Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Guild’s April 1 workshop focuses on how writers become authors

On April 1, author and editor McKenzie Johnston Winberry will lead a workshop entitled, "Step 1: Write, Step 2: ????, Step 3: PROFIT," from 10 a.m. to noon at The Lodge Des Peres, 1050 Des Peres Rd, St. Louis, MO 63131. Free for St. Louis Writers Guild members; $5 for nonmembers.

“This workshop will be about that fuzzy in-between stage of having written something and actually being published,” she said. “I will talk about different ways of finding a publisher, how to submit your stuff, and why you should not be upset about a rejection (especially a form rejection).”

McKenzie will provide resources that collect publisher information, and information about conventions and other networking opportunities.

“These are significantly more important to becoming a successful writer than most people anticipate,” she said, noting that being a good writer isn’t always enough. “For example, JK Rowling was rejected repeatedly until she found someone who had faith in HER..and now she is one of the most successful writers in the world.”

McKenzie works for Apex Publications and is a published author of short fiction. She is currently working on a collaborative collection of short stories and a novel. When she is not writing, you can find her teaching video games and Spanish at Maverick Learning Center. Check out her website at mckenziejohnstonwinberry.com

Learn more about the St. Louis Writers Guild at www.stlwritersguild.org.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

'End of World' short story, with cute boots--FREE 'til 3/24!

FREE ebook March 20-24!

AND I FEEL FINE: Jana’s puzzled when the traffic disappears so she makes it to work on time, and when the perfect boots and jacket appear in her cubicle just before a meeting with the big boss. She worries about her sanity until she realizes it’s Dec. 21, 2012. This is the end of the world? She pulls on her new boots and puts her theory to the test.
Your review would be greatly appreciated!

Here’s what readers are saying:

5.0 out of 5 stars on AMAZON — Molly Gambiza
A very engaging short story. I would like to be in Jana’s boots except for that bit about 2012. No way! I thoroughly enjoyed it. Excellent!

NOTE: If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download the app onto your computer: Kindle    Kindle Cloud Reader

Monday, March 20, 2017

Jennifer Stolzer: THREADCASTER launch party March 25!

Welcome to JENNIFER STOLZER, an author and illustrator living and working in St. Louis, MO. She graduated from Webster University with a degree in digital media and animation and uses this skill set to create bright and engaging characters. Her illustration company, Jennifer Stolzer Illustration, has served the St. Louis area and its authors for six years. You can see samples of her work at www.jenniferstolzer.com or on Facebook under Jennifer Stolzer Illustration.

THREADCASTER launch party 2-4 p.m., Saturday, March 25, at Main Street Books, St. Charles, MO.

The Writers’ Lens is about "Bringing fiction into focus." What brings your writing into focus-- the characters, the stories, the love of words? I firmly believe the focus of any story told, fiction or nonfiction, is the characters. We as humans are social creatures who learn how to react and respond to our world through social cues. Being able to communicate the human experience through the eyes of unique, authentic, living characters gives story and message a pinpoint focus.

What inspired your latest book?
Threadcaster has had a lot of inspirations over the years, but the initial spark actually started with an image. One day back in 2005, I got the picture in my head of a girl staring at the camera with tears pouring from her eyes but no expression, as if she was filling up with water and it was pouring out of her.

This image was the beginning of the Curses, a group of sick and exiled people undergoing physical disfigurement. The story of Threadcaster is about a young magic user on a quest to save the Curses, including her friend Peter, who is slowly turning to earth.

What do you think readers will like about your book?  I hope they'll enjoy the characters. A big theme is seeing humanity in everyone no matter what, so I hope that comes through in my characters and how they relate to their unfortunate circumstances. I hope the lore is catchy, too. I worked really hard on the magic system to make the rules clear to the reader and explain how magic relates to the rest of my world.

Would you share a bit about your next project? Writing-wise, I'm currently working on a ghost story set in 1900s Kentucky. It's the tale of a haunted house from the ghosts' point of view through the eyes of a six-year-old girl who died in 1906. It's more subdued than Threadcaster and set in a contemporary location, but it's all the relationship drama that love. After that, I plan to continue my sequel to Threadcaster, called Brushcaster.
What are your top three reasons for writing? The joy of creation, for one. Bringing to life people and worlds that did not exist before and delivering that experience to viewers in an effective way is ceaselessly satisfying.

Sharing experiences with others. I love writing characters and relationships the most, so making people laugh or cry along with my characters rewards me and fills me with glee. One of the best parts of publishing Threadcaster is hearing everyone's unique reader experience. Could they pick a favorite character? What did they think of the twist? Could they guess what was going to happen next? It's so much fun.

The challenge of the thing. Writing is more than words in order, it's craft and polish and a constant quest to improve your story as a product and yourself as a writer. I've always told stories, but I've never told them as well or effectively as I do in the present, and my present work will only improve as I continue to practice.

Writing is pain and reward. Writers stitch worlds and people together out of scraps of ideas and create something completely new for readers to explore. It's an amazing thing.

THREADCASTER: Cat's best friend Peter is slowly turning to stone. He is an Earth Curse - an innocent suffering from one of the four elemental ailments afflicting the people of their dying world. When the pious Brushcasters drive Peter out of town, Cat embarks on a quest to discover the truth of the Curses and ransom their absent god back at last. Cat must use the Brushcasters' stolen magic against them ... armed only with the truth and a simple loop of string.

Buy on Amazon

o let new readers know intrusive and pulling me out of the story. Love the imagery
Signed author copies are available through Main Street Books in St. Charles

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Piper Punches writes "purposeful fiction" to entertain & inform

Welcome to PIPER PUNCHES, the Amazon bestselling author of The Waiting Room and Missing Girl (a short novella). Her latest book, 60 Days (Missing Girl Series – Book 1) was published November 10, 2016. 

In addition to her novels, Piper’s work has also appeared in Legacy, An Anthology and featured by Indie Chicks, both print and digital platforms. She is also a writer for Thrive Global and proud to be featured alongside Katie Couric and Bill Maher for one amazing and lovely short period in time with a screenshot for proof! 

Piper describes her writing as purposeful fiction that is meant to entertain and inform. Check out her website for works of fiction and truth. When not writing, she can be found planning her next trip, hiking, practicing yoga, and posting Instagram photos that make her seem much more interesting than she is. Connect with Piper by emailFBInstagram or Twitter

Check out her special offer below!

The Writers’ Lens is about "Bringing fiction into focus." What brings your writing into focus-- the characters, the stories, the love of words? It’s a combination of the characters and the stories. I love to tell stories. The reason I write isn’t to tell one person’s point of view, but to explore the human experience from all angles. What brings my fiction into focus is going beyond my comfort zone to uncover the reasons for the choices people make. When I write, my goal is to make my characters as three-dimensional as possible, bypassing stereotypes and generalizations. By exploring the idiocentric ways of my characters and making them fully present and active in their situations, I hope my readers get a full-bodied reading experience.

My characters are not outsiders looking in. They are not passive participants in the story. Every character, no matter how small their role, has a purpose because they are the story. My characters are truth. By exposing their flaws, exploring their fears, and picking apart their insecurities, my characters become as real as the person sitting next to you on the bus, in the coffee shop, in the school parking lot. When my fiction comes into focus – when everything falls into that magical space between imagination and realism – that is when you get a raw, authentic story that touches readers in ways they never thought possible.

What inspired your latest book? My newest book is 60 Days (Missing Girl Series – Book 1). It is the full-length companion novel to my short novella, Missing Girl. Both books deal with the issue of human trafficking. It a subject that has been in the news a lot lately. Yet, when I started developing the concept of these books about three years ago, many people didn’t realize how prevalent modern-day slavery is in their own backyards. Even now, when I speak with groups of readers about my books, the majority are still shocked that this is happening in the St. Louis area.

These books aren’t just about the act of human trafficking. What I really want to achieve with these books is to show the various ways people survive in situations where the line between victim and perpetrator is blurred. Where you no longer have control over your life, yet you continue to live.

Missing Girl takes a first person look at what it’s like for a young girl to be in this situation. It’s very narrowly focused. With 60 Days, the storytelling is different.  In this full-length novel, the reader is taken on an epic journey weaving back and forth from the past to present to develop rich characters and a layered story. Both stories deal with hard topics, but there is a softness, a gentleness in the words so that I hope the stories touch you deeply.

How much fact is in your fiction? That’s a question I am asked all the time, especially with the topics that I tackle. My debut novel, The Waiting Room, is purely fictional. It is a heartwarming women’s fiction book that was solely written to entertain. Missing Girl and 60 Days are entirely different beasts. These works were written to entertain, but also to create awareness.

So, how much fact is in these books? The facts are that human trafficking and modern-day slavery do exist. The fact is that women, children, and men are traded every single day. The fact is that it’s much more profitable for criminals to sell people than drugs because people can be used repeatedly without overhead.

Beyond that, I encourage my readers to do their own research. I write purposeful FICTION. I take liberties to move the story along. While many of the ideas stated in Missing Girl and 60 Days are based on real situations, ultimately, the story was conceived entirely in my imagination.

What are your top 3 reasons for writing? I’m always so long-winded (that’s why I’m a novelist and abhor Twitter), so let me see how short and concise I can make this.

I write . . .  to learn more about the human experience.
I write . . .  to encourage empathy and compassion for a deeper understanding of each other.
I write . . .  because I think everyone has a story and for as long as I can I want to bring these stories to life.

What’s your favorite ways to interact with fans? I enjoy attending book signings and readings. I have also participated in several writers’ workshops presented by area high schools. Reaching out to youth and helping them find the courage and self-confidence to explore their own creative spark is so enriching.

Also, I love to connect on social media. I’m not a big Tweeter, but I love engaging with fans on Facebook and Instagram. Facebook is great for conversations, whereas Instagram is the perfect platform where I can explore edges of my creativity, thinking outside of the box with my words and images. If you’re reading this, you should check out my FB and Instagram pages. The more the merrier.

Special Offer! I’d love to share a FREE digital copy of Missing Girl with you. Members of my readers’ group can get exclusive access. Follow the link, sign up and confirm, to get your FREE copy.
FREE COPY OF MISSING GIRL http://eepurl.com/cFMe1f

MISSING GIRL: “In life my name was Sophia Lucia Cruz. In death it is simply missing girls. Not even singular, but plural, as if there was never one single part of me that was unique or separate from all the other girls that were buried in that harsh Mexican dirt; victims of circumstance, irrevocable choices, and just plain bad luck. If I still had the capacity to cry, I would, because it is that sad and tragic. But when the knife slid deep into my belly and the blood gurgled at the base of my throat I knew that tears wouldn't save me and they won't change my story now.”
Sophia Cruz was what many would consider an average 17-year-old girl from Mission Valley, until the day she had a knife put to her stomach and fear inserted into her heart. Some may have called it stupidity. She called it a necessary sacrifice. Why else would she leave everything behind to walk arm in arm with the devil into a world of prostitution and human imprisonment?

This is Sophia's story. She wants you to know who she was before that day. Before she became just another missing girl . . . Missing Girl, is a powerful, provocative story that explores the depths of familial love and the horrors of the human trafficking epidemic that plagues our global community. Sophia's story is a fictional account of what so many real- life women and children experience every single moment of their lives when they are forced into sexual slavery and human imprisonment.

The bestselling author who brought you Missing Girl is back with a new novel that will pull you into the depths of darkness and make you yearn for the truth.

60 DAYS (Missing Girl Series-Book 1): Lizzie has made a lot of bad decisions throughout most of her adult life. She drinks too much. Takes too many drugs and chooses the wrong men. It is her obsession with finding her father – the man who disappeared suddenly from his family’s life 20 years ago– that eventually leads her down a dangerous path that has turned her into a person she doesn’t recognize. It’s turned her into a murderer. After all, isn’t she the reason Sophia is dead?

Emily is the better sister and always making the right choices – or so it seems. These days Emily’s life is unraveling at every end. She is struggling to pay for her mother’s healthcare. Her relationship with her married boss is threatening her promotion to detective and her physical safety. To make matters worse, she and Lizzie are further apart than ever. It’s after Lizzie takes off on a whim to chase the ghost of their father that Emily’s carefully constructed life spins out of control.

The authorities say that girls and women go missing every day, especially those with a history of addiction and a propensity for hanging out with the wrong crowd. Some are missed. Most are forgotten. Emily knows this is true, but she can’t accept it. She won’t accept it. Letting go of Lizzie is not an option. So when a pawnshop owner calls her with unexpected information about Lizzie’s disappearance, she heads south to the Arizona-Mexico border to bring her sister back at whatever cost. Yet, as Emily gets closer to the truth about Lizzie’s disappearance, she is forced to face her own truths about the ghost she’s running from and that she may not ever see her sister again.

60 Days is the highly-anticipated companion novel to the short novella, Missing Girl, and book one of the Missing Girl Series. Told from alternating viewpoints, 60 Days picks up after the shocking ending of Missing Girl. It takes the reader on a journey that weaves through past and present at electrifying speed. Exploring the themes of human trafficking, sisterhood, family loyalty, loss and addiction, 60 Days takes an honest look at how the choices we make can bring us to the brink of madness.

A boldly-written, psychological thriller, 60 Days will take you on an exhilarating ride to the explosive cliffhanger ending that will leave you stunned and asking, “What comes next?”