Friday, December 15, 2017

Live AMA going on now




If you have questions about self publishing or navigating the Indie World, drop by and add to the conversation.

Ask Me Anything

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Interview with Nancy O'Hare author of Dust in My Pack





This week I'd like to welcome Nancy O'Hare author of Dust in My Pack, traveling tales from around the world. Share with us a little about yourself.  

I grew up on an acreage in western Canada. I remember feeling excited when my dad returned from his work trips abroad, I wanted to hear all about the far-off places he had visited. One time he brought a wooden hand drill from Kuwait, it was used to make dhow boats. Another time, he returned from the Arctic with handcrafted snowshoes with a leather mesh base. My mom had also worked abroad in Bermuda before she got married. So, my parents influenced my interest to explore the world. I eventually became a Chartered Accountant and targeted international roles. My first transfer abroad was to Australia. Thereafter, I had some short-term projects in Ecuador and Qatar and then moved abroad to work in Oman, Switzerland and, most recently, Nigeria. I combined my interest in the local culture with new perspectives that I gained along the way to try to build well functioning and respectful teams.

More recently, I craved more control over my time. I wanted to create something that I felt passionate about, something that left a positive mark from my efforts. So, I quit my job. My husband and I went travelling. We studied Spanish in Guatemala and spent five months practicing our new language skills through Central America and Cuba. Then I started to write.


That's so exciting.  I would love to travel more.  I have only been to Mexico and various states in the US.  Someday I'd like to travel across the oceans.  Can you share an excerpt from your novel with us?

CAMBODIA — TEMPLE OF PREAH VIHEAR



The Basics

Synopsis: Escape the crowds at Siem Reap to discover Khmer architecture in solitude, loftily balanced upon a cliff in the isolated Dangrek Mountains.

Most useful item to pack: Small local currency for snacks and tips.

For further travel information: For further information on the site, refer to cambodia.org/Preah_Vihear/?history=A+Khmer+Heritage.

Due to ongoing and fluid military activity, be sure to look into the current security situation before heading out. Check with your hotel, recent travellers’ experiences and your home country’s security travel advisories.

The Experience

As fans of Indiana Jones and obscure adventures, we struck gold with the opportunity to visit the eleventh-century Khmer Prasat Preah Vihear (“Temple of Preah Vihear”). This reputed masterpiece of Khmer architecture lies on a jungle-covered ridge of disputed land along the Cambodian–Thai border. Cambodia and Thailand have been squabbling over ownership of this precious land for ages. When we visited in 2010, the situation was relatively calm. However, we checked in advance with many sources as to the security of the site, including the Government of Canada’s Travel Advice and Advisories, recent visitors’ blog posts, comments on TripAdvisor.com and local advice from staff at our hotel in Siem Reap.

The temple itself is at the crux of the conflict. Its stone walkways have seen frequent skirmishes between the two countries’ militaries. Even a ruling by the International Court of Justice in 1962 that favoured Cambodia did not settle the issue. Instead it has continued to percolate over the years. In 2008, UNESCO recognized the Temple of Preah Vihear as a World Heritage Site. They allotted this prestige to Cambodia, which twisted an already searing thorn in Thailand’s ego. In 2015, the International Court of Justice ruling was revisited, and once again the court confirmed that Cambodia’s sovereign claim to the lands was indeed valid. The judgement reiterated Thailand’s responsibility to remove its military from the area.

The temple’s remote location merely increased its allure to us. We were enticed by the obscureness of this isolated work of art, compared to Angkor Wat’s easily accessible esplanades. The territory had received its first paved road only within the last ten years. This distant frontier was shrouded in heavy greenery that draped across the entire Dangrek Mountain range. Calling these sandstone slabs “mountains” might have been a stretch, as the highest peak was less than 2,500 metres. I would argue that a rolling miscellany of bluffs and lowlands would be a more apt description. From the air, it would have appeared as if the land had been taken over by an overzealous broccoli farmer. At ground level, these florets transformed into plump, full-grown trees with leaves spreading in a circle as if trying to nuzzle up against the neighbouring trees.

