Tuesday, November 4, 2014

To the Joust!

Alas and forsooth, I implore your aid to participate in a joust of most crucial importance. To the winner goes glory not seen in these lands for many an age!

So there is a blogger, MPax, who hosts virtual jousts between authors on her site once per year. It serves to give authors exposure and elevates their works to many eyes that may not normally see an advertisement.

But, to win the joust, I need your help. Next week, November 10-14th, head on over to MPax's blog at http://mpaxauthor.com/blog/ and help me participate in this joust. You can participate three times a day (there are prizes drawn for those participating) and whoever gets the most participation wins the joust!

How do you participate? It's pretty simple...you simply cheer for me by posting in the comments section and use one of the three magic words. The three magic words are:

1) Sir Smitty
2) carouse
3) Draconaughts (I don't know why it is spelled this way, it just is)

Taunting is allowed (Think Monty Python and the Holy Grail). But head on over next week, have some fun, and help me win the joust!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Spotlight on a fellow indie author - April Erwin

Hello friends, and welcome to something new I am featuring on this blog. A little over a week ago I announced that I will be going on a blog tour with several independent authors featuring me on their sites. Well, today I am returning the favor and featuring April Erwin, author of Dysfunction Junction, here at the JatD blog.

About April:
Dream big, be bold, no fear! April Erwin is the author of humorous and inspirational contemporary stories that reflect her faith and the life motto created with her sister and best friend. A lifelong resident of Independence, MO, April loves living in her hometown surrounded by family and her Cocker Spaniel, Buddy. Raised in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, she's thrilled to achieve her dream to become a writer and use that to witness of her Christian faith. She holds an Associate in Graphological Science, the study of handwriting analysis, tutors dyslexic and reading challenged individuals, enjoys photography, is a singer/songwriter and records original music with her sister, Angel. Dysfunction Junction is her second published novel.

I asked April to tell us a little about Dysfunction Junction:

“I’m twenty-six and I’ve never been kissed.” Staring into the bathroom mirror while making this brilliant comment is supposed to make it feel real. It doesn’t.
Finding true love these days feels impossible to Kianna Ravencamp, only dysfunction surrounds her. Her sister’s married to an abusive husband and marriages she’s admired for years are falling apart. Maybe relationships like her parent’s don’t exist anymore. She dreams of true love and a family, but she’s never even been kissed.
For her birthday, her best friend gives her a journal and dares her to follow her dream of songwriting and vocal lessons quickly follow. Kianna’s finally dared to dream big… if the three men in her life don’t get in her way.
Nick Steele, her new vocal partner is flirtatious and charming. Derek Simpson, the new vocal coach is asking her out for coffee. Even Jason Payne, a childhood friend is acting odd. For the first time in her life, she will have to navigate dating and flirtation. Will her inexperience be her downfall? How will these relationships affect her songwriting career? Letting go and trusting God is the only answer that brings the path to real love and success.

April also has a pretty great book trailer for Dysfuction Junction. You can follow the link below to check it out:

And if that isn't enough for you, you can read a small excerpt of her novel....

“Kianna, you have such a pretty face, honey.” Miss Bertha examines me as she leans on her tennis ball capped walker.

            “If only you could lose weight.” Reaching out, she pats my ample tummy.

            My mouth turns to cotton. Oh, no she didn’t!

            I want so bad to respond, but words fail me. Heat creeps up my neck and floods my cheeks. Tears sting the back of my eyes as I glance around the church hall to see if anyone noticed this mortifying exchange.

            “You know, a pretty girl like you could have any man she wanted if she took care of herself.” Miss Bertha squints her eyes, as if she’s analyzing the amount of effort it would take to make me truly suitable. “Your blonde hair and brown eyes are actually attractive.”

            Actually attractive…I’m not sure if that counts as a compliment.

            “I’m sure you’re right.” I mumble, clamping my mouth shut on what I want to say—you mean old biddy!

            Miss Bertha shuffles forward and for a moment, her skirt looks like it is harboring a pack of wrestling puppies. And she thinks I need to lose weight? Isn’t that like the hippo calling the elephant fat?

            I look for something to distract the nosy busybody. It’s Sunday night at Christ’s Covenant Restoration Branch, my church home since I was a baby. I thought a missionary service would be the one place I was safe.

            Wrong. I wish Jason was here. My best friend since childhood, Jason Payne is like the big brother I never had. He always knows what to say or do to make a situation better, but he’s out of town and I’m on my own.

            “Did you enjoy the missionary slides?” I ask, as the line moves again.

