BLOGMAS Day 20: Favourite Picture Books featuring Amy from Lost In A Good Book

I teamed up with Jess from The Never Ending Book Shelf to talk about our favourite picture books s part of her Blogmas celebrations. Have you read any of these delightful stories? Also you should check out her blog because not only is her entire Blogmas content awesome, the rest of her blog is fantastic.

The Never Ending Bookshelf

Today for Blogmas I’m teaming up with Amyfrom Lost In A Good Book to talk about our top five favourite picture books. Amy runs an awesome book blog (so make sure you check it out) talking about a wide range of books across almost every genre and age group. Amy is also a qualified librarian and has written a really good introduction about the importance of picture books, so read on more to learn about picture books and our all time favourite picture books.

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Guest Post: “My Self-Publishing Story” by Nikki Rae + Giveaway

When I was 14 or 15, I wrote Sunshine. I broke my knee that year and had nothing to do. I’d written shorter things before, but I figured the six month recovery home from school on the couch, was a good time to start something longer.
At first, writing Sunshine was just something I did for fun. I wrote a few chapters during the day in a spiral notebook, and when my friends came over after their school day (I was on homebound so I only had school for three hours a day at home), they would read it, and they always wanted more chapters by the next day. Soon, I was able to sit at a computer for a few hours a day, so I began to type the story and make copies for everyone, and then they shared them with the other kids at school. I started to fall in love with the idea of people reading what I wrote and I loved that there were kids at school that I didn’t know reading my story.

But once I was better and I had to go back to school, I set Sunshine aside and didn’t touch it again until I was in my first year of college.

When I was at OCC (my first college), I told my creative writing professor that I had written a book before and wanted to maybe work on it for class. After reading some of it, she encouraged me to try and get it published. I spent a year researching how to publish traditionally, editing, and revising my book. Then finally, I started sending query letters to agents.

I did that for about five years.

Most of the agents I queried never wrote back and the ones who did sent me rejection form letters. There were two, however, that personalized their rejections: One agent told me in so-many-words that  the themes in Sunshine were “too mature” for Young Adult audiences, yet “Not Mature Enough” for the Adult genre. The other agent told me flat out that the “market” wasn’t looking for vampire novels anymore, but I could query them again if I either took the vampires out, or wrote them something different.

It was around this time that I took a break from querying. I transferred to Stockton (my second college) in 2010, and in my second semester, I met H.D. Gordon in Intro to Creative Writing.  We had a lot in common: we both wrote books about vampires and we had both been through the querying process. She told me about Self Publishing on Amazon, how she was doing it, and how people were reading her book. She thought I could do it too.

Once I knew about this option, I started considering it. I made a deal with myself to try to query one last time. I’d send letters to fifty agents, and if none of them wanted to read more of Sunshine, I would Self Publish.

But with every letter I sent out, I remembered how it felt, back when I was in high school, and people were sharing my work with each other. I thought about how much easier it would be if my work was on the internet, how many of my friends and family could read it. I think I only sent out about ten more letters before I began researching Self Publishing.

I finally published Sunshine on Amazon on January 28th, 2013, and almost instantly, my friends bought it for their kindles and computers. That was what I was expecting, and if nothing else happened, I was happy. Slowly, I learned about how important book bloggers and reviews were, so I started promoting myself and asking others for help.

And in the first few weeks Sunshine was out, I had sold 200 copies. About two months later, Sunshine reached Amazon’s top 100 Best Selling Ebooks. It stayed there for a month straight. On June 28th, 2013, I published the second book in The Sunshine Series, Sun Poisoned. And I’ve sold around 4,000 copies to date.

I don’t regret trying to traditionally publish my book, and I think in the future, I’ll eventually try again with a different one. I learned a lot of things I would not have learned otherwise, the most important thing being that “failing” to get a book traditionally published didn’t mean failure, and that there was more than one path to take, depending on what story I wanted to tell and how I wanted the story to reach people.

I think I would have eventually figured out that Self Publishing was the right path to take for Sunshine, but I’m glad I got that little push. Now, my story isn’t just being passed around in between classes, it’s being read by people all over the world. The most important thing was just sharing my story, so if one or one thousand people read it, I’m happy.

 Giveaway

In honour of the final book Sun Damage‘s release Nikki is offering a giveaway. Click the link and grab as many entries as you can before the competition closes and good luck!
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All Your Bits and Pieces Needs

Sun Poisoned Book Trailer
Sun Damage Book Trailer

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Guest Post: Kerry Letheby – Justice or Vengeance – what’s the difference?

I am very glad to be able to hand the reins over to author Kerry Letheby for a guest post as part of her blog tour for her wonderful book Mine to Avenge. There are links at the bottom about where you can find out more information, keep following the tour, or better yet to buy a copy! It’s gotten a 5 Star average on Goodreads at the moment, and it is worth it I assure you.

Justice or Vengeance – what’s the difference?

What is the difference between justice and vengeance? I have often asked myself this over the past few years while writing Mine to Avenge, with the themes of justice and vengeance bound inextricably within the plot.

The dictionary defines justice as ‘the administering of deserved punishment or reward’. It defines vengeance as ‘infliction of injury, harm or humiliation on a person by another who has been harmed by that person’.

In Mine to Avenge, I tell the story of a vendetta, where one man seeks justice for his family when he believes a wrong has been committed against them. At least, that is his motive – to seek justice, but my question is, does he achieve justice by his actions, or does he only hurt those who wronged him? I can’t tell you what his actions are, as that would be a plot spoiler for those who haven’t yet read the book.

If you think carefully about it, a person might commit a certain act, maintaining that it was done to achieve justice where a wrong was committed. However, you would need to closely examine that person’s motive to determine whether the action was done with a desire for fairness, or whether the motivation of the act was more accurately driven by the desire to hurt, or get even.

When you seek to return a wrong for a wrong that was done to you, it is highly likely that you are not unbiased in your actions. The very fact of a wrong being committed against you presupposes that the act has had some impact on you, most likely negative. In that instance, what is the chance that your punishment will be truly just and fair? Likewise if another relative, or a family friend sought justice on your behalf, could they truly be just? They, too, would most likely have been impacted by the harm done to those they love. I think such a person would be driven more by their emotions than a desire for fairness.

Is it possible for you to seek true justice for yourself, in the sense of determining what that justice should be and administering it yourself, or is the outcome more likely to be vengeance? Can you honestly admit your true motive – would you be truly seeking justice for yourself or vengeance towards someone who hurt you?

What about seeking justice for someone else? I believe that only someone who is completely impartial, with no direct interest in the committed wrong, can dispense fair justice in any given situation. Anyone who seeks to dispense justice while having a direct interest in the event, risks acting from the motive of vengeance – seeking to return pain for pain rather a fair and just punishment for the act. Perhaps the difference between the justice and vengeance is just a matter of motive.

With Mine to Avenge, the lines between vengeance and justice are blurred. We have Constantine Anastos seeking what he believes to be justice for his sister, but another character from the same family perceives it to be a quest for vengeance. And on the other hand, the family being targeted by this man also seeks justice for their family for the wrongs committed against them, but there is doubt as to whether this is what they truly achieve.

To complicate things, both the protagonist family and the antagonist family can be said to have the same goal – a quest for justice, but even as the reader is permitted to read the thoughts of each man as he seeks justice, you might well question whether his motives are truly a pursuit of justice or a quest for vengeance.

If I were guilty of committing a wrong against someone, I wouldn’t feel comfortable if I was told that the wronged person was the one to determine what was just and fair. Nor would I feel comfortable if it was to be one of their family members or friends. Justice denotes a degree of fairness. I don’t think the wronged person or their family or friends could be trusted to dispense justice because they are personally involved. Their response would most likely be driven by hate and anger.

In Mine to Avenge, I don’t venture to conclude whether it was vengeance or justice that motivated the avenging family. I deliberately leave that to the reader, and look forward to hearing readers’ thoughts once they have read the story.

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