Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Ring Around the Rose Week 5

This week for Ring Around the Rose, we have TWO questions we will be answering. Feel free to answer them yourself and leave your answers in the comments or leave us links to your own blog post, and don't forget to check out the lovely post on Kaycee's blog from yesterday.

First, what is the first story you ever wrote?

I wrote my very first story when I was in elementary school. I didn't even know what a paragraph was. My mother was reading Little House in the Prairie out loud to me and my brothers, and since we grew up watching John Wayne and Davy Crockett, and listening to Marmie's readings of Louis L'Amour, I was a huge fan of cowboys and Indians. My story was about two girls on a wagon train heading west who were kidnapped by Indians. They made friends with their captors and somehow made it back to their wagon train. Happily ever after, The End.

I know. But, please, I was in ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, remember? I can't even remember the title of the story, but I still have it, packed away in a pile of boxes in my entry way, waiting for me to some day have an office. I wrote the whole story up by hand--all ten pages of it--and designed my own cover. I also bound the book myself, by using a hole punch and yellow yarn. I wish I could have found it and taken a picture to share, but even after fifteen months in our new home, this place is still in disarray from all of our home renovations.

I was so proud of that sad, little story. It really is a terrible, terrible story, but I will never get rid of it because it was MY first book, and all ten of those little pages are dear to me. We all have to start somewhere, and I think it is vital to remember where you came from in order to truly appreciate where you are today, and what you have become. Our past may not define us, but it certainly plays a vital role in sculpting what we have become.

And, just because the Five Enchanted Roses authors and I love to have a good time when we are not busy working and writing, we threw in a bonus question this week:

What is your favorite Pixar movie?

Now, the unfairness of this question is the fact I have to pick only one. Really, that is truly an impossible task, but if I had to pick my absolute favorite, I would probably choose The Incredibles. I just LOVE the family dynamics. I really enjoy stories that play off the problems we face in our everyday lives--feelings of dissatisfaction with our ho-hum ordinary lives. Of frustration with our imperfect loved ones. Of the allure of the mysterious unknown wooing us away from the safety of our homes, and of the great satisfaction in realizing that all we ever wanted was already in our own backyard. Not to mention, all those super powers and clever one-liners?

"Honey, where's my super suit?" has to be one of the best lines ever written.

And Edna and Jack-Jack? What more could a fangirl ask for?

If I were allowed to pick a second favorite, which I'm convinced I am, I would admit to being a huge fan of WALL-E. I know, it is not the most exciting or the funniest Pixar movie, but it is so stinking cute, with all those Hello Dolly references and his little cockroach sidekick. WALL-E is one of those sad little characters that totally steals your heart with his innocence and search for belonging.

What is your favorite Pixar movie? Please, take a moment and tell me in the comments! Also, don't forget to visit some of the other bloggers participating in this fun series. Feel free to join us at any time. Tomorrow, Jenelle will be sharing her story.

Kaycee at The Pink Cave
Jenelle at Jenelle Schmidt
Dorian at Dorian Writes
Hayden at The Story Girl
Heidi at Along the Brandywine
Grace at A Live Masterpiece

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Influencer Readers for Five Enchanted Roses

I was recently informed that Rooglewood Press is looking for a couple more Influencer Readers for the soon to be released Five Enchanted Roses. 

What is an Influencer Reader, you say? I'm so glad you asked. Influencers are people who love to read and write reviews about what they have read.

If you agree to be an Influencer, you will receive a PDF file of the Five Enchanted Roses book prior to its actual release in exchange for an honest review posted on Amazon, and perhaps Goodreads, Barnes & Nobles and a personal blog, if you have one. Unfortunately, you will not receive an actual print copy of the book, but you will be entered into a drawing to receive a free copy. If you are on a tight budget like me, this would allow you to read the stories for free in exchange for a short review of your honest impression of the collection. If you are interested, send me an email at savannahjay1@gmail.com and I will get back with as quickly as I can. The Influencer copies will be going out next week and there are only a couple of slots left, so let me know ASAP if you are interested. Happy reading!

Ring Around the Rose Week 4

Is it already Week 4 of Ring Around the Rose? Impossible! But, sadly, quite true! This week's question is a tough one, let me tell you. You can hop on over to Kaycee's blog and read her take on the question, which was brilliantly done by the way. Kaycee always makes me smile. Such a creative approach to the topic at hand, which is...

