Oz, Part 2

In Part one we discussed how Oz fails at making anything not about it’s protagonist.  It’s not just that everything the women do is focused or affected by Oscar though.  The worst part for me was the absolute fawning over Oscar’s womanizing.

In the beginning, Oscar decieves three women.  The ‘magician’s assistant’ the strongman’s assistant (off screen), and the girl he let get away.  He’s shown to be playing with the two assistants, and actually cares for the other girl, enough to let her go.

Aw.

Not.

Because then he shouts, as the Tornado is sucking him in “I can be good!  I can change!  Just give me a chance!!”

And then he gets to Oz and he seduces Theodora with no intention on following through, first thing.

Great change there, bud.

It somehow manages to get worse.  Oscar’s seduction of Theodora was inelegant at best, but ok, sure, maybe she was taken in.  I’ll accept it.  But it just never lets up on that tangent.  Evanora uses his deception as a base to trick Theodora into the apple (I’ll give this to the creators, the little nods to Fairy Tales were nice).  Then, when Theodora realizes that she’s been tricked and misled, her sister is the evil one, is the one that was hurting the people she professed in the beginning to care so much for… she decides to hate Oscar some more?

Priority issues.

Excuse me, what?  Ok, sure I’d still be mad at the misleading bastard, but wouldn’t burning all the love out of you mean you no longer had loyalty to your sister who just fucked you over and turned you into a horrible creature?  I mean, shit, this was the part of the movie where even my mother, who doesn’t automatically deconstruct these movies like I do, went “Wait.  What just happened?” and I had to admit that I had no idea.

And then to top it all off, at the very end, when Oscar has sent the sisters running, and Evanora is defeated by Glinda, and hooray!  Just as Theodora is flying off on her broom, he says, all solemn like “I know this evil wasn’t of your own making…” and is all extending the olive branch of peace.  When it was his deception that hurt her, and his running off that set her off, and his duplicity with seducing her and then being all happy with Glinda that made it so easy for Evanora to fuck with her sister.  Evanora provided Theodora the apple, but Oscar might as well have hand fed it to her.

And at the end, he has the audacity to say “This evil was not of your own making”?!

What.  The.  Fuck.  

Damn right it wasn’t of her making!  It was yours!  And there is nothing to indicate he takes responsibility for it.  In essence, Oscar pulls the same shit (after promising to change, no less), but instead of learning his lesson, he’s rewarded.  

In character, yes, Oscar doesn’t know why exactly Theodora turned.  And neither does Glinda.  Which is probably why she gives him the traditional Hero’s Journey kiss at the end (fuck my life -.-) instead of telling him to fuck off when he invites her into a back room.

But just like Riddick, we’re not talking about the characters while they are in plot.  We are talking about them in a meta fashion – a magnifying glass through the fourth wall.  Oscar in the end, is a terrible character not only for what he does, but for what he doesn’t do.  Who is he at the end that he wasn’t at the beginning?  What growth does he actually demonstrate?  Worst of all, what does Oscar’s absolute lack of punishment for his deception of Theodora, thus creating a terrible villain for Oz to deal with later, and indeed, even being rewarded for his vanquishing of the villain he made say?

Nothing good, I hope we can all agree.

Now, you could try to argue this from the point that the movie was actually a warning about warring over a man.

Wait.  No, you can’t.  Because Oscar won, the day was saved, and the protagonist got the girl and learned that he was stronger than he ever believed.

Why?  Because he’s the good guy.  Duh.

Did this annoy you as much as it did me?  Sorry about all the cursing, but this is seriously skewed, and I figured it could benefit from a little strong language.  Part 3 will discuss what we can do with this amazing lack of self awareness in the story.

Reviews and How to Handle Them…

So, Pandora’s Ring got a 2 star review.

My first reaction was “WAAAAAAAAAAH. WHHHHHHHHHHHHHHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY?” and lots of other mewling, moaning and otherwise carrying on.  It wasn’t particularly pretty and I’m not exactly proud of it.

Ok, to be totally honest with you all here, I didn’t really even read the review.  I saw the star rating and went “Nope.  Not reading.  Not now.”

So then I asked a friend to read it for me and tell me how bad it really was.

And now I wish I’d read that review a lot earlier.

