Posts Tagged ‘Twilight Times Books’

Writing for writers

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

Hi Folks!


I felt right at home the first time I visited a blog for writers called Murder By Four. It was like, “Honey, I’m home!” An instant sense of connection enveloped me as I read through this wonderful blog. I loved the way in which authors Aaron, Kim, Marta and S.W. approached the writing life—with wisdom, dedication and joy. I relished the discussions, the guest bloggers who found a platform here, and the clever readers’ comments. I was smitten. I had stumbled into a community of open arms willing to embrace my writer self.

http://murderby4.blogspot.com/ is an award-winning blog for writers by writers. It has been selected by Writer’s Digest Magazine as one of the Best Websites for Writers several years in a row. So I was thrilled when my friend and fellow Twilight Times Books author Aaron Lazar asked me if I would join Murder By 4. I love to hang out with my writer friends. We all benefit when we share information, promotion tips, support, thoughts, questions, aspirations and inspiration. Thank you Aaron for inviting me to join MB4!

My goal is to support MB4’s tradition of building community as we learn and grow together. In my posts, I plan to share whatever helpful tidbits I’ve picked up during my writer’s journey. I also plan to ask a lot of questions to other writers, publishers, editors, cover designers, publicists—anyone who works to support writers and promote writing, books and publishing. While I will continue to post all of my author news here, all about my books, reviews, interviews, and upcoming events, I’ll also be on MB4 every Wednesday talking about one of my favorite subjects—writing.

Stop by to check out the wealth of writer wisdom over at MB4, including my Wednesday posts, which today features my interview the irrepressible Barry Eva, the host of the popular radio show A Chat and a Book.

So if you love books and if you love to write, come on over to http://murderby4.blogspot.com/. We’d love to see you there.

D.


Murder by Four

The Power of Repetition: A Guest Blog by Scott Eder

Monday, October 14th, 2013

I’m delighted to introduce my friend and Twilight Times Books fellow author, Scott Eder, whose first contemporary fantasy novel, Knight of Flame, was just released to great praise and excellent reviews. In his blog today, Scott shares his search for an irresistible first chapter. So it’s only fitting that we should begin with a gift from this talented author, the first five chapters of Knight of Flames, free, right here, at your fingertips:

http://www.twilighttimesbooks.com/KnightofFlame_ch1.html

Enjoy!

D.

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The Power of Repetition

By

Scott Eder

I’m always looking for ways to take my writing to the next level. Classes, books, podcasts, conversations… the list goes on. As a perpetual student, I’m learning and practicing every single day. But some lessons are tougher than others and require multiple strikes of the hammer to drive a single point home. In my case, the single point I struggled with was grabbing the reader right out of the gate. It’s a simple concept, really. A story needs to grab the reader’s interest as soon as possible, and refuse to let him go. Compelling characters, barbed hooks, unique conflicts, scintillating writing, and a crisp, unique voice combine to clamp onto the reader’s imagination, tightening his interest with each turn of the page.

Easy, right? You’d think so, but it took listening to a panel of agents and editors at DragonCon for the meaning to really sink in.

When I first started writing, I thought I had time, story time that is. I opened at a soft, descriptive pace that gently introduced the reader to my setting and characters. After that, I stirred in the conflict, ratcheting up the stress and intensity, until eventually achieving resolution. I thought this approach meshed with the fantasy genre. I needed time for world building, and to introduce the uniqueness of my characters, right? So why didn’t I get any interest from the agents and editors I queried? The form rejection letters didn’t help, didn’t tell me what I needed to fix.

I realized that I was missing some critical piece to the story-telling puzzle, and made the decision to seek professional help. (Hehe. I felt a little crazy at this point.) After taking several classes where the instructors helped me understand that I needed to get to the conflict sooner, that I needed to hook the reader up front, I thought I had it. Instead of getting to the action within the first few chapters, I streamlined my writing, introduced setting, characters and conflict in a more compelling way by the end of chapter one.

Woohoo! With my newfound skills, I’d break into the biz in no time. My stories rocked. Or so I thought. But the growing collection of form rejections told a different story. If one of those editors or agents would take a minute and give me something, a hint, a bit of advice, anything to clue me in as to what was missing, I’d have a chance to fix it. Nope. Just a thanks for playing, and have a nice day.

Crap. Now what?

One of the things David Farland mentioned in his class was that you could meet editors and agents at certain conventions. I checked the Interwebs and found DragonCon. I’d heard about this fabled event, but never attended. Once I found several editors and agents on the guest list, I booked my travel plans.

DragonCon has an excellent writer’s track. Panels conducted by authors, publishers, agents, and editors, with topics ranging from writing basics to more advanced publishing concerns, run all day, every day. One of the most heavily attended is the combined editors and agents panel. I got there early, but by the time it started, it was standing room only. It turned out to be more of a question and answer session, than a formalized presentation, which was fine, because I had a lot of the same questions other aspiring writers in the throng dared to ask. And then it happened. The crowd disappeared, the lights dimmed, and the panelists turned to face me, metaphorically anyway. Their comments hit me hard.

One agent said, “Look, you need to draw me in right away. Like on the first page. With all the submissions I get, I don’t have time to read pages and pages, waiting for something interesting to happen.”

An editor chimed in. “Yeah. I’m rooting for you, but unless you hook me within the first page or two with something, and it doesn’t have to be your primary conflict, but something to make me keep reading, you’re done.”

“Hell, you need to grab me in the first paragraph or two,” said the agent at the far end of the table. “I’ll give you a little more time if you have a nifty voice, but not much.”