What famous author(s) do you feel your writing is most similar to, and why? AND/OR What author do you wish you wrote the most like?

The reason this question is so hard for me. 1) I don't feel as if I have a right to claim my writing is similar to any famous author because they are FAMOUS and I am just little me floundering in a big pool of Awesomeness. 2) My writing is so VARIED as to make this an impossible question to answer. I write fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, children's stories, allegories . . . I write light-hearted stories and I write dark, complex stories. I write in first person and third person, equally. I love writing from multiple view points, and yet I am most adept at getting tangled up in the head of a single character. Most authors have a chosen genre and style they like to spend the majority of their time in. I'm all over the map, although fantasy is definitely my home ground. 3) I could never choose just one author I would wish to take my example from. There are so many qualities about so many different authors that I respect, but at the same time, I do not wish to become them. I want to stay me. I want to respect their genius and not mooch of it. It's so easy to copy--but one of the most important challenges a writer will ever face is learning to be influenced by others without stealing their awesomeness.

So, that being said, I will take a swing at this topic and see where I land.

Who do I feel my writing is most similar to? To whittle it down to a few: I write a lot of fast-paced, first person narratives like Suzanne Collins. I write darker Christian fiction like Ted Dekker and Karen Hancock. I also write a great of Christian allegory, like C.S. Lewis and Anne Elisabeth Stengl, although my stories and world building are not nearly as complex. This leads me right into the second half of the question.

What author do I wish I wrote the most like? I would love to write complex plots with large casts of characters like C.S. Lewis, Anne Elisabeth Stengl and J.K. Rowling. I really love these authors and their use of their art, how they weave hundreds of characters into dozens of plots so full of surprising twists and turns. I love all of their characters, all of their adventures. I also wish I could put out the VOLUME of literature that some of these authors do. The sheer amount of words these men and women scribble onto paper is daunting and thrilling at the same time.

But, truthfully, for myself, the thing I wish to attain most with my writing is honesty. All of my stories are a bit of myself spilling out, mixing with ink and paper and becoming a finger print of my own soul. I doubt my name will ever be famous, but for the few hearts I do touch, I want you to remember that I wrote something real. Something that mattered to me. Something that might matter to you. Even if it only lasts for a few minutes or hours or weeks. I want those precious moments we share together in my little imaginary world to count for something. I am a terrible Introvert. I would rather spend the weekend alone with my husband and a book than go to a party, even with my closest friends and family. In a crowd of people I feel claustrophobic, but in my cluttered, crowded home I feel as if I were strolling through the clouds. There are things I think and feel that I will never say to your face. But, for some bizarre reason, I can often find the courage to say it on paper. I hope to inspire others to have the courage to face the things that haunt them the most, to tackle the difficult issues and face those troublesome dragons.

Blogging has become an engaging and challenging adventure for me. It has forced me to put myself out there and to start communicating with others like myself who have so many things to teach me. I am so grateful for all the new friends I am making--some of them on the other side of the world. When I was a kid, I used to love being a Pen Pal, but I grew out of that and became one of the worst long distance friends anybody ever had. Which is hilarious, since my husband and I have had a long distance relationship since we were in junior high. Remind me to tell you that story sometime. It's quite the romantic fairy tale romp. We had such a fun fantasy wedding. My husband made such a handsome White Knight, in his fantasy garb which my Marmie cleverly designed and made all by her onesie. She made my wedding dress, too. Maybe for my anniversary this year I will do a Wedding Post and pull out the photo album. Thanks for suggesting it, dearies. You're all so clever!

Anyway, way off topic. Tomorrow, Jenelle will be sharing her response to this thought-provoking topic (the writing stuff not the romantic musings) on her blog. You won't want to miss it. And don't forget the other bloggers joining us in this fun event, either. Feel free to join us at any time, leaving your comments below or including a link to your own blog.

Kaycee at The Pink Cave
Jenelle at Jenelle Schmidt
Dorian at Dorian Writes
Hayden at The Story Girl
Heidi at Along the Brandywine
Grace at A Live Masterpiece

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Ring Around the Rose Week 3

How would you go about talking a dragon out of eating you, especially if no weapons were available?

