Tuesday, April 28, 2015

On Tuesday, April 28, 2015 by Adria in

We are delighted to reveal the cover of our upcoming release SURVIVAL OF THE GINNEST by Aimee Horton. 

"So what's this all about and when can we read it?" you ask.

On May 18... 

Meet Dottie Harris. Dottie spent her late 20s working her way up the career ladder, but things are about to change. In this modern-day diary, Dottie, after announcing her pregnancy, turns to social networking to build a new social life. She quickly begins to rely on it—along with gin—as a way to reach out and remind herself of the funny side of the frustrations of motherhood.

For the official cover reveal and an excerpt from the book, please visit Traveling With T.

Monday, April 20, 2015

On Monday, April 20, 2015 by Adria in
We are delighted to bring you a guest post by author Cathy Lamb, who currently is working on her 10th novel. Cathy, who lives in Oregon, likes to stay up late and daydream. Today, she shares some secrets of building a compelling setting in your books!


Old Homes With Secrets, Car Living, and Scottish Men in Kilts. How To Create Compelling Settings In Your Books.

By Cathy Lamb

I don’t like boring words.

I like scintillating words. Words that are skippy and delicious, or long with multiple syllables that roll like literary candy out of your mouth. Words that make you think, words that sound like what they are, words that dance and tease and have hidden meanings.

I do not like this word: Setting.


So boring. Lifeless. No romance to it. No high jinks. No dynamite.

And yet.

As a writer, the setting is so important in a book. The setting can increase the tension and the conflict, transport the reader to paradise or to terror, and ratchet up the odds, the mystery, the romance or the thrill ride.

Here are a few thoughts on setting, from my fried writer brain to yours. I apologize for using my books as examples all the way through, but hey. I know my books best and I know why I used that setting as I did, so hopefully it will be helpful.

1. Use setting to heighten a difficult personal struggle and make life even more challenging for your character.

In my latest book, What I Remember Most, the primary setting is a small, western style town in central Oregon surrounded by snow capped mountains. You can almost taste the snowflakes on your tongue and see sexy cowboys galloping by on horses.

But within that setting, my protagonist, Grenadine Scotch Wild, is living in her car. Yes, her car. On the run, away from a husband who has been arrested for embezzlement, fraud, and money laundering and will not tell the officials she’s innocent unless she returns to him. Grenadine’s accounts have been frozen by the government, she’s dead broke, therefore, car living.

Do you have a vision of car living? If not, go and park in your car in a parking lot and sit there for three hours. Stuffy. Hot. Uncomfortable. How do you sleep? Dangerous. Where do you pee? Yes, that. What a problem.

The setting worked because no one wants to live in a car and the readers were rooting for Grenadine to get out of it. She was a sympathetic character, a woman who had lost everything, a woman who was fighting to get out of car living, a woman who was working hard, had no help, and was one her own. And oh, a jail sentence hanging over her head.

Use setting to toss your character into chaos.

2. Make your reader shudder. Your setting can be used for tension, horror, angst, crimes. Take them to a place they DON’T want to go. Ever. Make them uncomfortable. Make them catch their breath.

I put Grenadine in jail for the weekend. I went to jail for three hours on a tour so I could get it right. Think: Suffocating. Bars. Scary people. Violence. Group showers. Horrible food and who looks good in a blue jumpsuit?

In The First Day Of The Rest Of My Life, I created a small, dusty, cramped house in the middle of nowhere for a crime to take place. The setting scared me, and I wrote it.

I had an insane asylum in Such A Pretty Face, briefly, where the mother was committed.

Settings can illuminate the plight of your characters, their internal hell and their external challenges.

3. Make your reader gleeful. Let your reader live vicariously through your characters in their setting.

Later, after working as a bartender and as an assistant to a furniture maker, two exhausting jobs, Grenadine finally got enough money together to rent a place.

So what setting did I put her in next? A cozy remodeled apartment above a red barn in the country.

I described the two decks overlooking the farmland, the magnificent sunset and sunrise views, the animals she sees, the peace and tranquility.

Why this setting? I would love to live atop a barn, horses below, in the country. Many of my readers would, too.

In the book I just finished, My Very Best Friend, which almost made me want to go and live in a cabin, alone, in Montana, and mutter to myself, but that is another story, I set it in Scotland.

Imagine: Hot Scotsmen in kilts. Bagpipes. Green rolling hills. Charming villages. Who wouldn’t want to go to Scotland?

I've also set stories on quaint islands, Oregon beach towns, a town along a river, a schoolhouse transformed into a home, Cape Cod, a lavender farm, a tree house, and a Queen Anne house.

Take your reader on a trip with you. They want to go. Their bags are packed and ready.

4. Tap your readers’ inner most imaginations.

In Julia’s Chocolates, Lara is a closet painter. I gave her an attic, then described all the wild, free wheeling paintings in there.

In Such A Pretty Face, Stevie had a garage where she built and painted chairs – huge chairs, with feet and wings and stripes and polka dots.

Grenadine is a collage artist and painter. I gave her a studio in the top floor of her little green house. I described the colorful tables and chairs, the jars full of paints, sequins, fabrics, brushes, lace, etc. The books on art, the plants, the windows. Being an artist appeals to readers, to their dreams.

Build settings that encourage your readers to think, to be inspired, to dream. What if…what if I started painting again? Building again? Writing? Making a collage?

5. Relate to your readers’ real lives with your setting.

In A Different Kind Of Normal I created a home that belonged to my character’s ancestors. There was history in that house. Jaden was walking up the same stairs as her ancestors, looking out the same windows, crying at her kitchen table, which her ancestors had probably cried at, too.

Your readers have homes they love and miss, homes that have prickly memories. They have grandparents, crazy aunts, beloved dead fathers, too. They have Godzilla–type ex spouses and distracted boyfriends. They have funny pets. They have jobs and bosses they hate in the corporate world. They go to family reunions at the lake and take tranquilizers while they’re there.

They have failing businesses and cliques they have to deal with in the suburbs.

Link your readers’ personal lives to the setting in your story, which will make your book more relatable, and personal, to them.

6. Know your readers. What do many of them like? Use it.

I think my women readers like lingerie. It’s frilly. Pretty. It inspires passion. So in If You Could See What I See, Meggie had a lingerie company, filled with silk and lace.

In The Last Time I Was Me, Jeanne Stewart gutted and remodeled a dilapidated house. I think my readers like reading about remodeling and décor, new kitchens and paint colors. They have homes, too.

In Henry’s Sisters, the sisters were running a bakery. Giant cupcakes, wedding cakes, delicious treats. Yes, I think my readers like bakeries and sweets.

Appeal to your reader via your setting.

7. Make your setting something that readers can laugh about.

In Julia’s Chocolates, Julia is out on her Aunt Lydia’s farm. Aunt Lydia has tons of chickens. Chickens in brightly painted chicken coops, chickens who chase each other, chickens who have quirky personalities. And the roosters, those dandy fellows!

Aunt Lydia also has a rainbow bridge in her front yard, toilets overflowing with flowers, and four foot tall ceramic pigs who each have a nametag. The pigs are named after men Aunt Lydia doesn’t like.

Her front door is painted black to “ward off seedy men.”

Funny, right? Good. Readers like to laugh.

To sum up this huge essay, which I did not intend to be quite so long, write your settings to evoke memories, emotions, thoughts, tears, laughter, etc. from your readers. You want them to feel. You want them to think. You want them to block everything else out of their life and dive head first into your story.

Use the setting in your books to help them do so.

There is so much more to say about setting, how to use weather, charging rivers, frothing oceans, seasons, evocative or dangerous landscapes, bleak neighborhoods and destitute countries, etc. but that is enough for today. I have to start writing my new book now, if I can get my brain to work.

I do know the setting, though. It’s a tugboat on a river, complete with ducks who lay eggs in pots on the deck, a blue heron, geese, sailboats, and odd ball neighbors. Including a secretive man who lives two houseboats down…


To follow Cathy's latest book news visit CathyLamb.org and her Facebook page!

Friday, April 17, 2015

On Friday, April 17, 2015 by Adria in
Legacy: An Anthology
Today is the official launch day of Legacy: An Anthology, featuring award-winning authors such as Kristopher Jansma and best-selling authors including Regina Calcaterra! A collection of thought-provoking stories each linked to the them of legacy, what we leave behind. The book is available in print and ebook formats.

