Visiting the Playground with C. S. Boyack #StoryEmpireRoadshow

The Story Empire Roadshow continues today with an appearance from C. S. Boyack. Craig is here to share the scoop on his book The Playground. Gather ’round the bookmobile and grab your copy before the tour is over. There’s only one more day left to score great prices on great reads and accumulate some nifty prizes along the way.

Take it away, Craig!

vintage photo of a bookmobile with crowd gathered around itThanks for having me over today, Mae. This Story Empire Roadshow has been a blast. All of us are doing different things, and in my case it’s something different every day. I think today’s stop is a good one. I’m offering my paranormal novel, The Playground, free for two days.

This story involves a ruthless businessman who has a line of toys for children. They’re called Playground dolls, and they come with access to a social network for kids. Children can interact with each other from all around the world.

Behind the scenes, he’s using the system to brainwash our children into his own homegrown army. Imagine the invasion happening from within our own homes.

This becomes what I like to call a chase for the maguffin, when the next generation of software goes missing. The businessman turned to the occult when things weren’t happening fast enough, and now his position is tenuous at best.

The Playground is told from three different points of view. You get the victim, the heroine, and a badass street thug who’s been sent after the missing software at all costs.

I think it has similarities to the works of Frank Miller, and Quentin Tarantino. If you like something on the dark side, with paranormal themes, this might be the one for you.

Book cover for THE PLAYGROUND, a novel by C. S. Boyack shows dramatic image of young girl's face over a sinister looking house at night with a car in the foregroundBLURB:
The hottest new toys of the Christmas season are the Playground Network dolls. They contain a worldwide social network for children. Except the network is controlled by a ruthless businessman with dreams of power.

To reach his goals he turns to the occult. Will our children make up his personal army? Could we have an enemy soldier in every home?

Gina Greybill is a cancer survivor who stumbles into her own brush with the paranormal. She wants nothing to do with it, but may be the only one who can bring down the Playground Network. To do it she’ll have to embrace her new situation, and recover the next generation of Playground software.

There is competition for the software in the form of a brutal thug named Clovis. He’s bigger, more ruthless, and more experienced. To top it all off, he has a head start.

The Playground is suitable for mature readers, due to violence and mature themes.

 The Playground is available at this Universal Purchase Link 

Story Empire is a cooperative effort of six outstanding authors. While I’m here at Mae’s visiting, she has her own bookmobile parked at Joan Hall’s blog. Joan is over at Entertaining Stories, so make sure you stop by my place too.

As an incentive to keep following the tour, my two most prolific commenters will win a huge coffee mug featuring my Romanesque bust, and Lisa Burton my robotic personal assistant. These are awesome mugs, and you’re going to want one.

Coffee mug with character and author bust

Connect with Craig at:
Blog | Amazon | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook

Biography box for author C. S. Boyack

Continue to follow the Story Empire Roadshow at these
blogs for more giveaways, prizes and fun!

Staci Troilo | C. S. Boyack | Harmony Kent | Joan Hall | P. H. Solomon

 

The Monday Buzz from Story Empire

Happy Monday, gang! Eh, I realize that’s kind of an oxymoron, but it is what it is.

One good thing about Mondays? You can always count on an informative blog post over on the Story Empire site.

old world type map with script writing laid over top and words Story Empire set off as a bold header

Today’s post by Craig Boyack is of special interest to me. You’ve got to hop over and check out his take on Flipboard. I’ve used Flipboard for a while but I had no clue you could create your own magazine or that it’s a unique way to drive traffic to your blog. Who doesn’t like more blog traffic? And hey, the idea of my own magazine (created very simply) is highly appealing to me. I’ve been after him for a while to share the deets on how this is done, and it looks sooo easy!

Check it out yourself with Craig’s post, By Popular Demand, Flipboard. Hope to see you there!

Once upon a time…

There were five authors with a passion for writing and story-telling who decided to band together and create a blog where they could share their love of the written word with the world. They didn’t set out to create an empire, just a small pocket of the blogosphere where others with similar interests might gather.

But then they realized how powerful writing could be, and that there were SO MANY writers, authors, and readers who might enjoy coming together and visiting their humble abode that they envisioned an empire. A place where writers could go to talk craft. Where readers could discover books—not only from the five authors—but from works that had impacted the lives of those authors.

Thus Story Empire was born

old world type map with script writing laid over top and words Story Empire set off as a bold header

I invite you to join me, Craig Boyack, Staci Troilo, Harmony Kent and Sandra Cox as we explore realms of fiction and more. We’ve got some fun stuff planned, including a few giveaways that will be coming up next month. For starters, you can find a post from me on the pros and cons about writing a series. Weigh in with your comments. We’d love to hear from you.

And don’t forget to click the “Follow” button while you’re there. You’ll get viewpoints from five different authors over time, view great content, discuss books, and network with many other wonderful writers.

Once upon a time…is now!

Cover Reveal: The Playground by C. S. Boyack #RRBC Author

I read a lot of different genres. If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know I have a  passion for “weird.” I don’t mean that in any negative sense of the word, just that I enjoy speculative fiction and stories that tend to be on the fringe, or a bit “out there.” It probably stems from all those years of reading Bradbury, King, sci-fi and fantasy when I was growing up.

I’ve known for a while that Craig Boyack has been hard at work on THE PLAYGROUND, an unusual story that I can’t wait to get my hands on. I’ve already pre-ordered my copy. I’ve been looking forward to it for a while, and then I saw this amazing cover.

Book cover for THE PLAYGROUND, a novel by C. S. Boyack shows dramatic image of young girl's face over a sinister looking house at night with a car in the foreground

Talk about eye-catching and dramatic! The artist is Sean Harrington who also does the artwork for Craig’s Lisa Burton character (the spokesmodel of his blog Entertaining Stories and a particular favorite of mine). Lisa even has her own radio show and is always interested in interviewing characters (authors take note, and check out the deets here).

And if the cover of THE PLAYGROUND isn’t enough to wallop you over the head and grab your attention, the blurb will do it.

BLURB
The hottest toys of the Christmas Season are the Playground Network dolls. They contain a worldwide social network for children. Except, the network is controlled by a ruthless businessman with dreams of power.

To reach his goals he turns to the occult. Will our children make up his personal army? Could we have an enemy soldier in every home?

Gina Greybill is a cancer survivor who stumbles into her own brush with the paranormal. She wants nothing to do with it, but may be the only one who can bring down the Playground Network. To do it she’ll have to embrace her new situation, and recover the next generation of Playground software.

There is competition for the software in the form of a brutal thug named Clovis. He’s bigger, more ruthless, and more experienced. To top it all off, he has a head start.

The Playground is suitable for more mature readers, due to violence and mature themes.

Release date is April 4th, but you can pre-order your copy of THE PLAYGROUND from Amazon. I sense goosebumps galore!

Author C. S. BoyackMeet the man who dreamed up the story:
AUTHOR BIO
I was born in a town called Elko, Nevada. I like to tell everyone I was born in a small town in the 1940s. I’m not quite that old, but Elko has always been a little behind the times. This gives me a unique perspective of earlier times, and other ways of getting by. Some of this bleeds through into my fiction.

I moved to Idaho right after the turn of the century, and never looked back. My writing career was born here, with access to other writers and critique groups I jumped in with both feet.

I like to write about things that have something unusual. My works are in the realm of science fiction, paranormal, and fantasy. The goal is to entertain you for a few hours. I hope you enjoy the ride.

~ Craig ~

Connect with Craig at the following haunts:
Blog

Twitter @Virgilante
Facebook
Goodreads
Find all of Craig’s novels on his Amazon Author Page

Pre-order your copy of THE PLAYGROUND from Amazon 

Let’s Talk Book Clubs by Mae Clair: Rave Reviews Book Club #RRBC

Happy Saint Paddy’s Day!

Grab yourself something green and pull up a virtual seat. I’d like to talk book clubs.

If you’re a writer and/or a reader you’ve probably stumbled across several online book clubs that offer resources and networking. I’ve been doing the publishing game since 2012 and in the process have tried several. Sadly, none were a good fit. A few promised networking but ended up being little more than endless “buy my book” promos. I ditched those immediately. Others offered forums that never really matched what I was looking for, and one or two, while providing handy resources, lacked a sense of community.

*Sigh.*

I’d about given up on finding one that was a good fit, and then a friend (thank you, Craig Boyack) pointed me in the direction of Rave Reviews Book Club (RRBC) run by Nonnie Jules. Um…if there is a fairy Godmother of bookclubs, this is the one. Or perhaps it should be more aptly dubbed the brainchild of Wonder Woman—as I’ve come to realize is a fitting crown for Nonnie.

Warm and cozy window seat with cushions and a opened book, light through vintage shutters, rustic style home decor.I’m a little embarrassed to say I’ve only been a member for a few months, yet the flush of excitement I’ve had since joining makes me feel like an Old Timer. It’s a comfortable, welcoming fit. Members rolled out the red carpet with tweets and retweets and immediately made me feel like I was part of the crowd. Not just welcome, but special.

Within my second month of membership, I was invited to be a guest on Rave’s Blog Talk Radio Show, where I was able to share information on two of my novels in a causal, chatty atmosphere. If you’re interested in how hosts John W. Howell and Bill Ward put myself and sister author, Jayne Nichols, immediately at ease, you can catch our interview here.

Tweet support has been phenomenal, with my Twitter following growing and so many great Rave Review authors providing RTs and shout-outs. This group does an unbelievable job at networking. As in… Off. The. Charts!

So, exactly what is the idea behind RRBC?

It comes down to a basic and critical key that can make or break an author—support. Writing and publishing is a rough game. No one should have to navigate those choppy waters alone. Founder and president, Nonnie Jules, has put together a club for indie and small press authors who band together to promote each other through purchasing, reading, and reviewing books—PLUS sounding trumpets, gongs, drums, and everything in between to make a resounding splash on social media. RRBC doesn’t believe in ripples. It makes a RACKET of support! After nearly three months in the club, I’m still discovering all the wonderful things it has to offer.

Here’s the basic concept in a nutshell:

Membership is a mere $25.00 per year. When you join, you make a small commitment: You agree to purchase, read, and review a minimum of four books from the Rave Reviews catalog in a twelve month period. Phff! Seriously, we’re talking twelve months.

The catalog is where members list their titles for other members to peruse by genre. The eclectic mix has something for everyone—mystery and suspense (my favorite) fantasy, science-fiction, romance, horror, speculative, comedy, literature, drama, non-fiction, and more. Take your pick and start reading.

RRBC also has featured Books of the Month.

A beam of light shines out from an open bookEach month, the club picks three reads and highlights them as the featured club reads of the month. These books get extra promo and a plethora of attention from members. Personally, I find the whole concept super exciting. Every month, I anxiously wait to see what the featured books will be, just like a kid waiting to discover the favored treats of the month. It reminds me of when I was a kid in junior high and those shiny scholastic book catalogs were distributed. Remember those? You were able to choose and buy books. I never missed putting in an order for several, and then devoured them as soon as they arrived. Libraries were fun, but those books always had extra magic for some reason.

As part of your RRBC commitment, two of your four annual reads need to be from the Book of the Month selection. How ridiculously simple is that?

Most authors are also avid readers, so it’s a no-brainer. I average between 50-70 titles a year, so belonging to a club that allows me to be an avid reader as well as support other writers and garner their support in return is a win-win situation. I’m still a newbie in this club, but the glow I’ve felt since joining has placed me on a perpetual high. I’ve finally found a club that works, and a network of authors who have made me feel part of something special—from day one. Put in a little effort and it’s returned ten-fold. The more you contribute, the more support is levelled behind you. I have already made lovely friends through this club.

We all need help with promotion. RRBC also offers weekly club updates where members can announce special pricing and newsy bits to members. There are spotlight authors, Member of the Month, Member of the Week, Pay-it-forward-days and Push Tuesday promotions (each Tuesday the entire club gets behind promoting a specific author through tweets, social media shares and links to their books). These are just a few of the extra promos RRBC organizes.

If you’re looking for that extra something, I highly recommend considering Rave Reviews Book Club. For a minimal fee of $25.00 a year and a small reading commitment (something most authors love to do anyway) you’ll be rewarded many times over.  To learn more about the club, visit their website at Rave Reviews by Nonnie Jules. Should you wish to join, you can complete a membership request form here. Please tell them Mae Clair sent you. You won’t be disappointed. If I have any regret, it’s that I didn’t take the plunge sooner.

Do dive in. The water is wonderful! 🙂

Guest Blogger C. S. Boyack and a Special Guest

I’ve got a treat for your today. Actually a double one. Craig Boyack of Entertaining Stories and I are doing a blog swap. Craig and a “special guest” I asked him to bring along are taking over my blog, while I’m hanging out at his. I’m talking about my experience offering a book for free on Amazon. Was it worth it? You’ll have to check my post on Entertaining Stories to find out. 🙂

Meanwhile, I’ll leave Craig and his companion to keep you entertained. The special guest he brought along is only one of the many colorful characters from Craig’s imagination that haunt his blog. I just happen to be partial to this particular character. Maybe because I can relate to how it feels when he drops in for a visit. You’ll see what I mean in a minute, so sit back and enjoy Craig’s post. . .

~ooOOoo~

I walked up to the shop and checked the map on my iPhone. A huge raven whooshed over my head and landed in a tree. This looked like the right coffee shop, and I took a seat outside. Mae asked me to come here and write about my editing process and the blessing/curse that follows me around.

The truth is, I don’t know what I’m doing when it comes to editing. I’ve learned a trick or two and made notes in my living document. I looked around the parking lot, but there was no sign of Mae. I took a table outside so I could watch for her.

I started writing this blog post; any available minutes can be precious. The raven swooped down and landed on my table. See, he’s a gift from my Muse, and tries to keep me looking professional. The bird’s name is Doubt.

I’ve learned to search out my personal sin words, like “that, very, was, and the various forms of its and there.”

These days I’m trying to eliminate what I call stage directions. These are usually things like “said, heard, saw, smelled, felt.” If we’re in a character’s point of view, it’s better to describe someone walking across the parking lot, than to write, “she saw someone walking across the parking lot.” This is a new one for me, but I believe my writing is better for it. I learned that from Doubt.

Doubt pecked at my hand. Krik krik blork.

Ravens make hundreds of noises, more than common crows. I really don’t know what they all mean. This one even manages to mimic a few human words. I’m guessing he doesn’t like me using contractions in a blog post. It’s a blog post, it’s supposed to be a bit more familiar to readers. Now I have doubts. That’s how he works.

Raven sitting on a thin stump of wood, head bent to claws

I have to put him away when I draft my novels. If I listen to him during the draft phase, I never get anything done. My Muse says he helps me, but I have my doubts.

I love my stories, all of them. I even love the trunk novels that no one will ever see. Doubt gets into my head, and keeps me from the most egregious mistakes. The run of the mill mistakes are mine, and sometimes they get in. I’ve learned not to listen to him in every case.

I thought he was going to peck my hands bloody, when I edited Will O’ the Wisp. This is the first thing I ever wrote in first person point of view. He didn’t like the over use of “I and my.” I changed what I thought I could, but some of that has to happen in first person point of view.

The trick is to listen to Doubt, but to also override him when needed. I’m still not sure who’s right in some cases, but I’m learning. Doubt would have all my fiction looking like a lawyer wrote it, and he would take all the character out of it. Fiction needs character, and sometimes it’s the best part of the story.

Too much input from Doubt leads to perfectionism. Perfectionism is the bane of many writers. It prevents us from putting out acceptable work for fear it might have a mistake. I personally believe we learn more from drafting new material. Not everyone feels this way.

Kaw! Doubt pecked at my iPhone.

“We’re at the right address.” I checked again anyway. “I wonder if I wrote it down right in the first place.” See how he works. A little Doubt goes a long ways. “Why don’t you fly around and see if you can spot Mae Clair. Maybe she’s at a different coffee shop.”

Doubt slit off the table and took to the sky. I kind of hoped to give him to Mae for a month or so. I get a lot accomplished when I don’t have Doubt getting in my way.

~ooOOoo~

Craig’s newest book is WILL O’ THE WHISP, a highly entertaining  novel which combines elements of magical realism, mystery, and fantasy, as well as an appealing coming of age theme.

Book cover for Will O' the Wisp by C. S. Boyack depicting a ghostly floating light over a stream with treesBLURB:
There is something evil up Bergamot Holler, and it’s been targeting the Hall family for generations.

Patty Hall is fifteen years old. She loves stargazing, science fiction, and all things related to space exploration. This leaves her perfectly prepared for the wrong problem.

Patty is afraid her mother will send her to a care facility if she tells her what she’s seen. If she doesn’t figure things out soon, she’s going to join her father in the Hall family cemetery plot.

Patty has to come to grips with her own physical handicap, face the wilderness, and an ancient evil all alone if she’s going to survive.

Will O’ the Wisp is suitable for young adults. It involves elements of suspense, and is set in the mid 1970s.

Purchase From:
Northern American Continent 
Rest of the world 

Author C. S. BoyackYou Can Follow Craig at the Following Haunts:
Blog 
Twitter 
Goodreads 
Find all of Craig’s novels here  

 

Black Cats Aren’t Just for Halloween by Mae Clair

Back in March, I was tagged by C. S. Boyack to share some info on my current WIP. First—thank you, Craig!—this is a fun tag and I’m sorry it’s taken me this long to respond. Unfortunately, April blitzed by in fast-forward and I never got a chance to play. I’m going to remedy that now.

Before I start, for those of you who don’t know Craig Boyack, hop over to Entertaining Stories when you get a chance. I highly recommend signing up to follow his blog as his posts are always a blast to read! A recent favorite of mine is Of Manuscripts and Mayflies. Read it and you may never look at writing and publishing the same way again.

Okay, onto the goods! The rules say I’m supposed to talk about the first three chapters of my current WIP, and then share a short excerpt. Craig broke the rules and talked about his characters instead. That sets a precedent, so I’m going to break the rules and share my blurb instead (creative people never learned to color between the lines).

FOOD FOR POE is a paranormal romance that takes place over Christmas. And yes, it involves a black cat…because black cats aren’t just for Halloween. As someone who was blessed by a black feline for thirteen cat-happy years, I can vouch they are mysterious and mischievous every day of the year. That’s Onyx in the pic below. He passed away a few years back, but I’ve got great memories of our time together. (Notice how he mangled his “scratchy post” which is to the right of the chair. I was fortunate he didn’t unleash all of that energy on my furniture!).

Black cat looking sleepy  in a comfortable chair

My handsome boy, Onyx

FOOD FOR POE is novella length, and should finish out around 20-22K. I still have to write the closing scene, but plan on publishing the end of November, just in time for the holidays.

Here’s the blurb:
When a blizzard strands Quinn Easterly at a handsome stranger’s house on Christmas Eve, she doesn’t realize her newly adopted cat, Poe, is the catalyst responsible for bringing them together.

Breck Lansing gave up on relationships after his wife left him, unable to cope with their daughter’s illness. But the pretty blonde he rescues from a snowstorm has him rethinking his stance—especially when Quinn’s arrival coincides with a dramatic change in Sophie’s health.

Should he believe an old wives’ tale about black cats, healing, and Christmas magic, or do miracles come with a price?

Together, Breck and Quinn must defeat a sinister creature intent on claiming the ultimate payment.

Warning: A clever black cat, Christmas magic, and paranormal trouble

So there you have it. That’s what all of my writerly attention has been focused on lately. What do you think? Intriguing?

Now that I’ve rattled on for a while, what is your current project?  I know several of you are juggling new releases, so I’m going to resist “officially” tagging anyone, but please consider yourself tagged if you’d like to do a similar post. At the very least, take a moment to tell me about your WIP in the comments. As writers, I imagine each one of us always has at one story on the drawing writing board. What’s yours?

Mae Clair Presents: Will O’ the Wisp by C. S. Boyack #YA #MagicalRealism

Have I got a treat for you today! Blogging friend, Craig Boyack, has just released a tale guaranteed to appeal to young and old alike. I was fortunate enough to get an ARC of this wonderful novel, which combines elements of magical realism, mystery, and fantasy, as well as a highly appealing coming of age theme. As I don’t post reviews on my blog, you’ll have to check Amazon for my five star review/rating—but I do have to point out several things that stood out for me about this novel:

Title and book cover:
I’m a Will o’ the Wisp fanatic from long ago. That bobbing, weaving sphere of light might not get as much exposure on my blog, as say my favorite cryptid, the Mothman, but I’ll readily devour any novel built around the legend of a “hinkypunk” or “spook light” — especially when the myth is so cleverly woven into the plot.

Setting:
Craig chose to set his novel in 1975, which resonated strongly with me. He fully immersed me in a time I remember well, making it easy to identify with his lead character, Patty Hall. I’m also a sucker for coming of age tales and anything that transports me back to those whimsical days of childhood. Here’s a small snippet from my Amazon review to give you an idea of what I mean:

This is an engaging YA read, but it’s also a treat for adults who will remember the era in which this is set. I loved the glimpse into a small rural town/farming community and the magic and whimsy of friendship. Remember Quisp cereal, your first teen dance, roaming through fields at night, exploring old cemeteries, sharing secrets with your friends? All of that magic and more is here. Patty is an everyday kid you can’t help but cheer for and admire. A delightful read for young and old alike.

And now, I invite you to take a closer look at WILL O’ THE WISP.

Book cover for Will O' the Wisp by C. S. Boyack depicting a ghostly floating light over a stream with trees

BLURB:
There is something evil up Bergamot Holler, and it’s been targeting the Hall family for generations.

Patty Hall is fifteen years old. She loves stargazing, science fiction, and all things related to space exploration. This leaves her perfectly prepared for the wrong problem.

Patty is afraid her mother will send her to a care facility if she tells her what she’s seen. If she doesn’t figure things out soon, she’s going to join her father in the Hall family cemetery plot.

Patty is going to have to come to grips with her own physical handicap, survive the wilderness, and face an ancient evil all alone if she’s going to survive.

Will O’ the Wisp is suitable for young adults. It involves strong elements of suspense, and is set in the mid 1970s.

EXCERPT:
In this scene, Patty and her friend, Laura are watching late night horror movies. There is a killer on the loose in their small town.

We curled up together on the couch and cuddled under Mom’s afghan. Mom turned the light off and went upstairs.

When the first alien eye peeked out of the TV screen, Laura said, “Maybe that’s it. Look, it’s green and it moves around too.”

“I don’t think so. It wasn’t attached to anything.”

“You said you were a long ways off. What if it’s one of those?”

“I would have seen that. Besides, they all get sick and die at the end. That’s not the worst that could happen.”

“Okay,” Laura said, “I don’t want to watch anymore. Besides your alien, there’s still a lunatic on the loose. He could jump through the window any old time.”

“I’ll go get my flashlight. You turn off the TV and I’ll make sure you aren’t in the dark.”

“Why do I have to be the one to stay here?”

“Okay, it’s in my backpack, but make sure you keep it on.”

She went upstairs and came back to the top of the stairs. Once the light was on, I hobbled to the TV and pushed the knob in.

I made three steps toward the staircase.

The light went off.

I screamed.

Laura screamed.

Mom ran out and bumped into Laura. Mom screamed.

Mom made Rick check the whole house with his gun in hand. She chewed us both out for not being more grown up. “I swear, no more Nightmare Theater for you, ever…”

Purchase Links:
WILL O’ THE WISP has two versions. This is due to use-permission on a particular song lyric used in the novel. If you live on the Northern American Continent, purchase your Kindle copy here.

Anywhere else in the world, grab your Kindle copy here.

Author C. S. BoyackConnect with C. S. Boyack at the following haunts:
Blog 

Twitter 
Goodreads 
Find all of Craig’s novels here