Celebrate my Blog-a-versary!

Today is the anniversary of my blog! I don’t recall exactly how long–3 years? Maybe. But what an exciting–and sometimes crazy–ride it’s been. From character interviews to writing/editing tips to today with the Confessions series and social media emphasis, blogging has been anything but boring.

I just wanted to say thank you to all you lovely people who’ve been with me on this journey. Followers from the old days and people who have just joined the journey. There’s nothing more encouraging than to know that other people care. You all are the best. *hugs all around*

Blogging has not been without its own set of issues. My website was hacked once, and I lost all my previous blog posts. All those fun character interviews–gone. I had some pretty crazy issues with my previous website host, which resulted in a downed website and ultimately me switching providers. Earlier this year, a buggy plugin made it impossible for me to even get into my WordPress dashboard to blog. But my new trusty website host fixed it for me.

But that’s all in the past.

So what do we have to look forward to in the next year?

I’m continuing with the “Confessions” series for now. It’s been quite popular, and I think many of you readers find a little bit of yourselves in a lot of the posts. I know I do. I’m going to try to mix it up a bit, though, invite some non-writer people to share a bit about them and their lives. The point is to show how we all SHINE Beyond our circumstances.

I have at least 2 books coming out in the next year. So, there will definitely be a few posts about those along the way.

New to the blog, I’ll be posting about book marketing and social media, each on a separate Friday of the month. For the non-writer followers, I still think you might get something out of the social media posts, and you might just enjoy hearing about the insides of my book marketing journey.

I’m bringing back Tea with Me! For those who don’t know, these posts are an opportunity for YOU to ask me questions–about anything. Questions can be about me, my writing, life, science … anything! If I don’t know the answer, I’ll try to find it; if I can’t find it, I’ll make it up. It’s tons of fun. This is one of my favorites, and readers seem to enjoy READING the posts. But I’ll definitely need y’all to be sending me questions for this once-a-month post. I usually put out a call on Facebook for questions, so be sure to follow me there.

While I don’t send my blog posts out via email anymore, I do highlight popular articles in my monthly newsletter. Sign up below so you don’t miss a thing!

 

Bellanok Sale

In addition to this week being my blog-aversary, it’s also my birthday week. And to celebrate, my fantasy novel, Bellanok, is on sale for 99 cents. That’s right. A fantasy adventure, right at your finger tips, for only 99 cents. Who’s ready to party? You can find more about Bellanok in the My Books tab!

 

Do you celebrate your birthday with any traditions?

Confessions of a Gift Bag Hoarder

confessionsby Cindy Smith

 

Gift bags are great. No talent is needed to produce a beautiful package—just a casually crumpled spray of tissue paper to cover the gift. Perfect. No fuss, no tape. Even my husband likes them.

They are available in a myriad of sizes and as many prices. Personally I go for the ones at the Dollar Store. You can get multi-packs in all sorts of pretty designs. They seem to be most prevalent at Christmas, but they are available all year round, for any holiday you can imagine.

Here’s the problem. Remember I said no tape? When I am finished enjoying my gift, the bag is still perfectly good. It doesn’t even look used. How can I possibly throw it out? So . . . I don’t. I save it. I save them all. Muahahaha. (I have to add thet I used to save particularly nice wrapping paper as well.)

I have bags full of bags. I even have a box full of bags, and a tote on a hangar full of bags. It’s too much. I try to thin them out. I give presents to my friends in gift bags. Unfortunately, if they open them in my house, they give me back the bag! It’s still good! I’m stuck with it forever.

I’m starting to get worried. What if the box breaks or the tote falls off the hangar? The bag of bags could fall over an block the door to the room. I might be buried in bags there for hours before anyone found me. I appreciate it when my daughter needs a gift bagh for a friend I do not know. The chance I will get that one back are slim.

I have been looking for a support group with no success. Meanwhile, I try to loosen my grasp and throw out the scuffed ones.

If you need a gift bag, let me know.

Meanwhile, have a very happy Christmas!

 

Author photo:

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Novel News: October 2016

Man, where did the month of October go? It’s like one minute I was waiting impatiently for the weather to cool and the leaves to change, and suddenly BOOM–October is almost over. Granted, the weather around here did cool off last week (finally) and the leaves were really pretty till the wind and rain knocked them all out of the trees. Yay for fall!

But, my recap of October isn’t really what you came here for, is it? Bring on the novel news!

*Post does contain my affiliate links

 

New Releases

Ralene Bellnock 1 The Reluctant SaviorBellanok by MEEEE!

Bellanok is a haven for myths and legends . . . until evil discovers a way in. Now the fairy queen, Fauna, must journey from the island realm to the modern world to find the man the Creator appointed to save their kingdom. A man she has been dreaming of her whole life.

Brian is a down-on-his-luck pastor on the verge of giving up on God. He’s tired and frustrated–a failure. No sooner does he make a decision that jeopardizes his career than an unusual blonde woman shows up and tries to convince him he is some kind of savior.

Fauna must open Brian’s eyes to a different reality, and Brian needs to embrace the haven’s secrets. If neither of them succeeds, Bellanok will succumb to evil and the world will lose all trace of innocence.

 

timeA Time to Rise (Out of Time, Book 3)

I haven’t had time to read this final novel in the trilogy yet, but I can’t wait!

At least that’s what the Council—and the world—thinks. But her sacrifice tore down part of the Wall long enough to stir up hope and rebellion in the people. Now she will rise again. Strong, free, and fearless.

Parvin and Solomon must uncover the mysterious clues that Jude left behind in order to destroy the projected Wall once and for all. Meanwhile, the Council schemes to new levels of technology in its attempts to keep the people contained. Can a one-handed Radical and a scarred ex-Enforcer really bring shalom to the world?

 

accAccelerant (Abiassa’s Fire, Book 2)

I’m working my way through this one, the 2nd in a fantasy trilogy, and LOVING it. I so enjoy Ronie’s writing style and her story world. 

He’ll destroy the world. But first he has to save it.

The Nine Kingdoms bleed. Leaderless, ravaged, the land awaits deliverance from Poired Dyrth’s devastating campaign. But what if one blight can only be cleansed by another?

The promised Fierian is known by many names. Judge. Destroyer. Scourge. And now one other: Haegan, Prince of Seultrie. Once a cripple, now a gifted Accelerant, Haegan can no longer run from the truth. But neither can he be reconciled to it. He knows only one thing for certain: as the only able-bodied heir to the Fire Throne, he must return to the Nine and fight for his people.

But there are insidious forces at work. When reality itself falls into question, Haegan struggles to know where to fight, whom to trust. Caught between duty to his country and duty to the world, Haegan must see clearly enough to choose the right path to save the world.

 

scarletmoonScarlet Moon (Children of the Blood Moon, Book 1)

Another one I’m looking forward to reading soon!

Destiny can pick someone else.

Evil is slipping through the cracks of its prison, and all Soleden trembles in its wake. Yet some would harness that evil to their own ends, and first among them is Idla, the sorceress queen bent on distorting the world.

Only one can stand in her way: Jayden. Upon realizing her mark as the prophesied Deliverer, Jayden conceals herself from her enemies and her Feravolk countrymen. But after the harm the Feravolk caused to her family, she’s loath to rescue the not-so-innocent.

Hiding her mark was never easy, but now that Jayden knows both Queen Idla and the Feravolk are after her, hiding her gift of the Blood Moon will be impossible.

 

blackblack tiger (Black Tiger Series) (Volume 1)

When the fire goes out, supposedly dead, the embers still remain; tiny specks of deadwood and ash that have the capacity to burn down an entire city.

Ember Carter is a sixteen-year-old farmer’s daughter who wants nothing more than to stay close to her family in the Community Garden when Career Day approaches. Unfortunately, all farming careers are given to boys, and besides, as of the past two years, all students have been drafted to the Line of Defenders to fight in a war no one seems to know about. When Ember meets Forest, the mysterious stranger who seems to know a bit too much about city life and the way the government is run, she’s even less eager to leave the safe haven of the Garden.

On Career Day, the future couldn’t look brighter when Ember is the only student assigned the career of a Farmer. But all hopes come to end when she attacks a Defender to save her best friend. Suspected a rebel and sentenced to death, she’s transferred to Frankfort Prison where she will carry out her sentence.

But Frankfort is full of surprises and snotty Patricians. While in prison, Ember learns a dark secret about Forest that makes her question what little she knew about him. And then there’s Rain,the carelessly handsome boy who enjoys instigating her just a bit too much. If THAT’S not enough, the world learns something about Ember even she doesn’t know. A secret that brings her character into question, enlightens her on her mother’s true identity, and ultimately, gives her the power to affect the rise or fall of Ky.

With the handsome Forest tugging at her heart, and the rogue Rain whispering treasons into her ear, can Ember make the right decision that will redeem the corrupt government of Ky?

 

ordOrdinary Souls by J.S. Bailey

Sixteen ordinary souls. Sixteen not-so-ordinary tales.

Ordinary Souls is an anthology about ordinary people. This new collection from J. S. Bailey features an archaeologist in the future who meets a resurrected woman from long ago, a spaceship crew stranded on a distant world, a wealthy divorcee whose love of antiques turns her life into a living nightmare, and much more.

Featuring nine new stories and seven previously-published stories including “Vapors” and “Weary Traveler,” which appear in print for the first time.

 

 

Writing Update

If you weren’t around last week, then you missed my big announcement. I signed a 3-book contract with Elk Lake Publishing. You can find out more in this blog post. Yes, I’m so very excited and still terrified. The first book could be out as early as February or May.

In other news, obviously, Bellanok–the Kindle compilation–is out this week! Hopefully in a couple of weeks, I’ll have the physical version available as well. I can’t wait to hold the actual book in my hands. And smell the paper. Don’t judge.

Right now, I’m finishing up edits on Soul Seer before I move onto a new story. *gasp* It’s been so long! I’m not sure at this point if I’ll be working on the first book in the new trilogy as I had planned. I may be working on the 2nd book in the Armor of Elohim trilogy.

Other News 

My Ladies of Spec group had our first Facebook party last night. It was fabulous and so much fun! There was a great turnout and lots of great interaction. A big thank you to all of those who attended and helped make the night truly memorable.

We also got to announce our new Facebook group for spec fic readers. Ladies of Spec Readers Group is somewhat of a cross between a street team and a readers group/book club. We’ll have game, contests, and other book launch fun for ourselves, but we’ll also highlight/read new releases and old favorites by other speculative fiction authors.

If this sounds like something you’d enjoy, click on the link and join in the fun!

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So what have you been reading this month?

AUTHORS: Did you have a book release this month? Feel free to leave the title, a 25-word blurb, and buy link in the comments! 

ACFW . . . and Realm Makers

Wow! What a whirlwind ACFW conference this year! I really felt like it was here and gone and left me in a cloud of dust. As that dust clears, though, I think this may have been the most inspirational ACFW conference I’ve been to.

For those who may not know, ACFW stands for American Christian Fiction Writers, and they have an annual conference where hundreds of Christian writers from all genres gather together to learn, worship, and fellowship on a long weekend.

11200796_10207617348136891_6678106449078097704_nHighlights for me this year:

Meeting my roommates and spending time with them. (I didn’t know them beforehand, not even much from Facebook.)

 

Sharing with my agent and my hubby that one of the publishing houses requested a proposal for my fantasy trilogy. (Squeeeeeee!)

12002159_10206872257981054_1586155859840121746_n

Hanging out with my fellow spekkies from Realm Makers AND finding that there were several speculative fiction writers there who had not hear of Realm Makers and therefore getting to tell them about it! (Yes, that was a bad sentence.)

 

12004088_10207610882215247_5009947617500223860_nListening to the keynote speaker, Bill Myers, who is such a source of inspiration, laughter, and wisdom. I truly got the most out of his sessions than any other part of the conference this year.

 

Next year, the conference is in Nashville, much closer to my home. I’m so excited for that one!

 

Speaking of next year . . .

And about a completely different conference.

We now know the date and place for Realm Makers 2016!

 

And on that note, I’ll leave you with one last thought that I gleaned from Bill Myers.

2016-announcement-copy

“The key to my success is that I’m a crybaby. I’m a coward. And I’m a moron. But I always say YES to God.”

 

This quote is going up on my wall tomorrow and will be my inspiration for the rest of the year. Amen!

Tea with Me: Marketing and Muppets

boldtcastle_library2I’m so excited to bring back the Tea with Me posts. It’s so much fun getting to know people and to be able to help them where I can. Welcome to our newest round-table sit down. Grab a drink, pull up a chair, and let’s get down to business.

Cindy: Do specific marketing efforts actually do anything useful or should I just focus on writing the next story?

Ralene: This is actually a 2-part question, so you’ll get a 2-part answer. Yes, specific marketing efforts do make a difference, but which ones are a matter of knowing your target audience and yourself well enough to bring the right marketing plan into play. That right there is a whole 3-part series of blog posts, though.

But ultimately, the best marketing for you is getting your next book out there. Authors need to balance their time between writing and marketing, with a weightier balance on writing. That’s why, with marketing, you need to work smarter–not harder.

Cindy: How many Muppets does it take to change a lightbulb?

Ralene: After thorough research, I have determined that the answer is none. Either they don’t have lightbulbs in the Muppet Kingdom, or the glow from the TV screen is bright enough. (No muppets were harmed in the development of this answer.)

Robert: If you do plot arc critique, what do you do if the author isn’t receptive to your take on their work?

Ralene: Sadly, not everyone in the world agrees with me. I think life would be so much better if they did, but, alas, it is an imperfect world we live in. So . . .

Honestly, if I were to find an author who isn’t receptive to my take on their work, I don’t know that there is much that I could do. I do know that I would not argue with them. If they ask for examples of something I said, I’d be happy to point that out, but I’m not going to argue every little point just to get my way.

And if they aren’t receptive to anything that I suggested, then I would just assume we weren’t the ideal team to begin with, wish them the best, and move on.

Do you all have anything to add to my answers? Join in the discussion now!

Also, would you all like to see the Tea with Me posts once or twice a month? 

Have a great weekend!

Winners and a Plan

file0001024202589Wow! What an exciting and fun time I had last week. It was so neat to see all the responses on the survey, and such a blessing to read all the comments on the posts, especially the ones on the sweepstakes post. You guys are awesome!

So after going over the results from the survey, I’ve determined a few things . . .

You guys are overwhelmingly women . . . but there are still a couple of men floating about. I like to think I can appeal to both genders if you’re looking for tips on everything from writing to marketing.

The majority of the people who responded are in my age group! This is nice because I know that we can relate to life stuff on a similar level.

Most of you are pre-published or self-published. This tells me that I am branding myself the way I intended and attracting my target audience. Look out because I have a lot of stuff coming up in the next few months to help you all get to the next level!

It looks like you all are interested in the tips on writing/editing and marketing, not so much on the goals, organization, and life stuff. While I don’t think I’m going to cut those out completely, since I do think they are important, I’ll try to keep them down to once a month.

cohdra_100_8690And it looks like I’m going to be making a series of checklists for my website freebies. You all want to see an editing checklist, a social media checklist, and a marketing checklist. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter to get the first shot at these as they come out this summer/fall.

As for my Friday posts, it looks like I’ll be kicking out the Happy & Healthy posts. It didn’t seem that as many people were interested in it now as there were at the beginning of 2015. So, I’ll have two Fab 5 Friday posts with one Tea with Me and one writing update post.

Thank you all so much for your input. I appreciate your help in making this blog serve you based on your needs–and not necessarily just what I want to write.

So, without further ado, I’m excited to announce the winners of the Blog Re-Launch Sweepstakes . . .

 

Winner of the $50 Amazon Gift Card is . . . 

Colette Pedersen

 

 

And now . . .

 

The winner of the FULL COPYEDIT (by me!) is . . .

 

BETHANY JENNINGS!

 

 

Congrats to both of these amazing ladies. E-mail me soon so we can talk details.

 

If you have any questions you would like me to answer for this month’s TEA WITH ME post, please leave them in the comments below!

Otherwise, what are you looking forward to most this summer?

Blog Launch and Sweepstakes!

file0001024202589Oh goodness! It feels odd to be typing up a post for MY blog again. A warning to all you good people out there: if you have a website, make sure you have a backup somewhere. This isn’t just for your files, people. Your entire website should be backed up. Don’t know how? Contact your webmaster or web-hosting company, they can tell you.

Back to the FUN!

May was quite the exciting month for me.

  • I celebrated my birthday!
  • I semi-finaled in the ACFW Genesis contest.
  • I bought a new van.
  • I ran a birthday sale for my editing and social media services and found a few new clients I am excited to work with.
  • I reached 5,000 followers on Twitter and 1,500 followers on my Facebook page.
  • The couple that designed my website last year helped me to fix my new website so I can now relaunch everything! (Need website help, go visit Master Design Solutions!)

I’m so tickled that my birthday month was such a success, that I don’t even mind that allergies had me down for half of it and then had me scrambling to get work done before the end of the month.

I’m even more grateful for all the love and support you all have shown me over the last couple of years. 

Even though May is gone, I’m still in the mood to celebrate. What better reason to celebrate than all of you guys? So it’s my turn to give back to YOU.

BLOG LAUNCH AND SWEEPSTAKES

So, here’s the deal:

One person will receive a FULL COPYEDIT on one of their projects

AND

Another person will receive a $50 Amazon Gift Card

To be eligible, you must sign up for my newsletter! (Anyone already on the newsletter list will be given 1 entry.)

 

 

You can earn an additional entry by leaving a blog comment, telling me where in the writing process you are and what you hope to accomplish in your writing before the end of 2015.

You can also earn an additional entry by filling out the quick survey below. (Leave a blog comment letting me know you filled out the survey!) If you can’t see the survey, click here to take it.
Create your own user feedback survey

The sweepstakes will run from today (Monday, June 1) thru Friday, June 5. I will announce the winner on Monday, June 8.