Tuesday, November 28, 2017

A is for Author by Shayla McBride (VNBtM, guest post, excerpt, and GIVEAWAY) GFT

ELF: I have the pleasure of a guest post from author Shayla McBride, who shares her thoughts on...

SMcB: Thanks for trying to help early writers. It really is a neglected portion of the industry, and one that deserves far more help than it gets. The biggest problem I see is that everyone who is literate can, by definition, write. So, also by definition, they are a writer. Yes, but of the quotidian. Genre fiction is a very special and demanding beast.

A is for Author is one writer’s attempt to help new and aspiring writers gain sufficient information on the basic aspects of our craft that more advanced books really don’t contain. I cringe when looking at the offerings in book stores and on-line. A how-to that promises you can write a best-selling first novel? Absurd. Many of the more helpful books assume a level of knowledge the early writer simply doesn’t have. So reading them is frustrating and confusing.

Importantly, most aspiring writers enter the field thinking they can write genre fiction. It’s a horrible shock when the words don’t behave themselves, the characters turn into speechless dolts, and the plot dissolves into a misty, meaningless fog. What’s going on? Most of us have been writing most of our lives. What’s happened to that talent? Creating genre fiction is not the same as writing a report, a term paper, or the annual holiday letter to friends and family. It’s unique and damned hard to learn. Hemingway put it perfectly: We are all apprentices in a craft we will never master.

So…enter A is for Author. Basic, no-nonsense help to master a craft.

I’ve critiqued, coached, taught and mentored a lot of newbie writers and the process of learning how to write genre fiction is pretty much the same for everyone. Most new writers are hungry for feedback but don’t know how, or even what, to ask. It usually boils down to “How am I doing?”, or “Am I on the right track?”.

As most writers discover, trying to get simple answers to simple questions isn’t easy. A is for Author seeks to answer a lot – 333-plus – of questions on every subject I could think up or find during my research. While most of the entries cover basics, I think there’s enough to interest a mid-grade writer. From genre requirements and character development to sex and violence to branding and publishing, there’s truly something for almost every writer.

Here’s a fun factoid I discovered during my seven months of research. Look at the barcode on any book. See the ISBN? They all start with the same three digits: 978. This is the country code, as each country used to have its own code to denote the book’s origin. The digital age changed that. Now all books come from 978: Bookland. That’s the official name. I think that is very cool. We are all citizens of Bookland.

Your book, of course, will be available world-wide once you have released it. What I would most strongly suggest is that you do not publish your first novel. It’s your “training wheels” and contains so many errors and weaknesses it may not be of interest to an uninvested reader (like your mom).

Honestly, in the beginning, you don’t know enough to judge the worth of your first book. I have known fledgling authors who have succumbed to the ease and supposed prestige of being a published author, and the stress of trying to sell an unsellable novel is debilitating, frustrating, and at times humiliating. And those one-star ratings stay with you a long time. Just because you can do it doesn’t mean it’s the best step in establishing a solid writing career.

Time to hop off the soapbox. Seeing new writers learn their craft is very exciting for me. Helping a writer better understand word choice or villain development is fun. I love sharing, passing on, what I’ve learned.

A is for Author is as much a labor of love as a learning tool for the would-be writer. And it makes a great present, too. The trade paperback is available at Amazon.


by Shayla McBride


GENRE:   help for early writers; non-fiction



Want to write a book of your own? A is for Author can jump-start you on the path to success. Friendly and candid, and a touch curmudgeonly, Shayla gives you the basics on 333-plus must-know subjects that many how-to-write books overlook. Industry jargon is clarified, technique explained, branding and promotion examined, and sex (sort of) illuminated. Easy to read, A is for Author is not only an essential for the new writer, but the perfect holiday gift.



It’s estimated that over ninety percent of Americans think they have a book in them. You may be one of those hopeful 290,000,000 citizens. Or maybe you live outside the U.S. Either way, welcome to the great  rarely-discussed dream of  writing your own original work of fiction.

