Monthly Archives: July 2016

A video of my poem entitled Don’t Give Up!

A while ago I wrote a poem encouraging myself and others not to give up. I posted it on my blog under poems. Then I had the idea to make it into a video:

I posted it on my youtube channel and now I’m creating even more videos.  If you subscribe, you’ll see each new video as they come out.  I’m mixing things up a bit and creating numerous types of videos for my subscribers….all inspirational in nature.

I love getting to know my readers and viewers.  Feel free to leave comments and I’ll be sure to respond at my earliest convenience.

Thanks for being part of my creative process!  Cheers!

Zen Queen by Kirsty McManus

Enjoy humor?  Then you’ll want to take a peek at this book!

Zen Queen by Kirsty McManus

Jess Harper’s personal life is a mess.

She hasn’t had a haircut since 2006 and she doesn’t have time to find better friends than the self-centred associates she’s had since University.

And instead of searching for love, she’s settled for ‘friends with benefits’ status with one of her buddies. Yet none of that matters, because professionally she’s living the dream, and has just scored a highly coveted assignment in Japan with the promise of a promotion on her return.

But when she arrives in Japan, instead of the smooth integration she anticipated, Jess finds herself wrongfully fired, abandoned and broke in a country where she doesn’t speak the language.

Now she must rebuild her life and clear her name. But the friendly locals and allure of the ex-pat lifestyle soon have her reconsidering her priorities and challenging her views on climbing the corporate ladder. With a new job as an English teacher and the temptation of her cute (but already attached) roommate, Jess discovers that although life doesn’t always turn out as planned, maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

Introducing Kirsty:

Zen Queen was inspired by a year I spent in Japan in 2004 / 2005. I taught conversational English at a school in Osaka, and it was one of the most fun and crazy jobs I’ve ever had. But because teachers were discouraged from socialising with students outside of class, I didn’t get a chance to learn much Japanese. As a result, I found myself at the international bookstore every weekend, buying a LOT of books. This was around the height of chick-lit’s popularity, so I was reading everything I could find by Sophie Kinsella, Marian Keyes, Jill Mansell and Jane Green.

 At some point, it occurred to me that Japan would be the perfect location to set a chick-lit novel. Also, I had been keeping a blog on Yahoo’s Geocities (WordPress and Facebook hadn’t taken off yet) – and all my friends said they loved reading the entries. I even had friends of friends say they enjoyed following my adventures.

So Zen Queen was born (although it took six years to arrive in a publishable form!). I tried to incorporate all the wacky experiences and places I visited while living in Japan into a fictional story featuring a slightly impulsive protagonist. I really wanted to showcase what life is like as an ex-pat – from going out drinking and singing karaoke on the weekends, to exploring the cultural attractions in every city, to the tight bonds you form with other Westerners, despite their home countries being on the other side of the world.

 The book has recently seen a resurgence in popularity now that I’ve released my latest novel Saved by the Celebutante. The two books are unrelated, but are both in the same zany style and feature a main character who goes on an adventure-filled journey.

 Where you can find Zen Queen:

https://www.amazon.com/Zen-Queen-Kirsty-McManus-ebook/dp/B006PNS9KE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1469084054&sr=8-1&keywords=zen+queen+kirsty+mcmanus

Where you can find Kirsty:

Kirsty’s Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Kirsty-McManus/e/B006QCN6AW

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/MissKM

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kirstymcmanusauthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/bachelorfanoz (this is for the Bachelor recap blog I also run)

Author website: http://www.kirstymcmanus.com.au

Spotlight & Interview: The Dam Is Coming by Fred A Brede!

THE DAM IS COMING

“The Dam is Coming” is a fictional history novel about the largest wood-pile dams in the world, built in 1890, located just 12 miles north of Saint Croix Falls, Wisconsin on the scenic Saint Croix River.
The story is told by Paul C. Wellington a twelve years old growing up a mile from Never’s Dam in what is today Wild River State Park. With his friend Paul, they give a firsthand account of the Nevers Dam construction that finally tamed the wild Saint Croix River and how the lumber was delivered to the saw mills.
Join Paul and Peter as they watch this historic Never’s Dam become the most talked about, man made structure ever built on the upper Sent Croix River, and forever will be part of the history of the Saint Croix River Valley.

