Monday, March 2, 2015

A Kickstarter to Bring a Fantasy Trilogy to Bookstores Near You

Are you a fan of sci-fi and/or fantasy novels? Want to see more of these books by independent authors make their way into your neighborhood brick and mortar bookstores? Check out the Kickstarter campaign currently being run by author Leeland Artra.

Leeland Artra is the author of the Golden Threads trilogy, and his books have a solid track history with strong sales and reader reviews. The first two books in the series are currently available in e-book and print-on-demand format, and with the Kickstarter funding, the books will be republished in hardback and pocket paperback editions.

As the author writes on his Kickstarter page, the novels "represent twenty years of world building, and thousands of hours of work crafting them for your enjoyment." He's using the money he raises to put the books through an additional editing and proofreading process, and then to get them distributed by Ingram.

The novels are set 20,000 years in the future, and the main characters are a young mercenary woman and a junior wizard. The books are described as an epic journey and have maintained an average of 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon, with over 600 reviews so far.

Along with undertaking this project to get books one and two of the trilogy into the hands of more readers, Artra is also hard at work on book three, and he says it will be released very soon.

This is an author who has really put the time and effort into his books to develop a following of readers--and this Kickstarter could be just the boost he needs to help his work find an even wider following. If you want to get more of an idea of his work, you can read an excerpt of book one, Thread Silvers, here; and read an excerpt of book two, Thread Strands, here.

Meet Pukka Borg, Clothing Designer and Etsy Seller

Pukka Borg describes herself as a different kind of person. She's always found attractive the unusual stuff but yet interesting and unique things. She is creative, and she spends all her days creating and designing alternative rocker clothing and accessories. Check out her work on Etsy, and follow her on Facebook.

1. How do you get the inspiration for your clothing designs?

Sometimes I spend my time in quiet places and imagine myself wearing an outfit at a certain place with a certain mood. It is like I build up a character. That's why every design I create has a story. After having spent late nights thinking and creating at first, it comes to me more naturally now. My creations have become to be a part of my life, an everyday thing.

2. What are some of the benefits of Etsy as a platform for selling your creations?

I found Etsy is the best platform to promote handmade items. There are so many talented people with different skills and qualities. If everyone tries to understand that all these items are made by a pair of hands, then they will be more appreciated. I thank Etsy for giving me the opportunity to spread my creations to the entire world.

3. Could you tell us a little bit more about the name of your shop and what it means?

Bitten STC stands for Bitten Spread The Curse. The idea behind this name came from dark art culture of which I am currently running a page on Facebook. Once you admire this culture then you are Bitten and will start to Spread The Curse. My designs express this darkness and inspire the "Bitten" culture. Shadow District Project is another page I am running on Facebook. It features my dark creations and the name is derived from the post-apocalyptic theme of my creations.

4. What are some of your favorite materials you like to use, and where do you source your materials?

Studs and leather (vinyl) makes a perfect combination! I usually purchase some of my materials from local shops, but I don't always find what I'm looking for. For certain designs I need to purchase the materials online. Now I am planning to work on new designs which will consist of different types of materials and fabrics. I believe you have to be versatile from time to time.

5. In your own wardrobe, what are some of your "essential" pieces that you love to wear?

I can't separate myself from the SDP Wild Savage Wolf Jacket. I remember one of those terrible cold nights, had to ride on the bike with my husband and I didn't feel even a shiver with this jacket!

The SDP Pointed Hoodie is one of my designs that I wear a lot. It is light weight and I have to admit it I am obsessed with hoodies!

And the SDP Hazard Pants is a unique piece I have. I created this one especially in a Post Apocalyptic theme.

I can't stop mentioning the items I've designed because what I create is what I had always wanted to wear--and most importantly they have to be comfortable.

Thanks, Pukka!

DIY Garage Door Replacement Parts, Remotes, and Batteries

Have you ever thought about improving your garage door? Maybe you have an old door that you've been putting off replacing, but it's too expensive to consider the prospect! The good news is that you may be able to restore your door using replacement parts.

AOD Retail has an extensive online catalog of parts for garage doors. If you like DIY projects, why not take on the project of working on your garage door? The owner of AOD Retail has been working in the garage door industry for over 15 years, and he personally reviews everything they carry in their store to make sure that the parts are high-quality and that they meet industry standards. You'll find lots of familiar brand names while browsing the site.

Maybe you're tired of getting in and out of your car to open and close your garage door. Has the time come for new garage door opener? This is just one of the many projects you can take on yourself. Maybe you just need a new remote for your opener--AOD Retail has a selection of those. Or maybe you need a replacement bracket, a new circuit board, a new keypad... You can find all these parts on AOD Retail's site.

Also, did you know that you can improve your experience with your garage door opener simply by investing in a better quality of battery? Check out the Liftmaster batteries available here for more information about the benefits of choosing a battery specially designed for garage door openers.

By the way, both of the retailers mentioned above offer free shipping for parts and batteries.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Meet Jack Harris of City Mortgage Advisor

Jack Harris is an independent mortgage broker from Bournemouth in the UK. His new website City Mortgage Advisor has been set up to help first time buyers gain access to the Help to Buy Scheme, plus lets them request independent mortgage advice for when buying a home in the area. In this interview we speak about the website launch and his plans for the business in the future.

1. Would you tell us a little bit about your own background and how you came to work in the mortgage broker industry?

I studied finance at Bournemouth University, and after graduation, I started working for a mortgage brokers in the town. As with many people who run their own businesses, it got to the point where I wanted to be independent by myself and believed I could do it better. Because of that, City Mortgage Advisor was born, and I am now my own man so to speak.

2. What kind of services do you offer, and in what way do you differentiate yourself from the local competition. I'm thinking that mortgage advice must be a pretty competitive industry, right?

You are so right. It is ultra-competitive. But, I am firm believer that if you offer a quality and friendly service, then the rest will take care of itself. I am already getting referrals in from existing clients and am growing month on month so can't complain.

In terms of service, I am 100% independent. That means I can search the whole mortgage market to get the best deals for my clients, and am not tied contractually in to anyone mortgage lender. That's why people come to me: because I am a truly independent mortgage broker in Bournemouth.

3. Can you explain a little bit about the Help to Buy Scheme in Bournemouth and what this entails?

Sure, in the UK, just like the US we saw a large economic downturn in the last decade. As a result, people, especially young people and first time buyers, were unable to get enough of a deposit to buy a new home. The UK Government launched the Help to Buy Scheme which means that first time buyers can now get onto the property ladder with as a little as a five percent deposit.

The Help to Buy Scheme in Bournemouth is only available for first time buyers and on new-builds, so I partner up with property developers in the town to open up this possibility for my clients. It's a great scheme and has helped hundreds of young people in the town so far. I offer advice on this and help those buyers get onto the market where otherwise they would struggle. It's the part of my job that I love the most to be honest!

4. So what's Bournemouth like as a place to live and work in?

It's a beautiful part of the UK. It has sandy beaches (award-winning I might add) and great nightlife, and is right next to the forest which means some great days out when not working. I have a young family, and during the summer we spend as much time outdoors as we can, whether that's camping or down on the beach with friends.

5. In terms of the business, what plans do you have for that and your own website, City Mortgage Advisor?

I want to continue the growth. At the moment I am putting the final plans on a new office location which will be more centrally located in the Bournemouth town centre which should make things easier for me in terms of client acquisition.

For the website, I am currently getting my online marketing manager to develop out new pages to target other geographic areas within a 30 mile radius of our office premises. I also plan to begin doing Skype and video consultations online as I feel that this is something that you don't often get in the mortgage broker market. Hopefully this will translate into more business if it means I can work with more potential clients online rather than with a physical office appointment.

Thanks so much for your time today. As a final word, what piece of advice would you give for other people reading this interview who might want to start their own business?

Don't be afraid to take the jump. Without fail, every single business owner I talk to who has done the same has said that it was the best decision that they ever made. Starting out on your own can be a scary concept, but unless you do it, you will never know. I didn't think I was going to be a mortgage broker in Bournemouth when I was a kid growing up, but I sure as heck wouldn't change it!

Thanks, Jack!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Meet Michelle Tomars, Author of The Plaid Family Stories

Michelle Tomars is originally from Minnesota but has lived in Wisconsin most of her life. When she is not writing she spends much of her free time working with horses, which gives her inspiration for some of her stories. Read about The Plaid Family by visiting, and check out her books on Amazon.

1. How did you come up with the idea for The Plaid Family?

I've been a freelance writer for several years and have always wanted to--and planned to--eventually write a book. Sometimes, though, you get so busy writing things for other people that there never seems to be enough time to put down your own thoughts. I was certain my first book would be a YA novel because all of the book ideas I had seemed to point towards that. I had several outlines made for different stories, but couldn't seem to find the time or the motivation to really dig into any of them. None of them felt right for my first book. Then I went over to my parents' house one night. My father was bursting with excitement, and I knew he must have a new painting to show me. He started pulling out these beautiful watercolor scenes. All of them were winter scenes, all had a different animal and all had a person wearing... plaid.

See, this is Plaid Son feeding the horses... And this is Plaid daughter riding her horse," he explained excitedly.

He went through every watercolor and showed me the different family members doing daily chores and activities.

"I want you to make a story about them," he said. "Will you write a little story to go with the pictures?"

I shook my head. "No." I smiled. "This isn't a story. It's a series."

And just like that, The Plaid Family Adventures was born.

2. Did you and your dad do creative projects together when you were a child?

Yes, we are that family who wrote scripts for made-up stories and then acted them out and made home movies. :) I remember one in particular where my dad acted out the part of an alien. We had him dressed up in a Halloween mask and a green jumpsuit. The special effects were lacking a bit, but it was still good, creative family fun.

3. What age of readers did you have in mind while writing the books?

I think the 6-10 year-old range seems to enjoy them the most. I do have some friends, however, who have read them to their younger kids with success.

4. How do you choose the stories to tell in your books?

Our animals actually play a key role in the storytelling. Jake, the horse in book 1 (The Runaway Horse) is a real horse on our family ranch. And I can vouch for the fact that he is just as naughty in real life as he is in the story! Annie, the cat in book 2 (The Lost Kitten), lives with my parents. And the parts of the story that pertain to how they acquired her are very true. Then of course as the author, I get to add in all the fun parts that also make it a work of fiction!

5. What has been the response to your work so far, and are you working on some other books as well?

The response has been very positive. Book 3 in The Plaid Family Adventures (The Rescue Horse) is almost ready to go to the editor. The Rescue Horse is inspired by a thoroughbred stallion I rescued last winter. I'm pretty excited about this particular story. It's going to be action-packed and full of fun. In the story, I'm also introducing some new and very interesting characters from a neighboring town. At this time, I also have plans for book 4 and 5 and am working on a separate young adult novel.

Thanks, Michelle!