book reviews, Christine Locke, Indie Authors, new authors, you gotta read

You Gotta Read: Open Door

Open Door by Christine Locke is a paranormal suspense set in the beautifully historic town of Eureka Springs, Arkansas.  It follows the story of 16 year old Carin White as she moves to town with her “aunt” to work in the big house aunt Helen has inherited.  But strange things start happening and Carin quickly realizes that things are not what they seem at Mallace Mansion. When she finds a family album in the attic, her mother reveals the mysterious truth: she isn’t Carin White. She’s Carin Mallace.

My Thoughts

I loved this book because it grabbed your attention right from the first page and drew you into the mystery of the house. I could easily envision the setting of the Mallace estate in lovely Eureka Springs. That city has always captured my imagination. It isn’t difficult to become absorbed in this incredible story where the house is as much a character as the people.  You’ll keep reading just to know what happens to Carin as her life becomes increasingly more complicated by the mystery surrounding her. There were surprises from the first chapter until the last page. This book is not meant for very young readers as it deals with some intense drama, but teens and adults alike should enjoy it.

Where to Get It
It’s only 99 cents on Amazon Kindle!

Want More?
Come back on Friday to see what Mrs. Locke has to say about writing. She’s got some fabulous advice for you and explains how she developed her story and The Legacy Series. Until then, you can read what her main character, Carin Mallace, has to say about living at Mallace Mansion by visiting The Legacy of Carin Mallace and reading her diary entries. Don’t forget to grab your copy of the book, too!

 

Friday, Indie Authors, Roger Eschbacher, Writing, writing advice

Ask an Author: Roger Eschbacher

Ask an Author by Roger Eschbacher

Hey you guys! My name is Roger Eschbacher and I write cartoons for a living. These days I’m working on two shows – The Littlest Pet Shop and Scooby Doo, Mystery Incorporated. I have a lot of fun writing animation, but I have even more fun writing books for kids. I’m a published picture book author and just this past fall I published my first middle-grade fantasy novel, Dragonfriend.

Over the years I’ve been asked to do signings and readings at book fairs, book stores, and in classrooms. When I’m finished reading from my books, I’ll take questions from kids in the audience. Here are three of the more popular ones –

Q: I want to be an author. How do I get started?

A: Before you become a writer, you need to be a reader; a hardcore reader. Reading needs to become one of the things you like to do as much as playing video games, riding your bike, or baking cookies. I call this kind of reading “pleasure reading” as opposed to the kind of reading you have to do in school. When I was a kid, I was seldom seen without a book. I loved reading then and I love reading now. Without exception, every author that I’ve ever met or read about is an avid reader who both loves books and reads for fun. They’ve been this way ever since they were kids, too.

Why is it important to be a hardcore reader before you’re a writer? Because you learn how to write your stories by reading how skilled authors write their stories. You learn what good dialogue looks like because you read books where you like what the characters are saying and how they are saying it. You learn how to describe a location or an action sequence because you read books that do this so well it’s almost like having a movie playing in your head. You learn what you like to read and why you like to read it and after a while you develop the confidence necessary to give writing a try yourself. It’s as simple as that. Not all readers become authors, but all authors are readers.

Q: Do you make a lot of money writing books?

A: Some authors make a lot of money, most do not. While I would certainly like to have the kind of success that J.K. Rowling has experienced, that’s not the reason why I write books. I do it because I have no choice. My head is full of all kinds of stories and the only way I can get them out of there is to write them down. I love to write and I love the idea that people out there, total strangers, will read my stories and, hopefully, enjoy them. That’s what keeps me writing despite the fact that I can’t afford a castle in Scotland. Not yet, anyway.

Q: Books (novels) are long! I don’t think I could ever write anything that big. How do you do it?

A: You’re right. Books, especially novels, can be very long. The way I handle the writing of a novel is to be organized and disciplined. Once I come up with an idea that sounds fun, I write a one or two page outline. I don’t go crazy into detail, just some descriptive paragraphs that help me figure out the beginning, middle, and end of the story. I list characters that come to mind and interesting settings in these paragraphs, too. These are notes to myself about what I want to write.

Then, I divide the outline up into chapters (usually 20-25). I’ll have a paragraph or so of description in each of these chapters. If this is sounding complicated to you, it really isn’t. By breaking a big thing like a novel into smaller, manageable bits, it makes it easier to give yourself permission to start writing. Writing little bits at a time isn’t as scary as the idea of writing a full novel. Everyone can write little bits.

