Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Patty Shukla CD Review - Wiggle It

Remember when you were a kid and you listened to Raffi non-stop... over and over and over again? Well, I have found the new Raffi. Patty Shukla is a singer and songwriter whose music is absolutely addicting for kids. My boys are addicted, my neices and nephews listen, and I am trying to spread the word. She has a fun mix of nursery-rhyme type songs and then a whole plethora of music she created... songs about superheroes and trains and pirates, songs that get you off the couch and running around the house, songs that make you dance. She's got them all.

I recently got her newest CD, Wiggle It, and LOVE it. Definitely a 5 star album. It's her fifth CD and is geared toward a younger audience, perfect for Jake and Oliver. There are classic songs, like "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" and new songs, like "Wiggle It" and "Choo-Choo Train" that get Jake giggling and racing around the house every time they come on.

One thing I love about these songs is how Patty enunciates every word. I'm trying to get Jake (1 1/2 years old) to speak clearer, and hearing songs he adores and having the words be sung clearly is a wonderful thing. Another great thing is how lively and exciting the songs are. They get Jake so wired up dancing that after music time is over, he crashes. Wonderful, wonderful nap time.

Wiggle It (2013)
Go out and buy this CD now. It's available on Amazon and at Miss Patty's website and worth every penny you spend.
Oh... and if you want to listen before buying, check out Patty Shukla on Youtube. Her music has some great videos to go with them and I promise you won't be disappointed.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

In the Stars, coming December 10, 2013!

Exciting news, everyone! My third and latest women's fiction novel, In the Stars has an official release date... December 10, 2013! This is my best work yet... set in Calgary, Canada with characters who are funny, down to earth and fully relatable, this book will grab you.

Here's what it's about:

Charlotte 'Charley' Southard's life has hit rock bottom. She is fired from her job at a top law firm in Calgary, she hasn't had a lasting relationship in years and a recent incident with a declined credit card at the grocery store has just brought her over the edge.

Charley evaluates her life, realizing that everything was better when she was with Drew, the popular football player she dated for two years back at university. All her troubles, she determines, began when they broke up after graduation. So with the help of her best friends, Josh and Heather, Charley sets out to track down the old boyfriend from her past.

But what if Drew is married? What if he doesn't remember her? And just how far will she have to go to find the love of her life? Not to mention, what if he's not the Prince Charming she remembers? In a fast trip to Victoria, British Columbia, Charley Southard discovers the truth about Drew along with realizing a few unexpected things about herself along the way.

This is the story of the one who got away... and just how far someone will go to get him back. I love this theme. Who hasn't wondered about the 'what if'... what if that relationship had worked out? What if he hadn't moved? What if I hadn't taken that job? What if, what if, what if. The topic of regret is something most people can relate to... what do you regret from your life? Don't you wish you could makethings right? This is Charley's quest to make it all right and she ends up growing and finding new truths as she goes.

I can't wait for it to come out! And until then, read my first two novels and pass the word on to a friend! Iced Romance, where a highly publicized scandal sends Kennedy on the run... escaping to a brand new life while trying to hide her massive secrets, and Tanned, Toned and Totally Faking It, where a celebrity realizes that fame isn't everything when the truth about who she is threatens to destroy what matters most.

In two brand new 5 star reviews of this book, they said:

"I loved this book and the way the author wrote in the first person aspect. Not many authors can fully pull that off but she did. Looking forward to reading more from her. I absolutely loved Micky and Jordan and of course story wouldn't be what it was with out good ole Kurt!" - Kim Beck

"This book easily kept my interest. It's written in a breezy, casual style and has very likeable characters. How could you not like a story about a 20-year-old brand-new rock star? It was fun to read. I picked it up and didn't put it down until I was finished." - Kitty L.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Q&A with Author Whitney Boyd

I've received quite a few questions over the past year and a half since my debut novel hit bookshelves everywhere, and decided to post a few of my most frequently asked questions here to (hopefully) help future authors and to satisfy reader curiosity. As a disclaimer, I am speaking from my own personal experience, and so some of my answers are subjective.

About Being an Author
Q: Self published vs published through a publisher... Which is better?
A: I am perhaps biased on this one. I have read quite a few self-published e-books on Amazon and have not been impressed. Typos, puncuation errors etc are all over since they typically do not have trained and experienced editors reviewing the book over and over again like books that get published traditonally are. So for me, quality is better if you go the publishing house way. Additionally, self-publishing puts all the risk on you. If you choose to self-publish as an e-book, there is hardly any monetary risk, but if you actually want your book in print and you self-publish, it can cost upwards of $20,000 out of pocket. If you go with a good, old fashioned publishing house, then you don't spend a penny. Sure, you make less money when your books sell, but at least you don't lose money if they don't. For me, based on quality and risk, I would choose a publishing house over self-published books any day of the week, but this is of course just my opinion.

Q: How much money does a typical author make?
A: I read a statistic when I first was looking to get published that said roughly 80% of books purchased are written by 20% of the authors out there, and that most authors will never sell more than 1000 books in their lifetime. Sobering stats to be sure, although these did include self published works. There are some authors (like John Grisham, Mary Higgins Clark, Sophie Kinsella, J.K. Rowling etc) that will sell millions of books. Others will not. From my own contracts and discussions with other authors, typically an author can expect to earn anywhere from 10%-20% of each book sold. So if you buy a book for $10, the author will make $1-$2 from it. E-books are usually a little higher, closer to 50% of the selling price. So, if you are looking to support yourself as a full-time author... well, maybe think again. If you enjoy writing and want a little extra money, then that is more than likely the scenario.

Q: How do you find a publisher?
A: It's not Anne of Green Gables where you write a book, print it off and send it to a publishing house and wait with fingers crossed. You need cover letters, resumes, sometimes the first three chapters are required, and you need, in many situations, a literary agent. Some publishing houses, especially smaller and medium sized ones, like WiDo Publishing (my amazing publisher), work directly with the author, but larger ones, like Random House, only work with agents. Additionally, most large publishers and prominent agents do not even look at works by first time authors. There are exceptions (like Stephenie Meyers' Twilight) but this is rare. Expect to have a lot of "no's" before you hear a single "yes". There are many books out there, including Writer's Guide to Book Editors, Publishers and Literary Agents, that can help you find the right fit for you. Another idea to help you out... Check out who publishes books you enjoy reading and go from there.

Q: How long should a typical novel be?
A: I wondered this myself when I was writing my first novel. On my computer it would say 100 or so pages, but how many computer pages equal a page in a book? It was confusing.  I write women's fiction / chick lit, so my answer is for that and obviously there are much longer books out there as well. Most fiction novels are between 70,000 - 90,000 words. Don't count pages, since font size, etc. can make it hard to get an accurate idea. Count words. Some books can be a little less, but I would say the absolute shortest you can go is 60,000 words, and for a debut novel don't go higher than 100,000 words.

About My Books
Q: How long does it take to write a book?
A: It depends. My first book took quite a few months from start to finish. Close to a year before it was accepted for publication and then editing took another year on top of that. My newest book, coming in December, was much quicker. The first draft was only a few months in the making and the editing went faster because I knew what I was doing (more or less!)

Q: Where do you get your ideas?
A: My books are based on me, my dreams, my friends and my experiences. My first novel was written when I was stuck in a boring job I did not enjoy and it was my escape. What if I were a Hollywood star? What if I had money and fame? Daydreams evolved and soon I was writing it down, the story of an average twenty year old who became a superstar almost overnight... faced with fame and feeling out of place, she tells a simple lie to a new guy she meets and slowly has to deal with the consequences. My second novel was based on the idea of fight or flight. I read an article one day about some celebrity who cheated on their girlfriend and it got me thinking... how would I react? How would I face my everyday life? And then I realized... I would probably want to run away, to escape and start fresh. It's the whole idea of a "new you". Haven't you ever wanted to just start again? So it came from there. My last book came from the idea of finding your first love... the one who got away. Most people have regrets and look back at a stage in their life when things were "better". What if you could track it down? And then the book just came together. I find it so much fun to see how the books evolve.

Q: Do you know the ending when you start the book?
A: Yes and no. I know the basic ending... who I want the character to become, who I want them to end up with etc,  but as the book progresses, the ending sometimes shifts a little. I try to "map out" my book... putting a rough idea of what each chapter should include, when I first start out, but as for having a clear understanding of it all at the start? Definitely no. Much like real life, my books and the people in them evolve and it almost feels like I am sitting back and watching a movie. Very surreal.

Q: What are your books about?
A: Iced Romance is about a cheating fiance, a runaway bride, and a potential new Prince Charming, all while Kennedy, the main character, tries to hide her secrets and escape into a new life.  Tanned, Toned and Totally Faking It is about a celebrity trying to hide who she is from the one person in the world who matters most. Betrayal, gossip, celebrities and fashion, this is a must read! For more complete descriptions you can check them out on Amazon (see the links) and even read the first few chapters for free.

Anyway, there are a few of my most frequently asked questions. Hopefully they will help some newbie author out there... and if you have any other questions, feel free to sound off in comments and I will do my best to answer them for you!