Thursday, February 21, 2013

Interview & CONTEST with author S.R. Johannes

Hello Oasis Seekers!  For your Whoseewhatsit Thursday, I am bringing you a short but sweet interview with YA & MG author, S.R. Johannes.  I've been lucky enough to spend some time with Shelli, and I can tell you that she's one of the sweetest people around.  She's also incredibly dedicated to this field, and so she conceived and planned Indie ReCon, a free online conference helping authors learn about Indie publishing.  Today's the last day of the conference, so if you haven't yet, you should swing over and check out the awesome posts, chats and contests going on. (After you finish the interview, of course!)

Thanks for joining us, Shelli.  I know you're swamped for time with Indie ReCon going on, so let's keep this short and sweet.

1.  You've blogged forever with Market My Words (that's where I first got to know you), so what it your single best piece of marketing advice for authors.

Plan ahead. Marketing should be easier because you follow a plan.

2.  What's the hardest thing about being an author?

indie author? The whole process is hard but marketing is toughest and where I spend most my time. As a writer? rejection definitely :)

3.  You have stunning covers!  Can you tell us your super-cool story about how they were made.

Vania at VLC photo is a friend of mine. When I decided to indie pub, I called her first. She is amazing. I knew the vision for my book so she found the model and made it happen. She has done all my covers and I adore her work.

4.  What's the most fun experience you've gotten to have because you're an author?

Meeting with teens! I love doing school visits. I love hearing what they like and what is cool? I write for them so interacting with them is #1.

5.  You're stranded on a dessert oasis. What one thing must you have with you?

Duh - my computer - I would die without it. Sad...but i figure if i have my computer - ill have ebooks too which will prob last longer than paper with the weather and all. :)

That makes total sense! And now for the contest: enter the Rafflecopter contest below (you have a week) for a chance to win an e-book of your choice written by S.R. Johannes.  You can go with the sweet tween angel story (On the Bright Side), either of the teen wilderness adventure novels (Untraceable or Uncontrollable), or the teen dystopic novelette (Suffocate).  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Dissecting a Bestselling Novelist's First Chapter

Readers suffer from instant gratification. Don't they? I know I do as a reader. But as a writer, how do I curb the appetites of my readers without giving away too much or gooping up my openings with backstory and exposition?

In Meg Cabot's ABANDON, there is a small chapter to open the story. Seeing how this story is based off the Greek myth of Hades and Persephone, Cabot uses this page to give some facts about that story through her MC’s eyes. I decided to use this story as an outline because a lot of authors will use this technique. But for this exercise, we’ll skip it and start where Cabot’s story truly begins.
Cabot introduces the main character to her readers by telling one significant fact that the entire story will hinge upon, which has to do with the MC. Then the reader is thrust into the here and now of the character’s current world.

**For instance: Let's say you have a boy who has a fear of heights. You could open the story anywhere with him doing anything, but somewhere in there SHOW, don't tell, that fear. the story's climax, the reader is gripping his/her pillow fearful the boy won't be able to save the long, lost dog from the edge of the cliff because the reader is already aware of the boy's fear. The reader also knows the boy must save this dog because there is a secret hidden in the dog's collar which can help him save the universe.

{Lame, but you get my point. Don't over do it. Just SHOW by a brief mention.}

Moving on - Cabot chooses to use a conversation next. She lets her MC sprinkle information about the where and why of what’s going on around her. In this case, it’s a family gathering. As the conversation progresses, the MC sprinkles more thoughts about her family, friends, observations of her world, and what brought her to this place and time. It’s a mix of showing (through the conversation) and subtle telling which always seems to be twined within the MC’s pain/thoughts/emotions. The reader also gets a solid feel for who the MC is: her disposition, likes & dislikes, even hopes and dreams.

Cabot is able to share her MC’s feelings about family members through subtle glances or gestures (shifting in chairs etc…) during the conversation. The MC doesn't have to be obvious or come right out and tell the reader. It's there through her subtle actions and reactions to her world around her.

Finally, the MC has one major reactions to her surroundings, changing the scene, it's mood, and purpose. This setup gives just enough and moves the reader to chapter two, where action will take place and some of the questions left unanswered by chapter one are then answered.

