Thursday, June 30, 2011

The World of Symbols: Ice Age Language

Ice Age Language
by Michelle Snyder
White Knight Studio

Our ancestors had abilities and knowledge that generally go unrecognized. The symbols they created carry stories of their social structures, medicines, home life, families, trade, struggles, and victories. They documented their knowledge and history with symbols - images combined with oral tradition, passed on from old to young. Engraved on the great continental megalithic village utilities as well as on small stones, ivory, and bones, the information was recorded for future generations. Some of our oldest Faerie tales and mythologies carry the memory and history of these ancestors.

In order to decode symbols, we must understand why they were made. Conventional opinion states that prehistoric art is just that: art for art’s sake, or ritual and magical art. However, the images left us by our ancestors have real stories to tell. A physicist and cryptographer, Dr. Robert Duncan-Enzmann, has translated thousands of inscriptions from 14,500 years ago, a language used by our ancestors during the iron cold ice age of the Paleolithic Era. Images inscribed on stone, bone, and ivory depict every day activities of child care, housing, clothing, and calendrics. Paintings of animals depict calendrics describing migrations, seasons, and what part of the animal to use for what purpose.

The picture-story in image A is about the birth of Lorelei, a Rhine maiden. Lorelei’s birth was certainly written  (scratched in stone) by a lady of a small hunting family or clan. Labeled on the image: numbers 16 & 1 indicate the pregnant mom, 21 the baby born, connected by umbilical cord (in red), and 22 - horses that bless baby with hair for warmth and bones for fat: the Horse Spirit blesses baby’s spirit. Lorelei is the beginning of the sun-child, sun-goddess mythology.

The right clothing was essential for survival in an ice age. Spinning and weaving have roots in Paleolithic family clans. Duncan-Enzmann’s translations bring to us records of women making and trading textiles. He says: “Much, indeed most of the Magdalenian writings concern textiles; likely all of it written by women. Their writings show that today’s most personal and important comforts of home were invented and used well over 14,500 years ago. Long before we had electricity,  ancient versions of heating,  laundry, child care, cooking, and lighting  - all of these necessities existed in other forms”. Image B is an inscription showing a woman at a weighted-warp upright loom, with her oil lamp on the floor.

Paleolithic mothers taught their daughters the art of spinning; little girls spun, mothers wove,  and grannies tailored. While the women worked they told stories to pass on knowledge to their children (thus “spinning a yarn”). These generational practices led to the mythology of Maiden, Mother, and Crone as Norns working the threads of life in time. (Norns spin the thread of fate at the foot of Yggdrasil – the Tree of Life - weaving the pattern of destiny for both gods and men.) Diagrams were carefully made of what to use for weaving, when to extract aspirin from willow branches, and how to sharpen needles. Image C instructs how to make boots.

These artifacts, scraps surviving from our past, represent a great treasure. They provide valuable information and a tangible link to our ancestors. Some of the most intriguing and mysterious symbols of today have roots in prehistory; decoding them is possible in part because we have translations of this ice age language. When symbols are put in historic context our understanding of human development becomes more accurate, and our decoding of symbolic imagery is more profound.

Article 2011 by Michelle Snyder, author of Symbology: Decoding Classic Images, available at Amazon. Her website is Translations© 1995 Dr. Robert Duncan-Enzmann,

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Be Wary of these Clauses in Publishing Contracts

With the surge of authors choosing to go the route of indie, they won't have to worry about contract details with traditional publishers. However, there are still many authors who are signing with publishers or have publishers who come courting them when their self-published titles sells well.  I found the following 2010 blog post from Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary. All of these points are still valid today and as Chip says, "Read the fine print of any publishing contract." Chip's blog is here:

Some really, REALLY stupid things in book publishing contracts according to Chip: 

