Bookin' It

So Many Books. So Little Time. Let's Review!

Thor’s Day Joke #2

I know just how she feels!

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Thors Day Joke #1

Hey…it’s still Thor’s Day here. Barely. So here goes!

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Wednesday Author Interview: Callum McLaughlin

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Today, I’d like to welcome poet and suspense writer Callum McLaughlin to Bookin’ It. Callum, can you tell us a bit about how you became a writer? When did you decide that’s what you wanted to be, and what steps did you take to prepare for a writing career? 

CM: To kick things off with a tried and tested cliché, I really have always loved writing. I’ve been coming up with stories, big and small, for as long as I can remember. My first ‘proper’ writing was for a local magazine and I used that experience to start working on a freelance basis, which allows me the time and flexibility to increase the amount of effort I can dedicate to creative writing. 

BI: It’s wonderful that you were able to parlay your magazine experience into a freelance career, and now have the time to work on your own books. Were you inspired by any particular authors, past or present, and what is it about their work that impresses you, or moves you? 

CM: The single piece of work that has moved and inspired me most is Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep, a poem by Mary Elizabeth Frye. It’s heartbreakingly simple. 

In terms of present authors, I’d have to jump on the global bandwagon and say J.K. Rowling because what she has single-handedly done for literature and storytelling is incredible. Above all else, she proved that limitations are non-existent and anyone with a good idea and enough passion can write a book. 

Looking to authors from the past, I love the lyrical, cinematic writing style of Thomas Hardy. He really pushed boundaries for his time, which was an immensely brave thing to do, and told stories with true human emotion always at the core. 

I suppose in a more general way you could even say that my uncle has been an influence, as he has made his living as a playwright, meaning I’ve always known on a subconscious level that working in the creative world is possible. 

BI: Interesting and eclectic selection, indeed. I’ve stopped by your blog many times, and I always enjoy your poetry, Callum. Beyond that, what genres do you read most often for pleasure…those books you gravitate toward the minute you walk into a bookstore? 

CM: I love the fast-paced intrigue of a good thriller. What I love most about them is that they can incorporate elements of most other genres too, be it crime, romance, mystery, comedy, horror or otherwise. That kind of scope means there’s always something new and exciting to discover. 

BI: Who doesn’t love a good thriller? Now about your work methods…do you have a dedicated workspace, and are you consistent with the amount of time you spend writing each day?  

CM: I do have a desk but essentially, as long as I’m at home and there’s not too much noise, I can write anywhere. When I’m into the swing of a first draft, I try to write at least 1000 words per day, but we all know that things don’t always exactly go to plan. It also depends somewhat on how much freelance work I have to do that particular day; as much as I adore it, too much writing at once really does turn the brain to mush. 

BI: I’m guessing every writer knows what the dreaded Mushbrain feels like. I know I do, for sure!  Tell us more about how you write. Do you use visual aids, like inspiration boards, photos, or maps of your book’s setting? What reference books or other material do you consult most frequently as you write?  

CM: Visual aids are something I haven’t really explored a lot of but the idea definitely interests me. My reference materials of choice would probably be On Writing by Stephen King and The Complete Plain Words by Sir Ernest Gowers, the latter of which is a gifted original copy from 1954 that I plan to treasure. 

BI: I find visual aids a great help, not only for keeping me on track with descriptions or locations, but also just for getting me in the mood for what I want to write. Let us know if you try them. Now, when you have an idea for a new book, do you sit down and start typing, or do you start with an outline, and figure out all the major plot points first? In other words, is your working style structured and organized, or more organic and free flowing? 

CM: I like to strive for a healthy balance between the two. I always have a very clearly envisioned end point to aim towards and outline the major plot components needed to get there, but when it comes to more intricate details like characters’ personalities and smaller twists and subplots, I think it’s nice to let things develop more naturally as I write. This way I have a structure to stop me from veering off anywhere too crazy but leave enough room for a little spontaneity – I wouldn’t want the writing process to feel like joining the dots. 

BI: Sounds like a perfect balance to me. Callum, do you prefer reading eBooks, or print? Why? 

