Posts Tagged ‘publishing’

Why Texting is a Tool of the Devil and Proofreading Your work Matters . . . A lot!

Friday, October 4th, 2013

Part Two of my Interview with Proofreader Extraordinaire Linda Au

By

Dora Machado

Please allow me to reintroduce my friend and proofreader extraordinaire, Linda Au, who shared her insights with us on my previous blog post, regarding the ins and outs of her profession and why an author wants a little OCD in his or her proofreader. With an incredible eye for detail, a questioning approach and an uncanny ability to find even the most cryptic of errors, Linda is an incredible asset to every project she tackles. I know. I’ve worked with her many times and benefited from her professional OCD, which as we’ve learned, doesn’t always extend to all other parts of her life, like cleaning the house.

In the second part of my interview with Linda, we tackle some of the hottest issues facing authors today. As the writing world changes and publishing gets both simpler and also more complicated, Linda shares her thoughts on what’s the real current state of spelling in the  world and why proofreading matters . . . more than ever!

Enjoy!

D.

Welcome back, Linda. Writers today face so many hurdles and expenses. Why should having a manuscript professionally proofed be a priority?

In this rapidly evolving publishing world, everyone can call themselves writers by simply typing in a Word document, finishing with “The End,” and uploading it to Kindle Direct Publishing. Bingo! You’re published. Offer your “book” for free and you might even skyrocket to an impressive sales ranking for the day. But you’ll soon realize that even readers who download e-books that didn’t cost them a dime have standards. Their time is worth something. The general reading public is a lot smarter than the general writer-wannabe gives them credit for. They might download your first freebie book, but if it’s riddled with errors, typos, and bad formatting, they won’t care how good the story is (if it’s any good—and you can bet I’m skeptical about that). They won’t bother to download your second one.

The publishing slush pile used to be on the publisher’s desk. Then it moved to the agent’s desk. Now the whole slush pile is right out there for sale on Amazon.com. How can a serious writer stand out with all that competition? I’m convinced that what’s going to separate the men from the boys in the new publishing world is professionalism. Good writing. Good content editing. Good typesetting for print books and formatting for e-books. Good copy editing and proofreading.

By the way, as a side note: I am sometimes vexed that readers expect e-books to all be free or ridiculously cheap. A good, professional book still costs money to produce. The writer, editor, copy editor, publisher, and proofreader all still charge money for their services (and it’s a lot less than you think it is—none of us are retiring to the Caribbean any time soon). The only cost savings with e-books are with actual physical production: printing, binding, distribution. So yes, e-books should be cheaper, but good stories still cost money.

You are a writer too. What kinds of books do you write? Do you proofread your own books?

The two books I have out now are collections of humor essays, written under my maiden name/pen name of Linda M. Au. Although the essays are fun to write, switching gears and being funny in so many different little “stories” can feel burdensome when I’m putting one of the humor books together. I’m collecting ideas and essays for a third book, but I’ve got no personal deadline for it. Next up instead are a few of my NaNoWriMo novels, some of which have won awards (in whole or in part). Fiction is really my first love.

And yes, I do proofread my own books. (I also typeset them.) But I also run them through beta readers when they get close to being finished. That’s as much for content as for spelling and error-checks. Any problem a beta reader can point out helps me be better. I often cringe if it’s a typo or a missing word, of course, since that’s been my bread and butter for decades, but I’m relieved they’ve helped me be as good as I can be when I go to print.

What’s the hardest thing about working with writers?

The extremes in my clientele. It’s tough to have two very different clients at the same time. For instance, one writer might think she’s being helpful by throwing all sorts of formatting into her Word document manuscript, treating it almost like a layout program (which it’s not), or by learning just enough publishing jargon to be dangerous. Manuscript formatting has to be basic, especially if the next step is page layout or e-book formatting, both of which do not play nicely with overly formatted Word documents.

At the other extreme is the writer who still doesn’t seem to care if he or she spells words right or punctuates sentences properly. I’m not talking about a writer who struggles with these issues—I can appreciate the struggle and I really love helping such writers. But I don’t have a lot of tolerance for writers who insist that they are too busy being “creative” to learn the boring, nitpicky details of how to punctuate or spell. To me, that would be like a carpenter saying he’s too busy trying to create a beautiful rocking chair to learn how to use a hammer and saw.

If you’re a writer, words and grammar and punctuation are your tools. You need to learn to use them properly if you want to be taken seriously. And, I guarantee you that, once you learn these things, the creativity will still be there. In fact, it will be freed up and much more accessible to your readers because the mechanics will have become second nature.

In your opinion, what’s the current state of spelling in the world?

I think texting is a tool of the devil.

Seriously, I think that text-messaging has its place but has greatly reduced the regard for spelling conventions. I do writing coach work for eighth graders, and I see a lot of them slipping into text-messaging language in their essays: “ur” or “u” … stuff like that. They don’t even realize they’ve done it until I point it out.

I realize that language is fluid, and it’s a living thing, blah blah blah. But, there’s a big difference between language changing for practical reasons (such as “Google” becoming a verb) and language changing because too many people got lazy and misspelled a word or phrase for so long that the powers that be gave up (such as “alright” instead of “all right” slowly becoming more acceptable, though it’s not actually correct yet). Language changes that come from a lazy, uneducated populace bother me. It’s not quite the downfall of civilization, but I bet every civilization that fell had already started mistaking “its” for “it’s.”

Why will proofreading matter in the future?

As indie publishing/self-publishing becomes the norm (and it’s careening headlong in that direction already), what’s going to set the professionals apart will be their continued attention to detail and their pride in their work. And that has to include the use of the language. Not just pretty words, but properly spelled, properly punctuated pretty words. After all, writers are selling their ideas, expressed through their words. Why wouldn’t they want them to go out into the world as polished as they can be?

What’s your best proofreading advice for authors everywhere?

If you have to get yourself a grammar textbook or a copy of the Chicago Manual of Style, do it. If your first experience with a proofreader turned up ongoing issues and concerns—words you habitually spell incorrectly or grammar or punctuation issues you still don’t get right—then study and learn. It’s difficult to learn creativity or imagination, but it’s relatively easy to learn grammar and punctuation.

But never think that referring to a textbook can replace actual proofreading. Your own eyes are too forgiving of those words you missed or misspelled. Someone else’s objective eyes just may catch them … and you’ll be a better writer for it.

Language is your only tool as a writer. Learn to use it properly, and you can write anything well.

Thank you so much for this interview, Linda. I really appreciate everything that you’ve shared with us. I had a lot of fun talking to you.

***

Linda’s short humor essays have garnered numerous awards. Two books of her humor essays, Head in the Sand…and other unpopular positions and Fork in the Road … and other pointless discussions, are currently available on Amazon.com and BN.com.

Linda has worked behind the scenes in publishing as a proofreader, copy editor, and typesetter since the late 1980s. She has worked with many independent authors, as well as publishers such as Carroll & Graf, Shoemaker & Hoard, Crown & Covenant Publications, Christian Publications (now WingSpread/Zur), Pegasus Books, and F+W Publications.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Linda-M-Au/119278508108217

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LindaMAu

Blog/Web site: The Other Side of the Desk

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/austruck/

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Dora Machado is the award winning author of the epic fantasy Stonewiser series and her newest novel, The Curse Giver, available from Twilight Times Books. She grew up in the Dominican Republic, where she developed a fascination for writing and a taste for Merengue. After a lifetime of straddling such compelling but different worlds, fantasy is a natural fit to her stories. She lives in Florida with her husband and three very opinionated cats.

To learn more about Dora Machado and her novels, visit her website at www.doramachado.com or contact her at Dora@doramachado.com.

Subscribe to her blog at http://www.doramachado.com/blog/ and sign up for her at newsletter at http://doramachado.com/newsletter.php,

Facebook and Twitter.

For a free excerpt of The Curse Giver, visit  http://twilighttimesbooks.com/TheCurseGiver_ch1.html.

The Curse Giver from Amazon

Amazon: : http://amzn.to/13oVu2P

Another Great Review for The Curse Giver

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

Here’s another great review for The Curse Giver, from Tiffany at http://caughtinasnyderwebb.blogspot.com/2013/07/the-curse-giver-blog-tour-reviewgiveaway.html.

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MY REVIEW!!!!!!

