Thursday Feature: Libby Heily

Hey everyone! Today I’d like to welcome Libby Heily to The Five Year Project. She’s here to tell us about where her newest main character, Grape, came from.

Take it away, Libby!

The Birth of Grape Merriweather

Welcome to Sortilege Falls is my second novel. My first, Tough Girl, was about an eleven-year-old who is bullied and starving and loses herself in an imaginary world to combat the misery of her life. I wanted to write something happy after that and WTSF is about as “happy” as my writing gets. The idea was to come up with a main character whose very name sounds like a smile, thus Grape Merriweather was born. Stories grow and writers hardly ever end up writing the book they intended. That is definitely true with WTSF. My “happy” story grew to encompass the themes of beauty worship, celebrity, as well as delving into the mysterious relationships between child stars and their parents.
But I tried to stay true to my original idea of Grape. She’s not without her troubles and woes. In the beginning of the novel, Grape is new at school and eager to impress. She spends over an hour the night before trying on outfits to find the perfect one. But she is ignored by students and teachers alike. Everyone is too caught up with the beyond gorgeous models to bother with one new student. The more time passes, the more Grape realizes that Sortilege Falls is not what it’s cracked up to be, and she’s going to find out why.
We discover this weird world along with Grape and I tried to stay true to her voice. It was very important to me that Grape wasn’t perfect, that she partially fell under the Models’ spell. She fights throughout the novel to make her own decisions and not bend to the Models’ will.
Hopefully, Grape comes across as a complex character. She stands up for herself and her friends but she also senses social pressure and makes awkward comments to try to fit in. She wants friends and to be liked. Don’t we all? But she won’t allow herself to be pushed around either.
But maybe explaining Grape isn’t best. Maybe I should let you meet her instead.  Below, we see Grape deal with a potential stalker.  It’s late at night and Grape has just watched as her brother, Brad, heads into the woods to take plants (Brad is huge into botany).  Graeson, the only kid at school who talked to her, surprises her in her back yard:

Grape screamed.

“Calm down,” the vamp kid from school said, his hands raised in the air like a victim. He had switched his purple shirt for a black one and slicked his curly hair back as well. “It’s cool. It’s just me,” he said and reached out to grab her shoulder.
Grape pushed him hard in the chest, making him stumble backward. “Don’t touch me. What are you doing here?”
He regained his balance and rubbed his chest where she’d shoved him. “I wanted to see where you lived. That really hurt.”
She slit her eyes at him. “I’m glad it hurt. It was supposed to.”
“That’s not very nice.”

Grape grabbed the lawn chair and held it above her head. “Are you a stalker?”
“No.”
“You’re sneaking around my house at night wearing all black.” She readied herself to swing the lawn chair. It was pretty light and wouldn’t do much damage so she decided to aim for a vulnerable spot—his face.
“No. I just thought… I don’t know. I thought you looked nice.”
“Do I look nice now?” She gave the chair a swing, missing his nose by inches. She hopped back a little and held the chair up high again. He got one warning shot, that was it. The next swing would break his nose.
“I’m sorry. I thought this would be romantic.” He reached into his baggy pants pocket and pulled out an iPod with a little set of speakers attached. “I was going to play a song for you.”
“Totally creepy!”

“No. Really, listen.”

He pressed play and an unholy mix of instruments blasted out in a tinny blare. He shut it off quickly. “Wrong song. One second.”
“Leave.”
He looked up at her with heartbreak in his eyes. “I just need one second.”
“Shoo! Go! Off with you!” She shoved the chair at his chest, driving him backward.
He gave her one last dejected look and walked around the corner of the house toward the street.

Grape rushed back into the house, chair in hand. She locked the door. If Brad didn’t have his key, then he’d just have to knock and risk alerting their mother to his late-night shenanigans. She was not leaving the door unlocked for that boy to break in and serenade her. 

