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The Deja Vu Blogfest - 2014

In 2011 and 2012 I used a rather unique Blogfest to help me readjust to blogging after the turmoil of WRiTE CLUB (it seems like a lifetime ago since I wrote a normal post), so I think it's time to resurrect it again. To help me this year I recruited my fellow blogging buddy Nicole Zoltack to assist in coordinating things.

Want to know one of my pet peeves about the way our blogosphere operates?  You can miss some really awesome posts if you need to be away for a while and unable to keep up with your favorite blogs.  While WRiTE CLUB was going on I’ve probably missed hundreds of quality posts.  Anybody who participated in the A to Z Challenge in April certainly missed some truly outstanding posts because of the impossibility of trying to keep up while writing a post a day.  Are you going to do NaNoWrimo this November?  What about all those great blog post you'll miss while your slaving over shiny new idea? It’s really hard to rebound when things get like that, so what I resort to is simply picking up with everybody’s latest post.  You know what that means?  A post about the signing of an agent…missed!  A book contract finalized…missed!  A cry for help..missed!  A birth announcement…missed!  Some other special event in a bloggers life…gone!  I just shake my head when I think of all of the special posts I’ve missed this year.  And then there are the informative posts about the topics I’m dying to know more about, yep I probably missed some of those as well.

It’s for this reason in 2011 and 2012 I hosted the Déjà vu Blogfest, and before that it was the BLOG RECYCLE STATION.  I took the year off in 2013, but Nicole and I have decided to turn this blogfest into an annual event.  So today the two of us would like to announce…. 

On December 19th, anyone who decides to participate will re-post their favorite blog offering from earlier in the year, or one that you believe failed to receive the exposure it deserved. To take part all you have to do is sign-up with Mr. Linky below, then shout out to all of your blogging friends and encourage them to sign up as well.  Take the badge above and plaster it everywhere, blogging graffiti gone wild. Tweet about it (#dejavu2014) and post the picture on Instagram. Then on December 19th as the day unfolds and everyone hops from one blog to another, what they will be reading is the best of the best (as determined by you) from this 2014.  The blogosphere will be chock full 2014 writing brilliance!  Encouragement, enlightenment, knowledge, bared souls, stimulation, hilarity, insecurities, success stories!  All on display…the very same day.  And it couldn't be any easier to take writing necessary!

Sign up on the Linky Tool below and start looking through those old posts!  :)

Crystal Collier - SOULLESS Interview

Welcome back to my blog, Crystal.  It's been awhile and you can see I've undergone a few changes around here. You've obviously been busy. What changes (other than the book we're about to discuss) have there been in your life?

Change is the name of the game, isn’t it? (And I for one think many of the changes happening around here are awesomesauce.) Let’s see, for me? A new book release, a new house, and a new baby on the way. Nothing much. ;)

Busy is an understatement!  Congrats all around. As you know I like to make my authors feel comfortable when they drop by, so...can I offer you some cheese?

*slows chewing around bulging cheeks* Erm…was that your fridge I just raided? Awesome Swiss, btw.

Uhhhh...okay. Let's just dive right in, shall we? With MOONLESS you said you went through approximately two hundred version before you felt it was ready.  I'm guessing that wasn't the case with SOULLESS?

LOL. No. SOULLESS was up against a deadline with a publisher in the wings, so the edits were more precise and direct. This one probably went through 6 to 8 major edits—including rounds with two different editors. Those editors make a difference.

Without giving too much away, what can your readers expect from SOULLESS that they might not have seen coming from the 1st book?

Avoiding spoilers here…) Action. Okay, maybe they saw that coming. Regardless, the war we only got hints of in the first book comes full front and center in SOULLESS, and it’s a pretty non-stop ride. Readers will also notice new gifts/powers… I won’t say more than that.

Can't wait! What's your favorite part of the writing process? Idea nurturing...outlining...1st draft...revisions...editing...something else entirely?

