Tuesday, March 31, 2015

New Release Spotlight: YA Author Krysten Lindsay Hager's Best Friends...Forever?

Good friends have your back, but some go behind it. 
Today's guest is Krysten Lindsay Hager, a Clean Indie Reads author who calls herself a book addict who's never met a bookstore she didn’t like. She’s worked as a journalist and writes middle grade, YA, humor essays, and adult fiction. She's originally from Michigan and has lived in Portugal, South Dakota, and currently resides in southern Ohio where you can find her reading and writing when she’s not catching up on her favorite shows. She received her master’s degree from the University of Michigan-Flint. Welcome to Adventures in Publishing  Krysten! Please tell us about your new book and what motivated you to revisit middle school, a time most of us would prefer to forget.

KLH: Hi everyone and thanks for inviting me to visit your readers, Marianne.   I've always loved reading books that use humor and have realistic (and relatable) characters. I decided to write the book I wanted to read when I was reading YA and I’m overjoyed it’s now a series where people can follow along on Landry’s journey through dealing with friendships, the ups and downs of school, crushes, and insecurities. Sure, going back to that time in my own life was a little crazy, but lucky for me there weren’t camera phones to capture me dancing in the school talent show…while wearing jean shorts. If you’re not cringing yet, let’s just say I also had a moment of “genius” where I thought my super dark brown hair would look amazing with “Sun-In” highlights that actually turned my hair a lovely shade of copper. Sigh...

The Landry’s True Colors Series is a clean reads young adult series about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, middle school and high school, frenemies, modeling, crushes, values, and self-image. Best Friends…Forever? was ranked at #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases in Teen & Young Adult Values & Virtues Fiction and #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases in Children's Books on Values. True Colors is an international bestselling book.

MS: Best Friends...Forever? was a trip back in time, dragging me back to the halls of South Junior High School where I encountered so many of the issues Landry faces. I thought it was  a great read that portrays the early teen years with painful accuracy. Kids today have a lot to deal with and live their lives much more publicly than my generation ever did.  Can you tell us more about Landry and her story?

KLH: Landry Albright hopes the new year will start off in an amazing way—instead she has to deal with more frenemy issues, boy drama, and having most of her best friends make the cheerleading squad without her. Suddenly, it seems like all anyone can talk about is starting high school next year—something she finds terrifying. Landry gets her first boyfriend, but he dumps her just as things come to a head with her friends. She feels lost and left out, but finds good advice about dealing with frenemies from what she considers an unlikely source. Landry faces having to speak up for what’s right, tell the truth (even when it hurts), and how to get past the fear of failure as she gets another shot at competing in the American Ingénue modeling competition. 

MS: How about an Excerpt?

“Landry, it’s gotta be so awkward for you to be going to Vladi’s school next year,” Tori said. “I mean, what if you run into him during the tour?"

"It’s a huge place,ʺ Ashanti said. “People break up all the time. It’s not a big deal.ʺ

Tori raised her eyebrows as if to say, “Yeah, right,” and went back to her sandwich. Meanwhile my delicious homemade soup was no longer sitting well. It never occurred to me Vladi might be around during the first pre‑freshman tour. I would be mortified if I ran into him and he was with a girl. Or worse yet, running into him, and he was with Yasmin. Plus, I hadn’t told my mom about the breakup, so if she saw him, she’d probably go over to talk to him. I could already imagine it: “Landry, Vladi’s here! Hon? Why are you hiding behind the garbage can? Your boyfriend, Vladi, is here. Come say, ‘hello.’ Stop trying to run away. Why is everyone laughing and pointing at you and calling you a ‘loser dumpee?’ What does that mean?”

Well, maybe the world would end and I wouldn’t have to deal with high school or Vladi and my mother running into each other.

Sadly, the world did not end, and on Thursday, we all had to go to the high school for a freshman information night from 6 to 9 p.m.

What people are saying about True Colors (Landry’s True Colors Series Book One):

From Teenage Book Recommendations in the UK: "This is a fantastically relatable and real book which I feel captures all of the insecurities and troubles which haunt the modern teenage girl. It is about a young model who has to go through tough times when she is torn between a life as a model and managing her friendships. You learn which friends she can most trust and which will create the drama typical of teenage life. Follow the life of Landry and try to see if you can find out which are her true friends before their true colours are revealed. This book is all about relationships, hopes and truth. I loved this book!"

From Books & Authors Spot: “This book is such an inspiration for those who just care about their looks and are tensed about them. This thing is looks aren't everything. This book is related to every teen's problem. Hager has written a very inspiring novel.”

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Blog Tour: Well Kept Secrets, by Liza O'Connor

The telephone may be the most popular and beloved product ever built.

The need for a telephone was so vast, that an amazing amount of inventors set about inventing it. Beginning in 1854, the telephone existed in some form and was re-invented over and over for the next twenty to thirty years. Actually, we are still reinventing it…

Here are some of the inventors of phones: Charles Bourseul, Johanne Phillipe Reis, Antonio Meucci, Elisha Grey, and Alexander Graham Bell. All these men invented phones, but most didn’t have the ability to market and gain financial supporters, nevertheless pay the patent fees.

The need for instantaneous communication between people at a distance from one another was fully recognized. It’s why we had telegraphs. But if we could actually send words over the line, and actually speak to the person we wished…That would be a huge improvement. A change-the-world improvement.

In the worlds of patents, only one person or company could be declared the owner of a specific device. By that I don’t mean ‘the telephone’ but all the components of a particular telephone and how they work together to transmit voice. And not surprising, there are hundreds of ways to reach the same end results. Thus, explaining the myriad of inventors of the telephone.

If Alex’s domineering father-in-law had been hit by a newly invented automobile and died, Alexander Bell would NOT have been the father of telephony.  But the bullying-father-in law lived, so Alexander Bell and Elisha Grey submitted patents on the same day. Elisha’s arrived first, so it was further down in the pile and thus Alexander’s patent was read first and granted. Yes, Fate is that fickle. Elisha Grey, by all rights, should have been awarded the patent.

That’s how important telephones were to the survival of humans. Fate chose the most likely to succeed, but still it had a backup ready, in case Alexander failed to get the job done. Fate had done everything it could to ensure Alexander created the phone, specifically giving him the meanest-father-in-law ever, who stopped him from working on other inventions and focus on the phone. I think Fate favored Alexander because his father-in-law had the money, connections, and forcefulness to make telephones become a reality. And given the lawsuits on patent infringement that followed, without said father-in-law (who was a lawyer), Alexander would have probably given up and worked on other inventions, like his compost toilet instead.

So who actually invented the telephone? Maybe Fate deserves the credit. It had to manipulate a great deal to ensure Bell came through.

In England, the telegraph authorities insisted a telephone was technically a telegraph and thus under their purview. They then set about to slow its growth with onerous regulations. By 1894, when Well Kept Secrets takes place, the regulations had changed and the telephone business was finally able to grow. Not surprisingly, the parliament and its members and other related buildings, such as Scotland Yard, acquired telephones first, along with many of the upper class.

However, Xavier Thorn refuses to have a phone in his place of business. He finds clients lie enough when they sit before him, where he can catch their lies by their ‘tells.’ If he had a phone, he’d never be able to bully a single true word out of any of them.

The great Victorian sleuth Xavier Thorn and his partner Vic Hamilton take a case close to home. Their youngest staff member, L’il Pete, discovers his mother murdered in the alley. Jacko is called up from the country to assist in solving the crime. The good woman’s murder proves to be tangled up with a much larger and shocking list of crimes perpetrated by a powerful man who may truly be above the law. Making matters more complex: Vic discovers her recent weight gain may be the result of a condition that could destroy her life and everything she loves.

(To set the scene: Xavier sent Tubs to kidnap the butler of a Minister of Parliament, so he could ask the fellow why he had tried to kill him earlier in the day. A perfectly reasonable thing to do, yet the Parliament Minister and his wife show up at six in the morning, demanding the return of their butler.)

Catherine held her ground. “I can read my servant like a book. I wish to observe the interrogation to make up my own mind to his guilt or innocence.”

“Fine, I’m going to call Scotland Yard!” Meridan replied.

Xavier gave Catherine instructions to the basement. “Please don’t scream upon sight of Tubs. It hurts his feelings.”

With a soft snort, she hurried from the room.

Meridan was a bit slower, this early in the morning, but eventually Xavier’s words sunk in. “Tubs? You’re sending my wife into the company of a mass murdering giant?”

“I didn’t send her. She demanded to go, and you let her. But for the record, Tubs only does what he’s told, so he rarely murders now that he works for me.” Xavier pasted a smile on his face.

“And he’s questioning my butler?”

“Yes, he’s very good at getting information out of people. Most start talking upon sight of him, or once they regain use of their vocal chords.”

Humor was completely wasted on Meridan. Xavier didn’t know why he bothered.
“Where is your phone?” the minister demanded.

“Are you serious? If I had a phone, I’d never get a moment’s peace. People would be calling me day and night asking me to find their missing pets, or worse yet, their errant butlers.”

Book 4
Well Kept Secrets
Free with Amazon Kindle Unlimited

Need to catch up?
Book 1

Book 2

Book 2.5

Book 3
All Xavier books Free with Amazon Unlimited

About the Author

Liza O’Connor was raised badly by feral cats, left the South/Midwest and wandered off to find nicer people on the east coast. There she worked for the meanest man on Wall Street, while her psychotic husband tried to kill her three times. (So much for finding nicer people.) Then one day she declared enough, got a better job, divorced her husband, and fell in love with her new life where people behaved normally. But all those bad behaviors have given her lots of fodder for her humorous romances. Please buy these books, because otherwise, she’ll become grumpy and write troubled novels instead. They will likely traumatize you.
You have been warned.
Mostly humorous books by Liza:
Ghost LoverTwo British brothers fall in love with the same young woman. Ancestral ghost is called in to fix the situation. And there’s a ghost cat that roams about the book as well. (Humorous Contemporary Romance)
Untamed & UnabashedThe youngest of the Bennet sisters, Lydia, tells her story. A faithful spinoff from Pride & Prejudice.
A Long Road to Love Series: (Humorous Contemporary odd Romance)
Worst Week Ever — Laugh out loud week of disasters of Epic proportions.
Oh Stupid Heart — The heart wants what it wants, even if it’s impossible.
Coming to Reason — There is a breaking point when even a saint comes to reason.
Climbing out of Hell — The reconstruction of a terrible man into a great one.
The Adventures of Xavier & Vic Sleuth series: (Late Victorian/Mystery/Romance)
The Troublesome Apprentice — The greatest sleuth in Victorian England hires a young man who turns out to be a young woman.
The Missing Partner — Opps! The greatest sleuth in Victorian England goes missing, leaving Vic to rescue him, a suffragette, and about 100 servants. Not to mention an eviscerating cat. Yes, let’s not mention the cat.
A Right to Love A romantic detour for Jacko. Want to see how amply rewarded Jacko was when he & Vic save an old woman from Bedlam?
The Mesmerist The Mesmerist can control people from afar and make them murder for her. Worse yet, Xavier Thorn has fallen under her spell.
Well Kept Secrets L’il Pete’s mum is murdered, and discovering who & why reveals a great many secrets. 

Investigate these sites:

Monday, March 23, 2015

Today's Guest: Samantha Seeley - Blogger, Photographer, Foodie, Teacher

Today's guest is blogger and food fanatic Samantha Seeley, a self-described food-obsessed, camera clutching nerd who has given us Sweet Remedy,  a food and lifestyle blog that focuses on home cooking made with real food and fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients. Its pages are graced with almost edible photos of original kitchen creations shot by the author. In June of 2013, she spoke at the BlogHer Food conference on a panel titled Pro Food Photography on the Fly. She covers Restaurant Week in the Hudson Valley and has been published in a variety of publications, most notably The Valley Table magazine. She's currently pursing her BA in Multimedia Production. I have the pleasure of working with Samantha at SUNY Orange, where she will present a master class, "Blogging and Online Presentation for Creative Endeavors: How to Market Yourself as a Working Artist," on Monday, March 30, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. During this class, she will teach you how to “present yourself digitally in a professional way and how to be seen in the crowd.” A question and answer session will follow. The class is free and open to the public, and will be of interest to anyone using or planning to use social media to further an artistic endeavor, whether writing, art, music, theater, etc. Welcome to Adventures in Publishing Samantha! Please tell us about Sweet Remedy. What got you started?

Thanks for inviting me to meet your readers, Marianne. I started Sweet Remedy as a vendor at the Pine Bush Farmers' Market in 2008/2009. I made cupcakes mainly, but also brownies and cookies. I began the website as a way to let customers know when I'd be at the market and as a way for them to see what flavors I had baked that week. Eventually it turned into a recipe blog, and I started to post everything I made in my kitchen.

Why food?
It inspires me: The aromas, vibrant colors of fresh produce and of course the many tastes. Once I started selling baked goods at the farmers market, the food community drew me in. 

How do you create the recipes?
I start out with an idea or a flavor and take it from there. I have a small notebook that I carry with me everywhere and I write down almost every idea that pops into my head throughout the day. The other day, someone mentioned a person named "Rosemary" and all I could think about was the herb rosemary in fresh baked bread! It also comes down to a lot of trial and error and multiple test runs in the kitchen! Rarely is a recipe good enough on the first try. 

Were you always a foodie?
Not always, in high school you wouldn't find me in the kitchen at all. A lot of food bloggers have cute stories about baking cookies with their grandma. Not me!

Who's your target audience?
My target audience for Sweet Remedy is anyone who wants to learn how to cook. I'm currently working on a video series on kitchen basics. I want to make cooking seem approachable and less intimidating to the novice. For my photography blog, my audience is two-fold: Other photographers looking to learn and magazines, publishing houses, restaurateurs, cookbook authors, etc. It is still in the beginning stages and all will unfold as I create more content.

How do you build your audience?
You have to know your audience before you build it up. If you aren't creating content that they want to read, they won't come back to your blog, subscribe or follow you on social media. The first step is to understand them and their needs and then to promote those posts where they "hang out" online. I also firmly believe in sharing knowledge and teaching someone something new. It doesn't hurt to post on a regular schedule! Also, a lot of time and patience.

Which tools do you depend on to create your blog? i.e software, cameras, cookbooks, websites, etc.
I use quite a few tools for my site:
  •    Self-Hosted WordPress
  •    Adobe Creative Cloud (Premiere Pro for videos, Lightroom and Photoshop for digital images)
  •    Lots of camera equipment: Canon 6D, Tripod, Cables, SD Cards, Flash Drives, etc.                  
  •    Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube
  •   The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of     America's Most Imaginative Chefs by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg
  •   Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking by Michael Ruhlman
This list could go on forever so I'll stop there! 

What is your ultimate goal?
To help people navigate their kitchens and become better home cooks! I also started my photography blog to help teach photography fundamentals. I have multiple personal goals:
  •     Write a cookbook
  •     Photograph food for other cookbook authors, restaurants and magazines
  •     Teach workshops (photography related)
  •     Design online courses
  •     Finish my degrees
Are you doing a book?
Not yet. I hope to have more time for this when I finish up my bachelor's degree. I currently have too many ideas for a cookbook. 

How did you train for this line of work?
I don't think I "trained" for it, I sort of just fell into it. I threw myself into Sweet Remedy head first and learned a lot along the way. I am currently pursuing my bachelor’s degree in Multimedia Production and in turn have taken many design, photography and new media courses. As for the cooking side of it, I've mostly learned by trial and error and now consider myself a pretty good cook! I learned from my mistakes in the kitchen, and try to help others learn by sharing those mistakes

Do you consider this a hobby or a profession?
I have two other gigs which are my main sources of income. I suppose I am walking the line between hobby and profession as I do a lot of freelance work through recipe development and photography. 

I see you're an affiliate. With what company(ies) and how does this benefit you?
I am an affiliate with a lot of companies, most notably Amazon. I receive a small monetary percentage of each sale made due to a link to Amazon from my blog.

What advice do you have for new bloggers?
If you're going to start a blog, have a clear focus and a narrow niche. It's also a good idea to absolutely love what you are going to write about, otherwise you will get bored and that will show through your work. 

Lastly, who gets to eat the delicious food after the photo shoot?
Mostly my boyfriend. Sometimes my neighbors! 

Thanks for stopping by Samantha! I'm looking forward to your class. If you'd like to attend her class, please visit SUNY Orange Cultural Affairs. 

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