Saturday, July 29, 2017

Random Interview Saturday! M. J. Bell

DISCLAIMER
The H. L. Burke Random Interview is not like other interviews. The questions are all over the place. They have no purpose. Their purpose is their lack of purpose.
There are nine questions because cats, but these nine questions are subject to change without notice, so the questions one person answers may not be the questions answered by the next author. (Disclaimer: I accidentally gave this author 10 questions because I can't count, but let's just roll with it) So the author who gets an extra question because of the blogger's awful counting ability is ... M. J. Bell!!!


M. J. Bell
Bio:  
M.J. Bell is an award-winning author (Gold award from Mom's Choice Awards) of the Teen/YA Fantasy trilogy, Chronicles of the Secret Prince. Having escaped the mosquito infested land of Iowa where she grew, and the scorpion-infested land of Arizona where she was transplanted for way too long, she now lives happily ever after in Colorado as a full-time writer, full-time diaper changer, full-time cheerleader, full-time cook/housekeeper, and full-time taxi cab driver. 



 If you had a store, what would you sell?
I've always thought it would be fun to have a combination Book and Costume store. Not the cheap costumes you see in stores at Halloween, but real, well-made costumes, wigs, shoes, and accessories of the characters in the great books that would be available in the store. And of course, all the books and costumes would be fantasy/steam punk based, as that is my passion.
 Sum up your life in five words and two punctuation marks.
             Rebel with a writing fetish!!
Pirates, Ninjas, or Vikings? Choose carefully.
 Tough choice, but I'd have to go with Vikings. I mean, who can resist blonde hair, blue-eyed hunks with furs and horns!
 Technology or Magic?
I'd choose magic, because I believe the world needs a little more magic. And technically, if you think about it, the two are kind of interchangeable, because forty or fifty years ago today's technology would have been considered magic.
 You have to trade places with one of your characters for a day. Which and why?
It'd be fun to be Tiff, my little Sprite, for a day. She's fun and innocence, but also bold and doesn't let her size hold her back.
 In your opinion, which is the best space ship?
My son's might just disown me for not choosing the Millennium Falcon (so let's keep this a secret between you and me), but I really do like the Gunstar from The Last Starfighter, one of my favorite movies, the best.
 If you could live inside a theme park ride, which would it be?
This is an easy one! I am a total Harry Potter nerd and LOVE anything and everything that has to do with HP. So Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey would be at the top of my list. It may not be the true Hogwarts, but it's close enough and I'd love to be able to roam those halls and explore it more closely, and maybe even find the Room of Requirements!
What’s the most important lesson you ever learned from a cartoon?
Wile E. Coyote taught me several lessons: don't ever give up; buying lots of stuff will not bring happiness; and the one I probably should have paid more attention to—have a goal, but don't do stupid things to obtain it.
 Do you consider yourself a cat person, or a dog person?
I'm an animal person – most every kind that's out there. But NO reptiles! My first choice between a cat and a dog, though, would be a dog.
If this question were any question in the world, what question would you want it to be and how would you answer it?
Question: Do you think your books will ever be as popular as J.K. Rowling's?
Answer:  I sure hope so!! (but I'm not holding my breath!)

Before the Full Moon Rises     http://amzn.com/B00H3QXCDQ
Once Upon a Darker Time           http://amzn.com/B00IJYE6OK
How Dark the Light Shines         http://amzn.com/B016R28FA6



Wednesday, July 26, 2017

#DragonWeek: Vote For Your Favorite Dragon!!!




It's #DragonWeek!

And we want to know ... who is your favorite dragon?
We took nominations from our readers and came up with the following nominated dragons (sorry if your favorite isn't included! We will probably do this again next year if it is received well, and then you can nominate your favorite in) ... which do you feel deserves to win? 


