June 27, 2016

Instagram for Writers - 20 Instagram Ideas

The one social media site not many authors consider having a presence on is Instagram. One reason for this is because we deal with words, not images. Another is that people think only YA authors will benefit from it, but a huge portion of people on Instagram like to read and many writers are there. Even Stephen King was once active on Instagram.

*Instagram is a smartphone app. There is a computer version (click the colorful Instagram icon in my left sidebar, beneath the Twitter icon) but you can't upload to it, only view.

If you already are on Instagram or are considering it, here are some ideas you can try.

Twenty Instagram Ideas for Authors:

1. Book covers (obviously)

2. Cover teasers (Reveal distorted images or small pieces at a time.)

A teaser I did for Seismic Crimes' cover.

3. Book quotes as images.

4. Writing quotes as images.

5. Pictures of what you’re writing or editing.

A picture from my Instagram page for my edits.

6. Pictures of books you’re reading.

7. Share “The End’ pictures whenever you finish a book or short story.

8. Proof/galley pictures

9. Pictures of your desk/office/bookshelf

10. Selfies of you with your books.

11. Your book in different places. (Book Tour)

12. Fan art

13. Pictures of your blog (screenshots).

14. Book signing pictures.

15. Pictures from conferences, festivals, book fairs, and other events.

16. Book release party pictures.

17. Sale announcement pictures.

18. Screenshots of good reviews.

19. Pictures of your kids reading.

20. Selfies/pictures of yourself (obviously).

Of course you can share anything else that's not writing related, such as pictures from your travels, nature, art, animals (your pets), food, whatever you like! I do a lot of everything on my Instagram page.

TIP: Add hashtags to your captions. 

Here's a list of book/writing hashtags I use:

Book Hashtags: 
#BookLove #BookLover
#Books #Books
#ebook #ebooks
#Kindle #Amazon

Author Hashtags:
#Author #Authors
#Writer #Writers

QUESTIONS: Are you on Instagram? Would you consider joining Instagram now?

June 24, 2016

Author Interview with Julie Tuovi / The Sirens of Falkeld Series

Today I have Julie Tuovi as my guest. She is the YA Fantasy writer of the Sirens of Falkeld series. Her news novella is The Last Nine Winter of Aidan Finley. If you’re as much of a fan of fantasy and sirens as I am, I know you’ll enjoy her visit. :)

Welcome, Julie! Please tell us about your current release.

My latest book is called, The Last Nine Winters of Aidan Finley…
Aidan Finley dreamed of marrying the girl with the red hair who stole his heart as a lad. He dreamed of a family and growing old together in a cottage atop Muireall’s wind-swept cliffs. 
But Aidan didn’t know what swam beneath the island’s dark, fathomless waves. 
He never realized what fragile things dreams can be. 
After a storm ravishes the island one summer day, he finds a creature caught beneath a rock in a cave. His choice to save her will alter his world forever—for even dreams aren’t safe from the siren’s song.
I have to give a huge shout out to the fans for this one. Aidan came about—in large part—because of them clamoring for more Aidan after I released The Sirens of Falkeld. With requests like that, what’s a girl to do, right? Write! Hopefully fans of Sirens will love this further glimpse into Finley history! 

1. What inspired you to write this book?

My DAD was the first person to inspire me to write about mermaids (if you can believe it!) He said it in passing one day, and I honestly wasn’t too interested. I wanted to write something dark and gritty, and at that point, I was a little mermaid sheltered, and didn’t realize mermaids were capable of being dark.

Aaand then I saw a certain Pirates of the Caribbean movie...

Um, hello there, evil mermaids!

After a little digging, I realized that almost every culture and every country in the world has SOME type of mer-folklore, and that most of them actually aren’t your Disney-princess-sparkly-nice in the slightest. After that realization, there was no going back. From there on it was all folklore, myths and research and I’ve loved every second of the journey. Thanks, dad ( ;

2. I loved those evil mermaids! What books would you compare to The Last Nine Winters of Aidan Finley?

There are TWO books that I absolutely love, and actually reread a couple times while writing my own book, because they were good at getting me in the mood:
1. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, and

2. The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan
Both of these books are FABULOUS! They are both a bit darker and more moody, and they also both deal with aspects of Celtic folklore. (Win, win!) If you’re into that kinda thing, you’ll definitely want to read these!

3. Is this part of a series?

Yes! The Last Nine Winters of Aidan Finley is actually a companion novella that goes with The Sirens of Falkeld. Technically, it’s a prequel. But I highly recommend reading Sirens first, as it gives you context to the world and characters that will make Aidan a more interesting read!

