S is for Summoned #AtoZchallenge

SToday on the A to Z Challenge we are up to the letter S. Since I have already written about my work-in-progress (Alexandria) and the other two parts of my trilogy (Destiny and Quietus), I thought I would talk about with the book that started it all – Summoned: Book 1 of The Elemental.

I started Summoned many years ago before self-publishing on the Internet was even an option. Originally, when I submitted it to publishers, it was under the title – The Elemental. It wasn’t until I decided to make it a trilogy that I changed the name to Summoned and used The Elemental for the trilogy name.

Anyway, I sent out query letters and sample chapters to publishers. I received a lot of rejection letters. When finding an interested publisher wasn’t working, I looked for an agent. By this time, I knew I was writing a sequel but again, there was no interest in Summoned.

I would get discouraged and life would get busy, so I would put away my manuscript for a while. Then I would bring it back out, make some revisions (changing the beginning and tightening up the story) and send it out to a new list of publishers or agents. And the cycle would repeat.

SummonedFINALFinally, after I decided to become a stay-at-home mom, my husband suggested I try self-publishing it online as an e-book. That turned out to be the best suggestion. After a new set of revisions and much proofreading, I had someone design my cover and put it on Amazon.

Of course, being a newbie indie author I had no clue the amount of marketing and time it would take before I would start generating sales. But I am happy to say that Summoned is doing well, and the sequels (Quietus and Destiny) are out and doing well too.

Recess is a very important part of school #AtoZchallenge

Kids are often bundles of energy. Recess during school offers them a way to run around and burn up some of this energy, so they are able to sit and focus on their lessons.

RToday is the letter R on the A to Z challenge, so I am writing about the all-important recess.

When I was growing up, recess was offered twice a day. I remember it being for a long period, so I am thinking that it was half an hour. But I admit that kids don’t have the best recollection of time so it might have been 15 to 20 minutes long. All I can say is that we did have both a morning and an afternoon recess. As with many kids, I found this to be the best part of the day.

At our elementary schools here in San Antonio, our kids only get one 15-minute recess each afternoon. However, many schools around the United States don’t even offer that.

The fact is that kids need to exercise. With PE classes which were once being offered daily being cut down to just three times a week, recess sometimes is the only exercise kids get.

recessExperts suggest kids should have at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day. On days when my kids have both recess and PE, they are meeting that goal. But not so on days when they only have recess. Yes, they do some playing at home, but it is often more sedentary. It is hot here in Texas so playing outside after school is not always an option.

But recess does more than just help kids have a healthy body. As part of a class project, Jase wrote the principal asking for a longer recess for second grade. His main argument was that it would help them pay attention in class. And studies support his argument. Kids need some downtime just as their parents do. Think of recess as you would a coffee break for adults. It is a time to recharge.

Besides helping their studies, recess also allows kids to learn skills of collaboration as they play with other kids. A lot of social skills are learned on the playground. Kids learn to share, take turns, and follow rules. Studies have shown that recess improves children’s conflict resolution skills.

And unfortunately for many kids, teachers use the loss of recess as a punishment. These are the kids whom most often need recess to burn off some energy and mischievousness. Jase’s teacher uses recess for extra time to finish class projects if kids need it, but parents had to sign an agreement for that. She does it very rarely as she really does give them ample time to finish their work in class. I figure it is a good way to teach your child time management. If you goof off in class, you miss the fun of recess.

In Lexie’s kinder class, they recently tried to add in a second shorter recess in the morning but found that it was too disruptive to their schedule. It isn’t just the recess time but the travel to and from the playground and the necessary stop at the bathroom on the way back to class. In the end, they decided to just give them an extra five minutes to their afternoon recess. And yes, this is her favorite part of the day.

I am just happy that my kids’ school still believes in the importance of recess, and that it is not going away any time soon.

Q is for Quietus #AtoZchallenge

QjpgOn the A to Z challenge, the letter of the day is Q. My first thought was to write about the second book in my trilogy, Quietus.

When trying to come up with a nemesis in for this book, I developed a small purple insect that devoured anything in its path. I was looking for a name for my creation which would be the bane of the Land. Thanks to a thesaurus I found the word Quietus which means something that eliminates or kills. Perfect, I thought. But I failed to look up the pronunciation of the word and assumed it was quiet us (kwahy-it-uhs).

QuietusFINALFrom Quietus:

“Yeah. Some storeowner I guess started it. Some out-of-towner described the area to him and how quiet it seemed. Hence, he called it Quietus. Or as he said ‘One that will quiet us all.’ Anyway the name has caught on.”

Of course later I found out that it is pronounced – kwahy-ee-tuhs.

Regardless of how it is pronounced, I thought the title was unique. But a quick check on Amazon shows that at least dozen other books with quietus in the title. Go figure.

P is for poison #AtoZchallenge

PToday on the A to Z challenge, we are up to the letter P. I decided to go with Poison. As a fantasy writer, I have often written about poison, whether it be on a poisoned item such as a dagger or one that is slipped into someone’s drink.

poisonHaving a character poisoned can add drama and conflict to your story. Will an antidote be found in time? Or will it just provide a gruesome death?

When writing about a poison, be sure to research it well. You need to know how it is administered, how it affects the body, and whether there is an antidote or not. The Internet is obviously a great place to research poisons, but I love the book Deadly Doses – a writer’s guide to poisons. This is a great beginning resource for symptoms, toxicity levels and reaction times.

And if you can’t find a poison to fit your story, consider creating your own. For more information on that, check out my post: Creating a fictional poison to add drama to your novel.

Today’s Featured Author: Diane Williams

Today, I welcome author Diane Williams to my blog to discuss her latest release, Angels in Action.


What or who inspired you to start writing?

My mother inspired me to start writing. She told me that I talk a lot, so I should write. She used to say, “You talk too much, no one wants to hear all that talking. So write it down, and those who want to read it will read it!” Then she brought me a pencil and a pad of paper, and told me to start writing.

Do you write full-time? If so, what is your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?

Yes, I do write full time. I write all day, for seven to eight hours per day. I also do marketing, promotions, and public relations for probably an hour or so a day.

What is the best thing about being a writer? The worst?

The best thing about being a writer is the freedom. The worst thing is the rewriting, rewriting, and rewriting.

Please tell us about your current release.

Angels in Action is my personal account of learning to access and utilize my inner power to overcome adversity.

What inspired you to write this book?

When I saw the miracles in my life I wanted to share them with others, because I know problems are universal. I wanted them to know that the power and the answers are there within them—there’s always an answer, you just have to access it!

How did you come up with the title?

I called the book Angels in Action because for each situation, someone came out of the unexpected, something miraculous happened, and I knew it had to be an angel. Although that happened on earth, I knew that it was an angel in action, because the actions of angels produced miracles.

What was the most difficult thing/scene to write in this story?

The most difficult story for me to write was “Touched With Caution.” I felt like that situation, although I learned a lot from it, didn’t turn out to be completed for the best, and didn’t go in a positive direction. I learned the lesson too late.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

My next project is The Invisible Child, which is about my daughters’ struggles between being my caregivers and having their own identities. It is an account of the first ten years after my diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis, which caused my use of a wheelchair.

If you could jump in to any book, and live in that world, which would it be?

I think it would be The Audacity of Hope, by Barack Obama. I would love to live the life he led before the presidency, because he was so positive, he was so driven, he was so self-motivated and passionate about his work. He knew what he wanted and what his purpose was, and I liked the fact that he was real with himself. He knew he wasn’t the privilege-born child… that’s why it’s called The Audacity of Hope. Because of his personality, he was able to attract people of all walks of life to him. He would go that extra mile, and he never gave up. I would love to have those qualities and the opportunity to use them for something great. But I do NOT want to be the president… that goal, I do not have!

Is there a specific place in the house (or out of the house) that you like to write?

I love to write in my backyard! I like the beauty, and the serenity, and the sounds of the birds… it’s so peaceful.

What book are you reading right now?

I am reading The President’s Devotionals, by Joshua Dubois.

If you could meet two authors, who would you pick and why?

I would definitely want to meet Maya Angelou, she’s my favorite author. I think the other would have to be Shel Silverstein… he has such an imagination!

Book Blurb

Angels in ActionAngels in Action is an inspirational book full of spiritual lessons and devotional reflections. It contains seventeen incidents of divine intervention, or “angel moments,” that took place in my life. Each narrative demonstrates how a woman learns to live with the knowledge and strength afforded by a relationship with a power greater than herself and how she is transformed into a self-actualized individual by communing with her inner spirit.

About the Author

Diane Williams is a full-time freelance writer of books, book reviews, profiles, and journalistic feature articles. A graduate of the Masters of Communication program at the University of La Verne and lifetime student at the university, Williams’ works have been published in When God Makes Lemonade, Guideposts, Angels on Earth, PLUS, Pray! magazine, and the San Dimas Writer’s Workshop’s Tales from the Authors: Stories, Essays, and Poetry Vol. 1. She is currently working on her second, soon-to-be-released book: The Invisible Child: A Memoir.

Check out Diane’s blog or find her on Facebook.

You can purchase Angels in Action on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Online marketing your books – #AtoZchallenge

As a self-published author of e-books, all of my marketing has been done online. I do not have physical copies of my books, so there is nothing to send to reviewers or ask bookstore owners to buy.

OToday is the letter O on the A to Z challenge, and I am talking about online marketing.

So you have written a wonderful novel that you know readers will love to read. But being a self-published author your job doesn’t end there. In order to be successful, people must know about your novel and the only way to do that is to market it (and yourself).

Every author should establish an author website or blog as places readers can go to learn more about the author, his or her books and what work is currently in progress. Now, I suggest you make an AUTHOR website and not one for a specific book or series. It is much easier to keep just one website up-to-date, and it allows the reader to easily find ALL your information in one place.

Be sure on your website (or blog) to include a brief author bio as well as a way to buy your boosk even if it is only a link to a major retailer. For other dos and don’ts of an author website, check out my blog – Tips to improve your author website.

In addition to a web page, you might consider doing a Facebook page and set up a Twitter account.

Many authors disagree on whether you should use Twitter as a marketing tool. Some authors consider it to be spam to send out self-promoting tweets. Well, I am not one of them. I think there is nothing wrong with tweeting about your latest release or blog post. But (and this is important) you do NOT want the only thing you tweet about to be all about you and your great book. Join conversations. Tweet about other interests. Tweet about other author’s successes too. If you do decide to use Twitter, consider using a few programs designed for Twitter users such as Hootsuite and bitly.

One of my favorite hash tags to tweet about my own books is #SampleSunday and #TeaserTuesday where you let readers know where they can find excerpts of your books. What  better way to introduce new readers to your books than by giving them a “free” taste?

Joining author groups such as Author’s Database or Independent Author’s Network can offer not only author support but allow readers to find you on these sites. World Literary Café is also a good place that offers many ways to promote your novel.

You can use reading groups such as Goodreads to help build a network with other booklovers but these typically are not places to spout off about your books. In fact doing so will turn readers off to you and your books.

There are of course many other marketing options out there for authors – some of them paid and some of them free. The key is to try as many different ones as you need to find out what works for you and your books. Remember that no one will buy your book – no matter how great it is – if they don’t know it exists.