Category Archives: Contest

Jungle Bell Rock – A Christmas Present for my Readers

Christmas is my favourite time of year. As a Christmas present to all my blog readers I’ve written a Christmas story inspired by the Christmas carols ‘Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree’ and ‘Jingle Bell Rock’. I’m entering into Susannah Hill’s annual Holiday Contest. Be sure to check out some of the other entries, as there is always a lot of great stories entered by some fantastic kidlit authors.

animals-83040_1280

Jungle Bell Rock

Rocking around the Christmas tree,

At the City Central Zoo,

A monkey hanging joyfully,

Ev’ry lion is there, too.

 

Rocking around the Christmas tree,

Where the seal plays with his ring,

Later he’ll have some fishy pie,

And do some carolling.

 

You will get an animal-ish feeling,

When you hear, reindeer singing,

“Let’s be jolly; Deck the stalls with boughs of holly.”

 

Rocking around the Christmas tree,

Have a happy holiday,

Animals dancing merrily,

And putting on a Christmas play!

 

Jungle bell, jungle bell, jungle bell rock,

Orangutan swing and lyrebird sing,

Stomping and tromping and flinging some dung,

Now the jungle hop has begun.

 

Jungle bell, jungle bell, jungle bell twist,

Goannas climb in jungle bell time.

Dancing and prancing with okapi flair,

And a polar bear!

 

When it’s night time, it’s the kite’s time,

To rock with the nightingale.

Jungle bell time is a swell time,

To go riding on an old Clydesdale.

 

Giddy up zebra herd, pick up your feet,

Gallop around the tree.

Dance with a dingo to a jungle drum beat,

That’s the jungle bell rock!

 

 

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Launch Day! 3 Reasons to Come to the Launch Party!

beautiful&deadlycover FINALI’m so excited!!! I can’t believe launch day is finally here! As of right now Beautiful & Deadly is LIVE on Amazon! Check it out here. It’s currently priced at $3.49 USD ($4.85 AUD), but it will become FREE for 48 hours to coincide with the launch party. So at about 12:00am PST (7:00pm AEST) on the 30th September it will become available FREE!

3 Reasons to Come to the Launch Party!

Number 1

There are going to be some great PRIZE GIVEAWAYS! Including:

Number 2

I’ll be posting excerpts and sharing the background behind the stories over the duration of the launch. Plus there are some fun activities planned, too!

Number 3

You’ll be the first to know when the book goes FREE!

I seriously can’t contain how excited I am! I hope to see you all at the launch party. Please spread the word!

CLICK HERE to JOIN THE LAUNCH PARTY!

Why I Decided to Self-Publish + Prize Winners Announced!

Why I Decided to Self-Publish

beautiful&deadlycover FINALIn two weeks I will be releasing Beautiful & Deadly: A Fantasy Collection. It will be my first time venturing into the world of self-publishing. In the past I had never really seriously considered self-publishing—preferring to stick to the traditional publishing route. Self-publishing has typically had a bit of a stigma attached to it—self-publishing is for authors who can’t get published by traditional means, right? Plus it would mean all the marketing and business side of publishing would fall to me. I didn’t feel I was business-minded and that I lacked the confidence to market my own work.

But over the past few months my mindset has changed.

Why I changed my mind:
  1. I listened to a webinar on self-publishing children’s books through 12 x 12 and it got me inspired, especially when it was mentioned that children’s writers could do well through being hybrid-authors (authors who are both traditionally published and self-published). I ended up signing up for the Picture Ebook Mastery course run by the Children’s Book Insider and I started playing around with the idea of self-publishing my own children’s book. My biggest drawback came from the fact that I am not an illustrator and hiring an illustrator would be costly.
  2. A friend put me onto the ‘Rocking Self-Publishing Podcast and I started listening to it. I became even more inspired. There were writers out there making a good living off self-publishing. I think there is this mindset that there are so many badly self-published books out there that self-publishing has developed a stigma that turns readers off. But the authors on these podcasts were finding that if they put the work in and put out a professional-standard book, they could do well. I began to think, “If they can do it, why can’t I?”
  3. I started reading more about self-publishing and seemed like a lot of authors were saying that even in traditional publishing a lot of the marketing was left on the shoulders of the author. That was a big selling point for me. The marketing aspect of self-publishing had been a major off-putting aspect for me, but if I was going to be responsible for marketing my work even in traditional publishing, then it was no longer a point against self-publishing. In fact, marketing a self-published book would be great practice if I ever end up being traditionally published. Plus haven’t I already been marketing my short stories in their respective anthologies? This wouldn’t be too much different, except it would just be me (no other contributing authors/publisher to share the load).
  4. There have been times in the past where I briefly thought I would like to put all my published short stories into a collection, but now that the idea of self-publishing had lost its stigma for me, I started entertaining the idea much more seriously. The more I planned the collection, the more I wanted to make it a reality. And because most of the stories in the collection have been previously published, I think it took some of the pressure off, because they’d already been through a lot of edits and I knew I could put out a professional book. There are two rules for self-publishing; one of those is for your book to be professionally edited.
  5. The second rule is to have a professional cover. I started researching cover artists, but at the same time I started playing around making my own cover. Thankfully I have been doing graphic art for about 8 years as a hobby and I have made a lot of mock covers over the years. My first cover was very amateur looking, so I scrapped it and made another. This one I felt looked professional, especially after some tweaking based on feedback. It was more validation that I could actually self-publish a professional-looking book. (P.S. For others considering self-publishing, I highly recommend getting a cover artist, unless you have been doing graphics yourself for years and have enough skills to do it yourself. If your cover doesn’t look professional, readers will be put off buying the book.)

