Launch Day: The Earthen Shroud

Yes!  Finally!  The Earthen Shroud is here!

I am so thrilled about this project!  This series has touched my heart in such an amazing way, and once you start reading it, I know it will get you, too.  You can purchase the paperback on the My Books page, and I will be posting an excerpt from the book on Goodreads today, as well as giving away e-book copies of the novel to lucky winners all week long!  You can enter to win below.  Trust me, you don’t want to miss this!

Celebrate with me!  It’s LAUNCH DAY!

Fill out my online form.

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We’re Moving!

I have been blessed and fortunate for the last year to have a website to bring you the latest news, updates, and exclusives about me and all my books.  And 15000 views later, we have finally outgrown our humble beginnings!  Our site domain will still be raynettastocks.com, but we are expanding to our own server with a new interactive layout and exciting new extras!
On the new site, you will still be able to view and purchase my latest work, view and participate with my blog (including the last 100 posts) and read about what’s new in my world.  But you will also be able to view new live interviews with feature authors, publishers and agents, read excerpts from debuting novels, and participate in live stream chats with interviewees.  I wanted my website to be an experience for all you faithful visitors, and this new website will give you precisely that.  The links to my previous posts may change, but we’ll keep you updated on how to find everything you loved about the old blog and everything there is to love about the new one!
The best part about the new site is my subscription page!  The members only portion of the site will have exclusive extras like sneak peeks at my brand new novels, members-only discounts, an extensive catalog of unpublished works (like my short stories and poetry) and a new section called Pages From my Diary, my personal blog discussing everything from online dating to bariatric surgery.  You won’t want to miss any of it, and I’m going to make sure you, my loyal readers, are first in line!  Stay tuned!
If you’re already a subscriber of this blog, you will unfortunately have to re-subscribe, but the subscription page is going to be worth every bit of inconvenience this may cause you.  If you haven’t already, you can always join my mailing list, and you’ll still be kept up to date on everything Raynetta J Stocks via email.
Thank you so much for sticking by me.  This expansion is for you!  See you there!

Soapbox Spotlight: Kyra Gregory

I am so pleased to present this Soapbox Spotlight today–because this installment of Spotlight is my 100th post!  Today’s Spotlight author is Kyra Gregory, a YA fantasy novelist from Malta.  She is here talking about her latest work, Secrets Clad in Light.

Welcome, Kyra!  Tell us about yourself.

I’m a young writer from the island of Malta. As I write and self-publish, I’m studying to become a teacher for early years. My family says I’ve been writing since a very young age; this developed from short stories to fan fictions, lyrics for a bands, and novels. I have a real passion for reading manga (Japanese comic books), and they’re probably the only thing that can steal me away from writing.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I was always picking out my favourite moments in things I’d seen or read or even things I’d felt and then making a story out of them. I was always reading; story-telling seemed quite natural to me at the time. Years later, I was writing lyrics to a song a friend of mine had composed; you could say I had been caught because I’d had no intention of showing them to him. From then on, I was continuously encouraged by him to keep writing lyrics. I did so but my passion was always more in prose so I kept writing stories, first with fan fiction and short stories and novels later on.

What inspires you to write and why?

Plenty of things inspire me and I think the only thing they all have in common with each other is that they evoke feeling out of me, a deeper emotion. A lot of my stories are very much character-driven which I find enjoyable because everyone is so unique; their feelings and actions to a situation, different combinations of people make completely different stories and I love exploring that. An issue that needs to be talked about is something that inspires me to shed some light on it in the most relatable way possible.

Tell us about your latest work. Can you share a little of it with us?

It could be said that I got a lot out of writing this story. It was achieving a massive goal that I’d had set in my mind a long time ago. I had wanted to write a story in 19th Century London, my favourite period, but found it so incredibly difficult. It’s a moving and mysterious story.

London,1888. Henry decides to abandon all social conventions and rescue his lover, Seth, from an abusive household. He has replayed the moment in his head and has always known it wouldn’t be easy. He has never thought that it would be Seth who would cut his time too short. With Seth barely breathing, Henry must make the hardest decision of his life: try to save Seth, possibly condemning him to a life of suffering, or let him pass on in peace. But the arrival of a young stranger forces Henry’s hand, doing little to ease his qualms of uncertainty as everything he thought he knew changes.

Caught between self-doubt and his own selfish desires Henry learns to fight it all, using this stranger as a light to shine on what he hopes is the right path… All the while aware that there is still so much he doesn’t yet know…

That sounds interesting! Can you tell us a little about your main character?

