Friday, February 11, 2011

Guest Post: Laura Kreitzer

Please welcome Ms. Kreitzer to Ashley's Bookshelf.

I’ve thought about what I wanted to write for this post. There are so many aspiring authors out there and I’m trying to think of what kind of advice could I give that would help. So, I’m going to make this as easy as a list. If you are an aspiring author

1. Decide what you want to write about and begin an outline. Make this basic because you won’t stay on point. At least, I’ve never heard of an author who has. :D
2. Make sure you develop your characters before you begin to write. You should know things about your characters that will never enter into your novel. What’s their favorite day of the week? Or how do they like their steak cooked? Who’s their hero and why? Sometimes it’s the little things that will make your characters more charming and real.
3. Write a novel. This will be the easiest thing you will do as an author—I’m just letting you know right now. So if you can’t handle this, then you won’t be able to move forward in the publishing industry unless you’re just made of luck.
4. Take a break from your manuscript. Author’s agonize over their work to the point they lose sight of what it’s all about. Sometimes they’ll even ruin their original work because they think they are such a failure. Don’t. It’s a waste of your time and you’ll only drive yourself insane. Take at least a month-long break before you pick up your manuscript again. You’ll see it with new, bright eyes.
5. Have a trust set of eyes look over your manuscript. I have sometimes 3-5 people, sometimes more, that read my manuscript multiple times before it’s ever published. There are many great writing communities (see below) that you might want to get involved with. This will give you an *honest* set of eyes on your manuscript. And no matter the thickness of your skin, you’ll one day realize constructive criticism on your novel is beyond valuable.
6. Decide your avenue of attack. This day in age you have many of choices. A. Go for the big $$, but don’t quit your day job. This could take years. B. Indie publisher. Time frames vary on this and I’d suggest if this is really the way you want to go, research the hell out of them and even contact authors who they’ve contracted. I’ve known many authors to be dissatisfied with their indie publishers. Or C. Self publish. Again, there are many options; you can go to a vanity press, check out createspace, or just go pure ebook and sell on kindle, pubit, and smashwords.
7. The rest is all up in the air depending on your choice above. If you query, be prepared for rejections. I hear it happens to everyone. If you go Indie, be prepared to get more hands on. If you decide to self publish, you are one tough cookie. Work hard and you’ll see results.

Though everything I’ve said is quite vague, starting later this month I will be doing Writing Classes on Fictionista Workshop’s website ( for writers starting at the beginning stages all the way to the end. I hope to extend this into a publishing classroom, too. So check them out at the end of February.

Thanks for stopping by and participating. I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Review: Fused

After Sam is fused with her cell phone, she's ready to conquer the world! Or at least the 8th grade...When Samantha Granger touches a meteor while talking on her cell phone, her life is changed forever: her body now has all the capabilities of her phone (GPS, phone, text, camera). She secretly calls herself a "Digital Diva" as she rushes to answer emergency calls. But will her identity be discovered when sparks fly (literally!) between her and Trevor, her dreamy crush? Samantha has to get a handle on her abilities and quick, because when Sam gets kidnapped and the entire town is in danger, she is the only one who can save them.

My Thoughts:

Samantha Granger is always on her phone, and never goes anywhere without it. While on her way home one night she gets lost and comes across a crystal in a hole.  She becomes curious and touches the crystal and Sam discovers that she now has the full capabilities of her high tech phone.

Sam is a regular girl who accidentally becomes a superhero. I like the fact that Sam doesn't understand what has happened at first. It takes her a little time to figure it out. Somehow 911 calls are being redirected to Sam's phone, located in her palm. She has no choice but to answer. To protect her identity Sam starts wearing a disguise. The only person who knows about Sam's new abilities is her best friend Melody. If anyone else finds out that the scientist who is studying the crystal might also want to study Sam.

I really enjoyed this story, it was short, fun and witty :] A great balance of humor, suspense and, action. This is the first book in a new series and a great launching point. I am looking forward to seeing what Sam will do next.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Guest Post: Katie Salidas

Vampires have been legend since the dawn of time. Stories and myths can be found in the most ancient of civilizations. They have proven time and time again that they a have sticking power.  They go through cycles of hot and cold but over the centuries, they have never gone away.

I think one of the things that keeps the vampire genre so popular is the fact that they grow with the times. The vampire  is so versatile. They can be both good and evil and on many occasions, some shade of grey in-between.

As with any fiction, I think some of our love of those creatures has a lot to do with the “escape factor.” It’s that ability to set aside the normal day-to-day existence and dare to step into a world filled with creatures and things that we can only dream about.

Sure, at times those things can scare us, but more often than not, they just send that chill of excitement up our spines.

Who doesn’t want to be the heroine of a story being scooped up by the dark and dashing vampire? C’mon admit it; you want to feel his hot breath on your skin and the sensual scrape of his fangs before he sinks his teeth into you. Oh, he won’t kill you. He just wants a taste. A prequel if you will before your night of excitement truly begins.

Of course, with the recent surge in vampire popularity, it’s not enough to just write a vampire story. You have to give a little oomph to it. Lots of people make fun of the “sparkly vampires in Twilight. Like them or not, they’re a perfect example of this concept. Mrs. Meyers did something different. She took an old idea and added a fresh twist.  The same applies with the Southern Vampire Mysteries aka the Sookie Stackhouse series. In those stories, the vampires are “out of the coffin.” That is quite the turnaround from regular vampire tradition, and it worked for her!

Point being, the market is hugely competitive at the moment; so, to stand out, you have to have something to give your audience that they might not get with another story.

We all know the standard vampire themes: Vampires cannot handle sunlight, crosses (or any holy relics for that matter) are a great deterrent, garlic is supposed to be toxic, and a stake through the heart makes a good killing weapon.

When writing my story, I asked myself, why? Why can’t vampires handle the sunlight? Why do holy relics bother them? I wanted to give the reader a real, solid reason behind the answers to these questions. I wanted to make my vampires real enough to step out of the pages. 

With all that in mind, I wanted to do something a little different with my vampires. I decided to take a slightly retro approach and modernize it. I looked back at the more gothic vampires, the ones that killed for their blood instead of taking sips or going to blood banks. I wanted them to be closer to reality but also answer questions as to “why” they are like that. Along with that I wanted to deliver a story that let you experience, with the main character, the transformation from human to full fledged vampire.  While reading, I wanted you, the reader, to learn what it takes to be a vampire; you will experience the gut wrenching feeling of blood lust. You’ll know the loss of friends and family. You’ll make your first kill. You’ll feel the high and experience the crushing guilt afterwards. If you can get over that, you’ll learn to hone your new supernatural abilities. In the end, you might even like being a creature of the night.

At the moment there are two novels in the Immortalis series.

Immortalis Carpe Noctem and Hunters & Prey. Each book will take you further and further into the vampire world and teach you what it’s like to be a creature of the night.

I hope you enjoy!

Immortalis Carpe Noctem

Hunters & Prey