Monthly Archives: September 2012

Musa Publishing Turns One, and the Blog Hop Begins!

It’s a celebration! One of my wonderful publishers, Musa Publishing is having its first year anniversary this week! To celebrate, we’re putting on a huge blog hop with over 80 Musa authors and Musa folks participating. If you like books, this is a great blog hop to get into since there are tons of prizes to win.

A bit about what I write: I specialize in the spooky stuff. If you enjoy reading about heroines in danger, tucked away in dark mansions where ghosts abound, you’re in the right place. So, read on to see how you can win books and more…

So, what can I win from Musa Publishing if I hop?

The Grand Prize: A Kindle Fire (US and Canada only)

2 Swag Bags full of books and other cool stuff (US and Canada only)

**For international addresses, the prize is a $50 Musa gift card.

And what am I giving away from my book stash? (See my books page for more info. about these).

1st prize: A copy of the first three Montmoors serials in e-book.

2nd prize: A copy of my two novellas–She Walks the Shore and Pointe of Danger

3rd prize: A copy of Secrets of Summerspelle in e-book

4th prize: A signed copy of Secrets of Summerspelle

5th prize: Bookmarks and a copy of any one of my print books.

 
I hope you’ll enter to win! To win any of the Musa prizes or my books, just leave a comment here on this post.

To win any of the prizes from my Musa book stash that I am giving away, you can also like my Facebook page: LisaGreerAuthor (www.facebook.com/lisagreerauthor), share one of my posts on FB about the blog hop and tag me when you do (LisaGreerAuthor or LisaGayGreer) or retweet my tweet about the Blog hop (Twitter: Gothicked)! It’s that simple. Every time you do one of these things, I’ll enter you to win a prize from my stash. For comments here, you’ll be entered into the big Musa giveaways AND my giveaway.

Now for the Rules and the other sites to hop!

For every hop spot you leave a comment on between October 1 and the 7th @10 pm EST, you will be entered to win the Musa prizes above. That means if you comment on 10 blogs you will be entered 10 times, plus will be entered in the blogs’ you commented on contests as well.

Rules to the HOP

1) HAVE FUN!!!
2) INVITE ALL OF YOUR FRIENDS!!! SPREAD THE WORD!!!
3) THIS TOUR STARTS: October 1, at Midnight (est)
    THIS TOUR ENDS: , October 7, at Midnight (pst)
    Winners will be drawn and posted October 9th! ***
Come Join the Party on October 7th at The Romance Review Forum to enter to win more prizes. 
4) PARTICIPATION AT ALL BLOGS IS RECOMMENDED, BUT NOT REQUIRED. REMEMBER, THE MORE BLOGS YOU HOP and COMMENT ON, THE BETTER YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING PRIZES.
5) Grand Prize of a Kindle Fire is for US and Canada mailing addresses only. International winners will receive a $50.00 Musa Gift Card. Winner will be announced on October 7th  2012 at 11 est at The Romance Review forum.
6) DID I MENTION TO HAVE FUN?
 ***Authors & Book Pages have full discretion to choose an alternate winner in the event any winner fails to claim their prize(s) within 72 hours of their name being posted or after notification of win, whichever comes first. Anyone who participates in this blog hop tour is subject to these rules***
IF YOU GET LOST ON THE HOP RETURN HERE TO FIND YOUR WAY AGAIN.

This is a Blog Hop!


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Welcome J.F. Jenkins and her Vala Series!

Welcome fellow Astraea Press author, J.F. Jenkins! Her books are available at Astraea Press, Amazon and most other retailers.

Take it away, J.F.!

With everyone going back to school, I thought it might be fun to write about my fictional school of fantasy: The Vala School and Seminary.

When most people think of magical schools, they envision Harry Potter. Vala does not fall into that category of schools. If anything, Vala is more like Professor Charles Xavier’s School for the Gifted in the X-Men universe created by Marvel Comics. I’m sure some of you have seen the movies even if you haven’t read the actual comics themselves.

At Vala, the whole purpose of the school isn’t to become an expert in magic. That’s a part of it, sure, but it’s supposed to be a safe place to learn for students who have extraordinary gifts. They learn to control their abilities, their magic, so that they can enter into the “real world” without accidentally blowing someone up or turning someone into a frog. And of course they learn the essentials: Math, History, Science, and more!

So what does a typical student at Vala’s schedule look like?

½ Essential General subject learning.
¼ Private mentoring in their specific field of magic.
¼ Lessons in magical history and politics.

Because not only is there the rules of the real world to deal with, but also those of the magical one. There is a unique system of government, hidden countries even, dedicated solely to creatures of myth and legend. Creatures who fill the halls of Vala.

The school is also a boarding school and acts as a college for students who still want to continue on to take on fields in the magical world. Pretty cool huh? Just be sure to make nice with your fellow classmates, because it’s never a good idea to make a witch angry. Just ask Cheyenne, the heroine of “Vala: Agendas”. She would know all about that one.

The Vala series has three books out now (of 5 or 6, still working on the last couple, hehe). Each details the conspiracy of the gods through the eyes of a different student, and the roles each play.

Book One, Agendas:

Cheyenne Loveless was just a boring sixteen-year-old girl. Then Denver Collins bit her and everything changed. Her plants start talking to her, she finds out she’s a Nymph, and a witch and the angel of death show up at her doorstep to take her away to the prestigious Vala School and Seminary. Oh, and she has no choice in the matter.

All she wants to do is blend in and return to being invisible, but the more time that passes, the harder that becomes. Plus she’s a daughter of the Divine, an exclusive secret society which rules the world of myth, and discovers she is a key ingredient to an ancient covenant created before she was born. A covenant that will reshape the order of the world.

Adjusting to a new school is difficult enough, but adding on everyone else’s hidden agendas is the icing on the cake. Cheyenne must learn to see through the lies in order to find her place — and possibly even love — in this new world.

Book Two, Heritage:

Jewl Dite has always struggled with her heritage. Being the daughter of the goddess of love, she questions everything about the emotion. Which is a bummer because she’s head over heels for Anj Willam, and thinks the feelings are mutual. It’s hard to be sure though when she has magic that has been known to bewitch men into devoting themselves to her. Somehow they’re able to strike a balance in their dysfunctional on-again, off-again relationship however.

This balance is disrupted however when a strange boy named Teague enters her life and brings along with him a group of demons. Demons who want to make a deal with her in exchange for the safety of everyone she loves.

Now to protect those she holds most dear, Jewl must rely on the magic she’s been trying so desperately to avoid. But at what cost? Will the boy she loves accept this dark secret, or will she lose him forever?

Book Three, Appointed:

Identical twins Anj and Zes Willam have always been considered odd, even in a world where myth is real. Their magic is powerful and intense, as well as their secrets. None more so than Anj, who has the biggest secret of them all.

He’s a Fate, and he’s not allowed to tell anyone about what he sees or else the consequences will be great. Which is unfortunate, because it’s been causing a rift between him, his girlfriend Jewl, and his brother. Even more unfortunate because the demons some how have learned about his gift and have made him their next target. 

My Two Year Top 10

It’s been over two years since I started this crazy and wonderful journey. I hadn’t thought much about it until today when someone at my book signing asked “When did you start writing?” I answered the question, and then my brain started percolating a list of sorts—a two year what I’ve learned list. Now, in the writing universe, two years is nothing, my friends. I know writers who have been at it for twenty-five and thirty years or more. They make my two years look stupid. But two years is enough to accomplish a whole lot, and every milestone that marks your passions is something to celebrate.

In August of 2010, I sat down to hammer out Magnolian. It was really because of a question my husband asked: “When are you going to write your own book?” I’d been blogging about other books for a while at that point.

The question stopped me flat. So, I started writing more than just poetry challenges I’d done with friends or short stories I’d turned in in school that had potential. I set out to write a novel.

And I did…and I kept writing. I couldn’t get enough of words on paper and the muse whispering in my ear, and I still can’t. Since that first day in early August of 2010, I’ve learned a lot. If you’re a newbie writer or if you’re thinking about writing, my list might help you. But mainly, I like to put these things down for memory’s sake. I’ll need to remind myself of them again, too, when I veer off the path I know is right for me.

I must make one disclaimer: my top ten comes through the lens of writing as business and pleasure. I’m pretty darned serious about it, and I don’t “dally” with words. You might have a different goal and thrust to your writing. You might write slowly and make every story “perfect” before it sees the light of day. I don’t believe in such things, and I follow Robert Heinlein’s writing rules. With that said, your mileage may vary with this post. I do hope you’ll see something, though, and find food for thought for your own journey. The second person point-of-view does creep in here since I’m writing for me…and maybe for some of you.

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So, without further ado, my What I learned in my Two Year Top 10 in no particular order:

1. Writing is not a team sport. I write what I love and what the muse gives me, not what she gives to someone else. How about you? And I don’t feel guilty for not wanting to collaborate on novels or stories. I personally don’t have any desire to. Another thing I’ve learned about myself is that my muse doesn’t want to write in the worlds that other people create, so I don’t do well with special submissions calls of that nature. There is an “I” in writing, and that’s as it should be. Writing is a solitary and often lonely journey. If you are confident in who you are and you like spending time in your own world, that won’t be a problem.

2. Don’t mix friendship with business. If you can help it, keep the two separate. Take my word for it. The heartache is not worth it. Boundaries are easily crossed. Do business with people you want to work with, and do friendship with your friends. There may be special cases where this rule does not apply, but they are few and far between. Someone will overstep boundaries, and ties will be severed. If you write, this is your business and passion. You know where you are going and why. And if you’re not sure, there are people who can help you with that (for pay).

Don’t muddy things up, even with good intentions. I choose people who are good at things to get things done for me, and I pay them. If they don’t like to be paid, it’s best if I don’t work with them. That is something I’ve learned the hard way. I don’t want you to learn the way I did.

Money should change hands unless there are no strings attached. The moment someone else feels he or she has an investment in your work or has say so on it as an unpaid friend or collaborator, is the moment disaster looms. So, I just pick competent people now, and I pay them. If they don’t work for me, and we don’t jibe, I move on. If you read one of these points, please let it be this one. It will save you a lot of angst in the end.

3. You can do amazing things in two years. Now, I am not calling my work amazing. My point is that if you put your nose to the grindstone, you can put a lot of work out there. I happen to be prolific, but I also write every day. At this point, I have over 40 novels, novellas, and stories out there.

4. Discipline wins. Here’s a little secret about me. Those who know me, know that I’m an ISTJ. Folks like me are not necessarily known for our creativity. We are known for being able to put our noses to the grindstone for things we really want to see happen; we are pragmatists, too. Sometimes I wish I were more creative. I envy some of my ENFP friends, for example, and their story ideas. But I’ve learned that discipline can win out even over wild creativity. Here’s how: it doesn’t matter how creative you are if you never get anything on paper. If you don’t write regularly, you won’t be putting much work out there. So, write every day. Pick a time frame or a word count, and always try to meet it. For me, I am doing two hours a day these days. I don’t always make that goal, and sometimes I promote during that time, too, but I try my hardest. It works if your goal is taking up more shelf space and being prolific.

5. There is no marketing trick. Really. There’s not. The only one is to write more and better books. That is what gets people talking and lands your work in front of them. I’ve had this happen now with a lucky break with getting one of my books mentioned recently in a Salon.com article. A great cover and just writing did that for me. If you have enough books out there, eventually, one of them is going to sell and/or get noticed (with a pinch of luck and randomness thrown into the equation). It’s a simple fact: the more books you’ve written, the more shelf space you take up. People see your name often and eventually might give your work a try. So, if you have a choice of writing or Twitter or Facebook or Kindle Boards or anything like that on a given day, choose writing. Your tribe will find you, and you will find them.

6. You will have some terrible days and some amazing ones, too. Do I really need to give you examples if you’ve been in this game for more than a month? Okay, here are some of the terrible day makers, all of which have happened to me:1 star reviews will happen. People you thought were your friends will turn on you for no reason. You will squabble with editors even when you didn’t pick a fight. Your submissions will get lost in the ether. You will have editors quit on you. Your cover art might turn out terribly. People will do inexplicable things they don’t even know have hurt you. People who should have no say so in your work will give you their opinions in very public ways when you didn’t ask for them. You will get hurt in this business. It will scar you and make you tougher, or you will quit and write only for yourself in your lonely room. No buts about that.

Then you will have the amazing days. These have also happened to me: your manuscript gets picked up by a publisher, or your work is featured in a national magazine. Your editor asks you to do something really cool that you jump at doing. You get astounding cover art. Someone you admire compliments your work. You write 3000 words in a day, and they are good ones. You finish a novel or story. The muse gives you an amazing idea. You meet fans who love what you do. You get labeled by a blogger as tops at writing in your genre. Your Facebook fan page or Twitter account hits a magic number. People start to interact with you and connect with this crazy writing thing you are doing and loving.

Here’s the bottom line for the good and bad days.

You will find that having a trusted person you can share your feelings with is really important and hard to find. Believe me. Choose wisely, and maybe pick someone who doesn’t write. It’s just best that way to avoid becoming enmeshed and having boundary issues. My hubby is my sounding board these days. He doesn’t write, but he’s pretty dang smart, and it works out well.

7. You are probably NOT going to sell tons of books, not for a very long time. So, you must dig deeper. My first few months in, I barely sold anything. It was tough to look at royalty statements and know the work I’d put in for so little monetary return. I had to face myself in the mirror and decide if this thing was worth doing. It was and it is. It’s my passion. I enjoy it, and the world falls away when I write. If you keep at it, you will find your audience, and you will sell books. The truth is, though, that you might have to write ten or twenty before that really kicks in. You might have to write in different genres and follow your muse to places you are unsure of. Be ready to stretch yourself.

And another note: if you don’t feel driven to write and to find success in whatever your version of that looks like, you might be in the wrong field. Holly Lisle has a great quiz in her book Mugging the Muse. If you are on the fence about writing anymore/continuing on, please take that quiz. She nails it. If you want to read it, I’ll loan you my copy. Just let me know.

8. Many people will not “get” what you are doing. Get over it. I have gotten this question many times: “So you’re still doing that writing thing?” I smile and answer yes. Just like I don’t understand passions others may have, some don’t understand mine. And that’s fine. As long as I know where I’m going and what I’m doing, that’s the important thing (and I do suggest a two year, five year, and ten year plan to make that clear for yourself…complete with works you plan to publish in writing). And once I find other people who get that, even better. Those people are called fans. If you are writing what you love and working to connect with people at a genuine level where you care about them and what they love, too, you will find those folks.

9. Ignore the critics unless they are your editors, publishers, or other people you pay to work for you/help you improve your craft. I’m serious about this one. Your publishers are taking a risk. They are giving you the best advice they can in hopes that you and they succeed. If you self publish, the editors you hire are the same way. If they suggest something, consider it. As for everyone else who is offering advice for free, measure their words against your gut and how things are going. If things don’t match up, disregard their “advice” or harsh words to you. If these people are mean and toxic, distance yourself. Put your head down, and keep writing.

10. Keep learning. Push yourself. Grow in your craft and your business. Become better at the writing that is uniquely yours. This is what will propel you forward. I think very differently and I write very differently than I did two years ago or three months ago. I’ve had several people tell me that at different points along the way. That is as it should be. Don’t be content to stay where you are. Push on.

This list is hardly all there is, but it’s what is on my mind today and at this point.  So, what do you think? What have you learned on your own journey in doing what you love?

Things that Keep Me Up at Night…

Happy Labor Day, everyone. I’m bleary eyed.

It’s way too early in the morning, and I’m still up because of something I read at midnight. My sister-in-law (thanks Shannon for calling and Sandy for posting!) tagged me with this article: Deborah Kennedy’s Salon.com write up on Amish fiction, “Amish fiction: Put a bonnet on it.”

Kennedy gave my story a mention: “…and my personal favorite, Lisa Greer’s thriller, Blood on Her Bonnet.” The cover for Blood on Her Bonnet is there, too, in the accompanying montage. Todd Jeffries is the mastermind behind the cover art. It’s truly creepy, and I love the heroine’s expression. It’s one of my favorite covers out of all the great covers I have.

I had a rough week last week for several reasons, and I can’t think of anything better than seeing this. I love Salon, and I enjoy reading Glenn Greenwald’s pieces regularly. It’s my kind of magazine all around. It’s nice to get that little extra boost sometimes, isn’t it?

Thanks for reading and for sharing a few minutes of my happiness induced insomnia. Here’s the image from the article… Image

**(Credit: Jorge Moro via Shutterstock/Salon)

If you’re interested in reading the book or any of my bonnet romances, take a look at my Books page for all the info. Thanks!