Interview with Fred:

1.  Tell me about “The Dam is Coming” and why you decided to write it.
Local history on the Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway between Minnesota and Wisconsin has always been a passion of mine. Since I love both fiction and youthful adventures I placed Paul, a curious 12 year old boy growing up with his pioneer family watching the loggers in 1889 coming in and building the world’s largest logging dam across an untamable river. “The Dam is Coming” helps me explain to the public one of the most spectacular construction projects ever attempted on the historic Saint Croix River. Most people don’t know it ever existed. Someone had to tell the story and I did so in the form of a fictional history novel.
2.  What do you hope to accomplish as an author?
    
Nationally I want to be a noted “Romantic Author” and Destiny Whispers Publishing LLC has given me that opportunity with Romantic Western Adventures, “Letters from the Heart” was the first with a sequel out in February, 2016. A Third novel “Flyaway Love” will be scheduled for the summer of 2016.
    
Locally I want to be recognized as an author knowledgeable of Northern Wisconsin with its rich history in logging, the Saint Croix River, the glaciers that formed this region. This was the “Wild West” before the Wild West was the Wild West. Not much has been written nationally to bring Wisconsin onto the national stage. Many of my 15 self-published novels take place in Wisconsin.  Wisconsin is much more than dairy farms, cheese or the Green Bay Packers. The forest of northern Wisconsin built the cities like St. Louis, Minneapolis and Kansas City. All that lumber came through the gates of “Nevers Dam” which was an engineering marvel at the time. No electricity in homes, all manual labor but a lot of family unity. 
 
Thirdly I teach classes on how to self-publish using
CreateSpace and their free options. All my self-published titles cost me nothing but for printing. There are thousands of aspiring authors in this new age of Amazon and Kindle that want to get published but don’t know how. I can save them a lot of time and money and have been very successful in presenting programs that can get anyone self-published.
 
3.  Who/what inspires you to write?
 
I have a need to keep my mind active and working on several projects at the same time. Multiple plots, sub-plots, characters and scenes. It’s a thrill to see the finished product and the creative process at work. I want to keep challenging myself and moving forward, never stopping. There is so much history that can be explained through stories or novels and as long as I am at it, why not though is some passion and romance turning them into love stories.  I have a quote I use to explain my writings.
     “Sometimes love follows you. Through thick and thin, over streams and through time. True love will find a way. Keep faith that somewhere, someone is looking for you, all you have to do is slow down and let them catch up.”
Author Fred A Brede
Sharing my experiences with my family who have inspired me. I pride myself on raising my two boy and one lovely daughter along with my wife. Many of the interactions, adventures and experiences my characters have come from time I spent teaching and allowing them to grow up. They are the best family anyone could have.
 
Wanting to share my experiences with my readers is a driving force. I want to leave my reader with hope a future that is positive in a world that seems to be coming apart. I want them to remember what it was like when they were younger and exploring the world for the first time. My romance novels is just the next step in finding out what the world has to offer and my romance books always end with them living happily ever after.
 
4.  Do you have any works in progress?  What are they?
 
Besides “Letters from the Heart with Destiny Whispers Publishing and my self-published books, I Just released “Inheritance of Love A Wisconsin Romance”.
For future release, “Stagecoach of Desire” and “Three signs of love”.
 
I am currently researching for, “Sunrise Landing” about a youth leader with five boys canoeing down the St. Croix River in modern times and discover the modern day ghost town of Sunrise. (A real location) A Story teller relates historical events with local characters that lived at various rime in the history of the area that revealed themselves to the boys who are convinced the ghosts are real.
      
5. If you could have one wish granted, what would it be?
 
I wish I could have had the luxury to start writing years ago. My employer through physiological testing identified my talents as a story teller but I used it to communicate with prospects and customers. It’s only after retiring that I had the time to start writing. Years ago they didn’t have the technology to help the writer like computers and spell check.  I wish Windows 10 had come out twenty years ago.
 
6.  What would you like your readers to know about you?
I love both history and romance. Some of my stories are contemporary romance, some historical fiction and some a combination of the two. I write only wholesome adventures meant for a general audience. I even have my wife read over my stories before publishing. If it passes her muster it goes to print.
 