It changes with every book. (Ooh, watch out for that buzz word—change.) With MOONLESS it was editing (OBVIOUSLY), but with SOULLESS it was the beta reading. (Probably because I had such an overwhelming response.) With other books it’s been the brainstorming of new worlds, societies, or cultures. For some works it’s been delving into the psyche of a character, and once it was the first draft. (Just once.)

There isn't a writer alive who doesn't struggle with their self-confidence at some point. How do you deal with that?

I spend more time with my family.

Good answer. If you have to pick one tool, or reference guide, that you most benefited as you wound your way along the writers path, what would you say that would be?

Yikes. Just one? Probably working with real live people: a literary agent early on, my writing coach for Pitch Wars, critique partners and beta readers. (Is that a cheat?)
Yes, but I'll let it slide. :) You still operate a successful blog, which last time we talked you attributed 60% of what you know about writing came from the blogosphere.  Do you still struggle to find the balance between writing, revisions, hanging with bloggies, and other promotions?

My blogging has become more focused and organized, but no. If I calendar out certain aspects of writing, editing, social media, and promotions, it’s entirely doable. I guess the real struggle comes in seeing another opportunity to promote and telling myself I can’t fit that one into the schedule. (But I ALWAYS want to.)

MOONLESS was the first book in a tri-series (that’s right, TRI-series) with SOULLESS being the second leg. What advice would you offer other aspiring novelists about writing multi-book series?

PLOT. (Need I say more?)

Yes, but I know how busy you are. :) What's next for you?

I’m working on the third book in the Maiden of Time trilogy, TIMELESS, and a pet project (a serial story with a couple of the side characters) titled BELLEZZA (coming early-ish 2015). I’m also working on growing a baby, which is going especially well.

Awesome! Thank you for taking the time to visit us today. I wish you all the luck with your SOULLESS launch and look forward to many books to follow.

Thank you so much for having me! Oh, and here’s a wedge of cheese for each of you readers. (Choose your own the flavor.)

Author: Crystal Collier
Publisher: Raybourne Publishing
Series: Maiden of Time, #2
Publication: October 13th, 2014
Category: Young Adult (YA)
Genre: Paranormal Historical

Tag Line: The Soulless are coming

Log Line: When Alexia's wedding is destroyed by the Soulless—who then steal the only protection her people have—she's forced to unleash her true power and risk losing everything.

Short description:
Alexia manipulated time to save the man of her dreams, and lost her best friend to red-eyed wraiths. Still grieving, she struggles to reconcile her loss with what was gained: her impending marriage. But when her wedding is destroyed by the Soulless—who then steal the only protection her people have—she’s forced to unleash her true power.

And risk losing everything.



Praise for SOULLESS: 

What people are saying about this series: 
"With a completely unique plot that keeps you guessing and interested, it brings you close to the characters, sympathizing with them and understanding their trials and tribulations." --SC, Amazon reviewer

"It's clean, classy and supernaturally packed with suspense, longing, intrigue and magic." --Jill Jennings, TX

"SWOON." --Sherlyn, Mermaid with a Book Reviewer
Author Bio: Crystal Collier is a young adult author who pens dark fantasy, historical, and romance hybrids. She can be found practicing her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, three littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese. You can find her on her blog and Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.
Author Tag Line:  Unleashing the dream world, one book at a time 



Hey gang!  With WRiTECLUB wrapped for another year I thought it would be a good time to catch you up with all things DL.  How does that sound?

First things first.  On the personal front, I have been traveling a heck of a lot this year for my day-job (away 26 out of 40 weeks – with more to come) but I’m still managing to keep a half-step ahead of everything.  My family has been wonderful through it all.  My wife Kim is fully recovered from her tussle with breast cancer last year, and our youngest has voyaged into the fantastical world of high school. This is huge because as all of you know, without a solid foundation…everything else is just a matter of going through the motions.

