Blurb Thursday #1 (What’s hot and what’s not)

A new blog category! As you probably know, I’ve been hosting for three book tour companies through my promo blog, MM Jaye presents. I get to read literally hundreds of blurbs each month, and some are strikingly good while others (in my opinion) don’t work too well.

So this is where I’ll present and talk about new blurbs, showcasing what’s hot (and what’s not) about them.

This week:

Wish for Me (The Djinn Order #1)

by A. Star

Publication Date: April 27, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Steampunk

Official Synopsis

When the snarky Glory St. Pierre discovers the gold mechanical vase in her deceased grandmother’s basement, she has no idea that she has uncovered a priceless treasure: a genie lamp. With a real genie inside. A very sexy genie with a not-so-sexy grudge against the entire human race.

Irving Amir hates being called a genie. He’s a Djinn, and he is none too happy to be in the service of Glory, who is as intolerable, and beautiful, as humans come. Now he owes her his gratitude for freeing him and three wishes. Damn his luck.

But an arrow through the shoulder alerts Irving to the fact that he is being hunted, and after a truce dinner with Glory ends with them both almost being killed, hating each other goes right out the window.

As feelings change and love starts to develop, they must dig through the secrets and lies to find the truth…a truth neither of them will ever see coming.

WARNING: Not suitable for ages 18 and under. A significant source of bad language, sexy times, and dirty jokes. If you suffer from a lack of a sense of humor, take with plenty of wine. If the symptom persists, see a doctor.

My take

First off, the cover is beautiful. Mysterious and inviting. The winding mechanisms brand it as a steampunk novel, and while the romance aspect is not obvious, the title helps. My only objection is with the author’s name. In thumbnail size, it’s barely discernible.

As for the blurb? I loved it! In fact, I’ve picked it up for reviewing (through Xpresso Book Tours). Let’s break this down:

Blurb post 1

blurb2

Blurb3

blurb4As for the Warning at the end, I found it ingenious. Witty, no-nonsense, it proves this will be a fun read.

If your interest is piqued, here is its purchase link: Amazon

You can also add it on Goodreads.

f5f34-goodreads

What’s your take on this blurb? Does it do what it’s supposed to do?

Do you give a LOGLINE when you’re asked for a TAGLINE?

I’ve seen the issue of tagline vs logline raised in forum conversations, so I did some research on it. Apparently, if you pitch a movie script, and you claim that a logline is a tagline, it can be instantly rejected. I hope that when it comes to books this is not set in stone, but knowing what you’re talking about is always a sign of professionalism, and that’s what we’re all striving for.

TAGLINEvsLOGLINE

So what is the difference between a tagline and a logline?

Tagline

It’s a short catchphrase (or two but not more than three) that captures the essence of your story. Think about what you’d put on the cover of your book.

What to consider when creating a tagline

  • Hooking your reader (how? use puns, fresh language, incite feelings)
  • Serving your genre (how? use genre keywords)

Examples:

Tired of seeing him go through women like water, can she convince him to pull her out of the friend-zone? Blue Streak – Jules Barnard

In one sentence, the author “screams” romance and gives us a strong grasp of the premise—girl wants promiscuous boy to see her as more than just a friend. Note how the author hints at the heroine’s timid nature as she needs him to pull her out of the friend-zone.

Love will go on forever seeking another chance. The Lady of the Pier by Effrosyni Moschoudi

This is a romance with a paranormal twist. Note the key phrase that denotes the sub-genre: love will go on forever

An unshared smile is a wasted smile. Runaway Smile — Nicholas C. Rossis (Children’s book)

Tragedy awaits. The Search by C.H. Little (Thriller)

What you mustn’t do

  • Don’t make it too long which would mean applying a smaller font for your cover (not readable in thumbnail size)
  • Don’t try to describe the plot (or you’ll get into “logline” territory)
  • Don’t make it too obscure (i.e. use a gimmick that makes no sense unless you read the book)

Logline

This is the shortest description possible of your plot. It has to be one sentence only of up to 50 words. If you go over, it becomes a synopsis. Less could be a tagline.

Whereas in the tagline you want to hint at what’s there and leave an aura of mystery, here you have to establish your protagonist and antagonist and explain why the reader would want to read your book. I’ve also seen it called “the elevator pitch”. Think about meeting an agent in an elevator, needing to answer the dreaded “what’s your book about” question.

The logline is not suitable for your book cover. You will want to include it in your Media Kit, though, together with the tagline and your official blurb.

What you should consider when creating a logline

  • What drives your MCs (internal drive)
  • What makes your book exciting (the conflict)

Here’s what I plan on using for my upcoming novella Fate Captured (a romance).

A young woman will stop at nothing to make the stubborn Greek man she’s fallen for see the truth about his family even if it means losing him forever.

My heroine’s internal drive is a need to uncover lies (she’s been lied to by her family, and it’s the one thing she cannot tolerate). My hero’s main personality trait is his stubbornness (well, his Greek DNA is not a big help in that area). Showing the premise for their clash and what that entails (her losing him forever, him hanging on to a distorted view of people that matter) is–hopefully–what makes the book an interesting read.

Now, the tagline for the same book would be:

She wants him to see the truth. He wants her out of his life. Even if she gives it meaning.

Here, the romance branding takes front seat. She gives meaning to his life, ergo his life is empty. He needs her, but he’s too stubborn to see it.

See the difference?

I found an interesting article in pdf form presenting various famous film loglines with comments about their effectiveness. It’s an excellent guide to help you create effective loglines.