            I want nothing more than to run away, but it would only give her more ammo. I hear her walker click as she moves forward a step with me.

            “Oh, yes. The last set especially touched my heart. Jim is such an angel to be ministering to all those children in Africa. Brings tears to my eyes.” The fore-mentioned drops slide out and ride the wrinkled crevices in her cheeks.

            Jim Noble is the hottest missionary I’ve ever laid eyes on. He also happens to be the sweetest. He attended the same church youth events with Jason and me for years and we all stayed good friends. That was before Jim grew into his ears and before his family moved to the mission field. It doesn’t matter. He’s not interested in me romantically. To him, I’m a friend. Like I am to every other male I know.

            “He is a good man.” I agree. “I think it’s amazing how God is working in the communities over there.”

            Her head wobbles in agreement. “Too bad he doesn’t have a wife to help him. He’s such a catch; I can’t imagine why he isn’t married yet. I told him so too, tonight.”

            I bet you did. “I’m sure he’s waiting for the right person.”

            I see Jim across the fellowship hall and feel a stab of sympathy. No one leaves a conversation with Miss Bertha unscathed.

            “You might find he’d look your way if you slimmed down.” She eyes my hips and raises an eyebrow.

            I bite my tongue. Oh, Lord. Get me out of here before I say something terrible.

            “Pardon me, Miss Bertha. I see someone I need to speak to.”

            I slide out of the refreshment line and speed walk across the room, ignoring the surprised and probably hurt look aimed at my back. Remembering the wrestling puppies, I slow down and fight the urge to smooth my shirt down over the back of my slacks.

            Heaven help me, but I can’t take anymore of Miss Bertha’s supposedly helpful advice. I’m fat and I know it, but patting my tummy in the middle of a packed social hall is about the rudest thing I’ve experienced yet. Following it up with an attempt at conditional matchmaking, well, that’s par for the course.

            A crowd still surrounds Jim, but he sees me, and waves. I’m surprised he notices me. I return his smile and wave back. Several of the women look surprised at the exchange. I can see the wheels turning in their heads, and after getting Bertha-d, I can’t bring myself to go over there.

            Not that any of them would be hurtful. It’s just the opposite. Some of the women think being single is the only requirement for a successful relationship and they will push me toward anything with testosterone and a bare ring finger.

            Chicken. I kick myself for letting Miss Bertha’s comments bother me so much, but they’re hard to ignore —mostly because, despite her tactless delivery, she’s right.


            Walking to my car, late August heat billows off the black top like a humid oven. I pull open the car door and slide behind the wheel. My cell phone vibrates from the seat beside me. I pull the phone out of my purse and check the caller ID.

            “Hi, Jason, I’m glad you called.”

            “Miss me?” His deep voice echoes with humor and immediately brings lightness to my heart.

            “Every day.”

            “Are you crying?”

             “No.” I hesitate, “Not anymore.” I can’t lie to Jason.

            “What happened?” He waits patiently in silence while I pull my thoughts together.

             “Honestly, I got Bertha-d and I’m really emotional right now.” I give him a brief outline of the night’s events.

            “I wish I could be there with you. I’m sorry I’m going to miss your birthday, but as soon as I’m back, I’m all yours.”

            “Thank you, Jase.” I lean back into the head rest and close my eyes. “I’m feeling a bit better already.”

            We say our goodbyes and I drop the phone back into my bag.
            I feel calmer, but the questions and insecurities are still there. Jesus, If you have a plan to show me, now would be a good time.

So are you sold yet? Well, you can purchase Dysfunction Junction at Amazon.com or at Museit Up Publishing. Plus, for a very limited time, you can get the book for 80% off. Check out the add below:

Now that we know about Dysfucntion Junction, I thought it only appropriate to get to know April a little more...

What was school like for you?
I was a nerd! LOL. I loved school and couldn’t wait for it to start each year. I was also very shy around new people. Thankfully, I attended a very small private Christian school where I knew everyone, so there was seldom a problem. I was the peace maker and friend to the friendless. Mom always encouraged that. Sometimes that was hard and I didn’t enjoy it much, but I knew what it was like to be teased and not always accepted. I was always chubby and although intelligent, often na├»ve. I didn’t like to see others go through that too.
From Kindergarten through 6th grade I attended Eagle Hills, a two room trailer that sat beside our church. There were no more than 3 teachers, each handling about 3 grades. I can say I know what a one room school house was like.
When the school shut down, my teacher recommended I skip the 7th grade. There was a new Christian private school being set up, but it wasn’t quite ready yet. I chose to Homeschool my 8th and 9th grade years. In 1992 Center Place Restoration School opened in Independence, MO and I was the first student enrolled.
CPRS was K-12 and was a 3 story building. There were lockers, rotating classes and a teacher for every subject. I was petrified I would get lost. After attending for the first week I had to laugh at how ridiculous that idea was. It was bigger than my trailer school – but not disorienting! J
I loved my 3 years in CPRS, uniforms and all. I was involved with choir, drama and Student Council all three years, taking the role of President my senior year. I still do all I can to support and promote my alma mater. They’re a great school.