1. A contract with no title listed and no description of the project. So you're on the hook for...who knows what?
2. A grant of rights that includes everything, including if you ever decide to write or speak on this topic again sometime in this lifetime. (Keep this in mind when looking at the conflicting publications clause -- it's reasonable to expect a publisher gets a window in which the author is focused on their contracted title. It's not reasonable to make that a lifetime ban on the subject for an author -- something I've seen.)
3. A description of the work so broad that you would be considered in breach of contract should you write a thank you note to your Aunt Agatha for sending you that bad Christmas sweater.
4. An advance that needs to be paid back should it not earn out. Paid back?! This is an "advance against royalties," not a loan. For crying out loud -- why not ask 'em to fill out an application? 
5. Royalties that DROP when more copies are sold. (No kidding. Read the fine print.) Take a look at the contracts of some publishing houses -- if your book is sold at a reasonable discount, they'll cut your royalty in half, leading the sales team to SUGGEST THAT VERY IDEA to accounts. Great plan. 
6. Some contracts have words that basically say, "If we re-sell the idea to other people, we get to keep all the money." I've seen this happen a couple times -- and in BOTH circumstances it led to really bad feelings with the author. 
7. Be wary of the term "excerpts." It sure looks like some publishers can take excerpts from the books they're publishing, repackage them into a new product, and pay you, um, nothing. Zero. Zip. Zilch-a-rooni.
8. I recently saw a "reservation of rights" clause that described what the publisher reserved, but failed to mention anything for the author. Uh, the reservation of rights clause is there to protect both publisher AND author. Consider the wording carefully, so that you basically retain the rights not specifically granted to someone else.
9. I've seen several contracts that offer no definition of acceptance. In other words, "If we don't like it, tough luck."
10. An opt-out clause. I started seeing this a few years ago. It basically says, "We want to publish your book...but if we change our minds, you're screwed. Pay us our money back." Look, lots of people want out of a bad deal. But there needs to be some sort of reasoning offered -- it's not an acceptable manuscript, or it has libel potential, or you didn't write the book you'd promised, or they just saw you getting arrested on COPS. Those are reasonable reasons for canceling a book. The fact that the publisher woke up and decided he or she simply no longer wanted to publish your novel probably is not reasonable.
11. No publication time limit. I have a friend who turned in a piece more than 11 years ago. It's still not made it to press, but the publisher won't give it back, and doesn't have to because the contract states they don't have to publish it until they feel like it. (I'm not making this up.) 
12. The copyright in the name of the publisher. A bad idea.
13. While I think option clauses have their place, I remember the bad old days when one publishing house tacked on a double-option for every book you did with them. So the more books you wrote, the more books you owed them! You could never complete your contract.
14. Indemnity clauses that only flow one way. In other words, if anybody ever sues us, for any reason, the AUTHOR is expected to pay for it. (Don't laugh. I've seen it more than once.)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Interview with Bradley J. Milton

Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book?
It's called Huckleberry Milton. It's a retelling of the HUCKLEBERRY FINN tale, but for modern times. Huckleberry Milton and his sidekick (a robotic Jerry Garcia), along with a Jim Morrison look-alike, all travel back to 1969 to save America from an economic crisis.

Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
Didn't happen. Was contacted by a publisher who advised the Amazon Kindle / Smashwords route. All good from there.

Do you belong to a critique group? Have they helped improve your writing?
Not yet, but am open to anything. I'm on TWITTER where I talk to other writers all the time. It's a nice way to gain support, help others, and chit-chat. You can connect with me at any time, even just to say hi. It's always on – quite amazing, really.

What factors influenced your decision to self-publish to Amazon?
It was simple. First I see that Amazon has dominated the market. Always best to go with a winner, and Jeff Bezos has proven himself to be a competent businessman here. Kindle can use some improvement, but it's definitely the best way to go. Also my novel is Experimental (avant garde), and the number of real publishers for that is small. Used to be Grove Press, Expanded Media Editions, City Lights, Citadel Underground, Hanuman Books, Arcade Publishing, High Risk Books, Evergreen Review, Black Cat paperbacks, RE/Search Publications, Loompanics, Shambala – in short, a whole world of publishers for new voices, experiments, writing that is over the edge. Not so anymore. Now the writer is stuck going solo. So, here goes.

Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
An editor (freelance) had contacted me, knowing I was interested in a book. They helped pull it all together. So for me, it was easy. All I had to do was figure out the software and write up the file. Had to approve final changes and so on, and be willing to do some more marketing.