Buy Links:
Are you a book reviewer?  You can find Welcome to Sortilege Falls on Netgalley.

Author Bio:

I was born during a blizzard. I’m told it was pretty cool but I have no memory of that time. I grew up in two tiny towns in Virginia and spent most of my twenties moving around the US. I’ve lived in Virginia, Florida, Missouri, and Washington. I’ve settled down, for now, in Raleigh, North Carolina.
I’m a writer and improviser. I studied acting in college but spent more time rewriting lines than memorizing them. My first play, Fourth Wall, was produced my junior year. Since then, I’ve written several full length plays, one acts, and screenplays. I started writing fiction in my late twenties. Now, I focus mainly on novels but still dabble in theater.
Fun facts about me: There are none. I’m sorry to disappoint you so soon. But, I do love to read, write, and run. My hubby is my favorite person on earth. Dogs are my second favorite. All dogs. I love orange juice, especially when it’s mixed with club soda. Carbonation is better than alcohol. Jaws is my favorite movie. Everything I’ve said so far is true.
Find Libby on the interwebs:
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Thursday Feature: Lori MacLaughlin

Hey everyone! Today I want to welcome Lori MacLaughlin to The Five Year Project. Today, she’s sharing info on how to get your self-published book into libraries. Take it away, Lori!

Is Your Self-Published Book in the Library?

Thanks so much, Misha, for having me over today!!
Libraries are a largely untapped market in the self-publishing world. It’s not easy to get self-pubbed books into them. The sheer volume of books hitting the marketplace, limited shelf space, and the stigma that still surrounds self-pubbed books are just some of the barriers to library inclusion. Lack of library cataloging data is another.
I started doing research on how to break into the library market. Most of the articles I read described similar courses of action. These were some of the most important things that the articles recommended:
1.      Put out a quality product that has been professionally edited and has a professionally designed cover. Buy an ISBN for it.
2.      Create a website and social media presence to publicize your book. Libraries will be more likely to take a chance on your book if it looks like there will be demand for it.
3.      Get honest positive reviews for your book for the same reason. If you can get one from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, or the Library Journal, they’ll definitely take notice.
4.      Provide library cataloguing data. This makes the librarians’ jobs so much easier. Books published through Amazon’s Createspace have the opportunity to obtain Library of Congress (LOC) Cataloging Numbers (LCCNs). Books self-published through other means may be eligible for LOC Preassigned Control Numbers (PCNs). Any cataloguing done through the LOC must be done before the book is published. Once it is published it is no longer eligible for LOC cataloguing.
5.      Visit local libraries and meet with the person responsible for acquiring books. Offer to donate your book to get your foot in the door. Do some local media promotion to get people into the library to read your book.
Here are some informational links that I found useful:
I think tackling the library market is well worth the effort. Has anyone else out there had any success with this?
 

About the Book:

Tara Triannon is no stranger to trouble. She’s yet to find an enemy her skill with a sword couldn’t dispatch. But how can she fight one that attacks through her dreams?
With her nightmares worsening, Tara seeks answers but finds only more questions. Then her sister, Laraina, reveals a stunning secret that forces Tara to go to the one place Tara’s sworn never to return to. Her troubles multiply when Jovan Trevillion, the secretive soldier of fortune who stole her heart, is mentally tortured by an ancient Being intent on bending him to its will. And worst of all, the Butcher — the terrifying wolf-like assassin she thought she’d killed — survived their duel and is hunting her again.
Hounded by enemies, Tara sets out on a harrowing quest to discover the true nature of who she is, to come to grips with the new volatility of her magic, and to defeat the evil locked in a centuries-old trap that will stop at nothing to control her magic and escape through her nightmares.
Amazon  |  Barnes& Noble  |  Kobo  |  iBooks

About the Author:

Lori L. MacLaughlin traces her love of fantasy adventure to Tolkien and Terry Brooks, finding The Lord of the Rings and The Sword of Shannara particularly inspirational. She’s been writing stories in her head since she was old enough to run wild through the forests on the farm on which she grew up.
She has been many things over the years – tree climber, dairy farmer, clothing salesperson, kids’ shoe fitter, retail manager, medical transcriptionist, journalist, private pilot, traveler, wife and mother, Red Sox and New York Giants fan, muscle car enthusiast and NASCAR fan, and a lover of all things Scottish and Irish.
When she’s not writing (or working), she can be found curled up somewhere dreaming up more story ideas, taking long walks in the countryside, or spending time with her kids. She lives with her family in northern Vermont.
You can find her here:

Chrys Fey on Titles

Hey everyone! Today, Chrys is visiting to share tips on creating titles for stories. Take it away, Chrys!


Alternative Titles for Seismic Crimes
Coming up with a title can be tricky. Sometimes we come up with a great title right away. Other times, we’re half-way through our first draft when a title comes, or even after we’ve edited our manuscript several times. Occasionally, our titles change during the writing process if we come up with something better.
3 Tips to Name a Book:
1. What’s the tone/mood/theme?

My published books are dark and suspenseful. Death and crimes are common. Immediately when you read Seismic Crimes you know what kind of ride you’re in for.
2. Think about the main character.

For a paranormal story, it’s clever to add the type of supernatural being that your MC is to the title. Or to at least hint at it. For example: Despite the Fangs by Dylan Newton is about a woman who is the Alpha of a werewolf pack.
3. What happens in the story? (What’s the plot/purpose?)

In The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Katniss Everdeen has to fight in a deadly competition called the Hunger Games. What happens in your story? What does your character have to do? Consider your answers and see if a title pops out at you.
When I decided to write a sequel to Hurricane Crimes, I knew I wanted to link each title in the series with a disaster and the word “crimes”. With an earthquake as the disaster, I compiled a list of possible titles:
Earthquake Crimes
Quaking Crimes
Richter Crimes
Fault Line Crimes
San Andres Crimes
But one edged them out: SEISMIC CRIMES
Seismic describes earthquake activity but it also works as an adjective. When I think seismic, I envision monstrous chaos.

QUESTION: Do you think I chose the best title?
Title: Seismic Crimes
Author: Chrys Fey
Series: Disaster Crimes Series (Book Two)
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Format: Digital and Print
Page Count: 282

DIGITAL LINKS:
PRINT LINKS:
BLURB:
An Internal Affairs Investigator was murdered and his brother, Donovan Goldwyn, was framed. Now Donovan is desperate to prove his innocence. And the one person who can do that is the woman who saved him from a deadly hurricane—Beth Kennedy. From the moment their fates intertwined, passion consumed him. He wants her in his arms. More, he wants her by his side in his darkest moments.
Beth Kennedy may not know everything about Donovan, but she can’t deny what she feels for him. It’s her love for him that pushes her to do whatever she has to do to help him get justice, including putting herself in a criminal’s crosshairs.
When a tip reveals the killer’s location, they travel to California, but then an earthquake of catastrophic proportions separates them. As aftershocks roll the land, Beth and Donovan have to endure dangerous conditions while trying to find their way back to one another. Will they reunite and find the killer, or will they lose everything?
HURRICANE CRIMES 99¢ SALE!
DIGITAL LINKS:
Amazon CA / NOOK / KOBO 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

BIO:
Chrys Fey is the author of Hurricane Crimes, Book One in the Disaster Crimes series, as well as these releases from The Wild Rose Press: 30 Seconds, Ghost of Death, and Witch of Death. She is an administrator for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group and has participated in the Blogging from April A to Z Challenge.
When Fey was six years old, she realized she wanted to be a writer by watching her mother pursue publication. At the age of twelve, she started writing her first novel, which flourished into a series she later rewrote at seventeen.
Fey lives in Florida and is always on the lookout for hurricanes. She has four adopted cats who keep her entertained with their antics, and three nephews who keep her entertained with their antics. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and through her blog, Write with Fey. She loves to get to know her readers!
AUTHOR LINKS:

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IWSG on Thought Experiments

Hey everyone! Today you won’t be able to find me on the bloggosphere, but I wanted to stop by to welcome the Insecure Writer’s Support Group
Also, thanks to everyone who’ve commented on yesterday’s post. You’re all awesome. 

Thought Experiments
Have you ever engaged in a thought experiment? 
Albert Einstein’s famous Theory of Special Relativity came to be in part because of a thought experiment he conducted when he was a young man.  He imagined what it would be like to chase a light beam.  That act of imagination was the beginning of a revolution in the way we understand our universe.  Imagination is one of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal.
The ten authors featured in the Insecure Writer’s Support Group anthology Parallels: Felix Was Here engaged in a thought experiment of sorts when they sat down to write their submissions.  The task was to write a speculative fiction story that uses an alternate timeline or parallel universe.  That means asking some interesting questions.  If you’re dealing with parallel universes, how does the parallel universe differ from our own?  If you’re dealing with alternate history, what historical event happened differently, and how did the world develop because of that change?
Any writer must harness the power of their imagination when writing their stories.  Though the thought experiments that helped make this anthology possible won’t revolutionize the world of science like Albert Einstein’s thought experiment did, these stories will hopefully entertain readers and make them think about how the world could be different.  That is also a valuable outcome, and one that most writers hope to inspire.
Imagination can change lives.  It can change the world.  If you’re interested in entertaining new possibilities, Parallels: Felix Was Here may have something to offer you.
*     *     *


Parallels: Felix Was Here
An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology
Available Now!
Enter the realm of parallel universes!
What if the government tried to create the perfect utopia? Could a society linked to a supercomputer survive on its own? Do our reflections control secret lives on the other side of the mirror? Can one moment split a person’s world forever?
Exploring the fantastic, ten authors offer incredible visions and captivating tales of diverse reality. Featuring the talents of L. G. Keltner, Crystal Collier, Hart Johnson, Cherie Reich, Sandra Cox, Yolanda Renee, Melanie Schulz, Sylvia Ney, Michael Abayomi, and Tamara Narayan.
Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these ten tales will expand your imagination and twist the tropes of science fiction. Step through the portal and enter another dimension!
Purchase Links:

Anyone else engage in thought experiments? What stories did they inspire? 

Lidy Wilks on Writing Can You Catch My Flow?

Hi everyone! Today, I’m welcoming Lidy Wilks to my blog, to talk about her experiences in creating her poetry anthology Can You Catch My Flow? 

Keep reading, though, because toward the bottom of the post, there’s a competition with some awesome prizes.

Without further ado, here’s Lidy.

Can You Catch My Flow? was born from curiosity.  I wanted to know and reflect on how my poetry writing had changed over the years. I still have my notebooks and a binder filled with all my writing from my college days. English Lit majors doing creative writing didn’t have
 to do a thesis or take a test their senior year. Instead we had to collect everything we’d written during the four years. Present it to a board of English professors for review and meet the board as our senior portfolio.  I had a section for poetry and together
 with my notebooks,  I had enough for a collection.

But while assembling the manuscript I learned something. It was no different from writing and reading poetry. At first, I wanted to order the manuscript in the time I wrote them. To better exemplify the change of my writing from past to present. For future reference, that should not be done because a single poem is its own narrative. A poem in a poetry collection is one of many narratives. That both stand alone and link with the other poems in the collection.

It was during this process of ordering my poems for Can You Catch My Flow? that I had a moment of clarity. This manuscript isn’t just about change in style or technique. I discovered that this short collection truly captured moments of time while growing up. It was a bildungsroman poetry collection. And once I realized that, a new world of possibilities opened up. And it was back to the drawing board, reviewing old poems and writing new ones.  Remembering and reconnecting with the angst and fun of being a teenager. Recollecting and reflecting on what it meant to be independent. And thoughts of the future.

