Monday, February 23, 2015

Character Traits: The Repercussions of Long Hair

This will be an ongoing series that will hopefully help you with character details and depth. Since I have really long hair, I decided to start it off with a little bit of humor at my expense.

Long hair has its advantages. It can be braided, twisted, and tied into many other hairstyles. It’s attention-getting. Men seem to prefer long hair, although it attracts just as much attention from women and little girls. It represents beauty, but it also represents strength. It also looks really good on the book cover.

There are a lot of reasons for selecting long hair for your characters. But be aware of the disadvantages:

  • Long hair requires a lot of care. It takes more shampoo and conditioner. There are more knots and tangles. And we won’t even talk about how long it takes to dry.
  • It gets caught on clothing. It can get tangled when taking off a shirt. It can get tucked into jeans - even underwear.
  • It’s a challenge at meal times. Either tie it back or risk it getting into the food. (I can get away with this on spaghetti night, though.)
  • Long hair accumulates faster on the floor, hairbrush, and in the shower drain.
  • Long hair can get caught in drawers, doors, car windows, and even sun roofs.
  • At night, long hair can become very tangled. The options are tie it up or flop it over the top of the pillow. Someone else could also roll over on it.
  • Which leads to another scenario where long hair gets in the way. Enough said.
  • With really long hair, when bending over to retrieve something from the floor, all that hair falls forward. Finding something on the floor can only be done by touch.
  • When the wind blows, visibility is also greatly reduced. Your character isn’t the walking dead but the walking blind.

Yes, I have done all those things. And I’m sure I missed plenty. However, despite all of those issues, I wouldn’t trade my long hair for anything in the world.

Just remember those problems if you give your character long hair. You may or may not want her to trip up on her own hair!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Birthdays and One Good Catch

I missed being a Valentine's Day baby by 26.5 hours. (Today, February 16 is my birthday.) It was probably a good thing though, as going out for dinner on Valentine's Day is nearly impossible without reservations and it's extremely crowded.

However, my husband wanted me to have a fun time anyway, so we ventured to Wilmington on Valentine's Day. We did eat out (lunch reservations at our favorite place downtown, The Riverboat Landing) and picked up dinner from The Mellow Mushroom before heading home. In between was some shopping, a trip to the aquarium, and my favorite place, The Serpentarium. Located in downtown Wilmington, it houses an assortment of reptiles, including most of the world's poisonous snakes. (In case of earthquake or hurricane, do not take refuge there!)

Between the Serpentarium and the aquarium, I took a lot of photos:

Smile for the camera!

Can you guess what it is?
You're looking at the open mouth of a snapping turtle that was over 4' long.

I also have a fascination with jellyfish.

I'm like a kid in a candy store!

Hugs to my husband for letting me indulge in photos, critters, and more on Saturday!

Heather Gardner revealed her cover last Friday -

One Good Catch
 A Maguire’s Corner novel

Title: One Good Catch
Author: Heather M. Gardner
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Cover Design: Najla Qamber Designs
Release Date: March 13, 2015

Ignoring a recent trauma that is affecting her everyday life, ER Doctor Kate Maguire engages in some high risk activities, but putting herself in these dangerous situations isn’t enough to feed her edginess. She needs something more. When her brother’s high school best friend comes back to town, it’s her chance for a ‘no strings attached’ fling with the man who still headlines in all her best dreams.

Rhys MacGrath’s days of one-night-stands are long over. The pro-football player might be side-lined at rehab for a shoulder injury, but that doesn’t mean he can’t admire and desire the all-grown-up, so-damn-hot, version of the tomboy he once knew. His sudden interest in Kate might be aggravating his best friend, who doesn’t approve, but it’s her indifference that’s driving Rhys crazy.

Everything heats up when Kate’s nosy nature sets her in the line of fire of an arsonist forcing them to deal with more than just the sparks igniting between them.


Heather M. Gardner's love of books began on the hand-woven rugs of her small town library where her mother worked. There she had a never-ending supply of stories to read at her fingertips. As a teen, her favorite genres to curl up with were romance and mysteries. When she started to create her own stories, they were the perfect fit.

Heather resides in New York with her best friend who is also her husband, plus her talented and handsome son. She is currently owned by four stray cats. Heather's a full-time mom, works part-time from home, a chocolate enthusiast, coffee junkie, cat addict, book hoarder and fluent in sarcasm.

The Waiting is the Hardest Part
Twitter: @hmgardner
Goodreads: HMGardner 
Facebook: HeatherWritesRomance Bottom of Form

Monday, February 09, 2015

Publishing Hindsight with Loni Townsend

Hindsight by Loni Townsend

I want to shout out a big thanks to Spunk on a Stick for letting me hog her blog today. I feel we're distantly related, her liking Hammy and me being a squirrel.

Personal affections aside, L. Diane always has helpful information on her blog about writing and marketing. Since I'm no pro at either of those, I'll leave the advice to her and tell you a bit of my experience.

Both of my books are self-published. For Thanmir War, I chose to do my print-on-demand through CreateSpace and upload my e-book through KDP. Everything worked out smoothly, but the local indie bookstore couldn't stock my book. They said it had to be available through IngramSpark.

So then comes This World Bites. I figured I'd give IngramSpark a try.

The nice thing about IngramSpark is that for a $49 setup fee, you can publish both print and e-books through them. This was exciting. I uploaded the files, and they sent them out to all of the different distribution channels. One stop shopping for Amazon, B&N, Kobo. IngramSpark also has a deal where if you order 50 print copies within the first 60 days, you'll receive a $49 refund.

But my optimism has dwindled since January 19th (my release date for This World Bites). As of February 5th, I have no idea of any e-book sales numbers. People ask, "Are you selling a lot of books?" All I can do is smile and say, "I think I've sold a few." And that's based purely on people telling me they have done so. Sales are only reported monthly, for the prior month, after IngramSpark gets all of the reports from everyone. Royalties are 40% though, so if you intend to sell outside of the KDP $2.99-$9.99 range, this might be a slightly better offer--assuming you're willing to wait for your data.

I have since uploaded my file to KDP (not Select exclusive). I'm crossing my fingers that I don't encounter any conflicts.

One of the downfalls of going with IngramSpark is that they charge for file revisions. I found a place in This World Bites where it should've been "he" instead of "his". If I want to change this one minor thing, I have to pay $50, because it's two different file revisions - one for print and one for e-book. Also, I never saw a print-proof option before submitting my files. After examining a print copy of my book, I realized the cover is pretty dark and the glow behind my series title didn't look that great. And it'll cost another $25 dollars to update the print book cover. And if I still don't get the colors right? Another $25 and so on.

I'm now going to use CreateSpace and IngramSpark side-by-side for This World Bites. I've got a book signing coming up next month, and I'll be printing through CreateSpace for the event. I'll forfeit the $49 refund to avoid paying $50 extra for something that I might not like the look of.

If there's a lesson to be learned here, I'd say start with CreateSpace, get your prints through them, and if they look good, continue to IngramSpark for wider distribution. Oh, and don't forget to fix the error the editor pointed out before submitting.

Do you have experience with either CreateSpace or IngramSpark? What about Lulu or a different Print-On-Demand company?

This World Bites

It’s her first day on a new world and Cera’s already found trouble. Michael, her guardian, has been bitten by a zombie and will soon join the undead ranks.

Everyone tells her there’s no cure, but Cera isn’t one to be deterred. She’s willing to face off with zombie hordes, demon slavers, and black market informants if it means she’ll find a cure for Michael. But she’s not the only one hunting for something.

Something is hunting her.

Loni Townsend
Wife. Mother. Writer. Ninja. Squirrel.

By day, she writes code. By predawn darkness, she writes fantasies. All other times, she writes in her head.

People call her peculiar with a twisted sense of fashion, but don't let those understatements fool you. Her behavior is perfectly normal for a squirrel disguised as a human. That's part of being a ninja—blending in.

She makes her home in Idaho with her sadistically clever—yet often thwarted—husband, two frighteningly brilliant children, and three sneaky little shibas.

Contact info:
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Goodreads

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Wednesday, February 04, 2015

The Insecure Writer's Support Group

It’s time for another edition of The Insecure Writer’s Support Group, founded by Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh.

I’m still at work on the stories for Four in Darkness. Unfortunately, I’m a bit stuck at the moment.

I started to get bogged down in the middle of one, so I decided to skip to the ending, which I could see much clearer. (I’ll play connect the dots later.) I’ve already gone through several versions of the ending and finally settled on the one I wanted. Basically, there were multiple explanations and I picked the one that was the most intriguing.

Now that I’m writing it though, there are tiny details that I realize might not be plausible. It’s supernatural in nature, but real life has to line up with the storyline. The real problem is that the ending was part of a dream, and we all know how messed up dreams can be. Forcing what our mind’s eye dreamed into reality isn’t always easy. Like now. I might need a little help with this one.

All of my stories have come from dreams, but this is the first time one has really stumped me!

Does anyone else dream their stories? Do you know of a simple way I could iron out the details?