Created and hosted by the Ninja himself, Alex J. Cavanaugh, the Insecure Writers Support Group posts the 1st Wednesday of every month. Click the image to learn more or sign up.
Monthly Question: Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing? (For example, by trying a new genre you didn’t think you’d be comfortable in?)
Never would I have thought in a million years that I would write anything resembling romantic comedy, yet, I have. And, I’m attempting to do it again in a sequel, but I’m pretty sure I’m in over my head. Give me fantasy, sci-fi, and paranormal stuff to read all day long and I’m a happy camper, but when it comes to romance and or comedy, things are little more complex. I honestly don’t like most of the romance I read, but I keep trying it. I do find that romance with comedy is what I’m likely to enjoy more. When it comes to writing comedy, I don’t actually try to be funny; I just stick to what I know best- sarcasm.
Now on to the personal updates.
I had a health scare recently, on top of my usual health issues, and became consumed with worry over it. I’m fine now, but I lost about three weeks of productivity. My house was in shambles, I got no writing done, and I was barely able to hold myself together my first week back to work. Since then, I’ve cleaned house, recorded a few videos (see my thoughts on book reviews below), finished reading some books, and plan to start writing (working on my current wips) after scheduling this post.
I’ll admit that I’ve been struggling with insecurity over whether or not I’m able to finish series I’ve started. I have so many notes outlining the continuation of stories I’ve already published, but I’m having the darndest time putting the continuations down on paper or screen. I think the main problem with this issue is that I also have new stories that need to be written. And then, I have all these side stories, works of fan fiction or, what I call ‘venting fiction’ (where I write a story to vent about an issue I’m having) that keep popping up. Needless to say, all of these stories are starting to keep me up at night…Oh…And…Of course, I feel like everything I’ve written to date needs to be rewritten so they can simply be better than they are (I may be able to come up with great stories, but I’m not always the most skilled writer).
My book, Chip and Skip Need Each Other, is nominated for an award and could use your vote. Please check my side panel <– if you are up for it. I’m still just so honored that someone actually nominated me. 😀
I got a great review (the first) for my book, Plants and Animals Change Over Time. Check it out here.
Next month, for my birthday on October 21st, I’m having a Kindle sale and a giveaway. For the occasion, I’m attempting to put together a Blitz and would love it if you signed up.
If the Blitz isn’t your thing but you’d wouldn’t mind to help spread the word, please consider supporting my Thunderclap campaign. Jump over to my side panel <– to support in the manner that suits you best.
If you have a moment, I’d love for you to visit my CURIOUS QUESTIONS page and offer your two cents on the question being asked. Thanks bunches.
So, have you surprised yourself with your writing?
Insecure about finishing a series or two?
Received any awards or great reviews lately?
Think Thunderclap campaigns are worth the bother?
I hope you had a chance to watch my video and enjoyed it. Before you leave, please consider checking out my side panel to vote for Chip and Skip Need Each Other in the #SIBA Awards and consider supporting my Thunderclap campaign. It would really mean a lot.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords
Title: James: Witch-Hunter
Author: K.S. Marsden
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release date: 1st October 2017
~Prequel to the Witch-Hunter trilogy~
James Bennett is a Yorkshire lad, making the big move to Oxford to start university.
His ambitions involve getting a good education; impressing the Rugby Club; and not throttling his roommate. All perfectly normal drama, until Hallowe’en.
A girl’s murder throws James into the dangerous world of witches, and those that hunt them.
After playing a sidekick in the Witch-Hunter trilogy, it’s only fair that James gets to be centre stage in his own prequel.
This can be read as a stand-alone, and does not contain any spoilers. It may contain witches, bad jokes and cringe-worthy scenes; but definitely no spoilers.
Charlotte had just made her second coffee of the day, when she heard a very insistent banging at the front door. Not in the mood for visitors, she reluctantly opened it.
And was met by the sight of James.
In a dress.
“I’ll never get used to your humour, James.” She said, stepping aside and letting him in. “Fancy some fresh coffee? And when I say fresh, I mean instant stuff I’ve only boiled once.”
James closed the door behind him, and made his way through the narrow corridor to Charlotte’s tiny kitchen.
Charlotte promptly poured an extra coffee and added sugar, her normally bright eyes were red, and it was clear she’d been crying.
“I broke up with Nathan.” She said, looking embarrassed that he had to see her like this.
“I think my roommate’s a murderer.” James countered.
Charlotte handed him a mug of coffee, shaking her head. “When a girl says she’s broken up with her boyfriend, most people would offer… never mind. You win. Why is Hunter a murderer?”
