Posted by: Susan Hanniford Crowley | July 24, 2014

Favorite Form of Escape by Gerri Brousseau

I’m sitting here on Wednesday, thinking about what I’m going to share with you this week on the blog.  Today I can’t help but think about how HOT it is outside. I know some of you love this type of weather, but if you are a regular reader you already know I’m not a fan of hazy, hot, and humid. But since I can’t control the weather (oh that I could), I have to do whatever I can to escape the grip of this stifling heat. And here are some of the ways I get around it:

Air Conditioning is my number one choice. At my house, the a/c is turned to the “meat locker” setting. Yes, you can see your breath in my house (only kidding). When I have to leave the house, I generally rush from my front door to my car and blast the a/c there too. This is my number one escape.

My second choice is the pool. Luckily the complex I live in has one. It’s a lovely liver shaped pool and although I’m not a fan of getting wet, it is a great form of relief on a day like today. But since I have to work today, I won’t be spending the afternoon pool-side.

There is always a refreshing piece of cold fruit, such as watermelon which happens to be my favorite summer fruit. Ice CreamBut today, I may opt for an ice cream cone. I will head on over to the local Ice Cream Parlor and order up my favorite flavor. At this particular place they have your regular flavors, vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry, but they also happen to have my favorite, Pistachio. Here you can order a Sundae, a regular cone, a sugar cone, a cup, or a waffle cone with or without chocolate dip and the assorted toppings. I must confess that I am fond of the waffle cone and even though I know they are a lot more calories I order it anyway. Hey, if you are going to have ice cream, you have already fallen off the diet wagon, so what the heck – might as well go all the way . . . right? (There, I have now managed to convince myself)

Yep, I think today at lunch I will leave my air conditioned office, hop into my air conditioned car and head over to the air conditioned Ice Cream Parlor for a chocolate dipped waffle cone of Pistachio ice cream.

What’s your favorite way to escape the heat, and what’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Posted by: Toni Kelly | July 23, 2014

Symbolism in Writing

As a follow up to last week’s blog on the moon, I wanted to write a bit today about symbols overall in writing. I know they aren’t always easily noticeable but I happen to love symbols and other meanings in the books I read and write, mostly because I feel like they add some sort of depth to our stories. The same goes for names of characters, which seems to be another area we authors spend a lot of time on. And this is with good reason. Each book is created with blood, sweat and tears (okay so I’m being a bit dramatic) and the characters within them are our “babies.” Having had a baby recently, I know that a lot of thought goes into those names as they must be just right. Most of us don’t want a name that will make our kid a pariah for years to come—and I stress most of us.

Okay, so back to the symbols. What exactly am I talking about? Well, it could be as blatant as in The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown where the main characters are looking for further meaning or as mysteriously symbolic as George Orwell’s Animal Farm, which was completely not what I expected at the time I read it (I also might have been a bit young to understand some of the concepts behind it).

My own release of Blood Eternal brings to the table more symbolism and I have to admit I’m interested to see if readers and reviewers will understand it. I’m not sure I planned it when I started writing the book, but I am Catholic and my background is a part of who I am and how I was raised so somehow glimpses of it seem to end up in my stories. This knowledge makes me wonder if a lot of symbolism and hidden meanings we discover were implanted there on purpose or more of a result of who we are. Perhaps both? What do you all think?

Happy Writing this week!

Posted by: Susan Hanniford Crowley | July 22, 2014

Warning: Spoilers Ahead

Not really. There will be no spoilers here because I won’t be talking about any particular series or book. However, in my never ending quest to figure out what other people think on subjects that don’t really bother me, I want to know about spoilers, so some franchises will be brought up, though sparsely.

 

spoilers

Now, for the record, I’m weird in the sense that I like spoilers. I’ll often ask for them whenever someone is speaking to me about a tv series, or a game, or books, and they falter in their descriptions, not knowing if I’ll get angry or not if they spill that one thing that was so amazingly awesome that they just had to talk about it.

 

For the record, I’m the type of person who has seen movie trailers online, and then gone off and read the Wikipedia page to figure out what happened because I couldn’t be bothered to actually sit down and watch the movie. I used to read the last line of the books I’d bought before starting to read them. Sometimes I don’t want to be spoiled in my books or games or movies, but that’s rare, and though I’m sure it has happened a time or two, I can’t ever recall being upset over being spoiled.

 

Now, from the forums I’ve read online, I’m starting to think that I’m the only one with this sort of mellow attitude towards spoilers. People get downright angry if they come across spoilers in online forums, which leads to all kinds of arguing. The usual response to the backlash of spoilers is that, anyone who doesn’t want to be spoiled shouldn’t be in an online forum dedicated to the thing that had just been spoiled. Another comment I see a lot is that enough time passed since the release of the book or game or movie, that no warnings should be needed, since it’s assumed that most everyone would be familiar with the material.

 

Of course, the people who had been spoiled, who are then being told these things, are still none too impressed, and the arguing continues, with both sides believing themselves to be in the right.

 

When I think of this, the scene from the Simpson’s comes to mind, the one where Homer is coming out of the theatre, and accidentally spoils that Darth Vader is in fact (Spoiler) Luke Skywalker’s father.

 

spoiler-alert 9

 

I think of this because, number one, it’s funny, and number two, I imagine the people online are just like Homer. They didn’t spoil anything with the intent of being mean or rude or thoughtless. They’d just assumed that, being in a forum dedicated to the object of their affection meant that everyone had to be familiar with what was going on.

 

I’m willing to bet that a fair number of readers here read series books, or watch a few series shows on TV, whether it be Game of Thrones, or Supernatural (Which I asked my brother to tell me how it ended, by the way, which makes me want to start watching it again because it was that awesome). So for that reason, I’m genuinely curious and want to know, how many of you have been spoiled on something because someone online said something, or even a person in your day to day life. I imagine someone had to have been spoiled about the Red Wedding thing (I’m purposely being vague here). I mean, that book came out years before the actual episode was even being filmed.

 

How do you handle it? Does it make you angry? Or does it make you weary to look online about the thing you’re currently investing all your spare time into? This goes back to my curiosity over how someone would react in this situation, I think because, in part, it baffles me, and I’m trying to put myself in the shoes of someone who hates being spoiled.

 

I’m tempted to ask what the worst spoilers anyone ever got were in the books they’ve read, or the shows they’d watched, but then I think that might create problems in the comments section ;)

 

 

Cheers, and always beware of spoilers in fan forums,

 

-Mandy

Posted by: Susan Hanniford Crowley | July 21, 2014

Keeping Cool Weekly Paranormal-Scope

I’m in one of the parts of the USA that suffers during the summer.  I need my air conditioning and am grateful for it.  In my first apartment, I didn’t have a.c., so I went to the movies and the mall a lot.  Mainly for their air conditioning.  Heat can tire you out, and you need to drink lots of water or risk dehydration.  So remember the key here is water.

While I am not qualified in any way to read neither stars nor planets, I am intimately linked to the paranormal in the world in many ways. So are you.

The paranormal scope is for entertainment purposes only and is not meant to guide your life by.

The week for:

Aries:
Mermaids call to you.  Remember it’s not to your benefit to follow every pretty face.

Taurus:
Whales have long memories.  Be kind to others, so their memories of you will be good ones.  It will help you in the long run.

Gemini:
Dolphins know the secrets of man.  That’s why they laugh so much.  Laughter is great medicine and has been helpful in assisting people to live longer.  Lengthen your life with laughter.

Cancer:
Sharks are nearby.  Keep family or friends close.  Keep the nose to the grindstone at work and lay low and out of trouble. Let it fall elsewhere.

Leo:
Jellyfish are like vampires.  They can still hurt you when they die washed up on the beach.   Give people with problems a wide berth.

Virgo:
Starfish smile at you, because you are a star.  This is your time to shine.

Libra:
Seahorses love to race.  Even though you do too, build in some “me” time and you’ll love life more.

Scorpio:
Puffer fish can be dangeous, not only the spines but also dangerous as food.  Be careful of what you eat this week.

Sagittarius:
Koi are the treasures of Japanese ponds.  Get a make over and think, “I am a treasure,” because you are.

Capricorn:
Seagulls are masters at opening the tough shells.  This is your time to show off your skills and break open some new opportunities.

Aquarius:
Inside each oyster is a pearl.  You’ve been hiding your worth.  Step up to the challenge and show everyone!

Pisces:
Mermen are hot stuff but they are also notorious flirts.  Still if you’re up for some fun, make new friends and have no expectations.  Just have fun.

-Susan
Susan Hanniford Crowley
www.susanhannifordcrowley.com

New release: Vampire King of New York now in print at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Also in ebooks.

Posted by: Jenna Jaxon | July 20, 2014

Back in the Saddle Again…Querying

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

After over a year of respite, this week I finally began querying my current WIP.  It is an activity I approach with the same enthusiasm as a trip to the dentist.  Querying agents is part and parcel of being a writer if you desire to get your work in front of the Big 5 New York publishing houses.  So it’s a necessary evil.  Emphasis on the EVIL.

The beginning of the process, writing the query letter, is even fraught with perils.  You work for months creating a 90+K novel and then have to condense it down to 150 words.  And getting the wording and correct information in there is terribly stressful.  Because the book may be wonderful, but if you can’t convince the agent in 150 words that the book is wonderful, then you have a query that doesn’t work.  Unfortunately, the only way to tell if the query is working is to send it out.  And if it’s not working, you just blew your shot with that particular agent for that particular book.  There are no do-overs in querying.

The worst part of querying, for me, is putting the letter together with the specific requirements sited on the agent’s submissions page.  Some want only a letter.  Some want 5 or 10 pages in the body of the email.  Some request the first chapter and a synopsis.  Each agent is different.  And you have to get everything just right or your query just gets deleted.

The exacting nature of the query is what makes me crazy.  What makes it most difficult for me to press the SEND button.  I read and re-read the whole query letter.  Double check the spelling of  the agent’s name against what’s on her website. Double check the specifications.  And then check everything again.  I wouldn’t be surprised if I read the letter through five times before I screw my courage to the sticking point, take a deep breath, and click SEND.

I actually have gotten less paranoid about querying, believe it or not.  I have to tell myself that if the query is rejected it’s not the end of the world.  It doesn’t affect world peace.  It doesn’t mean children will go hungry at night.  It just means I have to work a little bit harder to get my work in front of the perfect agent who will love my pages and give me “the call” I’ve been waiting for for five years.

Wish me luck!

 

Posted by: Susan Hanniford Crowley | July 19, 2014

Beware of Using Other People’s Photos

Hi everyone,
I’m writing this as a public service. I’d hate to see any one get into trouble. A ton of people from around the world blog as a hobby and love sharing photos.

Recently I read the letter of a blogger who had use a photo from Google Images and credited the image. She thought she had done everything right. Her blog was a hobby, not a way to make money. She got a legal take down notice or a DMCA notice (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) it means that you are using the material illegally or are infringing on someone’s copyright and must take down that material immediately. She took it down right away, then she was sued for $7000 for copyright infringement for which she had to go to court.MrsBrightsCover

I’ve seen and heard this happening with image sharing sites. So beware when you’re on Flicker, Pinterest, Google Images, and other sites. Some photos have watermarks, an embedded copyright, the logo of a company above the comment box, and some of those company logos are difficult to decipher. Always click
and check out the link and find out who it is. If you are in doubt, go through the process to get permission to use the photos and abide by any restrictions they may have such as giving credit and the their link. This permission may not be available for more than one post, read their restrictions carefully and ask questions.
If they say no, then live without it.

For more information on Take Down Notices visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Notice_and_take_down
In the meantime, get out your camera and take your own photos.

There is the cover of my next release, my steampunk romance, Mrs. Bright’s Tea Room, where they serve more than tea. It’s coming out this month.  Ashley Marko is the cover artist.

Good luck with your photos, be original and take care.

All the best,

Susan
Susan Hanniford Crowley
http://www.susanhannifordcrowley.com

Posted by: malanouette | July 18, 2014

A Cool Breeze…

A cool breeze, the sun’s rays are warm and the coffee is hot. I couldn’t ask for anything else on this beautiful summer day. What are you reading this week? I’m reading Jody Lebel’s Playing Dead.

 

I’m curious–How many of you use storyboards? I just started using one. At first I didn’t know if it would help my process. BUT, WOW! It is making a big difference in the organization,  rationing the POV’s and the story plot line. I didn’t come up with this idea, in fact I’m working with someone who has perfected the idea and is teaching me how to use it properly. And one of the greatest points I see–if a scene doesn’t work where  you originally put it, you can take that sticky and move it around until it fits (or discard) without a lot of struggling and lining up your document.

 

I still create the story as a pantser-plotter to get the idea down on paper. When the 1st draft is finished, I use the storyboard to flush out the characters and story. Some people don’t write one word until their storyboard is complete. Whatever works for you try it. All it takes is a bunch of different color post-it notes and a tri-fold board. Based on my mentors suggestions I draw lines on the tri-fold board breaking the story out based on Michael Hauge’s Six Story Structure. Google it. I’ve posted a link here to the various layouts of this method. Here’s the link:

 

https://www.google.com/search?q=michael+hauge+story+structure&newwindow=1&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=wAvJU6bWN-av8AGG9oGwBg&ved=0CDYQsAQ&biw=1778&bih=836&dpr=0.9

 

Happy Plotting and enjoy your weekend.

Marian

Posted by: Susan Hanniford Crowley | July 17, 2014

It’s Been a Tough Week by Gerri Brousseau

This past week was one of the toughest I have had in a long time. One of my co-workers lost his daughter, Carlee, on Saturday. It’s been a long two-year struggle as she battled a very aggressive form of cancer. She was already in the throes of her battle when I started working at this company, but I was quick to hop on the wagon offering prayers.

The first time I met Carlee, she was undergoing chemo and was completely bald, yet she was still smiling. My co-worker, Ray, kept a brave face at work throughout the entire time Carlee was in treatment.

Last year, Carlee had tickets to see Beyonce. We did everything we could to try to get her a backstage pass, but met with no success. Carlee went to the concert and by holding up a sign that said “I missed Chemo for you,” managed to accomplish what we couldn’t. Beyonce saw the sign and called her up on stage and invited her back stage. That was her life. She faced things head on. Still, we continued to pray and she continued with the chemo. At one point the tests showed Carlee was 100% cancer free. We were thrilled. Prayers do get answered. But, that joy was short lived when a few months later, Carlee found another lump. The cancer was back.
This time the family decided to seek out alternative treatment and went to Mexico to get a new treatment that was yet to be approved in the U.S. Not only was the new treatment not covered by the medical insurance, but it didn’t work. Complications developed and Carlee was sent to a hospital in San Diego.

Finally they were able to get her back to Connecticut to Yale New Haven Hospital. She decided not to have any further treatment and she never left the hospital. In June, her doctors told her she wouldn’t make it to July. On July 3rd while still hospitalized, she married the love of her life. She was the most beautiful bride I have seen in a long time, despite the fact she was on oxygen and covered in pain patches. She was radiant. She embraced life, love and her faith. On Saturday, July 12th she lost her battle.

