Saturday, September 28, 2013

Get INTO THE DEEP for FREE!

Into the Deep (Into the Deep 1) will be FREE for three days starting tomorrow. On September 29th, 30th, and October 1st you can download your copy for free on Amazon.

Amazon US
Amazon UK

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Good and Bad Messages of Disney Princesses

What lessons are your novels teaching and can they be interpreted differently?

I’ve seen a number of blog posts lately that have been a little hard on the Disney movies we all grew up with, particularly the Disney Princesses. So I thought I’d take a minute to look at the ways different people interpret messages in a story differently. In every book we write, whether we intend to or not, we end up saying something, we include symbolism and meaning behind (hopefully) every page. Sometimes though the way we intend a message to be taken is interpreted another way. So here are the good and bad interpretations of some famous Disney princesses. Hopefully in understanding how these opposing viewpoints can be found in the same stories we can better appraise our own work and make our messages clearer.

Snow White

Bad Messages:
If something bad happens just wait around for a man to come along and save you. - Snow white’s stepmother tries to have her killed because she’s prettier than her. So, she hides away in a cabin in the woods, cooking and cleaning for dwarves until the handsome prince comes along to make everything better. 

Good Messages:
Other than the overarching theme of good conquering evil, I feel like this story has a strong message about friendship. When Snow White stumbles upon the Seven Dwarfs they take her in and look after her and she does the same for them. She doesn’t need to be in some big castle to be happy she just needs to be surrounded by good people.

What Would Make the Good Message Clearer:
The majority of this movie is Snow White escaping from, or hiding from her evil stepmother. She never really does anything to help save herself. If we had gotten to see more of Show White’s strengths, skills and personality, she might not have seemed so two-dimensional. By giving Snow White better character development and depth she wouldn’t have seemed like such a bystander in the story.
How to Apply to Your Writing:
The damsel in distress bit is overdone. Not that you can’t have a female character being saved by a male character, just that there should be more to who the female character is than “the girl that gets saved”. Give your characters dimensions. Furthermore readers like to see main character be active in the movement of the plot and resolution to conflict. If you have a female lead and the story ends without her even having a part in saving the day, your readers may feel cheated.


Cinderella

Bad Messages:
Makeovers and money fix everything. – Cinderella is basically treated like a slave by her ugly stepmother and sisters until one day her fairy god mother dresses her up and sends her to the ball where she meets the handsome prince who then rescues her from her miserable life.

Good Messages:
Some argue that Cinderella’s meeting with her fairy Godmother, who dresses her up and prepares her for the ball, symbolizes that to get the guy all you have to do is dress pretty. I however would argue that Cinderella teaches that beauty is fleeting. After all at the stroke of midnight everything Cinderella’s fairy Godmother changed turned back (except for the glass slippers of course). Cinderella’s luxuries were temporary, and at the end of the story, when the prince comes to find Cinderella, he still loves her even without the pretty dress and pumpkin coach. Cinderella is ultimately a good person. She’s treated horrible by her stepmother and step-sisters, but she doesn’t seem to resent them for it. She doesn’t plot against them or hate them, and at the end of the story it’s the fact that she’s a good person that lands her the prince.
What Would Make the Good Message Clearer:
Giving the prince more than five minutes of dance time to get to know Cinderella before she runs out of the ball might make it easier for critics out there to believe that he went looking for the mystery girl in the glass slippers because of who she was on the inside and not just how gorgeous she was in that blue dress.

How to Apply to Your Writing:
Insta-love relationships are cheap. Your readers want to see your characters get to know each other, and they want to understand why your prince is so in love with your Cinderella. Otherwise their emotions come off as lust rather than love and the attraction seems vain.




Ariel


Bad Messages:

It’s okay to run away from home, drastically change your body, and trade your best talent for a guy. - Ariel is so unhappy with her life as a mermaid princess that she trades her beautiful voice to become human so she can be with a guy she met once.