I blinked a few times as the import of their words sunk in. The first page or two? Hmm…The chatter continued, but I zoned out, churning over how make my first few pages addictive. I wanted the reader turning the pages of my book as if he’d just popped the top on a fresh can of Pringles.

After several iterations, and an enthusiastic thumbs-up from my critique group, I sent it back out. This time, it sold!

And all it took were several books, a few teachers, and one panel at a convention to make it stick. Never stop learning. Make it a part of your writing process to seek out new techniques and information. You never know which one will make the difference between rejection and acceptance.

Have fun,

Scott

Against the Shadow, burns a noble light.

***

Knight Of Flame

Fire. The most chaotic of the primal elements. When wielded properly by the Knight of Flame, it burns like the sun. Otherwise, it slowly consumes the Knight, burning away his control, driving him towards dark deeds.

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“In Knight of Flame Scott re-imagines traditional fantasy and forges something new from old metal–a fast-paced thriller that delivers a healthy dose of wonder. As enjoyable as it is engrossing.” – David Farland, International Best-Selling Author of The Runelords

Knight of Flame is available today for only $2.99!

Buy Links:

Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/knight-of-flame-scott-eder/1116911291

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Knight-Flame-Knights-Elementalis-ebook/dp/B00F7SXQ8I/

About the Author

Since he was a kid, Scott wanted to be an author. Through the years, fantastic tales of nobility and strife, honor and chaos dominated his thoughts. After twenty years mired in the corporate machine, he broke free to bring those stories to life.

Scott lives with his wife and two children on the west coast of Florida.

Website: www.scotteder.net

Twitter: @Scotteder

Blog: https://madmuncleforge.blogspot.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/knightselementalis

My Interview with Karen Swart

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

Hi Folks,

Here’s my brand new interview with South African paranormal and urban fantasy author, Karen Swart, where she asked me all kinds of interesting questions, including whether my books had a hidden message. You know what? I had to think about that one.

Enjoy!

D.

****

Hi Dora! Did you always wanted to be a writer?

Hi Karen. Yes! I’ve wanted to be a writers since as far back as I can remember.

When did you first consider yourself a “writer”?

Good question! I think I only began to call myself a writer after my first book, Stonewiser: The Heart of the Stone, was published.

How long did it take to get your first book published?

About a year from beginning to end. It felt like a century!

Do you do another job except for writing?

Not anymore! These days I’m lucky enough to write full time and I’m enjoying every minute of it.

What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarize it in fewer than 20 words what would you say?

My latest book is called The Curse Giver. Twenty words, eh? Why, let’s give the old logline a try: An innocent healer condemned to death must ally with the cursed lord pledged to kill her to defeat the curse giver who has already conjured their ends.

Who is your publisher?

I’m a very lucky gal. The Curse Giver was published by Twilight Times Books, an independent publisher based out of Kingsport, Tennessee, that specializes in publishingcritically acclaimed literary, mystery and SF/F books. A dynamic, top-of-the-line, quality-oriented publisher, TTB has more than 140 titles in the 2013 Spring Catalogue and is the home of a talented and friendly bunch of authors who have enriched my publishing experience. Check out TTB at http://twilighttimesbooks.com/

How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?

It takes me about four months, give or take a little. Keep in mind that the time invested is not always consecutive when you are working on a novel. Sometimes I’ll advance one project and then shift to another novel, before going back to complete the first one.

What can we expect from you in the future? More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?

You can expect more stories from me in the future, more dark fantasy romance, a dark contemporary fantasy with a Latin twist, and more about the world of The Curse Giver in its companion novel, The Soul Chaser.

What genre would you place your books into?

The Curse Giver falls into the fantasy genre and fits well in the subcategories of epic fantasy, dark fantasy, fantasy romance and romantic fantasy.

What made you decide to write that genre of book?

I’ve always been intrigued by the fantasy genre. I love the genre’s creative freedom, the opportunity to rethink, redesign and reinterpret the human experience, the creative challenges that that arise from world building, and the mysteries that magic brings to the human equation. I grew up in the Dominican Republic and my life always felt kind of magical in many ways. I’ve always straddled different worlds. Fantasy is a perfect fit for me.

Do you have a favorite character from your books? And why are they your favorite?

I do. I think it’s a tossup between the main characters, Bren and Lusielle. I’ve always been a sucker for the underdog, the reluctant hero and the tortured soul. In The Curse Giver, Bren, Lord of Laonia, is all of those. He’s got the makings of a hero, but his circumstances make him an outcast and a villain in his own mind. He is weary, bitter and troubled, but he’s also dutiful and determined, and he will not betray his people. As the story begins, he rescues Lusielle from the pyre, but only because he’s hunting a birthmark she bears. To defeat the curse that has obliterated his family and is killing him, he has to murder the woman who bears the birthmark in the foulest possible way. But as he escapes with his prey in tow, she is not what he expected. He faces yet another dismal choice: Can he murder the only woman capable of healing more than his body, his soul?

Lusielle is also one of my favorite characters in The Curse Giver, but for a totally different reason. When the story begins, she’s been betrayed by her greedy husband and condemned to die for a crime she didn’t commit. After years of abuse and slavery, the false accusations destroy her bleak but orderly world. As she flees with the bitter lord who has rescued her, she finds herself in an impossible situation: If she’s going to survive, she must help the mysterious lord who is determined to kill her to defeat the curse giver who has already conjured their ends. What I like most about Lusielle is that she has to change; she has to muster the courage to free herself from her tragic past and find the strength within to thrive in a world she doesn’t understand.

How long have you been writing? And who or what inspired you to write?

I’ve been writing for publication for about seven years now. I’m inspired to write by many people and many experiences, but ultimately, I write because I can’t stop writing. I swear. I’ve tried. I just can’t. My mind is powered by this story generator that keeps on going and won’t quit.

Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? Do you listen to music, sit in a certain chair…?

I’m one of those people who prefer to write in silence. I guess my mind is way too noisy as it is! I have a writing studio in my home, a cozy little room that opens up to a veranda that overlooks a beautiful, spring-fed river. It’s quiet and peaceful, and it’s my favorite place to write. I like to sit on my favorite chair, a Scandinavian ergonomic design that offers excellent support for the long hours of writing.

Do you choose a title first, or write the book, then choose the title?

I usually discover the title of my novels at the very moment when I write it for the first time into the story. It can happen early on, during the opening paragraph or late in the process. It’s really neat. It’s always a “wow” moment.

Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books? (Morals such as those in Aesop’s Fables: “The moral of this story is..”)

I don’t strive to preach any kind of morality in my stories, but I do write a lot about conflicting situations, injustice, opposing beliefs, and the meaning of concepts such as truth, faith and prejudice. Sometimes, the storyline leaves me and my readers thinking about things. For example, in The Curse Giver we join with the characters as they discover how reason, knowledge and awareness are the main components of our personal sense of strength. We don’t have to be magical to be strong. We just have to believe in ourselves.

Which format of book do you prefer, e-book, hardback, or paperback?

I’m partial to the indestructible, beach-proof, throw-it-in-your-bag, good old-fashioned paperback. I love the feel of a book between my hands. But I will confess—albeit reluctantly—that my latest e-reader has been growing on me. The idea that I can carry ALL of my favorite books around in my purse is irresistible.

Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is your favorite/worst book-to-movie transfer?

I think that books and movies are two different and distinct media. I usually approach them with different expectations. What makes a book great is not the same thing that will work for a movie. The translation is particularly challenging for science fiction and fantasy. There are an awful lot of great SF/F books that have been made into terrible movies. I used to say that I never wanted to see my books made into movies. That is, until I watched George R. Martin’s Game of Thrones on HBO. It might be time to rethink the old prejudices. . . .

Your favorite food is?

Cake. I know. Not a good one. I like carrots too. Does that help?

Your favorite singer/group is?

That would be a long list!

Your favorite color is?

Blue.

Remember to check out today’s spotlight to find out more about Dora and The Curse Giver.

http://authorkarenswart.blogspot.com/

http://authorkarenswart.blogspot.com/2013/10/book-blitz-curse-giver-by-dora-machado.html

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

What a Proofreader Can Do for You and Why OCD has a Role in the Profession

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

An Interview with Proofreader Extraordinaire Linda Au

By

Dora Machado

Linda Au has the distinction of being one of the funniest proofreaders in the business. I mean it. She divides her time between her passions, advancing the cause of clean writing and spotless manuscripts while also writing hilarious fiction. Over the years, she and I have worked on many projects together. She has always impressed me with her eye for detail and her uncanny ability to find even the most cryptic of errors, mistakes that often evade authors altogether, despite our  best efforts.

As the writing world changes and publishing gets both simpler and also more complicated, I wanted to get Linda’s take on the impact of her profession. Below is the first part of my two-part interview with Linda, where we talk about what she does and how she does it, the most common mistakes she finds when proofreading manuscripts, and why a touch of OCD might be a very desirable quality in a proofreader.

Enjoy!

D.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. What’s your background and how did you get started in the business of proofreading?

Should I mention that I have in my office a spelling trophy I got in fifth grade? That should have been the first tip-off that I was doomed to this life forever.

I realized I was good at proofreading while working as a secretary in a small publishing office in 1987. The editor asked me to look over a printout of that month’s issue to see if I could find any mistakes, and I handed back pages full of red ink. I’m still proofreading that magazine every month, in addition to work I do for various publishers and independent authors. My philosophy, strangely enough, is more like a theology. I rely on the doctrine of Original Sin. That’s how I know I’ll always have work. When I get a manuscript or book layout, I already know there are errors because nobody’s perfect. My job is to find those errors.

A good healthy dose of “Question everything” goes a long way, too.

What exactly do you do when you get a hold of a manuscript?

I grab a hard copy of one of my job sheets (something I created in PageMaker years ago to keep track of my hours, back when everything was hard copy), and I scribble all the details of the job on it: deadlines, special instructions, etc. I also add the project to my gargantuan white board. Then I look it over to make sure I don’t have any questions for the author, such as, “Why won’t this file open?” or “Why did you send me a file set completely in Brush Script?” or “You want this when?”

I keep a style sheet on the back of each job sheet—it’s where I jot down any author preferences I pick up along the way: Are we formatting this as “OK” or “okay”? Does the author prefer “toward” or “towards”? Those are things that don’t have a set grammar or spelling rule. It’s not hard to remember them individually, but once I’m working on multiple projects, it’s essential to keep track of what each author prefers.

These days, “digging right in” means either digital scribbling on a PDF or using Track Changes on a Word document. I leave that choice up to the author. Track Changes can look strange if you’re not used to it, though it saves an author time because there are no individual changes to input. PDF scribbles look a lot like hard copy used to: red arrows everywhere, notes in the margins. I even use rainbow color-coding for ongoing issues.

One helpful tip for those who use white boards: If you’re having trouble erasing a project from your white board—and you definitely used the dry erase markers—that means you’re WAY past your deadline.