CM: I definitely do both and suppose the best way to sum it up would be to say that I like reading eBooks but I love reading print books. The speed, convenience and price involved in digital books are undeniable but nothing can beat the smell of the pages and the feeling of nostalgia attached to a proper physical copy of your favourite stories. As sad as it may sound, I even like just looking at my bookcases! 

BI: It always seems that authors simply love holding a real book, doesn’t it? And speaking of real books, time for you to tell us about the books you have published, and where we can buy them.  

CM: My first book, The Vessel, is a suspense novella published in November of last year. The story follows a young woman at the heart of a corrupt government scheme in a dystopian world seeking to expose the truth. 

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My new book is a mystery novel entitled False Awakening. It follows a teenage girl who wakes in hospital with no memory of the incident that put her there. She must search within her own mind for the answers, while dealing with the various complex relationships in her life. 

Both are available as paperbacks or for Kindle through all of Amazon’s international channels. 

BI: I’ve downloaded both books, and am looking forward to reading them, especially False Awakening, which sounds especially interesting to me. Are you currently working on a new book? When do you expect it to be available? 

CM: I have a very rough plan for the next piece of fiction I plan to work on but it’s so early in the process I couldn’t even venture a release goal yet. I do however have an ever growing catalogue of poetry and a tempting idea to compile a collection. My hope is to have something ready for publication in the first quarter of 2015. 

BI: I would very much love to see you publish your poetry. You can count on me to buy that one, for sure. I’m already a fan. Can you tell us what the best thing about being a writer is? The worst? 

CM: The best thing about being a writer is that there is truly no limit to what you can do; no idea is too ridiculous; no world too fantastical. Being able to let your imagination run wild, say the things we’d never say in real life through our characters and never have two working days pan out the same way; it’s pretty wonderful. 

There’s not a whole lot I don’t like about being a writer, other than the knowledge that not everyone is going to like what you do and that competition is fierce. A lot of people seem determined to pit writers against each other, constantly comparing emerging authors to those we already know and love, rather than embracing what is new or exciting about them. 

Bonus Question: Are you self-published, and if so, what have you learned from the process, overall? Positives and negatives? 

CM: I’m self-published as I wanted to get experience in the industry at my own rate and liked the idea of keeping complete creative control over my work without pressure to hit certain deadlines or sales figures. I don’t doubt both methods have pros and cons; it’s just about going with what is right for each person and each project at the time. 

The only real negative is tackling the dreaded world of marketing, which you’ll have to take really seriously if you want to have a shot at ‘making it’. It’s a lot of fun though, and I’ve learned that while publishing takes a lot of patience and perseverance, there is a whole community out there willing to support and encourage you. As soon as you hold the first copy of your book in your hands, the hard work leading there will feel totally worth it. 

BI: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us today, Callum. It’s been great learning more about you and your books, and I wish you the very best in all your future endeavors! Please keep us posted about your next novel, and your book of poetry. 

Callum McLaughlin 

Callum McLaughlin was born and raised in the Scottish countryside, where he continues to live and work. Aside from his own creative writing endeavors, he operates on a freelance basis, producing content for blogs, websites and magazines. A lover of all things literature, music and nature, he is a keen poet and takes his greatest inspiration from the world around us.

Find Callum’s Books Here:

UK

The Vessel
False Awakening
Amazon UK Author Page

US

The Vessel
False Awakening
Amazon US Author Page

Barnes & Noble

Find Callum on Social Media Here:

Blog
Twitter
Goodreads

 

 

Book Covers?

Marcia:

Penguin’s Wonderful Drop-Cap series for lovers of great cover art!

Originally posted on The Write Stuff:

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Do you love them? I do! Even though I read a lot of books on my Kindle, I always check out the covers, and sometimes, I buy a print copy of the book, just to display it on my shelves. I am crazy for good covers, in a wide variety of styles. If you love them, too, check out this article on Penguin’s “Drop Cap” series. I love the article, not only because it displays large pictures of each book in the series (all 26 alphabet letters), but it also includes comments from the artist, and her favorite quotes from each book. But wait! There’s more!

