Monday, February 28, 2011

One-stop Blog Contest Information

Good morning to everyone! My weekend was great. I watched Megamind and laughed a ton with my kids (and husband). Made Texas brownies on Sunday and pretty much had a sugar overload. We took some to neighbors so we wouldn't end up not fitting out the door on Monday morning.

I surfed the blogs over the weekend and noticed there are a lot of contests going on right now. Some of them have very cool prizes. So, I've collected that information and thought I'd pass it on to you. Here you are:

At Hope Junkie, she's having a birthday and giving away books and critiques. (Should be the other way around but that's how blogging works I guess.) Contest closes on March 6, 2011. Go to a look here

At Kore Averna she's feeling the love and is giving away a $15 amazon card if you leave a comment about your feelings on fire. Go take a look here.

The darlings at Lisa and Laura Write are giving away signed copies of their new book The Liar Society. Go here to get the details.

Hold on tight. This one is huge. Talli Roland is having a Megabookosity in March, and it's easy to sign up. Go visit her here

This one is almost done, so be quick about visiting Carol Riggs here. It ends March 1. 

At KayKay's Corner, she's got a cool blogfest that includes getting feedback on your current work in progress as well as winning a  $20 gift card from amazon. See her here.

J.C. Martin has a race on her blog. You'll need to do a little bit of original writing for this one. Please visit her here.

If you're up for a challenge,  at LB Diamond's blog there is a Nature of Magic writing contest. It goes all the way through the month of March. Please see it here. If you win, it's a $10 Amazon voucher.

I told you there are a lot going on. Thanks for tuning in to the Life of Lois.
Thursday, February 24, 2011

Give Maggie Hogarth a Few Hours and She’ll Give You . . .


. . . an enticing ebook short story complete with an original, illustrated cover. Pretty amazing, really.
     It wasn’t too long ago when Maggie wouldn’t have dreamed of being able to write, illustrate and publish her work together, let alone all in the same day. The world of Kindle, Smashwords and other e-publishing sites have opened up possibilities to Indie authors and artists like never before.
     Not only is this good news for Maggie, but it’s also good for her fans. They get to enjoy her work more quickly and for less money. It’s a win-win.
     While epublishing can be a quick process, building up a fan base is not.
     “I've been writing stories and showcasing art since fanzines were popular in the late 1980s, which means I've been growing my fan base for decades,” explains Maggie. “I’ve noticed large new groups of fans coming in from seeing my artwork at convention shows, from publishing in magazines like Strange Horizons, and from my livejournal. Social media and advertising do work, but not immediately. We'd all love to go viral, but for most people, the overnight success really does take years.”
     So, for Indie authors and artists who would like to start building their fan base, what is the best thing to do?
     “I think the most helpful thing is to have work available for people to sample,” she says. “I offer seven free stories through Smashwords.com, I am writing a serial available online, and I have over 3,000 pieces of art on my website. People can try a little bit of everything I do, risk-free. If they like it and can afford it, they'll pick up the backlist. If they like it and can't afford it, they'll tell other people about my work. And if they don't like it, then they leave without having resented paying for their boredom. Everyone wins.”
     One thing Maggie has learned is to use her time wisely. If she’s drawing a cover of a book that will only be used on Kindle or Smashwords, she spends about an hour on it. If she’s illustrating something that will be used in print, it might take her up to thirty hours. By keeping the final outcome of her work in mind, she put into it as little or a much energy as the project deserves.
     When you take a look at Ms. Hogarth’s portfolio of work, (here) you’ll see she dabbles in everything from science fiction, fantasy and romance to non-fiction articles about business and parenthood. Her artwork is exquisite and consists mostly of dragons, elves and “people in beautiful clothes.”
     “Times right now are very uncertain,” she concludes. “It’s a great environment for experimentation and entrepreneurship. You can sell your work to traditional presses. You can sell them to small presses. You can sell them yourself. You can try royalty models. You can try donation models. You can try pay-to-post models. You can set your own prices.”
     “Try a little bit of everything until you find something comfortable for yourself and your readers. And remember, give yourself time. You can't build an audience in a night!”
     To get to know Maggie better, please visit her blog at: http://mcahogarth.blogspot.com