When you’re first starting out, you don’t need to know everything about being an author or how to write a book. You just need to be brave and start writing. You’ll learn by doing, by figuring out what works and what doesn’t work as you go along. It’s okay to make mistakes. If you learn from them, mistakes help you to get better.

Then, I start writing. The way I motivate myself is by setting word count goals. My every day, non-deadline goal is 1000 words a day. This sounds like a lot, but it really isn’t. A thousand words usually works out to around four double-spaced pages (I use MS Word). You could choose a smaller goal of fifty or one hundred words a day and still make some very good progress.

In a recent interview with famous author Stephen King, famous author Neil Gaiman summed it up nicely:
“I think the most important thing I learned from Stephen King I learned as a teenager, reading King’s book of essays on horror and on writing, Danse Macabre. In there he points out that if you just write a page a day, just 300 words, at the end of a year you’d have a novel. It was immensely reassuring – suddenly something huge and impossible became strangely easy. As an adult, it’s how I’ve written books I haven’t had the time to write, like my children’s novel Coraline.”

In short, if you write enough little bits, you can eventually string them all together and end up with a big old honkin’ book. That’s how I tricked myself into writing my first novel.

You can find out more about Roger Eschbacher and his books at his website, TheNovelProject.com

 

book reviews, fantasy, Indie Authors, Roger Eschbacher, you gotta read

You Gotta Read: Dragonfriend

Dragonfriend by Roger Eschbacher

Though I enjoyed reading this adventure set in the middle of King Arthur’s Camelot, don’t be deceived.  This is not just another knight’s tale!  The young page, Leonard, serves a knight who is more gentle than brave and he longs to lift them both out of the low position they hold in the kingdom.  While other knights fight dragons and feast at the king’s table, Sir Ronald chases off crows from gardens and then dines on a skinny goose in his crumbling, half finished castle.  Leonard devises a plan to elevate his master when he meets a desperate dragon seeking a knight to end his misery.  When the plan goes horribly wrong, Leonard finds himself on a dangerous quest to redeem them all and in the process uncovers a plot to end Camelot for good.  Can this unlikely hero save the day?

My Thoughts

Marvelous work by the fabulous Roger Eschbacher!  This book is fun, funny and quite an adventure!  Although he begins with a well-known legend in the form of Camelot, the author takes the reader into a whole new realm of creatures and magic we have not seen before.  Even some of the most vicious creatures are creative and endearing in this version of the fabled kingdom.

I know boys and girls alike will find this story fascinating and fun.  My daughter might complain that it gets a bit “yucky” during the battle scenes, but not more than would cause any normal fifth grade boy to yell out “cool!” as he reads through it.  In turn, the boy in my house might not appreciate the innocent crush Leonard has on Maiden Glennys, but my daughter will eat it up.  A marvelous balance that is hard to create as an author and I believe Eschbacher has done it superbly.

Where to Get It
Just click on the format of your choice

Amazon Kindle
Amazon Print
Barnes & Noble Nook
Barnes & Noble Print
Smashwords 

Want More?
Roger will stop by tomorrow to share some of the most common questions he gets from young readers.  Did I mention that Roger is not only an incredibly talented author, but that he is a totally cool writer who has worked with cartoons like Scooby Doo and The Littlest Pet Shop?  Come back tomorrow and see what he has to say to aspiring writers – like YOU!

Gotta read,

Heather

Free book giveaway, Friday, Indie Authors, inspiration, new authors, S.M. Boyce, writing advice

Free Book Friday with S.M. Boyce

>   ***We are sharing this post again for the first time since so many of our friends couldn’t comment on it over on the Blogger site.  If you want to win a free ebook copy of The Grimoire: Lichgates, then leave a comment.  Help us test our new site’s comment abilities and you may win this awesome debut novel!***

