All posts by authoraemcauley

Book Lovers’ Monday – What I’m Reading

Welcome to my first “Book Lovers Monday”, where you can expect to find calls for favorite novels, book reviews, and author interviews.

Today’s Book Lover’s chat is about the books I’m reading and what I currently think of them.

I’m not the type of person who can read one book at a time. I like starting between two to five and then work my way through them like a kid with too many choices of cake, eating a bite of each one before I decide which one to devour completely.

Right now, I’m on a serious high fantasy kick. I’ve been toying with a story that’s like the Dragon Age franchise meets The Last Unicorn, with a sprinkle of Tamora Pierce’s Lioness Rampant series. So, to give me some inspiration, I took the advice of my best friend and one very helpful Barnes and Noble employee and found the following.

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1. The Eye of the World – Robert Jordan

Recommended to me by my best friend, and then a coworker when she found out I was looking for high fantasy novels.

Where am I at? – Page 14
Thoughts so far – As enjoyable as the first 14 pages can be. I like the author’s writing style and his religion and world layout is well built.

 

2. Dreamer’s Pool – Juliet Marillier619nuraf2bll-_sx308_bo1204203200_

Recommended to me by a Barnes and Noble employee I talk with from time to time. While she’s not a writer, she’s a huge fan of the processes, and helping up and coming writers. She suggested I try Dreamer’s Pool after I said I enjoyed Tamora Pierce as a kid.

Where am I at? – Page 6
Thoughts so far – Starts with Blackthorn at the lowest of low, a great place to hook your reader and I’m definitely curious where she plans on taking it.

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3. The Stolen Throne – David Gaider

Recommended to me by no one, just my weird love with the Dragon Age universe. I’ve been hooked on the video games since I first played Dragon Age: Origins, and after playing through Inquisition I needed more of Thedas.

Where am I am? – Page 144

Thoughts so far – It’s a little rough, if I’m being completely honest. It reads like a book by someone who writes video game scripts, not book manuscripts, but I have to admit, I still really love it. It’s probably because I’ve got a soft spot for the games, so if you haven’t played them I’d say you probably could skip putting this one on your reading list.

 

 

What books are you reading right now? Are you a one at a time person or a multiple reader? Have a high fantasy book you can recommend? Comment below and let me know!

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Why I Loved Fantastic Beasts

I put off watching the latest instalment to the Harry Potter world up till a few days ago for a number of reasons.

Bad reviews, lack of interest, and no time to go to the movies all contributed to the time gap between release and my viewing. Now that I’ve seen it, I’m kicking myself for not jumping on board sooner.

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I mean, Eddie Redmayne was just so perfect, how did I doubt that I’d like this movie?

Now, I’m going to praise this movie and the actors quite a bit, but that doesn’t mean it’s not without its flaws (No Mag…I mean…). That being said, you can find plenty of negative reviews on this movie. This one is why I enjoyed it.

First off, Newt. Most reviewers complained about this character. He wasn’t outgoing enough, he didn’t look like a “strong male protagonist” and he lacked the extroversion from previous Harry Potter characters.

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He even admits that most people don’t like him, and are even annoyed by him. 

Now, to interrupt my own blog post, as I so often do, I’m not someone who has a problem with overly masculine protagonists. In fact I like a great deal of “traditional strong men” characters.

That being said, it was refreshing to see the portrayal of an introverted male protagonist, and so well done! Newt is shy, doesn’t like looking people in the eye, and closes up when pressed for personal information. He doesn’t give long winded exposition about his past, or try to be some sort of hero. If anything, he’s just trying to get back to writing a book and when the female lead falls for him, she doesn’t do so because he’s physically strong, instead it’s because of how gentle he is.

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Plus, I feel like there’s a lot to be said when it comes to that romantic sublot. They don’t fall into each other’s arms after only knowing each other for three days, which is definitely refreshing. 

Next off, the creatures. I’m a bit of an American Folklore fan. I’m not nearly as well read as I’d like to be, but I’m working on learning more the older I get. When I first read Rowling’s take on American creatures, I was disappointed. For as much research as she put into European folklore, there seemed to be a disconnect when it came to her American studies. One of my main reasons for being so hesitant to watch the movie was because I wasn’t sure if the creatures would turn out, well under written and cheesy. I’m sure someone might say they weren’t up to par with the creatures in the original Harry Potter books, however, I found them extremely enjoyable.

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In fact, the subplot of chasing down these creatures was one of the more enjoyable ones in the films. 

Lastly, the secondary characters. Newt’s best friend, Jacob, wants to be a baker. Gnarlack stole the show with the fantastic raspy voice of Ron Perlman. Porpentina makes bad decisions, ones she has to atone for, and eventually sees the error of, and her sister Goldie gets to be a hero in her own way, even though she’s a fairly typical feminine side character. They all had a chance to be in the spotlight and with such a big cast it was great to see everyone behave so much differently from one another.

As for the complaints people had against the movie. Was the movie racially diverse? No.  Was the plot line completely cohesive? Not exactly, there were a few holes I noticed. And was Newt an “outgoing protagonist”? No, like I already said, he was pretty introverted. But I’m still a fan of this movie. It was well acted and well made, and I hope they continue to make more movies along this timeline, with Newt as lead.

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What did you think of “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”? Were you a fan or were you disappointed? Let me know below!

Is your author platform shareable???

What a great informational post about engaging with your audience. I definitely could stand to do more when it comes to the interacting with other authors and bloggers. Thanks for such an amazing post Mercedes!

Mercedes Prunty Author

Are you not getting much action or shares, are people ignoring you and not engaging in your posts? Maybe its time for a social media clean up…

  • So it’s time to look through your social media platforms and see if there is anything we need to clean up. Do your pages hold anything that some of your readers might find offensive? E.G. Political views, Religious posts, and even some personal posts might be seen as offensive, even if you don’t mean them to come across that way. Yes ‘you’ like everyone else has their opinions and it can sometimes make for a good debate on certain topics but its normally best to leave them to you personal pages that your readership, fans and maybe potential publishers and editors can’t see. You don’t want to tarnish your author platform before you’ve even got started on becoming a brand name. (Unless it…

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How Artists Can Promote Your Book

Jessica Ingold recently put out a tweet asking for “new and different ways to promote her books”. It got me thinking about a way authors occasionally overlook that would help not only themselves but other artists as well.

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I don’t make it a secret that I love to draw. In fact, I have an Instagram and a Deviant Art dedicated to building my writer’s platform through art. One thing I’ve found, however, is that the best way to promote myself isn’t to plaster up ads on Facebook or spam my twitter followers with automatic messages. It’s to get other artists involved in my work.

Here are two ways to create healthy relationships with artists to help promote your work.

1. Have a contest.

One of the first ways I got my writing on the radar was to hold a contest. I put up 7 scenes, between 3 and 5 pages each, from different short stories, one offs, and the novel I was working on and asked artists to draw what they interpreted from the passages. What I wound up getting was not only people reading my work, but also artists posting up artwork of the pieces that linked back to my page.

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This was done by Kennie (bootyfeathers) who enjoyed the drawings I posted along with short stories so much, they started doing fan art. We’ve stayed in contact over the years, and they’re someone I hold near and dear to my heart as an artist.

2. Hire Artists

If you have the money, this is the fastest way to get artwork. Many artists will put up some information about what they’re drawing, or what the story’s about for their fans to get some extra information about what they’re looking at, so feel free to ask for them to link back to your website, amazon, or any social media.

You can also hire artists to design characters for you to use in stories or novels. When people see a character design, they usually begin to wonder “What’s the story with this person?” That being said, some don’t like their artwork being used for momentary gain, other’s don’t care, so be sure to ask your artist when hiring if you’re going to use the character in a book /short story you plan on submitting for money.

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I met Madisen (Inkyness) through art as well. She’s done some great work for me, both as gifts, but also as commissions.

 

Here’s a big “don’t list” when it comes to working with artists.

  • Don’t offer them publicity as payment. Publicity doesn’t pay bills or put food in your stomach.
  • Don’t ask for artwork for free. It’s insulting. You wouldn’t write a whole book for someone for free just cause they wanted it would you?
  • Don’t offer payment when you “hit it big”. That could take years, and artists don’t want to wait around for that to happen.
  • Don’t hire artists you know nothing about, check reviews for artist. I paid fifty bucks one time for a character design and the person vanished. I’m still a little stung over this.
  • Don’t use their artwork for unintended purposes. Many artists have copyrights, so be sure you’re following them if you post the artwork elsewhere, or want to use it in promotional items.

Hope that opens some doors for you as far as hiring artists and looking for promotion!

Top 10 Things Unpublished Writers Hear

The road to being a published author is a bumpy one. Holding down a day job, raising kids, constant criticism, and your own internal struggle can be daunting. You know one day you’ll get there, but in the mean time, here are things you’ll probably wind up hearing.

  1. “Why don’t you just self publish?” or alternately “Why don’t you just find an agent?”

Not every publishing style is perfect for every writer. What works for someone else might not work for you.

2. “Can you write me something for free? It’ll be good publicity.”

I’ve heard this a few times from people who want something like fan fiction or smut stories between them and a character/celebrity. It’s not really great publicity, when I’m not a romance writer.

3. “You’re a writer? But what do you REALLY do to earn money?”

I’ve heard this one more than once. I have a day job, but one day I’d like to be able to say that IS what I do to earn money.

4. “You’re a writer? So is my uncle! His agent just sold his 5th book to a publishing house!”

I’m always happy to hear someone being successful, but yeah, sometimes I do get a little envious.

5. “You’re just not trying hard enough!”

For many writers, this can be true, but when you just start submitting, you’re at the beginning of your journey. Keep submitting. You’re doing great.

6. “You could be the next Stephen King!”

Do you know how lofty that goal is? Hell, I just want to get a book out there, I can focus on becoming ridiculously popular and established later.

7. “When does your book come out?”

Good question. As soon as I get that agent and manage to sell my manuscript I’ll let you know.

8. “What does your spouse/family think?”

I’m not sure why this one comes up. It always makes me scratch my head and wonder why it matters? Even if I didn’t have support I’d still be trying to be a writer. Should their opinion really matter that much?

9. “Why not write a book about something that’s popular right now?”

Because trends are constantly changing and you shouldn’t cater to what’s popular. By the time you’re finished with your book, it’ll be out of style.

 

10. “You just finished your first book, what are you going to work on next?”

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First, I’m going to take a second to breathe, send out query letters, build a writer’s platform and sign up for some conferences….then maybe write something about human cloning, but you know, that’s a little ways away. The point is, there’s a lot that comes next.

5 Books That Changed My Life 

With Flightless being sent out to agents, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about books I’ve read that influenced my life as a writer. There are almost too many to pick from, but here are five that I still have on my bookshelf because of how they impacted me.

Most of the books on this list are from my childhood, or changed my life not because of what they said, but because of where I was when I was introduced to them. I believe that some books don’t have to have a powerful message, they just need to be in your life in the first place.


1. The Giver by Lois Lowry
This was the first book I read more than once. I was in sixth grade when I first got my hands on it, and Lowry’s writing captivated me in a way no other book had. Not because of the world or the characters, but the ideas. It made me think about who I was, and opened my eyes to themes in novels such as standing up for what was right and choosing the right path over the easy one. To this day, The Giver makes me want to not only write well, but to have my books mean more than just words on pages.

2. Full Tilt by Neal Shusterman
This book from my childhood, and its author if you’ve read my previous post about him, had a profound affect on my writing life. Full Tilt was the first book I read where the hero was reluctant to be one, and it showed me that not every protagonist needed to be excited by the aspect of being a hero. It shaped how I’d create my future characters.

3. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
I had to read this for a project in my high school English class, freshman year. I was a quiet high school kid with a fly under the radar type of attitude, but this book, like The Giver, taught me that I needed to chase after my dreams if I was ever going to achieve them.

 

4. Moon Called by Patricia Briggs
Back in 2008, as a quiet high school senior, I found a website dedicated to the Patricia Briggs series. I hadn’t read them, but the community was welcoming even to a newbie like me. I jumped on board and got to know fellow high school students obsessed with a world of vampires, werewolves, witches and then some.

It was here that I met someone who’s now a sister to me, who’s been my cheerleader when I’m down and an editor when I needed tough love. I want to meet, and sometimes surpass, her high standards and I hope to one day be half as creative and well spoken as her. If Patricia Briggs never wrote her Mercy Thompson series, I never would’ve found her, so I will always be grateful for her work.

5. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
This wasn’t the first book I read by Neil Gaiman, but it was the first time I was introduced to Terry Pratchett’s work, and wow, I was blown away. I read it only two years before his death, and when he passed away, I was crushed. Up to that point there was yet to be an author I enjoyed reading who died while I was only just getting introduced to their work and it reminded me to cherish the writers who are still alive.

 

The Dark Mother in Books and Movies

Just as a warning, this post contains dark imagery and unsettling pictures. Viewer discretion is advised. 

 

I love tropes. I know other people have mixed feelings about this, but I find them fascinating. While diving too far into tropes can become cliche, every writer uses them. Just one look at tvtropes.org, and it’s almost impossible not to.

So to celebrate tropes, I’m picking a few of my favorite to highlight in my Writing Wednesday posts. I’ll do one a month until I get tired of it, maybe more if people have suggestions for tropes they enjoy.

Today’s trope is….

The Dark Mother

With every trope or archetype, there is a dark side, and if there’s one archetype I love the most it’s that of the Dark Mother. She’s a force to be reckoned with and can be any caretaker or mother figure with dark intentions.

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Patron Saint of Last Nights Tears 5×5 oval oil by Jasmine Worth

 

Examples in Literature –

The Other Mother – Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Evil Stepmother/Queen – Every fairy tale ever
Cathy Ames/Kate Trask – East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Norma Bates – Psycho by Robert Bloch
Margaret White – Carrie by Stephen King

Examples in Movies –

Alien Den Mother – Aliens
Stephanie Smith – 8 Mile
Mary Jones – Precious
Queen Bavmorda – Willow

Why do I love this trope so much?

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Mother Catrina by liransz on Deviant Art

Mothers are supposed to be loving and caring. They’re our caretakers, who we learn love from, and when we have nothing, we’re supposed to be able to count on them to be there for us. As someone who’s a fan of flipping tropes on their head, the idea of a Dark Mother, one who gives life, but also takes it, has always been fascinating. She’s strong, but in a wicked way, and is morally compromised at every turn.

I hope to do her justice in some of my future novels, both as an antagonist, and as the powerful female figure she is.

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Aura by Lourdes Saraiva Art https://www.facebook.com/l.saraiva.illustrator

 

Which mother do you prefer in your movies and novels? The Light or Dark? Who’s your favorite example of a Dark Mother?

Why Authors Love the Pacific Northwest

I’ve traveled across the United States, from Texas to Washington, D.C., back to Texas, and then childhood summers spent up in Michigan. I remember family trips across the hot deserts of the American West, and sticky falls spent along the Gulf of Mexico through swamps. It wasn’t until the summer of 2016 did I finally make it to the Pacific Northwest.

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Beach at Solo Point. See my instagram for more pictures of my setting adventures.

Besides living with a family that loved to travel, I’m a military spouse who moves every two to four years. It’s left me with a wide array of places to chose from for a setting. From the city outskirts of Washington D.C., to back roads in the Texas Hill Country, to long twisted highways that carve through the Colorado Rockies; my mental setting bank is full.

Last year I moved to Washington state. It’s a part of the country I’ve only seen in television shows, books, and movies, and I’ve always wondered, what makes this area so special? What is it about the Pacific Northwest that pulls writers in?

I haven’t been here a year yet, and let me tell you. It’s been an experience. It rains more than I’ve ever seen, the people are eccentric, and the cities are small. But none of those are bad things. If anything, the area reminds me of growing up in Austin in the 90’s. People are active in their community, the land isn’t built up with subdivisions, and there are plenty of outdoor events for people to get back to nature.

When you get out of the cities, you find small communities centered around churches, rocky beaches with whole tree trunks tossed on the shore and if you go out east, over the Snoqualmie Pass, you find orange deserts and oasis towns.

With my next project in the works, a dark comedy and drama both of them supernatural pieces having to do with ghosts and death, I’ve set parts of it in the Pacific Northwest for a setting. Trips to Solo Point, a beach for military personnel to unload their boats, have been the most inspiring. The scenery is stunning and I hope to take a kayak out to the small island off shore to do some more exploring.

The longer I’m in this part of the country, the more I realize why writers and artists are drawn to this area. It’s lush, vibrant, and in spite of the rain, it’s beautiful.

Is there a part of the country you find yourself drawn to? Where do you enjoy setting your placing your novels?

What’s your favorite “How To” writing book?

I’ve been picky about what “how to” writing books I buy lately. Most of them are less about story structure, and more about the nitty gritty parts of writing.

Here are some of my favorite books on writing, but I’m in the market for more. Have any suggestions that improved your writing in any particular area?

16681583_1300483536656800_6852415959332937314_n1. The Emotion Thesaurus
Good for – writing character feelings through their body language.
Lacking in – For a thesaurus, it doesn’t list off as many emotions as I’d hope.

2. Writer’s Guide to Character Traits 
Good for – Nailing down Character behavior regarding their mental status.
Lacking in – It’s one sided and stereotypical at times.

3. Writing from the Senses
Good for – Writing more expressive and meaningful scenes.
Lacking in – It’s a little “How To” and repeats what I’ve read in other books.

4. Plot Vs. Character
Good for – Helps see things from a plot/character writer’s perspective.
Lacking in – Not sure. I really enjoyed this one.

5. Bullies Bastards and Bitches
Good for – Creating fun, deep, well rounded villains.
Lacking in – Can read a little Creative Writing 101.

6. Word Painting
Good for – Explains writing descriptively better than Writing from the Senses.
Lacking in – Not a whole lot. I really don’t have any complaints about this book.

 

Getting Over the Fear of Judgement From Loved Ones

I love my family. I’m sure some of them will read this one day, so let me repeat myself. I love my family. That being said, growing up where most if not every person in said family is either Catholic, Church of Christ, or Baptist, I’ve always been afraid of them judging my writing.

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My fears weren’t entirely uncalled for. As a child/young teen, I drew a lot, and there were more than a few eyebrows thrown up by what I enjoyed sketching. Fairies, dragons and magic were off limits, practicing the nude human form was scolded, and if I drew in a style that wasn’t approved of, anime for example, I was told to not practice it. While family members saw it as them protecting me, it created a harbor of insecurity for what I was creating.

Needless to say, I never shared my writing with the adults of my family when I started writing. There were a few cousins I trusted with my work, and a best friend I consider a sister, but those were the only people I opened up to. When I told my cousins and “sister” I was going to start submitting to agents, they weren’t surprised at all. For the rest of the family, however, it came as a shock that I was writing in the first place.

When I told them, I’ll admit, I was worried. I write about people with wings that are mistaken as angels, magicians with power over life and death, and ghosts who fall in love with girls and refuse to pass on. I have plans for a novel that revolves around a demon who hunts spirits that escape Hell and another set in a dystopian future that revolves around human cloning.

You can see why I was worried they might judge my subject matter.

How did I get over my fear of judgement and just get to writing?

In part, I found a support group. My husband, “sister”, cousins, and a strict, yet fun, tough love writing group in Texas all gave me a shoulder to lean on but they weren’t the only things that helped.

When I sat back and began to think about what I wanted in life, I realized that writing is what makes me truly happy. I love entertaining people, I love the look on people’s faces when they enjoy my work, and I love creating worlds to let characters run wild in. I love all of it. If my family can’t understand that, and judge me, that’s fine. It’s worth it.

When you’re creating anything, from a sketch, to a play, to a novel, you have to ask yourself, is it worth it? Is it something you can’t live without, or are you going to let fear of people who should love you regardless of your interests and what you’re writing stop you from reaching your goals?

What are your insecurities, and how did you overcome them? What advice would you give to artists struggling with judgement from loved ones?

One last note, if you haven’t heard Neil Gaiman’s “Make Good Art” speech and you’re struggling with fears of rejection, have a listen. I can’t stress how important it was for me to hear this on my road to overcoming fear of insecurities.

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