April 23, 2014

Writing Tips (II)

George Orwell says: Never use a long word where a short one will do.

 Rephrasing his words, another piece of advice is: avoid the use  of very+ where you can use only one word. See the table bellow:

April 21, 2014

All Fantasy Worlds: About Book Tours: When Is It Too Much?

 Reblogged from:

All Fantasy Worlds: About Book Tours: When Is It Too Much?:
I remember the first time I came across a book tour company. It was some years ago, and reading book blogs had just become one of my obsessions. I’d spend hours in front of the screen, going from one blog to another, saving them to my “favorites”, and adding lots of titles to my ever-growing TBR list. And one day I came across Bewitching Book Tours and I was blown away by the genius idea of book tours and how they offered bloggers the opportunity to connect with the authors. Yes, I’ve always been one of those people who believed authors are some kind of evolved species, made up of wisdom and pure awesomeness, who forged ideas, characters and plots by the fireplace, while muses cheerfully danced around their desks. So, this is how it all looked like in my mind: book tours = bloggers meeting authors = great books to read and review = bloggers interviewing authors (I mean, who wouldn’t want to interview a member of that evolved species, who forged ideas by the fireplace?) = authors getting promoted = bloggers dying of happiness because they’re a part of something so big and exciting. Conclusion? If I was ever going to make my own book blog, I promised myself I’d tour with Bewitching.

Yeah, well, that happened eventually. A year ago. By the time I built up the courage to create my own blog, there were so many book tour companies out there that I wasn’t sure which one to check out first. Of course, I kept my promise, and the first one I signed up for was Bewitching. Then I chose two or three more and I kept an eye out for the books that really grabbed my interest. However, my enthusiasm had died down, and I tried to keep myself from singing up for too many book tours. When I did sign up for one, I usually tried to choose a book that I also wanted to review, so I wouldn’t only post a promotional thingy, like a guest post, a book spotlight, or an excerpt. Why, you might ask? Here’s why:

Many of the book blogs I was following were now doing lots of book tours. I mean, lots of them. Some blogs that used to post reviews and other interesting stuff about books ended up posting only book tours, book blasts, and memes. The posts were all the same. Sometimes they would also have a review that went along with the promotion, but there’re only so many books one can read. Even some of the blogs I follow now on Bloglovin’ post only book tours. Twice a day, if possible. They don’t seem to filter the books they promote to choose only the ones that they truly, truly want to feature on their blogs. They don’t personalize their posts. Obviously, they don’t get many comments. Maybe they do get a lot of hits because most book tours have giveaways now. Do I still follow them? Yeah… they’re there, in my Bloglovin’ feed, but I rarely check them. Because I know I’ll find the same content. Over and over. The same content with a different cover and a different blurb.

So, what’s your opinion about book tours? Do you do them on your blog, and if yes, on what principles do you choose them? Do you check them out on other blogs? Do you leave comments? And please don’t hate me for this post. I just think that sometimes…. sometimes… there are too many of them everywhere, and they all look the same. (You can read the whole post on Oana's blog page.)

April 18, 2014

Easter Traditions in my country, Romania

Easter is one of the most important celebrations of Christianity, commemorating the moment when Jesus came back from the dead. Romanians start preparing for this special day long before the day itself as  Lent lasts for 48 days. During these days people go to church, many of them give up meat, eggs, or dairy products. It’s  considered a ritual of purification for both the body and soul.

In my country, the symbol of this celebration is the  red Easter egg. Eggs, in general, were a traditional symbol of fertility, and rebirth

Why do we paint the Easter eggs in red? It is said that when Virgin Mary came to cry for her crucified son, she placed a basket of eggs under the Cross. The eggs turned red as a symbol of the blood that flowed from the wounds of Jesus, and since then we paint Easter eggs. At first, the eggs were painted only in red, but later we started painting them in many colors, including green, yellow, orange, blue, and even black.
On the night before Easter, Romanians put on new clothes and go to church. At midnight, everyone lights a candle from the priest’s candle. The light from these candles symbolizes the return of Jesus from the dead. It’s a very special moment and the sight of hundreds of candles in the night can take your breath away.

At dawn, after attending the religious service, everyone goes home, carefully holding their candle. On Easter morning we wash our faces with water from a bowl , into which we put a red egg and a coin. It is said that if you wash your face with this water, you will be healthy and beautiful – just like an Easter egg.

Even after Easter is over, there are some words that can be heard on the streets for weeks to come. When a person sees a friend or family for the first time after Easter has passed, the normal introduction is skipped and the first person says, “Cristos a inviat (Christ has risen).” The second person responds by saying, “Adevarat a inviat (Indeed, he has risen).” This verbal exchange is very much part of the celebration and is a way for people to remind each other of the importance of Easter even after the holiday is over.
Wishing all my awesome followers, bloggers and fellow authors, who celebrate Easter this Sunday, a sunny spring with lots of joy and accomplishments!

April 14, 2014

Review (XXVI)

5.0 out of 5 stars Shadows of the Past, February 27, 2014
By Hotcha (Glen Carbon, IL, United States)
This review is from: Shadows of the Past (Kindle Edition)
Anne got home earlier than expected only to find her business partner and her boyfriend sleeping together! Gillian was stunning and could have any man so why had she picked Neil?

After a two year separation. Anne decided to give Neil another chance and agreed to a holiday, but they were lost in the words, and she had visions about a red headed woman that looked remarkably like her..............

Ms. Stefanescu spins an intriguing story about a nun and a priest falling in love and an evil Abbess reeking havoc on the sisters of St. Mary's! Geneieve was the only survivor of her family when her father went crazy and killed her mother and her siblings and if she'd not went to help for her younger brother, she'd be dead as well. She had never been on her own before, yet she had no home since it had burnt leaving only ashes of her family raining down on her.

April 12, 2014

Writing Tips (I)

The Query Letter
Reblogged from:

  The Query letter. No, really–it is not an evil device of torture sent from the writing Gods just to make you suffer. Okay, well it might be, but the ability to write a good query letter is also an integral part of any writer’s repertoire.

It is difficult to write a captivating and effective query letter that will not only command the attention of an agent/editor, but also shed light on your fiction/non-fiction project and make them care enough about your protagonist/story/piece that they want to see the entire manuscript. Imagine condensing a 100,000 word book into a query letter of less than 200 words…wait…where are you going…I’m not trying to scare you. I’m trying to explain how to do this without tearing out your hair.

The first part of the query letter:
Depending on whom you ask, a standard query letter will either have 3 or 4 essential parts, also depending on what type of work you are presenting and your personal preference. An outstanding query should include the following:
The introduction, or opening lines:
You only have one chance to make a first impression. This is a common enough phrase and also very true when it comes to a situation where your first hand-shake must be done via paper or electronic media. It is somewhat of a disadvantage to not have the ability to make eye-contact and use your presence when trying to command attention. Still, there is no reason why you cannot exude confidence and let your personality shine through when presenting yourself via the written word.

It may seem like a good idea to use a crazy hook at this point in the query. You want to stand out, right? Asking a rhetorical question or being silly will land your letter in the dust bin. Guaranteed. The agent/editor is busy. They are looking at your query letter to find out basic information about your book. Is it interesting? Is it marketable? Does it have the potential to turn a profit? What makes it unique?

You should begin this section with a brief introduction of yourself and your work. If you have any relevant credits to your name, use them. By relevant, I do not mean “I am a stay-at-home mum and this is my first book.” I mean: “I was a journalist with the Chicago Sun Times for 13 years and have also published previously with-” Relevant information that supports your ability to write well and handle business is all the personal info you should include. You should also include the genre, title and word count of your manuscript at this point.
Example of poor query opening:
Dear Editor or Agent, –Always address queries to a specific person.

What would you do if you were abandoned by your husband in the middle of nowhere?–Beginning with a broad and general question like this detracts attention away from the point in your inquiry. My name is Jane Doe and I have been a nurse for 20 years. Please consider my teen romance where you can find out the answer to my above question.–Unless she is writing a book on nursing in some fashion, her job is irrelevant. She does not give anything other than her genre.
Example of a well-written query opening:
Dear Mr. Waltham, –Query addressed to specific person.

I found your agency on “AgentSearch.com” and noted that you are currently open to submissions from speculative fiction authors. After reading your guidelines,–She has noted where she found his listing and let him know that she read and put some thought into the agency’s guidelines before submitting. it is my belief that you may be interested in my novel “The Whispering Brook,” a speculative fiction novel of 55,000 words.–Book title and length included. My book is about a woman in a small Eastern village who must teach her people to trust conventional medicine in order to save the lives of children during a diphtheria outbreak.–A little preview of the book without going into too much detail. Your synopsis will be in the next portion, so this does not need to be detailed. I have a history of small press publishing and have won a couple of awards for my fiction entries in national contests. –Credits that are relevant to fiction writing and support her cause.
* you may choose to refrain from mentioning credits until the third part of your query, the author bio. I personally, enjoy reading queries that give a hint of any expertise the author in question may have, right up front.

This concludes the opening of the query letter. Please stay tuned next week for part 2: the synopsis.

Here are some things to keep in mind until then:

Double and triple check your query for spelling and grammar errors. There is never a more critical time to avoid making these mistakes than when you are trying to impress your abilities as a writer upon an editor/agent.

Ensure that you have spelled the name of the person you are addressing as well as the name of the agency correct. There are so many uncommon spellings that it is easy to address something to “John” instead of “Jon.”

Remember to include your contact information. Epic fail if you expect an editor or agent to take the time to look you up.

The best query letter in the world does not guarantee you a win, but it can’t hurt.