The Remnant Blog Tour

Hey everyone! Today, I’m welcoming William Michael Davidson to the Five Year Project as part of his blog tour.

William Michael Davidson lives in Long Beach, California with his wife and two daughters. A believer that “good living produces good writing,” Davidson writes early in the morning so he can get outside, exercise, spend time with people, and experience as much as possible.

A writer of speculative fiction, he enjoys stories that deal with humanity’s inherent need for redemption.

For more on Davidson and his writing, connect with him on Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook, and Amazon Author’s Page.

Welcome to the Five Year Project, William. Since I’m all about goals on this blog, I was wondering about five-year goal. Tell me about it? 
 
My five year-goal is fairly simple.  Assuming The Remnant does well, I would like to finish the trilogy.  I have finished the first draft of the next novel, Mass Exodus, which is the sequel to The Remnant.  It’s going to take me several months to edit it and clean it up.  I would also like to write the third book in the trilogy.  In addition to finishing this series, I would like to publish another novel I recently finished, Storm Taken, and write an additional novel I have an idea for that is a bit larger (maybe 120,000 words or so).  So all in all, lots of writing and publishing in the next five years.
 
Colton Pierce apprehends Abberants—those who display symptoms of faith—and quarantines them on a remote island to ensure public safety.  Years prior, the government released a genetically-engineered super flu that destroyed the genes believed to be the biological source of spiritual experience in an effort to rid the world of terrorism. As an extractor with the Center for Theological Control, Colton is dedicated to the cause.
But Colton’s steadfast commitment is challenged when he learns his own son has been targeted for extraction. An underground militia, the Remnant, agrees to help Colton save his son in exchange for his assistance with their plan to free the Aberrants on the island.
Colton is faced with the most important decision of his life. Remain faithful to the CTC? Or give up everything to save his son?

 

THE REMNANT is available to order in eBook form at the following sites:
The print format of the book is available at these sites:
Thanks for stopping by, William! What do you guys think of the cover? Cool, isn’t it? 
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Four Tools for Revising Your First Chapter by Crystel Collier

Welcome Crystal Collier here today to share her new book and some writing tips!

In 1771, Alexia had everything: the man of her dreams, reconciliation with her father, even a child on the way. But she was never meant to stay. It broke her heart, but Alexia heeded destiny and traveled five hundred years back to stop the Soulless from becoming.

In the thirteenth century, the Holy Roman Church has ordered the Knights Templar to exterminate the Passionate, her bloodline. As Alexia fights this new threat—along with an unfathomable evil and her own heart—the Soulless genesis nears. But none of her hard-won battles may matter if she dies in childbirth before completing her mission.

Can Alexia escape her own clock?
 
BUY: Amazon | B&N
4 Tools for Revising Your First Chapter

Thank you Misha for having me here today!

We all struggle with beginnings. Let’s face it. You’ve got an epic story, but that first sentence is the toughest to get on the page.

My advice?

Skip it.

That’s right jump over that first sentence and just write.

What?!? Here’s the deal. It’s almost guaranteed you will come back and restructure your beginning. Hovering over the first sentence is like worrying what flavor of icing you want before deciding the flavor of the cake.

When you come back to revise, start as late into the story as possible. No traveling to the place where the story starts. No sitting and pondering the upcoming trouble. As a writer, it’s your responsibility to drop us into a boiling vat, right from the get go. (Meaning trouble–not necessarily climactic action.) What inciting incident sets the characters on a journey? Start us there.

So if you’re at the point where you’re ready to revise and make your beginning kick trash, where do you start? Good editing is about asking good questions. Here are some aspects you should question about your beginning:

(Disclaimer: I will be using examples from my books, not because I hold myself as an authority, but because this is a blog tour for my new release. Now BUY MY BOOKS. *winks*)

The first sentence: We appropriately put weight on this one line, but it doesn’t have to be a mind-blowing literary masterpiece. What it does need to accomplish is AT LEAST two of these things:

  • Introduce a question or problem.
  • Show us the viewpoint character. (Including the perspective of the story–1st person, 3rd person, etc.)
  • Establish the mood.
  • Give us a snatch of the setting.

Example: (MOONLESS) Alexia was reasonably confident that exiting the carriage was the equivalent of stepping into Hell. (Character, mood, setting, and problem.)



The first paragraph: By the end of this paragraph (or two), your reader MUST be asking a question. If you’ve done your job right, the reader will be immersed in drama, care about your character, and be anxious for the next line.

Example: (SOULLESS) Alexia’s eyes snapped open, heart thundering. Well, she wasn’t dead. Yet.

