Today’s Featured Author – Candy Korman

Today, I welcome author Candy Korman to my blog.

Guest Post – Location, Location, Location…

I live in real estate obsessed New York City, but this post is about a special kind of real estate—locations in fiction. The place in a story can be everything from a simple backdrop to a fleshed out “character.”

As a reader, I often travel via fiction. I’ve visited Donna Leon’s Venice so many times, that I half expected to run into Commissario Brunetti every time I entered a quiet piazza on my last actual visit to that beautiful city. Last night, I couldn’t sleep so I spent a few hours in Carl Hiaasen’s Key West. The sense of place that some authors achieve is seductive.

Real places help establish credibility for the incredible. Placing a wild adventure with improbable twists and turns in a setting that feels familiar draws the reader inside the drama (or comedy). This can be a typical suburb or a clichéd small town, but I think it works better when it’s a REAL, real place—a specific location that many, if not all, readers know on some level. Set a chase scene on the Capitol Mall and even people who have never traveled to Washington, DC will recognize the landmarks.

I just want to caution authors who know a popular place only from movies and TV to be very, very careful about how they use the location.  Real places are tricky if you don’t know your territory. I’ve read all too many novels set in NYC that were written by people who seem to use old Woody Allen movies and Law & Order episodes as their primary source of location details. It’s upsetting when a subway goes to the wrong place or people use the wrong regional expression, i.e. sack versus bag. When I’ve set a story in place I love, but do not know intimately, I check maps, and verify as many details as possible.

When you know the terrain well, you can plunk a fictional restaurant, warehouse, office tower, horse farm etc. into the landscape and get away with it because it’s similar—or even based upon—a real place in a real area. This allows you the freedom to create the right location for your fiction. Just don’t give it an address that puts it in the East River!

A realistic setting makes the vampire, werewolf, ghost or other paranormal, supernatural or magical creature seem possible—even probable. I like “ground” such stories in places I know very well, taking a walk on the streets where the character lives—or hunts, haunts, hovers and hides.

There’s something to be said for the pure invention of places in fantasy and science fiction. I admire the ability of these authors to “map” a universe in its entirety, while I’m more excited by writing about a werewolf on Wall Street or the Devil dropping in to visit my favorite coffee bar. In fiction and in life, it’s location, location location…

Book Blurb

mary-shelley-game‘The Mary Shelley Game’ is a contemporary literary thriller inspired by the horror classic — Frankenstein. A group of friends gather in a country house to share gourmet food, excellent wine and their own stories based on Frankenstein, but in the woods surrounding the house, a real monster lurks, plotting a bloody and violent end to the party.

‘The Mary Shelley Game’ is the first of ‘The Monsters,’ a series of new stories with roots in familiar tales of terror by Candy Korman.

About the Author 

candyCandy Korman (AKA Candida) lives, writes, and dances Argentine Tango in New York City. Visitors to the Candy’s Monsters blog site will find twice weekly Monster Meditations on writing & all things monstrous; free short stories on the Timeless Tales page; links to books available on Amazon; and periodic Monster-themed contests.

You can find out more about Candy on her website.

You can check out all of her books on Amazon.

Six tips for selecting a book excerpt

books uid 1269725Authors are often asked for an excerpt of their book, whether it is for a feature on a blog, to be run in a magazine or even just for their own website. And many authors have trouble selecting a passage of their book to feature.

An excerpt is designed to give the reader a sample of your writing style and a bit of the story to entice them to want to keep reading your book. It is certainly worth putting a little thought into choosing the right sample. Here are six tips to help you make your decision.

1.) Do not give away what the reader can already get for free. Don’t show them the prologue or first chapter that they can easily be found on Amazon, Smashwords or Barnes & Noble. Give them something else, something exclusive.

As with any rule there is an exception. I find that with short stories, there sometimes are fewer choices of scenes. With my own fantasy short story, The Search, I only have the opening scene as a sample because there is not another scene that could stand alone without confusing the reader.

2.) Choose a passage that represents the book. Don’t choose the only funny scene if the book is not meant to be humorous. Don’t show a quiet moment if you have written an action-adventure novel. You want something that is interesting and will draw the reader in. Make sure not to pick a page-long description but rather something with dialogue and action or conflict. And it should end with a cliffhanger or a dramatic moment that makes the reader want to read more.

3.) Don’t give away big secrets. Some authors worry too much about giving anything away but it is okay to give away little twists in your story, Just make sure you don’t give away any big spoilers.

4.) Keep the selection short. You want to give them just enough to hook them, but you do not have to let the whole scene play out just as you don’t have to start at the beginning of a scene either. When selecting an excerpt, keep it short – a few pages at most.

5.) Choose a scene that doesn’t require context. You need to select a scene that the reader can understand without having read anything before it. If necessary, you can alter the scene slightly to make it more understandable to the reader. This can be especially useful if your story takes place on another planet or where you might be dealing with non-human characters.

6.) Offer a way to purchase the book. This is probably the most important part of your excerpt. You need to be sure to include the purchase information – preferably a direct link to several online stores so the interested reader can select their preferred electronic format.

So definitely take some time to pick an excerpt that highlights your writing AND will entice the reader to want more and buy your book. It will be well worth it.

And in case you want to check out an excerpt of my stories….

Excerpt of The Search (Opening Scene for my short story.)

Excerpt of Summoned: Book One of The Elemental (Prison scene – two-thirds of the way through the book – this scene is kind of long, but I have used a shorter version of it on other websites.)

Excerpt of Quietus: Book Two of The Elemental (Destruction of the Land – from the beginning of the book and probably an example of too much description and not enough action.)

Excerpt of Destiny: Book Three of The Elemental (Selda’s trap – This scene happens over halfway through the book and I had to include a quick note before the excerpt that two of the characters were dragons who were speaking telepathically.)

Excerpt of The Heir to Alexandria (Cabin escape – Again this happens over halfway into the novel. It shows a good amount of action and suspense.)

Bumps in the Road: This year’s new PTA regime

When I registered Jase for kindergarten, there was a sheet asking people to sign up if they were interested in the PTA. I knew nothing about joining the parent-teacher association but wanted to be involved in Jase’s school, so I signed up.

The next day, I received a call from the president of the PTA, and all of a sudden I was in charge of doing the student directory the following year. It is six years later, and I am on my third year as a PTA officer.

Two years ago, I became Treasurer and one of six officers. We attended a Leadership conference in Houston before school began that year. I think that is one of the things that helped us bond as a group of leaders. We were away from home, and it allowed us to spend a lot of time together.

I feel that group of ladies worked hard together despite our differences. However, you can only hold a position for two years so of course everything had to end. Our second VP in charge of fundraising was going to become president, and the president was going to move down to the second VP spot. And I was moving from Treasurer to first VP.

Then a month after the election, everything fell apart in terms keeping our group together. Our newly elected president was moving. Luckily, someone else stepped up to take on the role of president. It is not a position that I want, and I originally had feared I might have to take over since I was the vice president.

Now each president does things differently and has their own priorities. And our new president is a by-the-books, rule-follower type. She took one look at how we were doing things and decided that our procedures are too lax if not flat-out wrong.

rough-road-aheadTo say my transition from Treasurer and active officer to my new position has been bumpy would be an understatement. The woman who was to be president but moved away and I had known each other for a few years and would have worked well together. I would have known where I stand with her and what was expected. Not so with the new pres.

I don’t know if it is because conference was not in another city requiring us to travel and stay together in a hotel, or if I just shouldn’t expect to feel the same camaraderie as I did with the last group but something is off this year. (Leadership conference was in San Antonio, and since we didn’t travel, it allowed more board members to attend so there was that as a plus.)

I hate the feeling of not knowing what my position entails and what is expected of me. I don’t like not knowing what is going on. I have the distinct impression that the new president doesn’t like me, though she is nice to me whenever we meet. (There was a blow up last spring before she came president, and we were on opposite sides of the issue. I think she holds this against me.)

I don’t know what it is about this year, but PTA doesn’t seem fun. It is stressing me out, and the kids are noticing. I have even considered just quitting, but we haven’t got to that point just yet. Part of me knows I may just have to accept she is only going to tolerate me, and that I will never be as involved or as connected as I was in the past two years. Only time will tell.

Today’s Featured Author – Louise Wise

Please welcome author Louise Wise to my blog. She is busy at work preparing her latest novel, which is due out by Christmas.  Today she is sharing an excerpt from her debut novel, the sci-fi romance, Eden. Both Eden and its sequel, Hunted, are available on Amazon.


Dizziness swamped her. Then, sunlight fell on her in a burst of fresh, cold air as the door opened. She opened her eyes, and tried to speak but found her voice was nothing but a gurgle, and could only watch, helpless, as Bodie and Matt stared open-mouthed.

They staggered backwards, shouting and swearing, before spinning around and running towards the base of the depression.

Jenny was hurled to the floor. Winded, but managing to crawl outside, she glimpsed Bodie turning to look and calling for her to run. Matt picked up a rock and threw it at the alien as it ran towards them.

She made to stand, but dizziness swamped her again. Trying to ignore the sensation, she staggered away from the spacecraft, but the ground shifted under her feet. Time was measured for Jenny, yet around her things were moving fast.

‘Jen! Move!’ yelled Bodie. The alien was in between her and the two men who, by now, were at the top of the crater. She couldn’t see them anymore, but could hear Bodie yelling.

‘Go! Go! GO!’ she yelled, the movement making her eyesight pixilate. She gritted her teeth against the dizziness and stood. ‘I’m coming!’

‘She’s behind us,’ yelled Matt from somewhere in the distance. ‘Get in your buggy, Bo. Get the fuck in!’

Then, the ground rose up and her head struck a lump of metal debris protruding from the ground.

There was no more shouting. All was quiet and peaceful. Jenny opened her eyes and, in a sudden moment of realisation, she flipped to her side and looked to the top of the hill. With a sick feeling of dread, she rose and scrambled to the top of the crater. It felt like a mountain, and she slipped several times. Expecting to find Bodie and Matt dead; their bodies torn in frenzy under the clawed hands of the alien, she was relieved to find the men and the buggies were gone.

A glint of sunlight reflecting on something in the sky caught her eye. The buggies, now small space shuttles, were on their journey back to Taurus, as if being hauled back up by an invisible string.

Jenny climbed into her buggy. With shaking hands, she pressed the controls; nothing happened. She spoke into the transmitter, but remembered that Kate was malfunctioning.

Her buggy was immobilised.

‘Shit,’ she said. She pressed more buttons on the screen display. She pumped the accelerator, but nothing happened. She couldn’t even close the buggy up; instead, it remained open-topped.

She climbed back out, her hands in her hair as panic momentary claimed her.

‘It’s OK,’ she repeated to herself. ‘It’s OK. It’s OK. Breathe.’

Her forehead hurt; she touched it, expecting her fingers to come away bloody, but they were dry. A lump was beginning to protrude, though, and she suspected she had alien finger-marks around her throat.

She glanced around her. Might it be possible that the alien had gained access to one of the buggies and was inside Taurus? Kate was programmed to destroy an intruder immediately, but…

She closed her eyes briefly. She couldn’t think that way. She climbed back inside the buggy. She’d be OK. Bodie would realise she’d been left behind. He’d override Kate to get her buggy operational. She’d wait.

She looked upward at the now empty blue sky.

Won’t be long, she thought. Around her, all she could hear was the pounding of her heart. It was a lonely sound. She sat for a long time with her head tilted back, looking up at the vastness, the emptiness, of the sky.

Book Blurb

edenImprisoned for brutal crimes against his wardens, Fly became an unwilling experiment and was transported, with other criminals, to a hostile planet. Full of mutiny, anger and a desire for revenge the experiment was never going to be successful and Fly became the only survivor when the craft crashed.

Then the human ship arrived — and Jenny.

With a malfunctioning spacecraft she was in for a fight for her life, but her problems were only just beginning when her crewmates abandon her on Eden.

Jenny’s on her own—or so she thinks.

About the Author

Louise Wise is a British author. She lives in the Midlands with her husband and four sons, and works as a pharmacy technician.

Her debut novel is the acclaimed sci-fi romance EDEN, which was followed by its sequel HUNTED in 2013.

Her other works include A PROPER CHARLIE (romantic comedy), OH NO, I’VE FALLEN IN LOVE! (dark, comedy romance), and SCRUFFY TRAINERS (a collection of short stories). She has written numerous short stories for women’s magazines including Women’s Own and Take a Break.

Her latest novel, currently untitled, will be out in time for Christmas 2016. In this novel she has mixed time travel and romance with her on-going theme of solitude.

You can find out more about Louise on her blog or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

You can buy Eden on Amazon and other e-book stores.

Holidays are a great time for a book promotion

If you have been in any major store in the United States for the past few weeks, you have seen the Halloween decorations up. And you know what that means…Christmas decorations will soon be following.

Yes, it is now the time to start thinking about promoting your books for the holidays!

I scoured the Internet for ideas about holiday promotions and there weren’t many.

Pre-Holiday Sales

Several sites suggested hosting holiday book signings or to offer your book at a discount during Cyber Monday.

gifts-of-books-with-ribbons-and-bows1If you do have a physical book to sell, you can of course promote it as a great gift, but I don’t have a physical book. My novels are all offered as e-books. While I know people can gift e-books, I am not expecting my novels to be under anyone’s Christmas tree this season.

Another option that takes a little more planning is to write a Christmas novella or short story. Many authors have published shorter works that have a Christmas theme or setting, and they sell well each holiday season. If you are writing a series, perhaps you can take some of your characters and write them their own holiday story. If you are going to do a holiday story, publish it in November and then make sure you advertise it well to get it in the hands of those holiday readers. (More on this subject in two weeks.)

Post-Holiday Sales

Instead of trying to find readers before the holidays, sometimes it is easier to approach the new owners of Kindles, Nooks and other e-readers or tablets. And there are quite a few others out there with gift cards waiting to fill up their e-readers.

Of course, the trick is to reach those new readers and let them know about your book sale. As with any promotion, you need to know how to reach the readers of your genre.

Another idea is to create a bundle or box set of books and offer them at a reduced price. Or perhaps get a few indie authors together and offer some of your books as a bundle. (I wrote about box sets last week. If you missed the post, check it out here.)

No matter how you plan to do some holiday promoting, just make sure you take advantage of this book-buying season.