Monday, November 24, 2014

NaNoWriMo - The Final Stretch!

NaNoWriMo. It's hard to believe that this is my third year participating in National Novel Writing Month! Like the two years before, I used NaNoWriMo to work on a manuscript that needs to get written ASAP. This time, the manuscript is State of Alliance, the fifth installment in my Collapse Series. (Last year I worked on State of Rebellion, the third installment). It's coming along very well, but if you're like me, the final stretch is always the hardest. 

The last two years, I finished NaNoWriMo early (State of Emergency took 22 days and State of Rebellion was done before Thanksgiving, I believe). This year, I will finish right on time, at the end of the month. So how do I keep from burning out? After all, writing a 50,000 word novel (a novel that must be worthy for publication, by the way!) is quite a feat - a daunting task at first glance, even! Here's how I maintain my sanity: 

  • Use plot points. After writing dozens of novels, I can honestly say that the best way to keep yourself on track is to have your major plot points worked out already. Chart out your story ahead of time. Believe me, when you hit the 30K word mark and you're trying to figure out what else should happen in your'll be glad you planned in advance. 
  • Be faithful. NaNoWriMo is all about achieving an epic goal in the mere timespan of 30 days. For some, this is not such a difficult task. For others, it's a huge challenge because - well, you have to WRITE A BOOK IN ONE MONTH. It's kind of a huge deal. The best way to make sure you make it to the finish line is to find time to write every day. One hour will usually keep you on track - or around 16K words per day. 
  • It's okay to take a sick day. Okay. So I'm terrible about following through with this one. When I'm writing a book, I hit my word count whether I'm holding my stomach from food poisoning or blowing my nose into the hundredth tissue for the hundredth time. At the very least, on my sickest day, I get that word count in. But if for some reason I just can't meet the daily word goal, I double down the next day and catch up. It can be done if you really want it. 
  • The Final Stretch Syndrome. Many people burn out during the last week of NaNoWriMo because they've reached a point in their books where they don't know what else can happen. That, my friends, is why I use plot points and story outlines. BUT, the last 15K words is actually the funnest part - for me, anyway! It's where you get to wrap up your story and hit home with your characters' transformations. It might be hard, but think of it this way: at the end of it, you will have written an entire novel! 
  • Drinks lots of tea or coffee (or both). So. I'm a big tea drinker. Green tea, orange tea, cherry tea, chai tea, peach tea, black tea, raspberry tea. All the good stuff. I will drink coffee if it has cream or sugar, but I prefer my coffee with chocolate (hello, peppermint mocha!), if I absolutely MUST drink it. What caffeine does for us writers is help us stay up late to finish our novels. And whether you get that in the form of tea, coffee, or the occasional Red Bull makes no difference to me. *wink* 
  • Remember that you are amazing. For merely taking up the task of writing a novel, you should be applauded. You're awesome, and don't you ever think otherwise! Write on! 

And now....I have 15,000 words left before I finish the first draft of State of Alliance! Happy writing and Happy Thanksgiving, folks! 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Lost and the Wicked - Cesar Gonzalez, Post-Apocalyptic Author

It's nearly Thanksgiving, which means my 2014 Fall Author Program is quickly drawing to a close. The last author that I'm featuring before the Christmas season rolls into town is Cesar Gonzalez, the author of The Void Wielder Trilogy and The Lost and the Wicked, a post-apocalyptic novel. As you know, I'm always interested in meeting new authors - especially those that dabble in end-of-the-world scenarios. So here we are. Cesar Gonzalez, in his own words: 

Welcome, Cesar! Tell us about your published works. 
Thank you so much for having me, Summer. It is an honor. At this moment I have two novels out from my Void Wielder trilogy (Element Wielder & Legacy of Chaos). Legacy of Chaos just came out two days ago. I’m very excited about that.
I also wrote a prequel novella (Legacy of the Golden Wielder) that will be coming out December 2014). It will available for free for a few days.
I’m a big action anime fan, and it shows in this trilogy. The story is fast-paced, action packed, and constantly on the move.
As you might have guessed by the name (Element Wielder), some people in the story are able to control elements (Fire, water, poison, space, darkness, etc…). Falcon Hyatt is one such being. He is not supposed to have control over all twelve elements, but somehow he does. It is something that serves as both a gift and a curse.
However, the element control serves as tool to drive the story forward, a story of a young man trying to cope with a very bad draw of bad luck. It is the choices he makes or doesn’t make, and the bonds he forms that propel the story.