Were you good at English?
Yes – and no… I loved reading with a passion and begin writing stories, plays, poetry and songs as soon as I could read. I would make them up in my head even before I could write. My spelling, however, was always atrocious in grade school. It didn’t get better until high school. Grammar was another odd thing. I understood it and could use it properly, but remembering all the technical terms like what is a Gerund? Or Participle? Forget it. Don’t ask me to define anything short of the basics like a noun or verb.

Which writers inspire you?
There are so many to choose from. Dee Henderson is probably one of my top inspirations. Her attention to detail and ability to create such tension and emotion through a story that is balanced with romance or humor where needed, is just phenomenal. I have the hardest time putting one of her books down.
Kaye Dacus is another huge inspiration. We seem to share so much in common in both writing and life that I sometimes wonder if she’s not a long lost sister or cousin. If I ever felt like another writer might identify with me, it would be Kaye.
Brock and Bodie Thoene, Stephen R. Lawhead and Stephanie Meyer also inspire me with their depth of research, creativity and pure giftedness when it comes to storytelling.

So, what have you written?
My current novel, Dysfunction Junction, released December 6, 2013 with MuseitUp Publishing. It’s a Christian Chick-lit. My first published novel, Missing Pieces, published in September 2003 with Trafford. It’s a Christian YA novel about adoption and finding the Gospel. I’ve also written a suspense novel that is in revisions and other novels in various stages of progress.
In addition to writing novels, I’ve also written several children’s books. My mother is currently illustrating one titled Creation’s Ballad and in the future I will be publishing it independently.
I’m also a song writer and I’ve recorded several songs with my sister, Angel, who is also sometimes my co-songwriter. It’s a blast. All of the songs in Dysfunction Junction, including “Rain on Me” are originals.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does she do that is so special?
Kianna is unique in a lot of ways – she’s twenty-six and never been kissed. She struggles with self-image issues due to her size and she’s just about given up hope on real love because of all the failed relationships she sees around her. On the other hand, those same things are what I hope also makes her identifiable to the reader.
One thing that makes Kianna unique is her willingness to take a leap of faith into the unknown. She agrees to pursue those things that scare her and in the process learns a lot about herself and life.

What are you working on at the minute? / What's your next project?
I’m currently working on the sequel to Dysfunction Junction. This is Alexa Fehr’s story, and she has quite a story to tell! There may be romance ahead, but there are also a lot of big life changes that will be putting her faith to the test.

What genre are your books?
My current novels are Contemporary Christian Romance / Chick-lit - Christian fiction where comedy and drama abound.
What I love about writing though is the freedom to express myself in so many ways. I don’t feel tied permanently to one genre. I look forward to the day when I can share a more suspenseful and intense story with my readers. Hopefully, in the same style and voice that makes my stories unique.

When did you decide to become a writer?
I’ve been writing since I could hold a pencil, but it wasn’t until my senior year in high school that I received the inspiration for my first book, Missing Pieces. I started writing it during the last few months of school, but I knew I was clueless about knowing how to write a book. I took some classes and spent a long time learning the craft as I wrote that first book.
I wanted to be a writer. That’s a scary and overwhelming thing to consider at times. I spent a lot of time praying about it, asking God to show me what He wanted me to do. The desire to write continued to grow.
That doesn’t mean I didn’t have moments of doubt though. About halfway through writing the first draft of Missing Pieces, I got discouraged. I was struggling to progress with the story. I didn’t have my own computer; I was using my parent’s computer and writing by hand. One day, in frustration, I told God that if He wanted me to write He would have to provide me with a computer because I couldn’t write without one.
I know that was rather bold - and stupid. I knew I could write without a computer of my own, I’d been doing it all along. This was my teenage pity-party trying to find a way out of fulfilling the call I knew I had been given.
Never challenge God and expect to win! J The next day, I came home from work and Mom said, “Guess what? Jackie, from church, bought a new computer and she thought you would like her old one. It’s still in good shape and she said you could have it for free.”
My jaw hit the floor and a sense of conviction washed over me. I hadn’t told anyone about my challenge to God. In less than 24 hours He challenged me back by giving me what I asked for. Since then I’ve known writing was the path for me. I love it.

