Interview with @BlueBoxAlliance! #WhoAgainstBullying #BlastBullying #BlueBoxAlliance #DoctorWho #cosplay @WizardWorld @whoandcompany #doctorwhoislife

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Next up is the amazing Blue Box Alliance, who have an important message to share with Doctor Who fans. Today their founder, Jeremy Wheeler, will talk to us about some of the different ways one can participate in the fandom including cosplay, fan-films, podcast, comic cons, and .

Welcome!

Question 1): What part of the world do you come from?

bluebox1I (Jeremy Wheeler) currently reside in a small river city town in eastern Kentucky called Ashland. However, most of the members of Blue Box Alliance reside in Columbus, OH. One member lives in Florida, and another in British Columbia, Canada. We also have a small group of members in the United Kingdom.

Question 2): When did you become a fan of Doctor Who?

I was born during the middle of Tom Baker’s era as Doctor Who (1978), and my earliest memories of TV as a child were watching Doctor Who late Saturday nights on PBS. My oldest sister watched it every week along with Star Trek. She is a zealous sci-fi fan. I remember watching Doctor Who until Peter Davison took over the role in 1982, and I was confused why the Doctor didn’t look like the floofy haired one that I first knew. I didn’t know how the show worked, and I wasn’t aware that the Doctor regenerated and changed looks when mortally wounded.

Fast forward to 2013. I was a senior in college at Marshall University, and a number of my fellow classmates were enamored with the new Doctor Who. I was surprised to learn that the show was still on the air after many years, because I quit watching it in the early 80s. After being pressed to watch Doctor Who I finally gave in to the pressure. I learned that a 50th Anniversary Special was airing in a few months, and I had some time to catch up on Doctor Who leading up to the show. I binge-watched all the “new” Doctor Who I could find, and quickly became a fan of Chris Eccleston as the Doctor. I was a bit disappointed that he regenerated after only one season, but it explained to me how and why the Doctor changes his appearance from time to time.

The big day of the 50th Anniversary special came, and I was glued to my TV all day watching the festivities live on BBC America. Although I was slightly caught up on “new Who,” there were still a ton of story arcs I wasn’t familiar with (River Song in particular).

Imagine my surprise when “The Great Curator” came on the screen during the final scene of the 50th anniversary special. The moment I saw Tom Baker make a cameo as a Doctor-Not-Doctor character made me weep with tears, because in that moment MY Doctor was on screen. I wept with joy and excitement, and in that precise moment I became a dedicated and rabid fan of the show, and it’s been a upward spiral of joy ever since then.

Question 3): Who is your Doctor?

As already alluded to before, my only exposure to Doctor Who that I watched regularly was Tom Baker – the 4th Doctor Who. Perhaps it was his childlike nature, or his floofy hair, or his colorful scarf. Or maybe it was his robot dog K-9 that kept my attention. Whatever it was, the 4th Doctor is and always will be Doctor Who for me.

Question 4): What started your interest in cosplay?

I suppose cosplay was something I was mildly aware of that existed, but I assumed that it was for hobbyists with ample disposable income to burn. I mean, creating costumes requires a talent I don’t have, and money that I didn’t have either. It also requires plenty of money to buy tickets so you can show off those awesome costumes at conventions. It wasn’t until I fully immersed myself in to Doctor Who fan communities online that cosplay became fully aware to me, and that fans spent very little, or no money at all constructing props and costumes with whatever they could find. Of course, I also discovered that fans were hiring professional costume makers to make their costumes too.

21765180_491947221183001_5851959713668637794_nWhen I discovered some comic and pop-expo conventions were making their way close to where I live I decided to research the cost of costumes and props, and then I easily chose the 4th Doctor to be my one and only form of cosplay. I didn’t act immediately, though. I spent a couple of years trying to piece together the right 4th Doctor costume, but found it nearly impossible to find any jacket that resembled the ones Tom Baker wore, and I also found it nearly impossible to knit my own colorful scarf like the 4th Doctor wore. I wasn’t aware at the time that there were online vendors who custom make scarves and other bits and pieces for cosplayers to dress up as their favorite Doctor. I discovered online cosplay retailers just a couple of years ago, and saved the right amount of money purchasing a wig that closely resembles the 4th Doctor’s curly hair, and a costume that is as screen accurate as I can afford to get.

Question 5): How important is it to you to have authentic materials and patterns for your cosplays?

At first, having as costume and props that were as screen accurate as I could get was a top priority. But when the challenge of finding patterns and materials for some of the 4th Doctor’s vests and jackets proved to be an impossible feat, I gave up and settled for just finding costumes as close to screen-accurate as I can get. Plus, only professional cosplayers who compete in contests are more concerned with authenticity and accuracy when it comes to their contests. Since I do not compete in contests, I have settled for just looking as close to the 4th Doctor as possible without having vests and pants that match the exact same ones as the Doctor wore in the 70s and early 80s.

DZenmnHVwAMJZDBAs a mission dedicated to STOP BULLYING, our mission isn’t to impress other cosplayers or compete in contests, but to share a message of love and acceptance. Everyone who has ever encountered us at a convention has never ridiculed us about anything minor as a costume inaccuracy, because they realize we represent a group who loves Doctor Who and is only concerned with giving fellow Doctor Who fans with an experience of meeting the Doctor and his/her companions as they’ll ever get. Casual convention attendees don’t grade you or care if your vest matches perfectly, or if your costume is screen-accurate or not. They see someone dressed as one of their favorite characters and they are content with that, and so are we.

Even our TARDIS prop is not screen accurate. We built a TARDIS using plans and blue prints from a woodworker who designed a generalized TARDIS. Since we have so many variations of the Doctor at all of our appearances, having a TARDIS design that is specific to one Doctor and not another didn’t seem fair or economically possible. Instead, we erred on the side of building a generic version of the TARDIS that fits all the variations of the Doctor and not just one. And as usual, when fans of Doctor Who see our TARDIS at a convention, they never comment with “that’s not the TARDIS from [insert a Doctor’s name here] era.” It’s always, “Oh wow! Look! The TARDIS! Can I get a picture with it?” Of course, we oblige. Selfies with our TARDIS are always free, by the way.

Question 6): What inspired you to start Blue Box Alliance?

I give credit to two factors: 1. Mr. Ronn Smith, creator of the YouTube series “Doctor Who: The Classic Series Regenerated.” and 2. Heroes 4 Higher (a DC and Marvel Cosplay group dedicated to speaking out against drug abuse, bullying, substance abuse).

Ronn Smith is a fellow fourth Doctor cosplayer, and when I watched his YouTube video for the first time I though, “I’d love to do this!” A couple of years later, Ronn and I crossed paths on social media and we connected. I learned he lived not too far from me, and we met a couple of times so I could learn more about what he has done with his YouTube series, and what he plans to do in the future. Ronn is just as eager a fan of the fourth Doctor as I am, and so we quickly became good friends.

Heroes 4 Highter, LLC is a group that I have observed locally for quite some time. John Buckland is a former military firefighter who is retired and now spends his time cosplaying as Batman. He visits sick and injured children in hospitals, speaks at schools and churches, and also drives around in a replica Batmobile that he has dubbed “The Hope Mobile.” Because of their efforts, and the changes in people’s lives that they’ve made, I became inspired to assemble a group of people who had the passion and vision to do the same thing.

Unfortunately, I’m not a passionate fan of DC or any other comicbook characters, but I knew I wanted to do something similar to Heroes 4 Higher. The only logical thing I knew to do was find a group of fellow Doctor Who fans who was interested in social activism, and who wanted to represent the Doctor Who brand with a strong message of just being kind to other people.

I also work in the public education system, and seeing young students be victims of bullying was something that tugged at my heart. After initially conceptualizing my idea to combine Doctor Who, teaching, activism, and a desire to change people’s lives, Blue Box Alliance was born.

In November of 2016, I joined a few private Doctor Who cosplay fan forums announcing my vision of connecting Doctor Who cosplayers who wanted to speak out about the issue of bullying. Only one or two people responded, but fortunately they were very close to where I lived, and we connected and further conceptualized what is now known as Blue Box Alliance.

In the Spring and Summer of 2017 we started making appearances at as many conventions we could get ourselves in to. Some conventions invited us as guests, and others we had to petition to become participants in. Wizard World in Columbus, Ohio was our big break.

During the Columbus show, David Tennant, Catherine Tate, and John Barrowman were booked as guests. The majority of the convention attendees were there specifically to meet the tenth Doctor and his most popular companions. Of course, we had a prime location that intersected with the lines that lead to all three stars. With our TARDIS on display, and our various Doctor Who and related characters, we had a non-stop line requesting picture and photos with us and our TARDIS the entire weekend. Meanwhile, we were able to tell folks exactly who we were, what we were, and why we were doing what we were doing. The response and acceptance of our mission was openly positive, and since then we’ve continued to grow our online presence through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

Question 7): How can Doctor Who fans help spread the word about #WhoAgainstBullying?

DZenmnHVwAMJZDBWe are active on all of our social media platforms. Doctor Who fans can first follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @BlueBoxAlliance. We are easy to find.

Next, in the coming months we will be premiering our very first Doctor Who fan-film that fans can share. The show will present a strong message about friendship and battling bullying.

Another way Doctor Who fans can help spread the word is using the hashtag #WhoAgainstBullying or #BlastBullying along with #BlueBoxAlliance.

Question 8): The Blue Box Alliance was a guest at Wizard World Columbus. How did that come about?

bluebox2It was a pure stroke of luck for us since we were just getting started in early 2017. Fortunately, someone who’s a member of our group has a relative who follows Wizard World on Facebook. The powers-to-be posted on their page how they were looking for fan groups to appear as special guests at their 2017 Columbus show. I believe someone close to one of our members tagged us in the post, and within minutes a representative of Wizard World contacted us personally and invited us to be a part of the show.

Surprisingly we were a huge hit at the 2017 show. Of course, it helped that three top stars from Doctor Who were there that year. As the months grew closer to the 2018 Wizard World Columbus show I contacted the same representative who booked us the year prior, and she graciously allowed us back. Wizard World is our top favorite show, and we look forward to it each year.

Question 9): Recently I learned about Who and Company, which is a Doctor Who podcast. How can fans tune into this show and/or be a guest?

height_90_width_90_WHOandCompany-01Who & Company is an online podcast hosted by two American fans, Brent and Drew. The podcast is a fairly new show, but they cover all sorts of news regarding Doctor Who – classic Who, current series, and future series. The hosts found us on Twitter and were impressed with our #WhoAgainstBullying campaign and wanted to feature us as a guest.

We gladly went on to the show, and now we proudly support them in their effort as a top-tier Doctor Who podcast. Fans can tune in on Apple iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, and everywhere else podcasts can be listened to.

If you want to be a guest on the show, you can contact Brad and Drew directly through twitter: @whoandcompany

Question 10): I understand you are also into making Doctor Who fan films. What decisions go into choosing a particular film to produce?

Producing a Doctor Who fan-film was a tough decision to make, because there are so many fan-films already online. Everyone out there who is a fan of the show is doing their very best with what they have to work with, and it’s fabulous what they are producing.

I’ve been working in independent film-making for a little over three years now. The first thing to consider when producing a movie, or a fan-film in particular, is “How do I make mine completely different from everyone else who’s making a Doctor Who fan-film?”

This was an easy answer to find. First, we wanted to write a script that would emphasize our strong stand against bullying. So what could we do with the Doctor that hasn’t been done before, or how could we re-do a scenerio the Doctor has faced before, but in a new way?

Most of the fan-films out there feature a unique and personal version of the Doctor. I’ve yet to see a Doctor Who fan-film that features an attempt at recreating one of the canonized Doctors we all know and enjoy. It’s usually someone creating their own version of the Doctor and exploring brand new stories with their extended universe version of Doctor Who.

In our Doctor Who fan-film we are focusing on the fourth Doctor; mainly, because I’ll be portraying him and we don’t want to have to develop a new version of the Doctor like other fan-films. Second, our story is set during an unknown period of the Doctor that we as fans may or may not ever know about. It’s an extended universe story, and it takes place following the Doctor’s departure from Leela, so he’s all alone traveling all of time and space as usual, but we don’t really know where and what the Doctor does in his down time between adventures, so we sort of explore that.

For the sake of our story, we chose to create new companions for our film. When you see our film you’ll understand why we chose to create all new companions, because our story takes place in a setting that the Doctor rarely ever goes to, if ever.

Next, we wanted our script to not only feature an exciting adventure and conflict for the Doctor to encounter, but we also wanted the script to feature a message. Our script isn’t just an adventure on just another planet with just some more companions facing just another threat. No. Our threat is real. We are relying heavily on magical realism in our film, and we hope the audience will lose themselves in the story. Of course, we don’t have hardly any money to spend on this project, so we hope the audience will be forgiving on the special effects side of things and focus more on the story.

Question 11): On social media you have posted about another Doctor Who fan film. Can you tell me a bit more about it and how fans can audition?

Our first attempt at a fan-film is a story called ‘THE CELESTIAL FRIENDMAKER.’ It’s an extended universe story featuring the fourth Doctor, and although he precisely set the TARDIS coordinates for another location, he somehow ends up in present day rural United States (2018/2019).

Meanwhile, two teenaged girls – Heidi and Amber – are at each other’s throats. Amber is the high school bully and she has it out for Heidi. But is there something more insidious behind Amber’s behavior towards Heidi, or is it just a part of the psycho-social order of teenaged development? Tune in to find out!

As the girls go at each other, a dark shadowy figure is following Heidi around until an encounter with the Doctor leads both girls to stop fighting each other for a moment and seek refuge for their lives from the dark shadow figure. Somehow, they make their way in to the TARDIS where the Doctor tries some conflict resolution between the young ladies in attempts to negotiate peace. When it seems like the negotiations are going to fail, the Doctor takes his time to both girls the value of life in only the way the Doctor can.

At the present, July 9th, we have most of the cast and crew of the fan film already in place. We do have space for the part of Amber, an adult teacher role (can be male or female), and the role of Heidi’s uncle Barry. It should be noted that this is a fan-film, and it’s as low budget as it comes. Everyone is strictly volunteer and must not anticipate financial compensation for acting or performing behind the scenes work for the film. The fan film will be release publicly and for free on YouTube and Vimeo for general audiences to enjoy.

Sixty-second audition videos, or requests for auditions, can be emailed to: postcardpoet@outlook.com

Question 12): What can we expect from you in the future?

We aren’t counting our chickens before they hatch, but the intent is to continue to create Doctor Who fan film content that fans will love and enjoy. We intend to write scripts that will carry a strong and encouraging message and lesson in each one.

Our hope to expand our presence nation and world wide. We understand that our efforts are a tad bit niche, but we can at least make a small impact on Doctor Who fans by emphasizing the principals of kindness, acceptance, love, laughter, and bravery.

We intent to attend and appear at more conventions where we will have our TARDIS and other props on display. Photos with us and our props are always free. We never charge for anything. We’re not out to make any money. We’ve been to conventions where other prop displays charge $25 or more for a non-professional photo with their TARDIS or other props. We’re not interested in profiting. We’re interested in rejoicing together with other Doctor Who fans, making friends with people who love the show as much as we do, and reminding people to “run fast, always be kind; hate is foolish, and love is always wise!”

Lastly, we hope to begin making presentations and taking our TARDIS and props to public schools and offering our services as entertainers and educators to where the heart of our mission is aimed.

Question 13): How can others find out more about you and your work?

Facebook is our primary way of advertising and interacting with fellow Doctor Who fans. We also post enlightening quotes from Doctor Who, and the latest statistics about bullying and its effects.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be posting videos discussing things relevant to Doctor Who and bullying, and that will be posted on our Facebook page as well.

We’re also active on Twitter and Instagram: @BlueBoxAlliance

We have a blog and tells a little bit more about us, and also features articles written by the members of Blue Box Alliance. You can check that out at:

http://BlueBoxAlliance.wordpress.com

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Thank you again, Jeremy! Fans, please make sure to check out their Word Press, and stay tuned next week when I sit down with Luke East from Reviewing Who to talk about reviewing Doctor Who, Big Finish Productions, etc!

How You Can Participate!

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Bookspotlights: Toi’s Top 5 Angel Books Blitz, #Kindle sale + paperback #giveaway

In celebration of author, Toi Thomas’ birthday, on October 21st, all her ebooks are on sale $0 – $1.99 from October 20th – October 24th. All her books are also available in print and come with reasonable shipping through Createspace.com, if you don’t have Amazon Prime. Check out her books below and then stick around for Toi’s Top 5 Angel Books and giveaway.

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Legend of the Boy, In the Window, and Other short stories – sale $0.99 | Createspace $9.99

Collection of multi-genre stories including science fiction, romance, and paranormal. The first title story is that of a boy who must destroy the world so he can save humanity.

It’s Like the Full Moon – sale $1.99| Createspace $14.99

A romantic comedy and the first in a series. The mild-mannered Rebecca gets caught up in a most unlikely love-triangle and her BFF Lisa isn’t much help.

Eternal Curse: Giovanni’s Angel – sale $1.99| Createspace $14.99

Giovanni’s a creature out of time. Mira’s a doctor trying to classify him. Beauty and the Beast meet Jekyll and Hyde in this paranormal romance with biblical influences.

40 DAYS AND NIGHTs OF ETERNAL CURSE- a nonfiction companion guide to the novel- sale FREE| Createspace $5.99

Eternal Curse: Battleground – sale $1.99| Createspace $14.99

A family saga that touches the past and future. Giovanni’s story will bring you to tears as loss and duty blur the lines of hope for what is to come.

BATTLEGROUND SURVIVAL 101- a nonfiction companion guide to the novel- sale FREE| Createspace $5.99

Chip and Skip Need Each Other – sale $0.99 | Createspace $9.99

What Does Joe Need – sale $0.99 | Createspace $9.99

These two simple, yet vibrant, stories teach young children, and those with special needs, the difference and importance of needs and wants, at home, school, and overall. Sold separately.

Plants and Animals Change Over Time – sale $0.99 | Createspace $9.99

Land Changes Over Time – sale $0.99 | Createspace $9.99

These two simple, yet vibrant, stories teach young children, and those with special needs, the importance and inevitability of change in living things and the world. Sold separately.

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Hi there; I’m Toi. If you aren’t familiar with me yet, don’t worry; this is your chance to learn that I love Batman, Betty Boop, Star Wars, and Angels. I like all kinds of angels. Good ones, bad ones, and creatures with wings that look like angels but may not actually be. I don’t think it’s just a matter of wings either. There are other winged creatures I like, such as dragons, but there are also some I don’t like such as flying monkeys or seagulls. LOL! But seriously, I’ve grown a fondness for angel lore and stories about and or containing angel-like creatures. Heck, I even write about them in my Eternal Curse Series. While my books are influenced by Bible tales, a great many angel stories are not. Either way, if it’s about angels, I’m probably going to like it. So, here’s a list of the Top 5 angel books (or books with an angel or angel-like character) I’ve read in at least the last ten years, and in no particular order.

Angelfall (left) Book Depository | Amazon

The Conduit (right- an older edition cover; same awesome story) Book Depository | Amazon

The Devil’s Daughter (left) Book Depository | Amazon

Mercury Falls (right) Book Depository | Amazon

Secret in the Wings (above) Amazon

If you like angels or supernatural and urban fantasy stories, you should enter my paperback giveaway (open to US only) of the books mentioned above. I’ve enjoyed them and hope you will too. If you are looking for discounted print books with free international shipping, give Book Depository a try. Thanks for celebrating my birthday with me… And remember, book reviews are every author’s life force. 🙂

— GIVEAWAY CODE —
a Rafflecopter giveaway

— OR GIVEAWAY LINK —
5 PAPERBACKS GIVEAWAY

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Venues Where You Can Sell Your Book

sample1I’m often asked about how one goes about getting their name out there. Truth is, there’s no one who can sell your book better than you. You are the brand!

If you’re not already, you should be thinking about the upcoming holidays! I know, fall has just started. Let’s not rush it, right? Halloween hasn’t even happened yet!

However, this is the time of the year when children are back at school, and parents/grandparents are already starting to prepare their birthday/Christmas lists as they get back into their daily routines.

So, where are the best places to help readers get your books into their hands? Below you will find some of my suggestions.

Note: Like any other form of marketing, you will find what works for one author may not work for you. It’s all about learning, exploring and discovering what areas work best for you and your book. You may be surprised to discover where you can be successful in selling your book!

Author Events/Conventions:

These can honestly be a hit or miss, especially if you are a first time published author.

My advice: look for author events that have been around for several years. Do your research. Find out how many attendees were there, what type of books they bought, what kind of advertising is going on, are there any guest speakers, and most importantly, who is hosting the event? Remember: not every opportunity is a good one.

For example: I made the mistake this year of attending an author event this summer, which had been recommended to me as the “place to go” for a YA author by a local bookstore, that just happened to be run by a self-published author. Within the first few minutes of the event starting, I sensed something wasn’t quite right.