The reader might wonder, “Why does she think she’s going to die?”

The first page: By the end of the first 250 words, the reader needs to be grounded with the basics:

  • Who–is this character? (Name, gender, age, occupation, ethnicity or culture, orphan or surrounded by family/friends.)
  • Where? Physical location, time, etc.
  • What–is the problem?
  • Why–should I care? (Did you hook the reader on this character?)
  • and How–is the character going to face/overcome this problem?

If using an “all’s-well” opening (where we KNOW life is good and it’s going to be disrupted), there had better be a hint of trouble either foreshadowed or mentioned.

The first chapter: At this point, we all hope to have a bear trap clamped around the readers ankle. To do this, we need 1. a character they want to root for, or 2. a problem they need to solve, or 3. a metaphorical rug that got ripped out from under their feet. (Preferably, all three.)

1. This making us like the character, how does that work? Blake Snyder calls this the “save the cat” moment. The character has been placed in a circumstance where they have to show their inner convictions. In the first chapter of Soulless, Bellezza shows up to murder Alexia. Yay. Not only does Alexia escape her murderess by using her ability to freeze time, but faces Bellezza to interrogate her. (All while suffering through a blinding migraine caused by using her gift.) We see that she is angry and injured, but a person who confronts her fears rather than running away. There’s something to root for.

Source

2. A problem that needs solving. We are all creatures of comfort. If there’s a problem, it creates discomfort in the reader’s mind, and a need for resolution. In the first chapter of TIMELESS, Alexia is battling the Knights Templar…eight months pregnant. (Yup. There’s the problem.) They have hunted her and her companions from one place to another…all while facing the inevitable deadline of birth. Which could happen on the battlefield. Get to solving, Alexia!

3. The rug ripped out from under your feet. This is that moment, that last line or thought that makes you go, “Brrr?” The first chapter of Moonless ends with a mystery. A man straight out of Alexia’s nightmares has appeared at a social gathering–the man she saw in her most recent dream standing over her dead host. Who here has met someone face to face who first appeared in their dreams?

In the end, formulating the perfect beginning is just about hooking your readers. Do that, and you’ve got it made.

What is your favorite/least favorite story convention for hooking readers?

Crystal Collier is an eclectic author who pens clean fantasy/sci-fi, historical, and romance stories with the occasional touch of humor, horror, or inspiration. She practices her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, four littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese.


Find her and her books online HERE.

(Email address is required for awarding prizes.)

 

https://www.crystal-collier.com/spinner/

Interview with Joylene Nowell Butler

Hey everyone! Sorry for my absence on Monday. I was going to post, but it was just one of those days, where everything that could delay my writing happened. :-/

Anyhow, I’m taking a quick break from my writing to host one of my old blogging friends, Joylene Nowell Butler, who’s here as part of a blog tour for her new book, Mâtowak: Woman Who Cries.

The follow-up to Broken But Not Dead, an IPPY Award Silver Medalist
 
A murder enveloped in pain and mystery…
 
When Canada’s retired Minister of National Defense, Leland Warner, is murdered in his home, the case is handed to Corporal Danny Killian, an aboriginal man tortured by his wife’s unsolved murder.
 
The suspect, 60-year-old Sally Warner, still grieves for the loss of her two sons, dead in a suicide/murder eighteen months earlier. Confused and damaged, she sees in Corporal Killian a friend sympathetic to her grief and suffering and wants more than anything to trust him.
 
Danny finds himself with a difficult choice—indict his prime suspect, the dead minister’s horribly abused wife or find a way to protect her and risk demotion. Or worse, transfer away from the scene of his wife’s murder and the guilt that haunts him…
 
Welcome to The Five Year Project, Joylene! Why don’t you tell readers here a bit more about yourself? 

I’m a long-distance grandma, which makes me cry sometimes. My babies are 3000 miles away. We live on the west coast and they’re on the east coast. I keep busy so as not to miss them as badly. I have been writing since I was eight.  Storytelling is in the blood. Can’t imagine what normal people do for inspiration. (grin) I’ve been fortunate to have three books and one anthology published. I never take that blessing for granted.

What inspired you to write this story? 

Mâtowak is the sequel to my second novel. I thought I was finished with the characters, but Sally Warner (minor character) began to haunt me. Finally, I stopped and listened. She was scary at first. Could I write a story about a woman losing her mind? Turns out I could!

What do you love most about your story? 

I love that they are decent people in extraordinary circumstances. I love that no matter how much money or prestige you have, happiness is not a given. I love that no matter how many times Danny gets kicked (metaphorically) he keeps getting up. I especially love that Danny has compassion for Sally despite the huge differences in their lives. Sally is privileged. Danny has had to work hard for everything he has.

What was the most challenging thing about writing it? 

The most challenging aspect of writing Mâtowak: Woman Who Cries was staying in the perspective of a woman losing a grip on reality. How to do that and stay credible was an on-going challenge. I didn’t want her to be dismissed or laughed at. I wanted my reader to find Sally interesting, sympathetic, and appealing, while at the same time able to understand why she was mentally unstable. I’m thrilled that the reviews so far comment that I was able to pull that off. Thank you, Reviewers!

Where can people find you and your book? 

The ebook Mâtowak: Woman Who Cries is available at Amazon.ca and Amazon.com and Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C
The printed copy is available at Amazon.ca and Amazon.com.

Thanks and have a great rest of the week.

Thanks for visiting, Joylene! And all the best with your book! So, ladies and gents, don’t you also think Mâtowak: Woman Who Cries sounds like interesting reading? 
 
See you on Friday! 

Linda Baten Johnson on Critique Partners

Hey everyone! Today, I want to welcome Linda Baten Johnson for a guest post. She’s written about something quite close to my heart: critique partners.

Take it away, Linda!

In praise of critique partners

One of the topics Misha suggested was how to improve our writing. For me, that has been to join a critique group, a small number of writers who work together to improve by sharing tips, books, website postings, and reviewing each member’s work. Critique partners provide structure, accountability, discipline, and an opportunity to learn from reviewing the work of others and being reviewed prior to publication.

A critique group may meet in person or online. They may all write in the same genre, but that is not necessary. You may find critique partners in your neighborhood writing group, a book club, through your local library, or a national organization of writers in your genre. When forming a group, start with trial sessions and get a feel for the personalities, and the writing style of prospective members. If you think you could benefit each other, you’ll want to define the parameters–number of members, frequency of meetings, number of pages submitted for each session, and expectations. Some groups bring their work to the meeting and read aloud. My preference is having a copy in advance so I can read the submission more than once and then do track changes for my partner.

A critique session is not a criticizing session, but an evaluating session. Members should note the good things about the writing as well as how the selection could be improved. A flowery “this is wonderful” doesn’t help either the writer or the reader. Study the piece and tell exactly what makes it appealing, and if you have trouble seeing a scene or it doesn’t make sense to you, encourage the author to give more details.

The person being critiqued should listen, not explain or defend. The reader, your critique partner, doesn’t see what you meant to write, he only sees what you wrote.  Finding good critique partners is difficult. We all think we want to be in a group with more experienced writers in order to learn from their expertise, but some of the best critiques often come from a beginning writer. A person new to critiquing looks at the basic storyline, the characters, and descriptions, where more experienced writers may be caught up in the specifics of grammar or structure.

I’ve been in several critique groups and I know that not all work. Some fail because of personal chemistry, different goals, or lack of commitment, but finding the right group is worth the effort. My critique partners have become dear friends who encourage me when I’m down, chastise me when I’m lazy, and cheer for me when I pass a milestone in my dream to become a better writer, and I try to do the same for them.

I hope you’ll find the perfect group for you, and that both your writing and the writing of the other members of your group will improve.

About Linda Baten Johnson

Linda Baten Johnson credits her critique group with getting her books ready for publication. With their help, she writes historical fiction for young readers and squeaky clean romances.
Linda and her husband live in Texas, but they love to travel and have visited all fifty states and twenty foreign countries. They love the national parks and have volunteered to work at some of them. A couple of years ago, they volunteered at a lighthouse in Michigan and lived in the assistant keeper’s cottage. Of course, the experience generated a book, Mystery at Desolation Point.
Please visit Linda’s website at www.lindabatenjohnson.com.
A magnolia means stability and grace through changing times, and times were certainly changing in Louisiana after the Civil War.
Energetic, hard-working Martha Bodine and her mother survive the war, but Captain Bodine does not return from the Confederate Army when expected, and the women must pay the back taxes or lose the family farm. A neighbor is eager to join his land with the Bodine property by marrying Martha, a solution which does not appeal to the young woman. In a desperate attempt to get the needed funds, the women rent a room to a controversial Northern gentleman, but this decision causes a rift between them and their neighbors.
Peyton Anderson, a soldier from the same unit as Martha’s papa, pays a visit to the farm on his way to join his family in Texas. He identifies their home by his officer’s description of the large magnolia tree in the front yard. Sympathetic to their dismal circumstances, he offers to help the feisty Martha and her gentle mother. Determined to honor his obligations, Peyton fears that even his best efforts may not change the course mapped out for Martha’s life or his own.
Thanks for reading, everyone! Do you still use critique partners? How/where do you find yours? 