The books represent the spectrum, starting with bright red, and working through orange, yellow, green and blue. Imagine the whole set displayed on your shelves! I’m going to try to collect them all. I might even READ some of them! :D

Seriously, there…

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Making indie audiobooks

Marcia:

Check out Aimee’s free samples and short story. And you writers out there, this is a great post to help you learn more about producing an audible book.

Originally posted on The Write Stuff:

Shiftless AudiobookWhen Kindle Unlimited was rolled out, I read the fine print and realized that subscribers can download audiobooks as well as ebooks for free (with the author receiving about $1.50 per borrow and possibly gaining new fans).  Since there are about 700,000 ebooks enrolled in Amazon’s lending library but only about 2,300 audiobooks, I decided I wanted to swim in that much smaller pool.  Was it possible for an unknown indie?

The answer is a resounding yes, but like most aspects of self-publishing you’ll need to spend some time and possibly money on the endeavor.  ACX is Amazon’s audio wing, where authors hook up with narrators to make independent audiobooks happen.  You can choose to pay up front for your narration (a process that will likely cost $1,000 to $5,000), or you can opt for the revenue-sharing possibility as I did.  Revenue-sharing costs the author nothing up front, but you…

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As you can see, THOR is still hanging around here…

…WITH his Mighty Hammer! Therefore, I feel fully entitled to present yet another silly Thor’s Day Joke!
(This one’s a groaner, I know.)

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Guess What Day It Is? THOR’S DAY!

And so the God of Thunder and All Things Badassery presents…another silly joke! Just…because! :D

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Wednesday Author Interview: Evelyne Holingue

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Chronicles from Chateau Moines

BI: Today, I’m very happy to welcome Children’s and Young Adult writer, Evelyne Holingue. Evelyne, so nice to have you here. Let’s get the ball rolling by you telling us a bit about how you became a writer. When did you decide that’s what you wanted to be, and what steps did you take to prepare for a writing career? 

EH: When I was a child I was very shy and was afraid to talk to people. Books gave me the friends I longed to have without having to ask for anything. I learned almost everything from a book. I think that most people who love to read write also. I wrote when I was a kid. Poems mostly but also a short novel for my sister, completely inspired by the Famous Five, my favorite books when I was really young. I lived in a small town and had no idea how books were made and this was fascinating to me. By the time I moved to Paris as a student, I had decided to work in the publishing business. As soon as I started to work full time I wrote less. I wonder if I would have been writing had I stayed in France.  Read more…

Catchin’ Up!

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Slow But Steady Wins The Race…Right?

Wow, the last few weeks have gone by in a blur, and I’m still far behind, try as I might. My inner tortoise is beating the crap outta that wily hare! I’ve had bad news (an injured back that’s almost well and foot problems that might entail yet another steel pin), good news (my first novel, Wake-Robin Ridge, made the Amazon Top 100 Best Sellers list in Fiction/Ghosts, and just regular news (hangin’ in there pretty well for an ol’ granny like myself).

This week, I’ve gotten a ton of stuff done, even though I’m not caught up yet. I finished my draft of A Boy Named Rabbit (the sequel to Wake-Robin Ridge), and it is now in edit, and hopefully will be released next month. I’m four chapters into Hunter, the sequel to Swamp Ghosts, and on schedule for a release date early next year. My last medical procedures proved I’m still cancer-free, so dancing around about that. Or I would be, if it weren’t for that foot issue mentioned above. My friends and family are all doing well, and my daughter, SIL, and grandbaby, Kaelen, are coming to see us Sunday for a week’s visit. So, Life is good, and I’m a happy camper, looking forward to catching up to that rascally hare any day now.

One of the best things that’s happened is that the marvelous Captain Jeanne Bell, my inspiration for Maggie Devlin’s character in Swamp Ghosts, has said she’d like to do a Meet The Author cruise on her beautiful boat, The Naiad. I hope we are able to make that happen, because, hello? Cruising down the river with a bunch of book lovers? What could be better? Captain Jeanne has also told several local places about my book, and there just might be a few stores who want to carry it in the future, along with a chance or two to do a presentation here and there. Very exciting! Cross your fingers for me that some of these things work out.

My new blog, The Write Stuff, is off to a good start, and I’m hoping it will build membership and participation quickly over the next few months. If you are looking for a very friendly place to hang out with fellow writers, please stop by and follow along with us. We’d love to meet you, share resources with you, and help you promote your work.

In the words of Little Rabbit (from my latest book), “Ain’t that somethin’? Ain’t that just somethin’!”

Monday Giveaway: Thieftaker by D. B. Jackson

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Busy, busy, busy today. Just finished up the draft of my last chapter in  A Boy Named Rabbit, and ready to start the editing process, plus work on Hunter. Got company coming in a few days, and still nursing an injured back. Lots to do, and short on time. But isn’t that always the way?

Nevertheless, a blog must go on! And Monday is Giveaway Day. I’m just finishing up the third book in D. B. Jackson’s Thieftaker Chronicles, and I have enjoyed it so much, I thought I’d giveaway a download of the first book, Thieftaker. This is a story of magic, both the good kind, and the dark kind, set in Boston during early, pre-Revolutionary War times. I love the mix of Colonial Urban Fantasy and real figures from history, slowly turning against the rule of the Crown.

If you think you’d be interested in this one, be the first to email me at mmeara@cfl.rr.com and ask for it. That’s it. No tricks, no gimmicks. Just ask…but be fast! I’m not even going to set a time limit today. Do it now, if you want to win. :)

Thieftaker

What Are You Reading?

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A day late, and a dollar short, as they say, but you’ll have to excuse me. A bad back has kept me away from my computer more than I like, so I’m running behind on everything. But another thing they say is, “better late than never,” right? So here’s Friday’s What Are You Reading post. For better or worse. And that’s entirely enough old sayings for one morning. :)

I’m well into D. B. Jackson’s 3rd book of the Thieftaker Chronicles, A Plunder of Souls, and enjoying it nearly as much as the first two. I won’t say it is the best urban fantasy ever, but I will say that Jackson’s mixing of real historical characters from the pre-Revolutionary days of early America, is deft, and a great deal of fun. (Not to be confused with “daft,” which is more what I am on any given day.) I really enjoy our conjurer, Ethan Kaille, as he tries to solve yet another magical assault on the city of Boston, while mixing it up a bit with the likes of Samuel Adams and other names from history. I’ll be reviewing this one in detail later, for sure.

Now it’s your turn, as always. What are you reading this week? Also as always, inquiring minds wanna know.

 

Thor’s Day Joke #2

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Thor’s Day Joke #1

Yep…it’s that day again…THOR’S DAY! So, here’s your first joke of the day!
Subtle, maybe…but I like it! :)

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Wednesday Guest Blogger: Vanessa Finaughty

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Instead of our regular Author Interview today, I’d like to introduce my first guest blogger, Vanessa Finaughty. Vanessa is in the middle of a blog tour, and has taken the time to answer some questions about her new series. Hope you enjoy finding out why you should love Lashlor Leaflin . I confess, I’m intrigued.

5 Reasons to Love Wizard of Ends’ Main Character, Lashlor Leaflin
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Wizard of Ends is the fast-paced fantasy adventure series in which Lashlor Leaflin is the main character. Lashlor is one of the author’s favourite characters across all her books, and here are five reasons for you to love him too: Read more…

Monday GiveAway: The Winter Long by Seanan McGuire

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The Winter Long
My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

Sorry to be so late with this, but it’s been one of those days. Since I pretty much finished with the last two series, I thought I’d throw out a fairly new release: The Winter Long, the latest Toby Daye book. This is one of my very favorite series, with excellent world-building, and featuring just about every Celtic legend you can imagine in Toby’s world of the Fae. If you’ve read earlier books, you’ll know what I mean. And if you haven’t, you need to, before reading this one, but you can save it until you’re caught up. First person to email me at mmeara@cfl.rr.com and request this will receive a free download from amazon. Ready, set, email!

The Winter Long

Just A Friday Night Smile!

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The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

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My Rating: About 50…or Maybe 60…of 5!

After re-reading The Raven Boys, Book 1 of the Raven Cycle, I remembered all over again why I love Maggie Stiefvater’s writing.

After reading The Dream Thieves, Book 2 of the Raven Cycle, I have decided that I want to BE Maggie Stiefvater when I grow up.

There are no words to convey how powerful and moving her writing is. And I know a LOT of words. Just none that do the job adequately.

I enjoyed her Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy. It was sweet, and spooky, and an unusual take on werewolves. I LOVED The Scorpio Races, a dark, hauntingly beautiful tale of young love, unfolding on the backs of the capaill uisce, or water horses of Celtic legend. But the first two books of the Raven Cycle are simply beyond my ability to explain. With lyrical precision, and dark imagery, Stiefvater creates a cast of characters unlike any I’ve ever encountered. The four Raven Boys are a disparate, yet tightly bonded, group of young men who attend Aglionby Academy. They are at once admirable, flawed, driven by needs too complicated to explain here, and made alternately strong and weak by those same needs.

And then there’s Blue, the non-magic girl in a house filled with seers and diviners, and whose gift is amplifying the magic of others. Once Blue becomes part of the group of Raven Boys, things change in so many unexpected ways, it would be hard to keep up, without the skillful plotting of the author. Her lyrical turns of phrase aren’t the only thing at work here, though to be sure, it’s her writing that makes the tale as powerful as it is. Her story line is terrific, but her words are positively inspired. As I said in an earlier post, Stiefvater  can lay open a character’s soul more efficiently than a boning knife, and often, with equally painful results. Her words left me gasping more than once, because, quite simply, her writing has a kick like a mule.

I can’t recommend this series highly enough. Hands down, the best two books I’ve read in several years, and I’m counting the days until I can read the last book, Blue Lily, Lily Blue, coming October 21.

The Dream Thieves

Book Signings? Love ‘em? Hate ‘em?

Marcia:

Any writers here who’d like to respond to this on The Write Stuff?

Originally posted on The Write Stuff:

I’m planning to do my first book signing at a library in a little town south of Orlando, in January. I have no idea what to expect, but I wanted to get some experience with the idea, and thought it would be a good place to start. (Plus they invited me! :D ) Have any of you done signings? Can you share any of your experiences with us? I know Evelyn Cullet & Ned Hickson have, so I hope they’ll pop in here, but how about the rest of you? And if you haven’t done any yourself, have you gone to any for other authors you’d like to tell us about? Caitlin? Anyone?(Caitlin, I’d love to share your photo with Ilona Andrews, if you wouldn’t mind.)

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Sunday Night Giggle, Just Because.

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Introducing Ned Hickson

Marcia:

Check out Ned’s Intro on The Write Stuff!

Originally posted on The Write Stuff:

I’m so happy to have my cyber-friend, Ned Hickson, joining us here on The Write Stuff. Ned is a funny, funny man, and an all-around nice guy. If you don’t follow Ned Hickson.com, you really should. He makes me, and a whole lot of other people, laugh every day! I decided to use Ned’s About Me page, entitled Let Me Explain Myself,  as his intro, because it’s far funnier than anything I would come up with.

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Ned Hickson is an editor and humor columnist for the Siuslaw News,
a small Oregon newspaper where the motto is:
Your dependable source for local news. Twice weekly. Unless we lose count.

After graduating from high school in Florence, Ore. in 1984, Ned moved to Dallas,Texas, where he found groundbreaking work as a bus boy. He eventually made his way into the kitchen and was promoted to corporate chef for L&N Seafood…

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Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews

 magicbreakssmallMy Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

I’ve said it before, and I’ll no doubt say it again, the husband and wife writing team that goes by the name of Ilona Andrews simply can’t write a bad book. Only varying degrees of good. And this one has managed to vary its way up even higher than the last installment of the series. More action, more drama, more revenge (and so richly deserved), more sturm und drang between Kate, who is finally coming into some major, kick-butt powers, and His Furriness, Curran, the Beast Lord.

The title alone hinted there were about to be some important changes in the story line, and of course, the preceding book set us up for just that. I don’t do reviews that recap plots, so I won’t tell you what things are about to happen, but I will tell you that the dastardly Hugh D’Ambray shows himself once again, in full-on Evil Villain Mode, and the biggest, baddest of them all follows suit. Oh, my. The things that Roland can command are…well, just as awful as you might imagine. Kate and Curran have their work cut out for them, and the choices they make by the end of the book are surprising, but perfect for this time and place in their story.

Personally, I hope to see some of these changes be temporary, but whether they are or not, the story is fantastic, and the two of them, as always, so much fun. They really are doing just what they have to do, and taking names while they’re at it. (And don’t let anyone tell you that the book smacks of the end of the series. In my opinion, it blatantly set us up for the next installment, and left no doubt in my mind that their Happily Ever After hadn’t arrived yet.)

And one more thing. This book includes a Character List in the beginning, to describe each of the man characters in the books to date. I really loved having that reference. It also had a recap of the story line, cleverly told in a way that worked as part of the book. Both of these things were fun, and meant I didn’t have to skim through the last book to refresh my memory of where each character fit into the plot. Genius! I wish this type of thing were in the front of every long-running series out there, because my head is overcrowded, for sure.

In summation, when I read the first book, Magic Bites, I thought, okay, pretty good. Definitely has possibilities. Now, after reading Book 7, I thought, holy moly! It doesn’t get much better than this. My recommendation? If you are already a fan, but haven’t read this one yet, what are you waiting for? You should fix that now! And if you haven’t yet been introduced to the world of Kate Daniels, read that first book, enjoy it for what it is, and know that it gets better and better in each succeeding one.

Magic Breaks

 

What Are You Reading Today?

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It’s that time again…time to tell the world what you are reading. I’ll go first, shall I? :)

I just finished Book 2 of The Raven Cycle, The Dream Thieves, by Maggie Stiefvater, and will soon be doing a review on that. Assuming I can find the words to describe how powerful her writing is. She astounds me. I’m on the opening page, literally, of the final Rachel Morgan/The Hollows book, Kim Harrison’s The Witch With No Name. Been holding off on it for a couple of weeks, because I really hate to see the series end. I also have reviews coming up for Magic Breaks (Ilona Andrews), and The Winter Long (Seanan McGuire. Not to give away too much, but all of these rated 5 stars with me, so I can’t wait to get the reviews up for you.

Now it’s YOUR turn! What’s new on your Kindle, or your reading table? As always, inquiring minds wanna know, so share! I’ll be taking notes, here.

Introducing Aimee Easterling

Marcia:

Aimee Easterling’s Shiftless is on sale. Read the details here.

Originally posted on The Write Stuff:

I’m very happy to have Aimee join our group. She’s published several books, and has learned a lot of marketing tricks that can help us all, especially those of us who are self-published but struggle with the concept of self-marketing. I know you’ll enjoy reading Aimee’s future posts, and today’s introduction to her work includes the fact that her novel Shiftless is on sale through the weekend. I’ve read this one, and it’s a fun YA Urban Fantasy, with an unusual take on werewolves.See my reviewhere.

Take it away, Aimee!

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A huge thank-you to Marcia for giving me this opportunity to share with her readers!  I’ve promised her a more marketing-related post in the near future since I’ve spent a few years figuring out a lot of tricks relating to the world of pricing, promotions, covers, and more.  So feel free to leave a comment if you’re…

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Thor’s Day Joke #3

One last bedtime giggle! Sweet Dreams!

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Introducing Evelyn Cullet

Marcia:

Sharing Another Author Intro from The Write Stuff

Originally posted on The Write Stuff:

The Write Stuff is very happy to introduce another new member of the group, mystery writer Evelyn Cullet. I hope Evelyn will share some of her experience with us over the weeks ahead, and I can’t wait for everyone to get to know her better. I also hope you’ll all check out her newest book. (And don’t forget to reblog, Tweet, and Facebook all of our Author Introductions! Thanks!)

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Evelyn Cullet

Evelyn Cullet has been an aspiring author since high school when she wrote short stories. She began her first novel while attending college later in life, and while working in the offices of a major soft drink company. After college, she continued taking writing classes. Now, with an early retirement, she finally has the chance to do what she loves best: write full time. As a life-long mystery buff, she was a former member of the Agatha Christie Society, and is…

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childoftheisland

Blog of writer Bia Helvetti

wherewolvestheblog

Wherewolves the Novel and Film

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