On the writing front I recently sent out my YA Horror manuscript -- Moving Fear -- to five trusted beta readers and here’s a snippet of what they had to say.

“This was a great read!  You totally consumed my weekend. I had a To-Do List, and I got almost none of it done because I couldn’t put your book down.”

“An excellent story.  I'm smiling.” 

“YES.  I think you've got a good shot with this one! I don't typically read suspense (I scare easily) but I still enjoyed it.”

“I had an immense good time reading this. The first scene was utterly chilling and fantastic. What a great opening!!  We definitely need more true horror stories in YA and this will be a fantastic addition!”

“Holy Shit!!!  Moving Fear is not only a great story, but also a marketable, successful, publishable book. If not, then there is simply no hope for anyone of us.”

Needless to say, I’m pumped!  With the awesome feedback from my beta’s, as well as the experience of letting Dianne Salerni and Marcy Hatch critique my first page on their First Impressions series, I undertook another round of revisions and put together a query letter (which was I also received input on from the QQQE). After sending out my first one (to the agent who is #1 on my list), I already have a full request.  Talking about starting out strong!

I’ve also helped form a new critique group and we’ve already had a couple of meetings.  The talent involved is amazing (present company excluded) and I feel the collaboration has already elevated my writing to another level.  I look for good things from us very soon.

The BLOG BLITZ has been a little herky jerky as I struggle with time and availability issues, but I’m determined to keep it going.  We’re up to 489 members and going strong.

That’s it.  I have every intention to start making my way around the blogosphere between book revisions and critiques, but please be patient with me. I’ve signed up for a couple of blog tours to help support blogging buddies with books coming out, and who knows, there could be another blogfest on the horizon. :)

Thanks for stopping in and checking on me.  Hope to visit you back soon!


Cover Reveal - GEARS OF BRASS

Gear up for GEARS OF BRASS! 

SA Larsen, a good blogging buddy of mine for many years, is part of a awesome anthology that is about to be released and I'm here today to help spread the word.  Here's the 411! :) 

A world like ours, but filled with gears of brass, where the beating heart is fueled by steam and the simplest creation is a complex clockwork device.  

Within this tome, you’ll find steampunk fairy tale re-tellings, as well as original stories that will send your gears turning.  

Welcome to the steampunk realm, with eleven authors guiding your path. 

GEARS OF BRASS is a steampunk anthology published through Curiosity Quills.  It will be available for purchase on November 10, 2014.  Within the pages, you’ll come across clockwork inventions and steampunk-ified fairy tale retellings.  Eleven authors will guide you through worlds filled with airships, top hats, and corsets. 

Meet the authors:
Jordan Elizabeth writes young adult fantasy for Curiosity Quills, including ESCAPE FROM WITCHWOOD HOLLOW which was published in October and the upcoming TREASURE DARKLY; she’s represented by the Belcastro Agency.

J. Million is the author of Last of the Giants and can always be found reading or writing.

Lorna MacDonald Czarnota is a professional storyteller and author of several books including, Medieval Tales That Kids Can Read and Tell, Breadline Blue, Legends Lore and Secrets of Western New York, Wicked Niagara, Native American and Pioneer Sites of Upstate New York, and Dancing at the Crossroads: Stories and Activities for At-Risk Youth Programming.

SA Larsen is represented by Paula Munier of Talcott Notch Literary and is the author of published short stories, community-interest stories, and magazine articles focused on children. 

Grant Eagar is an Engineer who would take the tales he told his children at bed time, and transform them into fantasy stories. 

Clare Weze is the author of The House of Ash (forthcoming) and the co-author and editor of Cloudscapes over the Lune.

Eliza Tilton: gamer, writer and lover of dark chocolate; author of the YA Fantasy, BROKEN FOREST, published by Curiosity Quills Press.

Heather Talty's stories have been featured in Enchanted Conversation, as well as her own fractured fairy tale site, Mythopoetical (

W.K. Pomeroy is a third generation writer who has published more than 70 short stories/articles/poems across many genres and styles, which now includes Steampunk.

