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Thursday, November 28, 2013

HAPPY HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!


Happy Happy Turkey Day to all who celebrate!
I hope you're all having a wonderful Thanksgiving and, like me, will soon look like this:

I wanted to take a moment to talk about some of the things I'm thankful for because I don't think I spend nearly enough time doing so. This year has personally been quite rough for me and my family. We lost a few people we loved dearly, we've had some heavy financial troubles, had to move, faced some serious health issues and more. Honestly, after the year we've had I thought it would be hard to find things to be thankful for, but it isn't. So, here are just a few things I'm thankful for:

1. People to love and be loved by!
There's nothing better than the love of family and friends.

2. All of YOU!
My blogging and book buds rock and y'all make so so very happy.

3. Great books, tv shows, movies, and music!
2013 has produced some awesome entertainment. And I'm especially thankful for my fellow booknerds and the SPNfamily!

4. The birth of my niece!
2013 saw the passing of loved ones, but also saw the birth of pure love and sunshine: my niece, Aeicha Elizabeth. Baby A has brought so much joy and happiness to my family and I am so thankful everyday for her! And I'm so thankful that both her Babushka and Nana were able to spend several months with her before they passed this year. I know she made their last days very sweet. Here's Baby A at one day old and at six months old (taken a few days ago)...

Those cheeks have only gotten fatter and cuter right?!

Okie dokie, I'll leave y'all now to your Thanksgiving dinners and family time! And I hope y'all take some time today to think about all things you're thankful for!!!









Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Book Spotlight {Guest Post & Giveaway}-- The Adventures of Jake and Moon Granny


I'm so thrilled to be spotlighting the magical realism middle-grade book, The Adventures of Jake and Moon Granny: Space Pirate Panic by Jaye Seymour, today! Today is truly a first for Word Spelunking because we have the pleasure of hosting the pirate Bloodthirsty Blackbeard the Bad, who has stopped by with a fun guest post! Plus, there be a giveaway me hearties...

The Adventures of Jake and Moon Granny: 
Space Pirate Panic
by Jaye Seymour
illustrated by Alma Martinez
10/23/13
knowonder!

Help! Great Uncle Raymond and his pet fire newt, Flamer, have been kidnapped by the smelliest space pirates in the universe. It’s up to Jake and his granny to rescue them, with a little help along the way from some burping green aliens. But first they’ll need to make it through the spaceship-crunching meteor shower in one piece... Will the contents of Moon Granny's favorite red handbag be enough to defeat Blackbeard and his beastly buccaneers? Or will she and Jake be forced to walk the plank...in space? Hold your noses and burp along with Jake and Moon Granny on their stinky, star-crossing adventure. But whatever you do, don't press the red button! Or was it the yellow one?!

Find the book: Goodreads / Amazon


Ahoy there me hearties! A big thank you to Aeicha for inviting me aboard today. Stinky space pirates don’t get many invitations, especially not to lovely websites like this, with pretty cupcakes...

My name is Bloodthirsty Blackbeard the Bad (my friends call me Blackbeard for short, or at least they would if I had any) and I’m the fearsome Captain of an elite gang of beastly buccaneers. If you’ve ever looked up into the star-studded night sky and thought, Ugh, what’s that terrible stench? then that was probably us. (You’re welcome.) You see, in the cut-throat world of inter-galactic piracy, hideous hygiene habits are all the rage. Bad smells totally rock. Or should that be totally reek? Either way, it’s been two decades since any of us took a bath and that was only for a dare. But I’m not here to tell you about our malodorous magnificence or our putrid pirate pong... No, today I want to talk about a subject even closer to my heart: 
The Fine Art of the Insult.

Of course you chapter-chomping chimp-brains down on Planet Earth have been insulting each other for centuries now. And, I must admit, you’re rather good at it. Shakespeare’s plays are bursting with lovely juicy insults to use on your enemies, or on people who used to be your friends before you started insulting them. Some are probably too rude to mention here (I wouldn’t want to scare those delicious-looking cupcakes) but you might like to try “Ye mad headed ape,” for starters, or “tripe visaged rascal.” I don’t imagine anyone (with the possible exception of Long John Mercury) appreciates being told they have the head of a monkey or a face like the inside of a cow’s stomach. And of course “base dunghill villain,” is another good one. I used it on a pesky prisoner just last week while he was walking the plank. In fact they were probably the last words he heard before he floated off to his doom... So long, you base dunghill villain. Enjoy your trip!

When it comes to literary insults, Roald Dahl is up there with the best. This passage from Matilda is an absolute corker:
    “You ignorant little slug!" the Trunchbull bellowed. "You witless weed! You empty-headed hamster! You stupid glob of glue!” 

Calling people slugs is a great idea and words like ‘witless’ and ‘empty-headed’ are bound to make your victims’ blood boil! Stringing insults together into a long list is also a top tip for getting under people’s skin. Even rude rascals like me can learn a thing or two about name-calling from the great Agatha Trunchbull. 

And what about these breathtaking beauties from Matilda? I think you’ll agree they take insulting to the next level:
   “You blithering idiot! You festering gumboil! You fleabitten fungus! You bursting blister! You moth-eaten maggot!”

What I particularly like here is the use of alliteration in ‘fleabitten fungus’, ‘bursting blister’ and ‘moth-eaten maggot’. Starting your insults and threats with the same letter always adds a certain something and gives them a nice satisfying feel on your tongue. When I’m threatening Jake and his Moon Granny in my book I often indulge in a spot of alliteration: 
   “Ow!” he howled. “I’ll get you for that, you sniveling little snot rag. I’ll fillet you like a flounder.” He sucked at his throbbing red fingers. “I’ll roast you like a rack of ribs. I’ll have your brains for burgers.”

Chasing a scurvy schoolboy around his grandmother’s spaceship, while sucking your poor injured fingers, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy playing around with words at the same time!You’ll notice I went with a food theme for that particular round of threats. A classy touch, I’m sure you’ll agree. And food items work equally well in insults, especially when teamed up with a part of the body – how about ‘broccoli brains’ or ‘banana-bellied blockhead’? A fine pair of insults that work well in any social situation requiring a complete lack of tact or basic human politeness. Speaking of which, you should have seen the look on the pizza delivery boy’s face last night when I called him a ‘flapping fish-faced fool’. It was a classic!
   
    “I didn’t ride halfway across the universe just to be insulted,” I could hear him 
    shouting through the hatch, after I’d snatched my pizza out of his hands without paying.
    “Of course you didn’t,” I shouted back sympathetically. I may be mean and menacing but I’m not totally unreasonable. “You rode halfway across the universe to deliver my deep crust ham and pineapple, extra large, and then be insulted.” 

 For some reason he didn’t throw in a free side of garlic bread. 

Oops! I’ve just looked at the time (no easy feat when the spaceship clock’s covered in dirty underpants and used teabags) and realised I’m late for my next round of pirate pillaging and looting. That’s going to have to be it for today I’m afraid, apart from one final tip: the animal kingdom down on your funny little planet is an absolute gift to the would-be insulter. Insects and fish have some of the best names ever... think ‘apple maggot’; ‘booklouse’; ‘pigfish’ or ‘shovelnose’. Many of them are readymade standalone insults just waiting to be used! So if you’d like to follow in my offensive, friendless ways, all you need to do is grab yourself an animal encyclopaedia and get going! 

Well, what are you waiting for, you lazy little locusts... you miserable monkey-mouthed mealy bugs...? 

Follow all of Blackbeard’s humorous rantings on Twitter

Jaye Seymour is a Cambridge University English graduate and previous winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Competition. Her fiction has appeared in a number of publications on both sides of the Atlantic, including The Guardian, Mslexia, The First Line, Short Fiction and Knowonder! She was shortlisted for the 2013 Greenhouse Funny Prize and lives in Devon, England.

About Knowonder!
Knowonder is a leading publisher of engaging, daily content that drives literacy—the most important factor in a child’s success.
Parents and educators use Knowonder tools and content to promote reading, creativity, and thinking skills in children from ages 0-12.
Knowonder’s storybook collections and chapter books deliver original, compelling new stories every day, creating an opportunity for parents to connect to their children in ways that significantly improve their children’s success.
Ultimately, Knowonder’s mission is to eradicate illiteracy and improve education success through content that is affordable, accessible, and effective.
Learn more at www.knowonder.com.

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Cover Reveal-- The Other Me by Suzanne van Rooyen

I'm very excited to help author Suzanne van Rooyen reveal the cover for her new YA LGBT novel, The Other Me! Below you can learn more about this book and enter to win a $15 Amazon GC...


The Other Me
by Suzanne van Rooyen
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Release Date: 19 Dec, 2013
Length: 216 pages
Genre: YA, LGBT, contemporary

Fifteen-year-old Treasa Prescott thinks she’s an alien. She doesn’t fit in with the preppy South African private school crowd and feels claustrophobic in her own skin. Treasa is worried she might spend life as a social pariah when she meets Gabriel du Preez. Gabriel plays the piano better than Beethoven, has a black belt in karate, and would look good wearing a garbage bag. Treasa thinks he’s perfect. It might even be love, as long as Gabriel doesn’t find out she’s a freak.

As Treasa spends time with Gabriel, she realizes she might not love him as much as she wants to be him, and that the reason she feels uncomfortable in her skin might have less to do with extra-terrestrial origins and more to do with being born in the wrong body.

But Gabriel is not the perfect boy Treasa imagines. He harbors dark secrets and self-destructive tendencies. Still, Treasa might be able to accept Gabriel’s baggage if he can accept who she longs to be.





Suzanne is an author and peanut-butter addict from South Africa. She currently lives in Finland and finds the cold, dark forests nothing if not inspiring. Although she has a Master’s degree in music, Suzanne prefers conjuring strange worlds and creating quirky characters. When not writing you can find her teaching dance and music to middle-schoolers or playing in the snow with her shiba inu. She is rep'd by Jordy Albert of the Booker Albert Agency.

Win a $15 Amazon Gift Card
(open internationally)


Friday, November 22, 2013

Picture Book Review and Guest Post-- Max's Little Brother by Eric James


I'm very excited to be reviewing Eric James' picture book, Max's Little Brother, today! Eric is also stopping by for a guest post...

Max's Little Brother
by Eric James
illustrated by minkee

Max was a very happy little boy .... until his baby brother came along!
A rhyming story about a little boy called Max who is initially jealous at the arrival of his new baby brother. Yet when his brother goes to “stay with his monster friend” and doesn’t come back, Max feels the need to rescue him. He embarks on an adventure, and in the process Max not only overcomes his jealousy, but learns that his little brother isn’t so bad after all.

I was very lucky to get the chance to read an early copy of Eric James’ utterly adorable and charming picture book, Max’s Little Brother. Max was a good, special boy, but when his baby brother arrives, Max becomes quite jealous and wants nothing more than to send his brother far away. Max gets meaner and meaner until his baby brother has had enough and runs away to an unlikely place, and Max must see the error of his ways.

I’m very much in love with this funny and highly entertaining story. Each time I read it (and I’ve read it a bunch), it never fails to make me giggle and smile. There’s something so very refreshing and special about this little story; it’s laugh-out-loud funny and heart-warming in ways that you don’t often find in picture books.

Eric James is a superb storyteller and rhyming master! His rhymes flow lyrically and just sound pleasing to the ear when said aloud (and this is a book that demands to be read aloud!). Since picture books are usually short and have sparse text, every single word matters and must be chosen with great care, and Eric James does a fantastic job of choosing the perfect words and rhymes. Here's some of my favorite lines:

"You're mean and so I'm leaving now." His little brother said. "I'm staying with my monster friend Who lives beneath my bed. Tell Mummy and tell Daddy That I love them very much, And when I've learned my ABCs I'll write to keep in touch."

The story in Max’s Little Brother is one that many little readers can relate to. Eric James depicts the highs and lows of having a sibling with amusing honesty. Little readers will find both Max and his little brother to be fun, relatable characters, and will delight in the surprising and sweet ending.

One of the things I love best about Max’s Little Brother are all the incredible illustrations by Minkee. As you can tell by the cover, the illustrations are bright, eye-catching, and ever so cute! Minkee brings Eric James’ words to life spectacularly.

Max’s Little Brother really is an awesome, witty picture book and both Eric James and Minkee have gained a fan in me! The little readers in your life will wanna hear it again and again, but don’t worry, the story is so fun that you won’t mind reading it again and again.

I would LOVE to see this book published and YOU can help that happen by supporting the Kickstarter Campaign for it!


Four & a Half Important Lessons I Learned From Writing a Rhyming Story
by Eric James

Have the likes of Julia Donaldson, Shel Silverstein and Dr. Suess inspired you to create a rhyming masterpiece of your own? Before you put pen to paper read through this little list containing four and a half lessons I’ve learned through the process of writing Max’s Little Brother my little story about sibling rivalry. I’m not suggesting you abandon your dream altogether, but it never hurts to know just what you’re getting yourself in to!

LESSON #1: Avoid writing in rhyme if you dream of international stardom.

Write a great novel and you have the potential to enjoy great success in a global market, but it’s not so with rhymes. Due to the intricacies of wordplay and the need for certain words to rhyme you’ll discover that with very few exceptions too much will get lost in translation. Yes, there is a large English speaking market in the world, but by writing in rhyme you will still be limiting your reach, so if you’re determined to write in rhyme then you’d better forget about having a global best seller.

LESSON #2: Watch your language!

So you’ve dropped your hopes of international stardom, and you’re content with simply being a huge star in your own country? Great! But beware; You can inadvertently limit your audience further through your choice of words. Although it’s short and sweet, I still managed to refer to several things in Max’s Little Brother that may distance me from American readers: I talk about  “Mummy”, not “Mommy”, and I use the word ‘bum’, which is actually intended to refer to a posterior (and to be a little bit naughty), but I guess it could be interpreted as some kind of slur on the homeless by my cousins across the pond!

In most forms of fiction substitution is less of a problem, but when your words need to rhyme, there will often be no decent alternative. Thankfully most misunderstandings are harmless (‘pants’, ‘jam’ and ‘crisps’ for example) but others could be downright offensive so be careful.

Not only can meanings be affected, but so can the metre of the rhyme. Unless you have the funds to be able to employ multiple editors and create localised copies of your book just be aware of these differences within the English language and approach with caution.


LESSON #3: Get plenty of people to read your rhyme back to you, out loud, and listen closely to how they do it because there will be important differences to pick up on.

Until I wrote a rhyming story I never considered the implications of people placing stresses on words where I had not intended them to be, but they do, and it can make the difference between someone thinking your rhyme is ‘tight’ or ‘sloppy’. Consider the following:

“There was just Max”

Most people seem to read  this as I would expect them to: “There was just Max” which can be expressed as “De-do-de-do”. However, a number of people run the first two words in to each other, putting slightly more emphasis on “there”: “Therewas just Max”, and this results in a slightly different rhythm that can be expressed as “Doodle-de-do”.

So we have “De-do-de-do” vs “Doodle-de-do”, which may seem like a very trivial distinction, but when someone’s interpretation of the metre in one line is at odds with the metre in the next line, (or in your next verse) they can end up stumbling, and that can be enough for them to dislike the entire thing.

Now look at this line:

“A boy called Max”

It’s very similar to the first example and contains the same number of syllables, but you’ll see that the same issue is unlikely to occur. That line’s metre will predominantly be heard as “De-do-de-do” and so given the choice it may make more sense to go with this option.

You can drive yourself nuts trying to accommodate everyone’s style of reading (I know I did) and so rather than sacrifice otherwise good verses for lesser versions in an attempt to avoid all possible problems,  just focus on resolving the most common issues.


LESSON #4: If something is causing you problems early on, consider whether it will continue to do so, and change tack if necessary.

I really loved the idea of Max being the only person in the book who is referred to by name. It saved me from having to introduce any other characters by name, which I felt was a waste of precious space. This seemingly small decision caused me a big headache down the line, even after I gave in and named the monster as well.

In my case, with the monster excluded I ended up with is a story containing 3 male characters: Max, his brother, and his father. Now think what happens when I use words like ‘he’, ‘him‘ or ‘brother’ in a verse. Who does “he” refer to? Do I mean the father or the brother? If it’s a brother, which brother do I mean?

Clarification became a nightmare, and in striving for it I had to ditch verses which I otherwise loved. Going back on this decision later on in the process meant a huge rewrite and a change to too many earlier verses so I didn't do it. It would have been easier to do at an earlier stage.


LESSON #4.5:

This applies to all books (and so it only counts as half a point!) but it’s definitely worth mentioning that no matter how good your rhyme is, you will find it absolutely impossible to please everyone.

Every change I put forward to my ‘panel’ of reviewers (i.e. friends who I harangued into listening to every permutation of every verse) would cause some kind of division.

The only thing you can do is to ask for honest opinions, consider them carefully without letting your pride get in the way, and then adapt where necessary, but otherwise stand by your convictions!

Conclusion

Would I write another rhyming story? Absolutely! In fact I already have, and I applied most of the above rules to the process. “Most?” you say. Yes, rules are fine unless they get in the way.  Never let rules spoil your fun!

If you enjoyed this article please check out the Kickstarter campaign for Max’s Little Brother which started on 20th November and only runs for 30 days. There are some exclusive rewards on offer, and the biggest help you can give me is to tell your friends about it too!

Happy writing!
Eric James


You can read a sample of this book here.
Check out the Kickstarter Campaign here.


Eric James lives in the wonderful Georgian city of Bath, England. One sunny afternoon he wrote a silly little rhyme about a boy called Max. "Writing silly rhymes is much more fun than my real job" he thought.

That evening he read the rhyme to his girlfriend who liked it so much she said "You should turn it in to a book", so he did!

ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR
One day Eric saw Minkee wandering around the internet and said "Hello, 
would you draw some pictures for me?" Minkee said "Yes" and it turns out she was  very good at drawing indeed. Eric bought Minkee some crayons and she drew all the pictures that were in Eric's head. Minkee lives on the internet and you can find her here.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Book Spotlight {Excerpt and Giveaway}-- The Wind Whisperer by Krista Holle


Today I am spotlighting Krista Holle's YA book The Wind Whisperer! Below you can read an excerpt and enter a giveaway...


The Wind Whisperer
by Krista Holle
11/15/13
Sweet River Romance
YA Paranormal Romance
302 pages

This love triangle just got dangerous…
At fifteen, Anaii is the most important member of her tribe—and the most mysterious.  Ever since Anaii can remember, the spirits of the wind have whispered of fertile hunting grounds and imminent enemy attacks.  But when her people are ambushed by a brother clan without any apparent cause, the spirits remain eerily silent.
As the village prepares to retaliate, Anaii is pressured by her best friend, Elan, to marry him.  It’s an old plea—Elan has spent a lifetime loving her, but Anaii only sees a childhood playmate out of an imposing warrior.  Stifled by Elan’s insistence, Anaii escapes into the forest where she meets Jayttin, the beautiful son of the enemy chief.  
Enamored by Jayttin’s carefree spirit and hope for peace, she repeatedly sneaks away to be with him, but when her deception is discovered, Elan is devastated.  Pledging his lifelong affection, Elan gives her a passionate kiss, and Anaii begins to see her friend in a new light.  
While Anaii is tormented over which man she must choose, the wind whispers of a new threat that could destroy both tribes.  Only a union will afford a chance at survival, but the reality of that union is based on one thing—which man Anaii chooses to die.
Find the book: Goodreads / Amazon / B&N / Kobo


I looked around cautiously before freezing at the sketchy outline of a muscular man partially hidden in the grass.  A man!  He was sprawled on his back and golden pink from too many hours in the sun.  My heart pounded to see the unfamiliar pattern of a deer on his breechcloth.  I had marched myself directly into the reach of a Zennite warrior! 
I gingerly took a step backwards, but to my horror, the man’s black eyes fluttered open.  I turned and hurled myself back across the meadow, just as the man shot up and flew after me like a predatory bird.  My muscles burned and strained to lengthen the space between us, but getting away was hopeless.  I was not a challenge to even the young boys in the foot races.
After a few powerful strides, the warrior tackled me to the ground, painfully grazing the skin on my cheek.  I wheezed a few times before my lungs filled with air. 
“A Chippoke?” he asked between breaths. 
I feverishly punched and kicked to free myself.  “Get—off—me!”
“Stop! I’m not going to hurt you,” the warrior chuckled as he struggled to pin my arms and legs.  His voice was calm and pleasant, but lying was no different than breathing to a Zennite.
“I cannot promise the same,” I wheezed as I fought. 
“You’re a bobcat,” he said with a laugh.  “A bobcat with no teeth or claws.”
“Let me go!”
“I will when you’re calm.”
Strong hands held my wrists while his full weight pinned my torso against the earth.  Fighting him was as useless as running.  “You are not a boy,” I spat angrily, fully taking in my attacker.  It was little comfort that he didn’t look like a bloodthirsty killer.  He was admittedly handsome with an angular face and sleek black hair that hung well past his shoulders.  He was not as tall as Elan, but his muscles were narrow and built for speed.  There was something different about his eyes too.  They were as black as soot—very unlike the brown woodsy colors from our tribe.
The warrior smirked down at me.  “My mother will be very surprised to hear that.  All this time she’s assumed…”
My face heated, but I fiercely met his gaze.  The Zenni were like wild dogs and pumas—they could smell emotions. “What I meant was, you are a man, not a boy.”
“Oh, I see, but you must understand, I’m not a man yet.” 
“You must understand I’m a squirrel!  Get off!  You’re hurting me!” I ordered with a useless heave.  
“No,” he said with a smirk.
It was then I realized I might die—right after I was lulled into a false sense of security.  My chest pounded as I searched for the killer’s weapon.  “Are you going to kill me?”    
“I do not feel like killing you just yet,” he said as his long hair swirled in my face.  Were we to play a game before he killed me? 
“I am glad the mood doesn’t strike you,” I snarled.  The warrior studied me with a drawn brow.  Was he guessing that I was the forest witch?  I didn’t think I looked like a witch, but I wasn’t certain what one should look like—evil at least.
“I don’t understand something,” the warrior said.  “Your eyes are blue—the blue of an angry sky.  Are you the daughter of a god?”
“Yes,” I said, heaving against his weight again.  “Now get off me, or my father Achak will strike you dead with lightening.” 



Krista Holle is an award winning author who stepped up her writing after reading Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series.  It occurred to Krista that there is an insatiable audience of women and girls who want to read books filled with stories about true love—not just vampires.  When Krista is not writing, she loves to collect seashells, watch movies, and eat obscene amounts of pizza.  Krista currently resides in Montpelier, Virginia with her husband, four daughters and an eccentric cat with a weird attachment to the family’s socks.  
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