This book was a doozy, coming in at about 500 pages!!! I thought I wasn’t going to like some of it, but I loved every page. I’m finding it hard to express my thoughts, though. There is just so much to say. I’ve read other books with curses incorporated into the story, but never with anything quite like this book. I felt the doom in the air and I swear it was like watching a movie unfold. The emotions were very real and frightening as the characters stood toface the curse. The book is told in 4 different POVs, so that we know what is going on away from the main characters. Those characters are Hato, Severo, Bren and Lusielle. I usually shy away from books with that many POV because things can become confusing. In The Curse Giver, however, I didn’t find myself confused- I just wanted MORE. The adventure (if that’s what you want to call it) was more like them running for their lives and it was exhilarating and I never knew what to expect- that my favorite part. I know I said there is so much to say, but I don’t want to spoil anything. Just know that the world building is brilliant and the characters were well developed. Aside from that, get ready for the ride of a life time.

Overall: An Epic Fantasy Adventure that will keep you up throughout the night.
(no, really. O.O)

Bren is a tortured man after witnessing his father’s -and then his brother’s painful deaths. He knows the curse is going to take him next, but he will do anything to save Laonia. Even kill a woman that bears the goddesses mark. He knows his duty and will fulfill whatever he needs to do. But underneath all that, there is a man crying out for help who actually HAS a heart. And there just might be one person that can help him. Too bad he has to kill her.

Lusielle was orphaned at the age of 16 and then married a horrible man. He beat her and did other unimaginable things to her. Even after all that, she keeps her head up and back straight. She is full of strength and proves it time and time again. She cares deeply for anyone injured and helps to ease their suffering- with her gift as a remedy healer.

Hato is a grumpy old man- but loyal to a fault. He has also like Bren in the fact taht watched his friend’s downfall. He does everything he can to help Bren who is Laonia’s only hope and the last of his line.

Severo: I had my doubts about him, but I came to like he just like the other characters. He and Lusielle had some funny moments together as well as some terrifying ones. He is defiantly a guy that you want on your side.

5 STARS

Quotes:

“We’re not going down!” Bren shouted. “Do you hear? Heave! Come on, my pretty girls. What are you? Afraid of breaking your nails? Heave!”

~Bren

“When she dresses like that—”

Elfu growled. “Don’t stare at my mistress’ bosom!”

“I’m not!” Severo flushed.

“I’ll beat you up—”

~Severo and Elfu talking about Lusielle

Bren waited, pondering the strange turn his life had taken. Either he was a desperate man or he was becoming increasingly creepy. Both, he decided, smirking in the dark.

~Bren

For more reviews from Tiffany, go to http://caughtinasnyderwebb.blogspot.com/2013/07/the-curse-giver-blog-tour-reviewgiveaway.html

A Book Review of The Curse Giver

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

It’s my pleasure to share with all of you this beautifully written review of The Curse Giver by Mayra Calvani, posted at Blogcritics.com on Sunday, July 21, 2013.

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Intrigue, romance and adventure await you in Dora Machado’s latest fast-paced, plot-twisting fantasy, The Curse Giver, just released by Twilight Times Books.

The story begins with our innocent healer heroine, Lusielle, as she is about to be burned on the pyre after she’s sentenced to death for a crime she didn’t commit. But just as the flames are about to engulf her, a mysterious stranger on a horse storms through the crowd and rescues her.

Brennus, Lord of Laonia, is tormented by the curse that has destroyed his people. To undo it, he must kill Lusielle in the most vicious of ways, for she is the one who bears the mysterious birthmark.

However, destiny plays a trick on them. Now together, amidst a world teetering on the brink of war, predator and prey grow too close for their own good. Passion flares as in a twist of fate, together, they try to defeat the terrifying curse and destroy the Curse Giver…

Lovers of dark romantic fantasy will relish The Curse Giver. This was a wonderfully entertaining, absorbing read. The stakes are high, the conflict compelling, and the sympathetic hero and heroine will make you fall in love with them. But the best thing about the novel is the writing itself. Lyric at times, Machado’s prose flows beautifully throughout the pages, bringing to life her fictional world in full, vivid detail.

The Curse Giver is a memorable adventure for fans of fantasy and one I can certainly recommend.

Find out more on Amazon or from Twilight Times Books.

Read my interview with the author here on Blogcritics.

The Curse Giver’s “Book Bomb”

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

Do you know what a “book bomb” is?

I had no idea until a group of my fellow Twilight Times Books authors introduce me to the concept.

A “book bomb” is a gathering of authors and readers who get together to promote a new release on a particular day in the hopes of driving the book to the top of the charts. I like to think of it like a book’s coming out party. Did I tell you? I like coming out parties!

Today, Wednesday, July 17th 2013, we are doing a book bomb for The Curse Giver. If you’d like to join, it’s really simple. Just put up a little message announcing the book bomb on your blog, FB page, twitter or any of your social media outlets and run with it.