Even though we all have problems, they are insignificant in comparison to what I watched this family go through. Going to the wake and funeral was difficult. At the wake, hundreds of people passed the casket, and although it was difficult, that was nothing compared to the funeral. Oh, I know she’s no longer in pain and she is in a far better place, but my heart broke for this mother and father that lost their child. They lost a young vibrant young lady who was full of life and love. It was difficult to even imagine this type of loss. She was 20 years old.
Watching my friend and his family go through this really caused me to put things in my life into prospective. Yes, it’s been a very tough week, but I couldn’t help but thinking there before the grace of God go I.

Although my friend’s daughter no longer needs our prayers, I know that he and his family need healing. Please keep him and his family in your prayers.

Posted by: Toni Kelly | July 16, 2014

The Moon Means What?

Okay, I’m not necessarily saying that the moon has to mean something, but with the recent “super moon” this weekend, I couldn’t let it go without it being said that the moon makes quite a few appearances in books and movies, from those for the wee little children to those for us adults. I mean just off the top of my head, I can think of the recent movie, Rise of the Guardians which is a film for children about their guardians (good old Sandman, St. Nick, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and the unlikely, Jack Frost). In this film, the “man in the moon” tells these guardians of their duties and honors them with the role of guardian. There is also of course the romantic movie called The Man in the Moon, starring Reese Witherspoon and Jason London among several other prominent actors.

As a kid (and even now), I loved anime, but favorite among all shows was Sailor Moon, about Princess Serena, a very un-princess like teenager who turned into a super hero who used the power of the moon when danger called. She even had a cat named Luna, which means moon in Spanish.

Even doing a search on google, I come up with tons of books and movies that either have moon in the title or some kind of principle theme in regards to the moon. Even one of the genres I write in (paranormal romance) has built up worlds of shifters and were creatures around the moon and its abilities (although not all shifter books refer to the moon).

So what does it all mean and why our fascination with the moon? I honestly can’t answer that question but I must admit that I too find the moon absolutely fascinating. Perhaps many of us have our own special interpretation or love affair with the moon, and there is no sort of blanket explanation. I remember many nights when I first started writing where I’d sit next to the window and watch the moon move across the sky through the night (of course I had more writing time then). Accompany that with my laptop, popcorn and a couple Guinness and I was set for my Friday evenings. I wouldn’t trade my current life situation for the world but I sure do miss those nights.

What about you all? What does the moon mean to you, if anything? I have you taken the time to think about it?

Happy writing this week!

Posted by: Susan Hanniford Crowley | July 15, 2014

Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover. Except…

Hi there! I’m back, a little late today, sorry about that, But! I come with something to show everyone who cares about this sort of thing :3

the-shepards-agony2

 

My new cover for the third book in my Things in the Night Series! Yay :) I love it so much. What you’re looking at is the cover and the spine, the back isn’t done yet, but will be in a couple of days.

Anyway, aside from patting myself on the back, I was also curious about the readers here who do look at books, see what has to be an amazingly epic looking cover, and then immediately assume it has to be a great book. Even if the book isn’t something you would necessarily put on your keeper shelf, how much of that cover influences you to later say to your friends, “Yeah, I read it, it was pretty good.”

I’m wondering if a terrible cover would have the opposite response. I sometimes think that a book which is written not too badly, but has a beyond terrible cover on the front, might make people talk about how bad it was, assuming they’d read the entire thing. Or at least half the book at all.

I tend to shy away from books that have awful covers. I’m not talking about the books that just have covers that aren’t to my taste, but I mean the ones that are obviously made by someone with no experience in graphic design. (Lol, I did that once as an experiment. That cover didn’t stay up for long, let me tell you) Which is proof that at least some other writers do the same thing as readers, despite knowing that it’s supposed to be what’s on the inside that counts.

I’m curious about this. How many of you avoid books with terrible covers, and how many of you are willing to take a chance on them? When reading fanfiction of our favourite series books or worlds, I’m guessing it’s a little different since almost no one makes cover art for those, and the only way to judge if it’s a good story or not would be to read the actual story itself.

 

Cheers

~Mandy

 

Mandyrosko.com

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