Fingers crossed and wish me luck as I plunge head first into the world of self-publishing.

For those interested in exploring self-publishing, this series of posts by Author Entrepreneur Management Solutions is a must read. It takes you through planning, marketing, expenses and predicting income.

I’d love to hear stories from anyone else who has taken this route. Or what other writers think of self-publishing? Would you do it? Why or why not?
PRIZE WINNERS!

And now for the winners of my blogiversary giveaway!

Prize 1: An advance copy of Beautiful & Deadly.

Mary Preston!

Prize 2: A limited edition short story of your choice from the collection.

Angelina M Linan!

Prize 3: Your choice of a story critique OR a $5 Amazon gift card.

Melissa Gijsbers Khalinsky!

Thanks to all who entered and shared the competition. Winners, please check your email for your prizes!

Blogiversary Celebrations – New Look Site & A Prize Giveaway!

gift-553140_1280Welcome to my blogiversary celebrations! Today marks 6 years since I first started this blog as a way to help aspiring writers by sharing my acquired writing knowledge, as well as sharing my own writing journey.
I have some exciting announcements for my blogiversary:

  1. My blog has received a new look and a new and improved domain name.
  2. My short story collection Beautiful & Deadly is due to be released on the 30th September and I am excited to share the book trailer with you for my blogiversary.
  3. To celebrate my blogiversary, I’m having a competition! That’s right, it might be my blog’s birthday, but YOU get the presents! Details at the end of this post.

A Brand New Look

Regular visitors may have noticed my blog’s brand new header and updated look! You may also have noticed a change in my website’s name. I decided it was time to not only get an official and simplified domain name, I also decided it was time to rename the site to reflect my name. So now instead of thegracefuldoe.wordpress.com, my new web address is *drumroll*

johartauthor.com

But don’t worry, if you use thegracefuldoe.wordpress.com it will still take you to this site 🙂

Beautiful & Deadly

beautiful&deadlycover FINALThe last five years I’ve had a number of short stories published in various anthologies. A few months ago I had the idea to put them all together in a single collection, along with some new, never-before-published stories. In the coming weeks I’m going to talk a little more about how the idea to publish my own short story collection came about and a sneak peek at some of the stories included, but for today I’m excited to premiere my first ever book trailer!

Competition Time!

To help celebrate my blogiversary I’m running a competition to win an advanced PDF copy of ‘Beautiful & Deadly’ along with some other great prizes!

To enter, simply fill in the rafflecopter:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Prizes:

  1. An advanced PDF copy of ‘Beautiful & Deadly’. You will get to read it more than a week before its official release date!
  2. Your choice of any single story from the collection as a limited edition PDF.
  3. Your choice of a short story critique or Amazon gift card.

Competition closes: 11.59pm (AEST) Wednesday 16th September

Winners will be drawn at random and announced on Thursday 17th September.

Arrr! Talk Like a Pirate Day (with prizes!)

In celebration o’ Talk Like a Pirate Day, I’ve a special announcement I’ve been burstin’ to tell ya.

Ok, so I’m not great at talking like a pirate, but I do have some exciting pirate-related news to share. I recently had not one, but TWO stories published in the anthology ‘Teapot Tales: Pirates, Mermaids and Monsters of the Sea‘.

teapot Tales ebook cover

The first story, ‘Island of No Return’, is about a cursed pirate captain who makes a deal with a sea goddess. It was partly inspired by the lyrics of Katy Perry’s ‘Dark Horse’. Here’s a snippet:

“Be warned: do not make your decision to proceed lightly. All magic comes with a price. Are you prepared to pay the price?”

Lucas held out his arms and tore off his sleeves to reveal the blackened skin where the curse had already taken effect. “I am willing to pay any price to rid myself of this curse. I will not be taken by the darkness.”…

She moved towards him as though floating across the surface of the water until she stood so close their faces were mere centimetres from each other. Her lips pressed against his. At first, a warmth stirred inside him—she was the most beautiful woman he’d ever encountered, after all. But soon the warmth drained from his body and he felt his blood turn ice cold in his veins.

The second story, ‘The Seashell’, is about a tide pool explorer who’s magically whisked into an underwater world. This one is based on my memories of the adventures I imagined as a child playing on the beach.

Jagged pillars of rocks lined the shore. Waves crashed against them in a rhythmic percussion, accompanied by the screech of seagulls. Ashleigh skipped and balanced over the slippery rocks, avoiding the tide pools and skittering crabs.  Out of the corner of her eye something sparkled in the sunlight. Like a colourful beacon it glinted from a cragged rock jutting out of the ocean.

The anthology features sea-inspired short stories suitable for a variety of ages. And, as the title suggests, the stories are short enough to be enjoyed over a cup of tea. Check out the book trailer!

A CHANCE TO WIN SOME PIRATE BOOTY!

The authors of ‘Teapot Tales: Pirates, Mermaids and Monsters of the Sea‘ got together (in conjunction with Melusine Muse Press) and decided in celebration of our newly released pirate-themed anthology and Talk Like a Pirate Day we would do a giveaway! Head on over to the Melusine Muse Press blog to go into the draw to win one of several prizes, including a copy of ‘Teapot Tales: Pirates, Mermaids and Monsters of the Sea’. There’s lots of ways to get bonus entries into the draw, including liking my FB page. The winners will be drawn and announced on the 25th September.

 

Chester Lewis Author Chat

chester-lewis-fan-fiction-competitionToday I’ll be chatting in the Chester Lewis Fanfiction group on Facebook. For those who haven’t heard of it, the Chester Lewis Fanfiction contest is open until August 2013 and has a $2000 first prize. The idea is to write a fanfiction piece based on The Life and Times of Chester Lewis. Entry into the contest is $10 and this entry fee also gives you access to the Facebook group where you can chat with fellow writers, authors and the editor. Throughout the year (until the contest closes) there will also be author drop-ins which so far have revolved around the story of Chester Lewis, writing in general and the publishing industry (I picked up a couple of great tips during yesterday’s drop-in). It’s well worth the entry fee just for the Facebook group. Plus, who knows what other opportunities could emerge from this competition.

I’ll be dropping into the Facebook group in 6 hours to chat. That’s Sunday 3pm AEDT, Sunday 4am GMT, Saturday 11pm EST or Saturday 8pm PST. Don’t forget you need to have paid your entry fee before you can join.

Dashing Through the School

To wish everyone a merry Christmas and happy new year (I’m getting in early as I know I’ll be super busy once school finishes tomorrow) I’ve got a present for you all! Here’s a little story I cooked up to the tune of Jingle Bells.

dashingthroughthechool sig

Dashing Through the School

Dashing through the school,

The bell’s about to ring,

I can’t be late again,

And disappoint Miss Sing.

I’ve got the leading role,

The play’s about to start,

Through the doors and up on stage,

I’m born to play this part!

Oh,

There’s the bell, there’s the bell,

I’m in the nick of time,

The auditorium is packed,

And the curtains start to climb.

Oh,

“Jingle bells, jingle bells,”

The chorus sings in tune,

My tummy’s feeling funny,

‘Cause I know it’s my turn soon.

I take a big deep breath,

Step forward on the stage,

Look out at the crowd,

Is that my Aunty Paige?

The lights shine in my face,

This costume’s far too hot,

The words catch in my throat,

An actor, I am not.

Oh,

Jingle bells, jingle bells,

They’re ringing in my head,

At practice I was doing fine,

But now I’m filled with dread!

Oh,

I’m not well, I’m not well,

I’m really feeling ill,

I wonder if it’s not too late,

To swap my part with Bill.

I take another breath,

Deliver my first line,

The butterflies are gone,

Suddenly, I’m fine.

When the play is done,

Applause rings ‘round the hall,

I take my final bow,

I’m an actor after all!

Oh,

I did well, I did well,

My heart is beating fast,

I never thought I’d feel this way,

The day that I was cast.

Oh,

“Jingle bells, jingle bells,”

I’ll sing it loud and clear,

I wonder if they’ll let me play,

This part again next year.

Word count: 257

I’m linking up to Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog as part of her annual holiday contest. Be sure to pop over and read some of the other fabulous entries.

UPDATE: Dashing Through the School is a finalist! Head over to Susanna’s blog to read the other finalists and vote for your favourite (I warn you now there are some REALLY great entries and it will be hard to pick just one!)

*NEW UPDATE*: A new extended version of ‘Dashing Through the School’ is now available in the anthology Jingle Bells: Tales of Holiday Spirit from Around the World. Pick up the Kindle version for $0.99 and discover a wide selection of family-friendly Christmas tales from a variety of talented authors.

Have a wonderful Christmas/holiday season!

Blog Birthday and a Competition

Today is my blog’s third birthday! I had planned a big celebration, but, as seems to be the norm lately, time got away from me. I do have an exciting announcement though…

There is a fanfiction competition happening to coincide with the release of a collaborative story collection titled The Life and Times of Chester Lewis, of which I am one of the contributing authors (alongside some great writers, such as Michael White who co-authored Private Oz with James Patterson). The collection follows the life of the title character, Chester Lewis, through the decades from the 1930s through to the 2030s (I pick up the story during the 1980s). The fanfiction competition is open to writers worldwide and has a fantastic first prize (plus anyone who enters is eligible to enter the Chester Lewis Fan Fiction Group where you will receive regular fiction writing tips and have discussions with fellow writers).

Thanks so much to all my blog followers and readers, new and old, for always making me smile with your comments, follows and likes over the past three years!

Blogiversary Celebrations: Part Four – Contest Winners!

I know some of you have been waiting for this all day. The time has come to announce Peevish Penman’s and my joint blogiversary contest winners!

CONGRATULATIONS TO:

Jessica (@jsubject)

Lisa. B. (@LisaMBasso)

and Monica B.W.

The three winners each receive a five-page critique from both Carrie and myself. If the three winners could please e-mail Carrie at  bzuley(at)yahoo(dot)com or me at thegracefuldoe(at)hotmail(dot)com we can organise your critiques.

Thank-you to everyone who entered and helped spread the word about the contest.

And thank-you to everyone for helping me celebrate my blog’s 1st birthday today. I’m looking forward to another year of blogging and writing. 🙂

Blogiversary Celebrations: Part Three – Interview with Agent Intern C.A. Marshall

I would like to welcome special guest, and winner of the Best Agent Intern Site award, Cassandra Marshall to my blog. Cassandra has kindly agreed to answer some questions for me to share with you.

As a writer, what have you learnt through being an editor and an agent intern that you now apply to your writing?

Each activity helps the other. I can use what I see in the queries pile to help write my own query so it stands out (and I have four full requests in two weeks to prove it! Yay!) and if I see mistakes over and over again in a clients MS, I’ll check my own for those mistakes too. It’s like the quote, “It takes a village to raise a child” except it’s more like, “It takes a writing community to write a book.” The more you learn and then share what you learn, the better for all of us.
(GD: Congratulations on the full requests!)

As an editor, what is the most common mistake you see when editing a manuscript?

Not capturing a specific voice. Teens using outdated slang or phrases, characters that are formulaic and cliche, stuff like that. The more you read in your genre, the better you will be at distinguishing voice.

Do you have any tips for writers who might be in the process of revising their manuscripts?

Save your changes. Use “track changes” if you edit in Word. Save the bits you cut out in another file. You never know if a revision means that you could use a scene you’ve already written and you’ll be sad that you got rid of it. Or it’s also possible for those scenes inspire more books.

What is the best piece of advice you have for aspiring authors?

Read. Read as much as you can in your genre to figure out what does and does not work. Read submission guidelines for each agent/publisher and follow them exactly. Read agent and fellow writer blogs and become part of the community.

Thanks for having me Jo!

C.A. Marshall is a freelance editor, lit agent intern, YA writer, and loves to play with her dog Mollie. She dreams of one day owning a small house near the water, preferably in England, with a shelf full of books she has written and has helped others to write. She can be found in Emmett, MI and at camarshall.com

Be sure to check out the Free Edit Contest on Cassandra’s blog. One lucky person will win a FREE substantial edit for up to 100K words.

Thanks so much for being here, Cassandra!

(P.S. To all those waiting for the results of the Graceful Doe and Peevish Penman’s blogiversary contest, the winners will be announced in the next post. Not long now!)