Flash Sales & Pre-Orders!

Pre-Order Cover

Hello once again, readers!

Guess what?! You read that right! Evernight (Night Watchmen, #2) is now available through pre-order on Amazon!

Can I get an oh snap?

And to celebrate this upcoming release (which is also releasing on the same day as the annual Culling … October 31st, 2014), Everlasting (Night Watchmen, #1) will be on sale for only 99¢ for a whopping 96 hours!

Can I get a double oh snap?

Pre-Order Sale

Yep! August 22nd – 26th, you’ll be able to snag The Gramm Curse (Night Watchmen, #0.5) & Everlasting (Night Watchmen, #1) for only 99¢ each! All while waiting on pins and needles for the highly anticipated release of Evernight.

o_O

And now I’m hearing the infamous infomercial voice in my head. (And if you buy now, you’ll get not one, but TWO magic plungers!)

I digress.

In other news, I have an official website up and running. You can visit it HERE.

It’s pretty snazzy … considering I put it together myself (and I’m not really that tech savvy). It has all of my books listed with purchase links (in case you want a coveted hand-signed copy to add to your shelf), some of the inspiration behind the series (pinterest boards and spotify playlists), dates of events, and even a faq page telling you how you can read my novels that are sold exclusively through Amazon.

My eyes are barely functioning because of it.

Any who, feel free to share the sale.

Speaking of sale … the Born in Flames Trilogy is also on sale!

Trilogy Sale

It’s a sale-a-palooza! ♥

Echelon out

Branford High School Visit

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Hello once again, readers!!!

Well, the author meet & greet was a success!! I was a ball of nerves for most of the day just because this was my first real public speaking, but it was all worth it. Being around the students and talking about the rewards of writing was such a humbling experience. The students were so well-behaved and polite, and the all seemed to have a genuine interest in the things we were talking about.

What more could you ask for when entertaining teens for a day?

We were greeted with southern hospitality and spent the day in good company. There were seven of us total (authors), and we all had a chance to speak to the students and share our thoughts on the process of writing. At the end of the day, we had tables set up for us in the library where the students, parents, and teachers could come and meet us. The picture below is me at Sonya Loveday’s table. Yes, my face is blurry lol. She had shaky hands and we were on a set schedule so there wasn’t enough time to take perfect photos. My table was right next to hers.1451436_10201601938903550_126528835_nThey also put awesome gift baskets on each of our tables. The students crafted the boxes themselves, and filled them with all kinds of goodies. It was so unexpected and appreciated.

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When the day came to an end, Sonya and I found a wall where they had each of our bio’s and books up. It was so awesome being around so many students who appreciated literature and the craft of writing. They were so eager to learn and so full of questions, most of them dabbling in writing themselves. How cool, right? I don’t think to date that I have done something so rewarding in my career.

wallI can’t wait to go back next year.

Echelon out ♥

How to Brainstorm Your Next Novel in 8 Easy Steps.

Brain

From my notebook-brainstorming and outlining Everlasting

Hello once again, readers!

So … on Wednesday I will be making my first appearance at a high school as an author. Branford High School to be exact. I am going with a few other authors (including my bestie Sonya Loveday) to discuss the different phases of writing. My topic is the brainstorming phase. I figured I would write here what I plan on saying, that way I get my practice in and have a general idea of what to say.

I’m OCD like that.

Any who, so here are the key points I will be discussing on brainstorming:

  1. Who is your Main Character? The first step is figuring out who you are writing about-the main character. You can’t have a story without one. To start this, I work off a character sheet with standard questions (physical appearance, personality traits, etc.). It’s very important that you figure out who they are and what their back story/driving force is before you enter in to the rough draft phase, because you need to understand their actions and know how they will respond to the tough situations they will be placed in.
  2. Who is the Supporting Character/s? In my line of writing, I lean towards romance, so once I have the main character in mind, I need to figure out who their counterpart will be. I go through the same steps-using the character sheet with questions, and figuring out what their back story.
  3. Who is the Antagonist? You can’t have a hero/heroine without an antagonist (be it a person or a goal they must overcome). So who are they? What do they want? How will they affect the main character’s growth? About this time, I also have a faint plot in mind. At least, what the main goal is, be it a machine they are both after, one needing to stop the other from destroying something, etc.. It’s all vague and I try not to set too many limitations for myself so I have freedom when working through my rough draft.
  4. Family Trees. After I have the most important characters, I try to write out family trees. You could do this step in the character drafting stage, but I like to have all my players out before I get deep into their family web and how they will all twist into one another. This also helps me in developing who my characters are, and sometimes gives me new ideas on how to deepen their back stories. Basically, I want to get as much figured out about the characters as possible before I write.
  5. World Building. When the characters are solid, I move on to world building. I focus on the setting (where the story takes place) and then research that area. It’s good to know everything about the places you are writing in so your descriptions feel real. Google maps is awesome for seeing and walking the streets without actually having to go there.
  6. Research. Because I write in paranormal and fantasy, I also research different types of magic/casting/spells/armor/weapons/supernatural beings. I like to get as many ideas as possible so I can build on what is there and make it my own. Some things though are better left unchanged. Those are things you want to have facts on. You want to have some familiarity for your reader to grasp onto the idea of what you’re writing about, while trying to maintain a fresh POV. Fantasy gives you that freedom.
  7. Plot Structuring. Once I have that all figured out, I start my plot structuring. I am very brief. I don’t even use a plot line. It’s been suggested to me that I should, and it might help, but I believe everyone has their own way of doing things, and even if I make it harder on myself, the discovery of the world you are building is half of the fun when writing. There’s no way to walk into a project knowing every angle/every scene that will transpire, unless you plan chapter by chapter.
  8. Rough Draft. When I have a good understanding of my characters, the world they are in, and the goals and sub-goals they are trying to reach, that is when my brainstorming ends and my writing begins. That’s not to say it ends completely, because I am always tossing ideas in my head. I could be in the middle of a conversation and be thinking about how the next scene I will write should go.

Hopefully these tips help you. They aren’t necessarily right, they are just my way of doing things. Like I said, the important thing is not to limit yourself. If you’re feeling stuck, take a step back and walk through the scene. Think about how you can make it more difficult for your character. What can you throw at them? How can you get them one step closer to personal growth and reaching their goal?

Hopefully I can get this all out in my five-minute timeframe and sound like I have a brain in my head lol. Actually, I’m not worried about meeting the timeframe, I’m worried about getting all nervous-silly and stumbling over my words. I used to be so good with speaking in public, but I seem to be moving backward in that aspect of my abilities.

That being said, I will let you know how it goes and hopefully have some pictures to show for. Wish me luck!

Echelon out ♥

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12 Writing Tips For 2012

281317_10152376913075601_2032062248_nHo Ho Ho, Readers!!! What!? There’s a baby with a finger stuck in her nose on my blog!? What in the-!? How in the-!?

Yes…that would be my lovely daughter Scarlett with her finger shoved up her nose. She’s cute even when doing that! How am I ever supposed to discipline such cuteness!?

I digress.

In light of the ending year, I figured I would share 12 writing tips I gathered in 2012. This past year has been one crazy ride. I quit my job of five years to stay at home with my kids, I started up an art business with my best friend, and most importantly, my first novel ever written, was published by 48fourteen.

To say that I’ve obtained a lot of knowledge in a short amount of time is an understatement. It’s funny how much we change in a year. A life lesson can be found in every action we make. But a wise person recognizes this and grows because of it.

Any who, let’s get to the tips, shall we? Now, keep in mind that they aren’t anything that will change your life. They are only things that stand out to me as I reflect on this past year.

