Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Book Review: His by Sunset & Tequila Sunrise

His By Sunrise (Sexy Siesta, #1)His By Sunrise by Talina Perkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

His by Sunrise is the first in the Sexy Siesta series of books. Each story is a stand alone. They are an incredibly quick read.

A promise made to a Marine brother has Blake Mitchell sitting on his hands instead of putting the moves on Isabella Marie despite his feelings for her. She has worked for the family since her brother's death, but Blake's distance makes her think she needs to stay away. But finding her resignation spurs Blake to action. He devises a plan to make her his by Sunrise.

Minus: The story is essentially one long sex scene. It had me puzzling where the author was going to go from when she already had the main characters coming together so soon. The phrase "warm liquid" was overused.

Plus: The story is essentially one long sex scene. :) It's very well written and kept me turning pages. The description pulled me into the story. I'm not a fan of sex scenes, but this one was very well done.

If you're looking for a light read, this is the one for you.

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Tequila Sunset (Sexy Siesta #2)Tequila Sunset by Talina Perkins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Tequila Sunset is the second in the Sexy Siesta series from Talina Perkins. These stories are stand alone, related only in their format and that they feature a sexy Latina and a military man.

Gabriel Daniels celebrates the wedding of his best friend in the island paradise of Cabos. He has his sights set on his best friend's cousin, Esmeralda Vega. He's had a tryst with her before, but he wants more. Esmeralda, however, is a business owner who is sending her little sister through college. Her business is failing and with both parents gone, Esmeralda is the only support she has left. She calls in a favor from an old friend of her mother's, one Bougainvillea, whom Gabe has had a run in with once before. Bougainvillea is a drug lord who uses extreme means to transport his product. It's up to Gabriel to save Esmeralda from a dangerous predator and win her heart before she disappears from his life forever.

There are a few minuses about this book. Like the first in the series, the phrase "balls deep" and "hot/warm liquid" pulled me out of the story. I found several errors with tense or incorrect words and repetitious phrases. I think a good read-through would help correct these errors. I was a little irritated with the pet talk. "baby" and "precious" out of the lips of the hero got old after awhile.

On the plus side, this is a really nicely written book. It's a quick read and the action pulls you along. It's a little longer than the first in the series and has a little deeper plot development. The chemistry is undeniable between the main characters.

I think with a little clean-up work, this would easily be a four star book.

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

For Writers: Formatting for Submission

When I had my first shiny draft ready for submission to my dream publisher, I cruised over to their website and clicked on their submission page. "These are the submission guidelines for all writers seeking publication."

And the list was extensive.

I perused the list and finally about three quarters of the way down the page, they listed submission guidelines that I thankfully read. They wanted a .doc file and suggested including your contact information not only in your email, but also in the document. They wanted manuscripts formatted in traditional format. If we didn't know what that was, we were told to Google it.

Google I did. I found William Shunn's Manuscript formatting. Not only did he give the information, he did so by writing it in a document so you could actually SEE what he was talking about. Excellent!

I set up a Word document that was correctly formatted and saved it as a template. I use that for each short story I write.

How to format your manuscript: 

  1. In the upper left hand corner:
    1. Your legal name (what they would use to pay you)
    2. Address
    3. phone number
    4. email address
    5. Approximate word count
  2. Your title should be centered and begin half way down the first page.
  3. Your by line is also centered and should be beneath your title. This is where you put your pen name if using one.
  4.  Your story begins two double spaced lines under the by line.
  5. Your story should be double spaced.
  6. Use 12 point Times New Roman, Palatino or Garamond fonts
  7. Single space after a period.
  8. Do not tab indent. Use the .25 indent feature in Word.
  9. Double space
  10. 1.25 margins all around
  11. Include a header or footer with your name, title and page number.
  12. Do not use extra lines between paragraphs.
  13. Left justify the document.
If you would like your own copy of my document, you can download my Formatted Submission Template

Saturday, August 9, 2014

For Writers: Facebook Release Party

When my first book, The Layover, came out in February of 2014, it was a complete shock and surprise. I'd spent endless hours learning better writing techniques and figuring out my personal brand and how to set myself up as a genuine interesting person. I always figured I'd learn marketing when my first book was written and sent out for submission.
I never expect a short story for an anthology to become my first book.

The publisher expected me to market. I had no idea how to market a book. I frantically searched Google and found next to nothing of interest or value. Most sites suggested hiring someone for marketing. I hadn't saved any money for promotion and I didn't want to spend a whole lot of money in the first place. I was overwhelmed. Thankfully my writing buddies H.C. Brown and Bobbi Romans walked me through some of the tricks they use. I had a place to start.

Release Party on Facebook

 Facebook parties are fairly simple if you have enough traffic. The important thing is to create enough buzz before the event so your friends and friend's friends can join in.
  1. Pick a date and time frame. Make sure your friends know when the party is and remind them. If they're anything like me, I'll forget and won't be on. I chose a three to four hour party. That's enough time to post teasers about your book, a little bit about yourself for those who may not know you, and have some fun games.
  2. Get your stuff together. Make sure you have your information ready to go. I dropped them into a word document to cut and paste into the party page. You'll need this information for your press release anyway, so it kills a couple of birds with one stone.
    1. Book cover
    2. Book blurb
    3. Your author blurb as an introduction for who you are and what you do
    4. Social media information such as your twitter feed and website link
    5. Excerpts in various flavors. I picked one kind of vanilla, one that suggests things with a PG13 rating and then one on the hotter side.
    6. Snippets: little bits of your story to hook the reader all on a handy little image. Visuals go a long way.
    7. Book buy links. This is important! If people can't buy the book you're feeding them, the party isn't going to do its job.
    8. Conversation starters! Have questions to ask your audience not only about your book, but about the subject matter within. Engage with them and talk about their favorite books or characters.
  3. Giveaways. Everybody likes to win something. I chose to ask questions based from my books and whomever got the answer first, got something fun. I did a couple of $5 Amazon gift cards and an original art piece done by a good friend of mine. I only asked a few questions and gave fifteen to thirty minutes for responses. You can pick up related items at your favorite store. For my Steampunk story releasing later this year, I am making a handmade item to give away. Let your imagination go!
  4. Author Swag. It can be something simple like a business card from VistaPrint or a handmade Author trading card like the Artist trading cards.
  5. Create your page. Go to facebook and create an event page. You have your date, time and what you're doing this for. Fill in the form and create the page! Then invite people. Tell them to invite people.
  6. Drop teasers. This is the fun part. In the time leading up to the release, drop one-liners. Post teasers. Do a Rafflecopter giveaway and announce the winner during the Facebook party. Let people enter once a day by tweeting about your facebook party.
If you do any blog spot trades or or guest posts anywhere, link to your release party and rafflecopter giveaway.

If you would like to hire someone to help you promote, I recommend:

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Silent No More

Trigger warning: street harassment, fat shaming

When I was in my early twenties, I worked on an overnight team at a department store. I arrived to the store early every night to have a cigarette before I clocked in for my shift. I stood at the far end of the building near the employee parking. The building was not well lit in the employee lot. Most employees left during daylight hours or left in large groups.
I had never feared for my safety going to and from my car. I'd never been bothered while I was smoking. I also wore all black, my skin was white as snow and I dyed my hair black #1. Most people in my small town didn't come near me. They were scared of me because of my appearance.

That didn't stop the man who pulled up to the stop sign at the corner of the building and rolled down his window.

"How much?" he called at me. I couldn't have heard him right. There's no way someone would stop their car and say something like that. I scanned the lot. No one else was anywhere around.

"Excuse me?"

"I said 'how much'."

I gaped at the car. I couldn't see the guy's face. He was in some kind of Lincoln or Impala. Pale grey or dirty white. The light reflected off his forehead. He was light complected. That was all I could have told the cops. I turned away, hoping he would just leave if I didn't answer him. I took another long drag off my cigarette.

"Hey! I said 'how much'!"

I roll my eyes. I don't make eye contact. Go the fuck away.

"More than you got, honey." PLEASE let someone walk up and scare this guy off. Someone come out of the fucking building.

"No, seriously. How much?"

"Seriously. More than you got."

"How much for you to come over here and put that cigarette out on my dick?"

For an instant, I considered doing it. I would do it for free just to hurt the mother fucker. I pushed away from the wall. Then common sense kicked in. If I reached in through the passenger side of his car, he could grab my wrist, drag me into his car and drive off with me. No.

"Fuck off." Maybe that would get it through to him. I scanned the parking lot again. Please let someone. ANYONE. Park their car and get out.

One of my coworkers opened the door of his beat up Lancer.

"JASON!" I picked up my arm and waved. The guy swiveled over his shoulder and peeled out when he saw my well over six foot tall coworker with broad shoulders and shaved head. Jason looked at me like I was nuts. I ran across the parking lot to meet him in case the guy came back.

The guy left because another man walked up. Jason told me if he would have realized that's what was happening, he would have gotten out of his car sooner.

I sat and shook for the first half hour I was in the building. I never stood at the far end of the buildings again. I stood at my car for a cigarette. In the parking lot where customers parked. Under a street light. In a small town with 40,000 people that you couldn't swing a bat without hitting someone you knew.

The second instance, I was leaving goth night at one of the area bars. I'd come with a couple of friends and we always left the bar after last call. We avoided a lot of the drunks on the way to our cars. That night, however, the drunks spilled out of the other bars on the strip and shoved one another over the sidewalks. They congregated on the corners and in the alleyways between the brick buildings. I never walked the narrow alleys on the way to my car. I stuck with the main entrances and exits. Streetlights. Wide passages I couldn't be shoved against. Places where a lot of people were.

As I jaunted along with my friends, a gaggle of guys eyed me. I was wearing a skirt slightly shorter than I'd ever worn before. It was a pink and white plaid and black pleated skirt. Tiny little thumb cuffs linked through the belt loops. I hadn't worn fishnets that night. My boots were chafing my calves. This short little blonde shit broke off from the gang and skipped along behind me.

"Hey, so you like that kind of thing, huh?"

I ignore him. He's got to be talking to somebody else. I'm a chubby chick. Nobody hits on chubby chicks.

"Hey, I'm talking to you! So you're into that kind of thing, huh?"

I keep walking, but I'm walking a little faster. My friends are three or four steps ahead of me. My heart beats in my chest. The street fights after the bars close down are notorious. Girls whisper of sexual assaults that happen all the time. There are often police in the area when the bars let out because they know they're going to arrest someone. Unfortunately there weren't any cars in the area we were in, which was probably why the guy was hanging around there with his friends.

"You like that kinky stuff, huh. Whips, chains and lingerie. Don't you WALK AWAY from ME!"

I feel him coming up on me fast. I bolt to my car. I've practiced running in these boots to get away from someone like him. He's drunk and doesn't run as fast as he could. I shoot past my friends and unlock my car.

He's stopped chasing me, instead yelling insults. "Whatever you fat fuck! I was just being nice to you anyway! Dial back on the fucking french fries, fatass!"

I had never been so thankful to be locked in my car. As his friends passed the vehicle, one of them pounded hard enough on my window to make me jump. Another one pulled the passenger door handle. I wasn't stupid. I locked the fucking car behind me. They were laughing as they walked away.

"Did you see her fucking thighs jiggle when she ran? Fucking hippo."

It took me half an hour to start my car. They were sitting on the hood of his car when I pulled away. One of them chucked an empty beer bottle at my back window.

Street harassment happens to many women every day. Catcalling, following, unwanted physical contact, violence and rape. Women have very real cause to fear that a man will harm them, even if they politely decline or ignore the behaviour. I have two instances of street harassment that, to this day, make me feel anxious when I think back on them. I'm not a pretty girl. I'm chubby. I never wear low cut shirts or short skirts. I don't flirt. I wear no makeup. I rarely even talk to people for fear of giving them the wrong ideas. My hair is pulled back in a pony tail. I do everything society tells rape victims they should do to avoid sexual assault.

