Touch of Fire: First draft is almost done!

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It had been years since Enona left the tower, years since she’d met anyone new. When her father arranges a marriage to find the cure for her deadly curse, the princess must learn how to survive on her own.

Of course, things go terribly wrong right away and Enona can’t help but feel trapped in her new home. Little does she know, a servant named Soren is going through the same thing; he needs out, but he doesn’t know how to leave.

After Enona causes another death, a friend organizes an escape for the two of them, giving Enona an alias as mill’s wife as they slip away during a tournament in honor of the royal engagement.

Both soon find that the journey was nothing like what they expected.

I’ve hit the three-quarters point in the “first” draft and know exactly how I want to finish it. It’s taken this long because I kept losing motivation then rewriting it. However, I love where the story went. It’s a little personal, as much as a book about fairies can be.

My goal when I started writing was to make something that others enjoyed. I lost sight of that for a while, but now I’m excited to share what I think will be a fun, thoughtful, and grounded read.

I’ve also started a great new job, so that’s nice. If anyone thought I was dead, I wasn’t. Just living under a rock. But now I occasionally emerge to wear pencil skirts, so that’s nice.

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The Wonder of Unknown

So, ladies and gents, I’ve bought a ticket to London for September 20th. To clear things up, I’ll remind everyone that I live in America and have never been outside the country. I have no idea what I’m going to do or where I’m going to go, only that sometime around New Years I’ll get my butt to Paris for my flight back (which has yet to be purchased).

Obviously I am excited about this trip. In 77 days I will be flying to London. (Well, technically I’ll be flying to Canada then Iceland THEN London, but close enough.) I mentioned before that I was planning to go to Europe and I have a pitiful travel blog here (where I already mention this trip), but now it’s set in stone. I don’t know how much money I’ll have or where I’ll be going or if I’ll end up homeless and begging my parents to pay for me to come home, but either way I’m ready.

So, what does this mean for this blog? Well, two things. One, I’m going to be working as much as possible between now and the 18th of September, so I’m not going to be posting that often, but I’ll aim for at least once every other week. It also means that I’ll be on a writing hiatus after I leave–I’ll still write, but it will be on a tiny tablet and that won’t have the processing power to edit anything, so nothing new will be released–but that I will probably be posting more book reviews if I ever find my Kindle.

ALSO, if any of you live in Europe and want to meet up, I’m game with that. Since I’m going during November I plan to go to a NaNoWriMo meet-up just to meet locals, so if you’re near a major city we may because to get coffee or something.

For now, bare with me as I get overwhelmed and freak out over my impending departure, and please note that I have not died, I’m just selling my soul at a fast food restaurant in order to fund my trip.

How to Run a Book Review Blog

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So, there are a few things you need to do in order to run a book review blog. The list below should help out anyone new to blogging or who thinks their blog could use some improvement.

First, start a blog. I happen to be partial to WordPress.

Second, read a book. Preferably nothing by Ayn Rand, but that’s just me.

Next, review the book with a clear rating, either through a number of stars (which you explain the meaning of somewhere) or simply whether or not you would recommend it to other people.

Make it easy for authors to contact you. Either put your email address up or use a contact form thing on a designated contact page. If you run a book review blog, you can get free books. If you didn’t know that, you do now. It makes it easier for authors to spam tell you about their book they’re giving away for free. All they want in return is an honest review (and if they say “give me five stars or else” just ignore them).

A note: if you do want free books but not a certain genre, make that clear. Some authors will still ignore that, but if you don’t want to receive erotica and you’re under eighteen, usually stating that clearly will reduce the probability that authors will send requests to read their naughty things against your wishes. (However, I’m not sure if stating that you’re underage could welcome other safety problems as I’m 21 and haven’t thought about cyber security in a while… but yeah, don’t be Catfished by pedophiles. And stuff. I’m off topic.)

Finally, post book reviews regularly. It doesn’t have to be every day, but post often enough to make sure your blog looks active. This may also encourage you to read more, which is obviously a plus.