Christine Baker is the author of Lana's End, The Guild of Dagda, and many more. 

Natalia Darcy: a bookilicious reader, tea drinker and Zumba aficionado who enjoys playing cards against humanity and washing her hair with ice cold water. 

You can get your steampunk fix before GEARS OF BRASS is released in November.  To enter for your chance to win a copy of GEARS OF BRASS, you will need to share the cover.  This can be on your blog, Facebook, Twitter… Each time you share the cover image, log it into Rafflecoper (see link below) to record it.  It will give you more chances to win.  The drawing for the winner will be held on October 27th

a Rafflecopter giveaway

WRiTE CLUB 2014 - Wrap Up

I’d love to report that the fourth year of WRiTE CLUB was another rousing success - and so I will. One hundred and sixty seven writers entered the contest, smashing the old record to pieces and seriously stressing out our preliminary judges. Over the course of 14 weeks there were 1,695 votes, which averaged out to 45.4 votes per bout. And the level of competition continues to amaze me, the numbers doing nothing to diminish that. As we witnessed in the previous years, the contest started out strong and then numbers dwindled in the later rounds, which unfortunately is becoming the norm.

There are things about WRiTE CLUB that have been mentioned as concerns, but I feel my contest embodies a lot of the qualities the publishing world itself demonstrates. Pitting different genres against one another is one, but don't we face that same issue every time we step in a book store or shop on-line? Unless you only favor a single genre as a reader (and shame on you if you do), then we are always having to make that choice. And what helps us make that choice of which book to buy -- the quality of the writing. A good litmus test for deciding victory here is whether or not a writing sample leaves the reader wanting more. If nothing else, this should illustrate how we must each strive to adhere to this guiding principle in every phase of our work. We've seen some awesome 500 word snippets, but what about the next 500 words...and the 500 after that? We as writers cannot afford to coast, or compose filler that is supposed to simply serve as a bridge to the next major plot point, character interaction, or dramatic encounter. Our standards must be set higher than that and the luxury of complacency a foreign concept. A tough task indeed, but one we all embrace willingly.

Another one of the "concerns" I receive emails about is randomness. How is it fair that two quality writing samples, ones that possibly have the potential of making the final rounds, are pitted against each other in the first round? First I would answer that all 32 contestants in the first round are quality work (11 judges have seen to that). Second, the real world of publishing exhibits that trait all the time. Isn't it random how your query letter could land on an agents desk on the exact day he/she is in a bad mood? And finally, there are contingencies in place in WRiTE CLUB to help overcome this (Cocktail Lion was saved from elimination in the first round by a SAVE and went on the reach the finals).

This contest tries very had to combat the last concern I hear a lot. I have preached since day one that WRiTE CLUB is not a popularity contest, which is one of the reasons for pen names, so taking to the internet airwaves to ask for votes is not allowed. Ask people to vote - YES, ask them to vote a certain way - NO. Something that did disappoint me this year was that a contestant violated one of our WRiTE CLUB rules. Rule #2 - no solicitation of votes. It was something innocuous, suggesting the Twitterverse check out a certain contestant, but even this can be perceived the wrong way. Unfortunately I never said what would happen if I found out somebody was doing this, so I couldn't do anything about it this year (and it did not affect the final outcome), but there will be penalties outlined next year.

As far as next year goes, I'm waiting to see what happens. As I said at the start of this year's contest, the DFW Writers Workshop, who hold the DFW Writers conference every year, was considering incorporating WRiTE CLUB into their pre-conference agenda for 2015. The plan was to have the winner announced at the conference, but I'm still waiting to hear if they're liking that idea. More to come.

As I close things out this year, as I do every year, I'm asking for feedback. What did you like? Not like? What would you like to see improved? Please fill up the comments and help me improve this contest.

Hope to see you again next year!


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