Sunday, July 23, 2017

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Random Interview Saturday! C. S. Johnson

DISCLAIMER
The H. L. Burke Random Interview is not like other interviews. The questions are all over the place. They have no purpose. Their purpose is their lack of purpose.
There are nine questions because cats, but these nine questions are subject to change without notice, so the questions one person answers may not be the questions answered by the next author.
A MASSIVE explosion occurs. When the dust clears, our next author has arrived and it is C. S. Johnson!
C. S. Johnson 



AUTHOR BIO:

C. S. Johnson is the author of several young adult novels, including sci-fi and fantasy adventures such as the Starlight Chronicles series, the Once Upon a Princess saga, and the Divine Space Pirates trilogy. With a gift for sarcasm and an apologetic heart, she currently lives in Atlanta with her family. Find out more at http://www.csjohnson.me.

The Interview
How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
The same number of pecks of pickled peppers Peter Piper would pick if Peter Piper was in a forced labor camp, although I guess he is in one because at the end of the poem they can’t find the peck of pickled peppers, and the tale of Peter Piper was written before “innocent until proven guilty” was more of a mainstream thing. (If nothing else, there’s no way Peter Piper would be rich enough to get special privilege when it would come to the law. If he was, Peter Piper would have his personal servant picking that peck of pickled peppers.)

You have superpowers. What are they and what do you do with them?
I would have the power to make anyone in the world nap at the snap of my fingers. I would use it for all sorts of funny things—I’ve got to do something that will top that story of Napoleon taking a bath and making a decision on the Louisiana Purchase—but probably mostly on my children first and foremost.
They say their version of “Hi!” while I write this.

I know exercise is good for me, but it is not entertaining. What methods do you suggest for making workouts more fun?
LARPing. That is all.

What is your ideal writing space?
I would have a room with three or four different desks, one with a pool desk, one with a regular desk by a window, and another one where I could stand, and then probably one more where I could just have it on my lap and move it. I would also like a minifridge nearby, but one that magically cleaned itself so when I got into the mood to buy something weird to eat while I write and then I don’t eat it, I don’t have to worry about feeling bad I didn’t eat it.

You can time travel in an oddly specific way that only allows you to visit other authors. Where do you go and what do you do?
I would go visit Charles Dickins before he wrote “A Christmas Carol” and give him the right inspiration, only I would tell him to make the Ghost of Christmas Future a woman in honor of my visit. I would also tell him to be nicer to his wife.

Give yourself a totally new look, as dramatic as you want. What is it?
Nothing. I’m actually pretty happy with how I look. And I do believe I’ll get my ultimate makeover in Heaven.

If you had to write only in one crayon color for the rest of your life, what would you choose?
Blue violet, like the white springtime violets.

What film era do you feel best represents your day to day life?
If distractions were explosions, any Michael Bay film.
But real life? Probably the nineties, since I haven’t shot a gun more complicated than a Sig Sauer.

If this question were any question in the world, what question would you want it to be and how would you answer it?
42 for kicks, and a picture of a cat chasing a laser dot for giggles.

Connect with the Author!


WEBSITE (Yes, different from the blog, sorry):  http://csjohnson.me

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

What to do with Reviews ...



Yep, here I go again, writing about reviews, but it keeps coming up in my author groups, and it's either post long Facebook rants or put it in a blog (and trust me, they're tired of me on Facebook).

After all, it's hard to know, as a writer, what to do about reviews. We're often told how important they are, that we need them to sell books, that we have to actively pursue them ... but then we get them and what should we do next? We generally know the big "no nos" (Don't reply to reviews. Don't try and contact the reviewer. Don't track down the reviewer and hit them in the head with a wine bottle ...), but what can we do about reviews?

Well, there are a lot of options, and it's going to depend on your goals and (maybe more importantly) temperament.

So here's a short list of the various things you can do with reviews:


1. Ignore them. 

If you are a sensitive personality who is easily derailed or discouraged by criticism, you should probably not be reading reviews.
If pride is an issue for you and/or you are addicted to the affirmation of others, you should probably not be reading reviews.
Chances are, you put the book up when it was what you wanted it to be. Will a review really make you take it down and change it (if you published with a publisher rather than self-published, this might not even be an option)? If not, what do you hope to gain from reading reviews? If there is nothing to gain and you find it negatively impacts your life to read the criticism, you're probably better off just being hands off.


2. Use them to tighten your marketing.

It can be hard to find the right readers, and continually reaching the wrong readers can screw up your long term marketing. If you note a pattern in reviews that suggests you are not meeting reader expectations in some way, this could be a sign that you are targeting the wrong readers.
Perhaps your cover art doesn't reflect the genre or tone of the book well. Perhaps your blurb isn't specific enough. Perhaps your keywords are drawing in people outside your intended audience.
If most complaints about the book seem to be less about the book itself and more about the reader's expectations, see if you can redirect your marketing to find a more appropriate reader pool.


3. Learn from them.

This is the hardest, in my opinion, to apply well. On one hand, it is important not to let your artistic vision get watered down in an attempt to please everybody. On the other, if a review brings up a valid complaint (the most obvious being poor proofreading or continuity errors. Something that is more a matter of fact than opinion), you may wish to address this. Also, if you are unable to get your book off the ground as far as sales go, it may be because the book isn't quite there yet in terms of quality. Maybe you rushed to publication. Maybe it needed another round of editing. Maybe your first chapter isn't as "hooky" as you thought it was.
This is more a problem for self-publishers. As mentioned above, if you went with a publisher, you probably do not have a say in whether the book gets taken down for another round of edits, but you at least have the assurance that your publisher felt the book was marketable, which leads into  the fourth thing you might want to get out of reviews.


4. Gather Reassurance.

As mentioned above, if you went with a traditional publisher, someone other than you said, "Yes, I can sell this book. I will put my time and money into this book because I believe in it."
A self-published author has the amazing (but terrifying) freedom of being the final word on whether their book is "ready" or not, on whether it is marketable, on whether it is worthy.
And as someone who has multiple self-published books as well as one with Uncommon Universes Press, I like both ways. If I wasn't confident in my stories, I wouldn't publish them, but I get that not everyone has that "buoyant overconfidence" ... and even me, I go through stages of really being desperate for some sort of affirmation that I'm doing this right.
To an extent reviews can provide some of this assurance. The first book I self-published, I totally expected only family and friends to purchase. It was getting a review from a stranger who liked it that made me think, "Maybe I can do this professionally."
On the other hand, negative reviews can stop this forward momentum, so I would resist going there to comfort yourself too often. Most authors I know can get ten positive reviews and then totally be floored by the eleventh review being negative. All the positive vibes of the ten are somehow consumed by the negative black hole of the one ...
Even with positive reviews, it's easy to fuss over "what exactly did they mean by that?" or the qualifiers people put into things. I remember getting a four star that said something to the effect of, "Good story. Writing is nothing special, though."
Which half of that do you think stayed with me for the longest?

5. Laugh at Them.

This is kind of a "proceed with caution" one because you don't want to do it in a public venue. No author wants to get the reputation of being someone who mocks/tears down their critics. It's petty. However, sometimes reviewers get caught up on the weirdest things. Sometimes you'll read a review and just go, "How in the world did you come away with that impression?" Sometimes they'll criticize you for having typos in your book in a review littered with grammatical errors. Sometimes all you can do is laugh (discreetly.).


6. Grab a Marketing Quote.

There is some debate about who actually "owns" reviews, but the general consensus is that small quotes from reviews fall under fair use and can be used in marketing materials as long as they are not quoted in a way that misrepresents the original intent of the reviewer (so no taking "Not the best book I've read" and quoting it as "...the best book I've read."). However, grabbing a "snippet" to use in an advertising quote is definitely acceptable. It can also come across as more genuine than "This is a good book. Signed, the Author/the Author's Mom."

Because now someone BESIDES me is telling you to read it.

So how do you handle reviews? Is it easier for you just to be hands off and avoid them altogether? Have you learned anything from a review?





Saturday, July 15, 2017

Random Interview Saturday! Deanna Fugett


DISCLAIMER
The H. L. Burke Random Interview is not like other interviews. The questions are all over the place. They have no purpose. Their purpose is their lack of purpose.
There are nine questions because cats, but these nine questions are subject to change without notice, so the questions one person answers may not be the questions answered by the next author.
We open a book to read it. Our next author runs in, snatches it, shouts, "MY BOOK!" and sits there grinning at us and not giving us the dang book. (Dang it! I wanted to read that book!) ... Well, since she's here, let's ask her some questions. She's Deanna Fugett!!!
Deanna Fugett


Author Bio:


While Deanna Fugett isn’t writing or connecting with others via social media, she can be found dancing around the kitchen with her four kids. She has a dog named Westley, a cat named Buttercup, some rabbits, a rat, a parakeet, and some newly acquired chickens. She resides in the Denver area with her high-school-sweetheart-husband of fifteen years, who thinks they live on a farm. (They don’t.)
She secretly enjoys writing more than reading. (Author blasphemy!) Deanna has an endless TBR list, and has numerous books she’s started reading lying around the house, none of which she can find time to finish. (Four kids and constant chaos will do that to you.)
Deanna is off-the-wall excited about her debut novel coming out with Love2ReadLove2Write Publishing on July 18th 2017, a YA Dystopian novel called Ending Fear. It’s the first novel in the Gliding Lands series. She really hopes you will enjoy every second of it.



What's in the box? What box? How should I know!? You're the one standing there with an imaginary box!
The box contains a magical mystery ride that includes John Legend and Lindsay Stirling sitting on a piano, drinking cocktails and playing the violin simultaneously. 
Congratulations! You are now president of this blog post. What's your first executive order?
Kill all blog posts prior to this post so my post will be the only post available on Heidi's blog. *cue evil laughter*
Favorite flavor (of what? EVERYTHING!)?
Butter Toffee Cream with a touch of lemon pepper and a dash of paprika on top.
What method do you suggest for dealing with dragons?
I don't. Dragons are scary. *ducks before Heidi socks her in the face*
During an alien invasion, what would be your weapon of choice?
Will Smith.
You can time travel in an oddly specific way that only allows you to visit other authors. Where do you go and what do you do?
Oh my word. This question. 
This question is amazing because I would do so many things and see so many amazing people. My world would be complete. 
First stop, visit my bestie, Lucy Nel, in South Africa. Then conquer the rest of the authoring world.
Write me some Vogon Poetry (for those not in the know, Vogon poetry is so awful you’ll want to rip your ears off and eat them. It’s considered a method of torture in many corners of the galaxy. So give us your worst).
One little-known fact about me: I won second place in Chip McGregor's Bad Poetry contest a couple of years ago. I can rock the bad poetry.
Aaaaannnnddd.....I've got nothing.
Can you simply walk into Mordor?
No. You must always ride on the back of Frodo. This is the only way.
If you had to board yourself up in a store to wait out the apocalypse, what store would you choose?
One that was entertaining, pretty, had nice soft and comfy, ready-made beds, and lots of food. Maybe Bed, Bath and Beyond. Although, really not that much food there. Surely there's an employee lounge with some leftovers in the fridge?
If this question were any question in the world, what question would you want it to be and how would you answer it?
Q) Do you believe in Faeries?
A) "I do believe in faeries. I do! I do!"
And if you don't understand that reference then you have failed the universe. You must now find a Time Lord, set back the clock of time and try again. Try what, you might ask? Your life. Just do it again. This time, do it right.


Connect with the Author!



Wednesday, July 12, 2017

EPIC HEROES GIVEAWAY!






Calling All Heroes!

Unwilling or epic, tragic or super, heroes are key to any story. Join in our Hall of Heroes giveaway for a chance to add both ebooks and paperbacks by eighteen Fellowship of Fantasy authors to your library.

At the center of our giveaway is the Hall of Heroes short story anthology, jam packed with thrilling tales. And best of all, if you can't wait to see if you win the paperback, you can get the ebook now for FREE!

We've also got a little something extra in the form of a custom journal set. So what are you waiting for? Enter now and join the adventures!

For my hero, I've chosen to feature the epic NYSSA GLASS, the reformed cat-burglar turned electrician's apprentice turned fugitive turned force for good from the Nyssa Glass Series. If you enter the giveaway you can win book one in the series ... or if you'd like a taste now, you can read her short story prequel (for free!).







Rafflecopter Link:



Rafflecopter HTML:


Saturday, July 8, 2017

Random Interview Saturday! Malinda Andrews

DISCLAIMER
The H. L. Burke Random Interview is not like other interviews. The questions are all over the place. They have no purpose. Their purpose is their lack of purpose.
There are nine questions because cats, but these nine questions are subject to change without notice, so the questions one person answers may not be the questions answered by the next author.

Knock, knock. Who's there?
MALINDA ANDREWS!

Malinda Andrews
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A transplant to the Midwest from Washington State, Malinda Andrews lives in Wisconsin within a stone’s throw of Lake Michigan.
The love of writing started young (she credits, or alternately blames, her parents for her love of reading and writing) and followed her passion for the written word into college. Forgoing financial security, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in December 2012.
An avid reader, Malinda also enjoys crocheting, watching TV and movies, book shopping, hiking, and camping. She lives with her loving husband, and their son.

The Interview
Sum up your life in five words and two punctuation marks.
What is even going on?!
Pirates, Ninjas, or Vikings? Choose carefully.
Vikings! Not only were they better at navigating water and exploration than pirates but I’d rather have a Viking berserker in my corner than a ninja any day.
Are computers friends or foes?
Friends…until they act up! Then they get threatened repeatedly with being run over by my truck until they decide we’re friends again. Mwhahaha
If you had the honor of naming something really big (a country, a spaceship, a planet) what would you want it to be and what would you name it?
I would want to name a spaceship like the Serenity, and I’d name it “Saor”, it means free in Irish, and is pronounced “Seer”
If your favorite historical era had an ice cream flavor made in its honor, what would it taste like?
My favorite historical era is kind of broad, basically pre-roman times when the Celts ran things. Since each Celtic area was so different, I’d say the perfect flavor would be called Rocky Woad. It would be blue, and have lots of nuts, cherries, and chocolate chunks.
If you had to communicate with an alien presence in a non-traditional way (like, for instance, interpretive dance) what would be your method of choice?
I would pick yodeling. It’s different and could potentially throw off a lot of people that weren’t “In the know”.
Who wrote the book of love?
Pepe Le Pew
You have to trade places with one of your characters for a day. Which and why?
Feoras. Hands down. Because who wouldn’t love to be a huge red and gold fire breathing dragon?!?
If this question were any question in the world, what question would you want it to be and how would you answer it?
It’s a blistery day here that I’ve spent in the A/C, so I’ll go with “What’s your favorite Ice Cream flavor”? My favorites are Mint Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, and Oreo.


Connect with her at:
Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest:
@OnADragonsWing2
Facebook:
@MalindaWrites
And Goodreads!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Creepy Google Phone and the Crazy Cat Lady

Now there's a title for you ...
So backstory: I have a pixel. It's a good phone: takes nice pictures, reliably opens aps which I legitimately use for book marketing, big enough screen to read books on ... etc. BUT ... it links up to Google Drive and Google Photo automatically, and every so often it does this thing where it selects a photo and "stylizes" it for you (adds a frame or a filter or both) or picks three photos and makes a "collage" for you ... or takes a collection of photos and makes a slideshow complete with music. You have the option to save these and share them or just delete. 
I also have a cat. His name is Bruce Wayne and he's a 17lb ginger beast with a great temperament and he's basically my favorite thing ever. Seriously, he's an awesome cat. 

A post shared by H.L. Burke (@burkesdragons) on
Last night I was taking a bunch of selfies with my cat (as you do) and afterwards I put my phone to the side and then beep, beep, notification: your phone has a new slideshow for you.
I pick it up and I get this:


To sum up: it's a slide show of a few weeks worth of cat photos accompanied by the Blue Danube Waltz "sung" in meows. 
A couple things:
1. This phone somehow recognizes which pictures I took are of my cat and recognizes them as cat pictures.
2. This phone is aware of my proclivities enough to suspect I would appreciate a slide show of my cat set to the meowing of other cats. 
It's a brave new world. 

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Random Interview Saturday! Angie Grigaliunas

DISCLAIMER
The H. L. Burke Random Interview is not like other interviews. The questions are all over the place. They have no purpose. Their purpose is their lack of purpose.
There are nine questions because cats, but these nine questions are subject to change without notice, so the questions one person answers may not be the questions answered by the next author.
Our next author bursts in, armed with super soakers! It's Angie Grigaliunas!

Angie Grigaliunas

Author Bio

Angie Grigaliunas (grig-ah-loo-nas) is a fantasy writer and blogger. She loves Jesus, the woods, the stars, and has always wanted to be a superhero with a secret identity. She lives in Ohio with her husband, their goofy dog, and their four crazy cats.

 

If you had a store, what would you sell?

Chickens! That’s the first thing that came to mind. That’s lame. Let’s see… I’d sell super soakers that, when filled up with anything but water, give you superpowers according to the color of the liquid. Well, they give superpowers to whoever the spray hits, that is. If you want to give yourself superpowers, I guess you’d have to super soak yourself, which might be kind of awkward. Or, if you have a friend, have them soak you, but not in the face. If you get it in your face, you’ll turn blue and lose your nose hairs. Don’t ask why. I don’t know how they work; I just sell them. I’d also sell cats, but magical ones with healing purrs and whiskers that change color depending on their mood. Also, they’re telepathic, though they don’t like talking much. They do, however, like to tell you that you’re in their post and that they just coughed up a hairball in a hidden location. And books that actually take you to the world they involve. …On second thought, that’s a bad idea. *scratches that one out*


Best writing tool: pen, pencil, keyboard, or crayon?

Keyboard for me. Crayons, I always break. Always. Except for a few times when I didn’t because they were already broken. Pens are great, but my handwriting is so messy when I’m trying to write quickly. It’s awful. And pencils just aren’t dark enough. *cackles and coughs* Anywho…


When cats take over the world, how do you plan to win their good graces?

By feeding them. Mine love me when I feed them. Also, I will let them have lots of boxes and high places to sit and stare down at their pathetic – I mean, loyal – subjects. I will also pet them behind the ears and give them lots of string to play with. Also, catnip. Lots of catnip. That’s what I’ll sell at my store! *makes notes*


If you were the captain of a space ship, what would its mission be? Exploration? Colonization? Partying?

Exploration! But not too far from home because death. And cold. And monsters. Actually, yes, let’s go there. 


During an alien invasion, what would be your weapon of choice?

See, this depends on what kind of aliens they are. If they’re like the ones in Signs that can be killed with water (spoiler), I mean, I’d stock up on the super soakers (good thing I sell them, right?). If they’re the massive machine-like ones from War of the World, I think guns would be good. Guns are probably always good in this situation, actually…


You can time travel in an oddly specific way that only allows you to visit other authors. Where do you go and what do you do?

*cackles* I would go visit all my author friends and kidnap them and take them to a castle in Ireland. Or Germany. I want to go there too. *makes note to self to meet a writer who lives in a castle in Germany*


Which natural element (earth, wind, fire, water) do you feel the greatest kinship with?

Probably fire. I love fire. It mesmerizes me. It’s like a snake charmer, except it’s an Angie charmer. Which is far better, because I give backrubs and can cook things like macaroni and cheese and delivery pizza. 


What mythical creature do you most wish to be real?

Can I say my own? They’re not really a myth…and they also hate humans, so they might kill me… BUT I JUST LOVE THEM.


If you had to board yourself up in a store to wait out the apocalypse, what store would you choose?

Sam’s. It has everything. Haha! Or Walmart. I could use the locals as bait to draw the radioactive monsters away from me. 


If this question were any question in the world, what question would you want it to be and how would you answer it?

Hahahaha! I had to read this like four times before it connected in my head. Okay. Let’s see. I would want you to ask me what I want to eat for dinner, and I will say ice cream…because I’m an adult, and I can eat whatever I want for dinner. And in this case, it’s ice cream. So yes.
 

You can find Sowing here: amzn.to/2ck9So6
 
And here are my links to follow me!