James gently lowered himself down onto Charlotte’s rickety sofa. “I followed him last night. He was bein’ weird, and I have a tracker on his phone-”
“And he went to this warehouse, where…” James trailed off, his throat closing around the words.
Charlotte misread his inability to speak, and gently rubbed his shoulder. “It’s alright, you’re safe here. Who do you think he killed?”
“Bea.” James gasped out. “You remember the blonde, Scottish lass? They hooked up at start of term; then the other night she was looking for him; next thing you know, she’s dead!”
Charlotte put down her coffee cup, her hand shaking too much to hold it. She looked at James in all seriousness, “And you saw Hunter kill her?”
James shook his head, thinking back to last night, and the hooded figures. He was sure it was Hunter, “I couldn’t clearly see who it was, but why would Hunter be there? It’s one hell of a coincidence, that he bails on the Hallowe’en party and ends up at the same warehouse where the girl he was shagging ends up getting sta-”
“Did you physically see him there?” Charlotte asked.
“No, I was following a tracker.” James admitted.
“An illegal tracker, that’ll never hold in court, James.”
James snorted, “Trust the trainee-lawyer to say that.”
“Hey, I’m just trying to see every angle.” Charlotte said, punching his arm. “There could be another, perfectly normal explanation. Maybe someone mugged Hunter and stole his phone – that sort of person would be more likely to head to the dodgy side of town.”
“Ha, it’d have to be the king of muggers to get the better of Hunter.” James argued. “He’s super-fast, super-strong, and has anger issues. Which all adds up to someone very capable of murder.”
“Do you not remember how we first met? It’s not often I get thrown against a wall, instead of the usual handshake. And I do rugby training with him – trust me, it’s like getting hit by a car-”
“James, you’re exaggerating.” Charlotte sighed.
“And I’ve seen him run – I forgot to show you.” James dug out his phone from the flowery handbag, and quickly found the video he’d taken weeks ago. “Look – look how fast he is! And don’t you find it weird that he’s never that fast in rugby games? It’s almost like he’s holding back.”
Charlotte looked at the video, and when the brief clip was over, she shrugged, “It doesn’t look that fast to me.”
“Well, it seemed it when I was watching with my own two eyes.” James tucked his phone away. “He’s not normal.”
“Yes, but there’s a huge leap between what’s not normal, and a killer.” Charlotte said, exasperated. “Don’t get me wrong; I want to help you James, I really do… have you been to the police?”
“Yes, I stayed there overnight.” James answered. “I got knocked out, and some cop must’a found me. Next thing I know, I’m waking up in a cell.”
“Oh no, what happened? Did someone attack you?”
James opened his mouth the speak, but he didn’t even know what to say. He remembered getting knocked off his feet by some powerful force, but that didn’t make sense.
“What did the police say?” Charlotte asked, when it was clear James wasn’t giving her an answer.
He shrugged, “Not much, just that Bea had died. They were dodging a lot of my questions.”
“That’s normal police protocol for an ongoing investigation.” Charlotte said, knowledgably.
James shook his head. “There was summat not right about the whole thing. It just felt shady.”
Author: Kelly S. Marsden grew up in Yorkshire, and there were two constants in her life – books and horses. Graduating with an equine degree from Aberystwyth University, she has spent most of her life since trying to experience everything the horse world has to offer. She is currently settled into a Nutritionist role for a horse feed company in Doncaster, South Yorkshire. She writes Fantasy stories part-time. Her first book, The Shadow Rises (Witch-Hunter #1), was published in January 2013, and she now has two successful series under her belt.
The idea is simple: on the last Friday of each month, post about the best book you’ve finished over the past month while visiting other bloggers doing the same. In this way, we’ll all have the opportunity to share our thoughts with other enthusiastic readers. Please join us below.
Title: Sell Your Soul: How to Build Your Creative Career Author: Russell Nohelty Genre: Business, Nonfiction Pages: NA Reading Level: Adult Content: Adult (business tactics, technical terms and practices)
I received a digital ARC of this book from the author because I’ve supported several of his Kickstarter campaigns and follow his creative business advice group and listen to his podcast from time to time. What can I say, I’m still having trouble getting into podcasts. In any case, I love this guy’s passion for his personal works and his indie press releases. I know I’ve learned so much from him already, so reading this book was a no brainer.
Initial thoughts- this book was great. It wasn’t too long, but it was a hefty length because it covers a lot of information. I like that, before the book dives deep into the how-tos of the creative business, the author explains the necessity of passion. Passion is the one thing I think, anyone who encounters Russell Nohelty, notices about him. He loves what he does and frequently reiterates that that has to be the number one reason a person decides to create something, whatever it is.
Then the book starts to dive into the how-to of business, but not just general stuff. Everything Nohelty discusses is directed specifically to creative people who want to make money with their creativity and break the stigma that all artists have to be starving. He speaks to the readers as if there’s a conversation happening. He’s quite frank and down to earth, but still concise and purposeful with his words. There are times when you can almost hear Russell yelling into the pages that yes, this is going to be hard, but it’s not impossible.
Nohelty is also upfront and honest about what has and hasn’t worked for him while leaving it to the reader to decide what they want to try because he or she might have a completely different experience. There are certain aspects of the book that feel like life hacks. They are literal step-by-steps of what he did, so why not try it yourself.
I feel like a large part of the book, when reading in between the lines, is about gearing the reader up to break out of their comfort zone. There are things he mentions in this book that I’ve thought about doing but just didn’t think that was the way things were done. Now I know that they can be the way, there are just so many people who are too afraid to try them. He also mentions a few things I never would have thought of, which I now realize is a reflection of the lack of confidence I sometimes have in my own work.
I don’t know that this is the greatest book ever written about the business of creativity, but it’s pretty darn good. I’d totally recommend it. Heck, that’s what I’m doing right now.
Greetings readers, bloggers, geeks, and authors and welcome to The ToiBox of Words. I’m your host Toi Thomas, author of Eternal Curse, and today I have a treat to share. A while back, I had the pleasure to interview a wonderful author named, J.S. Frankel. A good time was truly had by all, and here’s how it went down.
Toi Thomas:Hi thereJ.S.! It’s so awesome to have you here at the ToiBox Blog. I’m excited to learn more about you and your work.
J.S. Frankel: Hi there Toi. I’m excited to be here.
Toi Thomas:So tell me, who isJ.S. Frankel?
J.S. Frankel: J.S. Frankel is my pen name, and I write primarily YA Fantasy with a lot of action. Some of my better known novels are the Catnip series, Star Maps, The Titans of Ardana, and Twisted, a gender-switch fantasy. I was born in Toronto, Canada, a long time ago, moved to Japan at age of twenty-six, and have been here ever since. I got into writing late, at the age of forty-eight, got published a year later, and have been at it ever since. I love to write YA, as it has a freshness and immediacy all its own. Every book is a new adventure!
Toi Thomas: I thought starting to write in my 30’s was late, but in reality, there’s no time-limit on discovering a part of yourself. I can’t wait to learn more about your journey. Before we dive into your special message today, let’s get to know you, the person inside the author.
What makes you geek out?
J.S. Frankel: Oh, god, it has to be superhero flicks! I remember watching Superman, the original film, back when I was a teen, and forty years later I’m still watching the best (and worst) that Hollywood has to offer. Recently, I saw Wonder Woman and said to myself, “THAT’S how you do an action movie!”
Toi Thomas: I know right. I’m pretty sure I was holding my breath through the whole film, just waiting for the s*** to hit the fan, but it never did. Wonder Woman was a really good movie. While not all superhero flicks are winners, I’m so happy that they’ve become mainstream. They are great stories at their core.
What was your favorite book or story, pre-teen years?
J.S. Frankel: Probably The Voyage of the Luna 1. It was a British story written in the late 1940’s, and it fired my imagination about space travel and adventure. The science was all wrong, but I was six. How could I know? I loved it, all the same.
Toi Thomas: I’ve never heard of this book, but it sounds like something I’d enjoy. While good science fiction should, for the most part, feel feasible, I sometimes get a kick out of stories that stretch the limits and make no real sense. At that point, it feels like reading accidental fantasy.
In terms of interviews, whose brain are you just itching to scratch?
J.S. Frankel: If I could, I’d love to interview Robert McCammon or Nora Jemisin, as they are two of my favorite writers. Yes, pick their brains–not eat them!–and find out their process of writing. Both are very wordy writers, but with no waste, no excess or info dumping. Different styles, but very readable. Anything they write is prime!
Toi Thomas: While I’m only vaguely familiar with Robert McCammon, I believe best known for historical fiction, I’ve heard a lot of Jemisin (I believe she goes by N.K.) with the release of her book The Fifth Season. It’s been on my TBR for a while, but so have a lot of books. I’ll definitely get to it though.
Now that we know a little more about you, the person, let’s learn about you, the author, and dive into your special message.
So whacha got for me today?
J.S. Frankel: The Titans of Ardana is a YA Adventure/Fantasy novel. It’s about a young teen–Martin Calder–who is enamored of a television show as well as its co-star, Dana, no last name given. Martin sets out to get her autograph, but in doing so, finds out that she and her twin brother, Van, aren’t exactly from around here. Then the fun begins!
Toi Thomas: I really like the sound of this. I get the feeling there is a lot of humor and mystery in this story. An actress playing one role on TV and then playing another role in real life because she’s not what she seems; already has me curious. Does mystery play a part in this story directly or indirectly?
J.S. Frankel: Actually, the reveal is there right away, right at the end of the first chapter. It’s what happens after that provides all the fun!
Toi Thomas:So, who’s starring in this 2-dimensional script read ofThe Titans of Ardana?
J.S. Frankel: Two main stars. Martin Calder is the main protagonist of the novel. He’s a geek over sci-fi and fantasy, loves a television show, The Metas, and is in love with the star, Dana, no last name given. Dana is the star of the show. Tall, raven-haired, gorgeous (purple eyes are killer!) she is every bit the superheroine that Martin imagines her to be. Ironically, she IS a superhero, an alien, and she and her twin brother Van are on the run from an interstellar warlord who wants to eliminate them.
Toi Thomas: I love stories with twins in them; no idea why. I think it has something to do with the idea that two people can be connected in an almost psychic way from birth.
What’s so special about this story that’s going to reel in the readers?
J.S. Frankel: It takes the concept of what being a superhero is and turns it on its head. The alien co-stars of the novel, Dana and her twin brother, Van, exist on sugar, and that makes for some funny gross-out moments, as they eat TONS of sugar-laden goodies every day in order to survive. The action is also very good, and there’s quite a bit of humor in the novel. I like to have a little bit of everything in the books I write, and The Titans of Ardana has a little bit of everything to recommend.
Toi Thomas: I enjoy humor, but there are different kinds that appeal to different people. What kind of humor does this story have: slap-stick physical humor, sarcasm and ironic humor, dark and twisted humor, etc…
J.S. Frankel: I’d liken the humor to physical humor, mainly, but no pratfalls or pies in the face. It’s what Dana does—you’ll have to read the chapter in which she and Martin go to a chocolate factory—to get the humor. It’s sort of physical, gross-me-out stuff, and lies in the reactions of the people around them. It also happens to be the funniest scene in the novel, and then it quickly transitions into an action scene, something I am known for and love doing.
Toi Thomas:Past, present, future, is there a rhyme or reason to your writing?
J.S. Frankel: I don’t have a detailed game plan, per se. Ideas pop into my head, the old “What if” scenarios. I do a very basic outline of what will happen in each chapter, who is in it, dialogue, and then start writing. Of course, everything is subject to change and I’m always tweaking something. No music…I listen to that while taking breaks. I need silence. I write late at night when my family is asleep. I can concentrate better that way.
Toi Thomas: I cherish those moments when I can write in complete silence, they just don’t come around very often. I do, however, from time to time use music to inspire me when I need it.
Now this is where the questions get a little kooky; are you ready?
J.S. Frankel: “Whatever!”
Toi Thomas:If you could only watch one movie for the rest of your life, what would it be?
J.S. Frankel: There are so many, but I’m going to go with an old one, Some Like It Hot, with Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon. It’s basically a 20-minute burlesque sketch expanded into a movie, but the performances are terrific, Marilyn is adorable, and the final line is killer. Great movie, stands up against anything done today.
Toi Thomas: That is a good movie. While it’s not my favorite Monroe role, I still like her in it and can never get enough of the laughs. As far as burlesque goes, I have a fondness for Gypsy. What can I say, Marilyn is classic, but Natalie is eternal.
Not that you can see into the future, but in your opinion, what does the future hold?
J.S. Frankel: More writing! I would love to be recognized more for what I do, but realistically, there are so many writers out there that recognition is difficult, as is fame or financial reward. While it would be great to make a living from my novels, really, I love to write first and foremost. I can’t see myself doing anything else.
Toi Thomas: If you love to write and stay true to that, who knows, recognition may come when you least expect it.
Any last words to offer our readers after visiting here at the ToiBox of Words?
J.S. Frankel: I would like to say thank you for giving me the chance to express myself. Interviews are hard to come by, and I’m grateful for any and all opportunities.
Toi Thomas:Thank you so much J.S. for spending time with me today.
J.S. Frankel: This has been a fun ride, and the questions were terrific, so thank you once again!
Okay readers, bloggers, geeks, and authors, that’s all for today. Be sure to follow this blog to see who will be visiting next time. For more fromJ.S. Frankel, check out these great links: