Saturday, 31 August 2013

Toni's Big Six.

The YA Indie Authors are starting a new monthly series, Toni's Big Six Journey. It one where a starting-out and talented new author, Toni Lombardo, will share her trials and tribulations as she makes her way to the Big Six. She'll talk about pitches, writing, conferences, social media, and/or anything else she sees and does on this journey.
Toni is

I guess I should start off with saying who I am:  My name is Toni Lombardo.  I am a writer.  I am going the traditional route (ya know, “The BIG six”, I want to be affiliated with Penguin/Random House, but for right now, I am in the transition state.)
The transition state.  I am working with a great guy named David Henry Sterry (The Book Doctor).  I met him and his wife Arielle Eckstut in the beginning of October 2011.  I went to a book convention and met them and hit it off.  Since then I have been working with him on my book.  I sent a copy of my book and he said it wasn’t ready yet, then I edited it a little and he said that it wasn’t ready for the world.  He asked what I was doing in writing now and told him all the stuff I am working on.  I told him that I felt like my writing had improved since I was sixteen when I first finished the original copy I sent him (started it when I was fifteen).  He told me it was FANTASTIC for a sixteen year old writer but not ready for publishing. 
Now, before I get to the good part here is the great thing about David, he is wonderful and gets writers because he is a writer.  He started to say something, “Have you considered…” and paused.  When he hesitated I said “rewriting it?”  He said yes.  The thing I loved about the hesitation it showed that he didn’t want to crush my dreams.  I mean really how if I went the traditional, traditional route, you know…edit sent to query, would that have ended up?  I would have gotten rejection after rejection and never have known why…I mean ask any author there are millions of horror stories.  I had one friend who burned her only manuscript because of an agent.  This guy David approached the topic carefully and caringly.  He told me what needed work; he didn’t shoot me down and crush my dreams and tell me I was untalented (or true story talked to an agent she said no.  Then told someone she didn’t like me or my book.)
The rewrite turned out to be the best thing that could happen.  The book is part 1 in a 5 book series and I have written through the halfway mark in the third novel.   In doing that my book changed so much.  Not enough for a reader to pick up on, but enough for me the author to cringe over.
Like I said I was fifteen when I started the novel and there were things I was afraid to write.  I was afraid what people would think of me, what judgments would be made. Some people told me I was a bad ‘Christian’ because of the content of my book.  Now, hold up right there—advice—NEVER, NEVER let anyone get away with saying that!  You’re writing doesn’t make you more or less of whatever religion you choose.  You’re writing doesn’t make you a good or bad believer of your faith.  Back to what I was saying, I was afraid to write certain scenes.  But as I got older and my characters aged the book had to mature.  I had to write those scenes, and you know what they turned out great.  So in the rewrite I was able to have the foundation down of the book, but the knowledge of what my characters decided to do in their lives and the maturity to write the scenes in ways that would create tight bonds between every word, sentence, and book.  I think every writer should have at least the second book in the series written before trying to publish the first.  Because no matter how hard you try to stay to your plot your characters will make their own decisions and mess everything up, but that is the beauty of writing. 
The rewrite has revealed to me so many things that were just cringe worthy, where if that book was published I would have gone into hiding and never write anything ever again, not a grocery list, not a birthday card.  Yeah, that is how bad the first go around was.  It is truly embarrassing.  I had and have supportive friends who loved the first edition, because they didn’t see my full potential, but David did.  And now when they read what I am doing now they kind of laugh that they thought the first edition was good, (they aren’t being mean, it was that bad, like really) and tell me how much I have improved. 
I keep getting off topic.  In rewriting you will find ways to make your book better in ways you couldn’t have imagine for 5 reasons: 1- you have matured in life and writing, 2-your life experiences have influenced you and made you better, 3- your characters have aged in the books, 4-your story is becoming more complex and real and lastly the most important, 5-you know your characters better!
Knowing your characters, loving, hating, crying for/with your characters is what makes your book great, because if you don’t do all that, then there is a possibility that your readers won’t either.  Your characters have to be real, and I don’t mean realistic, they have to be real to you before they can be real to others.  Because when they are real to other people—that is when you have truly have succeeded.  Having a best seller is great, having a movie made is great, being in demand is great, but the true test of success is what I said above, when your fictional character takes on a life for a person who doesn’t know you, just bought your book, your reader then you have succeeded.  It doesn’t matter if you sell one or countless books; true, true success is when your characters become real to someone else.  I know I said that what three, four times, but it is important.  And my next post will talk about the importance of connecting with characters. 
Toni's Motivating Quote: We write for ourselves.
Toni's Listening to: Fall out Boy, My Songs Know What You Did in The Dark (Light Em Up)

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

News about The Bonding Crystal

I am so excited; the Bonding Crystal will soon be available as a paperback from Amazon.  I will keep you up-to-date on the release date and everything. In the meanwhile here is a short quote out of The Bonding Crystal.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Family Page or Fan Page

This week the YA are discussing the benefits of a Fan Page on Facebook as opposed to a Family Page.
 Like most members of the YA I have a fan page on Facebook: - 
 I also have a couple of private pages for likeminded people as well as my public page. The difference between them is that I try and put only things that I think may interest my fans on my Fantasy Fiction page. I post things about my own and other authors writing, quirky facts and titbits of information. I try to strike a balance between personal information overload yet still give my fans an idea of who I am as a person not just as a writer.  Whatever I post on this blog is automatically published on my Fantasy Fiction page but my Fantasy Fiction page will also have other bits and pieces I find which I think may be of interest.  

Another really interesting and fun outlet is Pinterest. I have a number of pinterest boards at: -   where I post information about my own and other Indie Authors’ work, such as where to read excerpts and were to buy our books.

Hardwick Park Sculpture 
On the board named, Fantasy Island, I have created a place I would retreat to write if I could. Another named, My World, is for a few of the things that make up my world; things that strike a chord, things that could have been written about me and the some of the things that make me smile.

My Pages and Boards give me an opportunity to engage with fans and offer a little bit more about me and the books I write and I love. Am I getting the balance right? Have a look at the links and tell me what you think. Too much info? Not enough? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you.

See what the other members of the YA are saying.


Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Favourite quote.

I felt it was time to share another of my favourite quotes with you. This is one I sometimes feel like trying out myself when I am wrestling with a plot or one of my characters is determined to do things completely opposite to what I had planned! But, I am realistic enough to acknowledge there is very little that will get me out of bed in the middle of the night. Except maybe the fire alarm.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Excerpt from The Bonding Crystal - book one of Dragon World

‘No one goes into the heart of the Great Forest unless they have to,’ Frenzel explained. ‘Then, usually, it is the hunters or explorers who go to consult the forest elves. We are on the edge of the forest. The trees are still young and don’t yet block out the sunlight. The heart of the forest is ancient and dark. Its paths have long since overgrown. It is said that many evil creatures live there now. Though the elves guard their borders, the rest of the forest is dangerous.’

The Bonding Crystal is available at:-

Friday, 9 August 2013

YA Indie Giveaway!! Books for free and how to get them.

Freebies!! Everyone loves freebies. Free books are always a hit and this week the YA will be discussing freebies and giveaways and be offering some great books for free too.
So why would authors consider giving away their books for nothing? There are some organisations and individuals who don’t believe that books ought to be given away for free at all.
I believe free books can do a number of things. First, giving free books, as either E book or paperback to faithful readers, is a great way to say thank you. A signed copy will make that connection personal and help connect to a reader. Free books are also a great way to introduce your work to prospective followers benefiting both the writer and reader. Offering books to celebrate milestones; for instance the first 50 or 100 likes on Facebook, shares the occasion.
There is a provision on Amazon which allows Prime Members to borrow a book without charge. And best of all to make a review if you chose to review the book; which is something an author hopes for as it increases the book’s profile and it give the writer valuable feedback.
You can find free books on sites such as iCraveFeebies or, or
There are book giveaways at LibraryThing where members who are requested to make a nominal fee to join, request books donated by a variety of authors. If they ‘win’ the book then they are encouraged to review though there is no obligation to do so.
Then there is This is a place where member readers choose a book from a list of books donated by authors in either Ebook or printed book format. The reader is then expected to write a review and post it on the site within 6 weeks. For an author it is an invaluable aid to test how the book may be received by their target audience. And for the Reader? Well it offers an unlimited supply of free books in the genre they enjoy and an opportunity to tell the author exactly how they feel about the work! Wins all round!
YA are holding a great raffle which includes The Lost Sorcerer and the first book in the Dragon World series The Bonding Crystal so what you waiting for? Enter and see just what you can win!
                                                                 a Rafflecopter giveaway

1. Laura A. H. Elliott 2. Bryna Butler, author Midnight Guardian series
3. T. R. Graves, Author of The Warrior Series 4. Suzy Turner, author of The Raven Saga
5. Rachel Coles, author of Into The Ruins, geek mom blog 6. K. C. Blake, author of Vampires Rule and Crushed
7. Gwenn Wright, author of Filter 8. Liz Long | Just another writer on the loose.
9. Ella James 10. Maureen Murrish
11. YA Sci Fi Author's Ramblings 12. A Little Bit of R&R
13. Melissa Pearl 14. Terah Edun - YA Fantasy
15. Heather Sutherlin - YA Fantasy 16. Author Cindy C Bennett

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Meet Jan Wood-Harris, Talented Artist and Author.

I am delighted to have Jan Wood-Harris here today to tell us about the first book in her Ms. Wood's Wild Art Adventures series:- a unique learning experience in art and nature for children.

A bit about me: I am a self-taught Artist. Producing and selling my watercolor portraits and fine art jewelry for over 30 years (Jewelry artist in the Festival of Arts in Laguna Beach CA 1980-1988).  I have been teaching private Fine Art lessons for the past 20 years through numerous home schooled families, Charter schools and Public school children.

Also an illustrator, I have two children’s books self-published. A Children’s art instruction book,
Ms. Wood’s Wild Art Adventures-The Rainforest,
and a children’s picture book, Ben the English Afghan Hound, and a children’s song book Porch Party (coming soon).

I live by a small lake in Mission Viejo CA with my husband Robert and have two beautiful, artistic grown daughters, Mackenzie and Madison…and my big cat Bronson.

What prompted you to create your book?
Illustrating children’s books was something I’ve wanted to do for years! When my 2 girls were little I’d buy books for them that would attract me visually..(sorry girls)!, and always thought, “ I could do this”!  But a busy life of teaching and raising my girls just didn’t offer me the focus that it required.  But now they’re grown so when a friend of mine asked me a couple years ago if I’d like to illustrate her true story about a dog she had in the past while living in England, of course I said yes!  So I took her little handwritten story on construction paper tied together with a ribbon and started designing the book from scratch! Even came up with the title, Ben the English Afghan Hound.  Learned all about editing, story flow and pacing, what parts of the story to illustrate, page design, and a whole lot more! Then started researching self-publishing and managed to weave my way through the madness of that quite successfully! So, now I had the bug! While working on ‘Ben’ I started formulating the idea of a children’s how to draw book that my art students would benefit from and quickly developed the idea of Ms. Wood’s Wild Art Adventures.

Can you give us one of your favorite discoveries from your book and tell us why it is a favorite?
I love puzzles!  So when I found a way to create my own puzzle for the book using specific art terms, art history, animal characters, that were all used within the book ….I was practically giddy!

What types of things inspire you and make you want to keep creating?
I’ve been teaching fine art to children for 20 years now, so I’m always trying to find ways to keep my teaching fresh, fun and inspiring to my students.  So I would guess my students are my inspiration!  Winston Churchill said it best, “If you have knowledge, let others light their candle with it”. There ya go!

Who would be your ideal target audience?
I wrote Ms. Wood’s How to Draw book to be a source of art techniques, art history and art terms for the young artist whose parent might need to help and guide them through the book.  But equally so for the young artist that can read the story and do the tutorials all on their own.  I also hoped that it could be used in a homeschool/school environments as a fun, adventurous approach to learning about the world  and the art within it.  Beyond the obvious art benefits, the teacher could also bring in facts about the rainforest, environmental issues, animals of the rainforest to round out the experience of the book.

Describe your typical writing day or week?
Since my focus is teaching each day my typical writing day or week is a constant task of organizing my time which is different each day to fit writing and illustrating in.  To describe the way I wrote Ms. Wood’s, it was late nights (till 2am-ish) in my studio painting, while watching English mystery shows on my I-pad and sipping coffee with my cat laying inches from my work.

Is there a food or drink you have to have when you’re writing and drawing?
Yes, coffee (raw sugar and a spot of milk) and a granola bar or wheat thins.  Many times when I’d be painting I’d typically have my coffee mug sitting next to my water container for painting and often would dip my brush into the coffee mug, sometimes I’d notice, sometimes not…giggle!

Can you tell us what you’re working on right now (& possibly provide an excerpt & cover)?
Yes, I’m excited to say that I’m in the beginning stages of storyboarding my next Ms. Wood’s Wild Art Adventures-Japan!  This country has always attracted me to their architecture, textiles (Kimonos), Geishas, Samurai, Tea Ceremonies, dragons and their ancient legends and folklore.  So, I’m excited about this upcoming adventure as we have a magical encounter with ancient Japan…and then draw & paint what we see!


The Rainforest Book Summary

As a Children’s fine art teacher for many years, I’ve learned so much from my students.  Children have such rich imaginations and are always telling their own stories through their drawings.  Through those imaginations, much can be learned.  So it just made sense to me to combine art instruction with simple storytelling in the this
charming richly illustrated book.

In this first book of the Series the reader and I are off to the rainforest.
We've got to run and catch a plane, painting the clouds we see out the plane window. 
Then, once we arrive in the Rainforest, we’ll draw or paint tropical leaves, trees in Perspective, monkeys, and colorful toucans while sitting under giant leaves in the rainforest. 


We're chased by a swarm of colorful Bees, fly off cliffs only to land in the soft rainforest fauna! 
While lying on the rainforest floor we look up at the trees - There it is...


…Single Point Perspective / a Bugs-Eye View! Then we head off in a hot air balloon...
Yes! A hot air balloon for an 'Aerial View'! 

I offer step-by-step examples of how to draw the cloud, the toucan, the tropical leaves, the monkey, and the trees in perspective in easy, informative mini tutorials.

This book is also filled with examples of master artists who also have painted clouds, plants, birds, and used perspective in their own styles and mediums.
So, of course, I'll be talking about Impressionism, Modern Art, Realism and more.
At the end of the book there is a fun crossword puzzle using some of the art terms that we use within the book.  Plus, little hidden 'things' on each page for the reader/artist to 'observe' so that they might enjoy a

 'Fascination with Observation!
This series creates a way for children to enjoy learning how to draw and paint
what they see, while on wild 'art' adventures with Ms Wood and enrich your story time together further by studying more about the environment, animals and geography of the Rainforest. Combining these activities with a fun adventure creates a fulfilling way to learn about our world and how to draw it!