One author stated he was selling his book, which he knew was full of errors, and frankly, didn’t care. This not only made me question the event’s reputation, but it soon became obvious, I wasn’t part of “that” crowd when readers deliberately skipped my table like I was wearing an invisibility cloak, and proceeded to move onto everyone else’s table in my row due to them being already familiar with those authors because they were “friends” with the host.

Needless to say, I won’t be attending that event again.

Book Festivals:

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My first author event took place this year at the Ann Arbor Book Festival in Ann Arbor, MI in June. Above I’m pictured with 7 other authors representing BHC Press.

We had a great turnout despite the event itself failing to properly advertise. It was especially unfortunate that majority of the local businesses had no idea this event was even going on.

Comic Con:

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Even though I personally have not attempted to sell my book at comic con yet, many authors I know have, and have done really well. The reason I have not tried selling my book at comic con is because the ones I normally attend as a spectator are huge and expensive. For example, back in 2014, a table at Wizard World Chicago cost over $400. I have never sold that many books at an event before, so I know I would just end up taking a loss with just one book.

However, the key is not to think big like Wizard World Chicago, San Diego Comic Con, or Fan Expo Canada. Instead, think of local venues that are smaller, that have specific kind of guests. If you’re a horror writer, for example, you may target a comic con that has Norman Reedus as an invited guest,  because known for bringing in a crowd.

Comic con is also spectacular for panels. That’s how I got to meet Genese Davis, Rachel Caine, and James Morrison.

Barnes & Noble:

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Photo courtesy of Barnes & Noble: Rochester Hills

This is every author’s dream if you live in America: getting your work recognized by Barnes & Noble. And despite what you may have heard, you don’t have to have sold millions of books to get into their stores!

Most recently I had the awesome opportunity to participate in the B-Festival: Teen Festival through the Barnes & Noble Rochester store located in Rochester Hills, MI. The entire day was filled with activities on publishing, writing, young adult, and teen books.

And the best part of the day – the author’s panel!

Library Book Fairs:

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This summer I had the opportunity to participate in my first library book fair at the Warren Civic Center. The facility was beautiful, and the hosts were delightful. I joined 15 other authors where we got to meet new readers and all got the opportunity to talk about our books. There was also a really cool group photo taken, but due to I suspect…more email issues, I don’t have a copy of it.

Art Fairs:

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Okay, I’ll be honest with this one. When I first thought of art fairs, I didn’t associate them with places to buy books. Instead I thought of them as solely places to buy art. However, I soon discovered that could not be any further from the truth! I mean when you think about it, books are a form of art too, no? They are just a different kind of art.

This summer I attended two art fairs – Fenton’s Art Walk and Swartz Creek’s Art In The Park. The result: both times I either doubled or tripled the amount of sales I made from any of the other venues mentioned above, which convinces me these are the venues that work best for me.

So, what was different about these venues versus the ones listed above?

Both of these events felt more inviting than any of the events I’ve attended thus far. Everyone was encouraging each other due to the large variety of items for sales. And Swartz Creek’s event was also a fantastic place to network! I’ve got so many invites to different events that I am literally overwhelmed!

Hidden Inspiration

“Come with me and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination.”
~ Willy Wonka – Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

One of the most frequent questions I am asked as an author is what inspired me to write The Rite of Wands. I have always found that question interesting because when you think about it, inspiration is different for everyone. It may be a memory, a character from a book, song lyrics, a political speech, a TV series, or even an actor’s performance. Pure imagination is in all of us—we only need to discover it, and sometimes storytelling helps.

template-4-12172901503297868-large.pngInspiration can come to us in any shape or form; you never know what or who may inspire you. That was the case for me in 2014 when I got the opportunity to attend Wizard World Chicago and meet English actor Matt Smith, who is known for playing the Eleventh Doctor on Doctor Who, and most recently Prince Philip on Netflix’s The Crown. I had originally gone there because I really wanted to meet a Doctor, and honestly felt it was going to be one in a lifetime, never thought it would be possible to meet him again being in America. If only I had known then that I was about to discover the main piece of inspiration in order to finish my book!

A few months later, I was sitting at my desk in my writing office, trying to compose something, but nothing would come to me. I was staring at a blank page for what seemed like eternity. I was close to tears. Not because I was sad, but because I was so frustrated with myself! I thought I had what was called a dead book, and my dream of becoming an author was coming to an end. I wasn’t a writer like I thought. In that moment of desperation, I literally shouted at my computer, “WHO are you? Show yourself!” And then inspiration hit.

I envisioned out of a dark alley in Glendalow, Matt Smith, dressed in medieval warlock attire, carrying an ebony wooden wand in his hand that contained a bloodstone crystal at the shaft. There was also a scar on his face from some type of chemical accident.

I felt like I was having my own “regeneration.” I was being fed all the information I had been missing all at once. I could now hear the character, see the character, and I got a huge grasp on this character’s dominant personality, especially after the first thing I could hear this character say to me was, “My name is Mierta, and that is NOT how it happened.”

In that moment, I gained my confidence back, realizing my dream of becoming a writer could still happen. If you’re a struggling writer, don’t give up! Keep at it. Find what inspires you. You never know what or who that may be!

Announcing Fall 2017 YASH Teams!

For all of you who love finding new reads, I have just the thing for you. The YA Scavenger Hunt is coming. If you’ve never heard of it, the hunt runs twice a year in the spring and in the fall. During the hunt we showcase new and upcoming YA releases, give out tons of prizes, and release special bonus material. Sound interesting?

This spring we will have one hundred forty authors split into seven teams of twenty. Each team is assigned a color. The blog hop begins Oct 3rd and runs through Sunday, Oct 8th. It’s easy to play. All you have to do is either start on my blog or head directly over to the YASH website. There you’ll find a list of all the authors participating as well as an answer sheet you can print off to gather the info you’re hunting for and to keep track of any bonus contests you may have entered.

Are you ready to see all the books featured this season? Here they are!

Gold-Team-Fall-2017

Green-Team-YASH-Fall-2017

pink-fall-2017

Red-Team-YASH-Fall-2017

YASH-Blue-Fall-2017

Purple-Team-fall-2017

Orange-Team-YASH-Fall-2017

Which books look the most interesting to you?

This was originally posted on the YASH website.

The Benefits of Newsletters

Newsletters are a bit of a newer concept to me. Most of the authors I know do have some type of mailing list for their readers to keep up with them, but, if you’re a newer author like me, how do you get people to subscribe in the first place? I am going to share some tips I recently learned.

When Charlene Kowalski, marketing director, asked during a panel to a room filled with authors, bloggers and readers during Once Upon A Book convention this past weekend in Frankenmuth, MI, it was interesting hearing the various responds from those present.

What tips really stuck out:

  • Making your newsletter personal. Readers want to know more about you, and your life. They want you to feel like you are a friend versus just another author. They want different content than just hearing “buy my book”!
  • Offer a free book or short story exclusive to your newsletter subscribers.
  • Having giveaways exclusive to your newsletter doesn’t keep readers! This, I honestly found really surprising. Most authors said they found people were more likely to unsubscribe when their newsletter contained a giveaway.
  • Sales really CAN increase. I’ve heard more than once in the indie community that authors find newsletters are time consuming, tedious and a waste of time. However, one author said their sales increased by 44% simply because she had a newsletter.
  • Send your newsletter out quarterly, that way you will always have fresh content. If you send out your newsletter more frequently, it can lead not only unsubscribes, but people may report your content as spam/abuse.

 

Author Interview: Cristina Grau #Tuesdaybookblog

Today I’m fortunate to present Cristina Grau author of “Fulfil your Dreams”.

Hi, Cristina, thanks for agreeing to this interview!

Question 1) What part of the world do you come from?

B1MvLhWKjyS._SY200_I was born (many years ago) and raised in Montevideo, Uruguay. However, I have also lived in the US, France, The Nederlands, and England.

Question 2) What do you think makes a good story?

A story is good when it grabs you when it makes you feel something. It doesn’t matter the genre, what is important is that you don’t want to put the book down because you want to know what will happens next.

Question 3) What inspired you to write your first book?

I have been a nomad since 2008, and many people are amazed at my kind of life. I always get many questions about why I live like this, or what made me do it, or the most common one, how can I afford it. So, I decided to write a book explaining why and how I can do it.

I wrote it hoping that I can inspire somebody to live their dreams, as I am living mine. And I am proud to say, that I have been the inspiration for some people. Some have taken small steps, some have leaped into their dreams. Either way, I am happy to have been of service.

Question 4) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

It varies. Right now, I am house sitting in The Alps in France, so I have plenty of time to write. However, this past winter I was traveling through South East Asia and I did not write at all during the six months I was there because I was too busy gallivanting. As you can see, I don’t have a schedule, but when I get into writing mode, I don’t stop. Sometimes I even forget to eat.

Question 5) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I don’t think I have one. I write whenever the inspiration comes. However, I like solitude, even that I have been known to write in a busy place, but it doesn’t happen too often. One of the reasons I like to house sit in the middle of nowhere it’s that I have no temptation to go here and there, affording me the opportunity to write. Sometimes when I do help X or work away, I don’t have the chance to write as much as I want to, especially if there are many volunteers. It all comes down to discipline, and I never been known for having much of it.

Question 6) Give us the title and genre of your latest book.

416H8lyDwkL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_“Fulfill your Dreams” is an inspirational book, and the steps needed to live your life to the fullest.

Coming soon “Backpacking my Style,” is a budget book, with a lot of history, mythology, and religion. No politics, even that in some countries it was very hard not to write about politics.

I am also sharing my experiences, and many photos of the gorgeous places I have visited.

Question 7) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book?

That I actually did it. Once again, it all comes down to discipline and writing requires a lot of discipline. I love writing, but I don’t like editing.

Question 😎 Do you have an excerpt from your current work you’d like to share?

From “Backpacking my Style”

Greece
Ελλάδα

Greece is situated in the south of the Balkan Peninsula on the Aegean and Ionian Seas. And it is comprised of over 1400 islands.

It’s often called the birthplace of Western civilization, and as you have read in previous chapters, many of these countries are known as the cradle of Western Civilization. They all want the credit.

Nevertheless, Greece was one of the most influential nations of the time. To this day, we still emulate the philosophy and politics of Greece. Democracy was born in Athens, Greece. As was philosophy, political science, literature, historiography, and mathematical principles.

Comedies and tragedies were also born in Greece. As were the Olympic Games and this year is an Olympic year being held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

And don’t let us forget the food. Italy has the reputation, but most of the food’s root is Greek, Italy just puts tomato sauce on them.

Same with Mythology, the stories are almost the same, just different names and locals.
Taking about Mythology:

“Athena and Poseidon agreed that whoever gave the city the best gift would become guardian over the city. Though Poseidon thrust his trident into the rock, a spring burst forth giving the gift of water. Athena touched the ground with her spear, and an olive tree grew. The gift of an olive tree was deemed by the other gods to be more valuable.”
Even to this day, Greece is one of the leading olives producers. Some of the trees still producing olives are from the 13th century. Amazing.

Greek is one of the oldest languages in the world as it has been spoken for more than 3,000 years.

Greece has been under the ruling of many empires and countries.

Greece was under the Ottoman Empire until 1829 when finally achieve independence.
In 1940, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini attacked it but was defeated by Greece, just to fall under Nazi Germany until 1944, when with the help of Britain, they defeated the Nazi forces.

However, Greece did not gain freedom until 1973 when it declared itself a republic.
It also had wars with Turkey, the Crusaders, Russia, and many more neighboring countries. It also participated in WWI and WWII.

The most famous Greek war was the Trojan War circa 1200 BC. And we all know the story of Helen de Troy.

Just in case, here it goes…

Question 9) What can we expect from you in the future?

After I had written “Fulfill your Dreams” many people asked me how can I say that I don’t have much money, or that you don’t need that much money to travel the world. So, I keep track of all my expenses for a year, and I wrote: “Backpacking my style.”
In this book, I wrote about the history, the customs, and everything I did in all the places I have been. And of course, all the expenses I had, so everybody can see how much I spend in each place and the total for the year.

The English version is finished, and it will be published soon. Now I am translating it to Spanish.

Question 10) What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

When I make some money, I will let you know.

Question 11) How can we contact you or find out more about your books?

http://www.amazon.com/Fulfill-Your-Dreams-Cristina-Grau/dp/1518856683

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N74LJZB/
Blog: https://gradmaswanderlust.blogspot.com
Blog: https://laabuelitaviajera.blogspot.com
Blog: https://asmallgangofauthors.blogspot.com/

If you want to laugh, go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoVmvxOlcp8 to see me dancing with a camel.

Doha, Qatar
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George Town, Penang, Malaysia

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Hội An, Vietnam

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