My working years after college at the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay I worked in banking, insurance, as a stock broker, leasing, student loans, retirement planning and investments. What I enjoyed most was spending time in the outdoors and with my boys hunting and fishing. Now I get to live these adventures all over again in my stories and make some up as I go along.
Where you can find The Dam Is Coming:
https://www.amazon.com/Dam-Coming-Nevers-Project-Glacial-ebook/dp/B01AYKYXNU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1468831669&sr=8-1&keywords=the+dam+is+coming+fred+brede
Where you can find Fred:
fredabrede@aol.com

Introducing Hair Power by Piers Anthony!

Enjoy this entertaining interview with Piers Anthony!  Guaranteed to lift your spirits!

HairPower_smaller Piers Anthony

Terminal cancer patient, Quiti, walks into an abandoned building planning on taking her life. Instead, she encounters a telepathic ball of hair that insists it is an alien seeking to facilitate diplomatic communication on Earth. Quiti assumes it is all a hallucination conjured up by her brain tumor. Because of this assumption, when she saves the alien’s life and it insists on doing Quiti a favor in return, she only asks for her hair back. She soon discovers, however, that the creature’s gift extends much further than her new locks that can change color with a thought. As her powers grow and her deadly illness goes into remission, Quiti quickly realizes that there are those that would want to use her for her abilities and is forced to leave behind everything that she knew. Will this blessing curse her to a life on the run, or does the mysterious hairball have more in store for her? Piers Anthony, critically acclaimed author of the New York Times bestselling Xanth series, brings together humor and adventure in this original story of loyalty, friendship, extraordinary powers, and hair. Dreaming Big Publications

Interview with Piers:

Tell us about your latest book.

Hair Power is a novella about a girl with terminal brain cancer who helps an alien hairball, who rewards her with hair that not only replaces her own lost hair, but cures her cancer and makes her something of a super woman. In time that hair is six feet long and she wears it like a cloak. That’s only the beginning.

Tell us a little about some of the others who contributed to your book, such as cover designer or editor.

I have to default on that, as I don’t know them.

Who are your favorite authors?

If I lost my memory and had my choice of reading matter, I hope my favorite would be Piers Anthony. I try to write what I would like to read. As for other authors, I have admired many in the Science Fiction and Fantasy fields, from Robert A Heinlein on down. I am also an admirer of the plays of George Bernard Shaw, and not just because he was a vegetarian.

What advice do you have for other writers?

Publishing is changing so much now that much of what I might say would become dated about ten minutes after I wrote it. So I’ll just say read and study the genre you are in, keep writing and improving, and may the world go well with thee.

What’s the best thing about being a writer?

For me the best thing is getting to exercise my imagination and being independent. I can’t be fired for someone else’s mistakes.

What’s the hardest thing about being a writer?

It used to be dealing with publishers, who were like insensitive robots interested only in money, regardless what they claimed. But the old order is passing and the new publishers I am dealing with are generally more compatible. Some of them even like good fiction. So now the hardest thing is facing the prospect of my declining ability with advancing age. I’m not capable of simply letting it go and retiring. So when I no longer write well, I hope I am the first, not the last to know it.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing?

My web site is www.hipiers.com where I have a monthly column, commenting on whatever is on my mind, and background information on my titles. I have also written two autobiographical books: Bio of an Ogre and How Precious Was That While.

How long did it take you to write your book?

Three Weeks for this 35,000 word novella. It moved well, and I am an efficient writer.

Did you learn anything from writing your book that was unexpected?

I don’t think so. I had worked it out pretty well before I started writing. I’ve always loved long hair on a woman, so this was easy imagination.

Where can a reader purchase your book?

From wherever the publisher puts it.

What are you doing to market the book?

Precious little. I’m a writer, not a marketer.

Who inspires you?

The world inspires me.

How do you research your books?

There wasn’t any real research for Hair Power. I generally try to stay within the boundaries of what I know. When I do need to research, I buy books on the subject.

Do you have another work in progress? Tell us about it.

I am working on the sequel, Hair Suite, wherein there is competition with Cyborg aliens in very attractive human form. Until the two cultures have to unite against a third.

Have you written other books? Where can readers purchase them?

I have written about 175 other books. Readers can find many of them listed on Amazon. Many readers like my Xanth fantasy series, which now number 42 novels, not all in print yet.

Where you can find Hair Power:

https://www.amazon.com/Hair-Power-Piers-Anthony/dp/1534919147/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1468715975&sr=8-1&keywords=hair+power+piers+anthony

Who’s Tired? I’m Not Tired!

For those of you who are familiar with me, you know I’m a night owl. I’d rather stay up late than get up early. It’s how I’ve always been. I think I was wired for the night life.

The dark cloak of night is a comfort and the sounds of the night are relaxing to me. I love to look at the sky and watch the moon and stars. I find them particularly beautiful on cool summer evenings.

To celebrate my erratic hours, I created a GIF entitled “Who’s Tired?  I’m Not Tired?” for people like me who tend to burn the candle at both ends.  Not only do I have a day job and a family, but I’m also a writer and an artist.  So there have been many (too many to remember) days when I felt like this:

If you can relate, feel free to pass this GIF along.  It’s a fun way to say,  “Cut me some slack!  I was up much too late….again!”

Pain Is An Activist

Are you someone who has felt a great amount of pain during your life? Are you in pain right now? I’m talking about every type of pain that exists: mental, physical, spiritual and every other type of pain that you can name.

As a species in general, we try to shy away from pain. I do it as much as the next guy. Let’s face it. Pain sucks. No matter what you’re experiencing, it’s tough to see any good in it at all. But the truth is there IS good in pain. It just takes a lot of guts to acknowledge it.

I just recently saw a post stating that “we are continually faced with great opportunities disguised as insolvable problems” (AmpLIFEied.com).  What a way to look at it!  Our insolvable problems…the ones we can’t seem to figure out that keep us on a hamster’s treadmill are our great opportunities…WOW!  If you tell the wrong person about this philosophy, you could end up with a harsh slap to the face!  But is it true?  I believe it is.

As someone who has been faced with thousands of seemingly unsolvable problems, I’m a first hand witness to the emotional throwback of such a statement.  When we’ve been through a million and one things, the last thought on our mind is, “Oh, great!  Another wonderful opportunity wrapped up in anguish!  Yay!”  When in reality, it is a great opportunity…to GROW into a better person.

Is it really worth the pain?  In the end, yes.  But during the daily fight of turmoil and angst it can almost drive you to insanity.  You have to keep holding onto the hope that some time it will bring blessings beyond comprehension.  But in the meantime, check that temper!  Continually let go of that anxiety!  Growth is never easy but it always brings us to more peaceful understandings of our lives and situations.  Isn’t that what life is about?  To learn as you move through your experiences?

As you examine your current condition, whether it be mental, physical, spiritual or some other type of angst, look at what seems unsolvable.  The truth is, there is always a solution but sometimes we fail to see it or we don’t want to see it.  What ending will the solution bring?  Does it add to your life or take away from it?  Many times the process of taking away adds bigger things down the line.  Do you have the guts to walk through the fire?  To deal with the cards that you’ve been dealt?  Bad things happen to good people.  It’s true.  You have no choice in the matter.  But you do have a choice as to how you will respond to tragedy.

Keep the faith.  Hold onto hope.  You’ll make it through and some day you’ll be a better person for your pain.  I know it’s tough, but don’t ever give up the fight!  Even if it’s debilitating, it will cause you to grow in ways you’ve never imagined.

 

Designing Your Own Book Cover by Kari Anders

Designing Your Own Book Cover: How to Select The Right Image

In Elements of a Book Cover that Sells, I talk about creating a cover that speaks directly to your audience by using the idea of a Single Story. In the following post, I expand on this idea by giving helpful tips on finding the base layer for your cover: the image.

Your image should convey the mood of your story. If you’ve written a fun-loving, silly, woman’s novel, your cover might be an illustration of a lady in heels with a pink background. If your book explores the story of a missing woman, it might have a dark background with a woman running away. If it’s a love story, readers will expect a couple holding hands or kissing on the cover. All these components convey the mood of the book and attract your audience.

If the mood is not evident, you will miss potential readers. When readers go searching for a new book, they usually know what type of book they want to read. If nothing else, they know what types of book they have enjoyed in the past. They will be attracted to images that remind them of another book they’ve read. This relationship connects the reader to an emotion they felt while reading that book. For instance, I had recently finished Where’d You Go Bernadette and was looking for a new read. I saw the novel How to Write a Novel, with its blue cover and illustrations and bought it. Why? It reminded me of Bernadette. That’s it. I wasn’t even looking for a book like Bernadette;I just subconscious equated the cover of Bernadette with a book I like.