About the Author:

Ever since she was young, Lidy Wilks was often found completely submerged in the worlds of Dickens, Louisa May Alcott, Sweet Valley High and Nancy Drew. She later went on to earn a Bachelor degree in English with a concentration in Creative Writing, from Franklin Pierce University. Where she spent the next four years knee deep in fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction workshops.

Lidy is the author of Can You Catch My Flow? a poetry chapbook and is a member of Write by the Rails. She currently resides in Virginia with her husband and two children. And an anime, book and manga library, she’s looking to expand, one day adding an Asian drama DVD collection. Lidy continues her pursuit in writing more poetry collections and fantasy novels. All the while eating milk chocolate and sipping a glass of Cabernet. Or Riesling wine.

About The Book:

Debut poetry chapbook Can You Catch My Flow? captures the everyday ordinary events of the human condition in poetic snapshots. No matter the walks of life, the reader is sure to find themselves within the lines.

Blurb:

Lidy’s poetry reveals an understanding that deep meaning can be felt in the details. Her poetry portrays a range of topics from the pressures to conform to societal expectations, friendship, monarch butterflies, partying, insomnia, and the quest for peace…just to name a few. Enjoy!- Shelah L. Maul

 Competition:


Thanks for stopping by, Lidy! 

Anyone else write poetry? How do you decide which poems to include in your anthologies?

Thursday Feature: M Pepper Langlinais

Hi everyone! It’s that time of the week again. Every Thursday, I like to host another writing blogger either with a guest post or an interview. Today, M Pepper Langlinais is stopping over to do an interview with me. (My side of the interview is bold.)

Welcome to The Five Year Project! First things first. Why don’t you tell everyone a bit more about yourself?

Thanks for having me. I’m an author and also a playwright and screenwriter. I’ve had one play produced at two separate venues, and that play was then turned into a short film that premiered in San Diego last November. On top of that, I write Sherlock Holmes stories and have just had my novel The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller published by Tirgearr Publishing.

More personally, I grew up in Texas and attended UT Austin. I did the Shakespeare at Winedale program there and later used what I’d learned to teach Shakespeare at summer camps. I also interned on the film set of Hope Floats. Then I went to Boston to get my graduate degree at Emerson College, and that’s where I met my now husband Scott. Boston is great in a lot of ways, but driving in snow and ice gave me panic attacks, so we moved to California, which is where we live with our three kids and a hamster.

Sounds like you’ve had a very interesting life. Tell me a bit more about The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller. What’s it about? What inspired you to write it?

The book is set in the 1960s and is about a gay British spy (Peter) whose lover is accused of being an enemy agent. Peter manages to escape with Charles, but then he begins to wonder whether the accusations could be true. When he’s offered a chance to return to the Agency, Peter uses that access to try and discover the truth about Charles.

I’m not sure what inspired the story exactly. I think the story started as I was brainstorming new Sherlock Holmes ideas but then morphed into something else entirely. The first part of the book came spilling out quite rapidly. The rest took much longer. All told I spent almost three years on the whole thing.

Sounds like a fascinating project. What’s your favorite aspect to the story?

I’m primarily a character writer. I love exploring the depths of people. When I write, I fall a little bit in love with my main character(s), and so Peter himself is one of my favorite aspects. The way he thinks, the deep well of his feelings . . . There is a scene in which he comes home to an empty flat (apartment) and thinks Charles has left him, and his response is, I think, beautiful. A testament to how quickly he fell for Charles, how important Charles has become to him. That was a tough scene to write because I had to feel everything for Peter and it was painful, for him and me!

So this is no fast-paced James Bond of a story. It’s more psychological. I liken it to John Le Carre’s works.

