Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Stars, Stockings and Shepherds by Shersta Chabot


Stars, Stockings and Shepherds coverWe associate ornaments, colored lights and reindeers with Christmas, but have you ever considered what these symbols and others represent spiritually?

Author Shersta Chabot does an excellent job explaining how these items can have messages hidden in plain sight in her charming picture book, STARS, STOCKINGS & SHEPHERDS: Discover the Meaning of Christmas Symbols. Chabot explores beyond presents to the true meaning of Christmas and its symbols.

Colorful lights can make us smile throughout the holiday season, but they also remind us to look to Jesus for the truth in all things as He is the Light of the World. Wreaths have no beginning and no ends so they represent God’s love which is like a circle with no beginning or end.

Bows represent the ties of love between people such as the children of the Heavenly Father who loves everyone. Reindeers are strong and capable of pulling sleighs so they are a symbol of serving others through strength and kind service.
This delightful book explores 24 symbols related to Christmas and how their meanings are associated with the season.

The beautiful illustrations by Corey Egbert captures the reader’s attention. The rich, bold color illustrations feature realistic images that enhances the story.

STARS, STOCKINGS & SHEPHERDS is an enchanting book to explore the Christmas symbols for young and old alike. 

Stars, Stockings & Shepherds: Discover the Meaning of Christmas Symbols by Shersta Chabot, Illustrated by Corey Egbert, Cedar Fort Publishing & Media, @2014, ISBN: 978-1462114627, Hardcover, 32 Pages 

FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of this book was sent to me by the publisher as part of the author’s virtual book tour in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Sorry I’m still not online as of yet. Hopefully I’ll be back in a few days. Have you ever thought about all the symbols associated with Christmas? Had you ever thought about wreaths having a spiritual meaning?

*This post contains affiliate links.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Gossamer Ghost: Grab the Hot Glue Gun {+ Giveaways}


9780425266663_large_Gossamer_GhostI’m delighted today to be participating in author Laura Childs’ virtual book tour for her recent release, GOSSAMER GHOST, the latest installment in her Scrapbooking Mystery series.

You don’t have to be a scrapbooking expert or even like the craft to enjoy this series by Laura. You might be surprised, though, as Laura has a way of drawing you into the craft with this fun series.

Laura joins us today to talk about a bit about crafting using a hot glue gun and I’ll share my thoughts on GOSSAMER GHOST. Thanks to the lovely Danielle at Penguin Group, I have a print copy of the book to give away. But wait - to add to the excitement, Laura is offering two more print copies. That’s right, I have 3 print copies of GOSSAMER GHOST to giveaway. Please see the end of the post for more details on the giveaway. 

Here’s a brief synopsis of this tantalizing story:

Carmela Bertrand knows that Halloween in New Orleans means a week of rabble-rousing, costumed craziness—and she can’t wait to get the party started. But when a local antiques dealer turns up dead, Carmela suddenly finds herself in a real-life danse macabre…
        An evening’s work deciding on the class schedule for her scrapbooking shop has put Carmela in the mood to kick up her heels. But after some strange noises draw her into Oddities, the neighboring antiques shop, Carmela’s night is abruptly put on hold when a bloody body falls out of a curio cabinet—and into her arms.
        While shop owner Marcus Joubert was known for being an eccentric with a penchant for eclectic merchandise, Carmela never thought he was the kind of man who could inspire the passion required to kill. But when Marcus’s assistant—and fiancée—Mavis reveals that a priceless death mask was also stolen, it becomes clear that murder wasn’t the culprit’s sole intention.
        Carmela can’t resist the urge to investigate the growing mystery, but as the list of suspects increases, she realizes it’ll take every trick in the book to unmask the killer thief before there’s another night of murderous mischief…


Now join me in giving Laura a warm welcome as she talks about ‘Grab that hot glue gun and get to work’. Welcome, Laura. 

I’m delighted that crafting is suddenly back with a vengeance! And not just scrapbooking, card making, rubber stamping, and journaling – all those fun goodies that are detailed in my Scrapbooking Mysteries. Today we’re caught up in a veritable tsunami of hot glue gunning, embellishing, collaging, silk-screening, painting, stippling, knitting, felting, and all manner of creative tweaking.

Craft fairs are popping up like errant mushrooms. Craft stores are selling supplies like crazy. Schools and churches have scrapped bake sales in favor of craft auctions. And the craft site Etsy racked up an amazing $29 billion in sales last year.

What’s at the heart of all this craft mania? For one thing, I believe that crafting gives us all a respite from this slick, digital world that we now find ourselves living in. And when big box stores are filled with row upon row of homogenous products, it’s only natural that we want to create something unique. Something handmade and one-of-a-kind.

And we crafters are a devilishly clever and resourceful bunch. We love the notion of repurposing paper, labels, ephemera, and even flea market finds. It’s smart, challenging, and kind to the environment. We know that handmade greeting cards (which truly do come from the heart!) will trump a quickie email any day. 

According to the Craft & Hobby Association, more than half of all households take part in at least one crafting activity – whether it’s actually making soap, or buying bars of soap and then lovingly wrapping them in beautiful paper. Believe me, you don’t need a specially tricked out, designated craft room to reap the joys of crafting. All you need is a flicker of an idea – and the desire to play around a little bit. (Remember playing? From when you were a kid?)

I love weaving craft projects into all my Scrapbooking Mysteries, and my newest mystery, GOSSAMER GHOST, is no exception. This one is a Halloween mystery, so it’s particularly suited for this time of year. And, as you might expect, there are a few Halloween-themed crafts that are detailed. Of course, there are also sachets, collaging, and scrapbooking. And tips on how to rubber stamp your own guest towels and design your own wine labels.

But I’m getting ahead of myself now, because the story’s really the thing. And I think you’ll get swept up in the mystery as scrapbook maven Carmela Bertrand discovers that the owner of Oddities Antiques has been murdered and a Napoleon death mask stolen. She and her BFF Ava scramble for clues, of course. But a Halloween investigation in New Orleans’ French Quarter also means shuffling zombies, a phony French countess, and a tricked out ghost train with a deadly confrontation. Oh yes, and along the way are New Orleans recipes for Seafood Bisque, Spoon Bread, Baked Porcupines, and Beignets. 

Interested? Then please do enjoy!

All my very best, Laura Childs

Laura, thanks for stopping by today and discussing crafting ideas. There is something special about receiving a handmade card or gift from a friend/family member. Crafting can be fun and a great way to relax.

For those who aren’t familiar with Laura, here’s a bit of background on her.

Laura Childs, a pseudonym for Gerry Schmitt, is the New York Times bestselling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, the Scrapbooking Mysteries, and the Cackleberry Club Mysteries. She is a consummate tea drinker, scrapbooker, and dog lover, and travels frequently to China and Japan with Dr. Bob, her professor husband. In her past life she was a Clio Award–winning advertising writer and CEO of her own marketing firm.

For more on Laura, visit her website and connect with her on Facebook.

Now for my thoughts ………

GOSSAMER GHOST by Laura Childs

Halloween is a great time to visit New Orleans, especially if you’re visiting Carmela Bertrand, the protagonist in author Laura Childs’ Scrapbooking Mystery series.

In GOSSAMER GHOST, the latest installment in the series, things are just gearing up for Halloween in the French Quarter. With all the events scheduled the one thing Carmela doesn’t need is to find her shop neighbor Marcus Joubert murdered.

It seems Marcus had a rare Napoleon death mask that has gone missing. The questions begin – was he killed for the mask or was he killed because he may have stolen the mask from someone else.

Even with her handsome detective boyfriend on the case, Carmela can’t help but get involved especially since she discovered the body. With help from her best friend Ava, Carmela sets out to find a few answers and the killer before the mask claims another life.

This story moves at a steady pace and has a lot of events going on, but it’s easy for readers to follow along. The rich, detailed descriptions of the New Orleans setting will quickly draw readers in. The author’s eye for detail places the reader in the middle of the scene. 

Weaving a mixture of history, mystery, and storyline, the author captures the spirit of the season and brings it to life. The characters are well-developed and likable. The secondary characters are eclectic and enhance the story.

GOSSAMER GHOST can be read as a standalone with new readers not being left in the dark by references to Carmela’s prior adventures. Readers get an extra treat with scrapbooking tips and delicious Cajun recipes included at the end of the book. As an added bonus, readers also get a sneak preview of SCORCHED EGGS, the next installment in the author’s Cackleberry Club Mystery series coming in December. 

This tantalizing cozy features a taste of New Orleans blended with a suspenseful murder mystery highlighted with humor and fascinating characters.

Gossamer Ghost by Laura Childs. Scrapbooking Mystery Book #12, Berkley, @2014, ISBN: 978-0425266663, Hardcover, 336 Pages 

FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of this book was sent to me in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:

This giveaway is for three (3) print copies of GOSSAMER GHOST. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end at 12 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 29. 

To enter, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and following the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load, so please be patient. The winner from this giveaway will have 72 hours to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected. The email will have ‘Thoughts in Progress Laura Childs’ Tour’ in the subject line, just so you know what to watch for (in case it goes into your spam folder).

Thanks so very much for dropping by today during Laura’s visit. Have you ever been to New Orleans during Halloween? Do you have a fun craft for Halloween you’d like to share with us?

*This post contains affiliate links. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, October 20, 2014

Author Carol Kilgore: Researching for a Novel


SecretsofHonor FOR ONLINE_front_500x750_May2It’s with great pleasure that I welcome friend, fellow blogger and author Carol Kilgore to Thoughts in Progress today. Carol has a terrific new book, SECRETS OF HONOR, which was recently released.

Here’s a short synopsis of the book:

        By the end of a long evening working as a special set of eyes for the presidential security detail, all Kat Marengo wants is to kick off her shoes and stash two not-really-stolen rings in a secure spot. Plus, maybe sleep with Dave Krizak. No, make that definitely sleep with Dave Krizak. The next morning, she wishes her new top priorities were so simple.
        As an operative for a covert agency buried in the depths of the Department of Homeland Security, Kat is asked to participate in a matter of life or death—locate a kidnapped girl believed to be held in Corpus Christi, Texas. Since the person doing the asking is the wife of the president and the girl is the daughter of her dearest friend, it’s hard to say no.
        Kat and Dave quickly learn the real stakes are higher than they or the first lady believed and will require more than any of them bargained for.
        The kicker? They have twenty-four hours to find the girl—or the matter of life or death will become more than a possibility.

SECRETS OF HONOR is available in paperback and Kindle format.

Now, please join me in giving Carol a warm welcome as she talks about research while writing. Welcome, Carol! 

I love visiting Thoughts in Progress, so being a guest here is an honor. Thank you, Mason!

Today I want to talk about some of the research involved during the writing of a novel.

I’ll be honest in that I don’t research everything. If I think I know what I’m writing about well enough, I don’t research. A few times, this has gotten me into trouble. In my second novel, SOLOMON’S COMPASS, there is a scene where a heavy tree limb falls onto the roof of a small car. 

So I followed my gut and had the windshield pop out. I’ve seen something like this in movies, and of course we know movies always get everything correct. Right?

Wrong!

Thanks to my guardian angel, who’s always on her toes, turns out the husband of a beta reader knows cars – as in REALLY knows cars. Windshields don’t pop out like that—at least not from sudden weight on the roof. She told me how to fix it and I did. Thank you, Tara and Mr. Tara! 

On the flip side of the research coin, I tend to be a teeny bit OCD about little things. If flowers are blooming, I look up what blooms at that place, at that time. If the flowers are a specific color, I research for that, too. I’ve looked up car models and colors for specific years, kinds of trees that grow in an area, times for sun and moon risings and settings, high and low tide tables, things seagulls won’t eat, and much more.

Then there are the big research projects.

With every story, I spend a lot of time on names. Some characters jump in and introduce themselves and don’t lie. The names they tell me are their real names, and all is well. Others are not so honest. Still others clam up, leaving it to me to put the clues together and search not only for their names but also for who they really are.

Most stories have one primary research project and several secondary ones, plus all the minor issues that crop up. I try to get all the major questions answered before I begin to write. Inevitably, I have to stop on the first page, though, to find out some point I didn’t know I needed until I actually wrote real words on the page.

It’s a good thing I like searching for details. The process leads me down all sorts of interesting paths that often add new elements and dimensions to the story. That’s a good thing all the way around.

Carol, it's always a pleasure when you visit. Thanks for joining us today and sharing this insight on your research process. I could research being a fun element of writing, but also time consuming as it could lead you in so many directions if you didn’t stay focused.

For those who aren’t familiar with Carol, here’s a bit of background on her.

Carol writes grocery lists, texts to her family, new lyrics to old songs for her dogs, love notes to her husband, and novels for herself. And for you. In between, she blogs weekly at Under the Tiki Hut and is active on Facebook and Twitter.

She sees mystery and subterfuge everywhere. And she’s a sucker for a good love story—especially ones with humor and mystery. Crime Fiction with a Kiss gives her the latitude to mix and match throughout the broad mystery and romance genres. Having flexibility makes her heart happy.

You can connect with Carol and her books on the following sites:
blog . website . Facebook . Twitter . Goodreads . Amazon

Thanks so much for stopping by during Carol’s visit. Do you enjoy doing research? What do you think would be the advantages and disadvantages of doing research for a project?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Rocky Mountain Romance {+ Giveaway}


RockyMountainRomanceThere’s just something smoothing about reading a contemporary romance, even when there’s problems among the characters. ROCKY MOUNTAIN ROMANCE by Vivian Arend is slated for release this week and I’m delighted to highlight it here today.

To add to the celebration, Vivian is hosting a giveaway for her entire Six Pack Ranch series. Please see the end of the post for more details on the giveaway.

Here’s a summary of ROCKY MOUNTAIN ROMANCE:

        Second chances are the sweetest—and the hottest.
        It took a spectacularly embarrassing break-up to knock Steve Moonshine Coleman off his lazy butt. In the ten months since that night, he's changed his ways. Now that Melody's back in town, it's time for this sweet-talking cowboy to convince her to get back in the saddle with him.
        A return to her veterinary position in Rocky Mountain House was always in the cards for Melody Langley. Getting back together with Steve? Never part of the plan. He had lots of potential but zero ambition, and there's no way she'll accept anything less than a man who can keep up with her, in and out of bed.
        But the new-and-improved cowboy is impossible to resist, so Melody issues a challenge. Three months to prove he's reformed. Three months of Steve orchestrating one sexual indulgence after another--wicked distractions from the old boys' club Melody faces at work and Steve's growing responsibilities.
        He's got one shot to prove with more than words what's in his heart and soul.

To entice you a bit more, Vivian is sharing an excerpt from the book ……

Melody went with Steve willingly, around the side of the barn to where his truck and a horse trailer waited. He helped her into the driver side and she slid into the middle seat, checking her watch to make sure she didn’t get too far behind schedule. No way did she want another repeat of her hellish Monday. 

“I’ve got thirty minutes tops, otherwise I need to phone the clinic and let them know I’ll be late.”

“You won’t be late,” he promised.

They rattled down a short side road but instead of turning toward the highway, Steve took them along a back trail that led through the trees into a clearing at the side of wide-open ranch land. Nothing lay before them but miles of low rolling hills. To the west, the Rocky Mountains rose above to the sky, the craggy peaks decorated with a tiny dusting of white in the highest cracks and crannies. The tree line broke off to expose granite greys and flashes of white quartz.

It was an amazing view, and she was glad it was something she got to see every day of her life.

She was still staring in admiration when Steve parked the truck and jerked open the door.

Melody followed him out, but couldn’t see any signs of an animal that needed attention.

“Do you want me to be a veterinary to the squirrels?” she teased.

He whirled, catching her under the hips and pulling her against his body so he could kiss her fiercely. Her back pressed against the cold metal of the horse trailer as his overheated body met hers.

“You’re driving me crazy,” he confessed when he finally let her breathe. “I’ve been aching to touch you since the weekend. I need to be inside you.”

RMRTeaser3 Melody didn’t have the words to protest, especially not when he put his lips to her neck and sucked. A flash of heat went from his mouth through her entire system, and she clutched his shoulders.

She was in motion again, this time her feet on the ground as his hands scrambled at her belt buckle. “I want you right now,” he demanded.
The clock was ticking, but his hands were doing incredible things even as Melody tried to make the right decision.

“Oh, God. Here? You’re not serious, Steve, right out in the open—?”

He shoved her jeans down to her ankles. He stripped off his shirt, dropping it on top of the wheel guard of the trailer while she stood, pants around her ankles, admiring the broad bands of muscles on his torso.

Then she was on top of his shirt, her knees spread wide as he pulled her forward to his eager mouth. Her ankles were trapped together by her pants, but Steve didn’t seem to care.

Melody shoved her hands into his hair to catch her balance, but there was no catching her breath as he ate greedily. His tongue danced over her clit until she was gasping, the sound loud in contrast to the wind in the trees behind them. Everything that had to be done that day vanished as her world closed on this time, this place. 

ROCKY MOUNTAIN ROMANCE can be purchased at the following links: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo and iBooks. It can also be found on Goodreads.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Vivian Arend in one word: Adventurous. In a sentence: Willing to try just about anything once. That wide-eyed attitude has taken her around North America, through parts of Europe, and into Central and South America, often with no running water.

Her optimistic outlook meant when challenged to write a book, she gave it a shot, and discovered creating worlds to play in was nearly as addictive as traveling the real one. Now a New York Times and USA bestselling author of over 40 novels and short stories in both contemporary and paranormal genres, Vivian continues to explore, write and otherwise keep herself well entertained.

For more on Vivian and her writing, visit her website and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:

This giveaway is for the entire Six Pack Ranch series digital backlist.
To enter, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load, so please be patient.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Do you enjoy reading contemporary romance from time to time? Does a western-theme setting help draw you in? a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, October 17, 2014

Candy Canes and Christmastime: Enhancing the Holidays in the Real World


Candy Canes and Christmastime coverWith just over two months until Christmas, it’s really not too early to begin thinking about how you’re going to celebrate the holiday.

Between the hectic pace of everyday life and the added stress of preparing for the holidays, things can become overwhelming. CANDY CANES AND CHRISTMASTIME: Enhancing the Holidays in the Real World, compiled and illustrated by author Linda Hoffman Kimball, is a wonderful reminder of what the season is really all about.

This charming book is a collection of stories dealing with the problems and frustration of trying to create the perfect holiday. The short stories are humorous, but heartfelt and inspire families to refocus on the sacredness of the season.

Loaded with practical tips and delicious recipes, CANDY CANES AND CHRISTMASTIME explores the idea that the holidays doesn’t have to be perfect to be fun and enjoyable for the family. It talks about creating family traditions and enjoying the simpler side of the holiday while celebrating the spiritual foundation. 

The beautiful illustrations by the author sprinkled throughout the book, enhance the story. The basic inspiring element I took from this enchanting book is that it’s not all about the presents you give, but the memories you make with your family and friends that’s important. 

Candy Canes and Christmastime: Enhancing the Holidays in the Real World compiled and illustrated by Linda Hoffman Kimball, Cedar Fort Publishing & Media, @2014, ISBN: 978-1462114634, Paperback, 176 Pages 

FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of this book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Linda Hoffman Kimball is an author and illustrator based in Illinois and Utah. Candy Canes & Christmastime: Enhancing the Holidays in the Real World is the 5th compilation for Cedar Fort in the “In the Real World” series. This series on topics compelling to Mormon women, features the voices and experiences of a wide array of women “in the trenches” who candidly share what they have learned from the highlights – and even the lowlights – in their efforts to build Zion. She is a blogger with Segullah.org and writes a column for the quarterly journal Exponent II with which she has been affiliated since 1975. 

Her other books include humorous novels for LDS adults Home to Roost (Hatrack River Press) and The Marketing of Sister B. (Signature Books), an essay compilation Saints Well-Seasoned: Musings on how food nourishes us – body, heart and soul (Deseret Book) and the children’s picture book Come with Me on Halloween (Albert Whitman Co.). Learn more at LindaHoffmanKimball.com.

Kimball earned a BA from Wellesley College and an MFA from Boston University. She and her husband Christian have three grown children with marvelous spouses and three delightful grandchildren. She loves to travel, make creative messes, and consume dark chocolate.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Do you stress over the holiday season, over making sure all the decorations are just right, over worrying that you have the perfect gift for everyone on your list?

*This post contains affiliate links.

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

U.L. Harper: A Self-Published Author


BeFunky_inblackness2_bookcover2It’s a pleasure to welcome author U.L. Harper back to Thoughts in Progress. It’s been a few years since his last visit, but he’s here today to talk about being a self-published author.

His latest release is In Blackness: The Reinvention of Man: In Blackness, #2. Here’s a description of it: 
        The aliens have returned and we’ve offered them…our flesh.
        The aliens mysteriously disappeared but not before they murdered thousands in man-made, human slaughterhouses.
        San Pedro has been gutted from the invasion, physically and emotionally. It is a time of deep unrest spurred by a lack of government transparency about the invasion. The aliens must have had human help. Dustin, Lenny, and Saline know their father is part of the conspiracy but before that even matters they have to save themselves.
        If Lenny and Saline want to live they must complete the missions assigned to them by aliens.
        Once on their respective journeys, Lenny meets Michaela, a woman ready to kill for those like her—individuals on the run from a mysterious and homicidal alien. She is visceral and determined to help Lenny, but why she will go to no end to do so will put them in grave danger.
        Saline, on the other hand, teams up with a young boy who is also the only person to see on board the alien ship. What he says about the ship is riveting and frightening even beyond her wildest ideas of it. The very nature of the ship is what could very well change everything.
        Meanwhile, Dustin remains home preparing for San Pedro’s apparent collapse when he discovers something that could either ruin him or help him through this trying time—his father’s secret stash of living, alien flesh. Now Dustin is left with a decision: trust his father and use the alien skin to his advantage or risk falling victim to ensuing barbarism.
        The Reinvention of Man is the second book in the In Blackness Trilogy.


Please join me in giving a warm welcome to U.L. as he talks about the publishing industry and being a self-published author.

I’m a self-published author. There. I said it. For better or worse I did it my way, do it my way, and appreciate my way. But I’m learning, even if I’m being jaded in the process, I’m learning. Some of the things I’ve learned about book publishing might seem obvious to most of you, but to me, not so much.

Let’s get started. 

First off, I’m just going to state the obvious. The book industry is broken. I didn’t want to believe it when I got started. I thought it was all negative hype and that for the true readers and the “real” publishers books were flourishing. I was wrong. My thinking was that I could write some damned good books and the crème would always rise to the top. The truth is, the crème gets old because the industry doesn’t believe in good story-telling; it believes in good story-marketing and if your great story doesn’t seem marketable at the time then why invest in it?
 
That seems to be the general outlook from publishing. It means there are some bad books out there that no one really wants to read, getting pushed really hard. Thanks industry, for killing books…slowly. They complain self-publishing is flooding the market. No. Publishers have been flooding the market with crap for decades. It’s one reason why so many authors figure they can do it themselves. They’re like, I can put out crap like that. Sounds kind of rude but that doesn’t make it any less true.

It sounds bitter but that’s one thing that I learned.

So what I had to do was adjust. I had to do more than just write a damned good book, and I couldn’t wait. So this is what I did. I edited, big time. My newest novel, IN BLACKNESS, I scaled down from about 80,000 words to about 62,000 words. Some people accused me of lopping off story, which I did, and others accused me of skimping out on the characters, which I didn’t.
 
Every character still grows all the way through the novel, it’s just that now I’ll talk about their parents, not their grandparents as well. They no longer look in the mirror in retrospect of something. They don’t ponder good and evil or make quips at the audience. I don’t dwell on scenery. I simply set the scene and move on. 

Now I have less of a focus on being literary and more of a focus on having a distinct tone, clear movement and proper yet interesting timing. Yes, it makes for a much shorter story. The question is why do I need a shorter story? Here is why? It’s cheaper to proofread a 250 page novel compared to a 400 page novel, in a nutshell. It’s also cheaper to print and mail. Someone might argue to simply tell the story and that’s it. How it turns out is how it turns out. People that is hogwash. 

You write the story, and you have to be willing to do what’s needed to make that particular story the best it can be, rather than what you think it should be. It’s not about you. It’s about the story, and believe it or not, it’s about the reader. You can’t please everybody, but why only please yourself? Be happy with what you create but you have to have the audience in mind.

Yeah, I sound negative. I’m not though. It’s pragmatic. Put it this way. My first novel, THE FLESH STATUE, in my opinion, will probably always be my best work. Like you might guess, it’s the one with most of my personality in it. I put everything I had into it. Love it to death. With that said, it’s the least impactful of anything I have out there. Why? Nobody gets it. And I never found a way to market it. The timing is messed up in it; there is too much information. In other words, it needs an editor. It will get it one day. Right now, however, I don’t want to touch what I consider is an epic piece of badly edited, hardly proofread, amazing slab of literature. Love it. 

Okay, I’m not going to continue blabbering away. You and I have things to do. I’m just going to add this last little bit. Writing groups. There are different ways to look at them. Here is my view. Use them. Most of the time they have no idea what they’re talking about. It’s just that if you’re wondering what the reader might be thinking, then their opinions are gold. So what if you’re group does not represent your target audience. If they’re the audience you have then they’re what you have. Whatever they say is true, at least to them.
 
It only takes one great comment to give you that ah ha moment. For me it was in college. I remember the comment to this day, decades later. My professor said that not only was the reader and characters surprised at the events taking place but so was the author. I loved that effect, and I knew how I did it and I could duplicate it. To this day, I use the technique. Everything is always in front of the reader. I try to hide nothing. At the same time, what the character or characters do with the information kind of hits you in the face. It’s the illusion that the characters are jumping off the page on their own. The point is I got it from a writing group. Through the semester it was the only thing I remembered. The one thing.

Anyway hit me up on Twitter if you get a chance or email me. I’ll be around. Thanks for stopping by.
 
U.L., thanks for joining us today and sharing your insight into the publishing industry and being a self-published author. 

Now let me share a bit of background on U.L. in his own words.

First off I write books. I write science fiction and fantasy based in reality. Think Vonnegut meets McCarthy. My stories are never straight forward. My novels are basically devoid of romance. Love, yes. Romance, no. I don’t believe in romance, a lie a man tells to a woman’s reality. I have no business writing it. One thing all my novels have is that they take place in the immediate future or a slightly facetious present. If that doesn’t make sense then, damn. Leave me a comment somewhere, I guess.


I started writing when every other author starting writing—at about 12 years old, with a pencil and a spiral bound notebook. Had no idea I was writing stories. On any level, I finished my first novel at about 23 years old. It was a handwritten manuscript and all of it was in pencil. It was called The Nothing Bottom and nobody will ever read it, because I lost it right after I wrote it. My next novel I lost on a floppy disc. It simply disappeared from off the disc. I had to reimagine the entire thing. The current version is called IN BLACKNESS. Anyone willing can purchase it from wherever books are sold. It’s a good time. If I were to choose between that book and Disneyland I’d just kick Mickey in face and then go read my book. 


I’m a native to Long Beach, California and attended Long Beach Poly High School and then Cypress Community College where I became Editor In Chief of the Cypress Chronicle (in the good ol' days).


Now I run after-school programs in Long Beach. Over three hundred students attend my programs. Nope, this wasn’t my first choice for work. My first choice was to be a professional tetherball player. Then I wanted to be a journalist. Actually, I wound up succeeding on a small level with the journalist thing. It’s just that $8 an hour will have you finding another job pretty quick. That bicycle wasn’t working for me, wasn’t getting me anywhere so to speak. That paper closed anyway. 

For more information on U.L., check out his website and he’s active on Goodreads. You can also find him on Twitter and contact him at ulharper1@gmail.com.

Thanks for stopping by today during U.L.’s visit. What are your thoughts on the publishing industry at this stage? What are your thoughts on self-publishing?

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