Blog Posts -  L.A. Tripp
 
The beep of the monitor travels weakly through my ears to my brain. The glass pane shattering isn't so weak as it smashes through my ears and slams into my brain.

Before my brain can even send a signal to my body to move, or my mouth to speak, I somehow spring straight up in the bed, almost popping down to the floor in the process. My feet are hanging off the end. I look down, my body is wrapped in a white gown. A very loose one at that. If I'd hit the floor, it likely would have dropped as well.

"Well, hope that was a good 72 hour nap," a vaguely familiar female voice says.

My eyes are amazingly focused already, I realize, as I look straight into her eyes. She has raven black hair pulled together in a pony tail that extends to the mid-point of her back. Her shirt is black and shiny and very form fitting. It's obvious she works out. Her pants are the same type of material.

"It wasn't easy. My partners and I had to sneak you out of the morgue. We've never had a project like this, but I can't wait to see the results. You're our first real life test subject. My name is Morgan, by the way." She gave me a warm smile.

"This test subject better show results worth the risk we just took," a man's voice, commanding as it fills the room.

I turn that way and lock eyes with his. He has an icy stare, military hair cut, stars and stripes on his shoulders, and a crisp pressed green suit.

"I believe they will be, sir. To bring this man back from the dead and have his body heal as if nothing happened, you can't tell me that won't carry a lot of weight."

Back from the dead? Heal? What the hell are they talking about?

"If this one falls through the cracks, I'm pulling the plug on our little project. Then I'll pull the plug on our relationship. I've had enough. Of both," Icy eyes said.

 
As I fight to catch my breath, I open my eyes and see people in blue uniforms, instrument clusters, bags of...saline?

I look down and see clear plastic tubes running out of both arms. My legs are strapped to this gurney that I now realize I'm strapped to. I have a hose taped to my face, with shoots of it invading my nose.

One of the uniformed females holds a needle in her left hand, while flicking it in her right hand. Immediately after, she inserts it into my left leg. The thing is about six inches long. There's no way I'm not feeling that...but strangely, I don't feel a thing.

What the hell happened to me?

"Just gave him the epinephrine!" She yells.

"Pulling in now," someone up front yells back.

I feel the ambulance shift. She holds on to the bed and the side of the ambulance.

The ride stops. The back doors fly open. More uniformed people race in, grab my bed, and like a well-oiled machine, they have me out before I can raise my head to say hi.

Lights whiz over head. Things buzz and chirp as they race me down the hall.

"There's someone in that room with a cut in their finger, you can't go in there," someone tells this crack team that's rushing me in.

I can't feel my body and they are worried about a cut in their finger???

"We need a room, now!" The lady that stuck the six inch needle yells.

"It'll be ten minutes," A lady off to my side says. 

I can't see anyone other than those that brought me in.

"Oh, he doesn't look good. What are his chances, like ten percent?" The same voice that said a room will be ten minutes.

"I'm filing a formal complaint against you personally if you don't get me a room...NOW!" The lady that stuck me. I'd love to know her name for going to bat for me.

Before I hear anything else, everything goes black...


 
No, the real question is, what do you, as a reader, want to be?

Where do you want to be transported? We all want to be immersed in a story, grabbed by the collar with that story, yanked out of our present reality by that story, and thrown into another place, with different people, in maybe another time, by that story. If we didn't want that, we wouldn't pick the book up and read in the first place.

So where do you, as a reader, want a book to take you?

Personally, I don't normally writer horror, so sometimes I think about having an honest-to-goodness horror story (because we know how rare they really are) yank me out of my own reality and show me just how non-horrific my life really is.

Wouldn't that be nice?

What if I opened my eyes and see my front door in front of me? Do I open it? After all, this is supposed to be a horror story. But then, my front door is so...non-horrific. I mean, I have a neighbor's door right in front of me when I walk out. I turn left and there's a stair way going down the three floors that I'm off the ground. As I take the first step, I can see another door in front of me that's really situated between the third and second floors. It's benign. It's a storage unit.

But what if I could open that storage unit and see my worst fears realized? What if, behind that one door, my entire family is gone? What if my parents, wife, and kids were all killed in some supernatural Act of God? What if, through that door, there is one task or one key that I would need to accomplish in order to set everything right with my world? And what if I only had one hour to finish this task...having no idea what the task is or if I even have the tools needed to complete such a task?

Would I be resourceful enough to pull out all the stops? Would my drive be enough to push me to find the missing pieces and rescue my family from total and eternal destruction? In one single hour?

What horror would I see that awaits my family through that door if I don't succeed? Would they be ripped apart, one limb at a time? Would I be made to witness the tissue of their skin being pealed from their bodies? Would I be made to endure their screams while they are being tortured, wishing they were dead, instead?

Or...maybe I'd enter a fantasy world through this door. Maybe the six foot depth of space that appears to the naked eye really holds a whole other world, like the Chronicles of Narnia? What kind of mission would I be on then?

Where do you want to be transported to when you crack open the pages of a book or click on the screen of an ebook to read that first page?
 
A picture is worth a thousand words. Or so they say. Are they right, or are they wrong?

Don't judge a book by it's cover. You also hear that all the time. Do you agree with it or not?

Well, unfortunately, we all do just that constantly. We judge books by their covers. We judge by the pictures we see. Our guest today has a bit to say about book covers. You just might find it interesting. Katie Jennings, take it away!

You never get a second chance to make your first impression. At least, that’s what my dad always told me, and he’s completely right! Think about your life in terms of the products and services you are exposed to on a daily basis…which ones stand out the most to you? Which ones really take off and which ones fall into the dark depths of obscurity? I’ll answer the question for you: the ones that succeed are the ones that draw in potential buyers with a clear, instant impression. In other words, a picture is worth a thousand words. Or, in our case as authors, a book cover is worth every single word you ever wrote in a novel.

Think about it. You’re perusing the aisles at Barnes and Noble, or scanning the Bestseller’s list on Amazon. What catches your eye? What appeals to you? Obviously, for every consumer the answer to that question is different. Which is why as authors we MUST know our market. We MUST know who we are trying to sell our books to.

As an example, take my book cover for Breath of Air, which is the first book in my contemporary fantasy series The Dryad Quartet. On the cover you see a girl, her face hidden so that the reader (I’m marketing to females, FYI) can easily slip into the main character, Capri’s, shoes. Much emphasis was put on her hair, so that readers can identify that Capri is the light, airy blonde in the book with a soft nature and sweet disposition (note: the bird on her shoulder is both representative of her “Snow White” qualities as well as her gift of Air). In the first chapter of Breath of Air, you learn that Capri can control birds, so having the bird on the cover was key.

Also note the castle in the background. This gives potential readers a clue as to the “type” of fantasy book Breath of Air might be. It’s clearly not set in a grungy New York alleyway or a sweltering Florida beach with palm trees. No, according to the distant image of the castle, the book will take place in a strange land, both elegant and extraordinary. It lends to the concept that Capri feels like something of a “princess” fallen into a realm she had never before imagined.

Okay, so the imagery is all very important, right? But what about when your book is shown in tiny thumbnail form in the midst of thousands upon thousands of other books? What is it that will cause readers to click on your thumbnail before someone else’s?

For me, anyway, it’s the coloring. Coloring is very important, but keep in mind that this varies drastically by genre. Is your book a thriller or horror? You should have dark colors, maybe reds and grays, and there should be plenty of contrast. Or, alternately, do a lighter version with big, bold text and contrasting images in stark black and white. Convey an emotion through the colors you use. If it’s a romance novel, the softer the colors and more dramatic the imagery (a woman with flowing hair, arching back, delicate hands, etc) the better. Readers will notice the book first by color, then by image. Think about your market and the readers you want to attract, and what colors may catch their eye.

So what about your title font? What I recommend is looking up other books in your genre, and seeing what other authors have done. Fantasy and romance books generally have loopy, calligraphy-like text. Thrillers tend to have bolder, stronger, harsher text. It is important that you get the text right. Make the extra effort and surf the free font download sites, and hunt up some new fonts to use. As long as it’s easy to read and available for commercial use, you should be good.

Lastly, I offer you my most important, crucial bit of advice, even though it will only appeal to some of you. But here it is anyway, because I honestly cannot stress this point enough: If you have a book series, make sure that each and every cover in that series is CONSISTENT with the other covers. And I’m talking style, imagery, title text placement, author name font and placement, etc. Readers should be able to easily identify that those books go together. It breaks my heart when I catch authors not following this important rule, because they are not imagining their books sitting side by side on a shelf. And that is how we must look at our work. We must think of ourselves as not just self published authors, but as good enough to be up there with the big boys, our books sitting right beside theirs. If we lose those high standards for ourselves, then the reputation for self published authors suffers.

So please, keep all of this in mind as you create your covers, and good luck!

As always, if you like what this author has to say in their guest spot, please patronize them by clicking on their book on the sidebar. I make absolutely nothing off your purchase through this site. I'm just glad to have them stop by and hope you get some pleasure from meeting another author.
 
Why are we killing ourselves?

Every day that passes, indie authors who are struggling to make even one single sale or begging other indie authors to PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE buy my book because I would love to see even one single sale!

Ahem. OK. We are authors...begging other struggling authors to buy our books. Why not try a radical concept and present our awesome work to actual readers? The market is SO much bigger. Sure, then we open ourselves up to the criticism that actual readers may not like our work. Well, if that's the case, then shouldn't we know that sooner rather than later? Shouldn't we know so that we can improve right now? Shouldn't we know whether actual readers would be honored to buy our product or products?

Yes, we writers are shooting ourselves in proverbial feet on a daily basis.

Don't get me wrong. I see tremendous value in each author "buying" the free books other authors use to promote themselves...but when an author is hawking their paid for wares to other struggling authors, we're only spinning our wheels.

Does that makes sense?

For those that read my blog and see changes, it should be obvious that I'm working on gearing this blog more toward actual readers, rather than trying to make fellow writers happy. Really, fellow writers' opinions just don't matter much in the bigger scheme of attaining enough sales from actual readers to support my family. No offense, that's just reality. A dozen writers can tell me that my blog sucks, but if a dozen readers like it and click to buy, I don't care if even two dozen writers tell me my blog sucks. Get that?

Yes, I know. Rough, crude. But it's also reality. In fact, it's a reality that EVERY author needs to think about. Unless you're only looking to sell to close family and friends.

In which case...disregard this entire blog post, haha.

We writers spend so much time marketing ourselves, and yes that's a necessity, but are we working super hard or super smart? If it's just super hard, we need to revamp our plans and work super smart. The same effort working super smart will produce more results than only working super hard.

Hope some of you are with me. If so, let's change the trends. Let's find some actual readers.
 
Hmmm...are we a jerk for having an opinion? Or are we a push-over? Let's get Mysti Parker's thoughts on this:

Judge Not, Lest Ye Be a Jerk

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? Matthew 7:3 (Holy Bible, NIV)

There’s a difference between expressing an opinion and being judgmental, hence the Son of God’s advice to Christians. Smart guy, that Jesus.

Opinions are everywhere. From your best friend’s book recommendation: “I loved ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’” to your five-year-old’s dinner-time proclamations: “I hate green beans!”, you can’t avoid opinions, and you shouldn’t, because it’s these expressions of personal preference that help us learn about each other so we can be more discerning about who we connect with and how.

Problems arise when opinions evolve into judgments. Why? Because once an opinion grows from a simple personal preference “I don’t like ___”, to “He/she is bad”, you’re stamping a permanent mark on something that can’t be erased. On Daily OM.com, a February 27, 2008 article entitled ‘Staying Open and Fluid’ states that:

“When we make a judgment…we attempt to have a final say on whether someone or something is inherently good or bad. Judgments close us down instead of opening us up; opinions have a lighter quality and are amenable to change. Once a judgment has been made, there is no more conversation or consideration, whereas opinions invite further debate.”( http://www.dailyom.com/articles/2008/12413.html)

Christians, I’m sorry to say, can be the worst offenders. You only have to turn on the news to see church-goers holding signs with hate-filled messages like “God Hates Gays”, or protests at an American soldier’s funeral, where the signs read “God Hates War”, or a pastor burning the Quran while his followers hold up signs that say “God Hates Islam”. If God hates anything, it’s probably how idiotic we can be.

Judgments come from within our own circles, too. I don’t know of any other profession that garners more judgment than motherhood, and usually from other mothers. If you’re not being judged for breastfeeding in public, you’re being labeled a bad mom for choosing to bottle-feed. Everything you do as a mother is judged in some way. From sleeping arrangements to the choice to stay at home or work, you’ll have some sort of “bad mom” label stuck on you no matter what you do. And that’s sad, because mothering children really does take a village. We should be encouraging each other and supporting one another’s efforts through the challenging years of raising little ones.

If there’s another profession that could rival motherhood for being a judgment magnet, it’s writing. Jack Eason, a writer friend of mine from the UK has been one of many targets of what he calls “Amazon trolls”. (See his blog article here: http://akhen1khan2.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/say-no-to-amazon-trolls.html)

In his case, it appears to be a couple who have nothing better to do than post nasty book reviews. I barely have the time to write a legitimate review, much less a deliberately horrible one. Harsh reviews, in general, can slide into judgmental territory when they go from “I didn’t like ___” to “This author is terrible.” Statements like the latter one don’t give the author anything constructive with which to improve. They only belittle and discourage.

That’s why I urge you to not stop sharing opinions, but to keep a firm grip on your words. If you write a book review, think of the time and effort that author put into his/her work. If you see a mom parenting differently than you do, put yourself in her shoes before you assume she’s a bad mother. If you are a Christian, take another look at Matthew 7:3 and live by example, not by condemnation.

As I get older, I realize how many times I’ve flung judgments around myself. Perhaps idealism fueled by youth blinds us to how hurtful our words can be, and none of us will ever completely stop judging. But, that’s the point Jesus was making in that verse. None of us are perfect, and while you still might make the mistake of judging someone else unfairly, it doesn’t mean you can’t learn from it and whittle the plank in your eye down to something more manageable.

Like a toothpick.
****
Author Bio:

Mysti Parker is a full time wife, mother of three, and a writer. Her first novel, A Ranger’s Tale, was published in January, 2011 by Melange Books, and is the first in a fantasy romance series. Book Two, Serenya’s Song, was published this April. Mysti reviews speculative fiction for SQ Magazine, and is the proud writer of Unwritten, a blog voted #3 for eCollegeFinder’s Top Writing Blogs award.

Links: 
Email: mystiparker@yahoo.com
Unwritten
Twitter: @MystiParker 
Facebook Page 
Goodreads Page 
A Ranger’s TaleMelange BooksAmazonBarnes and Noble,Smashwords 
Serenya’s SongMelangeBooks, Amazon

As always, if you like what this author has to say in their guest spot, please patronize them by clicking on their book on the sidebar. I make absolutely nothing off your purchase through this site. I'm just glad to have them stop by and hope you get some pleasure from meeting another author.
 
Ever have that charitable cause that just pulls at your heart? That thing that almost gives you a reason for living? That organization that you'd work to your bones for? That only happens when something touches you deeply. So deeply, it impacts you and you'll never be the same. Some of us have experienced that while others haven't. Today, we'll hear about a cause from editor extraordinaire Laura Clark:

Late last year, I met a guy on Facebook. No, it’s not what you’re thinking. It wasn’t the beginning of some strange internet romance. It really was just a case of me finding someone who posted interesting status updates on a regular basis and deciding to friend him so I’d have something to read.

Well, this guy posted a lot of very positive and thought-provoking status updates. He got me started thinking, and feeling, things that I hadn’t in a while. One of the things I started thinking was that I wanted to use my major talent – writing—for something other than entertainment. I just wasn’t sure how.

Then one night my brother was talking about a project that the creative writing group at his college was putting together – a short book of flash fiction to raise money for Alex’s Lemonade Stand. It was then that I decided to put together a collection of short stories for a different charitable organization. I knew that my co-conspirators might have pet charities they’d like to benefit from a project like that, but from the beginning I knew that only one organization would do – MusiCares.

So what is MusiCares? The MusiCares Foundation is a non-profit that helps music industry folks in times of need. They helped a lot of people after the massive Nashville flooding back in 2010. They provide medicine and food for those in need, or help pay medical bills or rent. They also help those who want to get clean and sober.

But why MusiCares? Because they once helped the very guy I mentioned at the beginning of this blog post. A guy who’d helped me pull myself out of depression and despair. A guy who helped me find my strength, my faith, and myself again. I didn’t have any way to pay him back, so I decided to pay it forward instead. I also liked the idea of helping others who might have a similar impact on other people’s lives. And so Music Speaks was born.