I also hurt for my characters when they’re in pain. How do you approach your stories? Do you plan ahead or do you go by instinct?

I have a weird hybrid of planning and feeling it out. I go in with usually only two things: 1. A scene that I’ve played over and over in my head until I’m ready to write it down, and 2. A vague idea of how it will end. The middle is always mushy and up for grabs. It’s sort of like having two points on a map but it’s up to me to figure out how to get from A to B.

And the scene I have might not even be the first scene. So I’ll write it, then decide what, if anything, needs to come before. So what I’ve really got is a point in the story and an end point, but I sometimes still need to find a starting point!

It’s not the most efficient way of writing, but it’s the only way that works for me. I can’t outline. I can’t work under too much structure. I do, however, keep a notebook beside my computer, and I will write down plot questions and then answer them so I can understand WHY things are happening. I think motivation is important. That’s a character thing again. I’m really all about character.

So I take it you have substantial edits by the time you’re done with your rough draft?

I wish I were a fast writer who could spit out a first draft and then get down to editing. I really do believe that’s actually the best way–just get it on paper and then perfect it. Alas, I’m not that kind of writer. I can’t speed through the first draft. I pick at it and fret over it. I want it to be perfect the first time, and then of course it isn’t and still has to be rewritten.

When I finish a draft, I have to give it to others to read. I’m too close to the material; I won’t see the flaws as clearly as they will. My husband reads it and so does my critique group. I ask them to mark anything that doesn’t make sense, anything that slows things down, whatever. Most of them will also mark spelling and punctuation, but that’s not crucial at this stage. Then it might still be a while before I’m ready to tackle the story again. I’ll usually try to go write one or two short stories, a short play or something between novels.

Right now I’m doing a rewrite on a YA fantasy. One of my critique partners slashed whole chapters at the beginning because she wanted to the book to get to the action more quickly. It was valid, and I think it makes the book better, but it was still painful to hear that I needed to cut huge chunks of material! Back when I was an editor, we would call that a “bleeder” because of all the red marks on the pages.

I also swear by having my books critiqued. What’s your best advice for finding a critique group?

I lucked into mine. I met someone at a writers conference who turned out to be from the next town over from mine, and she already had a group and they invited me to join. We meet weekly which, based on what I hear from other writer friends, is more than many groups who meet maybe once or twice a month. But of course all of us might not make it to every meeting either. It’s very fluid and comfortable and I can’t imagine a better group.

If I were going to go looking for a group? It’s easier, I think, to start online. But the person-to-person aspect is important, too. Body language sometimes says a lot more than words being spoken. And you can hug one another if you’re face to face! So I would check with local libraries to see if there are any groups, or maybe post at the library to start a group. Local bookstores might also know of writing groups, and certainly there are local chapters of writing associations (here we have the California Writers Club). They can usually hook you up with a critique group if you become a member.

Good tips. 🙂 Last but not least, where can people find you and The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller?

Well, my main site is here. I’m also on Facebook and on Twitter at @sh8kspeare.

The best place to find The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller is on the publisher’s website. There’s an excerpt there and all the buying links for various formats/e-readers. It’s only available as an ebook for now, but if it does well enough the publisher says it will consider a print version.

You can also find all my books on either the Shop page on PepperWords, or on my Amazon author page.

In 1960’s London, British Intelligence agent Peter Stoller is next in line to run the Agency—until he falls in love with cab driver, Charles, and his life goes off the road. When Charles is accused of treason, Peter is guilty by association. Peter manages to extract them both, but the seeds of doubt have been planted, putting Peter’s mind and heart at war. Is ignorance truly bliss or merely deadly?

Thanks again for hosting me!

You’re most welcome! 

Anyone else wanting to sign up to be featured is more than welcome. (Regardless of whether they’re published or not.) All you have to do is mail me at mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com with “Thursday Feature” in the subject line. 

Who else gets empathetic pains when their characters suffer?