You see, the reviewer (a friend of mine from college) had some really good points to make, and while the book only got two stars, it was backed up with a long, in depth review of what worked, and what I had been missing.  It was funny, reading it, because most of the stuff she said was things I’d heard before, from a variety of people, and they were all true.  There was lots of truthy truth, and really making it clear what the weaknesses in my writing were.

A blow to my ego?  Sure.  Yeah.

Invaluable critiscism?  Oh hell yes.

While I can’t go in and take her points into account on Sword’s Blessings (the file is already finished and populated into it’s digital book format.) I can go ahead and start fixing it right now in the third book, and I can take it in account while continuing work on The Athele Series.  I’ve also asked her to serve as a critical reader so that I can utilize her eye for plot and character.

Now, it’s not that I’m not disappointed with myself that dang it, that’s a two star review, and that’s really not a shiny thing.  However, I have to remind myself: this is the pregame.  Pandora’s Ring is not the end.  So long as I keep writing, and keep listening to reviewers and not letting my ego make me ignore these things, it’s not over.  Writing is like running.  It’s not about the one run, on that one night, or even that one race on that one day.  It’s about the long run, and it’s not over until I stop writing and give up.

So how do you deal with critiscism?

A Writer’s Responsibility

Ok, so here’s the thing.

We live in the internet age.  This is super special.  Why?  Because in the internet age, you no longer have to wonder  about anything.

“Gee, what shape is our heart, really?”
“How do I get this stain out?”
“Where do I find some bangin’ boots for my Halloween party?”
“How can I make this extremely odd dish?”

It used to be we’d ask our friends, and if they didn’t know, we’d call someone, and if they didn’t know, we might go to the library and browse some books, or maybe go to a specialty store that would know.

Nowadays though, we just grab our beverage of choice, sidle up to the computer, and ask Lady Google or that Yahoo gentleman.

This is a convenience and a trouble all in one.  It’s a convenience for the obvious reasons: now we can get information faster and easier than every before.  It’s a trouble because everyone knows you can get that information at the drop of a hat.  So if you’re wrong… you’re not only wrong, you’re lazy and wrong.

Which brings me to Riddick.  As I mentioned, Riddick relies a lot on it’s stereotypes, which should be faux pas enough thanks to tvtropes.com.  But there’s one particular stereotype, and the “plot twist” it takes, which makes me wonder what rock the writers had their heads under, and it all has to do with Dahl, the token strong chick.

Dahl.  Now, first, I want to emphasize that the actress did an amazing job with her part.  It was perfect.  I really loved the character, I’m mad at the writers who made the character.   Why?  Because either they were abysmally lazy in their writing, or straight up dumb in their research.

First of all, can we talk about her name?  Dahl?  For a girl?  Michael said he assumed it was a last name (which it was), but on hearing it the first time, my first thought was “why the fuck are they calling the token strong female ‘doll?!’”  It wasn’t until the credits rolled that I realized her name was spelled D-A-H-L.  Ok, I get it, symbolic naming, but really?  REALLY!?  I shouldn’t have to outline why this little homophone is uncool (hint; women as objects).  Smith would have been better.  By light years.

Next, if you aren’t aware of the movie’s “twist” regarding Dahl, sorry, you’ve had a few weeks to see it, so I’m going to spoil you.  You see, she proclaims that she’s a Lesbian near the beginning of the movie.  It is never indicated, by action or word that she isn’t telling the full truth.  There’s some seductive lines thrown at her by Riddick (I guess it was supposed to be flirting?  I didn’t think it came off that she was responsive to it.) and then by the end of the movie she magically wants to sleep with Riddick.  (Because he’s so Manly for nearly getting killed?  I don’t know.)

Why do I call this a research problem, rather than a lazy writing problem?  As I said, it’s both.  In the Lazy writing arena, it’s… it’s done to death, guys.  It’s even a tvtrope.  I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and mention that they may have been trying to imply that Dahl was lying when she said she didn’t sleep with men, you know, just saying it to try and dissuade the bad guys from hitting on her.  However, she never corrected that declaration either to the audience privately, or to any other character in the movie.  All of my problems with this character could have been evaporated with nothing more than a ten second conversation between Dahl and her superior:

“Why’d you say you didn’t sleep with men?”
“He doesn’t even deserve to think he has a chance.”
“Does that excuse even work?”
“No.  Figured it was worth a try.”  *gun cock*  “This is my plan B.”

Done.  That’s ALL THEY NEEDED TO MAKE THIS OK.  We can say “oh, but I assumed”.  That’s the problem though.  We can assume a lot, and a lot of people do, but when it comes to mindfully consuming media, you have to look at exactly what is given, not because we’re trying to demonize anyone, but because exactly what is given, that face value, is what worms into our subconscious and colors our perceptions of what is acceptable and what is not.

Now, let’s assume that it wasn’t merely a writing error, but that everything was meant exactly as said.  In truth, it’s probably some mix of the two of these extremes, but either way, there are several problems with the research there.  #1, if the writers had done even a little asking around, they probably would have found that “I don’t sleep with men” is not an excuse that works anyway.  Maybe that was the point?  Probably not, because, #2 Rape and harassment are not a ‘bad guy only’ thing.  The “Oooo, he’s so bad, he RAPES PEOPLE.” thing is kind of… tired, I suppose.  I was quite aware the guy was bad when he shot the prisoner in the back, I didn’t need the further obnoxiousness with Dahl.  And finally, the doozy, #3 if she’s a lesbian, she’s…uh… a lesbian.  Making her “turn straight” is incredibly offensive.

Why?  Ask yourself, what are you telling people about the LGTB community if you show Riddick’s manly manliness suddenly turning a Lesbian Straight?  You’re saying that homosexuality can be “cured” with some straight sex.  This has been the basis for lots and lots and lots of horribleawful things, all under the umbrella term of “Corrective Rape”.  That’s right, this idea is so prevalent, it has a name.  Do I think that the writers meant to perpetuate this idea?  No.  Do I think they did?  Unfortunately, Yes.

I can’t even give them the excuse of “this is a boy’s movie”.  It’s not.  I watched it.  My female friends had the intention of watching it until they read the reviews.  If you hadn’t noticed, Vin Diesel has a large female following, and Riddick does as well.  Half of all moviegoers are female.  I’m not saying please everyone, but not offending and alienating them would be nice.  The first two movies weren’t too bad for that – why did this one completely off the charts fail?

The research to understand why it was a bad idea to have this little plot twist in 2013 was all right there at google’s finger tips.  Go ahead – google “Make Lesbian Straight”.  You either get corrective therapy sites or “No.  That doesn’t happen.”  In the end, that’s why I’m writing this post.

Google is there, my friends.  I’m not saying you have to get it perfect, every time.  We’re all victims of our own blindness and privilege, and sometimes it gets the better of us.  I’m saying that if you’ve got something going on in your writing which you are not a part of (I’m white, writing characters of color, or a man, writing as a woman, etc.) pass it through someone who IS or STUDIES these things.  Analyze your words with a friend that has a careful eye.  Read up on the culture you’re going for, spend time with it on youtube or the web, or go to a board and say “Hey, I’ve got this thing, and I want to try and be right.  Someone help?”.

The information is THERE.  It is EASY.  There is no excuse.

Now for the caveat: if you liked Riddick, I’m not yelling at you.  As I said in the first post, I liked Riddick!  I really enjoyed the action, the “my side of the mountain” thing survival, the puppy dog (sadface.) and I thought it was really fun.  You are allowed to enjoy problematic media.  However, you do have to be mindful.  It’s hard, rage inducing at times, and people will get sick of you and ask “can’t you just enjoy the film/song/book?!”

The answer is yes, you can.  But we need to criticize it as well, take it in, and change the conversation to something less problematic.  That’s how you teach, that’s how we learn.  That’s the writer’s responsibility.

Lazy Character Development

A week or so ago, Michael and I saw Riddick.

I wasn’t expecting a lot – it’s a Riddick film after all.  He kicks some ass, survives the odds, maybe trades witty banter if we’re lucky.  I mean, I love Riddick.  First of all, Vin Diesel is hot.  Second, Riddick’s eyes are freaking awesome.  Third, I’m a sucker for big ol survival stories.

I wasn’t expecting like, earth shaking revelations or awe inspiring speeches.  I wasn’t expecting fantastic characters and depth from every secondary person I met.

However, I also wasn’t expecting everyone we met besides Riddick to be a straight up trope.  There was the ‘praying boy wonder’ the ‘evil but stupid’ the ‘raped female prisoner’ and of course, my favorite, ‘the strong female character’ .

Let’s be clear.  I don’t have a problem with tropes, in many cases.  Tropes and cliches are tropes and cliches for a reason.  The problem is when an author leans on the trope to do their character development for them.  No, being in a movie does not, in any way, excuse the writers for the fact that I could predict evil guy’s next move – not because I understood who he was and what his motivations were, but because the trope dictated that it would be his next move.  Can’t get the girl the first time?  Insult her!  Can’t get her a second?  Attempt to rape her!  Of course!  Praying boy shall pray, because that’s what we expect!  Surprise, though, this time it’ll work!  Strong female character shall declare she doesn’t like men, then she shall fight off rapist and then proceed to proposition the main character (oh believe me, more on that little faux pas later.)

The problem with Riddick wasn’t actually that these people did these things, but that there wasn’t a because.  (Besides, “because that’s just what you do!”) They just played their roles, and we watched.  We can’t answer why Dahl said she didn’t like men.  We can’t answer why Santana acts so big and tough when he’s clearly not.  We can’t say why the praying boy puts up with the gang of bounty hunters.  We can make it up – oh yes!  I can make up a million reasons for these things.  But here’s the problem, I’m not the one who was supposed to do that.  

Think of your favorite books.  Are you forced to come up with the character’s motivations for things they do?  Are you jumping through hoops to understand the character, or is the author offering you the viewing platform with a side of champagne?  Conversely, when you write, are you giving the reader a “because…” or are you making them figure it out for themselves?  Go back, find some character’s action and say to yourself “X did this because…” then go find the passage which explains it.

This is important.  Leaning on your tropes gives you shallow characters, which in turn gives you a shallow story.  I’ll admit, sometimes I’m just looking for explosions and man versus the world… but readers don’t only want the what.  They want the why.  Don’t make us fill it in for ourselves!

How to Start Over (in 1939348573948 easy steps.)

So you’re writing along in your manuscript and something just isn’t quite right.  There’s a plot twist missing, or someone is just giving too much information too quickly, but sadly, it takes you a few hundred words and several days of trying to choose the correct words, to realize it.

Yep.

This is where I am right now.  (well, where I was.) Ugh.  It’s the most obnoxious thing to be crawling along with a manuscript for three days only to realize that the reason you’re mired is way back at the beginning of the chapter.  Someone said something (or didn’t say something) or did something (in this case, didn’t do something) they should have done and darn it, you didn’t catch that.

It’s cool, fellow writer.  Here are a few steps to taking a deep breath and restarting yourself.

#1 Pinpoint the moment of breakitude.

When did the manuscript stop?  Where did it go off trail and start wandering, exactly?  Find the precise moment, either by reading through what you have Yes, I know your manuscript might be 100,000 words.  For all you know, it went half cocked at word 5623.  In Sword’s Blessings I went back and realized that I have just straight skipped an important beginning scene; my story was off track as of word -400 or so.  Later, I realized I’d gone off again at word 3000 or so.

#2 Figure out the solution.

There are three options:  Delete.  Add.  Change.  Sometimes it might actually be a combination, but generally that’s about the gist of it.  Actually, a lot of the time my trouble ends up being skipping a scene which makes everything make a heck of a lot more sense, not writing scenes that aren’t worthy (though that’s happened too.)  Determine your solution.

Delete is generally something which you are doing now.  

Add is usually something you have to go back and do.

Change is often the most obnoxious of the three.  Especially if changing something involving gender pronouns.  But you gotta do what you gotta do.

#3 Start a new document.

This might just be me, but if I have to go back and do some major mucking with a manuscript, I usually take a whole new document, or save as a whole new version of the manuscript, name it descriptively (Such as: Yet Another book 3 beginning) and go at it there.  That way, in my head, I haven’t actually gotten rid of any words.  I have not failed.  I’m just going to a new place, a new direction.  It also soothes my worry that perhaps the new version I write won’t be as good as the original version (almost never true) and I’ll lose the original forever if I delete it!  (oh noes!)

Losing Sight of the Dream

I quit my job last week.  This has been a long time in coming, all the way back in May is when I started to make noises and sort of poke at other jobs.  But it only got important and imminent in the last few weeks.

Here’s the thing.  Writers generally need a day job.  It’s an unfortunate truth, and we all wish it wasn’t true.  But that day job doesn’t need to be everything in your life.  You’re trying to pay for your writing habit, not rule the world.

Then again, you don’t want to give up dreams of self sufficiency and owning a house and stuff like that.

And that was basically the choice I was facing.  The job I had offered lots of opportunity… later.  It offered few hours for lots of pay… later.  At the time I was working 60-70 hours and getting paid for 40 of them.  With a normal job, I can choose two between writing with michael, writing for myself, and running.  With this job, I was down to 1.  Maybe.  Most days it was ‘walk in the door and crash’.

And for awhile, I even thought it was worth it.  I could write later!  I could make my money now and then have lots and lots of time to do whatever I wanted later!

No.  I’m writing now.  I have life with me now.  So I walked myself out, worked really hard for a few weeks, and found myself another job.

We aren’t going to talk about the job connotations, how I was a touch fooled and dazzled with a possibility that was tenuous at best.  What I’m going to talk about it losing sight of the dream.

Writing takes practice.  Practice takes time.  Now, I wasn’t looking for a lot of time, I was maintaining everything fairly well at 50 hours a week.  But I allowed time and writing to take a back seat, and it very nearly derailed more than a year of hard maintained work.

I’m here to tell you guys.  Don’t do this.  Chase that dream.  As Yoda said, do or do not, there is no try.

That’s about all I need to say for today – has there been a time when you’ve nearly given up on a dream?  Or looked back and realized that you had let yourself down?  Let me know!

Pandora’s Ring

Hi guys!  It’s me!  Work has gotten a little insane lately, but I got some great news!  Pandora’s ring, while originally coming out May 6th, is actually early!  Hurray!  Want to help a fledgling author?  More than buying the book, reviews are the best of the best way.  Love it or hate it (I mean, I hope you love it, but if you don’t, I want to know!) saying something, even a quick something, is always gold!

Pandora's Ring by Kaitlin R. Branch

Harvesting the soul of a first-born should be an easy mission for Eli Tawson, Scavenger of the Damned. But when he meets Samantha Parker, he finds there is more to his mission than meets the eye. Samantha can see through his illusions and, after some instruction, creates the most powerful binding spell he’s ever experienced. Eli is intrigued and makes it his mission to find out why she was not collected by the demon who should own her soul.

Samantha wants nothing more than a normal life and to be left alone. She is both leery of and attracted to the strange Eli. The young woman finds herself thrust into a world she never knew existed of magic, angels and demons and nothing is what it seems. Pursued by another powerful demon and discovering her own hidden abilities, Samantha must discover the truth of her mother’s ‘death’. Her mother’s ring proves to be the key to her past and her future, leaving her straddling two worlds.

Eager to protect his newfound love, Eli soon finds Samantha might be the one who has to protect him.

You can find it here!

Hotel Transylvania, Plot, and Storytelling

Michael and I watched Hotel Transylvania last night.  I’d been seeing it off and on since it came out on DVD in various tester screens in the stores, and what I saw looked interesting and funny.

I was right.  It’s a lighthearted, cute and at times hilarious movie, and for a while I wondered why it hadn’t reached greater heights, like Shrek and Finding Nemo.

Once I started to think critically about it, it was easy to pinpoint the troubles, and they are very, very relevant to storytelling and pacing.  Here are the three big reasons that I think Hotel Transylvania, despite being a really great film to watch to detox off of the intensity of Game of Thrones, didn’t do as well as it could have.

#3 Wonky Pacing.

The story is adorable and we get the jist of the set up very quick.  Dracula has a little girl and he adores her.  Except, the set up is long.  Like, the opening of the movie is probably 5 to 10 minutes of Dracula adorably doting on his little girl, singing her songs, playing with her, teaching her to fly… but like I said, the jist is super simple.  They could have cut that set up in half, easy.

Slow wind ups do not an engrossing movie make.  We need to be dumped in to stories, akin to a child jumping on a slide.  Do you think it’s a good slide if you push off and then stop start your way down to the bottom?  Um, no, you want a fast, smooth ride which gets your heart pounding immediately.  (I miss being short enough that playground slides are still the best thing ever.)

This applies to your stories as well.  Make sure the intro gives only the information needed, and nothing more, and then, as they say, get to the monkey.

#2 Who and what is this story about?  

Finding Nemo did a great job of balancing between its characters.  We’d have Dad and Dori, then Nemo and the Fishtank.  It was easy to focus on the main characters.  Hotel Transylvania did a little wandering about it’s main characters.  See, for most of the movie I thought it was all about Dracula.  But by the end of the movie, it was more about his daughter and the love interest, and how they ‘zing’ed.  It had a little bit of a wandering eye.  Some scenes would just be about Dracula’s difficulty in letting his daughter grow up, some about the daughter experiencing love, and some wouldn’t have much to do with either of those themes.

I know it’s fun to put extra goodies in your work, and yeah, I’m totally guilty of it too.  But the fact is, to get a streamlined and fabulous book, you need to choose a character or two and stick with them.  Game of Thrones happens to choose about 20 characters, but you are not G.R.R. Martin and neither am I.  Valeria has 1 main perspective.  Pandora’s Ring has 2.  Sleight of Spirit has 4 (with about 5x the word count, though).  Keep an eye on it.

#1 Filler, Filler, Filler

Ok, I get it.  It was really funny for Dracula and Frankenstein, and daddy Werewolf to just jaw off for ten minutes.  I enjoyed it, I really did.  But at the same time, the story HALTED so that these characters could get off a ton of inside jokes.  The movie was only 90 minutes, so I understand why they did a bit of padding, but I think that they could have done a lot more for the plot by just kissing the jokes, introducing us to the one’s we’d need to know, and then getting on with it.

In our stories, I know those characters like to bounce off each other and have a ton of fun.  If I let my characters go, they get silly, they get melencholy, and I get great stuff out of that, BUT your story probably isn’t there just to be a time passer.  That’s how the book gets put down.  You have to hit fast, hit hard, and then keep hitting.  I know, I know, the books you read in literature class had a lot more time to beat around bushes and dinner parties, but the average reader isn’t looking for that these days.  So make sure you look at every scene, at every sentence, and ask yourself is this moving the plot forward?  

What movie did you guys love, but felt like it just didn’t live up to it’s own potential?

Getting Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable

Another Guest post today!  The blog is hopping this week!  I’ll have another few posts up by Saturday or Sunday.  Today it’s K.L. Schwengel, author of ‘First of Her Kind’ which just hit the waves a week or so ago.  We’ve been talking on Twitter for awhile, so when she mentioned she wanted to do a blog hop, I volunteered right quick.  Love this post, it’s similar to what I went through learning to write hard scenes, so pay attention, take notes, and check out her books!

That’s a Jillian Michaels line, I’ll admit it. She says it during one of her yoga exercise workouts. You don’t want to know what I say in response. But you probably do want to know what that has to do with writing.

I’m getting to that.

Sometimes, over the course of writing a scene, we like to gloss over the unpleasantries. At least, I find myself doing that. We wimp out with superficial descriptions because sometimes it’s uncomfortable to really get into our character’s skin and be honest about what they’re experiencing – physically and mentally.

In my current book, First of Her Kind, one of the protagonists finds himself in the hands of a skilled torturer. My first, second, and possible third drafts of those scenes were okay, but lacked real punch. My beta reader finally smacked me up alongside the head. “It’s real for your characters,” he said. “Make it real for your readers.” And that meant getting as uncomfortable as my character was. It meant taking his daily dose of what was supposed to pass for food from a lackluster few words about some watery substance that tasted bad, to:

Food came in the form of lukewarm gruel that smelled of horse urine and vomit. When Bolin refused it, Haracht forced it down his throat – three times – until it stayed there.

Gross, I know, and I make a face every time I read it. I hope my readers make a face, too, because I want them to be uncomfortable. I want them to really feel what’s going on. Pushing the limits, engaging the senses, all helps to build tension and develop sympathy for the characters.

So, what’s my trick? Well, first I find some music that sets the mood. Then I get a fire going, pour myself a glass of wine, and get comfy on the couch. With my laptop on my lap, I close my eyes and put myself in my characters skin. I jot down anything that comes to mind. What he might see, smell, feel. Whether I’m going to use it or not. It’s a bit like brainstorming, I guess. I don’t pull any punches. All the better if it’s vulgar, disgusting, painful, emotional – not everything will make it into the final piece, but it all provides the building blocks for a deeper experience for the reader.

It’s hard work, and just like Jillian Michaels workout, it’s not always fun, but in the long run, it’s worth it.

  First of Her Kind

BLURB:

Everyone, it seems, wants to dictate what Ciara does with her life: Serve the Goddess, destroy the Goddess, do as you promised your aunt. All Ciara wants is to keep the two magics she possesses from ripping her apart.

And that won’t be easy.

Not only are they in complete opposition to each other, blood ties pull her in divergent directions as well. And then there’s Bolin, the man sworn to protect her. There’s no denying the growing attraction between them, but is it Ciara he wants? Or her power?

None of which will matter if Ciara can’t overcome her fear and learn to use her gifts.No one knows the depths
of the ancient power she possesses, or what will happen if it manages to escape her control.

Will she lose herself entirely? Or be forever trapped between darkness & light?

 

sale links:

Print:

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/first-of-her-kind-k-l-schwengel/1114274504?ean=9781482051520&r=1%2c+1&cm_mmc=AFFILIATES-_-Linkshare-_-GwEz7vxblVU-_-10%3a1&

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1482051524?ie=UTF8&tag=httpwwwgoodco-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1482051524&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2

e-books:

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/277735

Amazon:   http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00B7S6QAWl

Personal links:Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/kl.schwengel.5

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/KLSchwengel

Blog:  http://myrandommuse.wordpress.com

Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6871795.K_L_Schwengel

 

Top 5 Strategies for Marketing Your Book Online in 2013

Hey guys!  I’ve got a few guest posts lined up for you, and here is the first.  Now, quite a few people have asked – whether on the blog, twitter, or facebook, how in the world to get a book marketed.  What do we do?  How do we do it?  When the writers over at how2become.com proposed this article, then, I was quite happy to let them have the floor.  Now, this is a really basic list of things to do, and some of you who read this blog are all over it.  But a basic refresher course can give us new direction.  For anyone looking for more in-depth tips, stick around, I’ll be expanding on some of these in a week or so!

Without further ado, How2become!

For most people who have written a book it is a dream come true. Writing a book is hard work and you should be proud to have accomplished such a magnificent feat. This achievement can change your life, and could even make you rich. Yet, all of your work could be for nothing if no one knows about it. You must have identifiable book marketing strategies if you want to sell books.

There are 5 basic strategies you must embrace if you expect to sell your book:

Target Your Market

• Promote on Social Media

• Start blogging

• Create a newsletter

• Create a Video

To successfully market your book you first must determine who will buy it. First, break down your reader audience by country, two at the most. If you reside in the UK it is likely this will be your primary market, but do not limit yourself because we live in a global economy and e-Books are becoming the norm. It is also essential you market to the right age group, and gender may be important too. Know the median education level of your readers and market accordingly.

Social media is all the rage these days, and if you have written a book you must embrace it. Make it easy for your readers to contact you via social media by providing your Twitter and Facebook links right inside the book. This is especially important if you intend on selling via the Kindle or Nook. While many people use Facebook for fun, authors need to have a separate profile to engage their readers, and do not forget to link your book’s sales page to all of your social media accounts. Having a book signing? Announce it on social media.

It seems everybody has a blog these days, for good reason. Blogs are a great way to keep book readers up to date regarding your books. Those that subscribe to your blog have probably read your first book and are waiting for you to write your next one. Still, there are readers searching the web every day for books that interest them, and if they land on your blog this is your chance to sell them a copy. Blogs are inexpensive to start and some services can be used at no cost.

Most of us subscribe to newsletters. We eagerly await the next issue of our favorite newsletter to be delivered into our e-mail inbox. All newsletters have one thing in common, they have something to sell, and authors can make good use of this effective marketing tactic. This strategy works hand in hand with your website or blog. Simply display a subscribe button on your blog and you will begin to have your readership waiting in earnest for your newsletter. You will need to have your newsletter set up with an auto responder, which automates the process. Auto responders are inexpensive and when used correctly it is a very effective way to sell more books.

Video is an en vogue method to market whatever you are selling. Authors can make a video describing their non-fiction book and how it benefits the reader. If your book is athriller, you can describe how readers will be on edge while reading your book. Then, you simply upload your video to You Tube. Millions of people are on You Tube, making this a very effective way to promote your book.

Richard McMunn, is the founder and director of the UK’s leading career website How2become.com helps people prepare for and pass recruitment process in order to acquire their dream job. The website offers a wide range of books, dvds and courses for those who want to take their preparation to the next stage. You can also connect with How2become on YouTube

So what do you think?  Any other tips and tricks, weird little widgets you use?  Next time, I have a new author for you!