Here’s a few examples of what others are posting:

From the gifted Maria DeVivo, fellow fantasy author of The Coal Elf:

“BOOK BOMB!! Today is the day, folks!! Get your copy of Dora Machado’s THE CURSE GIVER at a special price of $3.99. Already making some waves with a ton of 5* reviews! Dark Fantasy at its FINEST!”

From TTB’s amazing fantasy author, Scott Eder:

“Bombs away! Today is the book bomb for Dora Machado’s new release, The Curse Giver. It’s a steal on Amazon at only $3.99. If you haven’t read one of Dora’s books, you need to check this out. She’s fantastic. Dark fantasy at its best.”

From the incredibly talented mystery master, Aaron Lazar:

“Okay, folks! Today’s the day to help rocket our talented author friend Dora Machado to the top of the charts! If you were considering buying The Curse Giver, come over and click on the left sidebar on MB4 (below) to get your eBook version. It has just gone on sale for $3.99!”

From brilliant Stephanie Osborn, Interstellar Woman of Mystery:

The Curse Giver, is being book-bombed by her fellow Twilight Times authors tomorrow! Twilight Times has put the Kindle version on sale for $3.99 already! Please join with us in supporting Dora, and have a look here (and tomorrow on my blog!) to learn more about this great new novel!”

From awesome Christine Amsden, the author of Cassie Scott Paranormal Detective:

“Guest blog and book bomb today. BOOK BOMB!! Today is the day, folks!! Get your copy of Dora Machado’s THE CURSE GIVER at a special price of $3.99.”

So there you have it. You are hereby officially invited to The Curse Giver’s coming out party. Hope to see you there!

Have a wonderful day.

D.

CurseGiver_Front Cover Final

Interview with The Dark Phantom

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

5 Questions with The Dark Phantom

Hi everybody! I just did this interview for The Dark Phantom at http://thedarkphantom.wordpress.com/2013/07/11/5-questions-with-dora-machado-author-of-the-curse-giver/

Q: Tell us why readers should buy The Curse Giver.

A: If you like fast-paced, plot-twisting, epic, dark, and yes—why not?—romantic fantasy, The Curse Giver is for you. In a world teetering on the brink of war and destruction, three lives collide, bound together by a powerful, terrifying, undefeatable curse: an embittered lord at the brink of death, doomed by a curse he doesn’t understand and tormented by a terrible secret; an innocent healer on the run, accused of a crime she didn’t commit, bearing a mysterious birthmark that commands her murder; and the evil curse giver who has already conjured their ends. The stakes are high—peace, healing and freedom or war, madness and horrible death. Somewhere between love and hate and justice or revenge, redemption awaits those who dare to challenge the tenuous boundaries of good and evil.

Q: What makes a good fantasy novel?

A: Fast-paced action, thrilling adventures and rich imagination perfectly balanced by deep, complex and engaging characters, intricate plots, and transcendental relationships that matter.

Q: What is a regular writing day like for you?
A: I sit down to write sometime between eight or nine in the evening and write through the night. I go to bed anywhere between three and six and sleep the morning away. I get up around ten or eleven and spend the afternoon editing what I did the night before and taking care of the business aspects of writing. The best part: It’s my schedule and I get to choose my office’s dress code, which, by the way, is a notch below casual, super comfy. The biggest challenge: Talk about not being a morning person!

Q: What do you find most rewarding about being an author?

A: The amazing readers who come along in my adventures.

Q: What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received that you’d like to pass to other authors?

A: Write like the wind, write often, diligently and continuously, write for yourself and, my favorite, write all the way to The End.

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Now available at:

Amazon.com
http://www.amazon.com/The-Curse-Giver-ebook/dp/B00DSUQL4I/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1373559878&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Curse+Giver

Barnes & Noble.
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-curse-giver-dora-machado/1115929771

Romance eBooks
https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-thecursegiver-1228818-143.html

The Creation of El Vengador by Stephanie Osborn

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

The Creation of El Vengador
By Stephanie Osborn
http://www.stephanie-osborn.com

El Vengador400

Deputy Sheriff Michael Kirtchner gets an “unknown disturbance” dispatch call to a remote house trailer in the swamp. There, he discovers an old woman and a dog, terrorized by a mysterious beast, which he takes to be a bear. But when he contacts Game Warden Jeff Stuart to come trap the animal, Stuart tells him to get out if he values his life – this is no ordinary animal. Is Kirtchner up against a Swamp Ape – a Florida version of Bigfoot – or something more…sinister?

El Vengador (http://www.sff.net/people/steph-osborn/ElVengador.html) is my first deliberate foray into the paranormal and horror genres. I’ve had numerous friends try to convince me to do so in the last few years, but never was able to get hold of the right story idea. So I waited and let it “percolate” in the back of my mind.

But when a Facebook friend (who wants to remain anonymous) told me the story of his encounter of a mysterious “Florida Swamp Ape” during his tenure as a deputy sheriff, I was fascinated. And when he gave his permission for me to fictionalize the story, I knew I had found my paranormal horror story.

So I took his basic story from his own words and I transformed it. I cleaned it up, couched it in proper writer’s grammar, changed the point of view. I changed the deputy’s name, added the perspective of other civilians who encountered the creature…and then I twisted the knife.
Because, you see, I have some Cherokee in me. Oh, the family can’t prove it, not after the way the Cherokee were ejected from their properties during the Trail of Tears; any Native American who could pass as white in those days, did, and all records of their heritage were lost. But because I have several distinctive genetic expressions of that heritage, I am accepted by most elders I know as Cherokee. And my curiosity being what it is, along with my sincerity in wanting to know, I’ve been taught numerous things that most people don’t generally know.

Like the fact that the Cherokee (along with the Seminole and the Iroquois Confederacy, among others) are purported to have been offshoots – colonies, if you will – of the Maya peoples. It’s interesting to note that, just as the “Cherokee” are a group of tribes [Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, etc.], the Seminole are a group of tribes [Seminole, Creek, Miccosukee, etc.], the Iroquois Confederacy are a group of tribes [Mohawk, Onondaga, Oneida, Seneca, Cayuga, and later Tuscarora] ― so too are the Maya really a collection of tribes [Yucatec, Tzotzil, Tzeltal, Ch’ol, Kekchi, Mopan, and more]! The Maya comprised, and still comprise (oh yes, they’re still around ― they were laughing their butts off at the white fear of the “end” of their repeating calendar), more than 25 different peoples. The notion of splinter groups of this huge nation (it covered a substantial portion of Central America, butted up against the Aztec/Olmec empire, and expanded out into the Caribbean) moving up into Florida, then up the East Coast of North America, isn’t hard to believe at all.

It’s also true ― as I mentioned in the story ― that the medicine people and elders hold that the Maya, in turn, came from some place across the Great Sea to the East. Depending on who you talk to, this means we/they originated in Ancient Egypt, Phoenicia, Greece, the Biblical traders of Tarshish, or even Atlantis!

So it seemed to me that it would put a fun spin on things if I had this swamp ape, this mysterious unknown creature, be something other than pure animal. As it turned out, my research into the Maya turned up a mysterious “Howler Monkey God,” Hun-Batz, and an entire mythology in which this god was set. Monkey = simian, and ape = simian, so it wasn’t a huge jump for me to proposing a curse invoking the Son of Hun-Batz. And suddenly the whole thing congealed into this amazing, suspenseful, paranormal horror story.

How amazing and suspenseful? Well, let’s just say I literally creeped myself out. I’m a night owl, prone to insomnia and getting up in the night to putter around until I can fall back asleep. And I immediately discovered that I didn’t enjoy that anymore; I had a constant feeling that there might be something outside, in the yard, in the dark, watching through the windows and doors. When I did go back to bed, it was only to have lucid nightmares about the creature and the events in the book! I took to closing the curtains and blinds, avoiding the windows at night. Finally I gave up writing on the story after sundown, choosing to write only in the light, and hoping to get the imagery out of my head by bedtime.

I was more or less successful in that. I find that I still do better not to think about the book at night, and I still have the blinds and curtains closed at night. But our neighborhood is well lit with street lights, and the birds cluster in the trees around the house and sing cheerfully. So I know there’s nothing out there that they think is unusual. And that is comforting.

I don’t know that I’ll regularly write horror. I’m inclined to think, from my experiences with El Vengador, that I might not be cut out for that! Still and all, much of the science fiction mystery I do write tends to have strong elements of both paranormal and thriller, with the occasional seasoning of horror concepts thrown in for good measure. So I think I can take what I have learned from the experience and fold it back into my other works. And I think they’ll be the better for it.
And you never know. After all, my friend really did encounter…something…in the swamps of Florida…

What is it like in the weeks before a book release?