What are the most common mistakes you find when proofreading novels?

I’m constantly surprised at how few writers really know the basics of punctuation and formatting. Quotation marks and dialogue seem to be a real sticking point. Also, I still encounter authors who don’t seem to like fact-checking. For instance, one novel had a scene set in the 1970s where the main character played a song on a CD player, long before CD players were in use. I might have expected this from a young writer, but this man was a multi-published author who’d been around for decades.

Beyond that, the big errors are the typical ones: they’re/their/there and to/too/two, loose/lose, your/you’re…. And sadly, those sorts of casual errors are way more common than they used to be.

What do you like the most about your job?

Aside from being an introverted night owl who can set her own hours and doesn’t have to interact with people around a water cooler, I get a strange kick out of getting a manuscript from an author who assures me it’s “really pretty clean already,” and then finding a lot of things wrong. The author’s gratitude (after he or she gets over the shock) is great feedback for someone whose work is essentially solitary and can feel perpetually negative. Don’t get me wrong: A lot of the authors I work with do send me tidy manuscripts, especially if they’ve worked with me before. But no writer should hand anything to a proofreader and mention that there aren’t any mistakes. You’re asking for trouble—and a huge dose of snarkiness if you keep mentioning it.

And, because I find words so powerful, and so essential, I enjoy helping people polish their words so that they communicate as clearly as they can. There’s nothing quite like the frustration of being misunderstood because you haven’t expressed yourself well. I like to think I help people avoid some of that.

What are the most important qualities that a writer should look for in a proofreader?

A writer needs someone who is easy to communicate with, someone who can clearly explain the reasons for any suggested changes, someone who can roll with the punches (and there will be punches). Despite having definite opinions about what’s right and wrong in print, I also know that the author (or publisher/editor if I’m working with a company) has the final say. My corrections are sometimes just suggestions, and I have to let it go if they decide not to incorporate some of my scribbles.

It also helps if a proofreader knows as much as possible about the changing trends in publishing. There’s a big difference between someone who can eagle-eye a manuscript and someone who can also nitpick a complete book layout in final form or who can look for glitches in an e-book format.

Beyond that, a proofreader has to be a stickler about the language but yet flexible enough to change with the times. I’m still learning how to do this. I hate to admit it, but I’m still getting over the fact that “anymore” is now one word. But, at least buying new dictionaries is a tax deduction for me.

Now, tell us the truth: Are all proofreaders OCD?

OCD? Ha ha ha! You should see my house! I think I am word-OCD or print-OCD, but not generally OCD. I like tidying things up in print. I like knowing words are in a better order, are being used properly, or are in a position to make a difference now. I confess that some of this OCD spills over into my daily life. I rearrange the throw pillows on the sofa a lot more often than I used to. But, I still don’t wash the baseboards, so there’s hope for me yet.

Don’t miss part two of my interview with Linda Au right here next Friday, where Linda talks about texting as the work of the devil and why proofreading your work matters now more than ever! D.

***

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

A New Review of The Curse Giver

Monday, September 30th, 2013

By

Beverly S. Mcclure

Have you ever felt as though your life has been cursed, that whatever can go wrong will?

Perhaps you’re right.

What if there is such a thing/person/whatever that casts curses on a person or even a whole nation?

A scary thought, right? It may just be possible.

Award Winning Author Dora Machado’s latest fantasy novel, THE CURSE GIVER, deals with curses, betrayal, trust, family loyalty, and love. Lusielle, on the brink of death by being burned alive because her husband turned her in as a practitioner of forbidden arts, is rescued by Lord Brennus, a highborn. He has ulterior motives for saving her life, however. Lord Bren (Brennus) has been cursed to die a horrible death. To save himself and his people he must find the woman with a special birthmark and kill her. Lusielle has that mark, and she also may be the only one who can defeat the curse giver and give Bren hope.

The author has created characters with good points and bad, like real people. They seem realistic for the time period they live in. Lusielle faces her uncertain future with bravery and cunning, surprising Bren more than once. I found myself hoping that Bren would change his mind about killing her. No, I’m not saying what happens between them. You’ll find out when you read the book. Minor characters, and there are a lot of them, add to the suspense and conflict of the story, making the reader, this reader anyway, anticipate their next actions. Thankfully, the author provides a glossary at the end to help keep track of the characters.

THE CURSE GIVER should appeal to fantasy lovers and to readers that enjoy a battle or two with swords swishing. And for those that like a good romance, you might just find it here. Dora Machado has written another winner, so pick up a copy or add one to your eReader and spend the evening, lost in another world.

http://beverlystowemcclure.blogspot.com/2013/09/the-curse-giver-review.html

CurseGiver_Front Cover Final

The Curse Giver on Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/13oVu2P

****

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, July 2013. 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.

For a free excerpt of The Curse Giver, visit  http://twilighttimesbooks.comthingsTheCurseGiver_ch1.html.

Subscribe to her blog at http://www.doramachado.com/blog/

Sign up for her newsletter at http://doramachado.com/newsletter.php,

Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

The Making of an Audiobook

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

An Interview with Melissa Reizian

One of the best voice actresses in the business tells us how she chooses her projects and why writing for speech is at the heart of successful storytelling

by

Dora Machado

When I started this great adventure of writing, I never dreamed my novels would be published, let alone made into audiobooks. From the first time I typed “The End” at the bottom of a manuscript, to the first time I held each of my books in my hands, every step of this voyage has been filled with lots of emotions and incredible joy. I didn’t expect any less when we embarked in the new adventure of making the Stonewiser series available in audiobook, but I have to say: As an author, listening to the professional narration of Stonewiser: The Heart of the Stone has been one of the most powerful experiences I’ve ever had.