4. Why did you choose the setting of Scotland?

I knew when I started, that I wanted a setting that would reflect the mood of the novel I was going to write. I basically just looked at a map and decided that the cold seas, high cliffs and rich folklore history of Scotland fit the bill perfectly! (Super scientific, I know)  

5. If you have a pen name, can you explain how you came up with it?

Julie Tuovi is my real name… although Tuovi is technically my middle name. When I was in junior high, it embarrassed me so bad. That’s the age you just really want to fit in, ya know? And my middle name most decidedly, did NOT fit in! I tried to keep it on the down low, until one day, I was at a party, and somehow the topic of middle names came up. I grudgingly mentioned that my middle name was Tuovi, at which point my friend exclaimed, “Tuovi?! You could be famous with a name like Tuovi!” Haha! I seriously doubted her mental stability at the time, but when it came time to picking a pen name, I decided, “Why the heck not?!”

(P.s. I don’t hate the name anymore… I’ve actually grown rather fond of it! Thanks, ‘rents!)  

6. I think that's a neat middle name. What are a few things we would find in or on your desk?

A mess. (HA!) Consisting of knickknacks, a miniature grand piano, a little ceramic orange bowl I made in kindergarten (currently serving as my push pin holder), post it notes, LOTS of pictures, multi-colored pens and markers, oh and lookie here—fingernail clippers!

7. Fingernail clips. haha Can you tell us about your journey to publication?

I self published The Sirens of Falkeld, last year (2015), after being rejected about a billion times by agents. I got lots and LOTS of full ms requests, but for some reason or another, I couldn’t—for the life of me!—get one to stick! Frustrated, I decided to put Sirens out there on my own. I wanted it to get read, and I didn’t want to wait around any longer *puts foot down*!!

Fast forward a year later… I’m getting ready to release Aidan, meanwhile, another book I had on submission was getting some hits by agents (Yessss!!) One of the agents I queried was Moe Ferrara of Bookends Literary. I found her through a blog contest hosted by Miss Snark’s First Victim and thought she sounded like a great match for my book. I sent her a cold query and she requested a full! A few months later, I noticed Moe was attending a writing conference I was planning on going to. I emailed her and asked her if she’d like to meet in person (because, you know… why not?) And she did! We met, and the first thing out of her mouth was, “Heeeey, I actually wanted to talk to you, do you mind stepping out into the hall with me?”

*cue hyperventilating into paper bag*

She then proceeded to tell me she loved my book and wanted to rep me! AHHHHHHH!!! I totally played it cool (HA! Not.), but there was much screaming and jumping up and down in the bathroom afterwards.

A few days later, we made it official and the contract was signed! *squeeeee*

You guys, THIS ALL JUST HAPPENED, so I’m kind of still in freak out mode here. But when I’m not still scratching my head and reminding myself that—yes, I DO (finally!) have an agent—you can find me working on some revisions to said book. Once it’s in tip-top shape, hopefully we’ll be able to go out on submission sometime this year!

8. Share three random facts about you.

1) I can’t crack an egg to save my life—I get bits of shell in the pan EVERY time!
2) I can wiggle my nose the way some people can wiggle their ears
3) My thumbs are double jointed

9. I can't wiggle my nose or ears! Do you listen to music while you write?

Sometimes, but it HAS to be wordless. Lyrics mess with my mind when I write! If the music has words, I’ll inevitably start singing along, which is kinda detrimental when you’re trying to think of your own words.

10. Share your advice to new writers.

NEVER give up. NEVER stop improving!! I’m 1,000% convinced that the vast majority of success stories out there are because they were just too stubborn to let go of a dream! BE STUBBORN, OKAY?!! 


Julie Tuovi is a read-a-holic, Diet Coke addict, and like her maighdean mhara, loves all things sparkly. Especially nail polish. In her spare time Julie likes to hunt zombies, debate the merits of pirate v. ninja, and rescue small kittens from trees. Oh . . . and plot ways to take over the universe. A history enthusiast, concert pianist, and attorney (but only when there’s nothing better to do), she currently lives in Ohio with her knight and wee baby princess, where you can often find her writing and dreaming of far-off, magical places. She is represented by Moe Ferrara of Bookends Literary.

Author Links:

June 22, 2016

M - Mother Earth/Nature + Teaser

Mother Earth/Nature is an important character in the Disaster Crimes Series. Although she’s not a character in human form with eye and hair, and although she doesn’t have dialogue, she is always present. In the form of a hurricane, an earthquake and the upcoming disasters, she makes an impact. Without her, Hurricane Crimes and Seismic Crimes would be Florida Crimes and San Francisco Crimes. They’d have the romantic element and the criminal element, but the intensity of the disasters, which makes these stories unique, would be gone.

Mother Earth is a personification of nature and all of its forces in the form of a mother. She is everything that is good, pure as well as chaotic, dangerous.


He dropped his hands to the table, rattling the silverware. “You’re lucky the quake happened when it did, or he could’ve riddled the two of you with bullets. I think Mother Earth had your back.”

“Yeah, I owe her big time.” While sipping the last of her green tea, Beth realized Mother Earth had introduced her to Donovan too. Without Hurricane Sabrina, they never would’ve met. Now Mother Earth had saved their asses with a seven-point-four earthquake. If Mother Earth were in human form, she would be the Maid of Honor at their wedding.

Wedding? Beth shook her head to dislodge that thought from her brain. She was positive Donovan wasn’t ready to talk about Holy Matrimony. She wasn’t even sure if she was ready.

To read more from Seismic Crimes, go to Amazon.

QUESTION: Do you believe in Mother Earth?


Amazon CA / NOOK / KOBO 

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June 20, 2016

Writing About: Wrestlers

Out of all of my mortal (human) characters, the wrestlers in my WIP are my favorite characters because I get to be creative while writing about their career. Wrestlers aren’t usual characters in a book, but I couldn’t resist writing this post. And I figured wrestling fans may enjoy it.

Names –

Wrestlers can use their real name such as John Cena or Jeff Hardy, or a wrestler can have a ring name such as Sting or The Rock. A strong real name, or a ring name that matches their wrestling style and look, is a must.

Colors –

All wrestlers have theme colors that they incorporate into their attire or face paint (if the wrestler uses it). Think Eva Marie from WWE who has bright red hair and wears red. She even has a hashtag. #AllRedEverything

Outfit –

Wrestling is entertainment and the wrestlers are very much like actors, as well as athletes. Actors have costumes for their roles and so do wrestlers. These outfits incorporate their colors and match their personality. John Cena is All-American, so he wears jean shorts. Female wrestlers tend to wear skimpier clothing, but not all of them do. Some wear full-body leather outfits.

Theme Song –

What the wrestler walks into the arena to is another part of their package. The song has to fit the wrestler’s personality and excite the crowd when they hear it.

Finisher Move –

Every wrestler has a signature move they use to finish off their opponent and win the match. With Jeff Hardy, it’s the Swanton Bomb. Researching wrestling moves, watching videos, and combining stunts or putting a twist on one can help you come up with a new one. And you’ll get to name it!

Wrestling Match –

Watching wrestling matches is the only way to know how to write one. There are so many different types too: tag team, street match, cage match, weapons watch, etc. You can even create your own. Matches also have rules. Pin fall is the usually way to win. This is when a wrestler pins their opponent’s shoulders to the mat for a full three-count. But being the last in the ring in a group match where everyone is fighting everyone, or escaping the cage first are other ways to win.
TIP #1: Build up the tension. Let the match start off slow and get more intense with crazy stunts, “pain”, and close calls (two-counts).
TIP #2: Plan the match out. Know the beginning, middle and end. This will make it so much easier to write.
TIP #3: Include the audience. Have them cheer for the face (good) wrestler and boo the heal (bad) wrestler. They can chant too. A few favorite chants are “You can’t wrestle”, “You suck”, and “This is awesome!”

Wrestling is entertaining in real life and in fiction. One day, I hope to share my contemporary-romance wrestling story with all of you!

QUESTION: Are you a fan of wrestling? Do you have a favorite wrestler? Mine is obviously Jeff Hardy. haha

June 17, 2016

Harry Potter Wand Art Project + You.I.Us Blog Tour

You. I. Us. is a collection of vignettes, small scenes which hint at the story beneath. Annalisa Crawford has taken that idea to another level, because she asked 15 bloggers to ask her one question each, creating small insights into her life and writing.

MY QUESTION: If you could be any Harry Potter character (good or bad), who would you be and why?

ANNALISA'S ANSWER: When I first saw your question, Chrys, I knew my answer straight away!

I would be Luna Lovegood.

She’s weird, and everyone gives her a wide berth to begin with, but she—like so many of the other minor characters—steps up when needed and proves her true worth. She has the strength to be herself no matter what everyone else says, and to stick to her beliefs. Over time, the other characters come to appreciate her for who she is.

I think that’s such a great lesson to teach kids, and adults to some extent. I was never that popular at school, but I learned to embrace who I was.