What have you learned during your self-publishing journey?
I have learned that Publishing as an Industry has changed dramatically. It happened slowly then quickly. Right now, agents and editors and publishers are caught with their pants down. They don't know what hit them. They don't know what's happening. They know that they have to be on TWITTER to be accepted and looked at as with it, but they aren't quite sure what to do. Meanwhile, the readers are out there. They're hungry for stories. They want more. And it is the visionaries like Jeff Bezos who are helping to bring it to them. Not the publishers or agents or editors anymore. The roles are changing. The next few years should be Interesting.

Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
Yep. Barnes and Noble too. Always good to stay competitive. Huckleberry Milton is available in the Sony, Kobo and the Diesel eBook Stores, and also on Smashwords where you can buy all the formats: PDF, Plain Text. You can preview it there free. You can also preview for free on Amazon. So it's pretty much everywhere. Will be out in the Apple iStore soon too. Working out a glitch right now with the Apple formatting.

What kinds of marketing [twitter, facebook, blog, forums] are you involved with for promoting your book(s)?
Definitely TWITTER. It's fun. And interviews. The book is out there with a lot of reviewers right now. Happy with all the comments. But the big thing I'm doing is a “Bradley J. Milton LIVE!” blog tour. I'm reading from the book live, and offering exclusive readings on various blogs. It's a big deal. There's t-shirts and everything. It's starting this week and will take me all over the country, so I'm very excited. I had to ask for some time off of work (boss doesn't know).

Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
Not really. I want to start my next book (I have ideas), but right now I am working only on this one (Marketing). It's a different aspect, different part of the job. I'm having fun. It's pretty nice.

What advice would you give a new author just entering into the self-publishing arena?
Do your best work, don't be afraid to be Original. I believe that people like that – it's something different. They like to see someone doing something unique if it's what they believe in. Go for it.

What’s next for you?
The next book is going to be a big one. It's going to have all genres. I'm calling it The Everything Book. But right now I'm heading off on the Bradley J. Milton LIVE! Tour, taking Huckleberry Milton all over the country to the people. Let me know if you'd like a t-shirt.

Monday, June 27, 2011

New Release: NIGHT OF THE WOLVES by David Dalglish

Book Blurb:
Wolf-men, savage creatures given humanoid form in an ancient war, mass along the Gihon River. Led by their packleader Redclaw, they seek to cross the river and claim a land of their own, slaughtering those that would stand in their way. Two paladins, Jerico of the god Ashhur, and Darius of the god Karak, must helm the desperate defense against the invasion. Their friendship will be tested as their gods resume an unending war, and their very faiths call for the death of the other. Together, friend or foe, they must face Redclaw's horde.

Can faith remain when the gods call for blood?

Buy links: 

Author Bio:

David Dalglish currently lives in rural Missouri with his wife Samantha, daughter Morgan, and snake, Velixar. He graduated from Missouri Southern State University in 2006 with a degree in Mathematics and currently spends his free time watching Spongebob Squarepants with his daughter.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


I'm thrilled that Amazon has decided to put my post-apocalyptic novelette, THE RIGHT PATH, to FREE status. I have no idea how long they will keep it free, so go grab a copy and enjoy while you can.

Can Ham and Zia survive in this dog-eat-dog world?
Amazon buy link:

Abraham "Ham" Jones, a cripple, and Zia Slate, a tomboy with an attitude, find themselves unlikely partners in this post-apocalyptic tale of survival. It is decades later since the world blew itself apart. Life is harsh, gangs rule the streets, the system cops keep the peace anyway they can. Being a kid in this world isn't easy, being a cripple is about the worst sentence handed down. Being a girl with no protection is only slightly better. 

Ham and Zia's lives are irrevocably changed when they meet a mysterious old man bearing gifts - a cane for Ham and a knife for Zia. But, nothing is as it seems. Everyone wants something and no good deed goes unpunished. Forced into a desperate encounter, they must fight for their lives when it's discovered they now have possession of two of the legendary memory weapons, the very weapons that ultimately destroyed the world. 

4.0 out of 5 stars Real characters AND imaginative ideas! 
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Right Path (Apocalyptic Novelette) (Dark Future Series) (Kindle Edition)
I need two things to love a story. I need exciting, imaginative ideas... AND I need the substance of real characters with depth. I honestly don't like most fantasy or scifi stories that I read. They tend to give me just the imaginative part and leave out the substance. The Right Path manages to give us both! We can spend some time in a post-apocalyptic world, and we also deal with real issues and real characters.