Random Writing Prompts

Anyone out of ideas for a story? Anyone tired of their current project and want to get sidetracked for a few hundred words? Well I’ve got some writing prompts for y’all. (I’m trying out this whole y’all thing. I’m not from the south but it’s such an efficient way of saying “you guys.”)

  • Write a story in the POV of an inanimate object. (Alright so this is just because I wrote a story in the POV of a banana but whatever.)
  • Write a story with only dialogue.
  • Write about something that happens in the great outdoors.
  • Write about something that happens in a fast food restaurant.
  • Write about someone being in incredible pain. (Emotional or physical, whichever.)
  • Write a character who swears every time they talk. (This may be me. The other night at work I called a chicken sandwich a “son of a whore.” Don’t be afraid to get creative.)
  • Write a story that starts off angry and ends up happy.
  • Write a story featuring two people with sexual or gender orientations you’ve never written about before.
  • Write about an argument such as dogs vs. cats or Pepsi vs. Coke. Kill off the loser.
  • Write about a serial killer doing the things in his mundane life.

Go crazy, guys. Make sure you post to your story below if you end up writing one.

Wildflower Crown is now available for purchase!

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Wildflower Crown is available on Amazon in eBook and paperback! Until Amazon gets around to joining the pages, here is the eBook link and here is the paperback link.

I’m super excited to share this with the world. I really like the story and I think you guys will too!

For those of you without money who are interested, I’m looking for reviewers and will give a free PDF or MOBI of Wildflower Crown in exchange for an honest review to be posted on Amazon, Goodreads, and your blog. You can comment below or use the contact form on my “contact” page to ask about getting a copy.

My Bookshelf: The Wolf’s Captive

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Title: The Wolf’s Captive

Author: Chloe Cox

Genre: Erotica/Romance/Fantasy

Amazon Summary:
“It’s the raunchy, decadent holiday of Bacchanal, and Lucia Lyselle is just hoping to make it through intact. But then her father is arrested, and Lucia is held captive by Lord Cesare Lupin, heir to the ducal seat and her secret protector. She’ll have to submit to Lord Cesare’s sexual domination for the duration of the Bacchanal if she hopes to win her father’s freedom. But she doesn’t expect to fall in love – and she doesn’t expect that she’ll have to choose between her family and Lord Cesare…

Lord Cesare Lupin has come back from war afflicted with an ancient curse. If he can’t find his mate, he’ll turn into a mad, blood-thirsty beast, and the city that is his responsibility will suffer. Just his luck that his mate turns out to be the daughter of a man accused of treason…”

Jeers (possible spoilers):

  • Yes, yes, we get it. Lupin means wolf. Rowling named Professor Lupin that because he was a werewolf and now all other authors need to stop doing the same thing.
  • I didn’t like how they were just suddenly in love with each other.
  • The entire treason plot was SO overly complicated and then it boiled down to basically nothing.
  • I think the story lacked a bit. It just wasn’t all it set out to be. It could have been better.
  • This is marketed as “BDSM” but it was pretty tame. I think doing stuff in public was the most risqué they got.

Cheers:

  • I guess I did enjoy the absurdity of it. (The whole thing takes place during a week of orgies, basically).
  • It kept me reading. I was fully interested in the story until the end.
  • I did think that the characters were fairly well-rounded.

Would I recommend it?:
If you like sex-centered stories that also manage to carry a descent plot, yes. If you want to read a book with a plot that just happens to have sex in it, no. The characters didn’t have any real romance together other than the magical pull of whatever it was, but overall I still enjoyed the read and would read another book set in the same world if the author produced one.

Amazon link:

http://www.amazon.com/Wolfs-Captive-Erotic-Romance-Bacchanal-ebook/dp/B009518Q6A

How to Make a Book Trailer

With Wildflower Crown set to come out in June, I’ve been looking into making a book trailer. Now, it’s important to note that book trailers are not the same as movie trailers. Especially for indie authors, you’re not going to have actors acting out things that happen in the book and showing clips of it. You can, if you want, but your trailer is likely going to flop. This is an amazing trailer, but unless you’re willing to shell out a lot of money (or you happen to be a talented film student), it isn’t going to happen:

So if you can’t make a trailer like that, what is it going to be like? Well, you’re going to have pictures and words. Narration, possibly, if you or a friend has a nice voice and a nice microphone. Here is an example of a good book trailer than anyone could make:

That was pretty basic, but it covered all the bases. It described the book without sounding like someone just copied the book description and threw it in there, the images were right and went together well, and the music went with it. If this is the kind of book trailer you want to make, read on and I’ll tell you how!

1. Write a script.

This script isn’t going to be the same as your book description. The book description says, “Okay, this is what the book is about,” while the trailer is saying, “Look, this is going to be awesome. Get excited.” When you see a movie trailer, do you always know what’s going on? No, and it can be the same for a book trailer.

Tip: Avoid being too wordy, especially if you’re using text instead of narration. You remember that teacher whose PowerPoint was always a block of text and you could never copy it down in your notes before she changed to the next slide? It will end up just like that.

2. Find pictures.

It’s important to use free stock images (or paid ones, if you’re paying for them). Don’t just Google “Girl with glasses” and use a random picture. That’s violating copyright. Just search around for pictures that go with your script on http://morguefile.com/ or http://www.freeimages.com/ or whatever site you like to use. People likely aren’t going to be watching your video in full screen, but you should still make sure that your images are big enough to look good in the video.

Tip: Sometimes, you need to use search terms that are tangentially related to your subject. I was looking for a castle and couldn’t find one I liked, so I searched “dark” and found dreary castle ruins that fit perfectly.

3. Find music.

Again, don’t just rip a track from Pitbull’s new album and stick it in there. In some cases, this is okay and the worst the artist will do is put ads on your videos and collect money from that, but they could also decide that you’re violating their copyright of their music and have your video taken down. For modern novels obviously modern music could work, so if you want to use a song from your favorite artist see if it’s already on YouTube (if someone else made a lyric video 4 years ago, your video is unlikely to be taken down) and clearly state that you don’t claim ownership of the music.

Tip: Google “royalty free music” for stuff you can use without hassle. Lots of classical music can also be used royalty free.

4. Chose a video editor.

I use Windows Movie Maker. It’s easy and since what I’m doing is simple, it gets the job done. It’s free for anyone with Windows (though if you can’t find it on your computer you may have to download it). If you’re familiar with another program you can of course use that, and there are plenty of other free programs out there (though I’ve never personally used them, so I won’t recommend any).

When editing things, don’t be afraid to use animations, but don’t overdo it. You want some movement to keep things interesting, but you don’t want every picture spinning away or dissolving like a PowerPoint presentation from 2007.

Tip: Take the time to learn to use your program. Fiddle around with random vacation pictures or something and see all the effects you can create.

5. Get a second opinion from someone who won’t sugarcoat things.

Whether you think the trailer you made is awesome or crappy, ask someone else. Depending on how much time you’ve put into it, you might just not be able to see it with a clear head.

Tip: If you’re afraid they might be trying to be nice but you have no one else to ask, purposely make a mistake. Distort an image so it’s very low quality or purposely change the text color so that it’s hard to see. If your test viewer doesn’t say anything, you definitely need a third opinion.

Other tips:

  • Make sure the font is easy to read. It should be big enough and contrast against the background.
  • Don’t be afraid to change/get rid of a picture if it isn’t working out, no matter how cool it looks.
  • Avoid using people in it. My trailer has a man and a woman, but none of the pictures are framed so that you would recognize this person on the street after seeing the trailer.
  • Keep the pictures true to your book. If it’s set in medieval times, don’t have a cell phone sitting in the background.
  • Don’t rush it. If you think you might want to do a book trailer, start way before your book is set to release.
  • Include where people can buy your book, the title, the author, and your blog/website.
  • Try to keep it short, between 1 and 2 minutes.