It’ll be a piece of cake, right? After all, you use a lot of words every day. You’ve written reports, essays, shopping lists, holiday family updates, e-mails, tweets. You read, everything from check-out line trash to print and e-books. After you finished a recent work of fiction, you thought: I could do better than this. In fact, I think I will.

A dozen starts later, you realize it’s not quite that easy. You can see the story, but everything’s gauzy. You can’t find the words. It takes a lot of words to make a novel, the right words, in the right order. Your initial effort is disorganized, repetitive, and meandering. Why’s it such a mess? You’d never realized books had to be edited. Can yours be saved? Should it be saved?

When you begin writing, you don’t know what to look for. You don’t know the basics of construction, the techniques, the terminology or reader expectations. You simply do not realize what you don’t know.

So many questions, so few easily accessible answers. You’re not alone. Everyone who’s ever embarked on the journey of creating genre fiction from their own imagination follows the same basic path and has the same questions.

Genre fiction is commercial fiction: adventures, fantasies, Mysteries, paranormals, Romances, sci-fi, thrillers. That’s what we’re talking about here.

What you write, your style, will be unique to you. The process itself isn’t. Your questions about writing are neither stupid nor unusual. Every person who writes, including me, has had them. I’ve tried to answer a lot of them—333-plus, but who’s counting?—to make the mysterious world of fiction writing more explicable. My aim is to answer many of your questions in this book.

As with most writing advice, nothing in here is one hundred percent true for all situations or all writers. Almost nothing is absolute. This book is based on my experience in laboring to attain a publishable level of writing skill.

Through teaching classes, counseling writers, and being part of critique groups, I know newer writers pretty much do the same things, and most do the same things in the same order. All wonder how they’re doing without knowing how or where to find the answer.

Most of the subjects addressed are available in expanded form on-line, in other books on writing and through classes, both on-line and in person. Check the back matter for any authors mentioned, plus digital and hard copy sources.

This is a demanding gig with a long learning curve. It’s fair to state that you will never stop learning, no matter how much success you attain. Even New York Times best-selling authors have said they’re ready to take their craft “to the next level”. The information in here is mostly for beginners, although those of you working farther along the continuum may find items of interest.

My first suggestion: read this book in sips, not gulps. There’s nuggets in here that took me years to internalize and you’ll probably travel the same route (hopefully quicker). Because you don’t have to read in order, and I don’t know how you’ll consume this, there’s some unavoidable repetition. I’ve added blank pages; feel free to scribble.

As with ballroom dancing, gymnastics, or oil painting, there are baby steps to take. Any craft has basics to master before moving forward, and writing is one of the most demanding of crafts. As Ernest Hemingway once wrote,

“We are all apprentices in a craft we will never master.”


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Think of the worst photo you’ve ever had taken. End-of-binge candid, strawpile hair, baggy eyes even Photoshop couldn’t erase, an Autumn shirt and you’re absolutely a Spring. Multiply that by ten. That’s how much the camera likes Shayla. So...no photo.