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

Well, it’s a little crazy.

Most people might think that as a book release date approaches, an author’s work begins to wind down.

“If the book is already written, why are you so busy?” my friends ask.

“Because” I say, “Promo is about to begin.”

In fact, an author’s work ramps up as the launch approaches. Time seems to accelerate. Every task grows more urgent with every hour that passes. From an editorial perspective, there are Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) to review. All those words, paragraphs and chapters present plenty of opportunity for errors. Details must be corrected both in the e-book versions and the print ARCs—things like formatting issues, indents, typos and nits. No matter how many times you scour the text, those diabolical little word gremlins are hard at work defying our best attempts at perfection.

You also have the promo coming at you like a fast pitch to the head. A look at my schedule for the summer leaves me breathless and it’s not even July yet! These days, I spend a lot of time talking to the wonderful folks who are organizing the promos for The Curse Giver. Press releases must be written, reviewed and rewritten. Virtual book tours must be organized, rearranged and adapted. Giveaways have to be scheduled. Reviews have to be collected.

“Wait, reviews?” you say. “The book’s not even out yet!”

Guess what? These days, reviews are necessary even before the book comes out. Word out on the street is that each five star-review translates into hundreds of sales.

Ah, shucks, then. Add begging for reviews to the list.

That’s on top of the interviews, the guest blogs and articles that are piling up on my desk. Don’t get me wrong. I love doing these. They are hard work, especially when you’re doing so many of them. They require a lot of time, because the questions are different and diverse, and I make sure that each interview, blog and article gets my time and full attention. But they are also a great opportunity to get to meet readers, bloggers and reviewers from all over the world, people who are as passionate as I am about fantasy, reading and writing.

So yeah, it’s crazy hectic over here, but that’s okay—no—better than okay, because The Curse Giver is on the way.

The Curse Giver's Galleys

The Curse Giver's Galleys

From Sketch to Cover: A short Interview with Brad Fraunfelter, who created The Curse Giver’s cover.

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

Have you ever wondered how an original book cover is created?

Well, it’s a work of art, a labor of love that includes brainstorming and research, a fascinating journey. It’s a creative process that involves the transformation of ideas into concepts, the conversion of words into tangible images. It starts with a sketch and it ends with a visual statement. But the best way of understanding the process, is to witness it, as I did in the case of my new novel, The Curse Giver.

Take a look at the concept’s evolution. If you click on the pictures, you will see the details coming to life.

Pretty neat, yes?

Brad Fraunfelter, the talented artist who created The Curse Giver‘s stunning cover, agreed to share his perspective with us, answering a few questions about his work and the cover’s creation process.

Q: What was your inspiration for The Curse Giver‘s cover?

Brad: My inspiration for the cover was drawn closely from the author’s write up’s which I studied carefully.  I chose the last idea which was on Dora’s list because I felt it would be visually most interesting. I wanted to show a dramatic contrast between the softness of the skin and dress of the girl, against the harshness of the armor of the man. For this reason I chose a white dress and pale skin for the girl, and dark, jagged armor for the man.

Q: How long did it take you from start to finish?

Brad: From start to finish, the painting took roughly a month: It involved a lot of preliminary research to study various forms of armor, and to design and sketch all the parts of what he was wearing, including the sword, helmet, and shield. Once I had these problems solved I could start on the painting itself.

Q: How did you accomplish such a stunning light effect on the armor?

Brad: To achieve the lighting effect on the armor I carefully studied the effects of light and reflections on metal. I also studied a few images of armor that I found on the internet for reference material. I also did several photoshoots of my own to get the placement of the man’s arms and hands correct and to nail the position of the light source.  I wanted to achieve the appearance of a “mystical” glow, so as one of the last steps to the painting I brushed in a soft white haze across the highlight areas, such as the girl’s dress.

Fascinating. Don’t you think?

To take a look at Brad’s creative process, from beginning to end go to: http://www.bradfraunfelterillustration.com/

Website: www.bradfraunfelterillustration.com

E-mail: brademail99@yahoo.com

Brad Fraunfelter Illustration

Glendale, California
(323)240-5744

Guest Post by Aaron Lazar: Downton Abbey Made me do it

Monday, May 20th, 2013

Hello everybody.

Today I bring you a fantastic guest post by my friend and fellow Twilight Times Books author, multi-award winner and Kindle bestselling author  Aaron Lazar, who in a feat of daring, decided to create a rift between one of his favorite characters, Quinn Hollister and his beloved wife Marcella. Now, you must understand, from an author’s point of view, doing something mean to a beloved character takes some guts and a very good reason. Aaron’s Lazar’s reason? Downton Abbey made me do it.

Read on and enjoy. D.

Quinn Hollister

How I met Quinn Hollister by Aaron Lazar

Quinn Hollister was born amidst unexpected chaos.

I met the protagonist of the Tall Pines Mysteries series when I was laid off from Kodak in 2009 after nearly thirty years of service. I’ll never forget it. The angst. The shock. The feelings of betrayal. And yes, the extra time for writing that was one of the many unexpected blessings associated with the layoff.

Quinn and the love of his life, Marcella, her mother, Thelma, and their bird, Ruby, surprised me right around that same time by appearing in a dream.

I know, how clichéd can you get? But it’s true. The dream was vivid and enticing, depicting a luxurious bird resort in the Adirondacks, and a little tangerine-red bird named Ruby who snuggled on my shoulder and won my proverbial heart.

I’ve never owned a bird. I never knew a bird, aside from those morning doves outside my window. And until this happened, I never thought about birds.

From this bewildering dream the Tall Pines Mystery series developed. And with it, Quinn Hollister, the bird’s owner and husband of my female protagonist.

Life was quite tumultuous at this point, as you can probably imagine, with me constantly on the hunt for engineering work for the day job, but in spite of the trying circumstances of worrying about survival and putting food on the table, I also had some free time to travel locally.

In a strange and convoluted way, the layoffs opened up a new world of opportunity, including the birth of this new, totally unplanned, third mystery series set in the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York, as well as the creation of Quinn Hollister. (the other two series are LeGarde Mysteries [10 books] and Moore Mysteries [3 books])

My wife and I found a cabin overlooking the Sacandaga River in Hope, New York. It was inexpensive, relaxing, and a perfect setting for a mystery. We fell in love with the majestic beauty of the area, especially the soft, cleansing waters of the Sacandaga River over which the rustic cabin perches.

Quinn evolved slowly. At first he was an OCD Italian name Joe, until a friend pointed out that he resembled a popular TV character in the Monk series.

I’d never heard of Monk and rarely watched television, but I didn’t want the world thinking I’d copied his persona. So, I encouraged this character to evolve.

Probably because I’d been obsessing lately over my own somewhat distant Native American heritage, Quinn morphed into a tall, serene, half-Seneca antique collector with clear turquoise eyes bequeathed to him by his long-dead English playwright father. Married to Marcella, his wife of eight years, he adores her and manages to drive her nuts at the same time with his borderline case of OCD. This gentle man moves with grace, builds sweat huts, and wears in his glossy black hair long. He swims every morning in Honeoye Lake and likes things evenly spaced and on plan. Piles of magazines must be neatly stacked, forks and knifes should be aligned and parallel, socks need to be neatly separated by color in the drawer, and if a stock pot isn’t clean upon inspection, it will be rewashed without discussion.

I’ve grown quite fond of Quinn and his family, and I feel terrible about what I’ve put them through. Especially in this last book, MURDER ON THE SACANDAGA (est. 2014/2015 release).

Quinn loves Marcella. He’d do anything for her, including putting up with her very annoying mother, Thelma, who lives with them. But there’s one thing he doesn’t like one bit, and that’s Marcella’s long time association with her former lover, Sky Lissoneau.

Sky—Marcella’s first sweetheart—proposed to her twenty years ago after her college graduation. Alas, she broke his heart when she lovingly declined, deciding to pursue her operatic singing career in New York City instead of marrying him. Completely devastated, Sky joined the military and eventually went MIA, where for eighteen years friends and family agonized over his safety.

In Essentially Yours, book two in the Tall Pines series, life changes in a most surprising way when Sky’s backpack arrives on the doorstep jammed with a mysterious collection of essential oils, a password-protected memory stick, a bag of emeralds, and a book of Shakespeare’s sonnets. After an intense adventure involving an evil drug company and a possible cure for leukemia, Sky shows up. While it’s confusing to Marcella (she still has feelings for him, but loves her husband at the same time), Sky’s return spikes jealousy in Quinn, and ultimately this homecoming causes a great deal of grief and what ends up being a tantalizing trio filled with plenty of sexual tension.

Coming back to the subject of my current work in progress, MURDER ON THE SACANDAGA, I really do feel bad about what I did to Quinn in this story. I tore a rift between him and his wife, and almost destroyed their marriage.

What’s wrong with me? Why did I allow such conflict between two happily married people? Didn’t they have enough problems with the big evil drug company chasing them all over the mountains, trying to kill them?

Frankly, I still blame Downton Abbey, which I have recently claimed made me into a virtual  murderer. (You can read about it here if you wish.) I’m afraid being exposed to all kinds of family drama pushed me into a mode I hadn’t yet experienced. Great conflict, high tension, and lovely surprises. Horrible deaths of beloved characters.

(Evil chuckle) Did I tell you I loved it?

In time, my characters and I both found resolution to our problems. After a year of searching, the perfect day job arrived. I am now happily employed at a small German company. Our Rochester office has four employees and an office dog. How cool is that, right?

In the end of MURDER ON THE SACANDAGA, I allowed Quinn and Marcella to make up, and to forge ahead in the world I’ve created for them in the Tall Pines Mystery series. Who knows what book five will hold? I hope I’m not too hard on them. After all, they need to carry on for many more books to come. And I really do have to live with myself. Somehow. ;o)

***

Twilight Times Books by multi-award winning, Kindle bestselling author, Aaron Lazar:

LEGARDE MYSTERIES

DOUBLE FORTÉ (print, eBook, audio book)

UPSTAGED (print, eBook, audio book)

TREMOLO: CRY OF THE LOON (print, eBook, audio book)

MAZURKA (print, eBook, audio book)

FIRESONG (print, eBook, audio book)

DON’T LET THE WIND CATCH YOU (coming 2013)

VIRTUOSO (~2014)

MOORE MYSTERIES

HEALEY’S CAVE (print, eBook, audio book)

TERROR COMES KNOCKING (print, eBook, audio book)

FOR KEEPS (print, eBook, audio book)

TALL PINES MYSTERIES

FOR THE BIRDS (print, eBook, audio book coming 2013)

ESSENTIALLY YOURS (print, eBook, audio book)

SANCTUARY (coming, 2013)

MURDER ON THE SACANDAGA (~2014)

WRITING ADVICE:

WRITE LIKE THE WIND, volumes 1, 2, 3 (ebooks and audio books)

Aaron Paul Lazar writes to soothe his soul. An award-winning, bestselling Kindle author of three addictive mystery series, Aaron enjoys the Genesee Valley countryside in upstate New York, where his characters embrace life, play with their dogs and grandkids, grow sumptuous gardens, and chase bad guys. Visit his website at http://www.lazarbooks.com and watch for his upcoming Twilight Times Books releases DON’T LET THE WIND CATCH YOU (2013), SANCTUARY (2013), and VIRTUOSO (2014).

HONORABLE MENTION Eric Hoffer 2013 GRAND PRIZE * FINALIST 2013 EPIC Book Awards  * FINALIST 2012 FOREWORD BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARDS * Finalist DaVinci Eye Cover Award 2013 * WINNER 2011 EPIC Book Awards, BEST Paranormal * FINALIST 2011 FOREWORD BOOK AWARDS * WINNER 2011 Eric Hoffer BEST Book, COMMERCIAL FICTION *Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s Top 10 Reads for 2012 * 2X FINALIST Global eBook Awards 2011 * Preditors & Editors Readers Choice Award – 2nd place 2011* Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s Top 10 Books of 2012 * Winner of Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s 9th Annual Noble (Not Nobel!) Prize for Literature 2011 * Finalist Allbooks Editor’s Choice Awards 2011 * Preditors&Editors Top 10 FinalistYolanda Renée’s Top Ten Books 2008MYSHELF Top Ten Reads 2008 * Writer’s Digest Top 101 Website Award 2009-2012

www.lazarbooks.com

www.murderby4.blogspot.com

www.aaronlazar.blogspot.com

www.aplazar.gather.com

http://aaronlazar.younglivingworld.com

www.pureoils.blogspot.com

Introducing The Curse Giver’s Cover

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

This is it! The cover for The Curse Giver is ready and I’m very excited to share it with you for the first time. So without further delay, here it is!

The Curse Giver's Cover

Seeing the completed cover for the first time was a powerful experience for me. Brad Fraunfelter did an amazing job. It’s a visual punch, an image packed with detail and emotion. I think it’s stunning. Don’t you?