An example of a bad trailer:

Problems:

  • They compromised “oh, this works” with “oh, this looks cool.”
  • I don’t have any idea what it’s about.
  • It’s too long.
  • Not only is it too long, but it’s too long with nothing happening. This video is more about the cool bubbles and the music than the book.
  • The ending is good, but if someone wasn’t already interested in the book they would have clocked out before seeing that valuable information.

An okay trailer:

Problems:

  • Text is sometimes hard to read.
  • Those swirl animations were nice, but a little overused.
  • Capitalization was weird.
  • There was clearly a watermarked stock image in there.
  • The book cover should have been there longer.
  • It didn’t say where you could get the book.
  • (This seems like it was a student project for a random book, so that’s probably why there are so many issues.)

The good:

  • When the text is readable, it fits with the story.
  • From the script you get a good sense of what the book was about.
  • Though the maker probably didn’t have permission to use them, the pictures went well with the script.
  • The music was good as well, though for something like this I personally wouldn’t have used something modern with lyrics.
  • The length is good.

So, now that you’re all prepared to make your book trailers, feel free to paste the links into the comments! The trailer for Wildflower Crown is out so you can see here how well I took my own advice.

Proofreading, Writing, Getting Snowed On, and Chocolate Chips– Author Update

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There hasn’t been much activity going on here because I’m graduating in two weeks. I don’t actually have that much school work to do  anymore, but I’ve been working on writing and creating medical emergencies. (Alright, well, it’s not an emergency. My tooth just hurts, but still.)

On the proofreading front: I’m at chapter seven of Wildflower Crown, which is a little over halfway through. It’s slow work since I don’t want to speed the text-reading software up and miss a mistake, so once I start wishing death upon the voices (there are three: David, Hazel, and Zira) then I have to take a break, which leads us to the next point.

On the writing front: I’ve started my next novel which doesn’t have a title. I’ll be writing it all summer while finishing the edits on Wildflower Crown and starting the edits on Only in Whispers. It is very, very loosely based on Rapunzel (as in, there is a tower), and that’s all I’ll say for now.

On the snow font: Yeah, it snowed. In April. Two days before it snowed it had been 70 degrees (21 C for you non-Americans). This isn’t some kind of record and none of it stuck, but I’m still unamused.

On the teeth front: Did you know that chocolate chips are named literally? They are chocolate that chip. I bit down on one at a weird angle while eating a cookie and it chipped my tooth. I don’t know whether to call it a crack or a chip because it’s a molar that chipped off into the gum (so it’s still there) but either way I get to go to the dentist. Yay.

-Charlotte Cyprus

Wildflower Crown Cover Reveal!

Wildflower Crown

Wild has been running her whole life from a power she never asked for. Determined to fill her life with excitement and fun, she’s done everything she could to push her dark secret from her mind. When outlaws come to her with a proposition to infiltrate the castle and switch places with the princess, she immediately accepts the job. What could be more fun than being a princess?

Daivat’s life has always been structured and orderly. He wakes every day at dawn and practices tirelessly at his knife work. His dream is to be a member of the king’s personal guard, but first he must prove himself by keeping an eye on the imposter princess while she fools visiting nobles into thinking she’s real royalty.

As the queen struggles to keep the kingdom from war and the real princess fights to survive the outlaws, Wild and Daivat must endure each other as their personalities collide. Can Daivat bring order to Wild’s life, or will Wild turn Daivat’s life upside down?


Now, this might not be that exciting as I’ve had variations of this cover posted around the site when I thought there would be an earlier publishing date, but here is the official cover! (Alright, so the font might change, but that’s it, I swear!)

Wildflower Crown will be coming out in the beginning of June, the 1st or 2nd depending on how Amazon handles things. All that’s left to do is proofreading and deciding if I’m going to stick with the alternative ending I just came up with two days ago! I’m really excited about this book, so I hope you all like it and don’t get sick of me talking about it constantly for the next few months 🙂

-Charlotte Cyprus