  1. The only way to see a novel through is to simply write it. Sounds easy right? Well it’s not. Distractions surround us…especially writers who have access to internet and social media. But if I’ve learned one thing from this insight, it’s self-discipline. Only I can make it happen.
  2. Editors are a must! You know that saying, “It takes a village to raise a child”? Well, our novels are our children. One person simply cannot do it alone. There is no shame in that either. If you are planning on self-publishing, please invest in an editor. I can’t tell you how much my editor has taught and helped me with both of my novels. Sometimes being so close to the project blinds you from the truth.
  3. If you stumble on a scene that doesn’t sit well with you in your novel, trust your gut. Don’t overlook it because it’s the easiest thing to do. Yes it’s hard to delete your work, but if the scene was they way you wanted it, then you wouldn’t have had that feeling in the first place. I experienced this with a couple of scenes in Born in Flames that ended up being pointed out by my editor. I left them because I wasn’t sure, when I should have just went with my gut in the first place and deleted/fixed them.
  4. Criticism is not always a bad thing. Although you do find those who bash just to bash, try to find the good in every remark. Criticism keeps you humble and it gives you insight into what readers are looking for in that particular genre. They might also bring to light something that wasn’t caught in editing.
  5. Marketing is very time-consuming, but necessary. The key to success is to use what’s available. Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, ect. Also, Google blogs that read your genre and ask them if they’d be willing to review your copy. Every blog has followers and this is how you will expand your audience. Any exposure is good exposure.
  6. You must give yourself time away from your projects or you will burn out.
  7. Any idea, no matter how anemic it may seem, can be turned into something magnificent if you want it bad enough. All you have to do is believe in yourself.
  8. Publication takes time. Lot’s of time. Editing, cover art, more editing, formatting, more editing…don’t rush it. Let things fall how they are meant to fall. But also, for those who have never published, understand that it does take up to a year. Don’t get discouraged!
  9. Success doesn’t happen over night. It happens with word of mouth and plenty of time. Patience (the one thing I have worked on as my new years resolution last year) is the only thing that will get you through it. And marketing.
  10. Not everyone will like/understand your work. Writing is like coffee. Taste buds vary.
  11. READ! Read as much and as often as you can. Reading is a writer’s food for thought.
  12. Don’t give up. When you feel down, alone, lost, confused, discouraged, worthless, not-good-enough…just take a deep breath. We all go through these emotions. Even the best of them do. It’s human nature to question yourself. It keeps you humble. But no matter how bad the emotion, don’t give up. Keep the fighting fire within you alive.

So that’s it. I know…it’s nothing spectacular or grand. It probably won’t change your life, but they are my lesson’s learned this year. I can only imagine what I will learn in 2013. Maybe my dream of being insanely successful will come true…lol. One can dream, right?

I finished approving my editors edits a week ago, so hopefully the cover art will be next. I am very excited about Embracing the Flames. I built up a whole new world with a bunch of different races, while letting Aurora simply…be. I can’t wait to share it with the world. I am only a quarter of the way through on From the Embers. I kind of slacked off during NaNo and then through the holidays.

That will be a New Years Resolution for me.

Any way, I hope everyone has a safe and happy New Year!!! Be sure to put a coin on your doorstep before midnight and then pick it up after midnight. It is said to bring you good fortune through the year. You won’t go a day without a dollar in your pocket.

Echelon out ♥

NaNo Success!

candacekI completed it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ahhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Was there a moment when I thought I might not…..umm….more like tons of moments.

But I conquered it with a whopping 50013! Woot!

That being said…it is nowhere near finished. Also, the story completely changed about halfway through, but due to the time constraints I left it all as is to be fixed later. From the Embers will continue to be my main focus until I have time to pick this back up.

What I learned:

  1. I can do something I didn’t know I could do.
  2. I can drink three Red Bulls back to back and not have a heart attack.
  3. I can juggle (literally).
  4. I can get sick and still find it in me to put in some pretty wordage.
  5. People are mean. (Okay so that has nothing to do with NaNo and everything to do with Goodreads…lol)
  6. Letting yourself go is really the best way to write (at least for me.)
  7. A year ago I didn’t even know about this.
  8. My jaw clenches up when I get in the zone…ow.
  9. I can write something other than my trilogy.
  10. It’s okay to believe in myself.

Okay…so those aren’t deeply philosophical points, but I just put in a lot of words today and finished another painting so my mind is beat and my jaw hurts lol.

To everyone else who finished way before me or with an obsene amount of words, congrats. And to those who didn’t finish…don’t worry about it. Putting a thing like this smack dab in the middle of the holidays is a little silly and makes it pretty hard to accomplish. I barely made it. Keep writing. That is all that matters!

Here’s my latest painting:

Dreams 12×12

Side View

And I’m spent. Have a great night everyone!

Echelon out ♥

10 Questions To Get To Know Your Characters

photo credit: Βethan via photopin cc

Hello once again, Readers!!!So I wanted to blog about something important since NaNo is in a couple of days. I have been going back and forth with myself on whether or not I am going to try it. I’m just not sure I can squeeze both, From the Embers and another WIP, in at the same time. I think what I will do is attempt it, but not hold my breath. If I succeed then more power to me, but if not, then oh well…there is always next year.

But I digress.

Let’s talk characters. It is important to jump into NaNo with a clear idea on who you are going to be writing about. If you aren’t sure yet, don’t fret…you are only a few steps away from figuring it out! There is an easy way to familiarize yourself with your characters so you will be a set for the big month. 10 steps to success!

Below I have compiled a series of questions that I use for my own character development. These are basic questions that will mold your character into a real, believable person that a reader can relate to. So grab a notebook and a pen and lets begin (I’m a poet and didn’t know it…lol)!

  1. What does your character look like? (Try to really envision this person. If you aren’t clear on the appearance, neither is the reader)
  2. Detail you characters appearance down to scars on their body and how they got them. Hair, hygiene, style, ect.
  3. List five personality traits and then detail each one as to why they are that way. (Make sure there are good and bad traits. For the bad, explain why and how it affects others. Do enemies occur from this trait? For the good, how they got that way and what ways they use it in their daily life.)
  4. Greatest strength versus greatest flaw. (They need to have at least one of each to avoid Mary-sue-itis.)
  5. What are their likes and dislikes? (Take time to get to really know them. What do they find attractive in the world and in people. What do they despise in the world and in people? Make them as real as possible down to food choice and movie selection.)
  6. What is their dream/aspiration? What goals have they set?
  7. Where were they born and who raised them? (Get into detail on who raised them and how this molded their POV.)
  8. What is unique about your character? (The reader needs something to root for. Something that sets them apart from every other book out there.)
  9. What is their biggest fear? (Knowing this will help you add this into the plot as a character builder. Something they can overcome by character growth.)
  10. Do they have a love interest? How do they feel about love? (You need to know how they deal with relationships.)

If you take a good day to sit down and answer all of these questions, then you are on the right path to writing a believable character. Keep these notes with you and read them again and again to really familiarize yourself with them. Soon enough, it will be a no brainer. Your character will be as real as you or me.

From there you can begin plotting your story or like me, wait until the last minute and just write. I don’t limit myself with a chapter by chapter outline. It’s too confining. I have an idea where I want the story to go and I try to stick with it.

Now I have three characters that I need to sit down and interview! This is the fun part. The beginning stages to an entirely new world. I hope this has helped you. There are so many different ways to do things out there; it’s nice to share and learn new ways.

That being said, do you have any added questions to share?

Echelon out ♥

Marketing Ideas for Authors

Hello once again Readers!!! Now before I get to the good stuff-tips on marketing-I wanted to let you in on a little secret about myself. You see, I have this little problem…I get hooked on something and become obsessed with it until it bores me. This usually lasts about two to three weeks. And right now, I’m hooked on learning as much as I can about how to market myself as an author. This of course will benefit you as a reader because I will share everything I learn, thus cutting back on the time you will have to spend on research. Yay!

So today I stuck to reading about basic marketing strategies. Yesterday it was learning how to use Twitter to your advantage. Again I’m using Author Media for my research because they have so many versatile blogs that appeal to striving authors. So let us begin.

First thing’s first, the blog that will change your life-89 Book Marketing Ideas That Will Change Your Life. Like that, eh? I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot with this particular blog because there are tons of great ideas and they are all broken down into categories. I’m a sucker for organization. I digress. A few of my favorite points are:

  • Create a book trailer-I have been meaning to do this! It’s a great way to show your audience what’s inside your mind.
  • Create a fan page for your main character-It would give the reader something to look forward to when the story is over. I myself love to look for ways to continue my connection with a character that I fell in love with.
  • Ask different newspapers and radio stations in your area to interview you-I guess branching out and rolling up your sleeves is the best way to make yourself known. Personally, I’d have to get over my shyness in order to do this.
  • Find places to give book readings. Coffee shops, bookstores,videos online, libraries. Use your imagination!
  • Donate! It’s called Karma!

The list goes on and on, 89 times to be exact. There are a lot of helpful ideas and some that I need to read up on because I am not that good at understanding technology. I will be bookmarking all of these for when my book is finally published. For now though, I will continue to edit my second novel and play around with my social media sites.

Tomorrow I will be blogging about blogging tips and how to gain traffic to your blog so be sure to check back in. Since I’m still new to the scene, I have a lot to learn. 

And I leave you with a question: If you are published, what way of marketing have you found the most successful? If you are a reader, what appeals to you? What catches your attention and makes you purchase a book?

Until tomorrow, Echelon out ♥