Author proceeds from sales of Legacy will benefit Paws for Reading, a program that allows children to read aloud to a therapy dog (or cat, or bunny!) in order to improve reading and communication skills.

And now, a special treat right here. As part of the Legacy launch, we are interviewing Allison Hiltz, book blogger extraordinaire and founder of The Book Wheel website. Allison's original #30Authors international blogging event inspired the creation of the anthology and we've worked closely together on the project over the past few months. You'll find more detail about how the project came to be in the book's preface, written by none other than Allison!

Today, we're chatting with Allison about how she chooses books, how they have affected her life and how she as a book blogger can influence a writer's destiny...

Allison Hiltz of The Book Wheel
Q: Has a book ever been “life changing” for you? Which book, and how?

A: Hands down, it’s The Devil’s Teeth: A True Story of Obsession and Survival Among America’s Great White Sharks by Susan Casey. When I was little, I wanted to be a marine biologist and although that career choice obviously faded (along with my dreams of becoming a jockey), my love of the ocean did not. Before Susan Casey’s book came along, I liked sharks in the normal way - they were big, scary, and entirely too cool for school. Then I read this book and was forever changed.

The book is about a lot of things* - sharks, conservation, research - but the undercurrent of the book is the story of a woman who fell down the rabbit hole into obsession with all things sharks and, well, I dove right in after her. By the time I came up for air at the end of the book, I was hooked and have spent the last ten years learning about and educating others (socially, of course) about the perils of the declining shark populations. Shark policy was the subject of my undergraduate senior project, as well as my current graduate policy memorandum (much like a thesis), so it’s safe to say that the book has changed my life.

(*I should note that the book has received some negative attention from those in the marine biology field in the years since this book was released, mostly for Casey’s personal actions detailed in the book. While I certainly look back on certain aspects of the book differently now that I know a lot more about shark conservation and habits, it still changed my life and for that I am grateful).

Q: What are your top three all-time favorite books (excluding the one you speak of in the first question) and why?

A: A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving - I only recently read this one and can’t believe it took me so long. Owen Meany is someone who just curls up in your heart and never leaves. Ever.

Nice Girls (Still) Don’t Get the Corner Office by Dr. Lois Frankel - This is a great and handy book that talks about all the ways women may sabotage themselves in the workplace. I wish I didn’t need to read this book, but the sad fact is that gender disparities exist and this book is helpful in staying at the top of your game.

???? - Okay, I’m going to be sneaky because I actually talk about one of my all-time favorite books in the anthology and how it has influenced my life as a person and a reader. So I’m going to refrain from sharing that book here in the hopes that it will entice people to go out and buy the book!

Q: Do you prefer fiction or nonfiction? Why?

A: For most of my life I would have answered fiction, but over the past few years I’ve developed a new appreciation for nonfiction. I love to learn and always want to know more, so while I have certainly learned a lot from fiction, I’m enjoying expanding my knowledge base. Plus, it helps me keep my reputation as the one with all of the random facts at social gatherings!

Today, we feel that bloggers are an integral part of the book industry. Is that a big change from when you started blogging about books? Do you think bloggers are getting more credit today than they did just a few years ago?

Absolutely. When I first started blogging, there was an incredibly supportive set of authors that interacted with the book blogging community, but that set has definitely expanded. I think this is partly because of social media, especially Twitter, because it broke down the wall between readers and authors. Authors are no longer elusive hermits who scribble away by candlelight and bloggers aren’t strangers behind a computer screen - we’re all in this together and can see each other as people.

Q: Do you think that bloggers can help influence an author’s success?

A: I do, to an extent. Bloggers are great at shining a light on first-time authors and putting them on the map, but at the end of the day a book is successful because it relies on its own merits. That said, I’m off in my own world thinking about the viability of this as a topic for a PhD, now…

Q: How do you choose what book to read next? Do you read what fellow bloggers recommend, look to the best-sellers list etc. etc.?

A: Oh, the agony of choosing a new book! My process varies - sometimes I know exactly what I’m going to read next and others I can spend hours trying to decide because I have so many great options. That said, I tend to avoid the bestseller lists and split my decision 50/50 between what I want to read and the new picks that trusted bloggers are recommending. If I’m really stuck, I’ll give my husband a one-sentence summary of a few books and tell him to pick one for me.

Q: What has been your favorite aspect of working on this #30Authors/Legacy project?

A: The people! The authors and bloggers participating in this project, as well as those who participated in the original #30Authors event last September, have been incredibly supportive and enthusiastic. Not only have I been introduced to some fantastic new books, I’ve deepened my relationships with people I already admired. If you ask me, there’s no replacement for good books and good friends.


Legacy is now available on Amazon: Paperback | Kindle

Thursday, April 16, 2015

On Thursday, April 16, 2015 by Adria in
Tomorrow is the official release of Legacy: An Anthology, a short story collection featuring award-winning and best-selling authors such as Kristopher Jansma and Regina Calcaterra just to name two! To celebrate the launch, join us for a month-long tour on these great book blogs!

The schedule:

Fri. April 17: Velvet Morning Press blog (interview with Allison Hiltz of The Book Wheel, who inspired the project and helped organize it)

Sat. April 18: Mom’s Small Victories (review)

Mon. April 20: The Book Wheel (interview of contributor J.J. Hensley)

Tues. April 21: The Steadfast Reader (review)

Wed. April 22: Mom’s Small Victories (interview of contributor Paula Young Lee)

Thurs. April 23: The Steadfast Reader (interview of contributor Regina Calcaterra)

Fri. April 24: Tif Talks Books (review)

Mon. April 27: Tif Talks Books (interview of contributor Piper Punches)

Tues. April 28: Words and Peace (excerpt of contributor Didier Quémener’s story)

Wed. April 29: Words and Peace (interview of contributor Didier Quémener)

Thurs. April 30: My Novel Opinion (review)

Fri. May 1: My Novel Opinion (interview of contributor Marissa Stapley)

Mon. May 4: 52 Books or Bust (review)

Tues. May 5: 52 Books or Bust (interview of contributor Kristopher Jansma)

Wed. May 6: BookHounds (review)

Thurs. May 7: BookHounds (interview of contributor and VMP co-founder Vicki Lesage)

Fri. May 8: My Life in Books (review)

Sat. May 9: My Life in Books (interview of contributor Maureen Foley)

Mon. May 11: The Turning Pages (review)

Tues. May 12: The Turning Pages (interview of contributor Stephanie Carroll)

Wed. May 13: Estella’s Revenge (review)

Thurs. May 14: Estella’s Revenge (interview of contributor and VMP co-founder Adria J. Cimino)

Fri. May 15: Joy’s Book Blog (review)

Sat. May 16: Joy’s Book Blog (interview of contributor David Whitehouse)

Mon. May 18: Doing Dewey (review)

Tues. May 19: Doing Dewey (interview of contributor Lizzie Harwood)

Wednesday May 20: Mom’s Small Victories (interview of contributor Jenny Milchman)

And more exciting news... Author proceeds from anthology sales will be donated to PAWS for Reading, a program that allows children to read aloud to a therapy dog (or cat, or bunny!) in order to improve reading and communication skills. Thanks for reading and for supporting the cause!


Legacy is now available on Amazon: Paperback | Kindle

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

On Tuesday, April 07, 2015 by Adria in

Ah, April in Paris... The perfect time to explore the City of Light under the blooms of the cherry blossoms and a bright blue sky. Or under an umbrella on those drizzly gray days!

If the airfare looks steep, there is a less expensive way to experience Paris in the spring this year. The Kindle version of our anthology "That's Paris" is now on sale for 99 cents (£0.99 for our U.K. friends) on Amazon! You can't even get an umbrella for that price. But hurry up! The sale only runs through April 13. 

Check it out on Amazon.com! And click here to find it on Amazon.uk.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

On Wednesday, April 01, 2015 by Adria in ,

Velvet Morning Press was delighted to be featured at the U.S. Embassy's stand at this year's Paris Book Fair (Salon du Livre)! Most visitors at the fair are French, yet many were looking for English-language books and were happy to discover our offerings.

We even had a few fans who stopped by specifically to see us! And those were truly great moments!

Here, we share some photos with you...