This week's question is a terrifying one, and a very important one, too, because the world is just riddled with dangers and you never know when you're going to stumble across one. It's always good to be prepared, whether that means having a first aid kit, a nuclear bomb shelter, a Zombie Apocalypse kit, or a Dragon Survival Plan. My parents recently saw this vehicle on their travels, so apparently the zombie problem is becoming more of an issue. Something you may want to consider adding to your Disaster Preparedness Plan.

Today we are going to be focusing on dragons. Truthfully, not all dragons are a menace. I have been acquainted with many a dragon who was quite logical and pleasant to interact with. But, obviously, there are bad dragons, too, and those are the ones we need to be prepared to deal with. If you have gone to see the new Jurassic World movie (fan girl sigh) you will understand that some monsters, although deadly, can actually be handled. I'm Blue's new biggest fan. Spoilers: That scene near the end where she runs off into the park crying by herself? Sob! I wanted to kill the writers. They totally should have ended the film with Blue, maybe sitting on a nest of eggs or discovering one of the other raptors were still alive instead of ending it with Rex. Who cares about him anyway? Never thought I would become a raptor fan, but Blue was totally awesome. I would love to have a Raptor Whisperer on staff so I could invite her to come stay with me, but sadly, cost, demand and lack of space makes this a rather unrealistic venture. I simply don't have room on my property for a Raptor Paddock.

Anyway, back on point! Dragons! Although some dragons are good dragons, many of them are decidedly not. This means I ought to have a plan of my own, just in case I ever attract the wrong sort of dragon. Dragons are a tricky problem. They're quite a bit more educated than zombies and much more prevalent than dinosaurs, which means they are trickier to avoid. If you get caught by one, the only way out is to talk your way out. And, let me tell you, this is no easy feat because, as I said, dragons are smart.

I think the first thing I would do is determine what kind of dragon I am about to become lunch for, and then figure out what he wants. Some dragons are collectors, such as the gold-loving dragon Fafnir from Norse mythology. This type of dragon might be able to be swayed, so I would try to bribe my way out of it by giving him my music box or faerie collection. Worst case scenario, I would give him my antique book collection. Then, again, I might not. I'm rather attached to my books. The best example of collector dragons would be from Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George. Awesome little book, by the way, a must read.

There are other dragons, however, who are more interested in their stomach than they are in pretty baubles. For this type of dragon, I would try to make him see why I would make a terrible snack. I'm fairly skinny, for one thing, and have knobby elbows and knees and not much fat. I'd be a pretty crunchy snack. Of course, if the dragon happens to like crunchy appetizers, then I would be up the Raptor Paddock without a Raptor Whisperer, if you catch my drift. Last resort, I would run for my life, but I sincerely doubt I will get far. My powers of persuasion far outweigh my physical prowess.

Bonus for today: Some of my favorite monster movies. Jurassic Park was the first monster movie my parents ever let me watch, and it gave me nightmares for weeks, but I watched it over and over again. Let me tell you, that was one awesome movie. The new one is probably going to become my favorite of the four films but nothing can beat the awe of the first.

Reign of Fire is an amazing dragon movie. Christian Bale, Gerard Butler, Matthew McConaughy and a world taken over by fire-breathing, ash-eating dragons. Probably the best dragon movie of all time.

Godzilla, the one with Matthew Brodderick? Hilarious film with hundreds of baby Godzillas running around. Come on. What's not to like?

Pacific Rim can technically be considered a monster movie. I really enjoy that one, too. The whole robot vs. inter-dimensional monster thing is totally my style. Fantasy meets Science Fiction in an explosion of awesomeness.

And, last but not least, The Hobbit. I think Smaug is one of the all-time best villainous dragons. He is a prime example of a collector dragon...and the hungry, fire-breathing kind, as well!

I would love to hear about your Dragon Preparedness Plan. What would YOU do? Leave me an explanation in the comments below, and tell me your favorite dragon book or monster movie. Here are the links to the some of the other bloggers participating in this exciting series. Feel free to join us at any time. Tomorrow is Jenelle's post. I cannot WAIT to hear what she has to say on the subject of DRAGONS.

Kaycee at The Pink Cave
Jenelle at Jenelle Schmidt
Dorian at Dorian Writes
Hayden at The Story Girl
Grace at A Live Masterpiece

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Ring Around the Rose Week 2

Week 2 of Ring Around the Rose! Woot woot! And what an informative collection of posts we had last week. Be sure to back track and catch all the posts you may have missed from the other Five Enchanted Roses authors and some of our fellow blogging friends. If I've missed any links, I do apologize!

Kaycee at The Pink Cave
Jenelle at Jenelle Schmidt
Dorian at Dorian Writes
Hayden at The Story Girl
Heidi at Along the Brandywine

This week for Ring Around the Rose, we have a very exciting question to contemplate: If you could meet your favorite literary character, who would it be? Kaycee over at The Pink Cave launched this week's question with a very thought-provoking post on which literary character she would choose.

My problem is: I have to pick just ONE? (Whine)

My first inclination is Howl from Howl's Moving Castle because he is one of my all time favorite characters. But when I stop and think about it...Howl is rather an annoying and selfish and foppish character who would probably drive me to utter distraction. One of us would likely not survive the encounter. And if I were to kill Howl in a fit of madness, Sophie would probably turn me into weed killer. So, no, not Howl.

So then I thought, what about a Jane Austen character? I would love to meet Mr. Knightly or long suffering Anne or snarky Mr. Tilney or witty Elizabeth or the stoical and devoted Colonel Brandon...well, you can see how well this one is going. Too many choices! So, no, on Austen as well.

My problem is my favorite character just happens to be the one I am reading about right now, which is hardly a fair assessment. So I finally decided I should choose a long-running favorite. So I went back to some of my favorite childhood books, and I finally settled on Aslan from Chronicles of Narnia. He is a giant cat, after all, and so majestic and scary and yet loving, too, and he stands for something really important. I would find it humbling to actually get to meet him, to dig my fingers into his fur like Lucy and bury my face in his mane and know that I was safe and loved. I think Aslan is one of the few characters I could meet who would not find me dull or weak or boring to hang around with. I think he would be truly interested in getting to know me, and I know I would be the better person for having known him.

So there you have it.

Please, feel free to join in on the game in the comments below. If you have a blog, include your link so we can all see which literary character you would like to meet. And don't forget to hop on over to Jenelle's blog tomorrow for her thoughts on this intriguing question.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Guest Post: Don Semora

I am honored to have a very special guest visiting my blog today. My goal is to introduce this talented artist to other budding authors like myself who may be feeling nervous about stepping into the turbulent world of publishing. So if you are in the middle of writing a book and are starting to think about (GASP) cover designs and (BIGGER GASP) actually publishing your work, I hope you will find this interview informative.

Mr. Don Semora is a graphic designer who specializes in book covers and book layout. He has designed more than six hundred covers in his career. Don offers custom designs and layout, and does all genres, including games and game design.
His expertise is extremely versatile--I have picked his brain for information on everything from covers to formatting and layout to ISBN's and even book selling events. Don is also a writer himself who has published several works of his own, which means he has experience in virtually every aspect of the writing process. He seems to enjoy reaching out to budding authors and helping them splash into the publishing world, as painlessly as possible! A little bit later, Don will talk about discounts he may offer to customers who would like multiple projects done, and I can attest from personal experience that his bundled discounts are VERY affordable for small budgets. He is very flexible and willing to work with you.
Today we will be focusing primarily on his talents for Cover Design. Throughout the interview, we will be sharing a couple of his finished covers. As you will see, he has done a variety of covers in many different genres. You can get more information on the services Don offers at his personal website.
Let's get started!
What made you get into book cover design?
Many years ago, I did a cover for one of my books, and a local publisher saw it and contacted me and had me literally redo a dozen of her existing covers.

Why do you think you have the success you do at cover design?
I want to know about my cover I am designing. I want to understand the story and the author behind it. It is impossible for a cover designer to do an adequate job, unless they understand fully the story and or series the author wrote, and or is writing. I take the design personally as my name is attached to it. If it is just a copy of someone else’s, or uses pre-canned imagery? That reflects on me.

What tools do you use to make the cover you do?
I utilize current version of Photoshop, Illustrator and Corel. Along with Acrobat Pro and several other tools such as my Wacom tablet. Plus the most important tool of all, paying attention to, and being in tune with my author and their story.

What bothers you most about modern cover design?
I think it is that far too many people are doing cover design that should not be. I really despise inferior rushed work. Plus, not understanding the process. I see a lot of covers out there in print that are sized and scaled wrong. There is a very mechanical and specific science behind a good cover.

What should always be included in a cover design job?
You should get a high resolution cover image for Ebooks. A low res for internet usage. You should get a scaled properly full wrap, sized to your page count (if you have the interior completed). You also should get a scannable ISBN barcode with a proper EAN barcode with it. Plus JPG, PDF  files of everything. And a complete release of all copyright signed by the designer against your book.

How long does it take you to do a cover?
That varies on the author and how well they communicate with me, and also how much information they give me. My average time is 4 – 7 days.

How much do you charge for a book cover and book layout?
A book cover complete is 120.00 and a book layout varies, it depends on the kind of book. If it is a standard book with a few images I charge 125.00 if it is a complicated layout such as a cook book, instructional manual and so on. I do charge more based on the difficulty of the layout job. If an author gives me both the layout and cover, I take 45.00 off of the job.

Do you give discounts for series and multi cover and layout jobs?
Yes I do. I offer all my customers who use my services for multiple titles deep discounts.

How do you communicate with your customers?
I use email, Yahoo Instant Messenger, SKYPE, Video call, phone and internet voice chat, I also if you are local would love to meet in person if you prefer. I think you need to be accessible to your author. Those I think offer that.

What advice can you give an author who is looking for a designer?
First and foremost ask for published references. Not a friend who had it done, ask for references of authors whom they have done who are published in some way. Also, look at their work and DON’T settle for mundane. Demand your cover be awesome, inspiring and unique.

Do you write?
Yes I do, I have published several books and a role playing game. I also am currently working on three books. One modern murder mystery, one mystery that takes place in London at the turnoff the century and a Fantasy novel. Ask me more and I will take up pages telling ya about it, as I love to talk about my writing.

What forms of payment do you take?
Cash, Check and Paypal.

Finally, tell my readers what set you apart from the other designers out there.
This is hard to do without sounding conceited. However, to be blunt about the question: I pay attention to the details, and I know that people do in fact judge a book by its cover. I understand that the cover should reflect the story and the content. As a designer my aim is to not only make my author happy. But also I want to make sure their cover fits their book, has imagery that is unique and has a “grab me” appeal on the shelf. I also do not stop until my author is happy as I am sure Savannah will attest.

I can attest to the fact that Don will bend over backward trying to please you. When he designed After, he sent me multiple mock-ups and put up with input from not only me but members of my enthusiastic family as well. Patience is definitely one of his strong qualities! If you are interested in getting a cover design of your own, hop on over Don's blog and be sure to mention I sent you! He will be delighted to speak you.

Friday, June 5, 2015

After Cover Reveal

I am so excited to finally share my first official cover reveal, for my upcoming novella After, coming December 2015.  

In a world where the dead walk and hope shrivels beneath harsh realities, a Spook risks everything to protect his streets . . . even as he himself is becoming one of the creatures he hunts. 

“Some people might say that there are worse fates than death. In some worlds, perhaps that may well be the case. But in mine, it would be a lie. There is no greater horror than that which comes after death.”

On the streets of an ancient city, with creepers wandering at will and a mysterious assassin leaving corpses all over Pandorum, a young Spook with a dark secret will do anything to keep his brothers safe, even from forces that threaten to tear them apart from within. While others are searching for impossible cures from outlawed Spinners, Conrad Ellis III does not believe in fairy tales and miracles. But when he discovers a strange girl with shrouded ties to the Assassin, Eli is forced to leave the streets he loves and travel into the very heart of Pandorum in order to save a member of his family. With his health failing and corpses escalating, he will have no choice but to confront the darkest corners of his soul.

Because if he fails, if his secret is discovered, his life will not be the only one forfeited. 
After (The Neverway Chronicles, Book #1) is the exciting prequel to Wither, my little novella featured in Five Enchanted Roses, available for pre-order now! Don't forget to add After to your reading list on Goodreads. It will be released initially as an Ebook, and I will be getting you more details on that as the release date draws closer. Is this cover not breathtaking and haunting at the same time? The city in the background resembles what I imagined precisely. Ooh, I'm getting chills just looking at it! I cannot thank my cover designer, Mr. Don Semora, enough for this beautiful piece of art. I am so excited to host him on my blog on Monday for a Guest Interview. If you are looking for a future cover designer, stop back in!

I am so excited to share The Neverway Chronicles with you.  

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Ring Around the Rose

Yesterday, the other Five Enchanted Roses authors and I began a series of posts called Ring Around the Rose in celebration of the upcoming release of our collection of stories. We will be taking turns tagging one another and hopping blog to blog to answer a series of unique questions about ourselves and our stories. Yesterday, Kaycee launched the event on her blog. Be sure to backtrack to her blog to catch the beginning of this exciting series and a few other details about the event.

This week, the question is: If you could live in a Fantasy world, which one would you choose?

This question was totally my idea...and I have had the worst time EVER picking just one fantasy world. How do you pick just one? I want to visit them all! Every last one of them. So I've been stewing for a couple of weeks trying to decide which fantasy world I could actually LIVE in--as in, SURVIVE in. The truth is, there are some pretty scary story worlds out there with some terrible villains. Middle-Earth was at the top of the list, because there would be so many amazing things to see and people to meet--I would really like to go to Rohan and get to meet Eomer and the Rohirrim and learn how to wield a sword and become a shieldmaiden. But, honestly, I would make a terrible shieldmaiden. I don't like to hurt things, except for maybe bugs, and I'm not all that fond of exercise, and I've never really done much horse riding. Okay, I've only ever been on a horse once or twice. It was probably a pony, too.

No, I finally decided on Star Wars. I've seen all the movies a billion times and read all of the Young Jedi Knight books when I was a kid--I still have them. And (cough cough) still read them.

Just imagine it? Hundreds of worlds to visit from the comforts of your own Millennium Falcon--no camping out without proper bathrooms--and yet you'd still get to meet thousands of cool alien races and maybe, if you're lucky, have a connection to the Force and get to throw bad guys around with your awesome mind powers. Maybe you could even have your own Ewok. I would love to have an Ewok. Or a Wookie. I could totally do a Wookie, especially if it came with a tall, dark and rakishly handsome smuggler. My husband would fit that role quite nicely. Just imagine all the gadgets and space ships and the Universe at your fingertips...

Yup, this is definitely the world for me.

Want to know what fantasy world Jenelle would like to live in? Tomorrow, head on over to Jenelle's blog to find out. And feel free to participate in this fun series! Just leave me a link to your blog in the comments and I'll pop on over to see what fantasy world YOU would like to live in.

Monday, June 1, 2015

The Five Something Something Contest is...

I am so excited to finally share this exciting news with all you authors:

Rooglewood Press is delighted to introduce their third fairy tale 
novella contest—

Five Magic Spindles
a collection of “Sleeping Beauty” stories

The challenge is to write a retelling of the beloved fairy tale in any genre or setting you like. Make certain your story is recognizably “Sleeping Beauty,” but have fun with it as well. Make it yours!

Rooglewood Press will be selecting five winners to be published in the Five Magic Spindles collection, which will be packaged up with the phenomenal cover you see here. Maybe your name will be one of the five listed?

All the contest rules and information (how to enter, story details, deadline etc.) may be found on the Rooglewood Press website. Just click HERE and you will go right to the page.

Rooglewood Press’s first collection, Five Glass Slippers is available for purchase, and their second collection, Five Enchanted Roses is scheduled to launch on July 27, and is currently available for pre-order. Be certain to get a copy of each and see what previous winners did with their wonderful retellings.

I am able to tell you from personal experience how exciting it is to participate in the Rooglewood Press writing contests. I have submitted stories to both of the previous contests and was honored to be chosen as one of the featured authors for Five Enchanted Roses. I have learned so much through this entire process. I cannot wait to share my "Beauty and the Beast" story with all of you and finally get to read the other stories in this exciting collection. I hope all of you writers out there will consider entering the contest this year. Sleeping Beauty! What an exciting fairy tale, with so much potential! Authors, get out your writing hats and start brainstorming!