Music Speaks is a collection of eleven short stories, in a variety of genres, from nine independent authors. It pays tribute to music and its special kind of magic. 100% of the royalties will go directly to MusiCares to help keep that magic alive.

 If you’re interested in reading some one-line teasers from each of the story, they are available here: http://t.co/f6nLhSd1

The book is available in ebook format for $2.99 at Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes and Noble. The print edition ($6.99) is coming soon via CreateSpace and Amazon.

http://www.amazon.com/Music-Speaks-ebook/dp/B008C88QTE/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1339964647&sr=1-2&keywords=music+speaks+clark

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/172910

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/music-speaks-lb-clark/1111615979?ean=2940014693677

As always, if you like what this author has to say in their guest spot, please patronize them by clicking on their book on the sidebar. I make absolutely nothing off your purchase through this site. I'm just glad to have them stop by and hope you get some pleasure from meeting another author.
 
Ah yes, helping a fellow author. You're either in the camp of "no problem, anything for a fellow author" or "are you flipping crazy? Why should I put myself out to click a mouse and help a fellow author?!"

Which ever camp you happen to find yourself in today, would you dig down...down a little further...just a wee bit further....gotta go lower than that...c'mon, you can do it...dig as deep as you can go...and click on this awesome FREE book of hers today!

It's only for today. Tomorrow it'll be paid again. So c'mon people, let's show some compassion and click to "buy" this FREE book!

http://www.amazon.com/Everything-You-Jukebox-Heroes-ebook/dp/B0078EQ47O/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1340628843&sr=8-1&keywords=everything+you+are+clark

Your support is much appreciated ;)
 
A little slice of heaven. You know...a hole-in-the-wall apartment, a vehicle that only breaks down once a week and, if fate smiles kindly, a good looking woman that he can proudly take home to his parents. Not picky. Tack on a  decent job that he doesn't hate. Is that too much to ask? For Jack, it is.

Can he overcome psychotic co-workers, a boss that covers the truth, and falling on the wrong side of the fence? Not to mention interfering parents, trying to climb the rat-race ladder, and a girl that knows a little too much about him.

It all adds up to sleepless nights and a can of beans for his one meal per day.

Will Jack get out of this?

Reader beware: This has a cliff-hanger ending.

(Not a bad deal for $1.99 :P )
 
What does one do in their spare time? What's your love? Dvora Swickle talks today about reading to kids and why she feels it's vital.

Dvora's motto is T.T.R.A.B, "Time To Read Another Book".
http://dvoraswickle.wordpress.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Deborah.Ann.Johnson
http://pinterest.com/dvoraswickle
https://twitter.com/#!/dvoraswickle
dvoraswickle.com

Dvora Swickle (AKA D.A. Johnson) has been entertaining and writing for children (and her two kids) for over 20 years. Dvora drove school bus for 10 years, creating poems for children to read upon arrival to school. Dvora loves to read in school classrooms, children are captivated by her voice. Dvora works with special needs children and is devoted to helping students 18 to 21 transition from high school into the work community and living independently. 

Stories can help students understand problems without feeling it is directed towards them personally. Working in the school system for 17 years, has been a blessing for her and the students around her, finding time to read during library time Dvora enjoys reading and putting fun voices to her characters, inviting children to take part. Every time she reads "sweet green grass" kids are encouraged to raise there hands. Dvora loves seeing all the fingers in the air, makes her feel so appreciated and warm in knowing they are really listening.

I am a fisher woman by heart and writing a story about a worm and fish seemed fitting for me. In The Wormy Story, I always wondered really what happened down there in the depths of the water between the worm and the fish. 

In the classroom where I work, children find memorizing a hard subject. Easy for some than others I decided to write a short story Eggs 4 Tea. In this story describes how to remember something by association, so read with me while Ellie the elephant learns how to remember names and find new friends too. 

I believe with all my heart reading is the door to the world, finding fun characters who teach while entertaining in a positive spirit. Walk with me through my vision to keep children reading.

As always, if you like what this author has to say in their guest spot, please patronize them by clicking on their book on the sidebar. I make absolutely nothing off your purchase through this site. I'm just glad to have them stop by and hope you get some pleasure from meeting another author.