I’m a native of New York. Now I live in Florida, on the edge of Irma’s path. We’re fine, thanks, although Princess CooCoo refused to come inside while canines were in emergency residence. Before Florida, I lived in Maryland and Morocco. Two years in southern Morocco, in a small town near the Atlantic coast where I was a Peace Corps volunteer, convinced me we can all get along, but we have to try a lot harder than we are now. The previous twenty years in Annapolis, MD convinced me that “Crabtown” is the best, prettiest, funnest state capitol in the US.
At the end of Peace Corps, the idea was I’d move to Paris and become an expat. It was all about the food, of course. And the wine. But my kids are in Florida...so here I am drinking French wine while hurricanes roar instead of drinking it while sitting in a café on the Champs Elysées.
But I wouldn’t be a writer if I’d gone to France, and A is for Author would never have been written. Think of all the new writers who would’ve suffered without that book! And don’t forget the ever-enduring hero Carl Tanner, Key West’s Jake Baron and Margo Hollander, and hilltown Italy’s Marco McCabe and Laura Walter (and all the others) who would never have seen the light of day. Or the black and white of your e-reader or paperback. So it’s all to the good. But...I sure do miss a decent baguette...
I write, on average, seven hours a weekday. Obviously I have no time for housework; fine by me. I do have time for gardening, cooking, painting (house and fabric), my kids and friends, the Florida Symphony, and my fave, travel. I love exploring third world countries, especially their food and music. Street food: yum! Any ancient ruin is on my to-do list, as is any colonial town regardless of age. One of my favorites? Trinidad, Cuba (founded 1514). I do have a photo of Trinidad, and of a delicious garbanzo-ham-chorizo dish I had there. Find it on my website.
Thanks for visiting...Shayla



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The tour dates can be found here

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Bringer of Chaos: Forged in Fire by Kayelle Allen (Cover reveal, excerpt, GIVEAWAYS) RBC


Bringer of Chaos: Forged in Fire 
The Sempervian Saga (Book 2)  
by Kayelle Allen

Humans created the Ultras, a genetically enhanced race, to defend mankind. Instead, Ultras became their greatest threat. With the help of traitors, humans captured half a million of the immortal warriors.
Exiled to an alien world with no tech, no tools, and no resources, their leader, Pietas, must protect his people, find food and shelter and unite them. But before he can, he must regain command from a ruthless adversary he's fought for centuries--his brutal, merciless father.
Ultras are immortal, and no matter how they die, they come back. Reviving after death isn't all it's cracked up to be. Some wounds heal instantly and a few take time, but battered and broken trust? Immortals may heal, but a wound of the heart lasts forever.

Genre: Science Fiction with romantic elements
Rating: PG13 for violence, no profanity or explicit content
Cover artist Brumae DeviantArt  Facebook 


In this scene, Pietas performs a ritual with the help of his friend, Six.

Pietas's long hair, full of static electricity from the wind and storm, settled over his shoulders and adhered to his neck. He could not lift his arms to gather it himself but he did not want the others to see he needed help nor did he want Six fretting over it.

The man blamed himself for the injury. Yes, Six had bound Pietas. It had been Six's duty to do so. In truth, those who had placed Pietas inside the pod and refused to release him were to blame, but no matter how often he reminded Six of that, the ghost refused to relinquish his guilt.

Six dug into his pockets. "I think I have another strip." They had torn several from a ragged shirt. Six wore the biggest piece around his neck. He set down his pack and opened it.

"Six," Pietas hissed. He did not turn his head, but looked toward the others. "Leave it!"

The ghost glanced up at him, then the immortals, waiting ahead. "You want the women messing with your hair? Is that it?"

He closed his eyes, counting to ten. To a hundred would not erase this embarrassment. "No." When he beheld Six, the man had the discourtesy to smirk. "Don't look at me in that tone of voice."

The man chuckled. "We should have cut your hair before we set out." He rummaged through his kit, which held all Six owned when he'd been abandoned on this world. Little more than survival gear.

"I never cut it except in ritual."

"I know." Six withdrew a boning knife used for it.

Before every battle, Pietas performed the solemn rite to affirm superior strength and prowess. The ghost had been the first human to see it carried out, albeit the first half from a distance while hiding.

Six stood. "Maybe you could perform it now."

"How like you to see the easy solution. But there are a few elements missing. No fire. No water. No mask." He gestured toward the oncoming storm. "No time."

"Haven't you ever heard of pretending?"

"One cannot 'pretend' a ritual."

"What a boring childhood you must've had. Why not?"

Pietas opened his mouth to answer. Shut it again.

Six lifted one eyebrow. "Do you want to go into that dark hole and meet up with your people without performing it?"

