Monday, September 15, 2014

Breaking news for sci fi readers...




Four authors, 
four novels 
to keep you reading. 
And the best news...
all these terrific stories
for only

99c



Friday, September 5, 2014

The Darwin Awards...as applied to mice.

Charles Darwin



Have you heard about the Darwin Awards?

Books and websites dedicated to
People, who, 
By their own stupidity remove themselves from the human gene pool.



Their exploits make entertaining reading,
And personally I’m glad they are no longer breeding.

This isn’t about the human species.

It’s Darwin’s theory applied to mice.
And no this story isn’t nice,
nor does it have a happy ending.
But every word is true and though the reason is perplexing,

It does  explain why
we should take care how empty containers lie.


This story’s about a lesson learned the hard way
For three young mice who dared to play
 ‘Follow the leader’ on a vase’s rim.

Their mistake was lethal;
’cause they fell in.

It wasn't until they began to smell
I found them in their private hell
Huddled bodies in the base of a vase,
Tall prison of glass.

Together they shared their miserable fate, their dismal death,
Watching each other take their last breath.
I hate to think how they spent their last day
Desperate, dying, freedom visible, but a world away.

I grieve for them, in their dismal plight
And vow to try to make things right,
(Save for the bright, smart surviving vermin
-by Darwin’s reasoning- who refused to join them,)
I think of those silly mice who live life impulsively,
and threaten their species' survival with impunity. 

I vow that I, at least, 
will always strive
To store tall vases
on their side.


Rosalie Skinner   





Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Review of ADRIFT: In Search of Memory

Reviewed by Wendy Laharnar. Award winning author of The Unhewn Stone.


5.0 out of 5 stars sorcerers, dragons and memory 

Can you imagine losing your memory? What about losing your memory when you are linked to sorcerers and dragons but you have no idea how, why, where or when? And, everyone knows all about you but are loathe to tell you because that knowledge could destroy you?

What if you discover you are known and feared as the Deathbringer?
This is where Caleath, the alien from Ramport 6 finds himself? Compassionate Caleath, aware of an evil lurking within, but has no idea what it can do or how to control it. As Tag Seawell, he has reinvented himself. He is a seaman, in love with the lovely goatherd Naomi who is expecting his child. However, the unborn child is in danger from creatures from Tag Seawell’s past who are determined that Death will take it.

This is an emotional, action packed novel. We are drawn into Tag’s world and suffer with him through the many battles and encounters he faces. At the same time, we enjoy his relationships with characters from his past that are keen to help him regain his memory for their sake as well as his; all the while knowing the revelations must come slowly, without their interference.
Rosalie Skinner’s wonderful dragons, and dread lords alive and dead, and the magical characters of witches, sorcerers and apprentices , lords, princes and princess, whales, dolphins and pirates, fill her fascinating fantasy world as we sail from port to port In Search of Memory.

To me, Rosalie Skinner is the master world builder, second to none, and the work is beautifully written. You will relish your escape into this fantasy world and fall in love with Caleath, Naomi, Melody, Nazarre and even the dread lord Tallowbrand. Once you enter the Chronicles of Caleath, you will want to stay there with these beloved friends. Fortunately there is one more book to come in this series and six that await your pleasure, if you haven’t already found them. 

AMAZON link to ADRIFT: In Search of Memory
A sea faring yarn... complete with pirates, shipwrecks, dragons and epic fantasy adventure.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Dorrigo Grass Roots Gathering...A Moment of Serenity

From Ridgetop Hideaway's Photo Gallery
After attending the inaugural Grass Roots Writers' Gathering I was inspired to write this short poem. The weekend was terrific. Spending time with other writers, sharing their ideas, enthusiasm and support proved a resounding success.
Coffs Harbour Writers Group is going to carry the baton and try to emulate Dorrigo Writers' Group's wonderful weekend next year.

It was wonderful to spend time with Wendy Laharnar, who I have been friends with for so many years 'online'. She travelled vast distances to be there and give of her time, experience and knowledge. Her first face to face workshop proved hugely successful and popular.

Overall... the weekend was inspiring.

A morning’s moment of serenity

Sitting in the centre of a cloud.

Rain falling

Slowly, softly, serenely soaking the scene

Greens fade to grey.

Visibility closes in.

A fox stops. Looks toward the sound of my intrusion.

I am in his domain.

He pauses, ears pricked, tail still. 

Sniffs, meanders across the rain soaked paddock

Sedate steps.

Scents rise from my coffee and toast overpowering the subtle offerings of sodden foliage.

Wind whispers a chorus behind the lilting lines of Phill’s laconic lyrics.

Languid smoke lingering from last night’s fire merges with cloud. 
A brief snatch of scent curls through the air.

Coffee cools. Time passes.

Packed ready to leave these few minutes allow a moment to reflect the whirlwind weekend.

Experiences etched into memory.
Words written, absorbed, shared and kept secret.
Relationships created, nurtured, renewed.
Knowledge imparted, gained, diffused.

Generous spirits. Like minded, passionate, positive, purposeful.

Support offered, received. 

Acceptance.

The rain sets in, insistent.

It is time to return to life, normalcy.


Home beckons. 

Empty pages wait.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Dorrigo Grass Roots Gathering Workshop link...Character and Motivation

Motivation and Characterisation FANTASY FACTION article

Further to the notes from the workshop given at the Grass Roots Writers' Gathering, on Writing Fantasy and World building, this is the article and links referred to during the session.
It has been published on the Fantasy Faction website. A great resource for anyone interested in Fantasy, writing, Fantasy books and authors.
Anyhow... for those who may be interested in further researching how to create believable personality traits and characters, here is the article.

Welcome to 2012. During the holiday season I have been looking over my own manuscripts and delving into the motivation driving my characters.
I believe as fantasy authors, we need realistic motivation to bring our characters to life. Of course, this meant looking further than my own understanding. I have discovered that psychologists believe an early incident in life imprints on a character and can cause reaction and behavioral nuances much later in life. There are articles that describe how the timing of the incident can affect later motivation. The link is below. Following the ‘hierarchy of needs’ from Abraham Maslow, we find there are five classes of motivation. In very simplified terms, we as fantasy authors should find them useful. This translates to meaning…
Wants and desires can influence behavior. Only unsatisfied needs are associated with motivating the character. Satisfaction doesn’t.
Needs can be ordered in rank of importance from basic to complex. For example the need for food, shelter, security, love, to the need for acceptance, understanding and self esteem, achievement and finally self actualization.
Advancing to the next level will not occur until the character’s more basic needs have been satisfied.
Individuality As the character meets the needs at the basic level, moves up toward more complex needs and meets them, he will show more psychological health, humanness and individuality.
So where do our hero/villains/characters find their motivations? What has caused them to become determined and motivated; to partake in their quests? Are they behaving consistently, relative to their background?
Apparently there is a list of 16 needs, or basic desires that guide most human behavior, as listed by Professor Steven Reiss. Click here to see the whole list online. 
Acceptance, the need for approval
Curiosity, the need to learn
Eating, the need for food
Family, the need to raise children
Honor, the need to be loyal to the traditional values of one’s clan/ethnic group
Idealism, the need for social justice
Independence, the need for individuality
Order, the need for organized, stable, predictable environments
Physical activity, the need for exercise
Power, the need for influence of will
Romance, the need for sex
Saving, the need to collect
Social contact, the need for friends (peer relationships)
Social status, the need for social standing/importance
Tranquility, the need to be safe
Vengeance, the need to strike back/to win
The article there is an interesting read. Hmm… Can’t say I am entirely comfortable with the information but then, I write fantasy, I don’t actually study human psychology. I think I feel more confident now though, that my characters are behaving within believable parameters.
Discussing this topic with a psychologist, I was urged to mention that motivation will come from the imprint that occurred earlier in life. Hence I am adding Ericson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development. This table is well worth a look.
For a better look at a full version of the table online – click here.
AgeVirtuesPsycho Social CrisisSignificant RelationshipExistential Question
infant -18 monthsHopesTrust vs. MistrustMotherCan I Trust The World?
18 month-3 yearsWillAutonomy vs. Shame & DoubtParentsIs It Ok To Be Me?
3-6 yearsPurposeInitiative vs. GuiltFamilyIs It Ok For Me To Do, Move and Act?
6-12 yearsCompetenceIndustry vs. InferiorityNeighbors, SchoolCan I Make It In The World Of People And Things?
12-19 yearsFidelityIdentity vs. Role ConfusionPeers, Role ModelWho Am I? What Can I Be?
19-40 yearsLoveIntimacy vs. IsolationFriends, PartnersCan I Love?
40-65 yearsCareGenerativity vs. StagnationHousehold, WorkmatesCan I Make My Life Count?
65-and onWisdomEgo Integrity vs. DespairMankind, My KindIs It Ok To Have Been Me?

So, I guess without some incident to leave a mark on our character, the resulting reaction and motivation isn’t going to feel right. It all comes down to the basic rule, we as authors already know…and should adhere to. We need to know each of our characters’ backgrounds, so we can refer, if only in passing, to what happened to them and when it happened, to cause their behavior now.
At least that’s how I see it. What do you think?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

EBOOK Publishing in the 21st Century.

The thing about e-book publishing in today’s digital age is how incredibly easy it is to realise the dream of becoming a published e-book author.

With today’s technology ebooks are becoming more popular and much easier to produce. The cost can be minimal, if not free. But it takes a little research to find the right publisher for your book.

RESEARCH 

Everyone needs to do their research, to find the right home for their work. Today we will go through a few of the topics we need to consider.

Publishing with an ebook publisher v self publishing.

There are several reasons for either option. Control, cost, percentage of royalties etc weigh in favour of self publishing.

Marketing, exposure, creating various formats and distribution are easier through a publishing house. 

Whichever way you decide to go, always check out your choice with sites like Writers Beware. These sites will list any scam or unethical publishers.

Things to consider not in order, but each need thought.


Copyright.  You will need to have a covering statement at the start of your book, protecting you from people copying your work.

Also, beware of using trademarks and names of actual people, quotes, song lyrics and references from text without permission. Unless the quote is in the public domain, it is wise to get permission or create your own version. The large companies will sue. As an editor for a small ebook publisher who doesn't have vast resources, it is one of the house rules, to avoid any threat of copyright infringement. It doesn't matter how small the distribution, if it is out there, with your name attached, take care not to step on any sensitive toes. It can cost.

Images, photos for cover, or as part of the manuscript must have permission for use. It is important to check they are suitable formats for e-publication. Jpeg, grayscale, resolution etc all become important terms.

Introducing your E-Book Acknowledgements, dedication, tag line, blurb and author bios are needed as part of your e-book and sales page. 
A tag line is a twenty word hook to grab a reader's attention.
The blurb is a longer hook. This is where the reader is given a taste of your writing and ability to create interest and share some components of the manuscript.

ISBN.   Most ebook publishers will provide an ISBN  if you want one. If you are just publishing for yourself and are not planning to market or distribute your work, you may not need an ISBN.

If however you plan to sell, distribute and market your e-book, an ISBN is necessary. You can purchase one yourself. They are available and cheaper in lots of ten or so. Again, research will give you the best prices, cost and most ebook publishers will provide one in their publishing package.

Books in print (even self published) with an ISBN also need to have one copy sent off to the National and State Library as ‘Legal Deposits’. It could be worth checking the rules concerning e-books.

Cover.  If you have your own photos, design skills, and ideas, this need not be a challenge. Make sure you have permission to use the images though. Also, ensure you use the highest resolution possible to create your cover. Examples of great ebook covers (Pinterest board) at The Book Designer 

There are places where you can purchase ready made covers. For a price. Some ebook publishers will offer a range of covers. Example of a graphic designer who does ebook covers – includes pricing for covers, book trailers etc 
INDIE Bookcovers

Images are available for purchase from places like Fotolia, Dreamstime, Getty. There are free images available. I was lucky enough to have Rachel Lewis Photography Coffs Harbour  provide the cover images for my books. The cover model was a local Medieval re-enactment enthusiast from Lismore. My CA (cover artist) did the design work.

Remember the cover needs to be impressive even as a thumbnail image. Since that is how it will look on many of the marketing pages. A quick and useful blog post on good ebook cover design is Killer Ebook Covers

Editing.  Finding a crit group, words to avoid, general polishing. Before you decide to show your work to the world, and hope they will purchase it, take the time to make it the best you possibly can.

Find and join a critique group in your genre. It might take a while to find one you can work with. Giving and getting critique that suits your style of writing, your level of commitment and need, may take a few trial and errors working with groups, but it is time well spent when you find a niche.

I joined Writing.com, found a Fantasy and science fiction group who gave critiques, worked with them through each novel, chapter by chapter. Giving feedback is as important as getting it. You can learn from others’ mistakes. A good critique group should offer advice and support, without being derogatory or inflammatory. Levels of critique need to fit your needs. Participating means you need to reciprocate. Be prepared to go the distance.

Get feedback from beta readers who know your genre or who have the qualifications to check your work.

Find an editor to double check your grammar, spelling and continuity.

Try for the strongest writing you can deliver. Avoid passive voice, POV changes within scenes, weak verbs/adverbs, telling not showing. Get yourself a list of words to avoid and learn how to reword sentences to give the reader a richer, more rewarding experience as they follow your story.

Remember to hook your reader in every chapter, page, paragraph. Make your opening as strong as possible. Remember with ebooks potential readers can often ‘look inside’. Make sure you have a perfect example for them to browse. Weak writing in the opening scene will have a reader closing your book.

Formatting. Then there are the formats. This link will explain nine of the common formats
You need a different format for different e-readers. Kindle, Nook, epub, html, pdfs etc. Formatting for each requires different set ups. MS WORD for example has hidden icons that will spoil transition to many of the ebook formats. Word files need to be changed before publication. Most ebook publishers offer conversion programs to ensure your ebook looks professional.

Remember to look at your work in terms of white space... does your writing look appealing, fit easily on the page, invite the reader to cruise through a read. A balance of spacing, indents, easily read fonts and aesthetic appeal is important to grabbing a reader's interest. It isn't only a great story and good grammar.

MS WORD will allow you to save your manuscript in PDF format. This enables you to check for spacing, and formatting problems. FIX them before you publish. (I recently was asked to read an ebook that had occasional words underlined throughout the text. It made the story unreadable. The words weren't hypertext, nor was the underlining relevant. It just led to head-shaking confusion.)

Distribution. The main reason for choosing to publish with even a small ebook publisher, is to ensure your story is available from the largest number of outlets, and readily available for all types or ereaders. There are far too many sites to name, but getting your book onto the most popular sites should be included in any publishing package. Amazon, of course is a favourite, Barnes and Noble, Omnilit, Smashwords… the list is endless.

Individual sites may have hoops to jump through before accepting your ebook. Check before you publish, if the publisher distributes to your favourite marketing pages, or if you are able to upload y our books yourself.  This is where the different formats become important. Amazon accept Kindle ready formats but you are able to create other formats for other sites. Amazon offers many outlets for your ebook with their affiliated sites. Smashwords takes all types and distributes them on multiple sites. Check where your ebook will be displayed and available for sale, before you sign up for any package.

Also, there are literally thousands of sites who will take your ebook to distribute. If you have the time and patience to approach them. Check out their requirements. Some will only take books they publish, others are more flexible. Be aware they may take a percentage of cost, to host your books.

Marketing. Website, blog, twitter, Pinterest, book trailers, Facebook.  Once you have sorted distribution… the marketing is up to you. A minimum for marketing is running a website. Amazon will offer an author’s page. This is a useful tool that incorporates blog updates. As an author you are able to update it yourself. Even if you are with a publisher marketing will be your responsibility.  There are a few basic tools you need to become familiar with.

Website…where people can find you, your books and links to your sales pages. Linking to your Facebook page or blog can help create interest in you as an author and your books. There are free sites, that are user friendly. Or you can pay for a more professional site, without advertising. Depending on your need.
A blog… a great way to spread the word about your book/s and your interests, a place to show off your work, talk about inspiration, share other authors’ books, find readers, and let them know about releases and interesting events. Blogger and Wordpress are both popular.
Ramblings from Lady Rosalie (you are here now)

Twitter… ditto above… in very small doses.
Facebook… marketing through Facebook via groups, pages, sharing posts… time consuming, but it is one way of getting your name and books known to many. It is also a way to keep people informed about launches, releases and awards etc.
And joining groups related to your genre/topic can help reach readers.
Signing book launch coupons, pricing. If you choose to self publish your ebook you can still do book launches and signings. There are several ‘ebook’ signing programs now. Also, at an ebook launch you can hand out postcards of the cover, brochures, and even coupons that enable the reader to download the ebook. If you are with a publisher these coupons should still be available on request.

Autography is one online site offering e-book signings.

Sales, royalties, paypal, credit card management. If you choose to publish your ebook and distribution and sales are NOT included in the package, you can still handle the sales yourself. You will need to implement a secure payment page on your website. There are different programs available. If you are not computer literate, get help!
If you feel confident to create your own online shopping page, this is one example of DIY Sales software I have seen used...E-JUNKIE

With an ebook publisher this side of things is taken care of. This is where you need to do your research. Talk to other authors who are with the publisher. There are so many dodgy publishers out there. Their sites look great but when it comes to payment of royalties, setting prices, specials and tracking sales etc and paying on time and remaining honest, their records are less than impressive.