Click to access loglines.pdf

If you’d like to bounce tag- or logline ideas off me, just use the comments’ section.

Thanks for reading!

Life’s your turn on the dancefloor; give it all you’ve got: Morgan Silver (WIP Q&A)

Morgan Silver, pen name M.W., has an MA in Creative Writing and a love for (cosy) mysteries and magical realism. She’s currently querying her first two novels, a YA mystery and a cosy mystery, while working on the first draft of a magical realism novel. She has lovely beta readers, naughty pet dragons, and an addiction to snacks.

Morgan , thank you so much for being here. Before we talk about your WIP, why don’t you tell us a few things about yourself?  

Thanks for having me! The virtual cup of tea is lovely, by the way. Well, by day I teach English and by night I write novels. I’m kind of like Jessica Fletcher, only I haven’t solved any real-life murders yet. (It will happen one day.) I feel like life’s your turn on the dancefloor so why not give it all you’ve got? I’m teaching myself Japanese and how to play the violin when I make time for it. I read novels, manga, and watch TV series, including Japanese and Korean dramas and anime. My characters are mostly quirky and I was definitely born a writer. I have that annoying thing that all born writers have; the NEED to write.  Sometimes I even neglect my pet dragons for that reason.

Your “our turn on the dancefloor” analogy I will use to promo this post! Awesome! What are you working on right now?

The Chess Club – Image used by author on Wattpad

My current WIP is absolutely different from what I usually write and strangely enough I am the most excited about this one. Perhaps because after a few written novels you notice you’ve grown as a writer.

My WIP was inspired by the Addams Family as well as a cartoon about zombies. (Yes, I sometimes watch cartoons.) Victoria Woods is always surrounded by death and doesn’t have much of a life herself. A twist of fate leads her from a funeral parlour to a strange mansion on a hill. Most people are afraid of this place and its inhabitants, but Victoria feels right at home in this world that contains unusual beings, experiments, more dead people, new friends, and even romance. As if having a life all of a sudden isn’t stressful enough, she also encounters enemies who are in search of eternal life and don’t care who they have to hurt in the process. Now that she finally has something to live for, she has to do something she’s never done before…fight back.

Writing this novel is like falling in a dark and deep puddle from which it is hard to emerge and novels like this make me really passionate about writing.

I’m a blurb enthusiast (always pick them apart as I read them) and I have to tell you, I love your ending! Are you happy with the pace of your work? Do you aim at a specific word count each day?

When I didn’t have a day job, yes. My aim was always 2K a day, which was usually easy to manage because I had nothing else to do. Apart from staring at the shiny internet of course. Now, not so much. When I have day off my goal is 1K, but sometimes I write 4K or 6K. It depends on how long it’s been since I’ve written. I guess the words just spill out of my fingers at some point.

What’s your worst enemy in getting that first draft finished?

LIFE! I just get distracted doing stuff for work, hanging with awesome people, or staring at a wall because I’ve had a long day. Not to mention my pet dragons who also require daily snuggle time.

You can’t not love your pet dragons! Could we take a look at your workspace? Is there a particular place you find inspiring for writing? 

Morgan's workspace

I usually write at my desk, sometimes in my bed. Inspiration isn’t tied to a place for me, I just sit down and let the events in my head inspire me. I am a bit messy and that can sometimes affect my concentration. Regular cleaning sessions are therefore a must for this writer.

Apart from Word and Google, do you use any other writing or research tools and apps?

I tried things like Scrivener, Ommwriter, and a bunch of other ones. I like Ommwriter because it prevents you from being distracted but I still use yWriter5 and writeordie.com. Especially the latter is highly recommended. You can just use it on the website for free. I use yWriter5 to summarise chapters and nothing more. I really just prefer physical notebooks and Word. Plus, with actual notebooks you get to use post-its and highlighters. It’s way more fun.

I like Scrivener. It gives me a purpose in writing. I’ll check out yWriter5 and Ommwriter, which I hadn’t heard of. Does the agent-hunting process have a deadline for you? Are you considering self-publishing?

No deadline, I just keep at it until someone bites. I have to have faith that it will happen when it’s supposed to happen. I do find myself getting a bit impatient and I’m kind of running out of agents with my first novel. I’m querying two novels while finishing a third, so luckily I can keep querying new novels. I am considering self-publishing my first novel, though. It would require a lot of money and hard work, because I’d want to do it right and I’d want to self-publish paperbacks only. I’ve posted the first chapter of my first novel on Wattpad to see if people are interested.

You’ll be hearing from me then… Do you have any marketing tips or favorite promotional sites you’d like to share?

I mostly live in my head, so I feel like marketing is something that is on the other side of the looking glass. I do have to say that I really love Twitter and it allows you to be yourself and find people who like you for you. Having a blog is also great for connecting with like-minded people and showing the world a piece of yourself. It’s wonderful how some parts of the internet can bring strangers together.

Fun stuff now: Let’s do a rapid fire round.

GIF Friday: Beat It #4 (Matt Bomer)

Last week’s winner of a free book promo: David Proser. Check out the other awesome offerings of last week’s Beat It #3 with Emma Stone. This week, it’s Matt Bomer. Okay, you may just look at him… 🙂

_______________

Don’t you sometimes struggle to add the right body language description (beat) to amp up your dialog? One that conjures just the right image, is not cliché and sounds fresh?

Then this meme-type exercise is for you. Read on for a quick how-to.

GIF Matt
Matt Bomer @Jean_Nelson (depositphotos.com)
  • Take a good look at the GIF below.
  • Using the scene set up I give you, describe the body language you see just as you’d do if you were writing out the scene yourself.
  • Post your “beat” until Wednesday as a comment here, blog it, post on Facebook, wherever.
  • If you don’t post here, leave a comment with a link to where you posted, so I can find you.

I will then update this page to include all offerings I gather with links to participants’ sites or social media.

No judging, no winners. My aim is to gather lots of different body language beats describing a visual action/reaction for my readers (and yours) to read and maybe learn. An added perk: each week, I’ll choose a random participant who will get FREE book promo on my promo blog mmjayepresents.com.

__________________________________________________________

GIF Friday #4 starring Matt Bomer

Source: idk-lets-just-do-it.tumblr.com

“Are you properly warmed up?” My trainer’s smirk smacked of arrogance, expecting me to stumble over his suggestive words and embarrass myself like I did yesterday. His white tank top made an even stronger statement.

I focused my gaze on the framed painting on the wall. Anywhere but on him. “Five-mile workout with increasing interval runs, fifty crunches and twenty push-ups.”

(insert beat) He motioned me to enter his studio.

Better not mention the million-calory, death-by-chocolate waffle I gobbled up right after, I thought, closing the door behind me. If I had to resist an eyeful, at least I’d have my stomach full.

_____________________

I wonder why I suddenly have a strong sugar craving. Hmm… Your turn now. Remember to add a workable link in your comment so that I can credit you properly.

The 6 Steps to Successful DIY Blog Tours

Pumpkinacindermamastory

This is a must-read guest post by romance author Ines Johnson whose Pumkin: a Cinderama Story was released on March 10. If you want to save money and prepare successful blog tours on your own, a how-to guide follows.

For a full presentation of Pumkin: a Cinderama Story including an excerpt, I prepared a post on my promo blog.

______________________

DIY Blog Tour

If You Publish It, They Will Come

That may have been true ten, five years ago in indie publishing. It is no longer the case today. Readers have a lot of authors and books to choose from. They don’t know you, so you have to do something to get their attention.

Okay, but what something? After visiting Google, I decided to do my own blog tour. I went to listservs and chat rooms for authors and asked questions. Established authors said a blog tour was a waste of time. But new and indie authors said to go for it. I had nothing to lose, and no money to spend, so I did it myself. Here’s how I did it.

1. Build a MEDIA KIT

Honestly, this wasn’t the first thing I did. I realized I needed it as responses started rolling in with bloggers requesting the same materials over and again. But I recommend it be the first thing you do.

A media kit is everything a blogger could possibly want or need in order to host you on their webpage. Include in your Media Kit the following:

  • Your book blurb. I included different lengths of my blurb, including the full blurb that’s up on Amazon. A shorter three sentence blurb. And a one sentence blurb. My debut book was erotic romance, so I also had to be sure and include a PG version of my blurb for bloggers who also showcased YA books.

  • Book excerpts. Choose one to two scenes that you feel would get readers engaged in your story. I recommend the excerpt should start somewhere in the middle of the scene and end before the scene is over at a high point of tension. If you choose well, this tactic would naturally lead a reader to push the ‘buy now’ link so they can find out what happens next. Again, make sure you have a PG excerpt for bloggers who showcase YA books.

  • Guest Posts. I wrote three guests posts for my tour. I found that bloggers liked craft pieces, writing tips, and social commentary. So, I wrote one of each. I also found that some bloggers wanted you to answer their list of questions instead of using your posts. I complied, and then saved each question and answer. I included these Q&A’s in my media kit and made them available to all subsequent bloggers.

  • Author biography. Be sure to include the bio you’ve written for yourself and posted on your website. I found that some bloggers preferred a one sentence bio, called a tagline. So, I paired my long bio down and included two options in my kit.

  • Links. Be sure to include your store purchase links, your website url, and all social media links and handles. In my ebook, I have fancy graphic links. I assumed the bloggers would do something graphical with my link, but few did. Instead they just left the entire URL up under my name. I didn’t like that, but I had to realize that many of these bloggers weren’t graphic artists or any more tech savvy than your average person. Moving forward, I’ll need to think of a better way to list these links.

  • Images. Attach images separately, as well as in the body of the kit. If you have a lot of images, make them available upon request.

That was a lot of information, but I suggest you get started on that before contacting bloggers. Many get back to you straight away and begin making requests.

2. Find BLOGGERS

Once your media kit is assembled, you need to start finding blogs to host your amazing information.

I began my search at the Book Blogger Directory: https://bookbloggerdirectory.wordpress.com/

I made certain to check for bloggers who were in my genre.

I also checked their sites to see when their last activity happened. You don’t want to spend time querying a blogger whose last post was in 2013.

3. Make CONTACT

Once I had my list of vetted bloggers in my genre, I began to contact them. Be aware that some of these bloggers have handy Google Docs. They’d prefer you use these instead of emailing them directly.

For those I emailed directly, I made a form email, but I sent each blogger an individual email with their name in the salutation. I also tailored the form email to each blogger where possible. For example, if I saw that a blogger was only interested in author interviews, I didn’t mention that I had blog posts and excerpts because I knew they wouldn’t be interested in those items.

Here’s an example of the basic form email that I sent out:

Dear [Book Blogger],

I write erotic romance, paranormal romance, and fairytale retellings under the pen name, Ines Johnson. My newest release,Pumpkin: a Cindermama story, which is a fairytale retelling of the Cinderella story will hit the print and virtual shelves on March 17th.

I’ve planned a book tour throughout the month of March to create some buzz and garner a bigger audience for my book. I’d love to make a stop at your site. I’m happy to do a Q&A, a blog posting, submit my book for your review, or any combination of the three. I’ve prepared three posts for the occasion. If you feel that one of the topics might interest your readers, I would be happy to make it available to you any day during the month of March and April. Attached you’ll find my Media Kit for your convenience.

4. Keep RECORDS

It looks bad to contact the same person over and again. Or to forget that you agreed to give this blogger that post on this day. I kept a spreadsheet in Google Docs so that I had access to it at all times.

On the list I listed the blog title, the blog URL, the contact person’s name and email address. In other columns, I placed what each blog looked for from guest bloggers, when I contacted them, if they responded, if they said yes and what they wanted, when the post would be live, and when they needed the information by. You should also note if they want exclusive content, and if they want you to provide them a giveaway.

* a note about giveaways: try where possible to offer your book as a giveaway. I got my highest sales on the days I offered my book as a free giveaway. I didn’t want to offer a gift card, remember I was broke by this time.

5. Be SOCIAL

As the blog tour began, I made a fancy banner announcing the tour for my webpage. I linked to each blog that hosted me.

On the day of each tour stop, I tweeted and posted each blog. And I visited each site to try and interact with any commenters and responded where appropriate.

6. Send THANK YOU NOTES

But the most important thing I did, was mind my manners. After each post I wrote a personalized thank you note to each blogger. I told them how they affected my sales rank that day. Each one invited me back!

7. The VERDICT

I had phenomenal success with my tour! I was on thirty blogs over the course of my launch week. As soon as those posts went live, my debut novel was launched into the Top 100 where its stayed for a week after my launch. I could see the effects in real time. When a tour stop went live, an hour or so later, I’d see sales. I didn’t see much of a blip on social media (ie, my newsletter or Facebook Likes). My twitter followers did see some of an uptick, but mostly from the bloggers themselves as they tweeted about the post.

____________________________

Here’s more on Ines Johnson’s latest, super-cute fairy tale romance.

Pumpkin-3DBlurb

Single mother Malika “Pumpkin” Tavares lost faith in fairytales after she fell for a toad. Town royalty Armand “Manny” Charmayne has been searching for his soulmate all his life, whom he’ll recognize at first sight by a golden aura, that only he can see, surrounding her person. Manny doesn’t see gold when he meets Pumpkin, but the more he gets to know her the more he considers defying fate, if only he can convince her to take a chance on love again.

Purchase Links

Amazon Purchase Link

Goodreads

Author Bio

Ines writes books for strong women who suck at love. If you rocked out to the twisted triangle of Jem, Jericha, and Rio as a girl; if you were slayed by vampires with souls alongside Buffy; if you need your scandalous fix from Olivia Pope each week, then you’ll love her books!

Aside from being a writer, professional reader, and teacher, Ines is a very bad Buddhist. She sits in sangha each week, and while others are meditating and getting their zen on, she’s contemplating how to use the teachings to strengthen her plots and character motivations.

Ines lives outside Washington, DC with her two little sidekicks who are growing up way too fast.

Connect with the author

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/ineswrites

Twitter

https://twitter.com/ineswrites

Website

https://inesjohnson.wordpress.com/

Publisher

http://heartspell.com/

GIF Friday: Beat It #3 (Emma Stone)

Last week’s winner of a free book promo: C.H. Little for her newly released The SearchCheck out the other awesome offerings of last week’s Beat It #2 with Kristin Kreuk. This week’s star is Emma Stone. She has such a mobile face, I couldn’t resist.
_______________

Don’t you sometimes struggle to add the right body language description (beat) to amp up your dialog? One that conjures just the right image, is not cliché and sounds fresh?

Then this meme-type exercise is for you. Read on for a quick how-to.

SCULPTURE & ART (1)

  • Take a good look at the GIF below.
  • Using the scene set up I give you, describe the body language you see just as you’d do if you were writing out the scene yourself.
  • Post your “beat” until Wednesday as a comment here, blog it, post on Facebook, wherever.
  • If you don’t post here, leave a comment with a link to where you posted, so I can find you.

I will then update this page to include all offerings I gather with links to participants’ sites or social media.

No judging, no winners. My aim is to gather lots of different body language beats describing a visual action/reaction for my readers (and yours) to read and maybe learn. An added perk: each week, I’ll choose a random participant who will get FREE book promo on my promo blog mmjayepresents.com.

__________________________________________________________
GIF FRIDAY: BEAT IT #3 starring Emma Stone

I led her on. I kept the stutter, blinked whenever she looked at me and let her choose from the wine list. She went for the $100 Château Clinet, her eyes twinkling, probably relishing the prospect of embarrassing me when the bill came. She kept her condescending air throughout the meal, her speech over-enunciated as if talking to a hearing-impaired toddler. Either that or my affected stutter was infectious.

“And what … are your plans after graduating? Will you … still live … at your mom’s?” Her nodding was nothing short of patronizing.

I took off my glasses and tucked them in my breast pocket.

Showtime.

“Actually, it’s my mom who lives with me. It’s temporary until she fully recovers from the accident. Jobwise, I’ll take over this restaurant, since I own it.” I held the wine bottle in my palm and shook my head. “This wine list needs serious upgrading.”

(insert beat)

_________________________

Well, turnabout is fair play, as they say. Here’s how writers described this:

Nicholas C. Rossis

Her breath exploded from her mouth. “Wow!” she mouthed, then turned away so I wouldn’t see her expression sour as if her Château Clinet had somehow turned into a bucket of vinegar. Somehow, I managed to keep my own face expressionless as I pretended to study a tiny crimson drop rolling down the inside of my glass.

David Prosser

She stood up her face reddening. “Hell” she said “”wow, I’m astounded. You do realise I’ve been teasing you all night don’t you”? She sat down again with her jaw still opening and closing from little gasps of breath like a fish out of water.Gradually she paled and her shoulders slumped knowing she’d gone too far.

Andrea Cooper

At my news, her eyes widened and “wow” popped out of her mouth like meeting a rock star for the first time. Then the realization of my words sunk in and her mouth stayed agape for a second too long. She glanced away with her face holding the appalling thought that she’d just blown it.

Vicki Jamieson

She recoiled from me as I spoke, the confidence draining from her body. She tried to hold my gaze and some measure of composure on her face, but as I finished speaking we both recognised my revelation had caught her off balance. She turned away from me, drawing breath and trying to compose herself, but she couldn’t hide the widening horror in her eyes and the way her shoulders slumped forward as her misjudgment sank in.

Anke

Her eyes grew to the size of saucers. “Wow!”, she yelped, all pretence forgotten. Then, als the impact of my revelations fully hit her, she turned away. She wasn’t as much amazed as outrightly shocked. Her mouth opened to let out a moan of incredulous surprise. She was defeated, and the vertical line that appeared between her eyes gave away the anger she felt at herself. She had chosen the wrong tack with me, and the horror at having missed her chance crept all over her face.

Rebecca McKinnon

Her eyes immediately widen in shock at the grossness of her misconception. Her shame is palpable; she can’t continue looking at me under the weight of it. She turns her head away and downward, her awkward reply making a circular O of her mouth: “Wow…”

_________________

Thanks to all writers who came out and played this week!

GIF Friday: Beat It #2 (Kristin Kreuk)

Don’t you sometimes struggle to add the right body language description (beat) to amp up your dialog? One that conjures just the right image, is not cliché and sounds fresh?

Then this meme-type exercise is for you. Read on for a quick how-to.

  • SCULPTURE & ARTTake a good look at the GIF below.
  • Using the scene set up I give you, describe the body language you see just as you’d do if you were writing out the scene yourself.
  • Post your “beat” until Wednesday as a comment here, blog it, post on Facebook, wherever.
  • If you don’t post here, leave a comment with a link to where you posted, so I can find you.

I will then update this page to include all offerings I gather with links to participants’ sites or social media.

No judging, no winners. My aim is to gather lots of different body language beats describing a visual action/reaction for my readers (and yours) to read and maybe learn. An added perk: each week, I’ll choose a random participant who will get FREE book promo on my promo blog mmjayepresents.com.

Two science fiction writers are last week’s winners: Margaret Fieland and Nicholas C. Rossis, who will both get free book promos. Check out GIF Friday: Beat It #1 to see how they described last week’s GIF.

Would you like to join the fun? Then go ahead and “beat it”.

__________________________________________________________
GIF FRIDAY: BEAT IT #2 starring Kristin Kreuk

My temples pounding in sync with the banging, I reach the shed and swing the door open. Yup, I found the source of all the noise that woke me, and boy, is she worked up.

“Jesus. You assembled the bookcase by yourself?” I ask. The thing ate up the entire space.

(Insert beat) “What? You thought I couldn’t wield a crowfoot wrench? By the time you got around to doing it, it would have turned moldy-green.”

I scratch the back of my head. “Umm, okay, but how are we getting it out? It won’t fit through the door.”

She stands up and brushes her hands on her jeans. “Well, I’ll leave you to ponder on that. You woke up at two in the afternoon. I’m sure you’re full of productive energy.” Passing by me, she pinches my cheek. “Just make sure it’s in our living room by five, before your parents arrive,” she says oh so sweetly. “I did promise them you’ll have it on display today. They paid for it, after all.” She leaves, closing the door behind her.

I guess she found out Doug’s bachelor party wasn’t held at his basement.

_________________________________________________________________

And here are the awesome offerings:

Nicholas C. Rossis

She blows off an errand strand of hair that tickles her nose. Her gaze bores two holes into my skull. Ants crawl up and down my spine.

C. H. Little

Those catlike eyes flash with fury she doesn’t bother to conceal. I’m in real trouble this time. An errant strand of the hair she never seems able to tame falls across her face and she blows it away impatiently, a challenge blazing in her eyes.

Rebecca N. McKinnon

She didn’t look up from her work so much as she could’ve broken her neck with the force of its upward trajectory. Her unblinking eyes bore into mine in silent challenge. She huffed powerfully, sending a loose strand of hair shooting above her sweaty brow.

Vicki Jamieson

She looks up at me, a determination I haven’t seen before burning behind her eyes. She fixes me with her gaze, pouts her bottom lip and blows an errant strand of hair from her face defiantly. Her eyes are hard and her gaze doesn’t shift; only a twitch of her eye gives away any emotion as speaks.

Anke

She looked at me defiantly. A loose strand of hair got in the way of her stare. Normally, she would sweetly tug it away behind her ear. Not now. She did away with it with a forceful blow of air from her mouth. The agressive, unyielding twitch of her eyes warned me not to mess with her, either.

GIF Friday: Beat It #1 (Robert Pattinson)

Don’t you sometimes struggle to add the right body language description (beat) to amp up your dialog? One that conjures just the right image, is not cliché and sounds fresh? Well, I do, and I hope this meme-type exercise proves helpful.

I’m going through a phase of introspection writing-wise, and I’ve cut down on blogging and using social media as much as I did before (which was not much to begin with). BUT, I came up with this idea for a brand new meme that I think will be both fun and provide good training to that writing muscle of yours.

Image copyright: Jean Nelson (depositphotos.com)
Image copyright: Jean Nelson (depositphotos.com)

Here’s the drill: I’ll post a GIF every Friday. It will be a close up of someone recognizable. I’ll give you a brief scene setup, and if you want to take part, you’ll have to describe the body language you see just as you’d do if you were writing the scene yourself. You can write it in the comments’ section, you can blog the meme using the same GIF, you can even post on Facebook. No weird linkies. You can post from Friday until Wednesday. I will then update this page to include all offerings I gather with links to participants’ sites or social media. The only requirement is for you to link back to my blog’s relevant post, and—if you don’t post here—leave a comment with a link to where you posted, so I can find you.

No judging, no winners. My aim is to gather lots of different body language beats describing a visual action/reaction for my readers (and yours) to read and maybe learn. An added perk: each week, I’ll choose a random participant who will get free book promo on my promo blog mmjayepresents.com.

Sounds like fun? Then go ahead and “beat it”.

__________________________________________________________
GIF FRIDAY: BEAT IT #1 starring Robert Pattinson

A glowing red charcoal rolled out of the fire pit. I used a stick to push it back. “What about your parents?” He was finally opening up. This was my window to peek in.

He instantly sobered. “My dad passed two months ago. I was trekking the Andes, I didn’t get to say…” (insert beat)

tumblr_n7kxjiDOBX1qkbr8xo4_400
Image found on http://www.robsessedpattinson.com

And here are this week’s offerings:

Nicholas C. Rossis

He pulled his sleeve around his fingers and picked up the tin mug from the fire. He blew into the bubbling liquid. Steam surrounded his face as he stared at the mug with unseeing eyes. The rich aroma of his coffee hit my nostrils, making my mouth water. I said nothing, not wanting to interrupt his thoughts.

“Doesn’t matter,” he said in the end. “It’s too late now.”

Margaret Fieland

He pressed his lips together and a muscle in his cheek twitched. He blinked, glanced down. A second or two passed, and when he spoke again his voice was barely above a whisper. “I never got to say goodbye.”

MM Jaye

His mouth quirked, but there was no humor in it. He looked away. Then he blinked. Several times.

Were his eyes misting over?

A trip that changed it all – Lena Mikado (WIP Interview)

IMG_0155

This week’s guest is an author with whom I have a lot in common: love for languages, translation experience, writing in our second language (English) and juggling motherhood, work and homemaking with writing. Ladies and gents, I present to you the beautiful and talented Lena Mikado.

_____________________________ 

Hello, everyone! I’m really happy to be here – Maria, cheers to you for inviting me to your beautiful blog. My name is Lena Mikado, and I am the author of My Journey to the Ocean – my debut novel and the first one of the All Colors of the Rainbow trilogy.

Lena, thank you so much for being here. Before we talk about your WIP, why don’t you tell us a few things about yourself?  

I’ve been so many things lately, I don’t even know where to start. First of all, I am mom to two little boys (they’re 5 and 2) and a happy wife. Secondly, I am a translator – foreign languages had been my love long before I became a mom and a wife, so… not sure – maybe I should have given priority to the languages 🙂. I graduated from Voronezh State University, Russia, with the Degree in Translation, Linguistics and Intercultural Communication. Oh – yes, I am Russian. 🙂 I moved to the United States at the young age of 22, but I like to think of myself as a citizen of the world. I absolutely adore traveling – to the point that I cannot imagine my life without it – and belly-dancing 🙂.

MyJourneyToTheOcean-FJM_High_Res_1800x2700

How did My Journey to the Ocean came to be?

One day, my very good friend, who now lives in London, told me that we all should write a book about our first summer in the United States. When I say “we all” I mean “four Russian girls who came on a J-1 program to America in the summer of 2004 and who never got back to be the same people before their plane left the tarmac in Moscow”. Back then, I just had my first kid (which totally rocked my world – and I don’t mean it as necessarily 100% positive experience) and I was working for a corporation that was consuming me with all my sweat, blood and tears as corporations tend to. So at first I laughed a little bit and politely declined. But then I thought… and thought… and thought about it… And I realized that I did have a lot to say. I wanted my sons to know my story. After all, what do we really know about our parents? And I started writing. It took me 5 years – and now my third baby is here 🙂.

There’s another thing we have in common. My little one also rocked my world in a non-positive way until I realized that going down the road she paved made me a better mom. What are you working on right now?

I started working on the second book of the series – A Year in the Sky. The novel will be about traveling all around the world, while trying to deal with jealousy, insecurity and fear of losing that bright future that you already directed for yourself in your head :). I have to share a little secret with you. The full name of my 5-year-old son is Liam Ocean and the name of my youngest – Maximillian Sky ;). 

That’s super sweet. Are you happy with the pace of your work? Do you aim at a specific word count each day?

To be honest with you, I am constantly under the impression that I need to do more. I am trying to juggle my translation business with my writing career – and family life – and sometimes I feel like the ground is slipping from under my feet. My main goal in writing is to complete whatever I have started – when? Not sure about that. Perhaps, I will be able to stay more organized and deadline-oriented once the boys grow up a little.

Plotter, pantser or both?

More of a pantser 🙂. I do tie it all together when I write, but I don’t necessarily plan it ahead. I’m just constantly thinking about what I want to say throughout the day, sometimes I write thoughts that come to mind in a little notebook I carry with me. But I’m definitely – 85% of the time – surprised by what is coming out of me when I write 🙂. Like – wow, where did that come from?

What’s your worst enemy in getting that first draft finished?

Lack of time. I wish we didn’t have to sleep 🙂.

You’re telling me. Have you ever experienced lack of inspiration or drive to write? If so, how do you motivate yourself?

Yes, I have. I typically just sit down and write anyway. And the inspiration comes back.

Could we take a look at your workspace? Is there a particular place you find inspiring for writing?

Photo Feb 10, 12 28 28 PM

This is the view from my window. 🙂 My office is at the marina. I don’t have the Ocean view, but I love looking at the boats. There is also a birds’ nest up top in the corner of the window, and we typically communicate with them through the glass 🙂

Very interesting view! Now your view is pinned on my Featured Writers’ Workspace board on Pinterest. Apart from Word and Google, do you use any other writing or research tools and apps?

I use a few websites that help me with synonyms and descriptive words – But generally I’m your Google/Word girl 🙂.

How do you intend to celebrate writing “The End” on your draft?

With a glass of nice Chardonnay. And a bath. Definitely a bath, because otherwise the kids won’t let me enjoy that glass of nice Chardonnay.

Makes sense 🙂 Which book publishing processes are you going to outsource and which are you confident enough to undertake yourself?

I hired an editor, Courtney Diles– since I believe that there always must be a second pair of eyes. Working in the translation industry, I know for a fact that we cannot write a piece alone. There is always room for improvement. Plus, Courtney helped me immensely with the formatting. I have also hired a book cover artist, Fiona Jayde – and she did an amazing job. She literally read my mind. As far as everything else goes – all done by myself.

Do you have any marketing tips or favorite promotional sites you’d like to share?

I’m really very new to all this. I like Twitter a lot. I managed to connect to a lot of very interesting people there. Besides, Twitter moves so fast that it offers you plenty of opportunities for marketing. I do some Facebook, Google Plus and Goodreads, but there is still lots for me to learn.

Your blog is http://lenamikado.blogspot.com/. Do you follow a specific branding pattern with your posts or is it a free writing platform?

Totally free! I’m trying to be myself, but that’s about it.  

Is chick-lit the genre you will stick to or do you see yourself branching out in the future?

I think I’m a chick lit author for life. 🙂 I’m pretty sure I will always be writing light and funny books. This life is too full of horrible things, and I like to create a happy reality. I’m not a fan of dark stuff. J

Fun stuff now: Let’s do a rapid fire round.

  • Flavored sorbet or chocolate ice cream? Flavored sorbet!
  • Pizza or sushi? Sushi 🙂
  • Twilight or The Hunger Games? None 🙂
  • Ryan Gosling or Benedict Cumberbatch? Ryan Gosling… because I had to google Benedict Cumberbatch. I’ve seen the Sherlock Holmes show, but I didn’t know the actor’s name :).
  • Trek in the Andes or snorkeling in Tahiti? Both! As long as I don’t sit at home.
  • Ugg boots or red-soled designer stilettos? Stilettos. Definitely.

Ah, there’s the chick-lit girl 🙂 Finally, please share with us links where we can find you and your work.

Amazon Link – myBook.to/MyJourneytotheOcean

Facebook Link – https://www.facebook.com/lenamikado?ref=hl

Twitter Link – https://twitter.com/Lena_Mikado

Goodreads Link – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23698308-my-journey-to-the-ocean

Google Plus – https://plus.google.com/u/0/+LenaMikado/posts

Blog – http://lenamikado.blogspot.com/

Thank you, Lena, and best of luck with your future projects!

Thank you very much, Maria, for having me here. 🙂 I wish you the best of luck as well.

Web of Love – A Valentine’s short

Last February, I entered a short-story contest, requiring a Valentine-themed story of no more than 1,000 words. I wrote Web of Love but when I tried to submit it, I saw the contest was for US citizens only. Bummer. I then published it on Writersky, a platform similar to Wattpad, and for months it was the most-viewed story there. As a way to wish to all of you “Happy Valentine’s Day”, I’m publishing a new, retouched version of Web of Love. Three PoVs, a spider and a sprinkling of magic in a little over 1,000 words. I hope you enjoy it.

Rating: PG-13

Gothic hear

Web of Love

Lorelai strode to the door and yanked it open, ready to pounce on whoever dared mess with her blissed-out state of mind.

No one was there. She looked down. The fine hairs on her nape stood on end.

“No, no, no. Please don’t let that be from Hank.”

Smart, sexy, gorgeous Hank who, last night, after worshipping every inch of her body and turning her into a puddle of goo, had said he loved her.

Not that she hadn’t beaten him there. She’d known she was in love for quite some time, and she was ecstatic he felt the same way, but by now, he should have known that Lorelai Pierce, the best-selling dark fantasy author, and heart-shaped, red velvet boxes did not mesh well.

Please, don’t let him be like my ex! The guy whose sole goal in life was to “girl her up”. They’d broken up two years ago, but still, every Valentine’s Day, he’d send her…

Wait. What’s the day today? Of course. The cheesy gift might not have come from Hank after all. With her heart kicking her ribs like a wild stag, she picked the box up and tugged at its too pink ribbon, bracing herself for a flower scent overload.

Her shriek put even Tabitha, her demon-hunted heroine, to shame.

***

“Didn’t you have a pet spider here?” asked the old lady in a distinct Italian accent.

Mike stabbed the Styrofoam block with his shears. “Yeah, she’s … gone.”

Gone, as in hand delivered to Rory, disguised as a Valentine’s gift. Way to go, Mike! Really mature to freak Rory out by sending her his gargantuan tarantula in a heart-shaped box. Maybe his impulsive act of vengeance had temporarily soothed his boiling anger, but now his heart was clenched as tight as the twenty-piece pink roses bouquet he’d just bound with … black ribbon? He rolled his eyes. With a flick of his wrist, his shears snapped the ribbon, and the roses spilled on the counter. He looked at them feeling helpless.

The biggest money-making day of the year, and he felt like storming out of his own shop. But how could he feel any different when Rory–his sweet, loving Lorelai–was cheating on him? How was he supposed to keep his wits together when he had gone to her house to see her laughing in the arms of a tall, muscular man? The man who had visited his flower shop earlier, looking for the perfect Valentine’s gift for “the love of his life”. Rory’s giggles and her “Oh, Hank, stop” cries had carried through her living room window. And all this time, he was standing like an idiot outside, holding the perfect purple hydrangea and lavender rose bouquet, its color blending into his chilled hands.

The bouquet ended up in a trashcan, but he’d made sure she got her Valentine’s gift all right. With her insect phobia, he bet that by now the entire neighborhood had a pretty good idea what it was.

A customer entered, and he looked up, locking eyes with … Rory! Cheeks pink from the cold, a dazzling smile stretching her full lips, that girl was the farthest thing from freaked out; she was a Valentine’s Kodak moment!

“Mikey!” She skirted the counter and threw herself at him. “Oh my God, Mikey!” Pulling back, she placed her hand in front of her face, making him take a step back. “The answer is yes!”

“What?” He held her hand away to take a better look. She was wearing a diamond ring. His diamond ring. The one he’d meticulously removed from his perfect bouquet. The one he’d made sure not to include in the heart-shaped box he’d delivered the spider in.

Rory was ready to burst at her seams with excitement. “When you didn’t show up and never answered my calls, I thought maybe you’d somehow seen me with Henry and came to the wrong conclusion.”

The nerve. “You with Hank,” he said through gritted teeth.

Rory bobbed her head. “Yes. Hank, as in my brother Henry Johnston, Lieutenant Commander of the U.S. Navy. The one you’ve never met? The fleet is back from South Korea and he popped over before he went to see his girl.” She threw a hand over her head. “Ooh, he’s a goner! I’ve never seen him so in love. I think very soon yet another Lorelai will join the family.” Her plump lower lip curled. “I wish you’d come over to meet him, though. Only Hank and you can make me laugh so hard.”

“Oh,” was all Mike said.

Jesus almighty, that guy was her brother? How could he have been so stupid … acted so impulsively? Now he’d ruined… But wait a second, Rory was beaming at him and wearing his ring. He ran his hand over his heart and didn’t feel the ring in his breast pocket. How on earth…?

And now she was crying. “Mikey, I love you.” She took a look at the ring and threw her arms around his neck.

Mike held her soft body against his and inhaled her lemony scent. He had no idea how disaster had been averted, but he wasn’t spoiling anything for them. Ever again.

“I love you too, baby. So, so much! Happy Valentine’s Day!”

 ***

Hank’s mind drew a blank at the image before him. Lorelai looked ecstatic. No problem there. That was the reaction he was going for when he’d planned his surprise. What was totally out of place was that instead of his beautiful flower arrangement, she was holding a crawly, hairy beast! And instead of screaming bloody murder, her face was a picture of bliss.

“How did you know?” She beamed a huge smile at him. “I mean, I don’t remember mentioning it, but I had a pet tarantula in my teens. I had even named her. Tabitha. That’s who I named my series’ heroine after. When I lost her, I cried for days. This one,” she gazed at the spider adoringly, “looks exactly like her.” She placed the insect—whose size alone should qualify it for an animal designation—in a large glass container. Swirling around in a manner too girly for Lorelai, she looked at him with bright, sparkly eyes.

“When I saw the red box with the pink ribbon, it looked like a sappy Valentine’s gift, and I thought no, not him, too.” She went up to him and curled her arms around his neck. “But you do get me. Like no one ever did. I love you, Henry Johnston.”

Hank decided to let the mystery of how his beautiful bouquet turned into a hairy monster go for now, and he held her close. She was the most fascinating woman he’d ever met. Independent, mysterious, unconventional. But also so refreshingly genuine.

“Looks like I still have a lot to learn.” He pulled back and gazed into her dark, moist eyes. “But I promise you this. When I’m done learning, you won’t know where I start and you finish,” he said and took her mouth in a searing kiss.

 ***

“I’d better pay for this and let you two lovebirds enjoy your day.” The old lady placed a small gardenia pot on the counter. Mike reluctantly removed his mouth from Rory’s and turned to her.

“It’s on the house. Best day of my life!”

“Why, thank you, young man. That’s so generous. Here’s the address I want this delivered to.” She slipped a piece of paper across the counter to him.

“Right. You haven’t signed it though. Who shall I say it’s from?”

“Just jot down my first name. Everyone knows me by that.”

Mike raised his brows. “Which is…?”

Her smile was surprisingly youthful.

“Valentina.”