Once the decision was made to create the audiobook, it was an incredible journey. Following the advice that my friend and fellow TTB author, Aaron Paul Lazar, gave in his award-winning Murder by 4 blog,  http://bit.ly/157aX8H, I approached the Stonewiser series’ publisher with the idea. From there on, it went really fast. ACX was contacted. Voice auditions were held. I stepped into a new world where voices became characters and characters developed their own voices. I learned about pitch, tone and accents. I listened in wonder as actors bid to tell the story. None was more gifted than the talented Melissa Reizian. And thus she became my heroine’s enduring voice.

Intrigued by her world, I talked to Melissa Reizian about the process of creating an audiobook, her project selection criteria, and her best advice for writers who want their books to become audiobooks. I also talked to her about her voice’s magical ability to tell a wonderful story and turn a book into a magnificent listening experience.

Welcome, Melissa. Thank you so much for being a guest on my blog today. Can you tell us how you first became interested in narrating books?

I have been a full-time voice actor for more than 13 years. Before that, I was a television news reporter/anchor/producer/videographer—a “one-woman band,” we used to call it—and during that time, people always commented on my voice and my delivery. I have always had a “storytelling” kind of voice. I quit the news business when my oldest son was a few years old so I could spend more time with him (and now my two other sons as well!). For the first decade, I focused on commercials, e-learning training voiceovers, and other types of narration. I had a client who presented the opportunity to start auditioning for audiobooks and I jumped on it! Since then, I’ve narrated more than a dozen audiobooks. I feel this is the part of the job I’m most passionate about…and get the biggest sense of pride and reward from doing. It allows me to utilize my acting skills, bringing characters to life, either with fun accents and dialects, or just with intonation and the delivery of the read. I remember my oldest son, Jarod, looking up at me with big, incredulous eyes one night as I was reading the Disney novelization of Treasure Planet to him. I was doing the cat-captain’s voice with a British accent, and he just stared up at me and said, “You can BE HER?” I was hooked!

For those of us who are not familiar with the steps involved in creating an audiobook, can you tell us a little bit about the process?

First, you should always read the book you’re narrating. You would then research any foreign accents or dialects you need to learn.…I usually find other voice actors who are native speakers of that language and ask them to read some of the lines for me.…I’m a good mimic, so that usually is all it takes. If you don’t know what’s coming up in the book, and you are suddenly faced with, “…he said, with his thick Scottish brogue” (which HAS happened to me!), you are in a bit of trouble if you can’t pull it off! (I was told by a native speaker that my first attempt at an Irish accent in a recent romance novel sounded like a “Canadian vampire.” Not sure how he knew what a Canadian vampire sounded like…but I did work on it until it was right!)

I also ask the author his or her intention for any of the characters.…Sometimes we learn something important about a main character in book two of a series, so knowing that she will become a fae, for example, is helpful in giving her lines the appropriate interpretation in book one. As I read, and decide how the characters will sound…accent, rate of speech, confidence, volume, etc.…I record snippets of their lines on my iPhone. Then I refer to this as I go, because sometimes a character is off canvas for a good bit of the book and you forget what he sounds like.

After I record, I edit out any mistakes I’ve made and edit out the dogs barking at the mailman, the neighbor’s lawnmower, the kids running down the hall like a herd of elephants, etc.! I also adjust the length of pauses to make the narrative and dialogue flow appropriately. This is one of the most, if not the most important parts of the process. You may have heard someone read and leave too short or too long of a space between lines. It totally takes you out of the story! Timing is the difference between being immersed in the story and “judging the book.”

How do you select your projects, and what are the elements that make a novel well-suited for narration?

It might seem obvious that it is much easier to do a great job on a book that you actually like! I can attest from personal experience that that is true. For example, with Stonewiser: the Heart of the Stone, I found myself wanting to get back to it to keep Sariah’s story going…. It’s exciting to bring the story to life. There was one book I did—that I did not choose, but rather was assigned—that was horribly written. It made me wonder how it even got published…and it was really, really hard to finish. I found myself making excuses not to get back in the booth with it. So now, I have completely learned my lesson, and only audition for books once I’ve researched them. I look at comments and reviews on Amazon and GoodReads. I also look at the subject matter. I’m certainly not opposed to some story-propelling steamy scenes, but gratuitous, extreme sex is not my bag…because frankly, I have to consider the impact it would have on my boys if they were to hear it, or hear ABOUT it from their friends!  I especially love narrating books that are written in first person (Sorry, Dora! J) because you get to do a “character” the whole time. But just a book that has strong, well-written characters with a story that moves is great. Pretty much the same things you’d look for in choosing a book to READ is what I look for when picking a book to NARRATE. You are spending about 40-50 hours with a 10-hour book from research to mastering, so you better love it!

Why did you choose to work on Stonewiser: The Heart of the Stone?

I love fantasy as a genre. I got started really voraciously reading, as a kid, with Piers Anthony’s Xanth series. The idea that there is a whole other world with its own set of rules is just cool. And when it’s a story about real people living in that world, it’s a great escape from reality. Like in your case, Dora, you created this whole other universe that is totally believable because you are careful to maintain all the “rules” you established and write your characters true to themselves.

What was the most challenging part of this project?

Actually, figuring out what the characters should sound like was a challenge. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but suffice it to say that there are mysteries revealed as the story develops and all is not what it seems! As these secrets come to light, it becomes a little harder to justify what everyone should sound like. We actually went back and changed some characters’ accents after getting quite far into the book!

What was your favorite part of this project?

I loved the confrontational scenes between Sariah and…well, just about everyone! The girl doesn’t exactly have the easiest time of it! But performing and editing a really strong “acting” scene is very rewarding for me. Also, Dora, your descriptions are just phenomenal! You can “see” what you are writing happen in your head, and I really hope that readers get that from my narration when they listen to it!

What kind of readers do you think might enjoy listening to Stonewiser: The Heart of the Stone?

People who love the fantasy genre—or sci-fi—will love it. But I would think this would even be enjoyable to someone who does not label themselves as “fantasy fans” because, when you come right down to it, this is a love story and a story of survival, self-awakening, and liberation. There are powerful messages in this book, as it challenges our notions of one’s “place in society,” the idea that we think we know everything about our enemies, and, to paraphrase my favorite Vulcan, “the needs of the one over the needs of the many.”

What would be your best advice for authors seeking to make their novels into audiobooks?

Write for speech! Nothing is more frustrating that narrating a book and realizing that no one would actually speak that way! Make your characters distinct and well-defined. This gives the narrator a good basis to make acting and voicing choices and helps the listener believe they are real.

I’d like to add that I can’t wait for people to get the chance to experience the audio version of Stonewiser: the Heart of the Stone. You can listen to a free sample at: http://bit.ly/18rUjkS. I really hope you’ll take the time to leave feedback (well, unless you don’t like it! J). I’ve gotta get going now and get back to reading part two—Stonewiser: the Call of the Stone!

Melissa, thank you very much for being my guest today and special thanks for all the hard work and passion that you put into giving voice to Stonewiser: The Heart of the Stone.

Thank you so much!

****

Stonewiser The Heart of the Stone Audible

Stonewiser: The Heart of the Stone, the Audible edition, is now available at: http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Stonewiser-Audiobook/B00F52CJIY/ref=sr_1_1?qid=1379186069&sr=1-1

And on Amazon at:

http://www.amazon.com/Stonewiser-Heart-Stone-ebook/dp/B001F7ATEO/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1379351789&sr=1-1&keywords=stonewiser+the+heart+of+the+stone

Contact Melissa Reizian at her website www.YouChoiceVoice.com or email her at Melissa@YourChoiceVoice.com.

About Dora Machado

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, July 2013. 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. For a free excerpt of The Curse Giver, visit  http://twilighttimesbooks.com/TheCurseGiver_ch1.html.

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

Facebook and Twitter.

Website: http://www.doramachado.com/

Email: Dora@doramachado.com

Blog: http://www.doramachado.com/blog/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DoraMachado101

Twitter: @DoraMachado or https://twitter.com/DoraMachado

Amazon Author Central: amazon.com/author/doramachado


A Guest Blog: The Origins of the Displaced Detective

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

By Stephanie Osborn,

The Interstellar Woman of Mystery

I suppose the first thing you should know about me is that, well, I really AM one of those rocket scientists you hear about. With degrees in four sciences and subspecialties in a couple more, I worked in the civilian and military space industries, sitting console in the control centers, training astronauts, you name it; and I lost a friend aboard Columbia, when she broke up over Texas. So yeah, I’m the real deal.

The second thing you need to know about me is that I’ve been a Sherlock Holmes fan… aficionado, whatever word you prefer… since I was a kid. Someone gave me a copy of The Hound of the Baskervilles for my birthday one year. I was in, what, third grade? With a hyperactive imagination. Scared me to death when I read it. But I loved Holmes immediately. If I could have done away with the scary story about the Hound, I’d have adored that book even then. It’s one of my favorites now.

By the time I was in high school, I’d discovered that big, single-volume compendium ― you know, the one with the rust-and-mustard dust jacket? If you’re a Holmes aficionado, you know the one I mean. If you don’t, go find it! I read it cover to cover. Wagged it around to every class with me, and every time I had 2 consecutive spare minutes, my nose was in it. Oh, I was devastated when I read The Final Problem. No, really: I went into mourning, like I’d lost family! And I could have turned handsprings for joy when I read The Empty House! Many years later, I acquired that same rust-and-mustard volume and placed it on my own shelves, where it has been read cover to cover many more times. I picked up what are known as “pastiches,” too, efforts by other authors to carry on the adventures, or create entirely new ones, or fill in gaps. (What did Holmes and Watson do when the Martians invaded? What about Jack the Ripper, and why did Watson never chronicle an adventure about him? Didn’t Holmes go after him? What really happened with the Giant Rat of Sumatra?) I watched television and movies ― to this day, I watch the BBC’s Sherlock, and CBS’ Elementary, and even the Guy Ritchie film franchise starring Robert Downey, Jr. And I have the complete set of the Grenada series starring Jeremy Brett, and a bunch of the Basil Rathbone films. Good, bad, or indifferent, they’re all Holmes!

Now, back in Arthur Conan Doyle’s day, they didn’t have all the breakdown of literature into genres that we have today. Today we have science fiction (or SF, with its many subdivisions), fantasy, horror, and such. But all those, in the Victorian era, were lumped together and considered speculative fiction, or “specfic” as it’s known today. As it turns out, many if not most of the Holmes adventures would be considered as specfic ― and I started thinking…

…Other people have “done” Holmes in Victorian-era science fiction…

…But I want to be different. If I write Holmes, I want to do something that’s never been done before…

…Aha. What if, somehow, I could manage to drag Holmes into the modern world to go adventuring?

How to do it…how to do it…

I researched and I studied. And then it hit me.

What if I use the concept of alternate realities, which more and more scientific data indicates are real, and I combine that with something called M theory in order to be able to access them…

…And I was off!

I already had several novels written but unsold by that point, and there was publisher interest in my first one, Burnout: The mystery of Space Shuttle STS-281. (Yes, I like to mix science fiction and mystery. It seems to come naturally to me; I’ve always thought a good SF story has a distinct element of the mysterious. That’s why I got dubbed The Interstellar Woman of Mystery by certain media personalities.) So I knew about writing novels: See, it isn’t about page count, it’s about word count.

Different genres define book length by different word counts. YA is relatively short, say 50,000-80,000 words. The romance genre generally defines a novel at roughly the same word count. But SF and mystery, for instance, consider a novel to run from about 80,000-110,000 words, maybe a smidge more. (Think about the thinness of a typical Harlequin Romance as compared to, say, a Baen military SF novel.) There’s an arcane formula that ties word count to final page count, and another that determines the list price from the page count. So these are important numbers, these word counts.

Now that’s not to say that you can’t go over; you can… provided your last name is something like King, Weber, or Rowling. Because publishers know those names will sell books regardless of length. Everybody else? Don’t be too short OR too long.

So I sat down to write The Case of the Displaced Detective, the first story in what has become my Displaced Detective series, described rather aptly as, “Sherlock Holmes meets the X-Files.”

Two months ― yes, you read that right, months, not years ― later, I’d completed the rough draft… and it stood at 215,000 words. Writing that manuscript was kinda like tryin’ to hold a wide-open fire hose all by yourself. I ate at the computer. I all but slept at the computer. That story just came pouring out. I couldn’t stop until it was all written. By the time I’d polished it, it had ballooned up to around 245,000 words, and I managed to whack it down to about 230,000.

But it was too big for a single book. And nobody could figure out how to cut it down without cutting out essential parts ― not me, not agent, not editor, not publisher. See, it was really two stories in one: it was an “origin story” of sorts, how Holmes came to be in the 21st century, AND it had a mystery. It needed all of those 230,000 words to tell the story properly.

In the end, my publisher and I decided to make two volumes of it. That’s why, when you look at the covers, you don’t just see The Arrival, or At Speed. You see The Case of the Displaced Detective: The Arrival, and The Case of the Displaced Detective: At Speed. There’s not a hard and fast break between the origin story and the mystery; in fact the mystery starts within days of Holmes landing in the 21st century in The Arrival, and he is still trying to come to terms with everything in At Speed.

Then I went on to write the next story, The Case of the Cosmological Killer.

And durned if the same thing didn’t happen! Only this one took a smidge longer, because it was interrupted by an illness. All told I think it took about a year or so. And so books 3 & 4 are The Case of the Cosmological Killer: The Rendlesham Incident, and The Case of the Cosmological Killer: Endings and Beginnings.

I swear they’re not all going to be two volumes! In fact I just turned in A Case of Spontaneous Combustion, and it’s one volume only! I’ve started on book 6, A Little Matter of Earthquakes, and book 7, The Adventure of Shining Mountain Lodge, is mostly finished and awaiting the publication of 5 & 6. And I’m planning for adventures beyond that.

So in a manner of speaking, I suppose I’m still adventuring with my old pal Sherlock Holmes… only now he’s investigating mysteries that are more on MY turf! And I plan to do so until we both retire to the Sussex downs to keep bees!

Stephanie Osborn The Arrival

http://www.amazon.com/Case-Displaced-Detective-Arrival-ebook/dp/B0063XNLQ8/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1379438646&sr=1-1&keywords=The+arrival+by+Stephanie+Osborn

About Stephanie Osborn:

Stephanie Osborn, Interstellar Woman of Mystery, is a veteran of more than 20 years in the civilian space program, as well as various military space defense programs. She worked on numerous space shuttle flights and the International Space Station, and counts the training of astronauts on her resumé. Her space experience also includes Spacelab and ISS operations, variable star astrophysics, Martian aeolian geophysics, radiation physics, and nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons effects.

Stephanie holds graduate and undergraduate degrees in four sciences: astronomy, physics, chemistry and mathematics, and she is “fluent” in several more, including geology and anatomy. In addition she possesses a license of ministry, has been a duly sworn, certified police officer, and is a National Weather Service certified storm spotter.

Her travels have taken her to the top of Pikes Peak, across the world’s highest suspension bridge, down gold mines, in the footsteps of dinosaurs, through groves of giant Sequoias, and even to the volcanoes of the Cascade Range in the Pacific Northwest, where she was present for several phreatic eruptions of Mount St. Helens.

Now retired from space work, Stephanie has trained her sights on writing. She has authored, co-authored, or contributed to more than 20 books, including the celebrated science-fiction mystery, Burnout: The Mystery of Space Shuttle STS-281. She is the co-author of the “Cresperian Saga,” book series, and currently writes the critically acclaimed “Displaced Detective” series, described as “Sherlock Holmes meets The X-Files.” She recently released the paranormal/horror novella El Vengador, based on a true story, as an ebook.

http://www.stephanie-osborn.com/

Stephanie Osborn Author Pic

How Fantasy Loves Romance and Romance Loves Fantasy

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

by

Dora Machado

People ask me all the time why I chose to write romantic fantasy. The short answer is that I can’t envision writing one without the other. The long answer might be a little more complex. The union of fantasy and romance is a marriage of convenience. The genres complement, enhance and enrich each other. Beyond that, romance and fantasy are the Yin and the Yang, ebony and ivory, Billy Joel and Elton John. They belong together.

I love writing epic fantasy. Fantasy is a subversive genre, requiring the mind to bend and the imagination to flex, perfectly suited for me. I love the genre’s creative freedom, the opportunity to rethink, redesign and reinterpret the human experience in fresh and diverse settings, and the mysteries that magic brings to the human equation. But fantasy without romance is like lemonade without lemons–blah, tasteless, inert. Add a voluptuous romance to a well-crafted fantasy and POW! Now you’ve got a story with grit.

This is exactly what I’ve tried to do in all of my books, and my latest novel, The Curse Giver from Twilight Times Books, is no exception. The Curse Giver is about an innocent healer named Lusielle, who is betrayed and condemned to die for a crime she didn’t commit. When she’s about to be executed, Lusielle is rescued from the pyre by an embittered lord doomed by a mysterious curse. You might think that Bren, Lord of Laonia, is Lusielle’s savior, but he isn’t. On the contrary, Bren is pledged to kill Lusielle, because her murder is his people’s only chance at salvation.

The curse tormenting the Lord of Laonia is at the action crux of the story, but it’s really the relationship between Bren and Lusielle that gives meaning to this grand adventure. The gradual transformation of enemies into allies, the clash of conflicted hearts and the forbidden passion that blooms between them, balance the action, deepen the story, and imbue the tale with a sense of gritty realism. This is the part that makes the reader care and the writer write. This is the part that gives me goose bumps. As Lusielle and Bren prepare to challenge the curse giver who has already conjured their ends, they must find the magic within, the inner strength to save not just themselves, but each other. In the end, romance lends fantasy the concept of affection, and affection turns out to be the most powerful magic of all.

In my fantasy novels, romance is not just a component of the story; it is the heart of the story. In my view, romance enhances fantasy by connecting the story to the experience of love, personal struggle and acceptance. Without this connection, fantasy loses balance, meaning, focus, depth and perspective. The stories I want to tell are lush, vivid, passionate and exuberant. I can’t imagine telling them without a sizzling romance sprouting right in the middle of it all to make a mess of things. At the end of the day, that might very well be why I chose to write romantic fantasy. I like to make a mess of things and romantic fantasy is as much fun to read as it is to write.


TheCurseGiver_ad_HR (1)

Amazon Link: http://amzn.to/13oVu2P

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.

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

Subscribe to Dora’s blog at http://www.doramachado.com/blog/.

Sign up for Dora’s at newsletter at http://doramachado.com/newsletter.php,

Facebook and Twitter.

Watch The Curse Giver‘s Book Trailer at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nv8WFYpdqQo&feature=youtu.be&noredirect=1

Author Links:

Website: http://www.doramachado.com/

Email: Dora@doramachado.com

Blog: http://www.doramachado.com/blog/

Newsletter: http://doramachado.com/newsletter.php,

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DoraMachado101

Twitter: @DoraMachado or https://twitter.com/DoraMachado

Amazon Author Central: amazon.com/author/doramachado

A Review of The Curse Giver by Bibliotica.com

Monday, September 9th, 2013

Here is a new, unique and delicious review of The Curse Giver by Bibliotica.com. And to think that sharp cheddar cheese is my absolute favorite….

Enjoy!

D.

It’s been a while since I’ve read any real fantasy. I mean, yes, I’m slowly working my way through George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, but that world is reasonably similar to our own medieval history, with only a few ‘fantastic’ elements. I was in the mood for escapist reading this summer, however, so when the nice folks and Pump Up Your Book offered me the chance to read an epic fantasy novel, I jumped at the chance.

The problem with epic fantasy is that very often the fictional world feels as flat as a movie set, with no real depth or history. Dora Machado’s The Curse Giver, on the other hand, plunges us into a world so rich, and so well constructed, it feels almost as if we could step sideways into it. One of the early sections, particularly, when Lousielle and Bren are crossing the bog, had me squirming as much as if I was actually there with them avoiding creepy crawlies.

Her main characters are three dimensional, and Lousielle especially, was so smart and spunky that I wanted to be her best friend. Herb lore is something I’ve always been quietly interested in (witness the collection of herbals in my Word Lounge), so her affinity for plants and potions really drew me in.

Likewise, while Bren could have been Generic Quasi-medieval Noble #17, Machado made him complex and interesting (and gave him a great body, which we appreciate vicariously through Lousielle).

The other characters, good and evil alike, were, similarly, sketched with fine lines, not the broad strokes of generic fantasy.

I’ve read that Ms. Machado is bilingual, having grown up in the Dominican Republic, and I think some of the charm of The Curse Givercomes from her – probably unconscious – Spanish-influenced rhythms. It’s nothing you could point your finger to and say, “Look, that’s not typical English phrasing,” but a quiet undercurrent that makes the writing really SING.

(I am not bilingual, but I grew up in a New Jersey Neapolitan family where an Italian-English hybrid was the norm. As well, I’m a natural mimic, and my parents retired to Baja Sur, Mexico, about a decade ago, so those Latin-tinged rhythms are familiar to me.)

Overall, I thought The Curse Giver was a delicious read, and it’s compelled me to seek out more of Machado’s work. I think it’s an especially good choice for women who like epic fantasy, but have gotten out of the habit of reading it.

Goes well with… a mug of steaming chai and sharp cheddar melted on toasted rustic wheat bread.

http://www.bibliotica.com/2013/09/review-the-curse-giver-by-dora-machado/

The Curse Giver from Amazon