[LIFE OF LOIS Housekeeping: The truth behind Crusaders Challenge #1 . . . I never won a spelling bee. I did, however, win the sixth grade ping pong championship against Kristi, a super cool kid I so wanted to be like at the time. I do finger piano tunes, and I've never used bloviate and fugiline before, and hope to never again!]
Tuesday, February 22, 2011

One secret, a lie, and a quirk


Crusade Challenge #1
     Ding.
     The bell in the judge’s hand echoed in the half-empty auditorium. The sixth grade spelling bee was almost over and it was down to me and Kristi Crawford—one of the cool  kids. 
     On the front of my leg I nervously fingered the piano piece I’d been learning. Pressure was on, but I could handle it. In my twelve short years that’s one thing I’d learned about myself: I worked best with a sharp blade to my throat. 
     I had almost gotten out when I stumbled over the double “b” in rabbit. Good thing the judge was lenient. But I doubted they do me any favors now.
     “Please spell the word ‘fuliguline.’” 
     A cinch! I didn’t even need to have him use it in a sentence.
     “f-u-l-i-g-u-l-i-n-E."
     “That’s correct.” 
     The tall, stylish girl next to me was sweating. I could smell it. 
     “Please spell the word ‘bloviate.’”
     “Uhhh,” she stammered. “Could you use that in a sentence, please?” 
     “Certainly. The spoiled girl would often bloviate.”
     My opponent’s voice shook. “b-l-o-v-e-a-t-E.”
     “I’m sorry.” The judge’s face was emotionless. “That is incorrect.” 
     My fingers stopped playing the imaginary piano. I opened my mouth to shout but quickly closed it. Manners, I told myself.
     The principal made his way toward me, holding in his hands the most gorgeous fake metal trophy I’d ever seen. 
     “And the winner is . . . Lois Brown.” 
     A few kids clapped. Some whistled. And then I fainted.

All right. Some of this is a lie, some of it is true, some of it is shows embarrassing facts about me I never wanted anyone to know. Oh well.

[Housekeeping Stuff: Unfortunately no one guessed Lois' Mystery Sound. It was the sound my office chair makes when I lower it. And, after some consideration, I've decided the mystery sound is not the right fit for bloggers, so I'm going to think of something more fun. Get stoked!]
Friday, February 18, 2011

In 1517, fifty innocent Aztec slaves were murdered. . .

while hiding the personal jewelry of Montezuma. Nearly 500 years later, expert scuba diver Mike Conrad never dreamed he would meet one of them--thirty feet underwater.

CURSED GOLD, my newest ebook short story, is free if you go here at www.smashwords.com and use this coupon code: QH43R. Hurry, though. The code is only good for two weeks.

By the way, the ebook comes in all different kinds of formats (i.e. Kindle, sony reader, internet brower, pdf, etc, so even if you don't have a Kindle or a Nook, you can still read it.

On a side note, this Valentines Day my hubby gave me a Kindle and one red rose. As he gave it to me he said, "I give you this with the risk of being completely ignored the rest of this year." Sadly, he's probably right. :-)

Coming up next week I will begin doing reviews of Indie authors who publish short stories online. Some of these are fabulous writers and illustrators, and I'm excited to get to know them better.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Blog I Never Wanted to Write

Last Saturday, one of my friend’s home burned to the ground. That same day, another friend’s husband died in an accident. They are both in my writers group.

In part jest, some have said my group must be the unluckiest bunch of people around. Others have told me to get out before it’s my turn. I don’t believe either.

What I do believe is that in life things happen for a reason. I believe before we came to earth that we chose those people with whom we would share joy, love, and yes, sorrow. I feel very blessed to have been hand picked by my two friends to be a support to them in times of trial.

And, since this is a blog about writing, I will say that grief, sadness, and pain are exceptional teachers in learning how to become great authors. What better way is there to explain those same emotions in our characters than to have felt them for ourselves? And despite the amazing publishing contract we all want, for most of us, writing is about understanding life. And life is about living. And living is about Happiness. Heartache. And, most importantly, healing.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Guess Lois' Mystery Sound and Win

First off, here's wishing you all a Happy Valentines day and a big hello to any fellow crusader from Rach Writes. Now, on to business.

As a writer, I hear the same sounds everyday: my fingers typing, my office chair squeaking, and my head hitting the keyboard when I fall asleep.(grin)

One day I started thinking about the rest of you. Are these the same noises you hear too?

Thus was born my Mystery Sound Contest. Each week I will post a sound on my blog that someone who reads or writes books hears a lot. Listen to it by playing the video below and then write your best guess as to what it is in the comments section or you can send me an email at loislane@digis.net.

If you're wrong. . . I'm so sorry. BUT, if you're right then you'll win a weird, random prize. Trust me, these prizes are bizarre. That's the fun of it. If there is more than one person who is correct, I'll select a winner from the correct guesses blindfolded. The contest is open until next Monday, Feb. 28 at midnight.

WEEK #1 BIG PRIZE: Winner will receive in the mail 10 bean seeds that when planted will grow with words printed on the plant. This means you won't have to write words anymore, but you can just grow them.

BIG RULES: You have to be a follower of my blog to win! So click on the follow button right now before you forget.

BIG BONUS: If a new follower to my blog enters the contest, wins, and mentions that you were the one who referred him/her to my blog, then you will win the same prize. That's right. Two prizes will be given away.

What does this mean? This means you should facebook, blog, tweet, or at least send out a few darn emails to your friends and tell them about my blog and the contest. Be sure to tell them to mention your name (or blog name) along with their guess. Remember, you win the prize too ONLY if the person is a new follower to my blog.

Here's the sound. Clear your brain, relax a minute, and then turn the volume on your computer up.

video
Thursday, February 10, 2011

Getting To Know You

Just a quick shout out to all readers, authors, bloggers, and basic human beings that if you'd like to meet new people and get more blog-o-sphere friends, check out RACH WRITES. She'd doing a blogging crusade to bring those of us with similar interests together. The link is here.

Today is a down-to-business day for me. I have a short story I must finish or whip myself with a noodle incessantly until die. I also have got to start writing a query letter which is about as fun as taking a bath with piranhas. Seriously.

Oh, I must mention that a member of my awesome writing group just found out she is one of the top twenty finalists of the 2010 Gotham Writers' YA Novel Discovery Contest. AMAZING! You can read her name (Margie Jordan) on the list here. Her blog is also fantastical and you can find it here.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Mafia Meets the Fifth Grade

If you're looking for a deep, down-to-earth middle grade book—one that teaches children about the real world—then stop, turn around, and run. Stay as far away from the book HASHBROWN WINTERS by Frank Cole as you can.

However, if you'd enjoy a quick escape from the doldrums of winter, then grab a cup of hot cocoa and get ready to read about Hashbrown, a fifth grader at Pordunce Elementary who signs his own death warrant after accidentally injuring Hambone Oxcart's enormous pet cockroach. If you couldn't tell by his name, Hambone is twice as big and three times as mean as any other kid in the class.


Frank Cole's debut novel is about kids. Funny kids. In the story you'll meet Cordovo Figanewty, a sixth grader turned mafia boss who has taken over the teacher's lounge, forcing them to eat in a janitorial closet. You'll also be introduced to The Oracle, a kid who was shoved into his locker seven years ago and has never come out. He lives by charging students money and/or food in exchange for his all-important knowledge.

The book begins in the middle of a paint-ball war. From the get-go I knew I was in for a treat. As the story progressed, I was impressed by the variety of characters and randomness of it all. This book is a must for right-brained thinkers. Don't expect everything (or anything) to make sense. For example, does The Oracle go to the bathroom in his locker? Eewww!

Middle-graders will enjoy the story's action and adults will find the simplistic plot reminiscent of younger days when small things were blown way out of proportion. If you liked the movie THE SANDLOT from the 1990s (one of my favorites), then you'll love this book.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Cubies Are Special…Wait…What’s a Cubie?

It's happened. I'm out of the closet (so to speak). My amazing writer's group is starting a blog and the first post explains what a Cubie is. Go take a look. While you're there, check out the teen writers conference we are putting on with Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah. It's going to be phenomenal!!!! Seriously.

I'm going to be blogging about the conference more in the future. For now, go find out what a Cubie is. Come on. You know your curiosity is killing you.

Cubies Are Special…Wait…What’s a Cubie?

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I'm a mom and author, among other things. I enjoy writing middle grade and young adult books.

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