Our first challenge was getting to the site. The Lonely Planet guidebook described the roads as a muddy slog, especially in the rainy season when we were there. Public transport seemed a poor option to take to such a remote area, given the questionable connections during the wet season. Instead, we hired a car and driver for two days. Our driver had been in the army, based at the Preah Vihear station, so he knew the route well. The temple could be visited as a long day trip from Siem Reap. However, we wanted to stop at the ruins of Koh Ker and Beng Mealea on our return journey. These spectacular sites were part of the Angkor Wat complex, but they lay far from the main centre. They provided the perfect stopoff point for our return route.

We set off early in the morning, leaving the mayhem of central Siem Reap to turn into a quickly fading memory. Country folks pedalled earnestly to get to work in the city. The bikes were simple, single-shift contraptions built for function over comfort or speed. After an hour of driving, the city’s congestion dissolved. The remainder of the drive passed by rice fields immersed in water. Most of the intermittent stilted houses were hubs of activity; women hung laundry and old men lounged in hammocks while pigs and chickens rummaged in the dirt. Along the roadside, ladies walked with lengthy bamboo rods balanced across their shoulders. Typically, a basket of food or some essential merchandise hung from each end of the pole. Other people worked in the fields, shin deep in water and muck. Their backs must have ached with all the bending, day after day.

As we neared our destination, a dusty, formerly white pickup truck roared alongside our vehicle. It was crowded with local men, all yelling and motioning for our driver to pull his car to the side of the road. This was not the welcome we had anticipated. ...

Excerpt From

DUST IN MY PACK

Nancy O'Hare

This material is protected by copyright.

Nancy when you pick up a book which do you prefer, print or ebooks?

When reading travel guide books or when travelling in general, I prefer ebooks. I like being able to tap inconspicuously into my guidebook to check a map or re-read its explanations at a site from a smartphone. I feel far less like an obvious “tourist” than if I had to lug out a thick guidebook, which tends to attract touts and scam artists. My luggage also likes the weightlessness of ebooks - as do my shoulders!

However, when I read at home I prefer a paperback. The pages offer a nice break on my eyes from looking at a computer screen. I also find it more relaxing to sit down with a coffee and a physical book, it somehow feels more genuine.

For someone who has traveled so much I am curious to see how you answer the next question. If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go and why?

Greenland for trekking

Ethiopia for trekking, food and culture

Uruguay for language, culture and wine

Bolivia for the salt fields and trekking

Zanzibar for architecture, culture and history

I better stop, as I have a long list! 



Don't worry.  That's great!  I might try some of those, although Greenland might be a little too cold for my taste. Currently, what are you working on?

I am wrapping up a four-month trip from the Baltics to Brunei. Adventures and stories from this trip will feature in my second book, which I am keen to start writing once I am back home. The most physically challenging piece was a seventeen-day trek through Bhutan’s Himalayan mountains. The Snowman Trek is considered the hardest trek in the world and only fifty percent of people finish it.

Beyond trekking, I aim to share stories from diverse regions such as Myanmar and Lithuania. I feel like there is so much fear and isolation searing global society at the moment, that people need to hear about people and places from a different perspective. My writing delves into experiences from Buddhist, Islamic and just plain interesting places from around our world. The more I travel, the more I am convinced that we are all more similar than different, just trying to care for our families and live a good life. I want to do my part in sharing this mindset and breaking down preconceptions of an “us” versus “them” mentality. 

I'll leave the trekking to you.  I consider myself in fairly good shape but after my last trip to Utah, I need to figure out how to adjust to the altitude.  It did me in.  How did you decide on what to title each book?

Dust in My Pack came to me in the middle of the night. On this particular night, I could not stop thinking about my book. I had drafted a third of it. Sleep evaded me. Then the title “Dust in My Pack” shot into my head and it resonated. I travel with a backpack but am not the stereotypical twenty-something backpacker - in fact, I am in my forties. “Dust” can mean the basic grit and grime of travelling to distant places or the weathered memories that have accumulated like piles of dust in my mind.

It's a great title!  Nancy most authors struggle with promoting their book, so I am always looking for some new advice that maybe not all of us have thought of. How do you promote your books? Any tips you can share?

This is a constant challenge. The Goodreads author program and its groups have offered great suggestions for low-cost and free organizations that promote indie authors‘ books. There are also a few Facebook groups that have been a fantastic source of insight, in particular Writers of Non-Fiction and Travel by Book. They have helped with ad hoc questions and specific marketing ideas. 

I agree, I found great groups on facebook and goodreads.  Nancy, who designed the artwork for your cover?  Or did you design it yourself?

Bright Wing Books designed my cover and the eBook interior. They are a small company based in Nelson, BC, Canada and were an absolute pleasure to work with. I felt like we were a true partnership in creating my book’s look. 

My husband and I had spent a few nights from 11:00 pm to 3:00 am to shoot my silhouette with the Milky Way and the northern lights. The Bright Wing team used these photographs plus came up with their own ideas for cover options. They listened to my feedback from the initial drafts and created a second batch. One option in particular stood out. I was enraptured by it, this was the look I had wanted.

The final cover conveyed my intent for the book. It captured the travel theme, a search for new destinations and covered the entire world with its outline of the continents in the sky. Plus, it used my husband’s photography that I loved and he had worked so hard to shoot. 

It's a great feeling when your designer can capture the idea you envisioned. What brought about the idea for your book?

It came about slowly. I tried to write abut other topics tied closer to my former career, but the writing did not flow. Finally, I decided to write about what has always motivated me, travel. Even when I first decided to specialize in accounting, my decision was partially based on the knowledge that every company in every country needs accountants. I hoped my credentials would open doors to be able to travel and work internationally. It is now nearly twenty years since I earned my designation and I have lived on five continents and worked across six. My husband and I have also taken a number of multi-month trips, including a one-year around-the-world journey which also fed into my stories. 

I started by outlining my most memorable trips. From there, I tried to find a pattern different from other travel narratives. Chapter themes, travel advice, packing tips and honest experiential narratives developed. Dust in My Pack slowly emerged!

I think being passionate about what you write about can make all the difference.  What advice would you give someone who is considering publishing? Should they consider traditional or self-publishing?

I would offer the typical MBA response, “it depends”. For someone like me as a new unknown author with a career background outside the literary world, it seemed futile to even attempt the traditional publishing route. What publisher would be interested in a former finance professional’s view as an independent traveller? For people with existing credibility or a presence in the public eye, then the traditional publishing route may fit. 

I think self-publishing is well suited to people who work best independently, without much supervision and have a vision of what they want to create. This was the case for me. I like having control over my time, my deliverables and decisions. I was motivated to get my first book written, edited and published before my current trip - so I did not need a publisher to slow down the process or to prod me to meet their schedule. That said, I am new and unknown as an author so my biggest challenge is building an awareness that my book even exists. A publisher would have presumably helped with that challenge.

So, it depends on the author’s situation, goals and background whether a traditional publishing route or self-publishing option best suits them.







Find out more about Nancy O'Hare at the links below.  Happy Reading!!


Book:













Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Save 5 dollars when you order books on Amazon for the next two days!

 

   Amazon is running a special right now on book purchases.  5 dollars off a 15 dollar purchase.  The code is BOOKGIFT17.  It expires 12/14/17.  Books make great stocking stuffers. 
Don't forget to enter the code when you order your copy of The Portal Keeper or Sunwalker, available now, or any other great book! I am not sure if the code works on ebooks.

The Portal Keeper- Amazon

Sunwalker--Amazon


Ask Me Anything

I was approached and asked to do an AMA on being an indie writer.  I will be hosting one on Friday.  Feel free to drop by and ask questions on anything to do with self publishing.  I look forward to answering any questions.  I have been helped and guided so much in this industry by other authors, I feel like it's time I return the favor.



Monday, December 11, 2017

The Portal Keeper- Now Available for Pre-order


Don't forget to check out my new Middle Grade Fiction Novel for 8 and up!


FREE ON KINDLE UNLIMITED

A mysterious portal, which opens at dawn and closes again at dusk, is located deep in the woods and kept secret from the vast majority of the people who inhabit the kingdom of Rastella. Only a few are aware of its existence and fewer understand the confusing prophecy that accompanies it.
   Now, Ajax Maxwell, who is approaching his 14th birthday and has been in training for the past 2 years, is preparing to fulfill his family’s legacy by becoming the next keeper.
   But Ajax is afraid. He’s worried that he won’t live up to the expectations placed upon him and will let down his family, like his brother Axel did when he took over from their father and then promptly disappeared.
   When the prince of Rastella comes to visit for the first time, accompanied by Ajax’s childhood friend Nivara, it doesn’t take long for things to go wrong. In an accident, the prince falls into the portal and Ajax knows that it’s up to him to go and get him back.
   With the knowledge that nobody who has entered it has ever returned, Ajax and Nivara go through the portal to try to save the prince. But what Ajax finds inside, and wh
at he discovers about the prophecy, will test him to his limits.

Find it now on Amazon        Makes a great stocking stuffer!


Friday, December 8, 2017

Interview with Errin Stevens author of Updrift











Today I'd like to welcome Errin Stevens author of the Mer Chronicles! 

Errin, what got you into writing?

Reading! I truly don’t remember the order of events in some of my childhood because I read so much, lived so much in my fiction. About a decade ago I started considering story lines I read in light of how I would write them. Updrift started out this way, and then became something independent the more I thought about it.


Share a short excerpt from your novel

“Kate maintained only the dimmest sense of herself thereafter, the majority of her consciousness committed to the idea she was Elizabeth Hughes, engaged to Peter Loughlin, pregnant with their child. She couldn’t have answered Kenna if she’d wanted to due to the happy fog hanging over her senses. Peter begged his mother’s forgiveness for Elizabeth’s tiredness; the baby was taxing her, he explained. He covered her hand on the table with his own as he wove a story for her of how they’d met. His eyes never left hers, although his address was to his mother.

Such a pretty story, Kate thought. She’d fallen off a boat full of other humans on a snorkeling tour, and he’d found her swimming aimlessly, lost and nearly exhausted. He smiled at her adoringly while he told Kenna he’d fallen in love at first sight.”

Excerpt From: Errin Stevens. “Updrift.”


Which do you prefer: print books or ebooks?

I prefer paper, although I do read a ton on my Nook or iPad. It’s just so convenient! But the experience is still different, and actual books take me into a slightly different kind of contemplation.


I have found that most authors still prefer print.  Although the convenience of an e-reader is nice at times. Have you been given any helpful advice?

Tons. I’ve also been given some crap advice… ;-) Here’s a humorous little essay I wrote on the subject a while back: http://errinstevens.com/good-advice/


Currently, what are you working on?

Number three in my trilogy, Outrush, is giving me fits. Fits! My mother reminds me the other ones did, too, so I’m trying to view my process on this one as normal.


I am having a little trouble with one scene right now.  Sometimes you just have to step away and come back to it.  Good Luck with it! How did you decide on what to title each book?

The original working titles for my stories were Blue, Sapphire, and Cobalt; but when I looked at everything else out there, I decided I wanted something fresher and more dynamic. So I waded through (!) various lists of oceanographic terms until I came across a couple I liked and one I altered so I would like it. ‘Cause “Backrush” sounds like the dregs in a glass of someone else’s beer, don’t you think?


Share something with us not a lot of people know about you.

I know writing and introversion seem to go together, but people who know me are often surprised to learn I’m an introvert. I’m a devoted friend and love my family, and I come off as outgoing, but I’m actually a private person. My social media outreach efforts remain an uncomfortable part of what I do because of this (although I confess to enjoying Instagram/Bookstagram most days!).