You've got a post-apocalyptic trilogy coming up. What can you tell me about that? 
Yes, I am a huge, and I do mean huge fan of post-apocalyptic stories. It doesn’t matter what format they’re told on. It may be in a movie, web series, video game, documentary, book, etc… If it’s post apocalyptic, I’m there.
Which is one of the reasons I wrote The Lost and the Wicked.

The Lost and the Wicked tells the story of sixteen-year-old Mandy. She has just come from a six-year mission from outer space (her mother is the captain, so she was dragged along). Mandy can’t wait until she can get back to Earth and off the spaceship.
Things go bad almost immediately. Her space, that contains a two hundred-man crew and her little sisters, is shot down and sinks to the bottom of the Pacific. Mandy alone escapes.
Now it is up to Mandy to find the help she needs to get her people out of the ship, a ship that has now become a potential mass tomb. The ship only carries about two weeks left of air supply; this puts a tremendous weight on Mandy.
To worsen matters, Mandy soon finds out the Earth she’s in is far from the one she left as a child. Humanity has been pushed to near-extinction by strange creatures known only as Daitengu.
Daitengu’s goal is to kill all humans. A goal that is close to completion. Mandy represents an obstacle in that goal.

It is the story of a young woman thrust into a familiar, yet, very strange world. She didn’t ask for this, all she wants is to save her family. The Daitengu have other plans.

The Lost and the Wicked is available for pre-order on Amazon. It is set to release on December 24, 2014.

How did you get into writing? 
I always loved writing. As a kid I would write a lot of little books. In order to “publish” them I would get glue and paste the copies into other books (sorry, Mom). That was my published book back in the day.

I also always had a very lively imagination. Many ideas would float through my head while I was completing every-day mundane tasks. One day, while I was driving, the day came to me. I should write a novel.

Another important inspiration of mine is reading. I read a lot of books. I constantly juggle three-four books at once (not counting manga). Three fantasy books and one history or current political topics book.
It is this love for reading that also fueled me to create my own stories to share with other people.

What authors/books have inspired you? 
One of my favorites all time authors is Wilson Rawls. Mr. Rawls was a phenomenal writer. He penned my favorite novel of all-time, Where The Red Fern Grows. While his writing varies greatly from mine, it was his book that first introduced to the magic of a novel. My first love, in a way.
I’m just sorry that he burned many of his manuscripts. I would have loved to read the other stories that he wrote.

Suzanne Collins (Hunger Games) was also an important inspiration for me. Her Hunger Games series is my favorite book-series of all-time. It was through her books that I realized that I could expand the romantic sub-plot of my books, without hindering the main-plot. If anything, this romantic aspect just further enriched the reading experience (at least I hoped).

A lot of Indie authors have inspired me. Though there are way too many to list here.

Why do you think people are enamored with post-apocalyptic stories? What's their allure? 
People have always been curious. Ever since the beginning of time, no matter what culture they belonged to, a person wanted to know more. What is that shiny thing hanging in the sky? What’s over that horizon? Is that edible? Why does it rain? The questions, just like the answers, are boundless.
I think it is this curious nature of humans that draws so many people to post-apocalyptic stories. Many people wonder: What does the future hold for us?
Post-apocalyptic stories attempt to answer this question in entertaining, and sometimes-scary ways.

People also love a good underdog story. A story that is about survival. Of a person that has all the odds stacked against them, yet they constantly struggle on to surge ahead.  If told well, these stories resonate with the reader.

What's you're favorite post-apocalyptic movie/TV show/book? 
I’m going to have to cheat here and pick more than one. I like so many.

The Walking Dead is my favorite TV show. I love watching as this band of people tries to survive the zombies and each other.

I’m also a big fan of the Life After People documentary series. When I was writing The Lost and the Wicked, I would constantly watch this show to immerse myself in that world. It helped me visualize what it could be like to live in such a deserted world.

Video Games: Fallout Series, and The Walking Dead videogame.

Any new projects that you'll be working on in the next year? 
I’ll be hard at work in the last book of the Void Wielder Trilogy (Heir of the Elements).
I also have to work on the next installment of The Lost and the Wicked series.

I would like to write a non-fiction book on history (I’m a history major). Rene Fonck, a World War I ace has always held great interest for me.
Forgotten people through history is another interesting subject I would like to write about.

I also have an idea for a steampunk children’s story floating in my head.

I have so many ideas, that it’s hard to narrow them down sometimes.

However, I don’t think I’ll be able to get to those ideas anytime soon. The Void Wielder Trilogy and The Lost and the Wicked are my focus at this point.

What advice to you have for aspiring authors? 
 Write, write, write. Don’t just talk about that book your going to write one day. Start writing it today. Add a bit everyday. Don’t stop. Before you know it, you’ll have a complete first manuscript.
If you don’t want to write a lot, start slow. A short story is always a good start.

Also, join a writers critique group. I learned a lot on Critique Circle (an online group of writers). There you will be able to get your work critiqued.

However, be very careful. You’d be surprised the questionable advice some people will give you.

Thanks so much for stopping by! 
 Thank you for having me, Summer.

About Cesar 

My name is Cesar Gonzalez. I'm twenty-nine years old. I have a B.A in History from CSU, Bakersfield. I have a far-fetched dream of one day being a published writer. I love writing and revising novels. I also enjoy reading and spending time with my son (He's the lego kid by the title).

I worked on Element Wielder for five years. Besides Element Wielder, I've also written a post-apocolyptic novel.
I originally got the idea for Element Wielder when I was in junior high. The main idea for the story came to me when I saw an ad for a game on a video game magazine for a upcoming game (But for the life of me I can't remember the game). I just remember it had circles of elements.  

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Visitors by Katy Newton Naas (Giveaway and Interview)

Romance and suspense! Katy Newton Naas, the author of the new The Visitors, is stopping by today to talk about her book and to offer readers a chance to win a free eBook copy of the novel! 

What are you working on?
Until very recently, I have been working diligently on two writing projects! I just finished a novel titled Healing Rain, and I am also in the middle of the sequel to my debut novel, The Visitors. Though they are both young adult fiction novels, they are very different. Healing Rain is a realistic contemporary piece about a teen girl starting over in a new town after a devastating event changed her family and shook her Christian faith. She is trying to keep her dark past a secret while juggling new friends (and enemies), new love interest(s), therapy, and fitting in at her new high school. I actually just received a contract on this story, which I am VERY excited about, so look for it in the near future! The sequel to the The Visitors (which debuted in September) is a science fiction piece with romance and action mixed in, but I can’t give too many details just yet – I wouldn’t want to spoil the end of The Visitors! I’m hoping to have it finished by the end of this month.

How does your work differ from others in your genre?
I will focus on The Visitors, as this is my debut novel and it’s currently on the market. I think it will be easier to answer this question if you already know a little bit about the story, so here is a little blurb about the novel:

Seventeen-year-old Noah awakes one day to find that dangerous, irrational, self-serving, and destructive visitors called “humans” are coming to visit his beautiful, perfect planet. All citizens are ordered to have limited contact and share little information with these visitors.

Sixteen-year-old Jady is thrilled to accompany her father and his crew on a trip to a recently-discovered planet, Verdant. The United States’ crew is hopeful that they can learn from this advanced yet similar species.

Despite their greatest efforts to fight it, it doesn’t take long for Jady and Noah to fall in love and begin a secret affair. But when their relationship is revealed, danger is created for everyone involved...

Some of the concepts in the novel – teen romance, forbidden love, and futuristic space travel – are universal, which people can relate to. The storyline, however, has several unique features: I have created my own planet, with a dystopian society of people who look like humans but are very, very different in the way they think and live. My main characters, Noah and Jady, are young and get swept away in love, but they’re both incredibly intelligent, brave, and strong in their own ways. I hope that my readers will fall in love with them the way I have.

Why do you write what you write?
I have been a writer my whole life. It’s a passion. These ideas enter my head – sometimes through dreams, sometimes in conversation with friends or at work when I’m teaching – and they just won’t leave me alone until I write and release them. Young adult literature is and has always been what I love. I think my love for working with young people compels me to write for them as well.

How does your writing process work?
I wouldn’t say I have one magical formula for writing a novel. Writing BC – Before Child – was much easier! I get an idea, and then create a rough outline for a story in my head. I develop my main characters, picturing them as I imagine what their personalities will become. Then, I just start writing. Some days I write more than others, but I would guess that I average about ten pages a day, on good days. Of course, with a full-time job and a family, there are many days that I don’t reach that goal! I have to do most of my writing when my little man is asleep. You will often find us in my recliner – him sprawled across my lap asleep, me leaning over him and typing away on my computer. Once I complete a novel, I usually step away from it for a few weeks. I then go back and read it again, editing for any mistakes and changing any scenes that feel weak. Sometimes this means cutting out entire chapters and rewriting them, so the editing process can take a few weeks as well.

About the Author
Katy Newton Naas wears many hats: wife; mother to her young son, Aven, and her four-legged sons, Shakespeare and Poe; teacher of middle school reading and high school English; children’s church teacher; and now – her lifelong dream realized – author. Her debut novel, THE VISITORS, was released September 16, 2014. She graduated from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale with a bachelor’s degree in English Education and a master’s degree in Reading and Language Studies. She resides and teaches in a small town in southern Illinois.

From a young age, Katy was always an avid reader and writer with a big imagination. She spent much of her childhood searching for ghosts and UFOs to no avail – but she hasn’t given up her hunt just yet. Though she continues to grow older, her true literature love is and has always been young adult fiction. She loves creating both futuristic and realistic stories about teenagers, and feels so fortunate to get to work with them every day as a teacher.

Enter for a chance to win an eCopy of The Visitors! 

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Soul Thief - Release Day Blitz!

 When sixteen-year-old Riley is injured in a car crash and sees a girl stealing a boy’s soul, she’s convinced she’s hallucinating. But when she sees the same girl at the hospital later, she knows she wasn’t dreaming. That’s when Riley learns her secret heritage and who she really is: a halfling Angel of Death. Riley must come to terms with her new reality and supernatural abilities, but before she can do this, girls her age start dying in mysterious circumstances. It’s up to Riley to figure out why, what the innocent victims have in common, and what she can do to stop them.

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The Soul Thief (The Angel of Death Series #1)
by Majanka Verstraete
Publisher: Booktrope
Genre: YA, Paranormal



About the Author


Majanka Verstraete begged her Mom to teach her how to read while she was still in kindergarten. By the time she finished fifth grade, she had read through the entire children’s section of her hometown library. She wrote her first story when she was seven years old, and hasn’t stopped writing since. With an imagination that never sleeps, and hundreds of possible book characters screaming for her attention, writing is more than a passion for her. She writes about all things supernatural for children of all ages. She’s tried to write contemporary novels before, but something paranormal always manages to crawl in. Majanka is currently studying for her Master of Laws degree, and hopes one day to be able to combine her passions for law and writing. When she’s not writing, reading or studying, she likes watching “The Vampire Diaries” and “Game of Thrones,” spending time with her friends, or playing “World of Warcraft.”

Monday, November 10, 2014

Collapse Series BOOK FIVE Information!

Yay! While it's not yet time to release the official cover for my book, I CAN release some promotional artwork and the official title for the fifth installment in my international bestselling Collapse Series: STATE OF ALLIANCE. 

I'm so excited to share this art with you. Cassidy Hart gazes over the ruins of a city on the coastline...what does that mean? Well, I'll have a synopsis and a cover for you by December, and then you shall see! Thanks so much for supporting my writing - I'm beyond excited to share this next leg of Cassidy's journey with you! 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Jacqueline Druga - Author of over 100 Published Works!!!

Jacqueline Druga has put more published works on the market in one lifetime than most of us could in five. Jacqueline has published  - including audiobooks - over 100 books. Impressive? Absolutely. It's quite a feat to publish just one book! 
Her novels center on the adventures of post-apocalyptic environments and survival. With so many different books in print, I had to get to know Jacqueline better. She was gracious enough to take the time to visit with Writing Belle - check out our Q & A session!! 

Hi, Jacqueline. Welcome to Writing Belle. Tell us a little about yourself.
Hi, Summer!
As you know I am a writer. I hail from a little town right outside of Pittsburgh. Apocalypse Fiction is my specialty. I also am a filmmaker, musician and the coolest grandmother on the face of the earth.

How many books - including audiobooks - have you published to date?
Oh, wow. I lost count. It’s over 100.

Post-apocalyptic fiction is my favorite genre of story, as my readers know. How did you get started writing end-of-the-world adventures?
One man. Charlton Heston. I became so obsessed with him, I created stories with heroes in his likeness.

Where do you get your inspiration for these types of tales?
I love the end of the world stuff. Aside from Mr. Heston, my mother was obsessed with the Apocalypse. Not like you and me, she was scared to death of it. I just always enjoyed those types of tales.

What has been your favorite book to write so far?
Without a doubt, Sleepers. I loved writing that book. I love Alex Sans - one of the characters.

I noticed you like zombies. Me too! Why do you think people are fascinated with shows like The Walking Dead and zombie fiction novels?
I think people are obsessed with zombies because they are so frightening. The prospect of the dead rising and chasing you … shivers. It’s gory, it’s gross and deep inside of us all we know it can’t happen. We know a plague can happen, nuclear war, earthquakes, but a zombie outbreak … no. So we embrace it and enjoy it.

How is publishing an audiobook different than publishing a hardcopy novel or an eBook?
It’s a long process of finding the right narrator, listening to each chapter, fixing the blips and clicks. Conveying the character verbally to the narrator. I love the process and I am fortunate enough to have some really good narrators that I work with.

How do you find time to write? What's your writing routine?
I make time to write. Although, back in the day, I didn’t have to dedicate time to promoting, social networking, editing, and art work. I get up at 10, I do emails and facebook. I finish at noon. From 3-6pm, I edit and promote on boards, also any digital art or busy work gets done in that time frame. From midnight to 6 am, I write. I do this every day of the week.

What advice could you give to authors hoping to get published?
Keep trying. If it is your dream, don’t give up. Also don’t discourage against Self Publishing. It can open up a world of opportunities for you.

What's your favorite writing snack?
Ha, ha, ha. Pickled Green Tomatoes. If I don’t have those, pickles will do.

Thank you so much for your time!! Good luck in all of your future writing endeavors!

Thank you so much!

About Jacqueline 
Author Jacqueline Druga, brings to you the world's end in every way imaginable through the pages of her novels. While best known for her apocalyptic works, Jacqueline's works expand many genres, including: Humor, YA, Romance, Sci-fi and Thriller.
A mother and grandmother, Jacqueline absorbs and loves ever single moment that she is writing and invites you to share in her world.

Connect with Jacqueline: