Wednesday, March 20, 2019
As a teen, I often entertained grandiose visions of becoming a best-selling novelist one day. I spent most of my spare time writing anything that came to mind: poetry, plays, short stories, journal entries. Then all my dreams were shattered in a single moment.
Ms. Danson was a tall, imposing woman who looked more like a football player than a schoolteacher. She prided herself on the fact that she knew every spot on campus where students could ditch class and hide. She should know because she had graduated from our school only a few years earlier. This was her first teaching job and I was unlucky enough to get her for English that year.
Now, as a student I was not anything special. However, I excelled at English. The only thing I loved more than writing was reading. I had fallen in love with literature during my freshman year thanks to Thelma Chapman, a vivacious English teacher with a delightful British accent. Due to my nearsightedness and my love of English, I always sat in the front row, but Ms. Danson seated her class alphabetically, and since I was the only “W” in class, I was relegated to the corner seat in the last row.
Our reading assignments that year included The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I was sure Mark Twain himself would have slept through Ms. Danson’s lectures. To make matters even worse, we were to write a term paper on it. I was pretty good at poems and stories, but I wasn’t so good at term papers.
One afternoon Ms. Danson called me into her office. She slid my paper across her desk and instructed me to open the cover. I did so and found a big ‘D-’ scrawled in red ink on the title page. Ms. Danson proceeded to flip through the pages detailing all the mistakes I had made, from the lack of transitional phrases to putting my commas on the outside of my quotation marks. Red marks adorned every page. All I saw was red, and that ‘D-’ seared itself into my brain like a branding iron.
Then I did something that took Ms. Danson by surprise. I started to cry. I put my head down on her desk and wept like a heartbroken child. Though Ms. Danson had not said the actual words, what all those red marks told me was that I was a failure.
Perhaps if my experiences with writing had ended there, I might never have picked up a pen again. Fortunately, tenth grade ended and the next year I was assigned to Elizabeth Rose for English.
I had heard rumors about Mrs. Rose, that she was unusual, and perhaps she was. She was a tiny woman with long, straight platinum blonde hair. She wore four-inch heels, short skirts, and a lot of make-up. She was animated, moving her hands and her head when she talked so that her hair bobbed up and down against her shoulders. But her most distinctive feature was how much she loved teaching. It was evident in everything she said and did. Red marks were few and far between. Instead, she covered her students’ papers with rubber stamped images – she had hundreds in her collection.
When Mrs. Rose read a story, the words jumped right off the page. I often sat with my elbows on my desk and my chin propped in the palms of my hands as I listened to her read Rebecca, Gone with The Wind, or The Haunting of Hill House. I fell in love with literature all over again that year, and thanks to Mrs. Rose, I picked up that pen and started to write again.
Unlike Ms. Danson, Mrs. Rose accentuated the positive. Instead of a term paper, she put us in groups and told us to write “Gone With The Wind – 10 Years Later.” She told me I had talent, that I was a writer at heart and should pursue my dream. Now, having spent more than a decade as a professional writer, I am living that dream every day.
What made the difference for me? The answer is simple. Someone believed in me. Someone took the time to focus on my positives and let the negatives take care of themselves. I wasn’t a perfect student, but Mrs. Rose saw potential where Ms. Danson saw flaws. In time, I learned how to use punctuation correctly and how to write a proper bibliography. More importantly, I learned how to organize my thoughts and put them on paper. That would never have happened if I had never learned to see the qualities in myself that Mrs. Rose saw in me.
The point I want to make is that as a young writer I was vulnerable to criticism. Not that learning proper grammar and punctuation wasn’t important, it was. But for a short time I listened to the criticisms of others and allowed them to crush my dreams. Luckily, I was fortunate enough to find someone who helped me discover my own worth as a writer and to get back on track toward fulfilling those dreams.
Writers always receive criticism. Whether you’re a novice just starting out or a famous novelist getting bashed by book critics, there will always be someone more than willing to point your flaws. The trick is to keep your eye on your dreams. Listen to those whose comments and suggestions are meant to help you improve your writing, and ignore those whose only intent is to see you fail. If you dream of being a writer, don’t let anything or anyone stop you. And remember, the most important voice to listen to is your own.
Monday, March 18, 2019
Spells, Salt, & Steel
by Gail Z. Martin & Larry N. Martin
Genre: Comedic Horror
“When all else fails, the ass end of a carp makes a damn fine weapon.”
Your new favorite monster hunter has arrived! Bubba the Monster Hunter has some competition in this horror comedy collection from best-selling author duo Gail Z. & Larry N. Martin!
