First Giveaway: Warm Your Heart…and Body!

The first of many giveaways has begun, and with the weather being less than ideal, it’s a great item to win: an official Mojocastle logo fleece jacket!

Mojocastle Fleece Jacket

We have four to give away…two in size L, two in size XL. The sizes will be awarded at random, not by preference. They are very nice heavyweight fleece, with zip pockets and a fold-down collar. In the current state of cold as heck out there, warm clothes are a wonderful addition to anyone’s wardrobe, and it’s purple, even. You can’t go wrong with purple.

How can you get your hands on one? Enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If this doesn’t make you smile, stay tuned…MANY more giveaways coming up!

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Author/Editor Relations – Let’s Be Friends?

Anyone who’s worked with me, whether as an author or colleague, knows that I don’t stand on ceremony much. They also know my position on author/editor relations.

A general consensus is that you have to maintain an air of professionalism at all times, or you won’t be respected. The issue lies in the definition of professionalism. Does it mean simply setting boundaries and staying to a certain set of rules,  or does it require a tremendous amount of distance between employer and staff?

So, anyway, here’s what I think.

I’m pretty much an open book. Despite that, I do have a sense of discretion, when it’s required. I’ve never been comfortable with the whole suit-wearing-pedestal-riding boss situation. I prefer open communication and availability. Authors and staff can hail me on social media, call or even text, because sometimes a quick answer is needed. I want them to feel like if there’s a concern, I am both willing and able to address it. I also make sure they’re a part of the production process, such as input into art and multiple galley checks, so they can feel confident in what is coming out.

I know what you’re thinking. You can’t be respected that way, because there’s no Boss Boundary. Well, I see it as if I respect them as both people and professionals, the favor will be returned. And my folks have shown me time and again that this is true.

In my opinion, if authors feel like a valuable part of the company instead of just production sources, you’re going to get their best work. I got into the industry initially because I wanted to nurture talent, and to do that, it’s better to be friends.

So how do you do that? It’s a crazy concept, but it works: treat them like people. With feelings.

1. Invite casual conversation.  You’re going to get more honest and helpful input if the author feels like you value their opinions.

2. Take their concerns into consideration, not matter how small it seems. Sometimes you still have to go with the sound business decision, which may not be what they’re happiest with, but their perspective might just give you new insight.

3. Keep them informed and ask for input in different stages of the production process, such as cover art, and make sure they see the final product before release. This helps assuage the standard author fear that their “baby” isn’t being taken care of, and again, their perspective may be valuable.

4. Be available, and no news is NOT good news. I’ve had problems in the past, and thought the way to deal with it was to not worry the authors, and to wait until the issue was corrected to talk about it. What I discovered was that silence and lack of information breeds fear and discussion as to the possibilities, which can create a situation far worse than the actual one. Honesty is the best policy, and being up front will save a lot of stress, even if you have to relay something unpleasant.

5. Understand that stuff happens, and adjust deadlines accordingly. Riding an author into the ground won’t produce their best work. I personally would rather wait six months for the best quality than have an author feel obligated to push something out in a month just to fill a quota. This is a creative process, not an assembly line, and sometimes the muse can be a bit elusive.

6. It sounds a bit hypocritical, but it’s my experience: They don’t want to hear when stuff happens to you. They don’t want to hear that royalties are late because your kid is sick, or you’re sick, or the cat’s sick, even if it’s true. If stuff does happen, don’t go on about how much your life is pure misery, just explain that this happened, this is how you’re correcting it, and do it. They might be sympathetic, don’t get me wrong, and no one is expected to be the Master of Perfection all the time. But in the end, it’s not important to the business, and may cause them to worry about its viability if you’re weeping into your beer all the time.

This is how I handle things in my house. Do I sometimes have to be Mean Boss and say no? Of course. Camaraderie is a wonderful thing, but in the end, this is a business, and sometimes what’s best for business might not be as popular. Again, when this has happened, my decision has been respected, because I show respect to the authors. It’s better to be a team…or even a family.

Stephanie Kelsey, Owner and Editor-in-chief

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5 Types of Characters Every Novel Should Have

What is a story without characters? Well, probably a very boring one! Characters are the key to every good tale. Great authors recognize the need for complex, well-developed authors. They also know that in order to make an interesting story, they must have a few essential characters.

Here are five characters that writers should fully develop and include in their novel.

 The Protagonist

Remember this word from high school English class? The protagonist is the main character in your story. Your novel should almost always focus on this person. Typically, this person is faced with a challenge and must work on resolving that problem throughout the novel. As an author, you should be growing and changing this character throughout every chapter. By the end of your story, you should be able to see a path from where the character started to where he/she ended.

 The Antagonist

Yep, this is the bad guy! The antagonist is the character who is creating the problem (or problems!) for the protagonist. This character needs to be as well developed as the protagonist as he/she is a key character in your story. Your readers will want to know why this person is doing what they are doing. Like the protagonist, the antagonist often grows throughout the story too – to either be a better or worse person.

 The Confidant

Think of the confidant as the little angel on the shoulder of the protagonist. This character is the protagonist’s most trusted friend. He/she is in your story to help your protagonist grow and guide him/her through the conflicts that arise throughout the novel.

 The Foil

The foil helps readers see the true self of the protagonist by being the total opposite. This character can help the protagonist grow by teaching him/her new ways. Or, the foil can act as another antagonist by challenging the protagonist.

 Stock Character(s)

Stock characters are the most simply type of characters and do not need much development; however, they can be essential to your story. An example of a stock character could be the woman selling flowers next to the protagonist’s office. Good authors use stock characters to better define the scenes and, sometimes, to foreshadow what may arise later on.





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4 Common Mistakes Every Writer Will Make


If you feel like it’s taking a really, really long time to write your novel, it may be because your making mistakes that are costing you time and energy. Don’t worry, nearly every writer makes mistakes and some mistakes are made more than others.

Here are four of the most common mistakes that are made:

You Edit While You Write


You’re writing along then you stop to edit. Then you write a little more and stop to edit. Editing as you write is a surefire way to delay the completion of your novel. Editing is definitely an important part of the writing process, but you should wait until you have a large amount completed (if not the entire piece) before you start red inking your pages.

If you’re bound and determined to edit before you complete your book, try writing a few chapters at a time then editing those. This will allow you to get everything from mind to paper without the interrupts that editing makes.


 You Don’t Take Breaks


If you’re on a deadline, breaks probably seem impossible! But, if you don’t take a break now and then, your novel could suffer. Breaks allow your brain to rest. Writers who don’t take breaks sometimes find that their writing gets repetitive. Breaks provide you the opportunity to get some fresh air and some new inspiration. Go for a walk and people watch, eavesdrop on conversations… you never know, you may just see something that could inspire a juicy twist in your next chapter.


 You Don’t Know Your Characters


Your characters are your BFF’s… so shouldn’t you know everything about them? Yes, you should! Sometimes, writers get so excited to start their novel that they don’t develop their characters first. This can cause some trouble down the road.

Instead of figuring out your characters as you go, create character profiles first. Develop a personality questionnaire and fill it out for all of your characters. Give them a backstory, give them friends and enemies, give them likes and dislikes… ask questions that you’d want to know as if he/she was a real person standing in front of you.


 You Avoid Conflict


You want everyone to get along and to live happily ever after. But, c’mon, even Disney films have conflict! Avoiding conflict in your novel will likely cause it to be boring. So, add some drama! Don’t be afraid to add some twists and turns and do something out of your comfort zone. It just may make your novel!


Now that you know some of the most common mistakes that novelists write, try your best to avoid them. You’ll be surprised at how much faster your book will get written and how much more you’ll love it.






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Tips to Stay Focused While Writing Your Novel

It’s that time . . . you are ready to write your masterpiece! Everything is off to a smooth start, but then suddenly things start to slowly unravel. It starts with a quick email check and before you know it all focus is lost.

The truth is, as a writer, you need to stay on track. Creative work takes discipline, so here are a few tricks of the trade to help you along!

Reward System

Reward yourself for your hard work by taking breaks. After writing for about an hour or two, give yourself a well-deserved, 15 minute break and do something you enjoy! Go for a walk, grab a coffee, smoke a cigarette or simply just relax. You deserve it!

Embrace the Unspoken Word

Be sure your workspace is quiet and free from distraction. Turn off the TV, put your phone on mute, and be proactive to stop distractions before they happen. Also, provide yourself with things that offer inspiration rather than distraction. Whether that be photographs, colors or even a change in scenery… yes, you can write on the back porch, in the treehouse or on the beach!

Make the Writing Work for You

Write at the time that works best for you! If you are a night owl, write at night. If you are most productive in the early hours, use that to your advantage. Work around your preset schedule and keep in mind times. If you have to pick up the kids at 3pm, start writing before 2pm. You don’t want to stop your creative juices just when they start picking up speed.

Set Goals

Setting goals is key to getting any project done in a timely way. The best way to go about this is to set a timeline – determine how much you need to get done every day/week/month before your due date. Every time you meet your goal, reward yourself!


Enjoy Yourself

Last, but not least, enjoy yourself! Get into your writing, love your characters, and surprise yourself along the way. The more interest you have in your work, the less likely you are to get bored with it.






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10 Wise Words from 10 Wise and Witty Writers

Whether you’re working on your first or your ninety-first novel, chances are at some point you’ll need a little inspiration. That’s why we found ten of our favorite inspirational writing quotes from established authors. Enjoy!

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1. “One must be a little crazy to write a good novel” – John Gardner2. “I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I’m afraid of.” – Joss Whedon

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3. “Keep a notebook. Travel with it, eat with it, sleep with it. Slap into it every stray thought that flutters up into your brain. Cheap paper is less perishable than gray matter, and lead pencil markings endure longer than memory.” – Jack London

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4. “And never forget that writing is as close as we get to keeping hold of the thousand and one things… childhood, certainties, cities, doubts, dreams, instants, phrases, parents, loves that go on slipping like sand thorough our fingers.” – Salman Rushdie

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5. “Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any.” – Orson Scott Card

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6. “If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.” – Margaret Atwood

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7. “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” –Ernest Hemingway
8. “I don’t wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind must know it has got to get down to work.” – Pearl S. Buck

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9. “The scariest moment is always just before you start.” – Stephen King

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10. “Don’t be afraid to write crap because crap makes great fertilizer.” – Jessica Brody

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4 Secrets of Self-Editing

Unless you have a small fortune to spend on a full-time professional editor, chances are you’re going to do some self-editing on your novel. While some authors enjoy the editing process, others find it to be an exhausting, time-consuming chore.

For those of you who cringe at the thought of proofreading, here are four self-editing secrets that will help ease the editing process:

Spelling and Grammar Check

Most word processing software has a spelling and grammar check. Be sure to use this! Why waste time skimming through hundreds of pages for a spelling error when a machine will do it for you? No, it doesn’t catch everything, but it will catch a good amount. Also, take advantage of its “Ignore All” feature for highlighted words that are actually correct and the “Replace All” feature for a word that you misspelled throughout the work. You should also turn on “Track Changes,” so that you see what changes you’ve made along the way.

Read and Record

There is no better way to determine if your words make sense then to read them out loud and listen. You can easily record yourself with a voice recording app on your phone. Reading out loud will help you catch common spelling and grammar errors that many software programs won’t catch, plus it will help you determine if the sentences flow.

Grab a Thesaurus

Admit it, you have a few favorite words that you use a few too many time. Don’t worry, we all do! That’s why it’s good to have a thesaurus handy to help you find an alternative word. It is okay to your favorite word (or words) a few times, but you do not want to overuse it and sound repetitive. A thesaurus will also help you when you need a more sophisticated word.

Third Time is a Charm

Read through your work not once, not twice, but three (or more) times! The first time you edit your work, you’re going to miss thing. The second time around you’ll find more, but not everything. That’s why it’s good to read through it at least three times. You’ll notice that the more times you read the most in-depth edits you’ll find. During the first two reads, you’ll catch spelling and grammar errors. After a third read, you’re more likely to catch plot, character and theme errors.

Don’t forget to give yourself a break in between reads. Reading the same words over and over again will get tedious, so be sure to step back when you feel yourself drifting away.

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5 Apps that Every Writer Should Download

Still using a pencil and tablet to write your novel? Guilty! We get it, there is nothing like jotting down your words, thoughts and scribbles with a freshly sharpened pencil.

While it may be hard to incorporate technology into your writing process, it is definitely well worth it. And, we’re not just talking about Word’s spellchecker!

Here are 5 smartphone apps that every writer should download:

Dragon Diction

We can all talk faster than we can type, right? That’s why this app is great! Dragon Diction allows you to record your voice, then it automatically types it out for you! In fact, it claims to be 5x fasters than typing on a keyboard!


Facebook…. Twitter… Candy Crush… are you getting distracted every time you sit down to write? Put a stop to it with Anti-Social, an app that blocks you from going to time-sucking websites, games and apps. You simply set the amount of time you want to work and it will block you from going to those sites during that time period.

Writer’s Block Buster

We’ve all had writer’s block and our novels can surely suffer from it. This app, Writer’s Block Buster, will help you beat the block. It has an extensive database of questions and explanations for several things that maybe giving you writer’s block.


Want to know if what you have so far is well-written? Hemingway can help! It highlights long, complex sentences and errors. It shows adverbs in blue and provides you with a list of stronger verbs that can take its place. It marks passive voice phrases in green and words that are too long in purple. This app is just as good as having an English teacher with a red pencil.

Okay, this is a given, but it’s really a great app! The dictionary app shows you the meanings of a word, its pronunciation, its origin, and more. It also includes a thesaurus to help you find stronger words. This app even works when you’re offline.

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Why Become a Publisher?

The Owner and Editor-in-Chief of Mojocastle Press, Stephanie Kelsey, answers the question “Why Become a Publisher?”

Why did you become a publisher? The eternal question. God knows I could have chosen numerous other business options. So why did I choose an epublishing house over, say, cupcakes? Especially since cupcakes are extremely fabulous?

Like many people have, I blame my mother.

She was a writer since I was a child, and I her first beta reader, back in the days when ereaders were the stuff of Star Trek fantasy and dinosaurs roamed the earth. By the time I was fifteen, I had full blown content editing skills and a healthy respect for author’s voice. I was taught to enhance and correct, not to rewrite.

I got my first proofreading job at Wings, and found out what it was like to work to a deadline. It was fun for me, though, and I probably would have just kept doing similar work. But once again, I blame my mother.

She had joined a partner and opened an indie house, and wanted my skills. After working there for a short while, I was introduced to the erotic imprint. Now bear in mind, there was no front facing erotic romance displays and Fifty Shades of Grey then. We were purveyors of “girl porn” lurking in the shadows. It was an enlightening introduction, to say the least.

I was eventually moved up to Editor In Chief, and that’s when I had my epiphany. I loved this. I loved working with creative people. I loved being able to take a good story and make it a professional work an author could be proud of. I loved sending the galleys for final check, and feeling the excitement at the impending release. I loved telling the author their book was live and enjoying the reaction, whether it was their first book or fifteenth.

I loved seeing “my” books on websites, and reading the great feedback from the readers who enjoyed them. I had entered a world where knowing where commas go created art, and I was addicted.

And that is why I’m a publisher. There’s no rehab for art addiction.

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Battle the “Block”: How to Beat 5 Common Types of Writer’s Block

It started off great. In fact, you’re ahead of the word count goal you set for yourself. But, now you’ve drawn a blank. What’s to blame? Writer’s Block.

Ah yes, we’ve been warned about this thing called writer’s block. It’s notorious for halting thousands of potentially great novels.

So, how can you beat the “block?” First, you have to understand what type you’re dealing with.

Here are a five of the most common types of writer’s blocks and how you can defeat them.

You’ve Drawn a Blank

So, you’ve come to a stop because you just can’t think of anything else to write. This is often the most common type of writer’s block. Give your brain the jolt it needs by taking a break. Step away from your work, take a walk, watch a movie or hang out with friends. Just give yourself some time away from your work.
Chances are that a little time away will help spark new ideas and get you back on track. If that doesn’t help, start brainstorming! You can also create “dream boards” that are made up of motivating quotes, magazine clippings, photographs and other items that help inspire you.

You Have Too Many Ideas

You’ve gotten to a point in your novel where you’re ready to take a turn, but you have so many ideas in your head that you can’t choose which direction to go in. Help narrow down the options by creating plans for each thought. Outline the storyline that could take place if you choose this idea. If you struggle to think of next steps in the plot line, scrap that concept and move onto the next.

You Messed Up

The worse feeling for a writer is deciding that you made a plot error long after you made it. Do you trash the hours of work you’ve already completed and start all over again? Or, do you move on and let your story take a different direction. Unfortunately, there’s no right or wrong answer and determining the best solution often causes writers to draw a blank.

The best thing to do is stop where you’re at and create an action plan. First, ask yourself “If I make the change, will I have to rewrite everything I’ve already written or can I just make some small edits?” Ideally, you’ll determine that you can make a few edits and move on in the intended direction. If this doesn’t happen, ask yourself if this new story line will make sense. If it does, pursue it. If it doesn’t, go back to the place the error was made and start writing again. Don’t completely trash what you’ve already written though… it may come in handy for your next book.

You Lack Confidence

Some novels get adjourned simply because writers lack the confidence to continue. Meaning, they get hung up on whether plot is good enough or if readers will think their characters are believable or if publishers will laugh in their face when they submit their work for publication. If you’re lacking confidence, give yourself a boost by talking with trusted friends or family members about your work. Explain the characters to them and ask what they think. It’s very unlikely that they will tell you that your work is awful. They will probably point out the things they like best and, perhaps, give you some constructive criticism to help you move on.

You’re Bored

Writing a novel is a lot of work and it takes a lot of your time. So, it’s no wonder that some authors simply get bored. The best solution for boredom is to take some time away from writing, if you can. Try something new or adventurous during that time a way. The excitement you feel will help trigger creativity. If your deadline does not allow you to step away, try adding an unexpected twist to your storyline. This new path may help you generate ideas and stay captivated.

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