S. M. Boyce is sarcastic, gooey, and laughs too much, but her friends seem to hang out with her anyway. She’s also a fantasy author and novel editor who recently published her debut novel, The Grimoire: Lichgates. It’s the first in a young adult fantasy adventure series called The Grimoire Trilogy.
—————————–
Hey gang! Thanks for having me today. I wanted to talk about two important factors in any writer’s life: writer’s block and story ideas.
I’ve hit road blocks plenty of times while writing. Over the years, I tried writing through writer’s block, writing stream-of-consciousness journals to get the gunk out, and watching TV instead of writing anything at all. None of these techniques really worked—for me.
The thing with writer’s block is that it’s different for each person. How you overcome it is all going to depend on your creative style. That’s exactly what you wanted to hear, right? Haha. Well, the good news is that I have some ideas for helping you figure out how to overcome writer’s block.
All you have to do to get some ideas of your own is to Google “overcome writer’s block.” Every writer I’ve ever met has encountered it at some point, and it’s a popular subject. The downside is that sorting through the endless pages can actually add stress, instead of easing your worry.
So let me tell you what works for me.
Before I even write a chapter, I plot it out. Sometimes, I go so far as to add dialogue, which gives me an idea of the characters and how they will interact in this particular chapter. That way, even if I don’t feel like writing or don’t know what to write, I at least have a place to start. Often, the inspiration comes back to me if I re-read the plot outline I made.
Other times, I have to get out of the house. I spend a lot of time in my office, and spending too much time in your creative place can actually stifle creativity. So I’ll walk the dog in the nearby woods, or go for a short drive. Getting some fresh air can get those creative juices flowing again.
A very popular method of getting over writer’s block is actually to start a writing journal. There are two kinds I’ve heard of.
The first writing journal is a daily journal. Every morning, as soon as you wake up, you write non-stop for ten minutes. Just go. Whatever you want. You can even write “um, um” until you come up with something. The point is that you’re writing and “cleaning out the cobwebs” so to speak. This one doesn’t work for me, but it has helped many writers I know.
The second writing journal is the one I keep. It’s a whenever-journal, one I keep close for when I get spurts of inspiration. Sometimes I just write a character sketch, or a line of dialogue. Other times, it’s an entire story idea. That’s how the Grimoire Trilogy came to be.
Whatever you do, keep a pen and paper with you at all times. You never know when inspiration is going to strike.
I heard once that you become a master at something after practicing the art for 3 hours over ten years. So never stop writing! It just takes time, practice, and a bit of patience.
What’s your favorite way of overcoming writer’s block? Share in the comments!  One lucky reader will win a FREE ebook copy of The Gimoire: Lichgates.  Don’t forget to share this link with your literate friends.  Just click one of the buttons below the post.

Grab Your Copy of Lichgates

Connect with Boyce

book reviews, fantasy, Free book giveaway, Indie Authors, new authors, S.M. Boyce, you gotta read

Gotta Read: The Grimoire: Lichgates

>The Grimoire: Lichgates by S.M. Boyce

This week’s book is one that I could NOT put down.  Not only was it mesmerizing as a reader, but it inspired me as a writer.  Maybe it is because parts of it remind me of my own personal work.  Or, perhaps it is the detailed and beautiful world-building.  It certainly had something to do with the depth she infused into her characters.  From the beginning of this book, I was smitten.  By the end I was reaching for a pen to rewrite scenes in my own work, in the hopes of capturing some of the energy and beauty for myself.

The story begins with a young woman, Kara, hiking through the forest in the northern Rockies when she unexpectedly passes through a Lichgate, a magical doorway into a hidden part of our world.  She discovers a powerful book, the Grimoire, and finds herself entangled in a dangerous web of political intrigue, deadly secrets, and racial war.  Guided by a dangerous prince who must live in constant disguise, she is never certain who she can trust.  As everything that matters to her is stripped away, she must take on a new identity and find a way to promote peace in a world determined for war.

My Thoughts
Sounds awesome, right?  It is!  This book is full of action from the very beginning.  There are deadly creatures at every turn and Kara struggles to stay just one step ahead with little to guide her in this dangerous place.  It will keep you turning pages, believe me!  

The characters are just as detailed as the many and various creatures.  Imagine different races that are not only distinct in their appearances, but in their abilities and how they live.  Can they ever learn to respect one another and work together?  Must they always fight and consider each other enemies?  I adore what Boyce has done with the prince in this story, Braeden.  As if it isn’t fabulous enough that he lives in constant disguise, hunted by his own father and feared by all others, he softens for Kara, showing a side of himself, and his kind, that none believe to exist.  I think even he is surprised by it.  How incredible it is that Boyce is able to convey all of that to us in a way that feels as though we are discovering Braeden as he is discovering himself.  Wonderful work!

Watch this author, friends.  Her sequel, Treason, is expected to come out this summer.  I am on pins and needles for this one.  I can hardly wait to see what happens next to Kara and Braeden.  Will they finish their quest or die trying?  

Where to Get It
Just click on the format of your choice!
Amazon Kindle 
Amazon Print
Barnes & Noble
The Grimoire Trilolgy site

Want More?
The author of The Grimoire will be here on Friday to share with us her tips for fighting writer’s block and how to gather new story ideas.  The best part: she’ll be giving away one FREE ebook. Just leave a comment below to be entered to win. Winner will be announced on Monday. Use the buttons below to share this with friends and come back for more on Friday.  You won’t want to miss this!

Gotta Read,
Heather

free book, Friday, new authors, PubIt

>Free Book Fridays

>Fridays at Kids Gotta Write are reserved for free books and good friends of the writerly persuasion.  I have some really fabulous writers lined up for the next few weeks, so be sure you come back on Fridays and see what they have to say about writing.  There might even be a free book in it for some of you!

This week I wanted to share one of my new found loves: PubIt! books on Nook.

In my search for new authors to read and, above all, free books, I discovered this fabulous section of the Barnes and Noble website.  PubIt! allows authors to share their self-published books with the world through the B&N website.  This means you can discover new authors at incredibly low prices!

The Barnes and Noble Nook section of their website is wonderful and you should go explore as soon as you finish reading this.  Why?  Because they make it easy for you to find exactly what you are looking for whether it is a digital book for a certain age group, a particular genre you enjoy, or a specific price point.  I go straight to the PubIt! section and search for juvenile fiction, my favorite is fantasy.  I usually browse through a few pages of free books first.  Sometimes I get distracted by some suggestion of a book and I end up paying a dollar or two, but I’ve read dozens of books now from their site and never paid more than $2.99 for a book.

Some people, mostly people in the traditional publishing industry, complain that these sorts of sites are a disservice to the public because they don’t control what is sent out into the world.  Any person, even my youngest child if she wanted, could publish their work through PubIt (or any of the other venues that are similar) and you, the reading public, could pay money to read the unedited, mediocre work of a child.  Well, I say, is that really so bad?  Who among us hasn’t paid actual good money ($15 or more) for a book somewhere along the way that was written, edited, published and marketed by the big publishing companies, placed in a big important looking bookstore and then into our eager hands only to find that the overpriced book we just bought was rubbish?!  I have!!! More times than I want to admit.  Honestly, that kind of scenario is exactly how I ended up convincing myself that maybe someday I really could be an author.  If someone else can get their horrible no good, very bad book published and read by millions, then maybe I could dare to do the same.  (Only with a slightly flawed book instead of horrible, no good… well, you get the picture.)

I suggest you explore, take a chance on a new up and coming author who will sit at home rejoicing in that one sale because it was one more than he/she had yesterday.  Take pride in helping some fledgling out and I hope you choose well.  If you do, come back and tell us about the wonderful new book you found and enjoyed.

Don’t forget, next week I’ll start sharing some of my favorite books and authors I’ve discovered.  They are all either self-published or working with indie publishers, so you will be seeing some of the great new authors our world is only just now getting to know.  I can hardly wait to share them with you!  See you next Friday!

Gotta Read,
Heather

P.S. – Here’s a sneak peak: Click on Me!

new authors, writer's life, writing advice

>The Writer’s Life: My best advice

>Okay, here it is.  My absolute best writing advice, and it’s just for you.  

1. Notice the world around you.  
2. Pay attention.
3. Take notes!  
4. Write about it.

That’s it.  Really.  

If you are anything like me, that’s not enough.  I’m the one who always wants more.  So, here’s an example or two from the past week to get you started.  

Last weekend I was at Silver Dollar City with our family.  Seeing a sign for “Science Theater” we decided that was the sort of thing we couldn’t pass up (I know, we’re nerds.  Seriously.  The kids weren’t even with us.)  So, anyway, the guy begins his demonstration and we’re wavering somewhere between, “that’s cool” and “that’s ridiculous.”  Suddenly he makes this statement, “Our eyes only allow us to see a fraction of the light that is all around us.  We can only process certain wavelengths.  So, there are many more colors of light than what we see.”  He goes on to talk about the different microwaves and radio waves and other waves that are passing around us, through us, bouncing off of things, all without us being aware that it is happening constantly just in front of us.   



