Where Fantasy Lives

THE BETWIXTERS COMING SOON Slider lighter

 

Once upon a time, the world was enchanted. Her caretakers were magical beings who worked side-by-side with humans to create harmony and balance for the earth to grow and thrive. But then something went disastrously wrong, and humans were banished from the enchanted realms forever . . . or so we thought.

This fall, I will release the first book of my new series in which magic is restored to our ordinary, mundane world. Those feelings of awe and wonder that we’ve allowed to fade from our lives will be recaptured as we journey along side my three protagonists into unbelievable and captivating adventures. Feel the shock and bewilderment when Noah, Skye and Ethan find Neevya (the faerie you met in Grum’s Tales) in a haunted forest where the Darkness has awakened. Experience elation and joy as we learn just how real magic is. But not all is fun and games. The heroes will find themselves in a race against time to help Neevya return to her realm, while discovering themselves and their own magic within.

Between now and the release date, I will post updates about the novel. I also plan to include some short stories, and although many of them will take place in the same mystical realms that will be explored in the novel, they will not interfere with the main storyline.

I invite you to join me on this journey and allow the enchantment to unfold and the magic to take hold within your lives.

As Ol’ Grum would say, “Best to click that blasted follow button so you can take time for a good sit down and a nap without missing out.”

The Eye of the World: Book Review by Laura C. Cantu -The Wheel of Time

 

The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan is the first book in the Wheel of Time series.  I found myself being enchanted when I started reading this book. I felt as if I were immersed in an old world full of innkeepers, farmers, smithies, and maidens.  Robert Jordan does a fantastic job of creating vivid and authentic scenes.  Likewise, I immediately fell in love with the main characters, and each page made me want to read more and more.  The antagonistic characters are also “likeable” in their own ways…by that I mean that they play their roles perfectly. You don’t have some kind of wimpy monster chasing around four kids for nothing.

Perhaps my favorite thing about this book is how the characters evolve. In fact, by the end, I am not sure if the main characters could even recognize themselves. That said, I’ve gone on to read many of the other books in this series. (I’m currently on book 10).  By book 10, the young and innocent characters are definitely no more.

On that note, I think it prudent to give you a slight warning.

Although I believe this story and series to be mostly good, I also think a few books could have been cut out of the series with some prudent editing.  I found myself getting bored by book 7. Sure, there are some interesting things that happen that move the story along, but for me, there is too much information. Why should I care what a small and insignificant character thinks? Why should I read an entire chapter dedicated to a character I barely know and will not see much in the future?  Also, as much as I liked the descriptive charm in the first book, I can only take so much. By book 10, I think I know the world a little better than in book 1, so I don’t see a need for paragraphs committed to such detail. I mean, sometimes it’s nice to know that the lace has weaves of gold that create star-like patterns, but at this point, I’m more interested in learning what happens to the main characters.

This series has gotten so slow for me, in fact, that the only reason I continue to read it is because my friends insist that it gets better. Also, I really do want to know what happens at the end. By now, I’ve invested lots of time into these characters, it would be a shame to drop them, despite the trudging pace.

Therefore, be warned.  If you love incredibly long series with lots of detail…(information out the wazoo about every single little thing happening within a kingdom or world)…then this series is for you.  If you’re not too interested in weeding through side plots, descriptive detail, and unnecessary conversations, then I suggest you move on.

Regardless of how the rest of the series progresses, this first book, The Eye of the World, was entertaining, interesting, and in my opinion…good.  It was probably my favorite in the series…but I’m not sure if it will remain that way once I read the last book.

 

 

Brisingr (The Inheritance Cycle, #3) by Christopher Paolini

My book review of Book Review: Brisingr (The Inheritance Cycle, #3)  by Christopher Paolini …

…And he did it again! So often, when reading a series, a certain book will stand out as better than the rest. For Christopher Paolini’s “Inheritance” series, however, I find it difficult to choose. Each book, including this one, has its own charm. I find it fascinating how the characters have developed and changed so completely that if I had only met them during this third book, I may not have recognized them when going back to read first book. Of course, this is a must read if you’ve enjoyed the first 2 books.

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

I typically enjoy fantasy, science fiction, and anything that makes my imagination soar. To my surprise, this book captivated me! I found myself enthralled by the language, the characters, and the plot. The Count is sexy, mysterious, powerful, and all the things women adore. I would dare to guess that men will find him admirable as well, but since I’m not a man, I cannot proclaim this to be true. Also, the way the Count speaks resonates in my mind. I automatically find my vocabulary expanding and my thoughts becoming more “proper.” LOL! I mean, look at the sentence above. I felt completely normal saying, “I cannot proclaim this to be true.” hahaha! Who talks like that in this day and age? I’ll tell you…people who read this book! I highly recommend it!

Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

This is a powerful and beautifully sad story. It’s the kind of sadness that makes you cry and smile at the same time. I saw the movie before I read the book and fell in love with the characters. Perhaps my favorite part of the book was learning more of the background history and enjoying the language. I admire Victor Hugo for his ability to create such a rich story that can not only survive, but thrive throughout the decades.

Eragon (Inheritance, #1) by Christopher Paolini

This is my kind of story! Actually, I resisted reading this book because I saw the movie and was less than thrilled. At the time, I was not particularly interested in fantasy. However, a dear friend of mine kept nagging me to read the first book in the Eragon series. So I finally caved in. OMG!!!  I was so surprised! From the first page to the last I was mesmerized! Eragon’s journey was full of fantastical twists and turns, and Alagaesia (his home), was just as magical. This is the book that got me hooked on fantasy! Eragon is a complex character that grows throughout the story. His friendships are well developed, and his bond with Saphira makes me want my own dragon. I would give Eragon 10 stars if I could! It’s a definite must read!

Heal Your Body by Louise L. Hay

This is my book review for Louis L. Hay’s, Heal Your Body.

Louis L. Hay presents a useful and seemingly accurate perspective on why our bodies may express discomfort or disease. I highly recommend this book to anyone that is in need of healing. This book encourages us to use the power of our minds to influence our healing processes. Heal Your Body can help you gain insight into your purpose, the obstacles you face, and  it sheds light on those things that can be difficult to face. Using this clear and easy to use “manual” can help bring not only healing, but joy and peace to one’s life.

The Host by Stephenie Meyer

This is my review of The Host, by Stephenie Meyer.

I was very leary of reading this story because I did not particularly enjoy the Twilight series. In fact, a friend nagged me for weeks to watch the movie, and I continually refused. Then, when it finally came out on DVD, I gave in.
Boy-oh-boy was I surprised!
Not only did the concept of the movie blow me away, I loved everything about it. I loved it so much I watched it more than 4 times! Then, I decided to read the book. The experience of reading the book was incredibly satisfying because I was able to compare how the movie and the book differed. There were things I liked better in the movie, and things I liked better in the book. What I liked about both the movie and the book, however, was the main character. This was the first time I’d encountered a main character that inspired me beyond measure.
Stephenie Meyer did a fantastic job of bringing essential concepts of unconditional love and connection into our mainstream awareness. It is my opinion that this book and movie should go into a hall of records. Yes, it’s that good!

Gathering Opinions -What do you think?

I plan to use this intro at the beginning of video projects related to my fantasy novel, Xandria Drake: Ancient Rising. I may also choose to add it at the end of each project, after the credits. It is my hope that this video intro will make my videos look professional and inviting. Please vote and comment. I would love to hear your thoughts.

Becoming an Author -Self Publishing Surprises

When I first began writing, I was intimidated by what I considered a steep learning curve. Never before had I attempted to write a novel, a short story, or even a blog. Heck, it was a challenge for me to write an email! I was definitely a newbie. Even now, I constantly question my choices in grammar and sentence structure. My editor and publisher, Karen Crowell from Serendipity Digital Media KC, combs through my novels with a fine toothed comb. Be warned, however, these blogs are all me…which means there is no editing or grammar checker here. Hehehe!

Anyway, the first time I spoke with Karen I was extremely excited to make my book available to the public. I was gung ho! I imagined immediate book deals, interviews, book signings, and even a movie deal. To say the least, I was more than inspired and even a bit unrealistic. After Karen read my novel and decided to take it on, she told me that she believed in it, but she also told me the road to success can be long and arduous. Then she proceeded to educate me about the publishing and marketing processes.

The biggest lesson I learned is as follows:

Do not rush into publishing your book!    Editing, revising, and formatting are your best friends! Once you think you have it finished, test it out and revise again.

Here are the strategies I followed to get my book self-published.

1) Professional Editing: I hired two professional editors to take a look at my book and make the necessary changes to prepare the book for publication. The experiences I had with each were like night and day. Below are my accounts of each.

a) The first editor I hired took a “hands-off” approach. He simply asked me to pay him up front and send him my manuscript. Once he received payment, he promised to edit my book and send it back to me. In the meantime, we did not communicate. When I paid him, I assumed I would receive a novel that was pristine, grammatically correct, and ready for print. As I said, I was a newbie. The manuscript I received from the professional editor had tons of grammatical errors, and it was definitely not ready for print. I contacted the gentleman and told him of my expectations and my disappointments. He proceeded to inform me that if I wanted him to prepare the manuscript for print, I needed to pay more money and hire him to do it again. This time, he said he would concentrate more on grammar. As you can imagine, my inner Laura was screaming, “What the F$*&% did I pay you for in the first place?” I thought hiring someone to edit my work was basically saying, “Please help me prepare this for publication.” Boy was I wrong. Lesson? Communication is key…and…Be careful who you trust with your work and your money!

b) In comes Karen Crowell; editor # 2. My experience with Karen made me believe in people again. Not only was she professional, she was (and still is) very supportive in how she worked with me. The first thing she did was read my book. It is my understanding that she read it to determine the amount of damage she would have to correct. She gave me fantastic feedback and pointed out areas in the story that could use more work. I followed her advice and resubmitted my manuscript to her with the changes she suggested. Then she began editing. During the editing process, she kept me informed of the major errors and inconsistencies she found, and she taught me along the way. I was learning where to place commas, how to use ellipses, and when not to use the word, “very.” Hahaha! Although I am still learning, Karen inspired to become a better writer and storyteller. She edited my book for flow, continuity, grammar, structure, and other variables I would never have thought about. The process seemed long because I was racing to the finish line, but looking back I realize it was quite short for all the work she did. After this fantastic experience, we talked and decided to continue working together.

2) Releasing the novel in parts: Once the book was edited, I told Karen that I couldn’t wait to get the book out. She slowed me down and advised me to release the book in parts. Her reasons for suggesting this were foreign to me at first. Later, however, I understood her logic. Hindsight is 20/20. Below are her reasons for releasing the book in parts.

a) Releasing a book in parts and in digital format can be a useful editing tool. If people like your overall story, but think part of it is less captivating than the rest of the story, that particular part will most likely receive unfavorable reviews. For example: Let’s say part 1 of your book contains chapters 1-10, and part 2 contains chapters 11-20. If you get stellar reviews on part 1, but not on part 2, you know there is a problem between chapters 11-20. You do not have to revise your entire book to make the necessary changes. The reviewers will let you know, trust me. So now I would like to say, “Warning: be prepared!” Most reviewers are candid, even to the point of making their reviews personal and hurtful. They have no qualms about ripping a novel apart and will let you know each and every mistake you made. What is the good side to this?  You learn the book’s weaknesses and have the opportunity to make it better. This process is invaluable.

b) Ratings. Releasing a book in parts affords you the opportunity to make your ratings higher. The more work you have up on Kindle, the better. Also, if you enroll your book parts in KDP select, you have more time to advertise your books for free.

c) Readers get to try the book before investing in your final version. If they do not enjoy reading a certain part, the readers may not continue the series. Therefore, your ratings are more likely to be more positive on the subsequent parts.

3) Digital Format: Karen and I decided to release my books in digital format because changes can be made easily. Once your book is printed on paper, it might as well be set in stone. You will always have copies floating around that no longer reflect the growth of your masterpiece. Only after I have my novels in what I consider to be pristine condition do I commit them to paper.

4) Enrolling in KDP Select: As we all know, Amazon is the largest online bookseller in the world. For this very reason, Karen and I chose to release my novels as Kindle books on amazon. Plus, Amazon has a fantastic program for self-publishing authors. It’s called KDP Select. I enroll all my novels in KDP Select. By doing so, I can run promotions and make each novel free every 90 days. Within those 90 days, I can choose 5 days to make each book free. Otherwise, according to Amazon’s rules and guidelines for the KDP Select program, I must price each book between $2.99-$9.99. Having the ability to offer free books can help create “buzz” around your books. It can also help you get those needed reviews. With this in mind, I would like re-explore a bit about releasing a book in parts. The first part I released free in the KDP program received about 300 downloads during the promotion. Each subsequent part received more and more free downloads. By the time my complete novel came out, my free downloads were skyrocketing. During my initial promotion for my first complete novel, I received 4028 free downloads, which made my book #1 in Mythology, #9 in teen, and #11 in fantasy. As a result, Amazon decided to advertise my novel. They sent an email listing my book as a top recommended book! Imagine my surprise when a friend of mine sent me an email from Amazon with my novel, Xandria Drake: Ancient Rising, as the first book on the list! So you see, releasing your book in parts really can help the progress of your overall book sales and ranking.

5) Social Media Marketing: The last subject I will dare to touch is social media marketing. Of course, volumes could be written on this, and I am not necessarily the one to write them since I am still learning. However, I have learned a few useful tips. First and foremost, get out there! Join goodreads, facebook, instagram, pinterest, twitter, and any other social media website you run across. Actively participate in groups, get to know people, and enjoy! Do not go to these groups for advertising. Trust me, I tried it. Now I participate for fun. Believe it or not, people will become interested in you as you become interested in them. Once you let go of the idea that you must make announcements that people don’t actually care about, unless you’re someone like J.K. Rowling, you become free! You learn to enjoy and appreciate the process. It no longer becomes a game about getting to the finish line. Instead, you do what you love because you love it. Now, doesn’t that sound like a happy ending?

I hope you have found this post useful.  If you have questions or comments, please feel free to leave your remark below.

Best!

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