5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Story, Amazing ImpactAugust 27, 2010
This review is from: The Right Path (Apocalyptic Novelette) (Dark Future Series) (Kindle Edition)

It wasn't until I finished reading THE RIGHT PATH that I realized I didn't 'dislike' short stories; I'd just never read a good one. I was fortunate enough to find this gem lurking around in The Burnt Zone (story joke). It's a well-written look into a world where humanity is a myth and ever action taken by one's self is only to achieve two things: personal gain where possible, and survival.

The last time I've seen an extraordinary example of the spectra of the human machine, from the darkest shade of cruelty to the lightest shade of kindness and charity, was when I saw the film 'Blindness' a few years ago. THE RIGHT PATH is a poetic start to an epic journey of reviving humanity. 5 Stars across the board. If novelettes could be nominated for Oscars, this would be in the category.

If you want to see how and when the "memory weapons" were created, be sure to pick up the first story in our DARK FUTURE series:

Can a ragtag band of soldiers save what's left of the USA?

In a last ditch attempt to turn the tide in a desperate war, General Matthew Smith of the American Freedom Fighters asks Samurai Master Kenzu to make a batch of the famed memory weapons--weapons that infuse its user with the skills and memories of a samurai warrior. But, in the wrong hands, the users can become uncontrollable killing machines who don't care whom they kill - friend or foe.

When General Smith orders Commander Hurley and his unit of augmented soldiers test the weapons, he believes that he's doing the best thing for all of the men under his command. What General Smith believes, however, and what is true is entirely two different things and Smith must live with the consequences of his decision.

If you enjoy fantasy, check out the RULE OF OTHARIA  series:


Friday, June 24, 2011

Spotlight: CRAZY FOR YOU by Sandra Edwards

** Nominated for "Best Contemporary Romance of 2010" at The Romance Reviews **

Book blurb:
Crazy For You is a rags to riches tale set against the backdrop of the 80s, movie stars and rock-n-roll.

Roxanne Simon is a successful author and an award-winning actress who's also a bit neurotic. After she appears on a popular talk show the world is left guessing: is rock star Frank Garrett the father of her four year old son? 

Once Frank learns the true parentage of Roxanne's son, he's determined to make her pay. When he stumbles upon her weakness, he decides to use it against her. But is he prepared to see her pay the ultimate price in his quest for revenge?

Be careful what you wish just might get it.

Buy Links:

Review Snippets:
From The Crazy Bookworm ~ “The entire character cast is great, you'll find yourself falling in love with not just Roxanne and Frank but with all the characters.”

From Readers Favorite Book Reviews ~ “Ms. Edwards takes the reader back to the 1980's, to a world of starving musicians, sex and drugs. She portrays the scene quite well.”

Excerpt:Crazy for You:
That evening, Roxanne sat back and watched Rich and Glen give all the local groupies the cold shoulder. The hometown girls seethed as the two band members, who’d been oh-so-friendly yesterday, entered the club tonight sporting these unknown women on their arms. None of the slighted fans tried to hide their anger.

Roxanne couldn’t understand how Candy and Glenna, especially Glenna, could stand to witness this diversion as it played out between the guys in the band and the local girls. The whole thing proved unsettling for Roxanne. “Let’s go out and burn one.” Her suggestion came abruptly.

“Okay.” Candy popped up from her chair and grabbed her purse.

The girls headed outside, and made themselves comfortable in the back of Roxanne’s van.

Glenna initiated the ritual by pulling a joint out and firing it up. “Did you see all those girls giving me the evil eye when I walked in on Glen’s arm?” she asked with an amusing laugh and passed the joint to Roxanne. Glenna didn’t seem to care, one way or another, about what she obviously knew.

“No shit.” Candy let out a sharp laugh. “I caught a few of those myself.”
Roxanne choked on the smoke and coughed. “I can’t believe you two think that’s funny.” She handed the joint to Candy.

