Dramatic Music anyone?

Down to the wire

After three years, Chasing Blue: The Final Saga is finally coming to a close. After just completing the 2nd to last chapter to the final series, I can almost taste the finish line. And as promised the final chapters will build on more suspense until it crescendos to the climax.

The newest chapter: “Insurgence” builds on the prior chapter, “Invasion”. As a recap for those that haven’t read the previous chapter, Troy runs off with Priscilla into the night to find the others including his friend Julius. Although they find a hiding place in the crags, they are reminded they must keep on the move before they are discovered. We see more of the tension and drama building in this chapter as the characters have a fleeting moment of “calm” before it’s time to flee again. Just when you thought things were getting angsty, the latest chapter intensifies the action to a whole new level. In “Insurgence” we see the sparks of the rebellion igniting. The stakes are higher. The action intensifies. Troy is faced with painful decisions with potentially devastating consequences in this heart-wrenching chapter.

Dramatic Music Anyone?

As a personal habit of mines from time, I enjoy listening to a certain song or soundtrack as I read a particular scene in my story. From personal experience the right song enhances the reading experience! When writing out a scene, music plays an integral role in how the scene comes together. Like music, each piece, down to the words should not only flow together but also capture a feeling or mood. When writing some of the darker intense scenes, I found it very helpful to listen to dramatic music that fit the mood I was going for. This included many movie scores especially Hunger Games and Catching Fire, which has some amazing scores in my opinion. This helped me get in the head space I needed to portray more intense, emotional scenes. For more slower moments between Troy and Priscilla, slower melodic pieces were used as I wrote out their scenes.

Here’s one of the intense action scenes from my story when the guards invade the tower, inspired partly by the musical score used in one of the Catching Fire trailers. Credit goes to Dean Valentine, Music Piece:  “Dark Matter.”

-Excerpt-

The sentinels returned but the Messenger was nowhere to be found. There were even more horses than before. Each man was girded with breastplates and helmets. They looked like warriors. They looked like a miniature army sent out to destroy us. The negotiations had failed.

“Find all three brothers,” one of the chief sentinels commanded the men swarming the hill. “Bring Troy to me but kill the rest of the brutes.” They knew I was here.

Bang!

I could hear them banging the door like madmen. My heart was pounding with every thud. Once the war cries bellowed from below I knew they were inside now. It was time to light the fire. Now! I raced to the rooftop with the withering torch. I hurled the torch, letting the flames lick the straw. It had begun.

I ran back to the corridor where I was greeted with the noises of battle. Hold them back! Do not let them get past the first level!” Caius shouted to the men below. He raced up the stairs to meet me in the top corridor. “Your father captured the Messenger. This is your father’s response to ‘a negotiation!’ The plan failed us. We have to kill them now!”

“No! There has to be a better way,” I protested.

“There is no other way, Troy!” We both walked in the room as the guard approached Barbarius with the sword. Apollus stuck his foot out causing the man to stumble. Barbarius scuttled over, rocking back in his chair and stomped on the captor’s hands with his sandals. Caius rushed into the room with his sword drawn.

“I will handle this,” I muttered, yanking his free arm.

“No, I will. You did a poor job of handling it!” he said shoving me against the wall.

“Agh!” the man yelled. I looked down as Apollus lifted himself partly erect to head-butt his captor. As Caius came swinging with his sword, Barbarius leaned back in his chair, shifting his weight on the tips of his toes. While still fastened to his chair, he swung around as the sword came slicing the air, striking him from behind. The chains fell to the ground. Without knowing it, he had helped free Barbarius! Enraged he took another swing at Barbarius who was defenseless. He ducked, just missing the knife by a hairbreadth. Desperate, he grabbed a chair leg as his weapon to block his strikes.

“Hold your hands up!” I ordered Apollus. Without objection he lifted his hands. I only had one chance to get it right. With a swift blow, I slashed the chains bounding his two hands. His jaws dropped. He was either stunned I had such good precision or that I bothered to do him a favor or both. Just then the guard from behind grabbed my neck from behind, sending me falling backwards with him.

“Traitor!” he growled in my ears. I elbowed him in the ribs, but his grip only tightened.

“Let me go!” I rasped. Gasping for air, I struggled to reach for my dagger. I looked over at Apollus who was easing his way out the doorway.

“Apollus. Please!” I croaked as his grip grew tighter. Now I was the one that needed mercy. Apollus bit his lip as he stood, frozen. Now the tables had turned…

Read it in full here.

 

 

New cover going live!

Full Book cover

It was long overdue but it’s finally close to ready as its going to get. As a quick heads up to everyone I am currently uploading the new cover for Before the Legend. That means that the book will be briefly unavailable on Amazon. This update hopefully shouldn’t affect the other retailers which can be found on the “Buy Now” page. The book should be live by tomorrow for both the eBook and print version on Amazon as early as tomorrow morning. Updates will likely be posted on my official Facebook page.

Where do I go after a new cover?

I’m seriously considering joining KDP Select on Amazon. Although I never liked the idea of a retailer having exclusivity over my eBook, I must admit the program does offer some nice perks including higher royalty for the $.99 selling price and setting prices for a set promotion time frame. If I do decide that path that would mean for 90 days my eBook will be unavailable anywhere else for sale. Of course I will keep my viewers updated on my decision.

There’s also talk of the latest extension to KDP Select, called Kindle Unlimited. It’s still fairly new so determining whether it would be a profitable avenue to take is too early to say, but there’s appeal to both self publishers and Amazon users alike. A post by David Gaughran is one of the few I’ve found that addresses the new questions about Amazon’s newest marketing move. Even then some questions remain to be answered. Want to get the latest updates? Sign up here.

Also don’t miss the latest chapter, “Persuasion” for Chasing Blue. A snippet of the chapter can be found here.

Important Update: eBook is now live with the new cover as well as the print book! There was  a delay with the print version and the changes may be trickling over to partnering retailers with Amazon’s Createspace in the coming days. I appreciate everyone’s patience.

The Blurb

Never underestimate the power of the blurb.

The blurb is that short description you find on the back of a book. You’ll also see a version of it in the brief description provided on Amazon and other retailers that sell the book. Although it’s easy to overlook, the blurb is a powerful arsenal in marketing your book. The blurb goes hand in hand with the cover design. The cover is the lure that will initially catch the reader’s eye. A good blurb will hook the reader by giving the reader a taste of what the book is about and entice the reader to buy it. The blurb should provide a gist of the main plot, main character(s), and the stakes/complications involved. The trick though is not giving the whole plot away. Although you don’t want the blurb to be too vague you don’t want to spoil the plot. It’s like watching a movie trailer that gives away the whole storyline  in 2 minutes. If you were to do something similar in the back blurb, what incentive would the reader have to read it if they already know what is going to happen in the end?

Writing a Great Blurb

While rewriting my blurb I found it helpful to gather feedback from others and look at other examples of blurbs. An effective way to get people to care about the story is to evoke an emotional response from the reader. This can be achieved by using the right words that stir strong emotions that the reader can identify with. Another point is to include the major conflict the character must overcome to reach their goal or quest. The higher the stakes, the more interesting things get which will further heighten the reader’s anticipation of finding out how the conflict will be resolved. Here are some helpful tips I picked up from Michael Sullivan, an established writer, in an article he wrote about blurb writing here. I will briefly outline the main tips about writing good blurbs but I highly suggest reading his post especially the concept of using a headline for your blurb.

  • Keep it short and snappy. Brevity is key. Keeping it to one paragraph is preferable.
  • Think of your blurb as an advertisement. Throw in a teaser, (eg. raise a question) that will intrigue the reader and urge them to want to find out what happens next.
  • Examine other blurbs from stories you like and figure out what makes them successful and apply some of the techniques they use.
The blurb for Before the Legend

The blurb for Before the Legend

Above is the revised back cover for Before the Legend with the blurb. Although I’m no expert at blurb writing, here is my latest attempt.

It’s every child’s nightmare. In the next three days he’s about to relive it. Will he defy this dream?

On the quiet island, amidst the looming Roman Empire, Troy, the youngest son of the King has always known his little world to be safe and happy. But one nightmare gives him a disturbing glimpse of losing his parents forever. He wakes up only to realize he may have lost something else_ his parent’s love and affection. Left with more questions than answers, Troy must figure out the new questions that the event has triggered. But in three days, an earth shattering event rocks the island, separating him and his brothers from their parents. If Troy doesn’t find his parents in time, his worst nightmare is about to come true. But if he does, will he be prepared for what he’s about to discover?

_______

In the example above, I introduced the main character and the setting which fits with my genre (Historical fiction). I provided the main gist of the plot and threw in the complication (the earthquake) and left the reader an interest-arousing question. So what do you think? Although blurb writing has never been easy it doesn’t have to be so daunting after all.

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Update: As a heads up check out the newest chapter for Chasing Blue you can check out this link.

Cover Reveal!

The wait is almost over. Here is the new proposed book cover for my debut book, “Before the Legend,” a fresh alternative look on history seen the through the eyes of a young precocious boy living in the backdrop of one of the greatest civilizations known to rule. Expect a cover change to the e-Book and print versions across major retailers as early as July. What do you think about the new cover?

Cover Reveal!

Which comes first: Book or Movie?

As I alluded to in an earlier post, 2014  is the year of YA books being adapted into the big screen such as the latest one to hit theaters, “The Fault in our Stars,” a tear-jerker romance by John Green. Specifically, I noticed dystopian YA novels being made into movies, such as Divergent which was  released earlier this year and more to come such as the Maze Runner, The Giver, and Catching Fire: Part 1. I’ll admit I’m excited to see most of them, yet considering they’re all based on books, I contemplated picking up the book and reading it. However with my tendency to become passionate about books I really love I wondered if it was wise if I should read them before the movie.

Is it Wiser to Read the Books First?

With that said I decided to raise the following question to some friends. Which is better to do first: read the book or watch the movie? What do you think was the common response? Well you might have guessed it but most said to read the book first because it contains more details and are generally better than the actual movie. I can’t argue with those sentiments considering it’s 99% true. There is more time for the book to divulge valuable (or not so valuable) details that help setup the plot or enlighten us on a character’s thinking.

So the decision should be easy then; just read the book first. The problem is once I read the book (and if it’s a book I really like), I have heightened expectations and preconceived ideas of how things are supposed to be. And when the movie alters the details or goes left field altogether I’m more likely to become more critical and pick out the discrepancies versus passively enjoying the movie for what it is. Most of these books being adapted I have not read, so when others say “That didn’t happen in the book,” it wouldn’t matter to me. For instance with Hunger Games, I remember hearing several people make similar comments about certain scenes that were added or didn’t happen in the movie. When I watched the movie myself I really enjoyed the movie and fell in love with the resilient and feisty main character, Katniss Everdeen. It was only till recently that I read the book, which I had a greater appreciation for and was not disappointed one bit! However I wonder: would I have enjoyed the movie as much if I read the book first?

It’s hard to say for certain because even though I did notice some things were left out including some characters, I still like the movie regardless. Which worries me is the book I have read already that is coming to the theater: The Giver. When I watched the first trailer, I felt slightly disappointed. Thankfully though the newest trailer looks like it will be faithful about the whole B&W to color concept from the book (much to my delight). Yet I can tell they changed a lot of things from the book. My thoughts mirror another blogger’s take on The Giver, because I too would need to detach my emotional attachment with the book in order for me to enjoy this movie.

What are your views? Is it better to read the book or watch the movie first? Are there examples where the movie adaption was as good as the book? I’d like to weigh in more thoughts on this topic.

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To receive exclusive first look at the official Book cover for “Before the Legend” you can sign up here! Also you can check out the top link “Before the Legend” to check out the cover reveal for the front cover. Also “Chasing Blue” has a new chapter up called: Time’s Up. Enjoy.

Help Me Choose a Cover!

While I’m not busy typing away the last chapters of Chasing Blue, I’m working on getting a new book cover for my published book, Before the Legend. As promised, here are some concept covers I’ve been working on as of late. After getting positive feedback on the layout with the boy in the bottom of the arch window from an acquaintance of mine (who mind you does illustrating and graphic design for a living), I thought the choice was obvious and all I needed was just some fine-tuning to make it pop more, hence the last three covers that favor each other. Unlike the first time when I selected my current cover, I wanted to get others involved with the making of my book cover and gather valuable feedback on whether the book cover was eye-catching and if it was conveying what I wanted to the reader. Although I loved my first book cover, a cover redo was needed for 2 main reasons.

1. Title change: I dropped the subtitle “The Prologue” and the old cover still retains that.

2. Although I liked my old cover, I felt it was a little too abstract for my target audience and I feel this created a disconnect between my book and the readers (readers of historical fiction/Alternative and middle grade readers alike).

This time around I decided to get some constructive feedback from readers and experienced writers in the Industry Insider Club on Wattpad. Boy was I in for a wake up call! Most people did not like the cover. The common consensus was that the boy appeared “out of place.” This was largely due to the lighting between the boy and the foreground (which is subtle yet was made aware of), as well as the scale of the boy’s head in relation to the rest of the picture.  In the gallery below you can see some of the major changes made in the design process.

 

Despite my editing attempts on the 4th one, it was clear by some users that the boy had to go. One user who seemed to understand my motivation behind the book and how the young boy pictured the protagonist which the story revolved around offered some very valuable suggestions. If I wanted to focus on the boy I would have to change the layout. Another alternative was to capture a scene in the story within the constrains of the arch. She has definitely given me the framework to go off, but the hard part is going back to the drawing board, changing what I want to capture and finding the right pictures to convey that new image.

Now I see why most writers don’t get involved in this process and go straight for the cover designer! It’s definitely a whole lot easier! Having just a “good” book cover isn’t enough anymore. I have to make it pop. I need it to communicate what the story is about. I need it to connect with readers. Before I go down the route of hiring someone to do it for me (I’d have to do some hard persuading to get my acquaintance to do it for me, although he helped pick out the pictures, I am willing to give it another go. What do you think about the covers I’ve come up with so far? I would love to hear your feedback on them? Does the design work? If not what direction should I go with?

Spring Fever

flowers in bloom

Image by South Haven Memorial Library

Spring. Although it’s arrival has been slow to come in Wisconsin it is here. Often associated with renewal, it’s a fitting time to plan new things for my story series. In addition to wrapping up my final story, Chasing Blue, I’m also in the process of designing a new book cover for Before the Legend, so stay tuned for the next post where I reveal for the first time the concept covers. But that’s not all that’s new.

I was pleasantly surprised to hear my author interview with Michael was finally posted on his blog “The Cult of Me.” It couldn’t have come at the right time when fresh buzz of my free run has long dissipated. Although he is a busy man, I’m gracious for the opportunity to be featured on his blog for readers to learn more about me as a writer. In the interview I got a chance to candidly answer some of his questions such as what inspired me to write, who in the past would I love to spend a day with, and the challenges that comes with writing. To find out my responses you can click the hyperlinked text above to view the full interview.

In the meantime I recently uploaded a new chapter to Chasing Blue “Spring Fever.” Synopsis: Troy rejoins the crew but not before paying his final respects to a fallen friend. Things couldn’t seem more bleak for the crew as the dark clouds seem to loom over them in the weeks to come. Everyone is itching for the sun to come out the storm clouds as they near Crete but Troy is going to get more than he bargained for!