AuThursday – McKenna Dean

GOAC BannerPlease welcome, McKenna Dean to the Clog Blog.   

SignatureLogo_300x218McKenna, please tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’ve done a number of different jobs over the years: worked as a lab tech, in a vet clinic, as a dog trainer, an actress, a singer. I’ve always walked a fine line between my creative/artistic side and my scientific one. When I graduated from high school, I thought I had to choose—and so I gave up writing and focused on my career. Many years later, I discovered online fanfiction archives and I was obsessed! When I began writing again, it was like opening a floodgate. The encouragement I received from fandom allowed me to submit my first story for publication, but no one was more surprised than I when it was accepted!

Since then, I’ve written over 20 stories, but in so many different genres I didn’t have a recognizable brand. In 2017, I made the decision to re-brand myself and concentrate on just paranormal romance.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you?

I’m a die-hard panster—working from just the barest outline, a faint idea of where I want to go and trotting off in that direction. I love it when my stories surprise me! But the longer I do this, the more I realize I’d be more productive with more outlining. I’m trying to find that balance between outlining enough that it streamlines the process without becoming a story killer by taking all the spontaneity out of the writing.

Do you ever get writer’s Block?

I have. Once when I attempted NaNoWriMo—it was a kind of pressure and writing style all wrong for me. But also when I’m too tired and emotionally drained to write. Sometimes a story stalls for weeks. I remind myself of Louis L’Amour’s quote to “Start writing no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”

What genre do you write?

My focus these days in on paranormal romance and urban fantasy.

What draws you to this genre?

I love the world-building and the way the genre lends itself to political and social commentary. I love the magic of the supernatural, and the power of shifters.

How did you come up with the idea for your book?

I love snowed-in stories, so I wanted to set up a situation in which my main characters were pitted against each other but wound up having to work together for their survival. An inheritance with conditions seemed to be the ideal way to bring a fangirl with a secret and a shifter whose inner wolf is in hiding together. Add in a snowstorm, a stray dog, and a series of increasingly dangerous accidents, and you have Ghost of a Chance.

How are you publishing this book and why? (Indie, traditional or small press)?

I’ve both worked with a small press and done indie publishing before, and they both have their pros and cons. Publishers typically provide quality covers and reputable editing, and these are major perks when you are looking at paying for those services yourself. But working with a press means working on their schedule—meeting deadlines and so forth. It can take up to a year from the time you submit a story to seeing it published and getting royalties—which means you really need to be producing a new work once per quarter at the minimum.

As an indie author, I’m my only client. Yes, I have to pay for cover art and editing, but I can set my own price and launch dates. The amount of promotion is nearly the same in either case, though a well-known press can give you a leg up there too. Honestly, I like doing both. Sometimes it’s nice to turn over the reins to someone else. Sometimes you want to have total control. With the demands of my current job, indie publishing seems to be a better fit, but I intend to offer my next book to a press.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Writing is a muscle—the more you use it, the stronger it gets. Read the kinds of books you want to write. Read good books. Bad books only teach you to imitate them. Don’t read your reviews. I know, no one listens to that one, but if you do read your reviews, try not to let the bad ones derail your process. Keep a folder of all your good reviews—you’ll need them when you are promoting the next book anyway—but more importantly, read those glowing comments when you need encouragement. Read the reviews of your favorite stories too. There’s comfort in realizing there are people who hate a story you know is brilliant.

Follow Chuck Wendig’s blog—he has some terrific things to say about writing. Read about improving your craft, but above all, take what you read with a grain of salt. If advice doesn’t gel with you, no big deal. Do what works for you and ignore the rest.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

The easiest way to find me is to go to my website. There are links to my social media on almost every page, but the most complete line up (including Instagram and Book Bub, as well as my newsletter) is on my blog page: http://mckennadeanromance.com/blog

As a matter of fact, you can just subscribe to my blog there, and you’ll get all the latest news when I post it.

Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?

ghostofachance_finalThe light faded as they approached the dip in the drive leading down to the bridge crossing the creek. Long shadows were cast from the tree line onto the drive, and as they rode into the shade, the temperature dropped as though they’d walked into a freezer. Casey pulled Indy up as he inspected the tracks. He pointed at a trail going off to one side. “Someone made a break for it here. Didn’t want to cross the bridge, most likely.”

He urged Indy in that direction, following the tracks splitting off into the woods. Indy obliged, trudging through the deeper slow, icicles gathering on his feathered legs.

The other tracks crossed the bridge. That way led to the road. The thought of Athena or the other mares potentially ending up in traffic turned Sarah’s stomach. The horses aside, some driver could get killed if they rounded a corner and found the mares in their path.

Sarah closed her legs around King’s sides and urged him across the bridge. He didn’t want to leave Indy and balked at crossing the wooden structure. The bulk of the missing horses had gone that way, however, and Sarah thumped her heels against the reluctant gelding to follow their trail.

Ghost exploded out of the brush to block her path, barking furiously. The Shepherd favored one foreleg, and as Sarah watched, drops of blood flecked the snow around the dog.

King rocked back on his haunches, preparatory for a spin for home. Sarah pulled up on the reins and closed her legs around the spooked gelding. Behind her, she heard Indy crash through the vegetation. Casey must have turned him around.

“Go home,” she shouted at Ghost. “Bad dog!”

She clapped her calves against King’s flanks and the

gelding sprang forward. Ghost scooted to one side as the horse charged, flinging snow behind him in his wake. Sarah leaned across King’s neck as he galloped across the bridge, belatedly considering the slickness of the wooden planks. Too late now. Once they were across, she’d pull up and wait for Casey.

Halfway across the bridge, a terrible shriek rent the air. Wood splintered and failed. Boards separated under the weight of horse and rider and came apart. King screamed as the footing beneath him gave way, and he plunged into the icy stream below, carrying Sarah with him.

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AuThursday – Stanalei Fletcher

NSS Blog Tour Banner 3

Please welcome Stanalei Fletcher to the Clog Blog.

Thanks so much for having me today as part of my Blog Tour sponsored by Reviews by Crystal. I hope you enjoy this glimpse into my writing world.

SF author photoTell us a little about yourself and your background?

-I was born in small town in Idaho and raised in an even smaller town, still in Idaho. It was there, through my school years, I had an inkling that I might have a bit of talent for writing stories. I’d even won a contest in high school for a short story.

How do you make time to write?

-Until recently, I struggled to get the time I wanted to write. I set aside Tuesday and Thursday evenings and as much as Saturday as I can get after my chores. But during NANOWRIMO this year, I committed to get up early every morning and write. It was such a success, that I’m committed make it my new routine.

What genre are your books?

-I’ve wrapped up a romantic suspense series. There are five books in the series and they were a blast to write. I also have time-travel story and plans for a contemporary small town series. All the books are romances.

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What draws you to this genre?

-I love romances. I love the promise a happy ending where 1 + 1 doesn’t equal 2, it equals 3. It equals “us”. Where two people create a third, greater than two, entity. What other genre offers that?

What are your current projects?

-I’m currently working on the first book in a two book series for a contemporary, home town romance.

Are you an Introvert or Extrovert? How does this affect your work?

-I am an introvert. It helps when I need to hole up and spend time alone to create stories. However, it’s a challenge when I need to market and put myself in group to network. I’m learning, but it’s still hard.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

-Great question! I’d have to say my grandchildren. It’s next to impossible to say “no” when there’s something involving my grandchildren. Whether it’s tending or baseball games, it’s challenging to write when the kids want me around.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

-The best advice I can offer aspiring writers is to study craft, study story. If you want to rise with the cream at the top, you need to learn how to write a story that reaches your reader’s heart and mind. Never stop improving. Stories are the stuff life is made of. Make yours worth giving up hours to read.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

-I can be found in a lot of areas on the World Wide Web. If you stop by my website here: http://www.stanaleifletcher.com/index.html, you can find all my other hangouts, including a place to sign up to join my reader’s club.

Thank you so much for having me here and taking time to meet your audience.

 

Writer Wednesday – The importance of options

Since starting my Agent Quest at the beginning of September, I’ve sent out 11 queries and received 5 rejections and 1 No response (although the website said if I don’t hear from them in 3 weeks, it was considered a pass).   I’ve only had one agent request a partial, all others have been rejected simply on Query or the first few pages. I currently have 5 queries out there and am prepping another letter to send off, as I like to have 6 queries out at once, since this is a time-consuming process. 

I admit I wish I was getting more feedback, like “we aren’t searching for a Steampunk Romance”, or “No one is looking for this,” or “You’re writing needs work specifically in these areas.”   Unfortunately most have simply been, “we are going to pass on this project.”   

“Why?  Why are you passing?” I wonder. 

Last week, I talked about my looking for Beta Readers and this is why.  So I can find out if its something in my writing that isn’t working.   My concern is that the writing is fine, and I’ve missed the market on Steampunk.  If that’s the case, even if I decide to go direct to the publishers, I may have a difficult time finding a home for this manuscript.   It makes me question if I should write something saleable for NaNoWriMo or work on the next book in this Steampunk series.   

I have been researching Indie publishing for the very concerns I listed above regarding the market for Steampunk.  I personally love the genre mixed with romance and feel there aren’t enough books, but maybe I’m in the minority on this one.  Although by all accounts, this seems to be a loyal fan base if you get “it” right, and there is a significant amount of self-published (indie) books in the genre.  I feel if I did go the self-published (Indie) route that I’d at least have a chance to succeed (or fail) based on readers. 

But I digress as this post was about Options.   Even though this process has been long and tiresome, I do still have a good portion of my agent list to work through and then after that my editor list.  I’ve decided to give my agent search until January and then I’ll be querying publishers directly.  That list is pretty long too. 

To give myself options when I go to find either an agent or publisher I make an excel spreadsheet of what they are looking for and what is important to me, so I can expedite the list, so really when I can the rejection I’m not so dejected. 

I admit my experience with publishers (especially digital presses) is that they know exactly what they want and the turn around on query, and usually the manuscript is much faster.   Many publishers now take the full manuscript so there is very little waiting.  

Well I should write that next query letter, so I can hurry up and wait. 🙂 

~Tina

 

 

 

 

 

 

AuThursday -Bree M. Lewandowski

fb_img_1477241392858Please welcome my fellow Writer Zen Garden author, Bree to the Clog Blog! Bree, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I am a married lady with three fur babies and a day job as a dance teacher. Gosh, I don’t know. I love pasta and I can’t swim. My background in writing is due in a large part to years spent homeschooled by my mother in a very English heavy program. I wasn’t allowed to type “the sky is blue” unless I could prove it. Lots of times my head hurt, but I think it opened me up to how wonderful writing could be.

So, what have you written?

My twenties were spent in front of a computer writing fanfiction. And while that gave me a craving for writing for an audience, I could never finish a book. That is, until, National Novel Writing Month two years ago. It was the first time I got from Page 1 to The End. That amazing feeling spurned me to try again the next year and Under Winter Lights is now the finished project of last year’s NaNoWriMo.

What genre are your books?

I most frequently write romance.

What draws you to this genre?

There’s a deep, almost unexplainable, connection between two people where love is concerned. Whether that love is romantic or not, when it binds people together, it’s out of this world. That need to love and be loved is fascinating to me and I never tire of trying to illustrate it with words. Great authors before me (Margaret Mitchell, Victor Hugo) spun tales of love and how it shapes and changes all those it touches. And I want to, too.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you?

I’m halfway between plotting and winging it. Before I start to write the story, I usually have a vague outline in my head of the big plot moments. As I go, I try to fill in the gaps between those pivotal points.

How are you publishing this book and why?

I’m publishing this book independently. The decision to go this route felt natural the more I learned what kind of control a newbie author like myself might have to relinquish to land a contract with a publishing house. Elements like the cover and how the novel progresses I want to be in charge of. Call me a control freak, but it felt right.

What is your favorite positive saying?

“All human wisdom is contained in these two words-wait and hope.” ~Alexandre Dumas.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

On my Facebook author page at https://www.facebook.com/BreeMLew/

Vote for Tina’s NaNo Project!

“Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month.”

“Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month.”

I’ve always been rather ambitious during NaNoWriMo or National Novel writing month.

I never know what project to pick so I’ve decided to have my friends, family and fans help me decide.  I have four stories rolling around in my head and have yet to put pen to paper, which makes them perfect NaNoWriMo projects.

1) Wind Resistant – Second book my Brave the Elements series.   Chase Ryder from Fireproof will be the hero.

2) Ryder Hard(Working Title) – Begin Flesh for Fantasy Series Book 1- set in Las Vegas BDSM Club Flesh. Cal Ryder from the Caulfield Cowboys will be the first hero.

3) To tempt an Angel – First book in a series about demons who were kicked out of hell and now trying to get back.  Hero is a shoulder demon who must tempt an angel to get back into hell.

4) Children of Chaos – First book in a post-apolcolyptic series where bikers have the only social and military organization to adapt to life without government.  Includes paranormal elements. Heroine is a succubus and old lady in a human biker gang. She must adjust when her old man is killed fighting a rival gang.

You have 48 hours to Vote.   It’s easy.

  1. Vote Below
  2. From the comments, I’ll pick a winner.
  3. Feel free to share, pin, retweet, etc.

I’ll announce the winner on November 1st and of course start writing.   In December I’ll share the first snippets.

Happy Voting.