MuseitUp Publishing - http://museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/our-authors/55-our-authors/authors-e/173-april-erwin

There you have it! April Erwin and her new novel, Dysfuction Junction. The holidays are rapidly approaching, so if you are looking for a great gift for those fans of Romance in your life, you should definitely give April's book a try.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Announcing the 2014 Internet Tour!

Some really great developments have happened over the past few weeks. The first big announcement is that I AM GOING ON TOUR!  A blog tour to be specific. Starting today, and over the next month or so, several bloggers will be spotlighting me in their blogs and gaining me some valuable exposure. The schedule is as follows:

October 19th – Mary Waibel’s blog:  http://waibelworld.blogspot.com/
October 22nd – Heather Letto’s blog:  http://drivingblindproductions.wordpress.com/
November 5th – Penny Estelle’s blog:  http://pennyestelle.blogspot.com/
November 10th – Beverly McClure’s blog:  http://beverlystowemcclure.blogspot.com/
November 15th – Zara Hoffman’s blog:  http://www.zarahoffman.com/blog
November 21st – Erin Albert’s blog:  http://www.erinalbertbooks.com/erins-blog.html

Be sure to stop by these blogs and peruse them. Bloggers are able to track the stats of how many visits they get on a daily basis, so let’s give them each a couple of hundred more clicks when they highlight my book. So head on over to Mary Waibel’s site today!

The other awesome thing is that I will be topping off the blog tour with an appearance at an Author’s Salon at the Lift Bridge Book Store in Brockport, NY on November 29th. That is the Saturday after Thanksgiving. So if you are in the Rochester, NY area (my hometown) and want to stop by, I would love to see you.

Friday, September 5, 2014

I'm baaaack...

It has been a long time, friends. Summer is over, I've had some book signings and sales events, but ultimately, I think the reason I have been kind of silent lately is that I have been discouraged. I'm sure this is fairly normal when one is trying to get one's name out there, but it is tiring and knocks you down on many occasions. I can understand the value of traditional publishing; you have people with contacts and marketing and you can focus on writing. But when you are marketing, and it isn't going well, you (and by you I mean me) lose the drive to actually write.  Maybe know that the craziness of summer is over and a more normal life routine can be established I can get back to writing. Maybe.

Nevertheless, I'm still plugging away at Council of Ancients, but it is going a lot more slowly. I'm 12 chapters in, and am struggling with the pacing; Is it going fast enough to keep readers interested without skimping on story? I'll just keep plugging away and stick to the plan. Thanks for following me and I really hope to be out of this rut soon. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

I guess I can safely announce my next book signing! Yes, I will be at Wegmans in Johnson City, NY on Saturday, July 12th from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM. Come by and maybe bring someone who would like to buy the book and get it signed! Hope to see you there!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Exciting news!

Exciting news!  I think I just got another book signing scheduled!  A big place with lots of traffic...details to come soon!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Welcome for Twitter followers

I wanted to give a big welcome to all of the Twitter followers that have joined over the last week.  I would love for you to experience my book, so if you click the link below, you will download a PDF of the first five chapters of Jason and the Draconauts.  I hope you enjoy the book and tweet and re-tweet this to anyone that may also enjoy it!


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Council of Ancients

I received a very nice review on Goodreads about the book, but the big feedback I got from that was that she didn't like the cliffhanger ending.  The fact is, there are readers who like closure and I really appreciate that.  I grew up reading comics and graphic novels, and they are replete with cliff hanger endings, so I guess it is something that never really bothered me.  I tried not to leave the characters of Jason and the Draconauts in complete peril by the book's end, but I definitely wanted to say that the story was not ending on the last page. 

I also am not posting the chapters to the new book is a serialized fashion like I did the last.  Some people may be disappointed in that, but I want the next book to be just that; a book.  My approach this time is definitely NOT a write-to-post point of view, and it is making me feel relaxed in my writing that I don't need to hurry up and get the next installment out there.

However, I do want to give you a status update on Jason and the Draconauts: The Council of Ancients.  Yes...I am writing it.  Yes...I have a dent in it.  I am about six and a half chapters in.  If you want a preview, you can scroll through the Facebook page and find the first chapter to download.  One of the big things that just happened was that our villain, Karura, finally acquired the 'artifact' he cryptically mentioned in the first book, and thinks it will turn the tide in his war with the dragons.  Also, another member of the Order of the Scale has been introduced (that means a new human character AND a new dragon character as well).  This new character will bring a resource to the story that will reveal what this 'Council of Ancients' actually is as well as answer the mysterious question, "What is the Fifth?"