Doing your own publishing, through a site like Amazon or Smashwords, you can set your own prices. You have control of costs and the large sites will have tracking records for you to follow. The smaller sites need to be assessed individually. It is the ability to set your own prices, claim the higher royalties and monitor sales that makes self publishing more attractive. It is imperative you do your research before signing on. What are you able to do, and costs are involved? 

Even FREE ebook publishing means the publisher will take their cut of sales.


An interesting example of hidden costs. An ebook sold through Amazon to a reader in the northern hemisphere will give a higher return to the author than one sold to Australia. Same digital download. Not sure how they figure that one out. How could it cost more to send digitally to Oz? 

Returns, complaints, reviews. Amazon has a two week return policy. If a reader doesn’t like their ebook they can return it. Then it becomes the author’s problem repaying costs. Most ebook publishers will cover their author’s returns. When self publishing… check the publisher’s return policy.

Complaints downloading the various files and formats is common. If you are working through your own website, this will be your problem. If you are with a larger ebook publisher, they will have policies in place. Check them before signing on.

Reviews. These help with marketing, promotion and sales. Blog tours, sharing galleys before release, beta readers are all great places to get a few reviews for your book. Once you have a few, they make good blog posts, Facebook posts etc. There are forums and online sites that offer reviews for different genres. Beware of sites that want payment for reviews.


Right, that’s enough to think about. Let’s explore the world of Ebook publishing…

Smashwords; Createspace; Lulu… Three popular sites. We now know what we are looking for… let’s see how these three sites stack up. What do they offer? How easy are they to navigate? Would they suit our needs?

 AMAZON    
User name: Coffs Writing Workshop

SMASHWORDS  
User Name: Writing Workshop
LULU
Account name: Coffs Writing Workshop

There is a PDF document you can down load which is a guide to LULU E-book PUBLISHING . Once you have logged in it should be available to download to an email address.


COVERS at AMAZON
 Overview… a blog worth reading. "How To Self Publish an Ebook." 



REMEMBER
If in doubt "Phone a Friend". Google has most of the answers. 






You are invited to join the inaugural 
Anzac weekend. Dorrigo High School $25 registration fee. Three days of workshops and mingling with other writers.
Click link for program details and registration form.
See  you there!!


Thank you for attending this workshop. I hope it has been of some help.

All images on this blog are used with permission of the author's featured, are images I have taken myself, or are from a photo shoot with Rachel Lewis Photography, or from Fotolia. Fotolia.com have provided many useful images for promotion and marketing. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

ADRIFT: In Search of Memory... Join the party... Fri 21st Feb


Join the party at 


This sea faring adventure
 is a two part story that
 continues Caleath's journey. 

Here is an excerpt. 
I hope you enjoy it.

ADRIFT: In Search of Memory


“I do declare. I believe the bilge rat is threatening me.” Black Beau doubled over. Clutching her belly, she laughed until tears streamed over leather tough cheeks. “Throw him to my sweeties. I want to hear him scream while they tear him apart.”

Caleath struggled until a dozen hands restrained him.

“We’ll have the pleasure of killing an immortal in a few entertaining minutes, my friends. Once first blood flows, though, we’ll need to reef storm sails. Look to the sky.”

Black Beau’s crew suspended Caleath over the side of The Wayward Spirit. Below him, the ocean boiled with the energy of a hundred frenzied sharks. 

“You look into your future, woman,” Caleath shouted.

“He does go on. However, wait.” Black Beau gestured for a moment’s silence. “Hold on for a moment. What are you saying, Deathbringer? Do you dare presume to say you conjure weather?”

Caleath groaned. “Would I bandy words with you if I could?”

Black Beau laughed. “You can save yourself with a simple spell. One trick, even an easy one and I will sell your miserable hide to his lordship.”

Caleath drew air through clenched teeth. Twisting his head, he watched blood drip from the hole in his hand. An oily stain marred the water below. 

A dozen sharks propelled themselves skyward. Fear evaded him, though his eyes screwed shut when Black Beau’s men let him fall.

******
Adrift is available for pre order from MUSEITUP

 There will be copies available to win at the launch party. Best dressed, most likely pirate, best imitation of a whale singing... To help you get into the mood here are some sea faring images.