Good Messages:
The Little Mermaid has a wonderful sense of adventure. She wants to see the world and experience new things. Does she make some bad decisions, absolutely, but learning from your mistakes is part of growing up, and so is learning to appreciate who you are. There is a message of “be careful what you wish for” here, as things don’t turn out perfectly with the contract Ariel signs. After all she does ironically give away the one thing Prince Eric remembers of her from when she saved him in the storm – her voice. This nearly allows Ursula to steal him away from her. I also think it’s important to note that the thing the prince fell in love with Ariel for was not her looks but her voice, this was something Ariel had to learn to appreciate about herself instead of taking it for granted. She had to learn to value her talent and that it was important to be more than just a pretty face. Also I would like to point out that at the end it's Ariel's father that turns her back into a human allowing her to marry Eric. I think there is a message here about accepting your children for who they are and that this shows that Ariel should have gone to her father in the first place. She may end up leaving her family in the end, but there is still a positive message about being honest with your parents even though this was something Ariel had to learn.

What Would Make the Good Message Clearer:
I think what most people are upset about in this story is that in the end Ariel gets everything she wants without any lasting consequences. That can leave people wondering if she really learned her lesson. The original Hans Christian Andersen tale has a much sadder ending, and the Disney version loses a lot of what the story is about by changing it. In the Hans Christian Andersen tale the little mermaid truly has to make a sacrifice for the greater good and the ending isn’t a happy one, but the overall feel of the story is more complete. 

How to Apply to Your Writing:
Actions have consequences. Happily ever after may work for Disney, but your reader is going to feel cheated if your character makes a poor decision with no real consequences. They’re also going to feel cheated if things work out too easily for everyone in the end. It’s not always fun to write a sad ending, but sometimes that’s what necessary to make a great story.


Belle

Bad Messages:
It doesn’t matter if a guy kidnaps you and is abusive to you; you can change him just by loving him. – Belle is kidnapped by a hideous monster who is horrible to her, but just by loving him she’s able to change him into a decent person.

Good Messages:
Belle has a lot of good qualities. She’s smart, likes to read, and rejects Gaston’s cheesy advances. She gets some slack for staying in what some call an “abusive relationship” with the Beast, but they seem to forget that she does so in order to save her father. She sacrifices her own freedom so he can leave. Furthermore, the Beast does set her free, and she leaves. He does actually change and become a better person. It’s only then that Belle returns to the Beast knowing that he has the ability to be a good person. Belle shows the Beast kindness, I think this story is more about being kind to all people, even if they appear ugly or seem mean, than it is about trying to change people. It may be a little idealistic to say that there’s good in all people and they can be good if given the chance, but that’s still a positive message.
What Would Make the Good Message Clearer:
In the beginning of this story the Beast becomes the literal monster he already is. He’s not just misunderstood he actually has a dark heart. He didn’t become this grumpy recluse because he looked scary. He became a mean, violent animal because he was this stuck up, vain, rich guy. Had The Beast been turned into this creature by mistake somehow, or if it had been a curse unjustly put upon him, it might have been easier for the viewers to see the good in the Beast that Belle does.

How to Apply to Your Writing:

Romances today often include a rugged and crass bad boy to play opposite the female lead, but writers be careful not to make your bad boy too bad. There is a fine line between rebellious and misunderstood, and abusive. You want your readers to understand why he’s “bad” and to know that deep down there already is something good about him. And, if your bad boy does display some negative traits make sure your female love interest reacts appropriately, and that she doesn’t interpret abusive behavior as love.

Jasmine

Bad Messages:
You can get anything you want by using your sexuality, and seducing men. – Jasmine, locked away behind the palace walls and forced to get married uses her looks to distract people and turn things in her favor.

Good Messages:
Jasmine is often criticized for being too sexy, but she has a lot of good qualities too. Jasmine is strong willed and free-spirited. She fights to make her own choices refusing to marry someone just because she’s told she should. She’s unimpressed by Aladdin’s wished riches and shows us that you should be with someone because you love them and not because of what they can give you. She’s often been criticized for being shallow, but I’d argue against this point remembering the scene where she nearly has her hand chopped off after giving a child an apple. It seems obvious to me that while Jasmine was pretty and knew it, that wasn’t what was most important to her.
What Would Make the Good Message Clearer:
This was a tough one for me, maybe because it’s one of my favorite Disney movies, but in the end I simply have to disagree with the criticisms of Jasmine and give Disney two-thumbs up. Jasmine to me was like Shakespeare’s Portia, beautiful and sought after but also independent and strong. And, while I think you could still argue that maybe some of her sexiness (like when she kisses Jafar to distract him) could give young girls bad ideas about how to get what they want in life, I think overall this storyline was great.