And when it isn't harassment, it's fat shaming.

I would have cried tears of absolute fucking joy if any ONE of the people walking to their cars would have walked up to my car and asked me if I was okay. I would have been fucking ecstatic if my coworker would have gotten out of his fucking car and asked me if I was okay. I had to go through both instances alone. I rarely talk about it, just like I don't talk about surviving domestic violence or marital rape.

I'm tired of being silent.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

For Writers: Writer's Block

Life of a Writer by Seetheduck on Deviantart
Ah, writer's block! The harbinger of death for writers, poets and authors.

No writer or author in my small sample has escaped the clutches of their best frienemy. You sit in front of a blank document rather it be Word, Open Office or Scrivener and stare at the screen. You want to write. You need to write. Nothing is coming. Not even the repulsive drivel you'll later delete or edit away. Not a single word enters your brain. Every attempt wafts like smoke through the empty chasm of your mind, arid like the Mohave and complete with tumbleweeds.

And those stupid weeds don't give you a damned bit of help, either.

The longer you stymie in the Block, the more locked down your brain becomes. You have to write. But you can't write. But you need to write! But nothing comes out! No ideas. WHAT DO I DO!?

You browse Twitter. You filter through Facebook. You find something to occupy your mind while you sit in front of the computer screen. You get distracted, but you can't wander off and go do something else because you'll never get anything written.

And so it begins and ends. Day after day. Everyone else comes up with something. But you? Nothing. ZipZilchNada.

Things that work for me?

Browse various publisher's calls for submission. I'm not talking just the genre they're looking for, but the short stories they are looking at. Sometimes the prompts they give will spark an idea. Check out Red Moon Press. Their descriptions of what they're looking for can sometimes spark an idea. Can't write short stories? That's fine. Maybe it will give you a book idea. How about Carina Press? Or my personal favorite Jupiter Gardens Press. I've always had good luck with Circlet Press as well. Sometimes the ideas just leap right out of the page and smack you in the face like a tiny dwarf ninja.

Didn't work for ya?

Why not try putting down the keyboard and coffee and picking up a good book to read. Grab an old favorite and read it again. Pick up that book your great aunt Linda has been shoving in your face every holiday dinner since 2006. Peruse book blog sites and see what the reviewers pick as a decent read. Read some good fanfiction. Or other good fanfiction. Or some really terrible fanfiction. Nothing gets me cranked up faster than reading something horrible and thinking "I could do better than this".

Not yet?

Watch a movie.  I have a thing for From Paris with Love, Sin City and Bunraku. All of them give me ideas.

Nope. Okay. Here's the big kicker.

A lot of the time, I'm so busy on social media that I can't write or get ideas. I refresh Twitter every time I see there are new posts available. I read and read and click links and post in the #amwriting tag. I respond to people there. All in all, these are good things. But not while you're writing. While you're focused on everyone else and what they're doing, you're distracting yourself from your work. This is good when you're on overload. But when it comes down to time to write again, close the window. Do it. Stop reading Twitter. Stop browsing Facebook. The great thing about social media is it will be there when you get back to it. It's out there in cyberspace. Put it down, set a timer and write for ten minutes. It helps.
And now that I've just told you to close social media, it can also help. I chat with friends in a chat room. We do power hours. The same can be done on Twitter. Just as long as they aren't distracting you, it can be a big help just having someone else to sit with you and share the burden of block.

Did any of these help you? Do you have something I didn't list? Please put it in the comments. There are times when I can't break the block with the things I do. I could use your suggestion, too.
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Photo courtesy of Seetheduck on Deviant

Never really gets easier

Story time since it's on my mind and I wanted to share and ask a little extra patience.  May 20th. Mary and I are at a local garden shop...