You. I. Us.
Publication date: June 10, 2016
Genre: Short Stories (Single Author)

Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository // Kobo // iBooks // Nook

In You. I. Us., Annalisa Crawford captures everyday people during  poignant defining moments in their lives: An artist puts his heart into his latest sketch, an elderly couple endures scrutiny by a fellow diner, an ex-student attempts to make amends with a girl she bullied at school, a teenager holds vigil at his friend’s hospital bedside, long distance lovers promise complete devotion, a broken-hearted widow stares into the sea from the edge of a cliff where her husband died, a grieving son contacts the only person he can rely on in a moment of crisis, a group of middle-aged friends inspire each other to live remarkable lives.

Day after day, we make the same choices. But after reading You. I. Us., you’ll ask yourself, “What if we didn’t?”

About the Author:

Annalisa Crawford lives in Cornwall UK, with a good supply of moorland and beaches to keep her inspired. She lives with her husband, two sons, a dog and a cat. Annalisa writes dark contemporary, character-driven stories. She has been winning competitions and publishing short stories in small press journals for many years, and is the author of Cat & The Dreamer and Our Beautiful Child. www.annalisacrawford.com


Harry Potter Wand Project

By Chrys Fey

During winter break I watched the Harry Potter movies with my nephews for the first time, and they became so crazy in love with the world of Harry Potter that they wanted to play with wands and run around outside shouting spells at each other. Being the cool, clever, child-at-heart auntie that I am, I created a fun art project so we could all play together like real wizards. 

What You Need:
-       A smooth stick
-       Kid-safe paint
-       Paint brushes
-       Glitter
-       Fabric
-       Feathers (not necessary)
-       Elmer’s Glue
-       Newspaper

My youngest nephew's wand is the blue one. Mine is in the middle.
And the black one with the feather is my oldest nephew's wand.


1. Hunt along the side of the road, near the woods, or in your backyard for smooth sticks that are about a foot long. Clean the sticks and lay down newspaper on the surface you want to use.

2. Let the kids paint one side of their stick. Once it’s dried, turn it over, and have them paint the other side. Unless you have a stand so they can paint all around it at once.

3. Paint glue around the tip of the stick, about two inches, and sprinkle it with glitter. This is the magic coming out of their wand. ;)

4. Put glue on the opposite end and fix a piece of fabric around the stick to create a handle. If the fabric is long and wraps around a few times, you’ll need to add more glue. This piece of fabric is mostly for comfort.

5. You can add feathers to the end of the wand where the fabric handle is, or any other decoration you want, such as ribbons.

Our Harry Potter Game:

-          Decide who will be bad and who will be good. There’s usually one bad one among the three of us.  Pick names. I’m Hermione when I’m good, and Bellatrix LeStrange when I’m bad.

-          For a list of spells go to HarryPotter.wikia.com

-          Have the bad witch or wizard count to ten while the good witches/wizards run and hide.

-          For certain spells, create rules. Ex: If someone yells “Expelliarmus,” which is the disarming spell, you have to toss your wand to the ground.

-          If someone says "Reducto," you have to pause for about five seconds (dazed or wounded) before you can start running again.

-          If someone says the killing spell before you can say a spell, you’re done. LOL

Now go out and have fun! This is surprisingly great cardio.

June 15, 2016

IWSG Post Day Announcement / L - Looting + Excerpt


NEW IWSG Day Feature!

We’re revving up IWSG Day to make it more fun and interactive.

Every month we'll announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.The first IWSG Day question is for July 6th.

JULY 6TH QUESTION: What's the best thing someone has ever said about your writing?

Add this question and your answer to your July 6th IWSG Day post. And please visit other members to read their answers. If you’re not signed up, please join HERE

See you on July 6th!

Looting is a crime that always follows in the wake of a natural disaster or an intense situation (i.e. riots). People who seek to take advantage of good people will break into stores and houses and grab whatever they can get their greedy hands on.

What’s the most popular item looted? Alcohol. After that would come electronics and clothes. I’m sure we all remember the looting that took place in Ferguson in 2014 after the verdict came down, and the large crowd of people fighting their way into the liquor stores.

In Seismic Crimes, after the earthquake, a lot of looting goes on in San Francisco. Here’s a little teaser for you.


Beth took off at a run. As she ran, she noticed several shop windows had already been smashed. A glance into an electronics store revealed two men destroying display cases to get at the laptops and cell phones. A third stuffed random merchandise from shelves into a black trash bag.

She pushed her legs to take her faster, farther. Her heart ticked frantically, her thoughts tumbled in her head. Where do I go? How do I get out of here?

A group of woman teetered out of a shop on high heels, their arms piled high with designer jeans, tops, purses, and shoes. One of them even had a fist full of thongs.

Across the way, a looter slid a wide screen TV into the trunk of a car and hopped into the passenger seat. The car sped away with loud music blaring from its speakers.

To read more from Seismic Crimes, go to Amazon.

QUESTION: If you were in the middle of looting, what would you do?