Is this a stand-alone novel or part of a series?

Well, it’s a trilogy at this point, with Updrift and Breakwater already out there, and Outrush on its way, pant-pant. I have ideas for one more novel and one novella to go with this series… and I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to tackle them. J


That's exciting.  As an avid reader, I would suggest writing them all.  I love to learn more about the characters I love.  The more the better. Errin, do you have people read your drafts before you publish?  How do you select beta readers?

Yesyesyesyes. It’s so important. Seriously, you don’t see the things you would in someone else’s work, and a brain on the outside is a must if you want your story to be its best. I always hire a developmental editor… and I’ve finally found one I trust, Martha Moran. I started out in life in investor relations proofing 10ks and 10qs, so I have a pretty good eye for detail; but I also have at least one person copy edit. I still find errors after several of us have been through a draft. By the end of six months, I think we get there, though.


I agree.  Finding good people to go over your work is crucial.  Everyone sees things in a different way.  People have pointed out things to me I would have never thought of. Who designed the artwork for your cover?  Or did you design it yourself?

I was a PR guy in an ad agency in an earlier life and still get together with the old gang from time to time. I was lucky to work with so many extraordinary, talented folks, one of which was Randy Tatum. He designed all three in my series, and although he doesn’t know it yet, I’m likely to torture him with a request for two more covers down the line.



What are your hobbies aside from writing, if any?

I garden, mother, volunteer, study-but-study the art of drinking coffee… and I sometimes knit things that don’t require gauge.


Thanks for sharing with us today, Errin.  Happy Reading!!



 Amazon:    Updrift

                    Breakwater





Instagram: @errinstevens

Twitter: @errinstevens




Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Interview with Ashleigh Reynolds author of When the Sun Falls


Welcome Ashleigh Reynolds!  Today we welcome the author of When the Sun Falls.  Ashleigh can you tell us a little about yourself.

I grew up in Northern California with an older brother and a single mom. She always loved reading and horror movies, so I was introduced to both at a young age. I started reading at age 2 and writing shortly after. It wasn’t until a few years ago after I let my husband read one of my stories that he pushed me to publish it. The rest is history!
Now my life is all about the indie writing world. In addition to writing, I also run a design company with my husband. Together, we design covers and the interior formatting. When I’m not doing that I write or beta read for members of my author groups.
The world is filled with many amazing writers, and I’m so happy to be surrounded by it on a daily basis.


Share a short excerpt from your novel with us!

I can’t exactly explain my thought process when I decided to pack up everything I own and drive back to a town I have no memory of.
I heard many stories over the years. Many of which revolved around how happy my parents were. None of them explained the reason behind their hasty decision to move in the middle of the night, leaving behind everything we owned.
None of it explained the reason their car barreled down a ravine right on the outskirts of town leaving me the sole survivor.
If it weren’t for my Aunt Clara, I would have ended up in the foster system. But, by some twisted form of fate, she was more than happy to take me in and raise me like her own. All the way to California, the glorious Golden State, with its abundance of sunshine, where I lived for twelve years.
So why did I drive back to a town I don’t remember? It started with my aunt’s death and ended with a box of postcards I found buried in her closet. Postcards sent from my mother from the aforementioned town. Postcards with some seriously cryptic messages.
Light breaks through the heavy cloud cover as I roll to a stop in front of the brick-and-ivy-covered building matching the location on my GPS. My home for the next few months or however long required to figure out my life before California.
I squint through the bug-splattered windshield up at the building. It feels exactly like the moment you meet your blind date only to realize their picture is fifteen years old and thirty pounds lighter.
False advertising at its best.
The brick, once red, is graying and falling out piece by piece. The ivy that looked enchanting online is now brown and brittle, giving it an ominous vibe. It’s the type of building I would rather not park in front of, let alone live in.
I twist the diamond ring on my third finger. I should have begged a little harder until Oliver gave in and accompanied me. If it wasn’t for his residency, I might have won. But work comes first right now. I get it, we’re building a better life and all.
He has more ambition in his pinkie toe than I possess in my whole body. I suppose that’s what happens when your parents are a top attorney in the Bay Area and a doctor at Berkeley Hospital. My aunt worked at a diner and was content to live out the rest of her life that way. College only became a thing when I got sick of hopping from menial job to menial job. But even then, I never settled on a degree.
I’m flighty on a good day.
It is evident to anyone who meets us that we are one of the most random matches on the planet. My future in-laws love reminding me of that above anyone else.
Because, who wants a functional family, right?
The sun disappears behind another cluster of clouds, once again graying the world around me. Lovely. The building looks even less charming in the gloomy light.
Anxiety bubbles in my chest at the thought of Oliver’s parents, but I swallow it down. Now is not the time. Never is preferable.
Ashleigh, can you tell us what brought about the idea for your book?
I love vampires. They are always my go-to when I want to watch something scary. But over the last ten years or so, they have molded from something scary into more of an anti-hero and love interest. I wanted to take them back to their roots, back to a time where they were creatures of the night who would take what they wanted. But I also wanted my own spin on it. So, after some research on the origins of vampires from all over the world, and my own unique twist, When the Sun Falls was born.