How to Apply to Your Writing:
A sexy lead character is great, and having a character using her looks to her advantage can be an interesting element to a plot, but be careful not to overdo it or your character could end up coming across as shallow, or slutty.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

New Covers for Into the Deep and Hidden Beneath!

Both Into the Deep, and Hidden Beneath are going to be unavailable for purchase for a few days, but when they return they are going to have brand new covers! Check them out below!
 
 

Get you copy after 9/12/13 at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Review for Mind Static by Jen Naumann


Full of Twists and Turns - Who do you trust when everyone's memories could be altered, even your own?

5 Stars. This book kept me guessing from beginning to end. It’s filled with fun dialogue, and lots of laughs. I fell in love with the characters on the very first page, by the end of the second chapter I was getting sucked it, and once Key’s birthday party got into full swing I was hooked.

Keyana is not the typical innocent, na├»ve female lead, she’s got more guts than that. She makes some bad decisions, she’s swayed by outside influences, but in the end she learns from her mistakes and does the right thing. She felt like a very realistic teenager. There were a few times when I wanted to yell at Key to be more suspicious about someone or to pay more attention to things that were going on, but I could understand why she made the decisions she did – some partly because there were people influencing her with mind control.

Because of the nature of mind control in this book there are things we learn as a reader that Keyanna is forced to forget and that led to a few frustrating moments where Key wouldn’t realize something as soon as I liked, but as the story went on and I understood more about this skill it all came together.

Key quickly smartens up as the book goes on. Eventually she’s able to put her relationships and trivial things on hold and focus on what’s important. She starts to put the pieces together and look into all the things I at one point was frustrated with her for not seeing.

This book had lots of surprises, there were more than a few times when I found myself saying “I didn’t see that coming,” It was like every time I thought I knew who the good guys were and who the bad guys were something happened that made me question everything, and I really enjoyed that. This was one of those books that I just had to keep reading because I could never figure out what was coming next.

There is a little bit of a love triangle in this book, but it was really different than any love triangle I’d read before. It felt more realistic, instead of rooting for one "team" or the other there were moments where I just felt bad for everyone involved. You can see how a love triangle could really hurt people instead of just being a competition. Lock and Key were steamy hot, but there wasn’t a lot of substance to them. Lock was rather eager to get with Key, and for a long time Jen has you wondering how he really feels about her, and how she really feels about him. I loved Key and Dallas; they were just so cute that even when I was wondering if Dallas was one of the bad guys I wanted them to just kiss already. At times you feel really bad for these two guys Key’s interested in, but then you find out that everyone is keeping secrets from her – including the both of them.

Key’s best friend, Nora was a fun character as well. Nora is a little impulsive, a little selfish, but she’s also a bright, fun character. She had this bubbly, bigger than life personality, and even though she got Key into some trouble she was wonderful to read about. Key’s mind control is a really dangerous skill, and you see how in the beginning Key has to be careful what she wishes for. Nora pushes her to have this house party, and things gets completely out of control, but every time something new went wrong I was excited to see what would happen next.

One thing I didn’t understand was when Key got Dominic’s amulet why she didn’t use it against him. I had this “yes!” moment when she stole it from Lock and used it on him, but I didn’t understand why she didn’t try to use it against Dominic. At the very end all the questions I had got wrapped up nicely, but this was one that I just couldn’t get out of my mind.

The ending was epic. There were clues along the way that let me know something was up, but I did not expect what happened to happen. It was a great twist. Jen wraps up this story perfectly, all the loose ends get tied up and then at the very end – boom, she sets it up for a whole new story to begin. I really hope she continues this series.

I highly recommend this one!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Ten Ways to get Books for FREE (That are Legal)

Get More Free/Cheap Books – Read more than your budget allows?



Nate Bolt
Every now and then I scroll through questions on Yahoo Answers to try and share my wisdom with the world, and there’s one question that people (specifically teenagers) seem to constantly be asking. How can I get books for free?

Often times these questions are greeted with snotty responses about how you should pay for your books, or if a person is looking for a website to download books from, then someone will reply with a not so friendly reminder that pirating is illegal and that they should buy their books. And, while I agree with all of this I feel that this doesn’t really help people who are truly interested in reading, but maybe don’t have the funds to keep up with a voracious reading appetite. So, this post is all about how to get books for FREE, and how to do so LEGALLY.
Readers should never use an illegal pirating site to acquire a book, and while the following suggestions may not provide a way for you to get a specific book you have your eye on, they will help keep you busy reading while you’re saving up for that special book.

1.   Even if you don’t have a Kindle or some kind of E-reader, download the free Kindle App. I’ve known people to use this app to read on their smart phone, but even if you don’t have one of those you can use it to read right on your laptop. Amazon offers up thousands of free books every day in every genre. Books will be available to download for free for anywhere from 1-5 days. Use sites like Pixel of Ink to help you know when a title you might like will be available for free. 
Kindle App for Android
http://www.pixelofink.com/
http://bargainebookhunter.com/
http://kindlebookpromos.luckycinda.com/
http://storyfinds.com/


2.   Enter Goodreads and Librarything giveaways. Authors and Publishers on Goodreads are giving away paperback copies of their books every day, many signed copies, and Librarything hosts giveaways for paperback and e-books. All you have to do is enter. You can also use both the Goodreads and Librarything forums to find information on when Authors and Publishers may be having sales on their books.
http://www.goodreads.com/giveaway
http://www.librarything.com/more/freebooks

3.   Search the web and follow book bloggers who blog about books in your preferred genre. Authors and Publishers, or sometimes just the bloggers themselves will use blogs to hold contests and give away free copies of books, gift cards, and other prizes. Again all you have to do is enter.

4.   Sometimes all it takes to get a free copy of a book is to show your love. Contact the Author or Publisher by e-mailing them or their publisher and letting them know that you’re really excited about the release of their next book. Even feel free to be bold enough to ask for a free copy. I’ve given out both paperback and electronic editions of my books simply because someone sent me an e-mail saying they’d love to read it. Just make sure to be polite and understanding if the Author or Publisher doesn’t want to send you a copy.

5.   Become a book blogger and start a free blog with sites like blogger and wordpress. If excited fans can get books for free then just think about the books you could get in exchange for a review. As a reader seeking free books you have to contact the author/publisher yourself, and you can still do this as a blogger, but just by having a blog with followers some authors/publishers will contact you requesting reviews.
http://blogger.com
http:/wordpress.com

6.   If you prefer paperbacks over the electronic versions odds are you have a few lying around your house that you’ve already read. Swap your books with people. The following sites will help connect you with others who may have books you’d like to read, and they’re willing to trade.
http://www.paperbackswap.com/index.php
http://bookmooch.com/
http://www.titletrader.com/
http://www.zunafish.com/

7.   Download public domain books. If you’re looking to read the classics (Pride and Prejudice, Les Miserables, Dracula) you might find that many of the titles you’re looking for are listed under public domain and can be found on the web. Check out the following sites to help.
http://www.wowio.com/
http://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Main_Page
http://www.bibliomania.com/

8.   Check out the “Free” Section on Craigslist where people are giving away all kinds of things, including books.

9.   If you’re really just psyched to read, check out sites like Wattpad, Scribd and Fictionpress where anyone can upload a story. These armature works can sometimes be a little rough, but there are always great stories to be found and authors are always looking for feedback.
http://www.wattpad.com
http://www.scribd.com/
http://www.fictionpress.com

10.  And of course there’s always the public library, or even a nearby bookstore, where if you can’t afford to rent/buy the book you want you can still pull up a comfy chair and read it there.

Whatever you do don’t use pirated sites to download illegal copies of books. Not only is this illegal, and may put your computer at risk of viruses, but it also seriously hurts the writing and publishing community, especially indi authors.

If you liked this post, you might also enjoy The Piracy Plague, Why it Hurts (Not Helps Authors)

Giveaway

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Unearthed After Sunset by Lauryn April

Unearthed After Sunset

by Lauryn April

Giveaway ends November 05, 2017.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway