Sandra Ulbrich Almazan's Blog, page 8

June 19, 2014

June 17, 2014

Alex Cavanaugh suggested last week that I blog about something fun. Sometimes it seems that with work and taking care of my family and trying to write, I don't do a lot that's just fun. However, here are a few things my family and I have planned for this summer:

Three concerts: Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, and Billy Joel. Additionally, our city hosts weekly free concerts in the evening, including one featuring a Beatles tribute band

Birthday parties for Alex's friends: I think there are at least three pool parties coming up in late June/early July, some of them on the same day.

Archery lessons for myself and my husband; Alex is still too young.

Will any of these events make it into my stories? Well, I have already written a story about a bouncy house, and archery might be useful for a future story. There may be other events coming up this summer that we haven't planned yet. We'll see what makes it to the blog.

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Published on June 17, 2014 22:00 • 5 views

June 15, 2014

Today on the Blog Ring of Power, I have Michael Anthony with me to share his words of wisdom. You can find the other parts of his interview via these links:

About You
The Writing Life
The Creative Process
About Your Current Work

Tell us about your route to success – how/when did you decide to self-publish? Did you query an agent first? How did you handle the editing, proofreading, cover design, etc.
My route to success was littered with potholes of my own creating. I broke rules that shouldn’t have been broken, and I made excuses for myself that shouldn’t have been made. I queried agents for a long long LONG time, and I wish I could get that time back.

Proofreading, editing, cover design, ebook formatting, marketing, web design, and patience are all things I’ve (arguably) become an expert on. I knew some of the things I had to do—like finding a cover designer and editor—but I had no idea I needed to know how to format an ebook. I handle all the legwork just like I handle writing a novel: one word at a time. I asked a lot of people for advice, did a tremendous amount of research, and asked questions when I was confused. I took my time and made sure I did everything right. It was difficult and time consuming, but it was in no way impossible.

What are the most important elements of good writing?
I think the ability to manipulate a reader’s emotions is the most important element in writing. I can speak for everyone else, but when I read a novel, I want to feel like I’m right there with the main character. I want to tremble when s/he’s scared, I want to smile when s/he’s happy, and I want to celebrate when s/he overcomes an obstacle. I can’t do that unless I’m emotionally vested in the character and what they’re going through.

What tools are must-haves for writers?
Agent Query Connect, Query Tracker, Track changes (during the editing process), and a CP who isn’t afraid to hurt your feelings. On the self-publishing side, a great editor (Cynthia Shepp) and cover designer (Annette Tremblay). Time is also an important tool for a writer. Take your time. Don’t rush or you’ll definitely miss something.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
I know this is cliché, but the best advice I can give is not to give up. If no one will give you a chance, take one. Sometimes, that’s the only way to succeed.

What do you feel is the key to your success?
I’m stubborn like a mule, driven like a Camaro, and I have dreams of grandeur so insane they’d make Kanye West gawk. I am surrounded by people who believe in me, and when I can’t find the strength to believe in myself, they set me straight.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Only a disclaimer about my novel—

*My Best Friend Death contains strong subject matter that may not be appropriate for some readers, including suicide, school violence, and teen alcohol and drug abuse.*

Michael Anthony grew up in the suburbs of Virginia. As the middle child, everything requiring electricity or batteries was either hogged by the oldest or begged for by the youngest. All too familiar with boredom spawned from idle thumbs, he found adventure in the plethora of novels, encyclopedias, and maps found on the bookshelf. It was during his journey through those shelves that he discovered The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer and The Giver by Lois Lowry.

From that day to this, Michael has had a love for great stories, fascinating characters, and travel. He hopes to see every corner of the world someday, and when he finishes down here, he has his eyes set on the moon. He is currently studying history at a local college while he chases his dream of becoming one of the greatest writers of his age.

Goodreads author page:

Damien Crown devotes his life to being his brother's superman. Like all heroes, he's locked in a deadly war with a formidable foe—his brother's depression. Instead of perishing in a climactic battle as comics suggests, he dies at the screech of tires and the blare of a car horn. But in those last precious moments, he regrets not taking off the cape and living his own life.
But those regrets don't last long when Death becomes his life-coach.
Given a new body and one more year to live, Damien seizes the opportunity to reinvent himself. Forbidden by Death from making contact with his old family, he knows the trek will be hard, but he's happy to leave behind the pressures of his old life.
Until his brother attempts suicide.
Now, the only way to save his brother is to break Death's rules. With a life any kid would kill for, Damien finds himself stuck between who he was, and who he wants to be. He can don his cape and die for his brother, or hang it up and finally live for himself.

To buy My Best Friend Death from Amazon, click here.
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Published on June 15, 2014 22:00 • 5 views

June 13, 2014

June 12, 2014

I was on a business trip earlier this week and couldn't log in to Blogger/Google, so since I didn't have a pre-scheduled post for Wednesday, I wasn't able to put something up. Sorry about that. Admittedly, I wasn't sure what I was going to discuss anyway. Does anyone have any suggestions about a topic you'd like to see me blog about? It could be writing tips, something about one of my stories, or something else. Please let me know in the comments.

Here are some of the most interesting science news articles I read this week:

A computer has passed the Turing Test for the first time

A new way to make laser-like beams using 250x less power

Genes found in nature yield 1918-like virus with pandemic potential

What happens to "cool" kids?

When good people do bad things

Oh great: Mayo Clinic researchers discover new form of cancer

Charging portable electronics in 10 minutes

Dark side of the moon mystery solved (and Pink Floyd had nothing to do with it)

Exercise boosts diversity of gut bacteria

Did violence shape our faces?

NASA selects next sci-fi projects to fund

Bacteria explain why stress, fear trigger heart attacks

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Published on June 12, 2014 22:00

June 8, 2014

This week on the Blog Ring of Power we have Sara Zook. She'll be discussing The Creative Life here. You can find the rest of her interview at these links:

About You
The Creative Process
About Your Current Work
Words of Wisdom

Her latest book, A Magic Within, will be out next week.

What is your writing process? Do you follow a regular routine? Do you use pen and paper or computer? Work at home or at the library/Starbucks, etc. – I tend to write ideas down on a piece of paper and expand them into chapters on the computer.  I like to work at home in quiet (which doesn’t happen often with 3 little kids) or outside.
How do you balance writing with other aspects of your life? – Everyone is always surprised that I can work full-time, raise 3 kids who are sports and activities and still find time to write.  It’s not easy because I don’t want to neglect my family, but I somehow find time here and there to sit down and get a large amount written at one time instead of pieces here and there.

How much time per day do you spend on your writing? – It’s definitely not daily, although I wish it were.  Writing full-time is a future goal of mine.  When I do get a chance to sit down and write, I’d say it can be anywhere from 3-7 hours, not straight, always with interruptions, but I tend to devote a day to doing this once a week.

Other than your family, what has been your greatest source of support? – The bloggers.  I love how amazing they are.  They want to hear from you and promote you.  They encourage you (heckle you in a good way) to get that next book done.  They are truly a blessing.

How do you deal with rejection and/or negative reviews?- It’s always hard to read a negative review, but it happens to the best of them.  I take into consideration that everyone likes different things.  It’s what makes the world go round. 

Sara V. Zook is a paranormal/fantasy writer. She is the author of the Strange in Skin Trilogy, Clipped and Evanescent, Book 1 in The Sempiternal Series. She lives in Pennsylvania with her 3 small children and husband.
Blog:  Facebook page:  Goodreads author page:  Twitter: 

 Normalcy. I need to get back to a state of normalcy. What’s happened to me? Why am I here in this orphanage, and why am I forbidden to leave? Everyone is so very cruel here. I can’t eat. I can’t sleep. It’s the paranoia getting to me. It’s like someone’s always watching, always listening. There’s a general fear around here, and for some reason, it seems fueled by my arrival, but why are they afraid of me? I didn’t ask for this. I don’t even know how I got here. I need to go home. My parents must be worried sick. There has to be someone here who can help me, who can give me answers and lead me in the right direction so I can get out of here. There is this one boy, Lydic. Could he be my key to getting out? I can see it in his eyes he feels sorry for me. He seems to know more than he’s letting on. These people aren’t like anyone I’ve ever met before. They act like I have secrets, but they’re the ones not talking. I’ve never been alone like this, and I’ll do whatever it takes to figure out what’s going on and get out.
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Published on June 08, 2014 22:00

June 5, 2014

June 4, 2014

Have you ever wished there was a convention specifically for indie writers? Apparently, there is one. It's called IndieReCon LIVE!, and it's taking place October 10--October 11 in Sandy, Utah. Even if you can't make it there in person, you can still participate in their contests. Click here for the rules and how to enter for the chance to earn a Howey. (After Hugh Howey, of course. They chose a great person to name their awards after, didn't they?) Most of the contests are free to enter, but some do require a small fee ($15 max) to enter.

I'm personally not sure yet if this is something I want to enter. The rules do allow books published in 2013 to be nominated, so I could enter Twinned Universes. Perhaps if the categories were broken down by genre instead of reader age group, I'd feel that this was a better fit for me. (To me, this con seemed skewed toward YA.) Still, some publicity might come out of it, and you can nominate other authors' works for some of the categories. The deadline for the Total Package contest is June 30th; for all the rest, it's July 31st. I still have time to mull this over.

Does this sound like something that would interest you? Why or why not? Please feel free to comment; it should be much easier to do so now.
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Published on June 04, 2014 22:00

June 1, 2014

The Blog Ring of Power will resume next week, so today I have some time to tell you what's going on with Indie Writers Monthly. And do we have a lot going on in the next couple of months.

First, the June issue of Indie Writers Monthly (theme: June Bugs!) is out and should be free now through Friday. You can download it here. My contributions include a short story written especially for this issue and a review of Lindsay Buroker's blog. There are also two other short stories by Andrew and Briane, an article about bugs in science fiction by Pall Dilloway, and two articles on writing. Go check it out!

Speaking of our monthly issue, there's still time to submit a story to our annual special issue, which has a time travel theme. Up for grabs are two Amazon gift cards to the authors of the best stories, as picked by the writers of Indie Writers Monthly. For more details, click here.

Finally, Briane is conducting a blog tour on behalf of Indie Writers Monthly in June (although it actually started on Friday). He will be visiting a new blog every Friday. I don't have the links for the upcoming sites, but you can find Friday's guest post here. I'll add more information about the blog tour as it becomes available.

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Published on June 01, 2014 22:00 • 3 views

May 29, 2014