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Sample Sunday (#SampleSunday) And An Announcement …

Happy Sunday everyone! 🙂 I hope you are all resting and preparing for a wonderful week ahead. 🙂

This past week has been a good one around here, with fun things happening on the Dusk Gate front. Sales have been slowly but steadily picking up for Seeds of Discovery and Roots of Insight. I’m hearing lots of great feedback, and it’s so much fun to hear from those of you who are enjoying the adventures of William, Quinn, and Thomas.

I have been busily working away on writing the next installment, which hit a very important milestone this past week. It is now more than 50 thousand words (~200 pages long). Within the next two weeks, it should be longer than Seeds of Discovery (and it will be longer!).

So, to celebrate, I have a special announcement to share with you.

(If you follow my Facebook fan page, you heard it first! Make sure you join by clicking the button at the bottom of this blog or by clicking here to like Dusk Gate on Facebook, so that you, too can hear breaking news!)

Ready?

Thorns of Decision, Book Three in the Dusk Gate Chronicles, will be released on June 1, 2012!

 

And … today’s very special #SampleSunday has an excerpt from Thorns. Enjoy! 🙂

 

When the path reached a thick part of the woods, William suddenly led her several yards off of it, into a hidden stand of trees. She had no idea how he knew where he was.
“Where are you taking me?” she asked.
He didn’t answer; he just kept walking. About a hundred yards later, he put his finger to his lips and pointed.
At first, Quinn couldn’t tell what he was pointing at, but as her eyes adjusted to the dimmer light in the thick trees, the shapes became sharper, and a few feet ahead of them, nestled in a tree branch just above William’s head, she could see a nest. She looked at him in surprise, and he smiled.
He made a low chirruping sound, and a second later, a familiar feathered head popped out of the nest, shiny black eyes blinking at the two of them in interest. It was Aelwyn, William’s Seeker bird. He made a different low noise, and she rose from her spot, hopped neatly over the edge of the nest, and glided down toward him, landing only about a foot away.
Now it was Aelwyn’s turn to talk, and she made a strange noise, halfway between a squawk and a whistle. William laughed, and reached into his pocket, retrieving a package of beef jerky, which he opened and tore off a piece, holding it out to the bird.
Quinn had to smile at the intricate dance between William and the bird, as Aelwyn first turned her head away from the offering, and then reached to snatch it once he knelt down low to her. As soon as she’d swallowed it, she walked right up to him, butting her head against his pocket where the rest of the treat was hidden.
At that moment, there was a loud call from overhead, and then Thomas’ bird, Sirian swooped down and landed gracefully near his mate. William withdrew the meat from his pocket, and tore it unevenly. Aelwyn eyed him warily until he tossed the larger piece in her direction. Sirian waited until she had hers, and then accepted the smaller piece.
After a few minutes, the birds had warmed up, and were strutting comfortably around the tiny clearing, and both of them even allowed Quinn to stroke their smooth heads. Up close, she was always startled by how gentle they were around people, though they were quite large hunting birds.
Once he was certain that they’d both let their guards down, William stood again and motioned for Quinn to follow as he walked toward the tree that held the nest. They’d almost reached it when Aelwyn and Sirian suddenly simultaneously flew up into the nest. Quinn shrank back, startled, but William shook his head.
“It’s okay,” he said.
Inside the nest, the two birds chattered in voices that seemed somehow amiable, and then a moment later, four smaller heads peeked over the edge, their black eyes shining curiously as they turned to examine the newcomers.
Quinn sucked in a breath. “They’re beautiful,” she said softly.

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Twitter Tuesdays #3 – TweetDeck

Happy Tuesday! Welcome to another installment of Twitter Tuesdays.

I was going to cover re-tweeting and direct messages today, but I decided to change my approach. I’m going to work around answering questions I got in the comments (since that’s who’s reading my blog, anyway!) 🙂

The two questions I got were “How much time do you spend on Twitter to build a platform?”  and “How do you keep track of everything/everyone?”

These questions can both be partially answered by the fact that I use an app to help me manage my twitter. (The answer to the second question, btw, is I don’t. It’s too much to keep up with ALL of it. I try to keep up with the things that I really care about, and then I focus on not stressing about it!).

The application I use is called TweetDeck, and it has definitely simplified Twitter for me. I do not yet use this app to its full potential, and I am always looking for ways to increase my knowledge and skill with it, but I will write the rest of my Twitter Tuesdays from the viewpoint of one who uses TweetDeck, because, well … I do. 🙂

Tweet Deck is a free app, and you can download it from TweetDeck.com.

Once you’ve downloaded TweetDeck, log into the app with your Twitter name and password. Once it’s running, you’ll see the same thing you always did at the regular Twitter site, but now, you have columns!

The columns are one of the best parts about TweetDeck. Now, instead of trying to manage everything, and remember to click on the various parts of your stream, you can have everything right in front of you.

Once you’re logged into TweetDeck, you should have three columns by default. One column will be titled “All Friends,” and will show tweets from EVERYONE you follow. You will also have a column called “Mentions.” This one is important because it’s where tweets people are sending to you using the @ feature. Finally, you’ll have a column called “Direct Messages.” Direct messages are private messages that people can send to you. They are different than tweets sent with the @ feature, which are visible to everyone who follows either the person who sent it, OR the person who received it.

For the record – TWITTER IS NOT A PRIVATE PLACE. Be friendly, chat, have conversations. But DO NOT, DO NOT, DO NOT, tweet anything that you would be upset for anyone in the whole wide world to see. Don’t do it.

Sending Tweets:

You can send tweets from inside TweetDeck, just like you did before on the Twitter website. I use TweetDeck ALL THE TIME. I almost never actually log on to the website.

At the top of your TweetDeck screen, you will see a big, black box. Type tweets in it! 🙂 If you don’t see the box, click the yellow flag at the top left of your screen. The box will appear.

Using the Columns:

Next week I will get into some more of the cool things you can do now that you have columns. 🙂 But for today, I’ll stick with basics.

The columns alone help make it easier to manage and keep up with, especially if you’re still following less than about 500 people.

You can interact with folks directly by hovering over their profile pictures with your mouse. You have several choices once you do this.

  • Reply to – this will let you compose a tweet “in reply to” your friend. Basically, clicking this little arrow writes their @name for you in the top black box. 🙂
  • Direct Message – This will, again, bump you to the top black box, this time to compose a message that will be visible only to you and the person you’re sending it to.
  • Retweet. If one of your friends has just sent out a great tweet — it’s funny, or has a useful link, or it made you think, or WHATEVER, you can click this button and send the same message out to all of your followers. It’s like sharing the love! Use this button liberally, people like to be retweeted!
  • Other options. There are a LOT of other options under this button! 🙂 The options you’ll use most, especially at first, are under the “User” category. Here you can “follow” or “unfollow” people, or click to view their profiles. In the case of spam, you can block the person and their tweets.

So, again, take this next week and play around with TweetDeck. See what you can discover for yourself, just by playing with it. Send me a tweet to @bputtroff if you have a question, and I’ll see if I can help you out.

Next week, I’m going to cover some of the other awesome things you can do now that you have columns, including the crazy Twitter phenomenon known as a #hashtag. They’re really awesome, I promise! 🙂

Have something special you’d like me to cover in an upcoming Twitter Tuesdays? Post a comment below!

Sample Sunday (#SampleSunday)

Happy Sunday everyone! If you’re looking for new and entertaining reads, head on over to Twitter, and search for the hashtag #SampleSunday. You’ll find all kinds of interesting stuff every week. 🙂

Here’s my first February contribution. 🙂 An excerpt from Seeds of Discovery, which is on sale for just 99 cents through Valentine’s Day at Amazon!

Don’t forget, during the month of love, to spread some love to your favorite authors by leaving them reviews on any review site you frequent, especially Amazon, Shelfari, and Goodreads. Authors appreciate every single review, even if it seems like they already have many.

 

When she reached Maggie’s house that afternoon, Zander’s familiar truck was sitting next to the curb. When she pulled up behind it to park, she could see the outline of Zander’s head through the rear window; he must have arrived just before her. She pulled her keys out of the ignition and then hesitated, suddenly nervous about seeing him. She took an unnecessary minute to check her cell phone for text messages she might have missed. Small words flashed in the corner of the screen, “NO SERVICE.” Quinn sighed. One bad thing about living in a small mountain town was the unreliable cell phone service.

Finally composed, she took a deep breath and reached for the door handle. She nearly jumped out of her skin when the door opened on its own. Zander was standing there, grinning.

“Hey, Quinn,” he said, reaching for her hand to help her climb out.

“Uh, hi, Zander. Thanks.”

“Sure,” Zander smiled cheerfully, but he didn’t start walking to the house. He stood there for a long moment, looking like he wasn’t sure what to say.

The nervousness that Quinn had started feeling in the car was growing.

Finally, Zander spoke.

“Quinn?”

“Yeah?”

“I wanted to ask you something.”

“O….kay?”

“Will you … I mean, would you like … would you like to go to the Valentine dance with me?” he said the last part in a rush, in a hurry to get the words out.

Quinn was stunned. Did she want to go to the Valentine dance? With Zander? Maybe she did. “Um, I can’t dance, you know,” she stalled, trying to regain her composure.

Zander chuckled, “Neither can I. It could still be fun, though.”

“Um, okay…” shoving her hands in her pockets so he wouldn’t see them shaking, she choked out her answer. “Sure.”

She watched Zander’s eyes widen, “You’ll go with me?”

“Yes, I’ll go with you.”

Zander’s face lit up with a smile that did strange things to her insides… She had to work to catch her breath as she walked with him up to the porch.

 

Twitter Tuesdays #2

Okay, you’ve now had a week to play around with Twitter, check it out, and get to know it a little bit. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, check out my previous Twitter Tuesday post.)

Today I’m going to talk about setting up your profile, privacy settings, and sending out tweets.

Your Twitter Profile

Your Twitter profile is exceptionally important, and something you should work on immediately, if you haven’t done so already.

Once you’re logged into Twitter, you can click on your username, and it will take you to your profile page. The first thing you need to do is upload a picture. If you are an author, or anybody else trying to build any kind of a platform, I cannot stress enough the importance of putting a real picture there. AT THE VERY LEAST, use some kind of recognizable logo.

Even if you’re just casually using Twitter and messing around to see how it works, upload a photo of some sort, so you don’t get stuck with the weird-looking egg.

Here, also, you can choose to put your real name, your location, and your web address, if you have one.

Then it’s time to write your bio. This may be your first encounter with writing things “Twitter-style.” You have 160 characters to tell the world about yourself. That’s counting spaces and periods. If you went to college back when I did, it’s time right now to learn to quit double spacing after periods (it turns out you’re not supposed to do that anywhere anymore, anyway!)

Write whatever you want here. If you’re coming to Twitter to meet people for a specific purpose — like because you’re an author, MENTION THAT. If you’re a teacher, and you want to meet other digitally-minded educators, SAY SO. People read these when they’re looking for new people to follow.

Privacy Setting:

The vast majority of folks on Twitter do not use any privacy settings whatsoever, aside from not putting sensitive information in your profile, and blocking particular users.

It is possible to hide ALL OF YOUR TWEETS from anyone you haven’t approved (followed). It’s a little box you check on the settings page that says “Protect My Tweets.”

I don’t think there’s any point to this option. I really don’t. If you only want to communicate with certain people, it’s a lot easier to set privacy controls on your Facebook page, or stick to e-mail. You will never, ever, be able to use Twitter to its full potential if your Tweets are protected, and most of my upcoming Twitter Tuesdays posts will be useless to you.

Tweeting

Whenever you post a message, or a status update, or really communicate on Twitter at all, it is called “tweeting,” and the messages are “tweets.”

When you’re ready to send out your first tweet, click in the little box that says “compose tweet” and write whatever you want to tweet about. You have a limit of 140 characters.

I was on Facebook the other day, and one of my friends posted asking “What is the difference between sending a Tweet and posting a status on Facebook?”

The answer? When you’re a Twitter newbie, posting your first tweet — maybe there isn’t a whole lot of difference. 🙂 Except, there is a difference. You don’t HAVE to post a status update. Twitter is a living, vital stream, filled with millions of people who all have the potential to be awesome in your life, even if you’ve never met them before. Post a status message if you’d like, but you can also ask a question! You can say “I’m new here, what do I do now?” 🙂

Of course, the first issue you’re going to run into is that nobody is following you yet, so nobody will see your question. 🙂

So … send a message instead. You can send a message to ANYONE ON TWITTER at anytime, by simply typing @theirusername anywhere in your tweet.

Try it! You can tweet to me if you’d like. It might look like this Hey, @bputtroff! I’m new here. Help!

Or read a few tweets that are in the stream from people you’ve already followed, and reply to one. Have fun, be silly if that’s your personality. Tweet @personI’venevermet That peanut butter sandwich sounds good. Did you save me one?

Jump right in. You’ll be surprised at what a welcoming place it can be, and how quickly you’ll find some kindred spirits. (And if they block you because you asked for a peanut butter sandwich, well — they’re not your kind of tweep, anyway.)

Your assignment this week is — get your feet wet. Unblock your privacy settings if you had them blocked, and start sending out tweets into the Twittersphere. Be silly, be serious, ask questions. And keep following new people. Celebrities, sure, but also make an effort this week to use the search feature to find some real people who are interested in the same things you are, and send tweets to a couple of them — even if they’re not following you (yet!)

I’ll be back next Tuesday to cover another important Twitter issue — Re-tweeting! (And I might cover Direct Messages, too!)

If you have any special questions about Twitter, be sure to let me know in the comments!

Until then … Happy Tweeting! And … if you send me a tweet this week, I’ll make sure you have at least one follower! 🙂

Sample Sunday (#SampleSunday)

It’s Sunday again, and today I’m sharing another excerpt.

This time, it’s from Seeds of Discovery, which is the first book in the Dusk Gate Chronicles. This scene is the first moment that Quinn actually decides to go for it — she closes her eyes, and steps into the nothing over a broken bridge.

Quinn gasped. The broken end of the half-missing structure was no longer broken, and it no longer ended. Instead of the disintegrating, broken concrete-and-stone edge, a wide stone walkway arced across the entire river. Cautiously, she put her other foot forward. The stone and mortar that should not have been there held firm. She spun around, ready to run back down the stone steps, but the sight stopped her cold.

The sun that should have been directly in front of her had moved, and now dipped below the tree line far to her left, casting strangely long shadows that cut obtrusively across the landscape. Even in the fading light of the irregular dusk, she could see that everything was different. Where the rocky riverbank should have sloped up to the highway, there was now a vast expanse of trees and open fields. Lights from unfamiliar buildings glimmered and sparked to life in the distance.

Slowly, Quinn let her eyes scan the area around her. The river was no longer a rocky, mountain creek underneath the bridge. Now, a wide expanse of water flowed lazily between the bush-covered banks on either side.  Downstream, the river continued uninterrupted to the southwest but seemed to widen significantly just past a break in the tree line. The view upstream was the most shocking. Instead of sloping up into the familiar peaks of the mountains she had seen all her life, a long valley spread out before her, sparsely populated by stands of trees and varieties of grass and wildflowers. In the distance where the horizon began to merge with the night sky, Quinn could just make out the outline of a thick forest.

“Now you’ve done it.” The sound of the voice below her jolted her like an electric shock. In the same instant that she registered the frowning face of William Rose, Quinn stumbled and fell down the steps at the end of the bridge, right into the bushes.

 

 

In case that interested you, Seeds of Discovery is on sale at Amazon right now, for just 99 cents. You can also read the first three chapters of this book by clicking on the Dusk Gate Chronicles link at the top of this page. 🙂

Sample Sunday (#SampleSunday)

Happy Sunday, everyone. 🙂 Thanks for reading and following along. For those who don’t know, on Sundays, on Twitter, you can follow along with the hashtag #SampleSunday as authors post samples and excerpts of their work. It’s a great chance to find some new authors you like and find fun new things to read.

I’ve decided I’ll start participating in a new way, too, by posting #SampleSunday excerpts on my blog. 🙂

Here’s the first one …

An excerpt from the middle of Roots of Insight.

She stood there, still as a statue, consumed half by a paralyzing mixture of terror and anger, and the other half by another emotion entirely. Though she was rigid and unmoving, his arms still wound around her back, holding her tight. “We can’t think like that, Quinn. We don’t know what’s going on; let’s not make this worse by jumping to conclusions. Let’s assume, for now, that we’re okay. That she’s hidden us only for our safety, and we’ll find out what this is all about later.”

She swallowed, trying to get past the fear and aggravation. Her fingers trembled. It wasn’t working, trapped here in the dark and silence.

“It’s going to be okay,” he murmured against her hair.

She snapped. “Since when are you so Susie Sunshine about everything?”

He was absolutely still for just a second, before his entire body started shaking, in great, heaving motions coming from his chest. She was startled, confused, and then the silence was broken by his snorting, and the laughter overtook her, too.

Once she started laughing, she couldn’t stop, and it was clear that neither could he. They both stood there shaking, trying to keep quiet, trying to stop, but every time one of them calmed down enough to take a breath, the other would snicker, and it would start all over again. Tears were rolling down her cheeks, her stomach was aching, and she could hardly breathe, but the laughter kept coming.

Finally, finally, she managed to pull in a breath at the same time he did. They clutched each other’s arms tightly, trying to regain control. They hysterical giggles kept threatening to break through, but at last they were calm.

William softly cleared his throat. “Only one of us can freak out at a time.”

She nodded. “Agreed.”

And then, somehow, his lips were against hers. Softly, at first, his bottom lip grazed her top one. She knew, in the part of her brain that was still capable of rational thought, that she should have been surprised by this, but it wasn’t thought that drove her now. Her mouth responded on its own, as did her hands, reaching around him, clutching the back of his thin shirt.

He pulled her body closer with one hand, the other finding the back of her neck, under her hair, his fingers gently caressing, twining in her hair …

There was a loud thud directly overhead. They jerked apart, as if shocked by a jolt of electricity. After an eternity, his hand found hers again, squeezing it tight as they listened to the footsteps crossing the floor above.

 

Don’t forget, you can always check out more samples from the Dusk Gate Chronicles by clicking on the menu bar above. You can also check out the books on Amazon by clicking on the pictures of the book covers to your right. Happy Sunday! 🙂

To My Nook and Other E-Pub friends…

For a number of reasons, at this time I am releasing Roots of Insight only on Kindle at this time (paperback will be released in a couple of weeks). Seeds of Discovery is also currently only available in Kindle format.

You do not need to have a Kindle in order to read a Kindle-format book. You can also read it on a FREE Kindle App on your smartphone,  iPad/iPod or on your Mac or PC with either a Kindle App or the Cloud Reader.

The Dusk Gate Chronicles books are also DRM-free, which means you can choose to convert  them to a different file format (there are free software programs that will do this) and load them onto any kind of e-reader using the USB cord.

Loading the book using a USB cord is known as side-loading, and is extremely easy. Once your e-reader is plugged into your computer with the USB cord, it will show up as a drive or storage device. You need only to drag and drop the book file into the right file on your e-reader, and it will show up in your library with all of your other books.

Finally, if you don’t want to convert it, or can’t figure out how, you can also contact me, by e-mailing me at

breeanap at gmail dot com

If you forward me a copy of your e-mail receipt from Amazon showing your purchase of Roots of Insight, I will be more than happy to e-mail you back with an .epub version of the book that can be loaded on your Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo, or other .epub-based reader using the USB cord (again, you can do this yourself, but this way, you won’t have to figure out how to convert it.)

At the current time, Seeds of Discovery is under an exclusive distribution agreement with Amazon, so I cannot send you the .epub file, but you can convert it yourself.

If you need any other help or assistance, please feel free to comment here or to e-mail me.

I appreciate the support of ALL of my readers, regardless of what type of device you own, and I will do my best to keep my books accessible to all.

Five More Days! :)

To celebrate today, I invite you to pop over to Better Read than Dead, where Kristin has posted an awesome review of Seeds, and you can join the giveaway, too!

If, by chance, you already have a copy of Seeds of Discovery, and that giveaway wouldn’t do you any good… leave a comment on Kristin’s review mentioning that fact, and I will put your name in a hat to win an ARC of Roots of Insight! 🙂

Also, don’t forget to enter the drawing for a $10 Amazon gift card by clicking HERE.

 

I’m still looking for a few good bloggers to help me out with the scavenger hunt that begins on Monday — and a few authors who might be interested in donating e-copies of their fantastic books as prizes.

So far, we have some great hunts lined up! You can join the party, too!

Happy New Year! 8 More Days, and More Happy Hunting! :)

Happy New Year everyone. I hope you’re all as excited as I am about starting a new year fresh.

I’ve decided this year that resolutions are a bad idea. Most of them are about taking some part of yourself that you currently see as “bad” and trying to change it. For me, the new year is going to be about taking what’s good, and growing it.

2011 was monumental for me. It was the year I finally stopped buying into the myth of “security,” or doing “what I’m supposed to do.” The year I stopped believing in should be,  and started asking what could be.

My dream for 2012 is that it will be a year of exploring that further, and really coming to terms with what it means, and then, just living it.

One dream that came true this year was finishing a book and actually allowing people to read it. That has been more fantastic than I ever imagined it could be, and I am so grateful for everyone who has shared that with me. The writing community is AMAZING.

If you are a writer, and it’s part of your “could be” to see where that journey takes you, then something you NEED to check out is Cara Michael’s #WIP500. I will be doing this, starting today. Every day, growing at least 500 words closer to my writing dreams. 🙂

Tomorrow, starts my first ever blog tour! And you’ll be able to party right along with me!

Starting tomorrow, check back right here for a blog to visit, and a question to find an answer to! I’ll be giving away fun prizes to those who can answer the questions! 🙂

Speaking of prizes, don’t forget to enter the contest for

a $10 Amazon.com e-gift card by clicking here.

And, if you are a blogger or an author, don’t forget to comment below or send me an e-mail to participate in the upcoming blog hop scavenger hunt for the release of Roots of Insight! Bloggers … all I will need from you is a few questions about content you ALREADY HAVE POSTED on your blog, and I’ll be sending people over. Authors … I could use e-copies of your books or anything else you might like to give away (and links to your blogs, too!) 🙂

10 Days and Counting (Calling all Bloggers and Authors)

With ten days to go until the launch of Dusk Gate: Roots of Insight, I’ve decided to have a little fun with it! 🙂

With a little help with some friends, especially Kristy K. James, and Tonya Cannariato, we are going to have a fun release party! 🙂 Starting on release day, January 9, 2012, we’re going to have a blog hop scavenger hunt. You’ll be able to go to various blogs to find and answer questions and win prizes!

If you’re a blogger (of any kind!) or an author, I’d love to have your help and participation! Just leave a comment below, or send me an e-mail at breeanap@gmail.com

I need blogs willing to post questions and answers for the scavenger hunt, and authors who are willing to give out e-copies of their books as prizes.

There will also be other awesome prizes like Amazon e-gift cards, and e-copies of Seeds of Discovery and of Roots of Insight! Hopefully it will mean some extra visibility for your awesome books and blogs, as well.

If you’re a blogger, and you might also be interested in hosting a guest post, a Dusk Gate character interview, a review of one of the books, or anything else, I’d also love to have you! (And, we could work out some other awesome prizes for any of those).  Any blogger willing to host ANY of this, will receive free e-copies of both Dusk Gate Chronicles books (including Roots of Insight before release day).

If you’ve made it this far, to start the fun, I’m running a giveaway of a $10 Amazon gift card. You can enter as many times as you’d like, between today and January 8th, the eve of the release. ANYONE can enter, blogger, author, or the most amazing people of all — READERS!

Just click HERE to find out how to enter!