By day, Mark Wojcik can be found elbow-deep in engine grease, making cars and trucks safe for the highway. By night, he can be found traipsing through the wilds of Pennsylvania, making the world safe for humans. He’s more than just a mechanic, he’s a New Templar Knight. He travels the backroads and byways fighting weresquonks, ningen, selkies, ghosts, and…gnomes? Is that gnome…naked? (sigh).
Season One collects the first four novellas in the Spells, Salt, & Steel series –
Spells, Salt, & Steel
Gail Z. Martin discovered her passion for science fiction, fantasy and ghost stories in elementary school. The first story she wrote at age five was about a vampire. Her favorite TV show as a preschooler was Dark Shadows. At age 14, she decided to become a writer. She enjoys attending science fiction/fantasy conventions, Renaissance fairs and living history sites.
Larry N. Martin is the author of the new sci-fi adventure novel Salvage Rat. He is the co-author (with Gail Z. Martin) of the Spells, Salt, and Steel/New Templars series; the Steampunk series Iron & Blood; and a collection of short stories and novellas: The Storm & Fury Adventures set in the Iron & Blood universe. He is also the co-author of the upcoming Wasteland Marshals series and the Joe Mack Cauldron/Secret Council series.
The Martins have three children, a Maltese, and a Golden Retriever.
Friday, March 15, 2019
That Which Grows Wild
by Eric J. Guignard
Genre: Dark Fantasy, Short Stories
That Which Grows Wild collects sixteen dark and masterful short stories by award-winning author Eric J. Guignard. Equal parts whimsy and weird, horror and heartbreak, this debut collection traverses the darker side of the fantastic through vibrant and harrowing tales that depict monsters and regrets, hope and atonement, and the oddly changing reflection that turns back at you in the mirror.
Discover why Eric J. Guignard has earned praise from masters of the craft such as Ramsey Campbell (“Guignard gives voice to paranoid vision that’s all too believable.”), Rick Hautala (“No other young horror author is better, I think, than Eric J. Guignard.”), and Nancy Holder ( “The defining new voice of horror has arrived, and I stand in awe.”)
• “A Case Study in Natural Selection and How It Applies to Love” - a teen experiences romance, while the world slowly dies from rising temperatures and increasing cases of spontaneous combustion.
• “Dreams of a Little Suicide” - a down-on-his-luck actor unexpectedly finds his dreams and love in Hollywood playing a munchkin during filming of The Wizard of Oz, but soon those dreams begin to darken.
• “The Inveterate Establishment of Daddano & Co.” - an aged undertaker tells the true story behind the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre, and of the grime that accumulates beneath our floors.
• “A Journey of Great Waves” - a Japanese girl encounters, years later, the ocean-borne debris of her tsunami-ravaged homeland, and the ghosts that come with it.
• “The House of the Rising Sun, Forever” - a tragic voice gives dire warning against the cycle of opium addiction from which, even after death, there is no escape.
• “Last Days of the Gunslinger, John Amos” - a gunfighter keeps a decimated town’s surviving children safe on a mountaintop from the incursion of ferocious creatures… until a flash flood strikes.
Explore within, and discover a wild range upon which grows the dark, the strange, and the profound.
Eric J. Guignard is a writer and editor of dark and speculative fiction, operating from the shadowy outskirts of Los Angeles. He's won the Bram Stoker Award, been a finalist for the International Thriller Writers Award, and a multi-nominee of the Pushcart Prize. His stories and non-fiction have appeared in over one hundred genre and literary publications such as "Nightmare Magazine," "Black Static," "Shock Totem," "Buzzy Magazine," and "Dark Discoveries Magazine." Outside the glamorous and jet-setting world of indie fiction, Eric's a technical writer and college professor, and he stumbles home each day to a wife, children, cats, and a terrarium filled with mischievous beetles.
Thursday, March 14, 2019
House of Madness
by Sara Harris
Genre: Paranormal Thriller
Can You Ever Truly Put the Past Behind You?
Tim and Adelaide Smithfield are haunted by memories of loss too raw to forget, and too painful to remember. Their 11-year-old daughter, Michaela, has her own set of sensory processing challenges, not to mention an overwhelming sense of guilt that she might be at the root of her parents’ problems.
The sprawling ranch house on the outskirts of the quaint West Texas town of Big Spring promises a fresh start for a young family on the verge of collapse.
But the house is haunted by memories of its own… and a guilt that West Texas’ famed thunderstorms can’t wash away.
Sara is a mother of four, animal lover and advocate, and conservationist. Little House on the Prairie, Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, and Lonesome Dove are among her favorite shows/movies and books. Sara holds her B.A. in History and is the author of the historical romance series, An Everlasting Heart, from 5 Prince Publishing and recently debuted into the children's book realm with Chunky Sugars (5 Prince Kids), written for her own chunky baby.
Wednesday, March 13, 2019
Six years ago, if you had told me I’d be running my own editing service and publishing company, I would have laughed and said you’re out of your mind. In 2012, when my first novel came out, I had no idea what Facebook was, I’d never read a blog, and social media was a term I couldn’t begin to define. But my publisher told me it was a must for today’s authors. So, I dove in.
I learned how to “build my platform” one step at a time. From there, I learned how to format digital and print books and then ventured into self-publishing. I learned how to promote my books and how to expand my business to include other authors as well.
Along the way, I hit many road blocks. There were times when I thought, “I’ll never figure this out.” But I never gave up, and eventually I did figure it all out.
What’s been my biggest motivation?
Mom, who turns 71 this week, is an amazing woman. Married at nineteen with three kids by the age of twenty-four, Mom has spent her entire life hurdling obstacles. She was diagnosed as a Type I diabetic when I was seven. When I was eight, she carried my youngest brother to full term only to lose him during delivery—complications of diabetes. She has battled endless health issues, financial setbacks, and disappointments. But I’ve never known anyone more optimistic about life than she is.
Mom is an adventurer at heart. In 1977, the year after my brother died, Mom and Dad moved us out of the city to a rural mountain community where they built a two-story log home with their own hands.
Mom never went to college, but she has a slew of certifications and has accumulated enough life experience to most college graduates to shame. She’s owned several businesses, has managed multiple medical offices, and spent many years volunteering in her community.
In addition, Mom can build, repair, and design anything. She spent twenty years as a professional seamstress, taught herself how to reupholster furniture, rewired lighting fixtures, and built a cement block wall and a 25ft. aviary.
During the past decade of her life, she has faced constant pain and illness and countless hospital visits. But she always has a smile on her face and a compliment for whoever happens to be in her presence. More than once, we thought we would lose her, but she just kept on going, her spirit too strong to give up.
My Mom is my greatest inspiration. As I was growing up watching her battle illness and tackle projects that seemed beyond her capability, she would always tell me, “If someone else has done it, I can learn to do it too.”
That was her motto. She could, quite literally, do anything.
I’ve tried to follow Mom’s example. I’m not much for building aviaries or sewing dresses, but I apply her stick-to-it attitude to what I love best: writing and publishing.
At the moment, I’m trying to learn how to market my books via Click Funnels. Thanks to Ken Dunn’s beta class on the subject, I’ve learned a lot. But this is perhaps the most challenging thing I’ve ever tried to learn. I am at a brick wall. There have been times, even today, that I’ve turned off my computer and threw my hands up in frustration. “I just can’t do this!” I want to shout.
But then I think of Mom’s words: “If someone else has done it, I can’t learn to do it to.”
So, I turn my computer back on, take a deep breath, and then say to myself, “I’ve got this.”
Monday, March 11, 2019
Begin Again by Crystal Walton A 2017 Readers' Favorite Gold Award Winner & Kindle Book Review Award Semi-finalist. Escape to the beach and enjoy a laugh-out-loud clean romance. What happens when a free-spirited artist from big-city New York collides with an uptight business owner from small-town Ocracoke? Fireworks. The kind neither saw coming. A single call is all it takes to drive artist Ti Russo into what she does best. Run. But hey, lying low in a beach town for a while isn’t so bad. Thanks to the distraction of playing consultant to a guy she’s determined to crack, she can almost forget about the past stalking her back home. But she never counted on the real danger being a picket-fenced life she has no business falling for. Focus and self-preservation have gotten single dad Drew Anderson through the last nine years. With the threat of his shop’s foreclosure jeopardizing his daughter’s health care, the last thing he needs is a distracting hippie chick swooping in to shake up what he’s fought to protect. Including himself. The bank’s deadline adds enough pressure without re-risking feelings better left buried. But as sparks flare and secrets escalate, the race against time propels Ti and Drew into a choice neither’s ready to make: Find the faith to surrender their past or forfeit their only chance to begin again. Download Begin Again and escape into a sparks-flying, opposites-attract contemporary clean romance full of small-town charm, broken characters, and deep undertones of grace that’ll win your heart. For fans of Gilmore Girls, you’ll love Drew and Ti’s sparring relationship, along with Begin Again’s small-town setting, quirky characters, and family bonds. A 2017 Readers' Favorite Gold Award Winner & Kindle Book Review Award Semi-finalist. "Love, Love, Loved spunky Ti and the banter between her and Drew. I didn't want to stop reading. Great character development and the characters are engaging and interesting." - Amazon Review "This book was well written, the characters were relatable and refreshing and the plot flowed quickly...Grab this book and her others and be prepared to be wowed! You will quickly discover that you have found a hidden gem of an author!" - Nerd Girl Official "The prose is excellent and her narrative voice so powerful and clear that it will have readers hooked throughout the entire ride. This is a character-driven story that will have you entertained, reminding you of some of the finest emotions you have experienced." - Readers' Favorite Inside, conversations coming from a small den to the right competed with laughter and music trailing in from a sliding door leading to a pool. Drew took one look at both options and headed into the kitchen instead. Other than the faint sound of a girl singing nearby, only the churn of the ice maker filled the quiet room. He leaned against the counter, closed his eyes, and massaged his temples. “You shouldn’t try so hard.” From behind a cute pair of glasses, blue eyes met his. A blonde in an off-the-shoulder, white cotton dress and an unabashed gaze stood in front of him. Where’d she come from? Drew glanced behind him. To what, the wall? Of course she was talking to him. When his vocal cords caught up, he cleared his throat. “Excuse me?” A lot of good unclogging his voice did. If it got any more pubescent, he’d take that windpipe right out and knock some sense into himself with it. She reached for his hand and lowered it from his throbbing temple. “De-stressing. You’re trying too hard.” Drew stared at her warm fingers against his. “I’m sorry, and you are?” “Ti Russo.” A series of bracelets jingled down her arm. “Pleasure.” He’d never met a girl who went by an initial. Looking down, she ran the back of her bare foot along her calf. Waiting. Now would be the appropriate moment for southern hospitality. Or at a minimum, basic manners in returning the introduction. Yet Drew just stood there like a washed-up piece of seaweed languishing under a sunrise he couldn’t look away from. She was probably a few years younger than him. Twenty-eight at best. But her eyes carried the experiences of someone twice her age, along with an artistic flair he knew better than to entertain. “Thanks, but I’m fine.” He strode to the opposite counter. “If you really want to work on something, you might try honing your lying skills.” Drew turned, jaw slack. If the girl’s accent wasn’t enough confirmation she was from the Big Apple, her lack of a filter just eliminated any doubt. Unbidden, thoughts of New York triggered memories that’d been festering beneath the surface all day. He tamped them back down where they belonged. Ti dipped her head in front of his, brow raised as if waiting for him to divulge his inner thoughts. Like that was happening. “Don’t you have a hot yoga class to go to or something?” He scanned the kitchen for a drink. Or maybe a pail of ice to dump over his head. “What do you know about hot yoga?" Way to open himself up for that one.
Author Crystal Walton Crystal received her bachelor of arts from Messiah College in PA, married her exact opposite in upstate NY, and earned her master of arts from Regent University in VA, where she currently resides with her husband, David and son, Ryder. She writes modern clean romances with humor, broken characters, and emotional plots full of grace and hope. Her popular Home In You series includes Write Me Home, a 2017 RONE Award finalist, and Begin Again, a 2017 Readers' Favorite Gold Award winner. When her hands aren't full with her very active, little blue-eyed hero, she's delving into the wonder of words, supporting her Starbucks habit, or laughing over movie quotes with her husband.
Stella of Akrotiri: Deminon
by Linda Rae Sande
Love can last a thousand lifetimes when you’re an Immortal... or so they thought.
What’s become of the Immortal Darius? His wife, Stella, worries about his fate as she rules over their city-state of Deminon, especially when she learns he’s been the victim of treachery. She’ll do anything to get him back.
Enslaved as a traitor to Rome, Darius is forced to fight gladiators as part of the funeral rites of powerful Romans. His years of experience on the battlefield serve him well in the arena—until he’s forced to fight Marcus—a younger, stronger gladiator who is unaware of his own immortality.
Sure he’s about to suffer a defeat by the hand of Marcus, Darius is forced to make a decision that will change his future and Stella’s—preserve his essence by allowing his body to die so that he can live on in Marcus. His two-thousand years of memories and life experiences should be powerful enough to overcome the essence of the untested Immortal. Allow him to return to Stella and resume their life together, even if she won’t immediately recognize him.
But Marcus isn’t giving up so easily. Especially when he meets Stella.
Will Marcus help Darius take revenge on the one whose deceit led to his arrest on charges of treason? Or will Darius’ essence slowly be subsumed, the memories of his nearly two-thousand-year lifespan—and of Stella—fading away in the mind of Marcus?
These Immortals once had all the time in the world. Now it’s suddenly of the essence.
**On Sale for only $2.99!**
A self-described nerd and lover of science, Linda Rae spent many years as a published technical writer specializing in 3D graphics workstations, software and 3D animation (her movie credits include SHREK and SHREK 2). An interest in genealogy led to years of research on the Regency era and a desire to write fiction based in that time.
A fan of action-adventure movies, she can frequently be found at the local cinema. Although she no longer has any fish, she follows the San Jose Sharks. She is a member of Novelists, Inc. (NINC) and makes her home in Cody, Wyoming.
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