"No, but there's no time."

"Rain's coming." Six jerked a thumb toward the forest. "Like I said, you have to go in there or you won't reunite with your people. Are you going to stand out here making excuses, or do this?"

"Ghost, this ritual is important. It deserves respect."

"Blah, blah, blah. That storm is bearing down on us." A few drops of rain splattered them both. "See? Or maybe you'd rather have your sister help you with your hair every morning."

"Fine!" With a resigned sigh, Pietas capitulated. "How do you propose we 'pretend' my ritual?"

Six tucked the knife into his belt and held out his cupped hands. "This is fire."

Pietas hesitated.

"Come on, Pi." Six wagged his cupped hands. "This stuff is hot."

"Of course it is." A smile slipped onto his face and refused to leave. "It's pretend fire. That's the hottest kind."

"Remember, you do this naked. Unzip your robe or whatever it is you'd wear."

Pietas mimed removing his silk robe. He plucked one hair and laid it across Six's hands, feeding it to the fire. "As fire has victory over life, so I have victory over my enemies." He passed a hand through the imaginary flame. As he had in the real ritual, he hissed at the scorching heat. He cupped his hands over Six's, a symbolic end to the flames. "I am powerful, as fire is powerful."

"Next is air, right?"

"Yes." He lifted both hands, made fists, and yanked them back. "I own the wind. I prevail over the breath of my enemies."

Again, Six cupped his hands. "Water."

"Water submits to my presence the way enemies submit to my will." He scooped his hands into the bowl, lifted his arms and pictured the liquid dripping down them. "The blood of my enemies trickles into the pool of time, is absorbed, and forgotten." He bent and pushed both hands through his hair. "My mind is clear. I do not waver."

Six held his hands flat, waist high. "The pond."

Pietas ducked as if to submerse himself, then rose, throwing back his head. "My body submits to my will. No pain defeats me. No fear touches me." He brushed his hands down the length of his body. "My will is absolute. I am bigger than any fear. I prevail in every circumstance. I face every foe. I vanquish every enemy. I overcome. I am indomitable. I am invincible."

"Black face paint for the mask." Six held out his hands.

The ceremonial mask represented a splash of blood across his face received during battle. 

Dipping two fingers of each hand into the bowl, Pietas outlined a bandit's mask up over his dark eyebrows to the area beneath his eyes. He brushed his fingertips over his eyelids and met Six's gaze.

Finding a mixture of awe and respect threw him out of the moment. He faltered, unable to recall what came next.

Six offered the knife hilt first.

The man had seen the ritual performed once, from a distance, yet he'd remembered each step. Six wouldn't have known the next part was performed by Pietas's sister if no trusted partner or friend was at hand. The time Six had seen it done, Pietas had not yet considered him either one.

How wrong he had been. The man was more than both.

Bringer of Chaos: The Origin of Pietas 
The Sempervian Saga (Book 1)

Why should Pietas end the war with humans?
His people are winning, yet they insist on peace talks. The Ultra people want to grant humans a seat on the Council. 

Pietas ap Lorectic, Chancellor of the High Council, War Leader and First Conqueror, disagrees. What's best for mortals is oppression, control, and if necessary, elimination.
Pietas seethes with rage at the idea of human equality. Humans might have created Ultras, but the creation has far surpassed the creator. Humans die. Ultras are reborn, no matter how grievous the injury. They have no equals.
His people permit him no choice. He must attend these insipid peace talks on Enderium Six and what's worse, be polite. To humans.
When a human special ops warrior is killed in battle, he's resurrected in a secret process and inducted into the Ghost Corps. He's given enough strength to perma-kill immortal Ultras. Ghosts are the most hated and feared of warriors.
When the ghost entraps and captures Pietas at the peace talks, the two begin a long journey toward Sempervia, an isolated and forgotten world. Once there, Pietas is marooned and the ghost abandoned alongside him. The two must either fight to perma-death, or join forces to survive.