Marna Reed Talks Chocolate

Hey everyone! Today I have a special guest and co-crazy-goal-setter (TOTALLY a word) Marna Reed here with me as part of her blog tour. First, let me share a bit of something about the book.

Finally back home… 

When Ren Lang set out to do a good neighborly deed, he didn’t prepare to be digging out more than a car. Seeing Kristal Overwood once more reminds him how hard it was losing her the first time. It doesn’t take Ren long to see Kristal staying in Waterseed, their small Vermont hometown, might crack open up his closed, hard heart. It’s not a risk he’s willing to take again.

But for how long? 

Since she has no plans to linger in Waterseed, Kristal doesn’t want to build any lasting emotional ties. Of course fate has Ren helping her re-build her childhood home. Seeing her foster brother is stirring up more than the past…it’s digging up that long-ago buried attachment to him. And despite her resolve, she’s falling for more than his charming family this time.

Now will it take a cup of spiced cocoa to have that chat they should have had all those years ago?

Find Home Sweet Cocoa here.
 
Take it away, Marna!
 
Hi, everyone! Marna here.

 

First I’d like to thank Misha for allowing me to take over a bit on her blog to let you all in on my debut Christmas-themed novella, Home Sweet Cocoa, a sweet contemporary romance. 

 

So, let’s talk hot chocolate. I’ve been trying out some new recipes. Since it’s starting to feel like fall is finally replacing summer here, I’m putting away the ice cream and busting out my hot chocolate. Usually I’m a simple Nestlé kind of girl, but lately I’ve been fiddling around with making cocoa from scratch. From there I branched out to try different hot chocolate blends. 

 

Here are a couple variants of orange spiced cocoa, which is really just like regular hot chocolate with a kick of citrus: 

 

RECIPE ONE – ORANGE-SPICE COCOA

 

I grabbed this recipe from the Food Network. It’s a little more straightforward and simple than the second recipe, so let’s start here.

 

Ingredient List

 

1 cup
confectioner’s sugar
1/4 tsp ground
cardamom
½ cup cocoa powder
6 cups milk
½ tsp of orange
zest
1 cup whipped cream 

 

Preparation Steps:

 

Sift 1 cup confectioner’s sugar into a bowl with ¼ tsp ground cardamom, ½ cup cocoa powder.
Stir until mixed well.
Bring milk to a simmer over medium heat (don’t let it boil, unless you have a strainer handy).
Whisk in the cocoa mixture until smooth. Top the chocolatey drink off with whipped cream and a bit of orange zest for garnish.

 

I sum it up below with pictures from my first attempt with this recipe!

 

 

 

RECIPE TWO – WHITE
HOT ORANGE-Y CHOCOLATE 

Recipe Two is from a cute little blog called WillCook For Friends, and this one has added the twist of white chocolate. Fun!

Ingredient List 

4 oz. (by weight) good quality white chocolate, roughly chopped (or about 3/4 cup) 
2 cups milk (I used whole milk, but I’m sure you could use whatever % you like)
3-4 green cardamom pods, crushed
1 two-inch strip of orange zest
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
pinch of cinnamon or freshly grated nutmeg, for garnish
fresh whipped cream, for serving (optional) 

Preparation Steps:

If your chocolate is in a block or a bar, chop it roughly and place it in a large bowl. If it is in chip form, just add it to the bowl as-is.
Place a small pot on the stove over medium-low heat, and add the milk, crushed cardamom, and orange zest.
Heat until the milk begins to steam, and small bubbles appear around the edges of the pot, stirring frequently to keep the milk from scorching on the bottom of the pot.
As soon as bubbles appear at the edges, remove from the heat — do not let it boil!
Place a strainer over the bowl with the chocolate, and pour the milk through to remove the cardamom and orange.
Add the vanilla extract, and let sit for 20-30 seconds to allow the chocolate to begin melting.
Whisk until smooth.
Garnish with a dash of cinnamon or freshly grated nutmeg.
Serve as is, or top with a dollop of fresh whipped cream.

 

Check out the pictorial breakdown for this recipe below…

 

 

 

Yum!
If you’re curious about more hot chocolate recipes, search the internet for the many lists of all the kinds you could try out if you’re adventurous enough. 

 

I’m also giving away one (1) e-copy of Home Sweet Cocoa. All you have to do to be entered is answer this question:
What’s your favorite hot drink to blast away the chill of autumn and winter? 

 

Leave a comment with your answer and your email address and I’ll get back to the winner. I’m looking forward to reading the responses! Thanks for stopping by.