Thanks for being fans and reading.  Stay tuned for more information!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

April showers bring new blogposts

It has been a while since my last blog post.  It would seem that WHILE you are writing a book, there isn’t a whole lot of news to post.  “Hey, just finished a page!” or “Wow, that edit was a rough one!” doesn’t seem like the gripping reading into which you would want to invest your time.

The marketing/promotion front is slow right now.  This is the downside of self publishing.  I have managed to get the book in Wegmans, our local supermarket chain store, but trying to get a book signing there has not gone as quickly as I would like.  But, I need to trust in the process and hope that things will work out.

I do have a reading scheduled on the horizon, so that is a good thing!  I will be crossing the state line into Pennsylvania to read to 5th through 9th graders at the Blue Ridge School District in mid-April.  There are a couple of local gigs I am working on as well, but it is a little too early to reveal anything right now.

The big disappointment, however, was not making it to the next level of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel of 2014 contest.  I know it was my first attempt at anything like that, but it is still heart breaking, and it is hard not to take it as a personal blow.  I have also started dipping my literary big toe in the cold waters of finding a literary agent.  But, as with the contest, have only experienced rejection on that part as well.  And here is where I am seeing the conundrum of the traditional vs. self-publishing route.  The traditional arena seems like a very closed system; seemingly designed to inflict rejection after rejection, demoralization after demoralization until only those most stout of heart or numb of an sort to feelings survive.  I guess this is the way to weed out the stragglers and boil it down to the best of the best.  Still, it seems crushing and probably many a good author have fallen by the wayside as a result of the system.

Of course, that leaves the self-publishing route, which is much easier than it ever was, but as I am learning that without the backing of an agent or a publisher, the marketing of your book suffers greatly.  What good is a self-published book, good or bad, if you can’t get people to read it?  Sure, there is an initial thrill of seeing this finished work in your hands and selling a hundred copies or so, but once that tapers off you are at a loss of where to go next.

Yet, amidst my various marketing issues, I have made progress on Council of Ancients.  I’m about five chapters in, and am starting to set up the overall conflict of the book.  Two new and important characters have been introduced, both of which you met if you got the link to the first chapter on the Facebook page, and I think right around Chapter 6 I will be addressing the riddle of the “artifact” Karura was trying to obtain back in book 1.

So…thanks for reading my random musings and stay tuned; I will post more whenever news becomes available!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

He IS still alive!

Hi everyone,

It has been quite some time since I posted any news.  The main reason is...well...there isn't a whole lot that is new.

1) Sales have slowed down some.  I'm not surprised since the holidays are over, but that leads me to...

2) Marketing.  That is one of the big weaknesses of self publishing is that you are kind of on your own to figure out ways to get the word out.  So that is really my BIG challenge right now.  I am trying to arrange gigs at a couple of more local schools and I am working on getting the book in a chain store that has branches all over the northeast (no, not Barnes and Noble.  I wish...)  The book would only be in my local branch, but if you have one of these places in your area, you could ask to have it there.  More on that as info becomes more firm.

3) Book 2.  Yes, I am working on it.  I have 4 chapters written so far and am plugging along.  I am not sure if I will be posting chapters as I finish them like I did the first book, but I will be sure to have stuff to whet your appetites every now and then.  Maybe a picture of a new dragon soon.

Anyway, stay tuned, and get the word out.  Anything YOU can do to help spread the word is GREATLY appreciated!

Monday, January 6, 2014

2013 in review

Well, the chaos of the holidays is finally over and the long winter doldrums have finally set in.  And here, in upstate New York, they may not end until late April (sigh).

BUT...2013 was an amazing year as well!  The book was finished, a successful Kickstarter campaign funded the self publishing, a cover was created, the book was professionally edited, and now it is in people's hands!  I can hardly believe it; it is pretty surreal.  I've been interviewed, covered in the paper, and had a couple of book signing events.  Three schools have welcomed me to read to over 100 students.  And I estimate probably around 100 books are out there in people's hands.  I am filled with a deep sense of gratitude, but humility at the same time.  It is very early in the process, and it is hard to find a healthy balance of hope and realism.  I have gotten some really great feedback, but at the same time I know it is probably just a fraction of one percent of authors that really "make it".

That being said, this book is the first of a series, and I am committed to that.  So even though I still need to wade through the confusing waters of promoting one's self, I am faced with one big reality in this beginning of 2014...

Time to start a NEW book :-)