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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Coryn and Carlton

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Interviewing Myself: Author Press Kit

Every so often I get on a "MUST SELL MORE BOOKS" kick and start googling things. Then I find out a dozen or things I'm so woefully not doing and maybe gather up the gumption to take on one of them.

The current item on my list is "Create an Author Press Kit." Apparently having a downloadable press kit on your website can lead to being featured on more blogs and even in print media like papers and magazines (I can dream, right?). For instance, I have some thoughts of courting the local newspaper in the city I grew up in for a piece (though since I don't live there any more and haven't in some time, they may not be interested). 

A press kit usually includes things like an author bio, a press release about your current projects, and sample author Q and A. 

(If you are interested in creating your own press kit there are a lot of good resources online. Here is an article I read and have been referring back to.)

Today I focused on the Q and A. These are the basic questions and answers I came up with.

FAQs with H. L. Burke

Tell me about your latest novel.
Dragon's Curse is the first in a four part fantasy romance series, called collectively The Dragon and the Scholar Saga. Without giving too much away (Spoilers, Sweetie), it involves the friendship that develops between a healer named Shannon and the dragon, Gnaw. Shannon's employer is a king with justifiable reason to loathe all dragon's, so Shannon has to keep her new friendship a secret and work to protect her scaly friend from aggressive knights.

What inspires your stories?
Fairy Tales! I love an element of the fantastic inserted into a familiar world and am a sucker for happily ever after.

Why did you choose self-publishing?
I had made some half-hearted attempts, submitting works to traditional publishers years ago and found waiting for rejections with no real feedback to be aggravating. Not being out for financial gain, I posted the first half of my two part novel A Tale in Two Parts online. Someone read it and took the time to tell me how much they enjoyed it and ask why I hadn't published. I thought, “Because it is difficult and expensive!” A little bit of research later, however, I realized it was neither, so I thought, “What do I have to lose?”

What did you learn through the self-publishing process?
How to find the help I needed. It is very easy to self-publish but difficult to do it well. From outside looking in, it seemed strange and overwhelming. I learn by doing, so I dropped into the world and started flipping switches and turning dials. I discovered things like Goodreads beta reader groups and the critiquing community scribophile.com which helped me improve my craft between my first and second book.
Self-publishing isn't so much a short cut as it is hacking your way through your own writing with a machete, hoping a full formed story lies on the other side of the jungle.

What are you currently working on?
I am in various draft stages with the follow ups to Dragon's Curse. They are all written, just not presentable. Rewriting is about 75% of writing. I am also writing a young adult fantasy called Beggar Magic set in a world where you can hear magic in the air as music. Rather than being a straight forward romance, the book focuses mainly on the friendship between two teenage girls, which is a new direction for me. I'm kind of selective in my personal relationships and have had relatively few close friends in my life, though those that I have do stand out as awesome. I'm generally more interested in writing about parent/child or romantic interactions.

Where are your works available?
You can find both my young adult novel The Ordinary Knight and the Invisible Princess: A Tale in Two Parts and my latest novel Dragon's Curse on Amazon. More information can be found on my website www.hlburkeauthor.com.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Beta Readers Wanted

I have had pretty good luck finding decent Beta readers through Goodreads as well as having my work critiqued on Scribophile, but as a self-publishing author, in order to produce the best possible literary product, I want as much input as I can drum up.

That is why I am requesting Beta Readers from my Blog Readers.

I am hoping to put Dragon's Debt, the sequel to Dragon's Curse, on the market sometime in May or April. The release date depends a good deal on what sorts of feedback I get from beta readers. Are there glaring issues that need to be fixed or is it just issues of polishing?

I am planning to use one or more of my remaining "free kindle" days for Dragon's Curse the week before I release Dragon's Debt, so please keep your eyes and ears open for that announcement as well.

Dragon's Curse (The Dragon and the Scholar) (Volume 1)

Oh, and I recently found out that if you add a book to your wishlist or review it, it shows up for your friends on Amazon. As you can see below, three of my Facebook friends have "shown interest" in Dragon's Curse. 

So, in summary.
  • Look out for Dragon's Debt sometime in April or May.
  • Dragon's Curse will have a free kindle day prior to the release of Dragon's Debt.
  • I'm interested in finding people willing to beta read Dragon's Debt and give me honest feedback. 
If you are interested either in beta reading Dragon's Debt or writing an honest review of Dragon's Curse please contact me through email.

Willamette Valley Wonder Woman

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Kid Art

A princess combing  her hair while looking in a mirror
Claire just likes to draw circles
Wordless Wednesday Hop

Amanda’s Books and More

Monday, February 17, 2014

Signs I may be losing it: Character Names

I hate naming characters. It is like naming your children except instead of having to name two of them and having nine months to pick (more if you are like me and were stuck on  a name since middle school) you are naming them as you write and there might be dozens of them and every time you introduce a new one, no matter how minor, you are like "And then Main Character met a minor character named Sir. . . Somethingham." And you  look at the name and you think, "Somethingham? Seriously?" So you scan the room for inspiration. Sir Chair, Sir Door, Sir Ireallyshoulddust, Sir, ah! I'll name him after my dog!

But eventually you run out of pets.

Now for a fantasy novel it is worse. Some fantasy novels have "real" names. Some have "made up" names. If you are using real names you can just open up a "baby name book" (I always keep one handy even though we are done having kids, if only to freak out relatives when they come over and see it on my table) and pick anything that sounds right for the era or location.

However, to me at least, a "real" name brings with it a sense of history. If your character's name is Peter, you have to assume he lives in a world that has at one point had the Greek language, maybe has Saint Peter. So is it basically "our world?"

My last few stories have been written in what I consider "alternate" real worlds. I don't use actual history or place names, but I set them in sort of a generic fairy tale kingdom with real names and familiar conventions like monks and Christmas, because it is my book and I can do that.

Now, if you are working from scratch, and your characters are in a different world, be it through a Wardrobe or on a different planet, they will probably have names like Gandalf and Aslan, names you made up off the top of your head, and in all honesty, I SUCK at that.

There are very few names I've ever come up with, for people or locations (my city and country names suck too) that I like.

Which is why I'm seriously considering having a "name my character" contest for my next story. I'd lay out some ground rules, of course. No silly meanings (No Sir Butts or whatnot), but it might be good publicity. Of course, this story is still in a very early stage.

Right now her name is Kynel Weaver.

I started out having her name Kyndle. When I was younger I thought Kindle was an awesome word. It meant a litter of cats AND to light things on fire (or a litter of cats who can light things on fire with their MINDS!). I mean, that is double awesome. Then Amazon had to go and make a book gadget and name it that. So, yeah, I decided Kyndle wouldn't work and shortened/rearranged it to "Kynel," but I'm not crazy about it, and it feels like I should be crazy about it if I'm going to write about her.

Anyway, we'll see how it goes. 

Yeah, my kids are cute

I have awesome kids. Not at all ashamed about that. I think they  are clever and funny and awesome. My Facebook reflects this.  I guess that's something people complain about, people who post all the time about their kids, but if I didn't do that, I'd have to individually call up every single one of my kids' grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other interested people to inform them.

Plus my kids are pretty dang hilarious.

Here we have Claire Bear dancing.

Some recent highlights from my kids (if you are on my personal Facebook, you probably saw these already.).

Coryn: I really wish you would be more yes-i-full.
(apparently I say no too often)

I sat down to read Claire her "pre-nap story" and she reached out, closed the book, lay down, and made snoring noises. I guess she was tried because when I got the hint and tucked her into bed, she lay there quietly. Some days you just want to nap.
(Coryn, being verbal, is more apt to be featured on my  Facebook. Claire is harder to capture because  her mannerisms, while hilarious, are unspoken)

Coryn: Mom, will you get me a towel and put it in my royal hand? 
I go into the bathroom where she extends her hand out of the bathtub.
Me: Is this your royal hand?
Coryn: I have two.
(Coryn is obsessed with being  a princess right now.)

Watching pairs figure skating with Coryn, "I want to do that with my best boy friend, Daniel." Apparently she now has multiple boy friends and ranks them.
(falls under the "oh dear" moment of the week)

I pointed out the full moon tonight outside of Coryn's bedroom window. 
Me: That's a beautiful moon. It will be like a night light for you.
Coryn: Ah, it's like a beautiful gem.
(So poetic)

Coryn is bored. 
Matt: so go sweep the floor.
Coryn: Working doesn't really make me not bored.
(I remember my mom trying to convince me to do chores for entertainment. Never worked.)

Coryn hands me a piece of chocolate and says, "Every time you are the best mother ever you get a reward."
I think my daughter is training me.
(I'm just worried she's going to bring bells into it)

Apparently Coryn is hunting her sister. She just took out her toy bow and arrow, pointed it at her and said, "Hello tasty meat."
Oh dear.

Coryn says she wants to be a Walmart cashier when she grows up so she can see me when I go shopping.
(We'll work on improving her ambitions later)

Friday, February 14, 2014

Updated Website: HLBurkeauthor.com

I'm really proud of the way my website (hlburkeauthor.com) looks. I've started to include reviewer quotes for both my books on the novel's page, and I can't wait to add in the sequel to Dragon's Curse, Dragon's Debt in a few short months!

Here are some of the quotes I've included.

Reader Praise for The Ordinary Knight and the Invisible Princess: A Tale in Two Parts

A Tale in Two Parts is a fabulous young adult novel for the young and old. . . bravely takes on the fantasy world by including the parts that we have seen on many occasions in the books we have read as kids and the ones we are now reading to our kids, but she puts it into a new perspective with a twist.
-Christina Morley @ Amanda's Books and More

I loved how the book promotes abstinence and self-esteem. Throughout the book love is constantly shown to be sacrificial, and not merely physical, and appearance (beauty) is shown to be something secondary in favor of relationships and family.
-Carolynn @ the Kitty-Ears Blog

Reader Praise for Dragon's Curse

H.L. Burke packs action, romance and just enough detail into her book without making it feel rushed.
- Serena @ the Poetree Blog

A great tale of honor and adventure with rich, colorful characterization.
 -Angela Castillo, Author of The Amazing Adventures of Toby the Trilby

I can always tell when I am captivated by a book by the speed at which I finish it and I kept wanting to pick it back up every time I put it down.
-Elizabeth Davies @ Elizabeth Davies Books

I will admit, I was slightly disappointed in sales from Dragon's Curse, just because I had worked so hard on it, and it is a project I'm happy to have put out for public consumption. I am planning to launch another wave of publicity when the sequel is closer to release, including a give away, but right now I'm focused very much on editing up the next book and writing again. 

I just started my new story. It is a young adult fantasy novel with the working title of Beggar Magic (which I'm sure has been used before if only because it sounds so cool, but you can't copyright titles so I'm probably going to use it anyway). 

Anyway, stay tuned for more excitement, and if you would like to do a review of either of my books, feel free to contact me and I will arrange to get you a complimentary copy (probably ebook but I do give away hard copies if that is the absolute only option).

Amanda’s Books and More

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Claire Bear Hair incident.

This is Coryn and Claire a few weeks ago. Note the lovely, just below the shoulder hair on Claire (the little one).
And then this happened. Coryn originally denied any knowledge of the Claire Bear Hair incident, but after we round the missing hair under her bed, she caved. She has been forbidden the use of scissors for the foreseeable future.
So I had to even it up.
Such a waste!

I still get a little sad when I look at her new "bob" cut, but she's still pretty dang cute.

Wordless Wednesday Hop

Amanda’s Books and More

Linked at JennyEvolution

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Blog Review: Dragon's Curse: ElizabethDavies:Books

Elizabeth at Elizabeth Davies Books reviewed Dragon's Curse for me. You can read the full review here.

As always, you can purchase Dragon's Curse on Amazon, linked below.

Dragon's Curse (The Dragon and the Scholar) (Volume 1)

Thursday, February 6, 2014

More Goodreads Reviews!

Every time I get a review, my little heart palpitates!

So far the reviews have all been on the "THIS MAKES ME HAPPY" side. I even managed not to let myself get disappointed that someone thought I could do more character development and world building (Three stars is still a good rating, right?). 

You can check out my book and any new reviews on Goodreads here

or purchase it on Amazon through the link below.

Amanda’s Books and More
Willamette Valley Wonder Woman

Reading List: Cozy Reading Spot

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Celebratory: First Dragon's Curse Amazon Review

Dragon's Curse (The Dragon and the Scholar) (Volume 1)

It's the little things that keep a self-published author going, like positive reviews on Amazon. Dragon's Curse  was reviewed for the first time today, and look! 5 STARS!


You can check out the first several chapters through Amazon's provided preview in the link above.

Oh, and this is not an FoF review (friends or family). I promise! Not that I don't like it when Friends and Family review my books, but I always feel like I should warn people before I link, "Hey! My mom thinks my book is five stars!"

Reading List: Cozy Reading Spot

Monday, February 3, 2014

Coryn's Doctor Who Party: Food

Most of the plans for Coryn's party (You can see my previous post detailing the decorations here) that fell through were food plans. We ended up having more than enough food just with ordering pizza and cake and ice cream, so the Adipose Marshmallows, chocolate covered party bananas, and fish fingers and custard all got put aside.

I did make "Adipose Heads" to decorate the fruit plate with.

I really meant to do a TARDIS cake like this one.

Well, maybe not that elaborate (I'm not delusional), but I thought, how hard could it be to frost a cake blue and draw on some windows and the police box lettering?

Apparently I can't even frost a basic cake (I've done it before, I swear!). Matt suggests that the frosting was too cold because of the cold snap we've been having which was making it less spreadable, and that makes as much sense as any theory I can come up with.

There was no way this disaster was making it to the party. Coryn and I immediately had a piece (still tasted fine) and went down to order one from the Commissary. It wasn't a TARDIS cake but it was TARDIS blue and said, "Happy Birthday, Coryn, from the Doctor."
I forgot to get a good picture of it, so these ones of Coryn blowing out her candles will have to suffice.

and again but now with a serious face. . .
Oh, and she's wearing her "Trust me, I'm a Doctor" shirt too.

Here's baby sister with an exploding TARDIS beach towel.

Oh, all the cool TARDIS stuff (except for the shirt. That was from Amazon) came from Thinkgeek. When the package got here one of the items was damaged. I got someone on the phone in about five minutes and they sent me a replacement with two day shipping without requiring the return of the damaged item, which was awesome.

Here is Coryn's TARDIS shirt on amazon.