Now, this isn’t really knew information for me.  I think I learned about most of that in fifth grade science.  But, for some reason, his words start waves in my brain.  I start thinking and asking questions like, “What if someone could see the other colors?  All the colors?  What if you could see all those waves?  What would that be like?  Would that help you in some way, like a superpower?  Or would it just make you crazy?  Could you maybe turn it on and off?”

So, I missed the rest of what he said, because I was thinking about all these things and my mind was creating a super hero who could see all the different colors and waves and soon he could manipulate them like sending out radio waves of his own somehow or redirecting light waves so that he seemed invisible, that sort of thing.  

What I wanted to do was write it all down.  If I had been at home, or even had my purse with me, I would have pulled out a notebook or a computer or a smart phone and started typing notes for myself.  Then, I would put that into my “book ideas” file for later.  You never know when an idea like that is going to come in handy someday.

Here’s one more example for you.  Last night, I’m sitting in church listening to a Bible lesson that was very good, by the way.  One of the scriptures catches my attention and I flip through my Bible to read it again.  Lucky for me, the teacher had passed out a set of notes and I had the scripture right there on paper already.  Well, that scripture led to a thought, which led to another scripture and another thought and soon I’m writing all over my paper and I have to dig through my purse for another sheet of paper.  Within minutes I have the rough outline of my next book in my hands.  



Now, to be honest, it’s a book I have been thinking about for nearly five years now.  I had been stuck on what the central theme of the book should be exactly because the first two books in that series had very strong themes that were straight out of scripture and I wanted the next book to be just as good, or better.  It wasn’t as though I didn’t have any ideas.  Honestly, I had too many!  It was just hard to narrow it down to one really good idea and find how it fit with the first two stories.  Well, sitting there in class, my brain had solved the problem for me.  I wrote it down.  I came home and typed it into my computer under “Light series, notes”.  It will be there for me when I am ready to write it next month.

So, here’s my challenge for you.  Get a notebook and a pencil and keep it handy at all times.  Look at the world around you.  Pay attention!  Then, when you see something that makes you think harder than usual, makes you ask questions or imagine something new, GO WRITE IT DOWN!  Then, come back here and tell us all about it if you want to.  Better yet, go write your story and then we can all read it!  

Gotta Write,
Heather

book reviews, Indie Authors, Joshua Unruh, new authors, TEEN Agents, you gotta read

>You Gotta Read: TEEN Agents

>TEEN Agents in The Plundered Parent Protocol by Joshua Unruh is a fabulously fun adventure.  It tells the story of Elly Mourning, Hea Jung Noone and Saturday Knight, best friends who are all about to celebrate their thirteenth birthday.  A mysterious teenage boy decides to crash the party with an army of robots, and boy do they crash it!  The robots capture the girls’ dads and carry them away.  The worst part?  No one believes it happened!  Only the girls saw the robots and their handsome leader.  Who is going to believe a few thirteen year old girls crying about evil robots who swoop down from the skies?

With their dads missing, and presumed dead by all the adults in their life, the girls decide it is up to them to play rescue party.  That’s when they are approached by the director of a top secret agency, T.E.E.N.  The Teenage Extranormal Emergency Network will help them in their rescue mission, that is if  they can pass the dangerous obstacles that will test their skills.  They will have to work together if they want to survive and become agents.  Can they pass the test?  Will they ever see their fathers again?  Can they find the villain behind the kidnapping and stop him before he completes his evil plan?

My daughter and I both loved this book.  It was a fast read, fun and exciting as the adventure carries you through chapter after chapter of tricks and traps, drama and daring.  The girls are like most thirteen year old girl.  Best friends, they still manage to squabble once or twice and spend a fair amount of time thinking about boys all while wanting to save the world.

The eleven year old girl in this house thought this book was “awesome!  The best book ever!”  She has now read it three times and is planning a birthday party with this book as her theme.  If she could, I know she would send a copy to each one of her friends.  In her words, “every girl will LOVE this book.  So, they should go get one right now.  And I mean RIGHT NOW!”

Well, you heard the girl.  Go get yourself a copy!  You can find it at Amazon, both in paperback and in Kindle edition.  Don’t own a kindle?  That’s okay, they’ve got an app for that!  You can download the Kindle app for almost any digital device.  Go check it out and then come back and tell us how much you loved it.

Gotta Read,
Heather