I agree vampires are great! I love how each novel can take such a different outlook on them. Who designed the artwork for your cover?  Or did you design it yourself?

I did it myself. When I first started, I was having my covers designed, but then I realized it wasn’t translating right. I have a graphic design background, so when my book Chromosomes was ready to publish, I decided to do it myself. I’m actually branching off into my own cover design company with my husband, so that’s an exciting thing coming up in the near future.

That's fantastic good luck with that.  Good cover designers are worth their weight in gold.  It's the first thing a reader sees.  What was your writing process like?

Utter chaos. That’s the best way to describe it. I’m not a planner. At most I have character names and a general idea on paper. Then I run with it. I write completely out of order so when it comes to the end; I have to go back and stich every scene together in a coherent flow.

I am working on having a little bit more of a plan in my writing.  But the bottom line is finding what works for you.  What is the easiest part of the writing process?  What is the hardest?

The easiest part for me is simply writing. Just getting the story out of my head and onto paper. The hardest part is editing. All you’re doing is looking for what is wrong. For weeks or months or however long it takes to get right. It can get frustrating.
I am grateful for an editor.  I don't have that skill.  It's frustrating enough to see how many mistakes I make when writing. I feel for my editor when I send her a manuscript.  LOL.  Do you have people read your drafts before you publish?  How do you select beta readers?

I do.  I have a fantastic critique partner that usually gets it first. Then I’ll pass it off to my husband. Neither one of them hold back so I like that. Choosing beta readers is difficult. I’ve gone through a couple before I found the perfect match, it’s usually other authors or people close to me.

Since you wrote in this genre, do you think you will ever write in other genres?
I actually write in several genres now. My first three books were sci-fi with one falling in YA. When an idea comes to mind, I never think about fitting it in with a certain genre. At the end, it falls where it falls. That’s mostly due to the fact that I read all different genres as well.

 Ashleigh can you tell us what got you into writing?

I have loved reading and writing for as long as I can remember. Honestly, whenever I was in trouble, my mom would take my books away as punishment. The first time I remember writing a story was in kindergarten. My mom has saved a couple and I have some short stories from high school. They’re fun to read from time to time.

Have you been given any helpful advice?

Let your characters make their own decisions. My husband thinks I’m crazy every time I say that, but it’s some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten. I can’t say how many times a story has changed the original path it was on because of a character’s decision. Bad guys have become good, characters have ended up together, and stand-alone books have become trilogies. I’m in for as big of a ride as the reader sometimes.

I think that's great advice.  Currently, what are you working on?
Currently, I’m finishing the 3rd and final book in my Paroxysm series. It also falls during NANO, so I’m trying to finish it before the end of November.

Thanks so much for sharing with us today Ashleigh.  Check out When the Sun Falls and Ashleigh's other works at the links below.  Happy Reading!!