Announcing the Paralyzed Dreams Virtual Book Tour!

Hi, everyone! I’m excited to announce that next weekend, on March 7th, we’ll be having a virtual blog tour for Paralyzed Dreams! It’s going to be lots of fun, with some neat posts and book reviews… but I don’t want to spoil too much. Make sure to come on over next weekend and check out all the posts!

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If I haven’t asked you to join, and you’d like to participate, let me know in the comments! I’d love to have you join in!

Writing About Writing: Cover Design – Part One

Hi, everyone!

So after my big news post on Monday, I’ve had several people mention that they’d like to hear more about the self-publishing process. I’ve noticed that there’s a scarcity of blog posts out there about self-publishing… the details, at least. One of the things I’ve recently been looking for – and haven’t found – are posts on creating professional-looking covers. And since that’s my favorite part, that’s where I’ve decided to start. 😉 This first post will focus on general tips, and the next one will provide a sort of process to help you design a professional cover.

First, decide whether you should design your cover yourself or hire a professional cover designer. There are actually some fairly inexpensive cover designers out there, and there are also places where you can buy a pre-made book cover. If you don’t have a lot of time and patience, this might be a better idea. Also, if you don’t have access to a photo manipulation program (Photoshop is what I use), getting a cover designer might be the better choice. (I believe there are also online programs you can use, but I can’t be sure). There are tutorials out there for creating covers in Word, but all the ones I’ve tried… *cough* I’m sticking with Photoshop. Just keep in mind that there are alternatives to making your own cover.

Your cover is the first thing readers will see, whether it’s in print format or ebook. Your cover needs to pique readers’ interest, while still being important to your story. If you’re writing a historical romance, your cover shouldn’t look like it’s for a zombie book or a murder mystery. That’s why the pictures you choose are so important, along with the fonts.

Before I go any further, I need to point out some things about copyrights. *sigh* If you use pictures from Google images, then there’s a high chance that you’ll be infringing on someone’s copyright. You have to make sure that you have the rights to both images and fonts. You have several choices. You can either buy your own images (and fonts) from websites that sell royalty free images (like iStock and Shutterstock). Make sure that you’re buying a commercial license for the picture, not just a non-commercial license. You can also use the stock fonts on your computer and pictures you take yourself. The fonts that come on your computer are usually unprofessional and easily recognizable… don’t use Papyrus, please. Honestly, the most over used font. 😀 If you’re a good photographer, or if you know a good photographer, doing your own photo shoot is the best idea. Finally, there’s a huge selection of free for commercial use fonts and images. You may not be able to find exactly what you’re looking for, but there are plenty of options. Always, always, always check the license on fonts and images before using them. If the creator/photographer does not specifically say that you can use it for commercial use, ask them. It’s always best to be safe. And let people know when you use their fonts/images. If they’re offering them for free, the least you can do is let them see what you’re using their creations for. Best advice? Unless stated otherwise, always assume that content is copyrighted.

If you made it through that paragraph, you deserve a reward. 😉 So here are some of the sites I use for photo and font finding. Pixabay is great. When you click on an image, the profile tells you whether it can be used for commercial use and if you need to give credit to the photographer. There’s also Unsplash. If you subscribe, they’ll send you ten pictures every ten days that are free for commercial use. They also have a new search feature, too.

For fonts, I use dafont.com and Font Squirrel. Both sites have fonts that are for non-commercial use only and commercial-use. Font Squirrel has a page for each font where you can see the license. On dafont.com, things are a little less clear cut. Just make sure to check with the creator, and read all read-me documents included with the font.

Now that we’ve got all of that stuff out of the way, here’s the best way to figure out what picture to put on your cover. First, make a list of all items and people that are important in your story… as in “cover worthy” important. Don’t choose something or someone that is important for a plot twist. You want your reader to be drawn in by the cover, but you really don’t want to give too much away. That’s why the cover is one of the most important aspects of self-publishing. Of any book, for that matter.

One last bit of advice before I end this post. Study other covers in your genre. You want yours to stand out, but you don’t want it to be too drastically different. Ashlee Willis has an awesome cover for her book The Word Changers.

And those are my tips for helping you design your covers. Hope you don’t mind how long this post was! 😀 Got a cover you’ve made that you would like opinions on? Post the link in the comments below! I can guarantee that at least one person will check it out. *cough*me*cough* I’d love to see them!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this, and that it’ll help you with designing your cover. Questions? Comments? Anything you want to see in future posts about self-publishing? Comment below!

Thanks to all of you, Paralyzed Dreams has gotten up to #37 in its category! Read it? I’d love to hear what you think! Haven’t? Go ahead! 😀 Stay tuned for updates on the upcoming Paralyzed Dreams virtual book tour!

Avengers’ Isle: War Paint

Hello, friends! So maybe I should’ve said this before, but future posts will assume that you know who the Winter Soldier is. If you don’t know and you don’t want it spoiled… 😉 Thank you all so much for all of your lovely comments on last week’s post! You guys are amazing! (New? See past episodes.) 

Fury and Banner made their way cautiously through the forest. They were starting to run out of Fury’s stash of trail mix. Apparently he wasn’t too prepared. Banner was actually a little glad. A limitless supply of trail mix would’ve made him wonder how paranoid Fury was.

Not that he didn’t already think the director was paranoid.

Banner followed Fury as he pushed through overhanging vines. He hated to say it, but he was pretty sure they were getting lost. He cleared his throat. “Fury. If we’re looking for food, shouldn’t we at least be looking at the plants and stuff?”

Fury turned to him almost ominously, staring him down with his single eye. That guy could accomplish more with one eye than anyone could accomplish with two. “You already said you don’t recognize any of the plants. I trust your judgment, and I assume you’ll let me know if you see anything you recognize.”

Banner felt a little sheepish. “Then what are we doing out here still?” he asked.

Fury sighed. “Looking for the others.” Banner stared at him blankly. “I saw smoke last night in the distance.” He turned and continued moving.

Banner hurried to catch up. “But that doesn’t mean it’s the other Avengers. It could be natives, or…” He shrugged. “Anybody.”

Fury turned his eye back on him again without slowing his pace. “Natives, maybe. But most likely not, and probably not anyone else.”

They came across a semi-bright clearing edged with shadows. Fury slowed, his brow furrowed as he gazed around. Banner stuck close next to him. Something about this put him on guard. He didn’t want to hulk out, but he would if needed.

A twig cracked nearby. Both of them froze. There was a quiet whistle, and the next instant they were surrounded by ferocious looking men covered in various colors of paint. “Natives,” Banner grumbled. Fury stepped back behind him a little.

“War paint,” he observed, almost as if he was looking at wax statues of the natives in a museum. “Wonder if they’re cannibals.” He glanced over at Banner. “Feel free to let the other guy out at any time.”

There was a pause as the natives crept silently closer. “Banner,” Fury said, still sounding almost perfectly calm. “What are you waiting for?”

Banner felt fear creep up inside of him. “He – he’s not there. The Hulk… I can’t…”

There was a menacing laugh nearby. “Of course not.”

A like gets you the chance to run into an Avenger in an elevator, a comment lets you eat shawarma with all of them…

Book Review: Our Intrepid Heroine by Ness Kingsley

I believe this is the first fantasy book I’ve read since Ashlee Willis’s The Word Changers… which, yes, I will be reviewing soon. I need to reread it first, though, since it’s been so long, and I might as well review this book while it’s fresh in my memory. 🙂

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 This book was awesome. The prologue was wonderful… I’m not the type who skips over prologues, and I certainly would not skip over this one. I really liked Ness’s writing style.

When I began to read the first chapter, I was a little annoyed because the narrator kept interrupting the story, which made it take a while for the story to get started. But I really got to like the narrator and didn’t mind so much. She – I assume it’s a she – added some awesome irony and just helped add some extra zing to the story. Zing. What a fun word. Just like the story. 😀

Back on track. Our Intrepid Heroine (which is how I must refer to her) was a really good character. All of the characters were nice. “The Female” was appropriately annoying, I must say. 😉 But somehow I still liked her a little.

This plot… *sigh* Just the idea behind it was enough to pull me in. A girl going to kill a dragon… which she’s never done before. I could tell the story was going to be funny just by reading the summary. “And a frog” is now going to be my go-to funny line when listing things off. 😉 I was definitely not disappointed. Ness Kingsley has a wonderful sense of humor. The situations, the characters, the narrator, and Our Intrepid Heroine’s dragon-killing instruction book… all just wonderfully crafted. (And I’ve found myself referring to her book as the How To Kill Your Dragon book since I can’t remember the title. 😛 )

I can’t wait for the sequel to this book to come out! Go check out Ness’s blog, and go get Our Intrepid Heroine! You’ll love it, and it’s totally worth it! 🙂

Big News, Y’all (Texas-Sized)

*deep calming breath*

It may be hard for me to get through this post with using too many exclamation points/italics/all caps, but I’ll try to tone it down.

First off, the least exciting of the two pieces of news… I finished the first draft of my WIP… which is not a work in progress anymore. 🙂 I’m so glad to have finished it. My reaction was a combination of relief and…

Tom Hiddleston excited

That pretty much sums it up. Thank you, Tom Hiddleston.

Now for the second piece of super exciting news… the really, really big one.

I am officially a published author.

paralyzeddreamskindle

She lost everything she’d ever dreamed of.

Fourteen-year-old Pam Wilson’s life is going perfectly. She and her best friend, Lauren, are becoming an amazing volleyball duo, and her dreams of playing in the Olympics are coming along wonderfully. Then a car accident paralyzes Pam from the waist down, and her dreams for her life are shattered. No more volleyball, no more walking, no more future. The only thing she has left is her faith in God… if she would only turn there.

Eeek!!! I’m so excited! Please go check it out! I’ll probably be posting more about self-publishing through Kindle Direct Publishing at some point, and possibly on cover design, since I love how this one turned out. I’d love to hear what you have to say!

And now, some memes/gifs to attempt to describe how I’m feeling…

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Funny how similar he and that cat look…

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tom hiddleston excited

Thank you, guys, and go check out the book! 🙂

I Can Hear The Deadline A-Comin’, It’s Comin’ ‘Round The Bend…

Hello, everyone!

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As you may (or may not) know, the deadline for the Super-Duper Fan Fiction Crossover Challenge is quickly approaching. There’s only one week left for you to submit your entries!

If you haven’t started yet, there’s still plenty of time! It doesn’t take very long, especially if you already have an idea. I wrote Pevensie, my Captain America/Chronicles of Narnia crossover, in about half an hour, maybe less. And if you don’t have an idea…

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Ooh...

Ooh…

fathers

Wait, what? Maybe not...

Wait, what? Maybe not…

What if Thor was a baby sitter?

What if Thor was a baby sitter?

Oh the feels...

Oh the feels…

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Now that we’ve got that over with, let me get to the point of this post. To help you get your writing shoes one, all of tomorrow will be an ongoing word war! Here are the rules.

  1. Write for 30 minutes.
  2. Figure out your word count.
  3. Post the word count in the comments below.
  4. Repeat as many times as you want!

No prizes… this is just a fun way to motivate you to write! 🙂

Avengers’ Isle: Common Sense

Hello, everyone! I’m so grateful for all of your amazing comments! I’m amazed by how much everyone likes this. And it’s good to know that you’re liking the cliffhangers too…

New? Check out past episodes.

Why did guys always have to be so difficult? Natasha growled and tightened her ponytail band. She hated wearing her hair up, but on this dumb island, it was practically necessary.

“But how are we going to eat?” Tony protested. Loki stood to the side, trying to look superior but not able to hide his own concern. “It there’s no food, we’ll – we’ll die!”

Natasha huffed. “I didn’t say there wasn’t any food. I said that I couldn’t find anything. No fish, no birds, no animals.”

“And how is that different?” Tony asked, crossing his arms.

Natasha put her hands on her hips. “Because, genius, there are other things to eat besides meat.” She waved towards the forest. “There’s always plants and things.”

Tony made a face. “Not my food of choice, but if that’s all there is, then let’s get started.” He began to walk towards the forest.

“Good,” Natasha said drily. “Let us know if you find anything poisonous.”

Tony stopped and retraced his steps. “So… maybe not. But can’t we try to find something we recognize?”

Natasha shrugged. “I went through a lot of the surrounding area, but I didn’t see a single plant that looked familiar. Not a single plant. You’d think there would at least be a palm tree or something… but nothing.”

Tony shivered, rubbing his arms. “This is really weird. I don’t like it.”

“You don’t have to like it,” Natasha pointed out. “You just have to deal with it.”

“There’s magic at play here.” Loki’s voice was low. They both turned to him. He waved his hand dismissively. “No, my magic has not come back. I’m just using common sense.”

Tony glared at him. “Are you saying we don’t have common sense?”

Loki tilted his head and gave a small smile. “It does seem to be greatly lacking.”

Tony clenched his fists and stepped up to the Asgardian. “I swear, I–”

Natasha growled and stepped in between them. They were worse than Maximus and Flynn Rider. And she was Rapunzel, trying to keep them from killing each other. Except she certainly was not as patient, naïve, or cheerful. And she hated dresses. “Why don’t you two go look through the forest and see if there’s anything you recognize. Maybe there’s an Asgardian plant or something. Just don’t kill each other or anything.”

The two grumbled their way into the forest, and Natasha closed her eyes and tilted her head back, inhaling deeply. The salty ocean scent smelled pretty good. The only noise was the lapping of the water on the beach. Silence at last. Who knew being on a deserted island could actually be peaceful?

She did a few little things, like gathering more twigs for firewood and – she couldn’t help herself – making a tiny sandcastle. She sighed. Hawkeye would’ve made a sand tower next to her castle. She couldn’t help but wonder if he was okay.

A foot appeared out of nowhere, smushing her sandcastle unknowingly. Natasha leapt to her feet. Loki was fighting back a frown, trying to keep his face neutral. He held Tony in his arms, but set him down in front of Natasha.

The billionaire didn’t move.

A like gets you a hug from Thor, a comment gets you a group hug from all of the Avengers. (Harsh comments get you a “hug” from the Hulk…)

An Update On Writing And Life (Complete With Memes)

Hello, everyone! I realized that I hadn’t really done a post about writing in a while… so why not.

Lately, school has been horrendous. Especially physics…

"You should see the looks on your faces because you look-ridicul

Drivers’ ed has been pretty time consuming, too.

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And no, I haven’t totaled our car. Or even gotten into an accident. Although I did kind of run over a curb and scrape up the bottom of the car… But never mind that. (Those two memes were made by yours truly, the rest aren’t.) But alas, homeschooling. Contrary to popular belief…

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Exactly.

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And not all of us sleep in until noon and stay in our pajamas and don’t do any schoolwork.

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But besides loads of schoolwork, and co-op…

homeschoolerseverywhere

…there have also been chores…

UnloadTheDishwasher

…and taking care of the dog.

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Not my dog. Oh, and music lessons.

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Except I play the piano. Then writing.

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Sometimes I get distracted by reading, though…

Or coming up with plot twists.

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But basically…

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That is the hardest part. The funniest part?

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So, enough with the memes. For now. My current work in progress has been going pretty slow (hence the next to last meme) but I am currently just over ninety pages, which makes it the longest story I’ve ever written. You may have noticed that I adjusted my word count goal on the sidebar. That’s mostly because it is certainly not going to be 60,000 words. It’s around 25,ooo words right now (amazing for me!) and it’ll probably be around 30,000 words/100 pages when I finish.

I know I said enough with the memes, but this one (made by me from this song) pretty much sums everything up.

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Hope you’ve enjoyed this and laughed along the way! 😀

Avengers’ Isle: The Sand In My Hair

Helloooo, readers! I apologize for this being so short and not posting last week, but if I had posted it then, all you would’ve had was the first sentence. 😀 Enjoy! See previous parts here.

Thor might have thought he was on Asgard if not for the sand in his hair. Thor had to admit that he liked his hair, and maybe even took a little pride in how it looked. Just like Volstagg and his beard. Sand in his hair was like food in Volstagg’s beard. Annoying, but inevitable on this island.

He sat up and rubbed his eyes before gazing around. He was surprised to notice that Captain Rogers was nowhere to be seen. Usually he was the first one up, but the captain seemed to have beaten him this morning.

Thor stretched and stood. The fire was nearly out, so he fed it with some wood he and Captain Rogers had gathered the night before. They would need to cook breakfast after the captain came back, hopefully with food. He paused. He hadn’t realized until now, but he hadn’t seen any animals or heard any birds since arriving at the island. Frowning, he switched directions and made his way over to the edge of the water. Some small pools had formed in hollow spaces a little ways down the beach, and he knelt over them. No sign of any fish. No life at all.

A shiver ran down his spine and he gazed up at the sky. Nothing. No birds. No fish. No creatures. No life.

He walked quickly back to the campfire, keeping an eye on it. Where had the captain gone? Now was not the time to disappear. He found himself pacing and forced himself to sit down and think this through. Not thinking was what had landed him powerless on Midgard originally. Good eventually came out of that, but at a price. He must think.

The fire began to dwindle again, so he decided to stay busy by finding some more wood. He headed over to the forest, but froze. A leg covered in familiar blue fabric stuck out of the underbrush.

Thor hurried over and easily uncovered the captain, uprooting a bush in the process. The captain lay on his face, and when Thor turned him over, he found a purplish bruise forming just above his temple.

The captain stirred in his arms and moaned. Thor shook him gently. “Are you all right?” he asked. The other man blinked, looking woozy. Then his eyes widened and he began to attempt to struggle. In his weakened state, it was easy for Thor to keep a grip on him. “What’s wrong?” Thor asked.

The captain gazed around frantically. “B-b… b…” he croaked hoarsely.

Thor’s forehead wrinkled in confusion. “B?” He thought. “Bilchsteim? Bifrost? Bruise?”

The captain slumped, a pained look crossing his face. “Bucky.”

Duh-duh-duhnnn…

A like gets you a trip to Asgard, a comment lets Thor and company be your tour guides.