“Roxie…” Glenna said in a discerning tone, “I’m not blind to the fact of what goes on when I’m not around. But I also know…” She gave Roxanne one of those looks that said she wasn’t worried, and in a controlled voice, she said, “when push comes to shove…” She shrugged with a measure of confidence. “I come first.”

“And it doesn’t bother you?” Roxanne asked, doubtful.

Candy passed the joint to Glenna, saying nothing, just following the conversation with an entertaining grin edging up the corners of her mouth.

“Not as long as Glen doesn’t flaunt it in my face,” Glenna said. “You must understand.” She stopped long enough to take a hit off the joint. “The groupies, they got one thing on their minds.” She stopped again, holding her breath this time. An act that allowed the capabilities of the drug to take her away. “They want to screw a musician. Any musician.” Slowly, Glenna blew the smoke out in a long, lingering trail. “They put it right there in their faces. And believe me, a stiff dick has no conscience.” There was no doubt in her tone, no fear in her words. She handed the joint to Roxanne. “And I’m not going to let some little two-bit slut destroy my marriage,” she added, in an almost vindictive tone.

Roxanne toked on the joint and a disturbing thought crossed her mind. Glenna not only knew about it—she accepted her husband’s infidelity. Anxiety colored Roxanne’s thoughts with visions of what Frank might be doing out on the road if she wasn’t there. She tried to expel the ugly thoughts invading her head, right along with the smoke as she exhaled and handed the joint to Candy.

“You got a clip?” Roxanne said to Candy.

“Yeah.” Candy pulled a roach-clip from her purse and clamped it onto the joint.
Glenna picked up on Roxanne’s anxiety. “I’m not saying that’s what Frank would do.” She had to get that notion out of Roxanne’s head. Otherwise, Frank would hit the roof. “So don’t go judging him by my husband’s actions.”

Glenna prayed Roxanne had nothing but pure thoughts of Frank. If not, there would be hell to pay. Frank would see to that.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Screenplays and Michaelbrent Collings

Hi Michaelbrent. Welcome back to Two Ends of the Pen. I hear you’ve been doing some new exciting projects and it’s great that you’ve agreed to share them with us.

You recently have had a number of bestselling novels, and then you had a pair of screenplays sold and put into production in the last year.  Are screenplays and novels different animals?
Yes, extremely different.  Screenplays are sharper-edged, and give worse papercuts.  Don't ask me why. 

Seriously, though, they ARE very different beasties.  Novels are all about action and introspection.  That is, they are plot from the point of view (usually) of one or more of the characters.  Screenplays, on the other hand, are (as a rule) only about the action without the introspection.  There is no room for internal monologues in most screenplays, they are all about action, action, action, from the point of view OF the action.

Does writing one lead to writing the other?
Not at all.  Because they are such different ways of writing, it's actually (at least for me) a very Unnatural process to jump from one to the other.  Or, put it another way, they are like speaking different languages.  Novelese and screeplay...uh...ese.  It is possible to speak more than one language, and many people do.  But it is an entirely different thing to be FLUENT in two different languages.  And that's what you have to do in order to be both a novelist and a screenwriter.  Doing one doesn't mean that you can automatically do the other; indeed, I have a number of friends who are very successful in one, but absolute failures at the other.  That doesn't mean they're less talented artists, it simply means they haven't achieved fluency in BOTH novelese and screenplayese. 

So no, they aren't natural offshoots of each other.  It's totally doable to be proficient in both, but it requires discipline and practice to learn the tricks, traps, and tropes of each.

Are there advantages to doing both?
Absolutely!  I mean, if nothing else, it gives me something to do while in that interminable waiting period following completion of any kind of work.  When I've finished a script and am waiting to hear back from producers, I can work on a novel.  If I've finished a novel and it's being shopped around or prepped to go online, I can pull out a screenplay.  Keeps me busy.  That and my platypus collection.  Oh, sure, you wouldn't THINK a platypus collection would take that much time, but have you ever tried to glue a platypus into one of those little albums?  It takes FOREVER.

Another advantage to doing both is that you have alternate avenues to put your work out there.  For example, I recently finished a book called PERDITION.  It's a pretty nifty thriller (available on!) about a man whose family decides to kill him when they discover he's the anti-Christ (or is he?...bwahahaha!).  So it's out there (on, for instance!), making me a bit of money, and that's great.  But in addition, I think it's also got possibilities as a screenplay, so I'm working on that iteration of the story.

Another good example is my book RUN.  It's a sci-fi thriller, and is currently with a major production company that is deciding whether they want to make a movie out of it.  I recently had a conversation with one of their execs where he explained that the process is taking a while because the book is so complex it's hard for some of the other execs to figure out a movie out of it.  Lo and behold, I had already WRITTEN a screenplay for RUN, and when I offered to show that to the movie producers, my contact at the company was ecstatic.  So it all fed into itself.

Any disadvantages to writing both?
Yes.  For sure.  Jealousy, for one.  Again, you don't want to make a screenplay jealous, because of the papercuts.  But then, if you anger a manuscript and it falls on your foot in retribution, it could break your toe!

Other than that, there is also the issue of the competing languages, as I mentioned above.  It's hard sometimes to write in the right (write in the right...ha! I crack myself up) language.  In other words, when writing a novel, the last thing I want to do is start sounding like I'm drafting a really long movie script.  Ditto when writing a movie script...sounding like a novel is a kiss of death.  So it's something you constantly have to guard against when writing.

It can also lead to confusion in your "self branding."  E.g. "I'm a screenwriter, I'm a novelist, I'm a screenwriter, I'm a novelist...I'm a screenwriter AND a novelist!"  That's a little joke for fans of Chinatown (trust me, if you're a screenwriter who knows anything about the industry, what I just said is hilarious), but it's true: you have to make sure that people know exactly what you are, what you can do, and that you can do it well, since they naturally assume you're a better novelist than you are a screenwriter, or vice-versa.

What advice would you give novelists or other prose authors who want to turn to screenwriting?
Well, first I recommend that you try to climb a flagpole covered in Cool Whip (TM).  Not because it has anything to do with writing, just I think it's funny to watch.

AFTER that, however, I recommend that you read every screenplay you can find.  Especially the "good" ones, past and present.  Again, it's like learning a different language, and the best way to do that is and always has been total immersion.  So put yourself chest-deep in a swimming pool of screenplays and dive in, man!

And then do the Cool Whip (TM) thing again.  Because I need a laugh today.  ;o)

Thanks Michaelbrent, you’re entertaining as always.  I wish you great success with your screenplays and, of course, your novels.  Feel free to drop by anytime!

Michaelbrent Collings is a successful screenwriter and novelist.  His book RUN was amazon's number one sci-fi book, and spent approximately six months on their horror, sci-fi, and thriller bestseller lists.  His newest book, PERDITION, is also available at, and he's hard at work on the next big screenplay even as we speak.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

New release: BROKEN by David H. Burton

Book blurb:
Three days before her twenty-fourth birthday, Katherine Gregory receives a
letter from her deceased mother. It details a faery curse in which the
eldest child in each generation will die in their twenty-fifth year. 

Three days before her twenty-fourth birthday, a new love interest comes
knocking, and her first love has returned - neither men are what they seem,
and Katherine may have to choose between them.

Three days before her twenty-fourth birthday, Katherine must decide if this
is all real, or if the strange visions she's been having are just a figment
of her imagination.

The race to unravel the mystery begins, and Katherine must solve it - for
any day after her birthday could be her last.

Buy links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon DE


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

And the winner is...

The winner of the hard copy of WITCHES OF EAST END by Melissa de la Cruz is:


Congratulations Ivy!  I will be in touch with you about getting the book to you.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Review of WITCHES OF EAST END by Melissa de la Cruz

 4 of 5 stars
ARC provided by Goldberg McDuffie Communications.

I have 1 hard copy of the book to giveaway. For a chance to win leave your contact info in the comments sections. I will be in touch with the winner about getting the book to you.

The Witches of East End is the first novel that I’ve read by author Melissa de la Cruz. The book is about the Beauchamp family of witches, Joanna and her two daughters, Ingrid and Freya who live in the small town of North Hampton on the tip of Long Island.  Unfortunately, the three women have been banned by the White Council from ever using their powers again and must learn to live as humans--as drab and unassuming as possible. Ms. de la Cruz does a spectacular job of doling out tantalizing tidbits in small doses like a fine appetizer making you crave more and more.  The frequent references to Norse mythology added another enjoyable element to the story.

The story opens with the engagement party of youngest daughter Freya.  Everything is perfect until she meets her fiancé’s attractive brother, Killian.  From there it is one shocking twist and turn after another including a vicious attack on a couple walking along the beach, a murder of a young woman, a slew of dead birds and a silver mass bubbling up from the ocean.  All of these things are unthinkable and have never happened in North Hampton before.

Freya is the first one to break the White Council’s ruling of no magic, but soon Ingrid and Joanna follow suit.  None of them could ever foresee what was about to happen.  It doesn’t take long for the people of the town to connect the recent evil invading their quaint community to the Beauchamp witches and their magic.  Scenes of déjà vu and the horror of the Salem Witch trials could happen once again if the Beauchamp witches don’t get to the bottom of the mystery and figure out exactly what or who is behind the evil. With zombies and vampires rounding out the cast of witches, the story is full of fun and interesting characters.

I thought the author could have been a little more inventive with Joanna’s character.  Relegating such a powerful witch to a ho-hum little housekeeper who constantly re-paints rooms and gardens seems like a major disservice to this character. In much the same way that Freya is over the top in her sensuality, Joanna is very lackluster, but perhaps the author was trying to balance them out. However, I thoroughly enjoyed it when the women all started to use them magic once again even if some of the consequences were a bit far-fetched. 

The story concludes with one last shocking twist—one that is perfect for setting up the sequel.  This book is geared for an adult audience although some of it still reads like Young Adult. I hope Ms. de la Cruz will include more scenes of the women using their powers to the fullest. Now that they have been outed as witches, I am looking forward to seeing what befalls the Beauchamp women in the next book.  Recommended.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Twitter - A quick tutorial for getting followers!

Every author knows that to get the word out about their books, they need to be involved with social media, Facebook, twitter, blogging.  When you're first starting out, finding followers seems daunting, but like anything else, if you spend the time nurturing it, you will eventually gain followers.  Let's talk about twitter:

1.  The the important thing is to prominently display a way for others to follow you. Having cute icon buttons like this on your blog makes it easy for people to follow you.  One click and you've gained a follower.

2.  Another important, but sometimes overlooked item, is to make sure your twitter bio gives a potential follower a sense of who you are, whether it is merely informative or fun and quirky.  My bio is the informative kind:

Science fiction/fantasy writer. I write with co-author David W Small. Blog at Two Ends of the Pen about writing, publishing, author interviews & book reviews.

First, it lets people know that I'm an author and then it informs people that I also have a blog.  This bio works for me and I've been lucky enough to gain over 700 followers.

3.  Once you establish a twitter account, you're all set to enter the twitter universe.  Where to start?  I started by searching and finding some fellow authors and following them.  Then I looked at their followers and started following some of those folks too.  Now you have a stream of tweets to look at.  You can also look at some of the trending topics and follow any of those that interest you. You'll see lots of people tweeting and you can choose to follow some of them as well.

4.  It's exciting to send out your first tweet to the world.  How about sending out a nice friendly hello and then follow it up with some basic info about your yourself or "What's up for today?" kind of tweet.  People love to interact and have conversations with others. Only being able to type 140 characters or less keeps your tweets from rambling.  

One thing you don't want to be is a spammer. What I mean is that not every tweet should be "buy my book!"  These kind of tweets are largely ignored.  Think about it. Would you be inclined to buy a book from an annoying  twitterer who did nothing but bombard you with the same message?  Probably not, but if you spend some time nurturing some relationships with fellow tweeps, you'll meet some really interesting people.  I've had a good time meeting so many new people.  By the time  you do send out a message about your book, they may be more inclined to buy it or if you're really lucky many will RT (re-tweet) your message to their followers.  And the snowball effect begins.  

That's about it.  Go out there and have fun, meet new people and hopefully, sell some books!  I'm meeting new people everyday and loving it and I'll bet you will too!

And, of course, don't forget to follow me!  My twitter button is in the sidebar of the blog, just scroll down, you'll find my little bird or just click here:!/dlmartin6