As Pietas comes to trust the human, an unlikely and awkward friendship begins. Until he discovers how ghosts are resurrected...

Giveaway - Free Download
Free -- download Endure, Illustrated Quotes by Pietas (as told to Kayelle Allen). Enjoy an exclusive collection of quotes on the concept of endurance by the man known to other immortals as the Bringer of Chaos. Link

Download a free adult coloring book you can print and share. Relax and color with friends. It's fun! Link

Mythic Heroes and Misbehaving Robots:

Kayelle Allen writes Sci Fi with mythic heroes, misbehaving robots, role playing immortal gamers, and warriors who purr. She's a US Navy veteran and has been married so long she's tenured.


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Thursday, November 23, 2017

Contests, giveaways, and chatting...

Whether today is a well-fed holiday or a bargain-hunting shopping day or a regular run-of-the-mill day...don't forget to read! A few of the authors I work with have titles that either have recently released or are about to:


(and some are ADULT titles)


There are multiple contests going on (and a few that I forgot to enter, darn it, lol)

Night Owl Reviews has the Winter Wonderland Reader Scavenger Hunt

The Colors of Love Blog Hop has both a FB component and a blog hop component (those of us non-FB folks REALLY appreciate not being excluded!)
Don't miss the fun video on Kiru Taye's stop!

Writerspace.com always has plenty of contests, and although I am sad they have moved the author chats to FB, there are opportunities there for one to win prizes as well, I suspect

Coffee Time Romance has a contest page as well as occasional giveaways sprinkled through the blog.

Reviews by Crystal blog frequently has giveaway contests

Love Books Love Authors has a couple of giveaways.

I will get extra entries if you enter from the following links for the following contests...and be warned, you may be added to authors' newsletters:

The Book Nymph's

November Fantasy Book Fair and Kindle Giveaway
November Romance Book Fair and Kindle Giveaway


Do you like to interact directly with authors? Come join us and chat with some fascinating romance authors. It's a typing chat, so you can be comfy in your pajamas (or out of them, lol). There are often prizes available and it's a wonderful opportunity

On Friday evenings at 6 p.m. (west coast US), join us at this link to get silly, talk about books, and chat with authors who have dropped in. There is usually a different genre featured every week (schedule at this link)

We are holding a special chat on Saturday, Dec. 2, at noon (west coast US) that should have some UK authors in addition to others that can't make it on Friday evenings.

If you are an author who would like to share news about your books, feel free to leave a comment with your contact info.

On Mondays, there are also Night Owl Romance Chats that feature several authors. They are not every week this year, but that will change next year.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving

to all of you who celebrate!

I wish all of you who are observing this holiday a well-fed and restful day with minimal drama and lots of wonderful memories. Those of you who are like me and far more proficient at using the microwave than taking care of a multi-step recipe, GOOD LUCK!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Shadows, Shells, and Spain by John Meyer (VBT, guest post, excerpt, and GIVEAWAY) GFT

It is my pleasure to share a guest post by author John Meyer, who shares his answer to the question...


ELF:  What do you think is the strongest attraction about the genre you like to write in?

JM:  I initially wanted to combine my love of writing with my love of traveling. Naturally, I first explored writing non-fiction travel books. However, they never quite satisfied me. They were always (simple) stories about a man or a woman climbing a mountain, or walking through a jungle, or building a country home in a place like Tuscany. While those are all valid pursuits, I found that they often lacked much human drama or interesting characters. (Not always true but I think you get my point…) The narrator either accomplished their task – or they didn’t. That’s it.

So I wanted to utilize my favorite elements of a travel book and add more or a personal adventure—even a fictional one. That’s when I came up with my concept for something I called a fictional travel memoir. The fun part was that I would travel to these foreign countries and then use the characters I met, the experiences I had, and the challenges I faced to create a fictional story far greater than my own journey.

So the immediate attraction for my newly chosen genre was that I get to extensively travel. I simply can't write my books without first participating in the same events that my main character does. In the first book, I spent two weeks in Siena, Italy to witness their Palio festival. In my second book, I had to run with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain a couple of times in order to understand its thrill and ultimate danger. And in my third book, I had to walk across Spain in order to write about the physically exhausting but mind-altering Spanish Camino.

It's also important for me that the story takes place in real time. If my trip takes 22 days, the main character's trip takes 22 days. Because the one theme that always pervades my books is that the adventures are entirely truthful and possible. The story is fictional but the traveling part is authentic. Those descriptive passages are always true…to me. And I want you to experience them too. Maybe your conclusions would be completely different from mine but that's the wonderful mystery of traveling. However, the only way I can competently express my feelings for the exotic locations that are featured in my books are through my main character.
The journey also informs me of my minor characters who I meet along the way and, of course, that same adventure also provides me with the rich history and amusing anecdotes I want to convey to my readers.
So in the month of June 2014, I walked the Spanish Camino from Pamplona to Santiago de Compostela. The adventure had everything I needed to write my new book, Shadows, Shells, and Spain. I had the rich history of the Camino; I uncovered interesting anecdotes in every town; and I met wonderful characters from around the world. All I needed to do was add my story…


John Meyer writes fictional travel memoirs—unique adventure stories that combine fun facts of history with present-day drama and humor—always revolving around a fictitious love story and always based on his own thrilling journeys. His previous publication, Bullets, Butterflies, and Italy, was selected as a November Best Book by Chatelaine magazine. Meyer is also the studio writer for Entertainment Tonight Canada and has been ever since the popular daily show launched back in 2005.


by John Meyer


GENRE:   Travel fiction


John Meyer's "Shadows, Shells, and Spain" is a thrilling new adventure where a husband desperately searches for his missing wife along the ancient Camino trail across northern Spain. It’s also a bold, new take on a modern-day pilgrimage that feeds the mind and soul of every character while testing the limits of their bodies... and their comfort zones.



 “Honestly, Jamie. She says one thing one minute, then completely changes her mind the next. Am I supposed to be psychic or something?”

“Is this that dog food client again?”

“No. Mother.” Then, after a beat, “I mean, I’m going to lose my mind any day now, I swear. She never likes any of my ideas, and I’m the one who’s always getting screwed.”

“Your mother?”

“No, dog food.”

Because of my literary failures and her daily creative battles, our conversations in the bedroom were rarely about our relationship and usually about our preoccupations.

“Jamie, would you ever buy a lipstick for men?”

“Never . . . Listen, Pam, do you think it would hurt a lot if I killed you with a shovel?”

“Yeah, probably . . . So, tell me, what’s the first thing that comes to mind when I say the words ‘fish taco’?”

“Fish with Spanish accents . . . Do you know where someone can buy arsenic? Do you think they have a store for that?”

“Walmart probably has a whole aisle for that. Honestly, Jamie, these clients really expect me to pull rabbits out of my ass every time I see them.”

“If you could pull rabbits out of your ass, we could hit the road and make some serious, serious money.”

“You’d pay serious, serious money to see me pull rabbits out of my ass?”

“Do you take credit cards?”

Buy links:

To get your own paperback or ebook copies from the author visit his website
(also available at Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, Kobo, Nook, Apple, and other ebook providers).
To learn more about the Camino, click here.


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

John Meyer writes fictional travel memoirs—unique adventure stories that combine fun facts of history with present-day drama and humor—always revolving around a fictitious love story and always based on his own thrilling journeys. His previous publication, Bullets, Butterflies, and Italy, was selected as a November Best Book by Chatelaine magazine. Meyer is also the studio writer for Entertainment Tonight Canada and has been ever since the popular daily show launched back in 2005.



a Rafflecopter giveaway

The tour dates can be found here