped and molded them, shaped and molded them some more, threw out a chunk, put it back in, threw out more chunks, until I was satisfied. Even after I hit send and the editor complimented me on a “terrific and well-written story,” the perfectionist in me came up with a couple more ways to switch the paragraphs around.

Me! That’s me! I do that all the time!

It’s why I have a hard time promoting my own work. I can hardly stand to look at it once it’s actually published. I think I might be my own worst critic, and I’m working hard to develop a thicker skin where I’m concerned.

Here’s an example: During the free promo of The Night Ones last week, 237 copies were downloaded. My book shot up to the top ten in one Amazon category for free books and to the top 100 in another. Even now (two days after the promo ended), my book is still in the top 100 for its category for paid books, which isn’t something I expected. I’m delighted to see that, but I still wonder–why? Do people really like my book that much?

I’m pleased, but it makes me feel shy. What if, now that they have my book, they decide they don’t like it? Was it really ready to be re-released?

Deep down, I know the only answer is yes.  Whether I really agree with myself or not, I have to cut my teeth sometime, and the sooner I do, the sooner I can start working on all the other projects that spin around so happily in my mind.

Jewel Allen currently has three upcoming booksBlemish, The Spanish Exile, and Ghost Moon Night. Guess what she has to say about this subject as she prepares for the October launch of Ghost Moon Night?

Maybe I have the mentality of a journalist and memoir publisher, but sometimes, your work isn’t the best it can be no matter how much you’ve edited it. I’ve submitted pieces before where I flubbed majorly on details, or left out information, and, guess what? Life still goes on. You will always find something wrong with your story, or have a better way of phrasing.

I’m not saying I shouldn’t get GHOST MOON NIGHT to the best shape it can possibly be. And novels do have a bit more shelf life than a news article. But, there has to be a balance.

It’s a comfort to read words like this–especially now, when I’m writing the sequel to The Night Ones. I’ve discovered I struggle more with myself than I do with the details of writing. Sometime I’ve just got to get over myself and let my books fly or fall on their own.

That means not worrying about whether my writing is good or not while I’m working on the first draft. It also means not concerning myself so much about what other people think of my fiction when I self-publish it or send a query off to a traditional publisher.

Meanwhile, there’s still journalism to fret over–and I’m so glad I’m  not the only one who rethinks her entire articles every time she submits one. Thanks, Jewel Allen, for making me smile today! I’m looking forward to Ghost Moon Night!

Oh! One more thing before I publish this post–this is the last week to e-mail me to let me know you’ve reviewed The Night Ones on Amazon if you want to be entered in the $25 Amazon gift card drawing/contest thing.

 

 

 

September 19, 2014

Look what friends can do–thanks, everyone! #thenightones #free

Look what I woke up to this morning! :D

Look what I woke up to this morning! :D

Yesterday 95 copies of The Night Ones were downloaded.  I woke up this morning to find The Night Ones had reached #4 in its category for free downloads on Amazon.

That felt like a lot of downloads for not actively promoting it. I only posted about it here on my blog and on Facebook. While I intend to use free e-book listing sources in the future, I’m grateful to see what just a handful of friends can do.

A big thanks to everyone here who shared the post about The Night Ones‘ free promotion or who liked it. You made my day.

 

 

September 18, 2014

The Night Ones is free September 18-22 #free #thenightones

The Night Ones is free on Amazon.com during September 18-22.

Get your copy here, and happy reading!

 

September 15, 2014

The evolution of a book cover: why I will always hire a visual artist now

I think of my self-publishing experience with The Night Ones as a learning exercise and, right now, as a demonstration of why self-publishing writers most often should hire someone else to do the artwork for their book covers.

Here’s the first book cover I tried to make, on my own.

book cover possibility three point seven five

Here’s the second book cover, also made on my own.

Second book cover

Second book cover

Here’s the third, also on my own, that I made for the re-release while I waited for a final book cover. (More on that another time–the artist I hired works fast. I was waiting on other things.)

green ebook cover red print cropped resized

And, finally, here’s what artist LaRae Monroe can do.

The Night Ones has a new look!

The Night Ones has a new look!

LaRae and I had a great chat about what separates writers and visual artists. Both she and I keep notebooks. The biggest difference is what we keep in our notebooks. Mine is full of words, describing my ideas in detail. Her ideas are mapped out with pictures, more like story boards.

I’ve gained a new respect for all visual artists because of LaRae. In some ways, she can see what I write about better than I can.

If you’re intrigued by the beautiful new book cover, check out the e-book! It’ll be free on Amazon from Sepember 18-22. Also–check out the $25 Amazon gift card giveaway!

Wishing you all the best!

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