Often authors spend energy on trying to get their cover image to be unique, and to stand out from the crowd. While really, they should have been doing the opposite.

You may have noticed that in all of the examples at the beginning of this article, I suggest having images of people on the cover (the woman in pink heels, the couple kissing, etc.). As an author, you may be tempted to steer away from covers that give away too much detail that you’d rather let the reader imagine. One of the reasons I believe readers like books over their film adaptations, is because they get to bring the scene to life using their own imagination. The same applies to the characters in a book. Giving too much detail away can take away this experience from the readers. So why do I suggest books with images of people? Simply, they sell better.

You many see that some covers don’t have the full person or even just avoid their faces on the cover.  You might see only a woman’s legs or feet, or you might see her face below the nose.  This allows your readers to still create the characters using their own imagination while still creating a book cover that sells.

The other advantage of showing only a part of a character is that it allows you to simplify your cover.  If you are trying to convey too much information to your readers, it will be busy and overwhelming and distract them from absorbing the story’s mood.  Remember, you want to sell them a single story.  Don’t try to input double meanings or symbols that the reader will only understand once they’ve read the book.  Symbolism is for your writing.  You aren’t trying to sell them on your cleverness with a book cover.

To convey the mood, keep it simple and focus on a single story.  You want to be obvious with your images but not necessarily literal.  You don’t want readers to have to guess or search for what your cover is about.  But at the same time, it doesn’t need to be a specific scene from your story to convey the mood, and being too literal can destroy the intrigue you want to create.

Here’s a test: Once you have selected an image, forget your story. Can you create a powerful title on the picture alone?  Does that title do your book justice?  If not, keep looking.

The most common place authors and designers find images for book covers is stock images sites.  There are hundreds of thousands of images to choose from, and they are usually between $10 and $25 per image.   With a stock image from Shutterstock.com or iStock.com, you can sell between 250,000 and 500,000 books before you have to worry about purchasing additional licensing.  There are also sites you can find free stock images, but make sure you read and fully understand the terms of copyright before using an image from one of these sites. DO NOT use an unlicensed image from a Google images search, even if you don’t think you are going to sell very many books, as this will most certainly earn you a letter from an attorney asking you to remove it at the least and a lawsuit at the worst.

The advantages of using stock images are selection, price, and availability.  To find an image for a previous post, I used the search terms “girl in front of a ship” and found 42 pages of results.  That’s a pretty specific request.  Also, stock image sites are also regularly updating their inventory, and they tag images by a number of categories, including model.  So if you find a model that you like, but the image isn’t quite right, you can find other photos with the same model.  This is very useful for a book series.

A drawback to using stock imaging is uniqueness. Stock sites will sell an image in finite number of times, meaning that even though your typography and location of the photo might be unique, another author might end up with the same image on their cover.  Professional publishing houses will spend thousands hiring a photographer and models to get unique images for their covers.  However, this isn’t a possibility for most self-published authors.  On freeebookcovers.com, I am building a collection of non-stock images from local photographers I’ve worked with over the years.   Check back soon for the launch of Original Images, and happy writing!

BlogGraphic

Kari Anders is a book cover designer who works mostly with self-published authors and small publishing houses. She worked in freelance design for six years before attending graduate school, and now teaches design and runs freeebookcovers.com. All of Kari’s covers are designed as CreateSpace Wraps for only $75, with the eBook version included for free. Her site specializes in Pre-Made Book Covers, but she also does interior design and custom covers.

 

4th of July GIF! Pass it on!

Hey everyone! I was in a mood to try something new, so I decided to make my first GIF. After two attempts, I’ve come up with something I think is cute. This is for the 4th of July.  Check it out!

If you like it, feel free to pass it on.  Share the love for July 4th!  Stay safe and have a wonderful day and evening!

If you enjoy this post, feel free to visit me on youtube and subscribe at:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCknIvs7gKMSa4OYL51Dj2CQ

With your subscription, you’ll find out about my newest videos and GIF’s!  Yes, I do plan on making many, many more!  And I’d love to have you in on the action!  I also love helping people out, so if you know anyone who would enjoy my videos or a subscription, please send them my way!

Take care and as always, God Bless!