Henry knows what he wants and prepared himself for all the consequences that would come from trying to get it, but when the circumstances change and things don’t go as he’s imagined, he is instantly lost. He has enough self-awareness to realise that his desires can border selfishness and this makes making decisions extremely difficult for him. He’s also a very caring, loving character but he’s not trusting by nature; that kind of conflict within him gets him into a lot of trouble.

How did you develop your plot and characters?

They developed almost all by themselves to be perfectly honest with you. I first came up with the idea for this story when I was completing Lady in Red; there were two characters in that novel that I wondered how they would have developed had the circumstances been a little bit different. After many failed attempts at writing a story effectively in 19th Century London I chose to try again and once I developed the circumstances for Henry things went on from there. There was little intention for the story to become as mysterious as it did. The character Mary became unlike any other character I had written before; she was more mysterious than I thought she would be, even to myself. I felt intrigued by her but she also scared me. She definitely made writing the story a challenge but absolutely exciting at the same time.

It’s amazing and wonderful to watch your characters become real people with depth of personality!  Do you feel you have you developed a specific writing style?

I would say that I’ve developed a writing style that suits me best, but I don’t think I could quite describe it even if I wanted to. I suppose the reason is because I always adapt it to whatever I’m writing at the time. Since I write so many different genres my writing style changes to suit the story. For Secrets Clad in Light, I wrote in a way that I don’t think I have before in order to suit a period in which I had never written before. Historical fiction is tricky because you need to try to make the dialogue suit the time but also keep it understandable for readers. I worked with my style to try to find a balance in that.

How do you come up with new novel ideas?

I’m inspired by so many things, but usually my novel ideas come from a character. Sometimes I would want to experiment with a character and their qualities, and I start to build a story around them. You could say it’s like a puzzle because frankly I don’t know where the bigger ideas come from sometimes. It’s very much like putting together a puzzle without knowing at all what the end result will look like until I’m further into the writing process.

Are you a pantser or a plotter?

I would have to say I’m a plotter. I don’t particularly try to be but the thing is that I often have plenty of novel ideas in my head at one time and I consider it a shame if I were to just let them disappear like that. While writing a novel I begin scribbling a few notes for another story; by the time I’m ready to start that story I already have one or two others in my head. In order for me to effectively keep all the feelings and scenes pertaining to a particular story in the right place I’ve learnt to plot things efficiently. This doesn’t mean that things don’t change or that I keep myself confined, spontaneity is good for the soul after all, but it definitely helps. It also means that I write stories a lot faster which I’m happy about.

What do you love about independent publishing?

For how much work it is it’s all worth it for me. I tried traditional publishing and it never happened because there were problems from the start. I’m a control freak; I want my hand in all aspects of my projects. I have a vision of what I’m creating and I’d like to stick to that vision. It’s not as though I won’t accept others opinions but it means that in the end what closest fits my vision will be what I decide to do. There’s no one around to tell me “you can’t do that” and I love that.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Still writing, definitely. Writing, being able to write like this, means the most to me right now so I hope that in five years time I hope I’d have even more time to devote to writing. After all, the thing I’m most passionate about is the thing I want to do all the time, no matter how tough things may get.

Thanks for joining us, Kyra!

Thank you so much for having me!

You can find Kyra at the following links:

Blog: http://kyralyrical.wordpress.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/kyra_lyrical
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6444174.Kyra_Gregory
You can find Kyra’s book at the following links:

Book-to-Movie Classics: A Christmas Carol

In the festive spirit of Christmas, I wanted to be able to talk about a movie that I, and maybe you too, watch every year.  A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens has been rewritten and remixed a million times.  You see the multiple variations on Hallmark Channel, GMC and ABC Family.  I’ve even written my own version of the classic story.  Everyone has their favorites, but I’m going to share mine here today.

First, let me say the novel is fantastic.  It is a classic you cannot go your whole life without reading; I read my well-worn copy every year.  “The Marleys were dead to begin with; dead as a doornail.”  What a way to start a story, and literally that is the very first sentence in this novel.  Dickens manages to be both inspiring and frightening simultaneously in this tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, a decrepit and greedy miser.  He has alienated his nephew, the only member left of his family, and ostracized anyone else who was remotely interested in getting close to him.  His focus is to spend as little money as possible and ignore the plight of those around him, even his faithful clerk, Bob Cratchit, who has a very sick young son.  The story is set in the early 1800s, although I’ve seen it modernized in several variations.

I have three favorite movie translations of this classic story.  The first is the George C. Scott version (1984).  I love it primarily for its brilliant acting, as evidenced by the clip I’ve included for you here.  But also, it reflects the true heart of the story.  Scrooge doesn’t convert too fast, and is deliciously delightful to hate!  The screenwriter and director have done a wonderful job of sticking as close to the original story as possible while adding a theatrical element that keeps you from getting bored.  The music in this movie steals the show!  Man, whoever directed the orchestra in this film knew how to evoke an emotion!  The drama is played perfectly; you even catch yourself laughing at the disillusioned Scrooge and his crude, “hum bug” disposition, especially when he’s being mocked.  If you liked that clip, you can watch the whole version here.

Disney, being the wonderfully talented animators they are, put out their own version of this classic tale in 2010.  It is available in 3D, as well as standard DVD and Blu-ray formats.  It stars none other than the fabulously versatile Jim Carrey, whom I also loved in Disney’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  He has a knack for capturing a character and accentuating their strengths and weaknesses.  Jim, also being a comedian, has added the traditional humor to the story in places you wouldn’t have expected it, but shows he can also be terrifyingly mean in Scrooge’s notoriously dramatic speeches.  Reminiscent of Tom Hanks’ turn in The Polar Express, Carrey plays multiple parts.  In addition to Scrooge, you will see him as the Ghosts of  Marley, Christmas Past and Present, and young Ebenezer.  I will warn parents that although it says Disney, this movie has some very stark and frightening elements that could scare or be too adult for younger children.

My absolute FAVORITE version of this book (and ultimately, my favorite Christmas movie PERIOD) is The Muppet Christmas CarolYes, it’s the Muppets, which immediately makes it a musical, but this, in my opinion is the best version for children.  Like the previous two movies I’ve mentioned, it too sticks very closely to the story, but of course, livens it up in a way no previous story could ever do it.  After all, it’s the Muppets!  Who can tell a story better than the Henson crew?  The Great Gonzo takes the helm as Charles Dickens, narrating the story almost verbatim from the original text of the book.  You can’t get more classic than that.  The DVD offers an extended version, too, that has some songs and scenes the theatrical version lacked.  It also has a “making of” featurette, but if your kids are anything like mine, they won’t want to know the Muppets, or any puppet for that matter, isn’t actually a real person (haha!).  Kermit and Miss Piggy are the humble Cratchits and Michael Caine stars as the infamous Ebenezer.

Now, I have neglected to include Scrooged (1988) with Bill Murray.  I watch this whenever it comes on, and I do love it, but…it strays too much from the traditional version for me.  That’s a good thing when you think about this movie and how it was done, and primarily it’s purpose is to be humorous.  Even the scary parts turn out to be more funny than frightening.  But I love it because it makes me laugh.  Alfre Woodard is a brilliant Cratchit spin, and this is one of Bobcat Goldthwait’s best appearances.  Again, there’s just too much going on here for this to be one of my favorites, although I do love a good comedy.

Happy holidays everybody, and find A Christmas Carol that you love this season!  Don’t forget to tell me all about it 🙂

Soapbox Spotlight: Michelle Robinson

Welcome to another Soapbox Spotlight!  Today’s guest is Michelle Robinson.  Michelle was born and raised in Oakland, CA. Oakland’s rich culture has laid the fabric for this story. She’s been doing hair for two decades. As a hairstylist, it’s safe to say she has also served as a therapist to her clients. She has heard and witnessed it all right behind her styling chair. From her experiences, she’s given advice to many and has watched people’s lives transition. With this driving force, she has finally penned her first novel, Right Before my Eyes.

Welcome, Michelle!  Can you tell our readers about yourself?

I love music. Compassionate. I’m a great friend, daughter, cousin, girlfriend, hairstylist, poet & thinker. I am a humanitarian. My belief is you owe it to life to give to others. I have a high moral background. I am a dreamer. As long as you have a dream, life should keep you busy. I am a believer that all things are possible. I’m also an artist so I creatively think outside the box. I’m a go-getter so I don’t take no as an option for me. I’m organized to the point that I can’t function in confusion. I can be the life of the party & also like spending time alone. I also love taking naps.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned since authorship?

It’s important to have a great editor.

Isn’t that ever true!  What was your path towards publication like?

I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had two friends that were writing books who I could call on for help, referrals and advice. So I literally had to learn the steps along the way.  I prayed a lot, developed more patience and had to lean on my own understanding through this process. I had bad luck with two different editors. I learned that your editor should have a degree in English not Journalism. I ended up having to proofread my own book twice before I submitted it to my publisher because my second editor couldn’t spell or take criticism. But he fell in love with the story, gave a lot of compliments about my writing and gave me advice to write in past tense. I had to figure out that in order to get my book cover the way I dreamt of it, I had to hire a photographer and the models, so I did and my vision came to life.

How do you balance your life as an author with your duties as a business person, employee, parent and/or spouse?

I go to bed at a reasonable hour. That allows me to wake up a little earlier than I need to so that I have time to myself. I start my day praying and reflecting and then head to the gym or go for a walk. I take a day off during the week dedicated to writing. I run my business on the other four days. Weekends are for church, family, friends and fun and if not, then I write!

What can we expect from you in the future?

More books, maybe a movie.

What is your best advice for getting past writer’s block?

Don’t end your writing at the end of a chapter. Stop in the middle of the sentence. That gives you a good jump start and get the creative juices flowing on the next time you begin writing.

Great tip!  I’ll have to try that.  What was the best writing-related advice you ever received?

To just keep writing.
Thanks for joining us today, Michelle!

You can find Michelle at the following links:

Email: rightbeforemyeyes@yahoo.com
Website: www.michellerobinsonauthor.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mrob.robinson
Twitter: @BooksbyMichelle
Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/RightBeforeMyEyes?ref=ts&fref=ts

You can find Michelle’s book at the following links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Right-Before-Eyes-Michelle-Robinson/dp/1463430337/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1347481337&sr=8-1&keywords=michelle+robinson

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/right-before-my-eyes-michelle-robinson/1109350562?ean=9781463430337

Authorhouse: http://bookstore.authorhouse.com/Products/SKU-000477760/Right-Before-My-Eyes.aspx

Soapbox Spotlight: Yvonne Harriott

Thank you for joining us today on Soapbox Spotlight!  I hope you’re getting your turkey ready!  Today’s featured author is Yvonne Harriott, a romance author from Canada.  She’s here to talk to us about her latest work, Cat ‘N Mouse.

Great photo!  Tell us more about you, Yvonne.

Well, I’m from Canada, and a member of Romance Writers of America.  I love to read. Writing is my passion. I always have a book with me. Since I purchased my Kindle back in February, I can now carry over a hundred books with me. I love to travel and I have a sweet tooth. Lay’s potato chips are my Achilles Heel.

What inspired you to write your first book, and what was it?

I’d written a collection of short stories over the years. Most of them were written for contests. Some have won and placed in contests. One particular short story entitled, “The Wedding” was published in Today’s Blackwoman Magazine, September 2001 issue. I compiled all the short stories that I’d written and divided them into two collections – a romantic and a dramatic collection. “The Wedding and Other Short Romantic Stories” – the romantic collection was the first book that I published.

What inspires you to write?

My imagination…just about anything. If I read an article in the paper or see something unusual on the street, whatever it may be, my mind is instantly thinking how can I incorporate it into a story. A perfect example…on my way into work last week I saw a woman, great shape, tanned and fit with long blond hair. She was wearing a black bustier (she was spilling out of it), black shorts and rubber boots walking a pit bull at seven o’clock in the morning. That’s a story waiting to be written.

Haha, nice!  How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I started off with a diary when I was very young and kept a journal, from there the fiction side developed. I would make up these stories and write them down.

That’s very similar to how I started!  Do you travel much concerning your book(s)?

I try to vacation and visit the places where my books are set. If I can’t then the Internet is the next best thing. I was in Chicago back in June so my next romantic suspense or some of it will be set in Chicago.

How do you deal with rejection?

A big bag of Lay’s potato chips and a bottle of water. Then I move on.

My vice is ice cream.  What are your current writing projects now?

I’ve just started research for my next romantic suspense novel, Hit ‘N Run. Hit ‘N Run is the final book in the “N” series. I don’t even know if I should call it a series. After I wrote, Hide ‘N Seek, I couldn’t let go of the detective, Samuel O’Malley so I gave him his own book in Cat ‘N Mouse. Hit ‘N Run is Sydney’s story. She was a character in Hide ‘N Seek, living in the shadow of her sister. I hope to make her shine in Hit ‘N Run.

How did you come up with the title?

I can’t start a book or a short story without a title. Nine point nine times out of ten, the title I choose I stick with. I may have the story idea but my fingers don’t hit the keyboard until I have a title. That’s how it was with Cat ‘N Mouse. I know it’s weird.

Very interesting!  Can you tell us about the main character?

Alexandria ‘Princess’ Prescott is one of the most exciting characters I’ve ever created. I had so much fun bringing her to life on the page. She’s a daddy’s girl, stubborn, a little self centered, spoiled and rich. She’s also living a double life. One of my reviews on Amazon pointed out that she matures as the story unfolds. That’s so true. There is a transformation with her character and I think that’s when you fall in love with her.

Sam O’Malley, what can I say about Sam? He hates rich people and he’s a perfect match for Alexandria. He’s a control freak with all sorts of issues. He was shot in the line of duty and it messed him up. There are a lot of things going on with him that he needs to work out through out the story, yet he spends most of it in denial. Alexandria is the perfect love interest for him because she pushes him to his limits, constantly testing him.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

My characters are always going through some kind of drama or crisis, but it all works out in the end. Some times because of what the characters have experienced in their past they have emotional issues. The message is – it doesn’t matter what you are going through you can make it. Don’t let it take you under. Just hang on. There is quote by Franklin Roosevelt that says, “ When you’ve come to the end of your rope tie a knot and hang on.”

What do you look for in a cover?

It has to be sexy and eye-catching. From all the feedback I’ve gotten from Cat ‘N Mouse, it definitely did that. I believe that once a book cover catches your eye you have to pick the book up. I have a fantastic cover designer, Brian Da Silva briandasilva1@gmail.com.

Thanks for joining us, Yvonne!

You can find Yvonne at the following links:

Website: www.yvonneharriott.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/yvonne.harriott
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ritetorite

You can find Yvonne’s books at the following links:

Soapbox Spotlight: Susan Noble

I am so pleased to be able to share another Soapbox Spotlight with you this morning: Ms. Susan Noble.  Susan is a woman after my own heart, writing anything that moves her.  Her popularity, however, spawns from a fantasy trilogy called “The Elemental”.  Please join me in welcoming her to our site!

Tell us about yourself, Susan.

I am a stay-at-home mom, so I basically divide my time between raising my two children, volunteering at their schools and writing. I love magic and dragons so it just seemed natural to start writing about them. When I am not writing, taking care of the kids (or my husband and three cats), I try to find time to read.

How long have you been writing?

I have always been a writer. As a child I wrote short stories and poems. In high school, I wrote for the student newspaper and liked it enough to make journalism my major in college. However, it wasn’t until after college that I began working on my first novel, Summoned.

I got a similar start.  What first attracted you to this genre?

I have always liked stories of people with extraordinary power, whether it was magic, telekinesis or some other power that average people didn’t have. And of course since I love dragons, it was easy to decide to write fantasy novels.

Does the writing get easier with each new book?

Since I have been working on a trilogy, I would have to say that yes, it gets easier writing each new book. I already know most of the characters so it feels very familiar to keep writing about them. In fact, Tosh, the main character from The Search is also one of the main characters from my The Elemental trilogy so it was a breeze to write, too.

Do you consider yourself a pantser or plotter?

I would say a little of both. I do plot out a rough outline but then as I write I don’t always stick with it. I let the story develop and just try to go with the flow.  You never know where your characters will lead you.

I feel exactly the same way.  What about the title; how did you come up with it?

The title for The Search came pretty easily. The STACs, which a telepathic cats that can sense people who possess elemental power, have been on the search for the one person destined to save the Land.  They refer to this as “The Search” so that of course became the title for this short story. 

What are your current writing projects?

I am just finishing up Destiny, the third book in my The Elemental trilogy. It should be out by the end of this month. After that, I will begin work on a stand-alone book called Alexandria.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

I would say write because you love it. And don’t take criticism to heart. Not everyone is going to love your writing no matter how good it is.

Your writing space: neat or messy?

For as organized as I am in most parts of my life, my desk is awful messy. I just hate filing so everything ends up in piles on my desk.  And there is always at least one notepad sitting out for me to write down other things I need to do.

That’s so true for me, too!  What genre of books do you read, or do you stick with the genre you write in?

I of course read fantasy but also enjoy romance, mysteries and suspense.
 
What do you do to unwind and relax?

Reading is my favorite way to relax though I sometimes don’t have enough time to do that.  I also like to watch a little TV sometimes. Once Upon a Time and Arrow (hmm, both fantasy based shows) are my favorites.

Haha, figures!  Thanks for joining us, Susan!

My pleasure, Ray.  Thank you for having me!

You can find Susan at the following links:

Readers can find more about me by visiting my blog, Into Another World, (http://susanleighnoble.wordpress.com/) or by checking out my author page on Independent Author’s Network.  (http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/susan-leigh-noble.html)

You can find Susan’s books at the following links:

The Search can be purchased exclusively from Amazon.  http://amzn.com/B0098PHNW6