So what did we learn?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

TBR Tuesday: Mind Games

It's Tuesday - time to talk about a book in our To Be Read stack.

Mind Games by Kiersten White is coming out TODAY. So definitely grab it! I'll be getting my copy at Kiersten's launch party. 
Goodreads Synopsis:
Fia was born with flawless instincts. Her first impulse, her gut feeling, is always exactly right. Her sister, Annie, is blind to the world around her—except when her mind is gripped by strange visions of the future. 

Trapped in a school that uses girls with extraordinary powers as tools for corporate espionage, Annie and Fia are forced to choose over and over between using their abilities in twisted, unthinkable ways… or risking each other’s lives by refusing to obey.

In a stunning departure from her New York Times bestselling Paranormalcy trilogy, Kiersten White delivers a slick, edgy, heartstoppingly intense psychological thriller about two sisters determined to protect each other—no matter the cost. 
Make sure to follow Kiersten on her blog and on Twitter!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Cover Reveal: REVELATIONS by J.A. Souders

The Oasis is super excited to be part of the cover reveal for Oasis Sister J.A. Souders's sequel to RENEGADE!

Check it out!

Revelations Elysium Chronicles (Book 2)
J.A Souders
Release Date: November 5, 2013
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Tor Teen
Blurb to come!

About Renegade Elysium Chronicles (Book 1)

Since the age of three, sixteen-year-old Evelyn Winters has been trained to be Daughter of the People in the underwater utopia known as Elysium. Selected from hundreds of children for her ideal genes, all her life she’s thought that everything was perfect; her world. Her people. The Law.

But when Gavin Hunter, a Surface Dweller, accidentally stumbles into their secluded little world, she’s forced to come to a startling realization: everything she knows is a lie.

Her memories have been altered.

Her mind and body aren’t under her own control.

And the person she knows as Mother is a monster.

Together with Gavin she plans her escape, only to learn that her own mind is a ticking time bomb... and Mother has one last secret that will destroy them all.

About A Dark Grave: Elysium Chronicles (Book 0.5)

An Elysium Chronicles short story: the beginning.

There is only one place forbidden to the people of Gavin's village; the island just off the shore, rumored to be haunted. Cursed.

All who venture to the island disappear.

But Gavin doesn't believe in such things. He is a hunter; since his father's death, he is the only one who can provide for the family. Silly rumors of ghosts aren't going to stop him from crossing the dark waters to the island in search of fresh game...

About J.A. Souders:
J.A. Souders was born in the heartland with an overactive imagination and an overabundance of curiosity that was always getting her into trouble. She first began writing at the age of 13, when she moved to Florida and not only befriended the monsters under the bed, but created worlds for them to play together.
Because she never grew up, she decided she’d put her imaginary friends to work and started writing. She still lives in the land of sunshine and palm trees with her husband and their two children.
Where you can find J.A.

J.A is hosting a giveaway of a signed hard copy of RENEGADE, an e-copy of A DARK GRAVE (for those that don't have it, of course.) and signed copies of ARTICLE 5 and BREAKING POINT by Kristen Simmons. (Hard copies are US/CAN only. International winners will get e-copies of the books.)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Whoseywhatsit Thursday: Critfest!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Paper Hearts
Image courtesy of Cellar Door Films via Wana Commons

Apologies for the late post, but it's been a busy day for me. Since I was involved in a couple of fun kissing scene contests lately, I had planned to post about writing the swoony stuff, but J.L. beat me to it yesterday.

Image courtesy of Dani Jace via Wana Commons

So, instead, I will critique the query or first 250 words of the first FIVE commenters on this post.

Image courtesy of Lisa L. Weidmeier via Wana Commons


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Writer Wednesday--Romance

Romance is in the air.

Since Valentine's Day is...well...tomorrow. I thought it would be fun to talk a little about writing romance. 

So today, I have five tips to get your swoon-worthy, toe-curling on.

1) One of the most important things to writing a romantic scenes is mood. Make sure you're in to it; that your mood is right. As a writer, which I'm sure you've discovered during your writing adventures, mood dictates the ambiance of the scene. If you aren't feeling a little bit romantic, then you aren't going to write romance.

2) Evoke all the senses. It's easy to talk about sight and touch, but don't forget the other three. What they are hearing--the sound of his or her heart? What are they tasting---when they go in for the kiss? What are they smelling--does your character have a musky scent, vanilla, cinnamon, maybe outdoorsy. By the way, scent goes a long way with evoking emotions. Some of the strongest memories you have comes with a scent, like maybe your grandma's kitchen and the scent of baked bread.

Also, involving all five senses will help paint a picture that your reader can visualize. Suck them into your world. Let them love too.  

3) Let your characters set how the scene proceeds. Your characters should be alive in you, a major part of you. Let them decide how far they want to go and when they want to.

4) Don't write things that feel uncomfortable to you. Have you ever seen the 40 Year Old Virgin? There was a part where he was trying to describe having sex and the feel of a woman's breasts. He was uncomfortable and his description was awkward. 

(Please note the below clip has words that some ears might not like to hear.)

If you aren't comfortable describing a sexual experience then your characters aren't going to be comfortable trying to perform it.

5) Exaggerate the experience. Remember when you were younger and that guy or girl walked into the room, and time shifted into slow motion. Remember that feeling you had when they were near, the feel of your heart, your stomach? How their lips moved when they spoke? The spark when they brushed up against you?  The scent of their cologne or perfume?

You were ultra-aware of that person you were crushing on. When they entered the room, all of your attention zeroed in on that special someone.

Those are the same things your  reader wants to feel. Describe these things in detail, exaggerate them, using all five senses (without becoming repetitive and boring).

Bring your reader into your world.

Let them love again like it's their first time.

Happy Valentine's Day!! Get your romance on. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

{Book Blast + Giveaway} A Touch Menacing

It’s nearly time to say good bye to Eden and her friends with the conclusion of the A Touch Trilogy from author Leah Clifford.

Whether you’ve been there from the beginning when Eden first met Az in A TOUCH MORTAL. Spent countless hours contemplating with other A Touch Trilogy fans over the fate of the kitten, from A TOUCH MORBID. Or are just joining us now, the conclusion to Leah Clifford’s A Touch Trilogy promises to be heart stopping and well worth the wait!

Pick up whichever novel you need to catch up before MENACING’S March 5th release date. You don’t want to be the only one not talking about this book!



A Touch Trilogy #3
Author: Leah Clifford

Release Date: March 5th

  Eden is dying. For real, this time.

She is crumbling to ash, and an unnatural plague is ravaging mortals and immortals alike. With both Heaven and Hell out to destroy her, Eden can no longer tell the difference between good and evil.


Friends become enemies. And enemies are everywhere.

But don't underestimate Eden. She'll fight for her life, for the lives of those she loves, and for every life she has ever touched.

She'll fight for revenge. For redemption. For—just maybe—the chance to be mortal again.

Everything began with forbidden love.

What will be sacrificed at the bitter end?

The dramatic conclusion to Leah Clifford's dark, alluring trilogy of life, death, and epic love.


Pick Up The Whole Series!
 photo 8428050_zps32b437e1.jpg  photo
A TOUCH MORTAL (A Touch Trilogy #1) AMAZON | B&N

A TOUCH MORBID (A Touch Trilogy #2) AMAZON | B&N


Help us spread the word about the final installment of the A Touch Trilogy, and you could win one of these amazing prizes!

Grand Prize 
30 Minute Skype Chat with Leah Clifford. Talk about writing, talk about THE KITTEN, talk about her books! Talk about almost anything!

2nd Place 
Get’s to name a character in Leah’s next published book

2 Lucky Bonus Winners

Will get 1 Paperback of A TOUCH MORTAL and 1 Hardcover of A TOUCH MORBID signed to the winner!


- Open Internationally for the Skype Chat and Character Name

- Books Will Only be mailed in the US.

- Pre Order for A Touch Menacing can be from any date

- Order for Mortal or Morbid MUST be dated between 2/1 and 2/22

*we reserve the right to deny any receipt for entry if it appears to be altered or manipulated in anyway.


photo 375ec438-d3c4-48ae-8fe2-dab66e359d63_zpsc24d3d6d.jpg

  Leah Clifford currently lives in Ohio, but frequently dreams of finding an abandoned mansion in the south that she can restore. In her spare time she loves to travel and has been known to drive over two hours to get kickass quesadillas. So far for jobs she's sold corn at a roadside stand, been a pizza delivery girl, a camp counselor, an extreme cave tour guide, a flight attendant, a waitress (x3), a grocery store clerk and a writer. Out of all of them, writing has been the most fun. She's pretty sure she's gonna stick with it.


Check out the CafePress store dedicated to the series.

Just click to visit The Mortal Porta!

A Touch Menacing items coming soon!

Thursday, February 07, 2013

The Dreaded Synopsis

 The. Dreaded. Synopsis.
I've yet to meet an author who likes writing them but it's a necessary part of the game if you want to get published or even if you have four books under your belt like I do. There was a twist, though. I’d written them for my other books, but that was AFTER I wrote the book. Last summer, I had to write one before the book was done and that presented a number of challenges because when you have a completed work, you can easily assemble the key points in a synopsis – they’re right before your eyes. When I had to write the synopsis for my forthcoming STUDENT BODIES, everything was just bullet points on a sheet of paper and sort of a movie inside my head. (Yeah, I know … all writers are weird. I am their King.)
Not sure what a synopsis looks like? Well, here’s an excerpt from the synopsis to my novel UNSEEN WORLD. (I wrote it in 2006.)
Word Count: 80,000
MARSHALL CONRAD is a forty-something curmudgeon who strives to draw as little attention to himself as possible. He lives alone in a two bedroom apartment and likes to walk his obese Siamese cat on a leash in the evenings. He’s got a nosy upstairs neighbor named MARNIE BRINDLE and she’s taken to clicking snap shots ofMarshallwith her cell phone camera.
And he’s a superhero. Sort of.
He’s just saved the wife of prominent local Congressman Byron Aldrich and someone snapped a picture of Marshal lcarrying Mrs. Aldrich off to safety. The picture was then e-mailed it to the Drudge Report and suddenly Marshall Conrad is an instant celebrity. A national tabloid has posted a $1million-dollar reward for further proof of Greenfield’s so-called “superhero” and the town is filling up with crackpots and conspiracy theorists, not to mention the paparazzi.
It wasn’t supposed to work out this way. He’s been adept at staying out of sight during his ten year career as a crime fighter, and the last thing Marshall needs is a national audience for an apocalyptic showdown with a being from the UNSEEN WORLD. All hell is going to break looks at the apex of the summer solstice and Marshall writes a blog to warn the world if he winds up dead.
So I’m not an authority on writing a synopsis but I do know that authors lose a lot of sleep over writing them. What I can offer as advice if you’re putting one together is this: go back to your outline (assuming it follows your book correctly) and use the outline as opposed to the manuscript. Why? Because you’ll go nuts flipping forward and back over all the pages you’ve typed into MS Word to find those key areas that make the story flow.  At the same time, your synopsis can’t ever read as follows:
“This happened. And then this happened. This also happened and then finally this happened.”
Your synopsis needs an element of drama to make it work – and remember, a synopsis is in large part a selling tool. Whether you’re selling your book to an agent or a publisher or whether your agent is selling a yet to be written work to an editor. Because of this, it’s gotta look polished. It needs to flow all its own and most importantly, it should to read a lot like an expanded back cover of a novel – if the back cover is designed to give a snapshot of a book with enough drama to get a consumer to buy your book, then a synopsis needs to be the back cover on steroids.
How big should your synopsis be? Well that will depend on how big your story is. Most of the stuff I write is between 70-80K words and I don’t think I’ve ever written a synopsis with less then ten pages – all single spaced. There’s a lot of stuff to cover in your synopsis so it really needs to bring the reader through all the key points in your novel and there must be a satisfying conclusion as well – just like your book itself.
So there you have it – my hard and fast rules for writing a synopsis. It doesn’t have to be a painful exercise and while they aren’t fun to write, the synopsis is a key piece of the “getting published” puzzle.

    Wednesday, February 06, 2013

    WRITeR WEDNESDAY: Flashback. Anatomy of a fight scene

    Since I am UBER swamped with a writing deadline, I decided to revive one of my favorite Writer Wednesday posts, writing a fight scene. Y'see, I just wrote a little girly cat fight, and it reinded me of this post. So, here goes...

    WRITER WEDNESDAY: writing a fight scene

    I've spent two brain-melting evenings sprinting in a chat room with other writers. I'd gotten out of the habit of writing any amount in the past month that I've been without my own computer. However, I churned out nearly 5-K words in the past two afternoons. Not much else has gotten done, though. As I get ready for bed tonight, a niggling thought takes hold... Blog post tomorrow. I sigh, leave the jammies in the bathroom, and trudge back out here thinking, what am I going to write about?

    Then I thought about an article some writer peeps are encouraging me to write because I seem to have some expertise, or at least a gift, in writing violence and realistic fight scenes. Has does tips on writing fight scenes help create an Oasis of calm? No clue. But I never clip a gift tip in the mouth. (see what I did there? worked in a couple fighting terms)

    First, you ned to know what you want to get out of your fight scene. If it's violence for violence's sake, for the shock factor? Then ax it. Don't write anything that doesn't move your plot forward.

    So, this fight has to happen, huh? Okay, then. Next we need to consider there is always a winner and a loser in a street fight, unless someone stops it artificially. Who's winning this fight of yours, and why? And please don't just make it so the hero looks like a tough guy, and proves to his girlfriend he can kick butt. A reader may have that "Yeah!" feeling, but the scene will be hollow of impact. Do you intend to show a certain trait? Show a certain flaw? Think about it and jot it down.

    If your hero throws the first punch, he's automatically cast as an aggressor, and that may be a negative to your character construction. However, having your character 'reel from a punch' or 'take a hit to the jaw and drop in a jumble of bones' is not necessarily showing weakness. Figure out the 'why' to the fight and you'll know better how much hurting to let your character dish out and take.

    My best advice? WATCH MMA. It's a fantastic mix of different martial arts styles and disciplines, and the closest to a true fisticuffs, street fight. My hubby is a martial artist and now an MMA instructor. Most of my knowledge comes from years of watching his classes. And we are big UFC fans.

    Basically, you're going to have an aggressor throw the first punch. The opponent will be hit, or dodge. If the fighters are inexperienced, there will be back and forth, awkward punches, maybe hair pulling if they're girls, probably some cussing, maybe a trip and some ground scuffling. Give it balance, let them dance a bite, but skew it toward your winner. Let them land the bigger hits, but show it in the opponent's reactions don't tell us how hard they flung that punch. Eventually, one will get the better of the other. If the fighters are experienced, the real fun begins. Same basic rules apply, give and take with the winner giving the better strikes and kicks, though he should take some damage too--unless he's a roboninjasuperfighter. Best part about experienced fighters? You can show more aggression, more intent and more damage, and use fancier fight terms! ^_^

    How about some fight terms to give your scene more realism? I can do that:
    Punch: closed fist strike, very generic term, great for a bar fight or a straight-shooter type of character.
    Jab: more definied term, more of a straight punch driven forward.
    Upper cut: kind of an upward hooking motion to a punch, the fighter usually turns slightly down and into the strike giving it more power, but also slightly telegraphing the move. An upper cut is very effective when hitting the corner of the jaw for a knockout.
    Hook: a punch thrown with more of a curve to it. Great for more of a sneaky character to throw.
    Inside kick: hits the inner thigh, great for damaging a fighters stability, also risky in a sanctioned fight due to the close proximity of certain delicate parts.
    Ax kick: used by more trained fighters, usually MMA, tae kwon do, etc. it originates above the target and chops down into.
    Heel kick: a turning motion used to drive the heel in, instead of the ball of the foot, or side.
    Guillotine choke: most often used applied from behind, cuts off a fighter's blood flow to the brain and air in take.
    Arm bar: often seen in MMA/cage fighting, usually applied on the ground during grappling when one fighter pins the other's arm in their legs over the waist and applies torque with hands and hips. Can strain, sparin, or break the elbow.
    Clinch: When two fighters tie up close, usually one has an advantageous position, or they will struggle to get it. Some fighters tie up their opponent in a clinch as a way to steal a little breather from hits.
    Grapple: involves the clinch, is tight body to body action often on the ground and ends in a submission movie like a pin or joint lock/bar.
    TKO: Technical Knock Out. Means the fighter would have gotten a Knock Out if the hits had continued. TKOs come by way of referee stoppage.

    (Addendum to earlier post: these terms may not be friendly for all YA. I mean, my agent yelled at me for using the term gift-wrapped. *pouts*)

    Some common MMA/Cagefighting slang: throwing leather (throwing a punch with a gloved fist), dropping bombs (throwing punches from above), ground and pound (utilized often in a ground fight when one fighter gets the advantageous top position, straddles their opponents chest and punches relentlessly).

    If you want more, please comment and let me know. The lessons can continue!

    Tuesday, February 05, 2013

    Longing For Reads

    If you're a writer, you most likely have a pile (maybe two), of books you ache to read. But 'alas, life doth chuck a wrench in thy dreamy plans. 

    I decided to share with you a few stories teetering on the peak of my TBR pile aka Mount Book-a-saurus.

    First we have a tale that comes right out of the nineteenth century; well, beginning in the twenty first century, actually. 

    Released: January 2013; 257 pages

    Description: When fifteen-year-old Heather Jane Bell is diagnosed with alopecia and her hair starts falling out in clumps, she wants nothing more than to escape her home in London and disappear off the face of the earth. 

    Heather gets her wish when her concerned parents send her to stay with a great-aunt in West Yorkshire. But shortly after she arrives, Heather becomes lost on the moors and is swept through the mist back to the year 1833. There she encounters fifteen-year-old Emily Brontë and is given refuge in the Brontë Parsonage. 

    Unaware of her host family’s genius and future fame, Heather struggles to cope with alopecia amongst strangers in a world foreign to her. While Heather finds comfort and strength in her growing friendship with Emily and in the embrace of the close-knit Brontë family, her emotions are stretched to the limit when she falls for Emily’s brilliant but troubled brother, Branwell.

    Will Heather return to the comforts and conveniences of the twenty-first century? Or will she choose love and remain in the harsh world of nineteenth-century Haworth?

    Next is a Book IV in a series; one I'm sure most are familiar with. I was given an ARC of Book II, Beautiful Chaos, by the publisher earlier last year. I hadn't read the first two books, but became an instant fan of these authors and the story they've created!

    BEAUTIFUL REDEMPTION by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
    Released: October 2012; 451 pages

    Description: Is death the end . . . or only the beginning? 

    Ethan Wate always dreamed of leaving the stifling Southern town of Gatlin. But he never dreamt that finding love with Lena Duchannes would drive him away. Lena is a Caster girl whose supernatural powers unveiled a secretive and cursed side of Gatlin, so powerful it forced him to make a terrible sacrifice. 

    Now Ethan must find a way to return to Lena - and Gatlin - as she vows to do whatever it takes to get him back. Even if it means trusting old enemies or risking their loved ones' lives. Can Ethan and Lena rewrite their fate and their spellbinding love story in this stunning finale to the Beautiful Creatures series?'

    Lastly, here's a book that seems to have it all, not to mention one of the sweetest and most genuine writers I've ever met - via cyberspace, of course.

    LET THE SKY FALL by Shannon Messenger
    Released date: March 5th, 2013; 416 pages.

    Description: A broken past and a divided future can’t stop the electric connection of two teens in this “charged and romantic” (Becca Fitzpatrick), lush novel.

    Seventeen-year-old Vane Weston has no idea how he survived the category five tornado that killed his parents. And he has no idea if the beautiful, dark-haired girl who’s swept through his dreams every night since the storm is real. But he hopes she is.

    Seventeen-year-old Audra is a sylph, an air elemental. She walks on the wind, can translate its alluring songs, and can even coax it into a weapon with a simple string of commands. She’s also a guardian—Vane’s guardian—and has sworn an oath to protect Vane at all costs. Even if it means sacrificing her own life.

    When a hasty mistake reveals their location to the enemy who murdered both of their families, Audra’s forced to help Vane remember who he is. He has a power to claim—the secret language of the West Wind, which only he can understand. But unlocking his heritage will also unlock the memory Audra needs him to forget. And their greatest danger is not the warriors coming to destroy them—but the forbidden romance that’s grown between them.

    There you have it, folks. A few snippets from my ever-crumbling Mount Book-a-saurus. What's whispering sweet nothings to you from your Mount Book-a-sauras?
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