Sunday, November 18, 2018

New Anthology: Still Standing

Hello, all.
I do hope your Halloween was enjoyable. I made my own Viking costume and threatened people with an ax. Good times. What did you dress as?
I wanted to pop in and share some news with you, valued readers. Hollow Hills has a new anthology coming out next month titled STILL STANDING. This collection of short stories and poetry will benefit Crisis Text Line, a non-profit that helps those in crisis. Find out more about this wonderful organization here.

Various authors came together bringing unique fantasy and science fiction tales to this amazing anthology. The stories and poems involve bullying, harassment, or ill-treatment by others in some way. The stories may get dark, but there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Our protagonists will not be kept down because in the end they are still standing tall. 
For more information about each story in the anthology, visit the Hollow Hills website


My story, "The Brave Blacksmith" is about a man who became a legend but walked away from his past life. Now he does odd jobs, enduring bullying from local villagers and even his own employers sometimes. Merely trying to make it through each day while dealing with his own inner demons, the queen of his land suddenly calls upon him to track down and help a sorcerer in a neighboring kingdom. Accepting the quest may mean a break from his daily struggles, but his pain still follows him as he heads out with his trusty tools to locate a powerful stranger.

Follow Blacksmith on his adventures in STILL STANDING, coming December 14th. Pre-orders are available now.


Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41969929-still-standing

100% of royalties will go to Crisis Text Line, so be sure to grab your copy today!

Monday, September 3, 2018

Let's Play Catch-Up

Hello, all.
No, I didn't die, though I have been absent for quite a bit. Various things going on in my personal life have kept me busy and I honestly haven't been reading as much of late. So in this post, I will share the few indie books I have read since April. 
Before I get to that, let me plug my newest release that hit the market in July. Tantalizing Tales of the Horrific and Fantastic is a collection of short stories that span various genres.
Here is the blurb and buy links:
Sink your teeth into this book of fantastical short stories that will leave you wanting more. This collection mixes fantasy, science fiction, horror, and more into one big boiling pot of tastiness. Stories may include princesses, talking birds, alien species, magical items, terrifying creatures, cyborgs, or assassins. You’ll get your fill of thrills and chills.
BUY LINKS: Universal link - Amazon - Goodreads - Books2Read


Now on to the indie books!


Valkyrie on Planet Fury
by Lynne Murray

Rating: 5 Stars

Review:
Lynne Murray knocks it out of the park again!
It had been a while since I read the first book Gravitas: Valkyrie in the Forbidden Zone. I had almost forgotten what an amazing storyteller this author is but two pages in and it all came rushing back. Her memorable characters. Her own sci-fi take on various mythologies. Her amazing building of complex societies. Everything about this book makes it such a pleasure to read.
Though there are some editing issues, the storytelling shines through as we are whisked away on another edge-of-your-seat adventure with Sybil, our favorite oddball from Planet Valkyrie. Tension, romance, devious plots, and sexy fun are in store. We even meet Medusa!
I highly recommend this one.


American Darkness
by Garrison Kelly

Rating: 3 Stars

Review:
If you're looking for a collection of short stories where everyone is pissed off all the time, look no further. Each story certainly delves into the darkness of humankind, showing how unreasonable and crazy some people can be. Though most of the characters are over-the-top and violence is the word of the day, there is usually a happy-ish ending in store. Be sure to listen to some angry screamo while reading this one!


Once Upon a Fabulous Time
Various Authors

Rating: 4 Stars

Review:
Here are a bunch of random fairy tale stories from various authors put together nicely in one anthology. Though I still didn't see how each story tied into the main story throughout, I enjoyed this book more than expected. I have to say that both Aliya DalRae stories were my favorite of the bunch. "Where Darkness Lies" by Joanna Van Leerdam was my next favorite. Their stories were the strongest and best written.
Though some of the other stories were okay, my least favorite was Mr. Wizardo. There was confusing head-hopping as well as scene jumping that would jolt me out of the story. To be honest, I skipped the rest of the story after Chapter Two. The author's need to slap the reader in the face with a Wizard of Oz reference in every single paragraph got really old really fast, especially when most references didn't come across as making any sense.
Overall, a nice collection with a few tales I wouldn't mind seeing fleshed out into novel length stories.


Ghostly Writes 2017
by Various Authors

Rating: 3 Stars 

Review:
An entertaining collection of short stories. Only a few of the stories were scary, though all contained some aspect of the supernatural. My favorite stories were "A Grave Business" by Michael Lynes and "The Big Escape" by Marjorie Hembroff.

 Happy reading, all!

Sunday, July 1, 2018

#IndiePrideDay 2018

Hello, fellow readers!
Today we celebrate Indie Pride Day, a movement that supports independent authors around the world. Every year on July 1st, authors take selfies of themselves with their books and take to social media using the #IndiePrideDay and #IndieBooksBeSeen hashtags.

Why should readers care?
Ah, dear readers, but don't you see, independent authors are only the BEST for so many reasons!
The indie community is one of the friendliest, most helpful places to be when you are a newbie writer just getting started. There are various groups on Facebook, (My favorite being Authors-Professional Co-op) that are there to support each other by answering questions and giving feedback. We don't see other writers as competition; we recognize that we are all in this together.

Indie authors are also some of the best writers I have ever had the pleasure of meeting (Online. I wish I knew these people in real life!). Many avid readers are under the impression that indies, specifically self-published authors, "couldn't hack it" with big name publishers and were forced to publish their books themselves. This is not the case. Many authors choose to self-publish or go through a small publishing company because of the freedom they have when it comes to their story and the final product. Talent has nothing to do with it.
In fact, I have a few indies that I immediately purchase whenever they put out a new release because they are just that good. Seriously, their books are magic.
So, what can you do, dear reader, to help this wonderful movement? Share any of the posts you see with those special hashtags. Show indies love by buying their books, telling your friends, and leaving reviews. In return, we'll keep putting our hearts and souls into the stories that you love.
Happy Indie Pride Day, everyone!
All my love to you, fellow indies!

Friday, June 22, 2018

Exciting Things are Coming!

That's right, my friends! Now that Hollow Hills is up and running, I have gotten back to writing again and I am bringing the goods. Next month, I have a collection of short stories coming out that is sure to please. Let me give you the low-down on Tantalizing Tales of the Horrific and Fantastic

I'm pretty pumped about my first book to be published through Hollows Hills. So what is it about? Horror, fantasy, paranormal, science fiction, and more come together in a mesmerizing collection hitting your favorite online book sellers on July 27th, 2018. 

Here is the synopsis:
Sink your teeth into this book of fantastical short stories that will leave you wanting more. This collection mixes fantasy, science fiction, horror, and more into one big boiling pot of tastiness. Stories may include princesses, talking birds, alien species, magical items, terrifying creatures, cyborgs, or assassins. You’ll get your fill of thrills and chills.
As if that isn't exciting enough, you are all invited to a party. That's right, you! Come join us on release day for our Facebook event Madness, Magic, and Mayhem. Games, teasers, and giveaways galore! Whew, I haven't done a FB event in quite some time and I fully intend to let loose and have a blast. I hope you stop by for some fun.
Meanwhile, drop by your favorite store and pre-order Tantalizing Tales of the Horrific and Fantastic. It has a bit of something for everyone. The universal link is here. Have a great weekend, readers.
Stay tuned for news on another upcoming release from Hollow Hills that features another brand new short story from yours truly.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

March - April Reads & Reviews

Hello, my fellow book enthusiasts.
I haven't posted reviews in a while so I thought I'd show you what I have been reading lately. Discover some new-to-you indie authors!


Miranda's Rights
by Lily Luchesi

Rating: 3 Stars

Review:
Though I knew exactly how this book was going to go when Miranda came back as a vampire, it was still an entertaining ride. We find out more about Angelica herself through flashbacks and it made her more real to me as a character. Danny begins honing his own special gifts, though I would have liked to see him struggle more with it as opposed to us being told that he struggled.
I wasn't feeling Miranda as a character, though. There was nothing likable about her, so I find it hard to believe that Danny was ever engaged to her. Also, if he has always known she was selfish and Angelica never trusted her, why would they trust her to help them with a case now?
The only plot twist I didn't see coming was the very end, and that was a nice way to set up the next book in the series.


Jill
by Rose Montague

Rating: 4 Stars

Review:
A nice end to a trilogy!
The three J'Amigos are back with non-stop action from page one. These females are not only badass, but totally confident and eager to help each other fight the forces of evil. We follow our heroines as they traverse new worlds, encounter new dangers, and basically get splattered with gore on multiple occasions. A perfect ending, and a perfect intro to the Norma Jean's School of Witchery series.  


Sunlight Girl
by K.L. Cottrell

Rating: 5 Stars

Review:
This is a new favorite. Spencer and Emerson's story was equal parts dark and enlightening. I honestly can't think of enough words to express what a beautiful and touching story this was. It is certainly inspiring for victims of abuse, whether it's the physical, mental, or emotional kind. And though I can't agree completely with her view of suicide victims, the story does an excellent job of revealing the other side of that coin by showing the world through the eyes of a loved one.
Overall, amazing story that I could not put down.


The Truth Will Out
by Karen J Mossman

Rating: 4 Stars

Review:

This was an interesting, fast-paced read. I could tell from the start that Sarah was Kelly, so no twist there, but I certainly didn't see the main protagonist coming. The action scenes were done quite well. I wouldn't have minded a slightly more fleshed out romance, but overall, this was a good read. 



Overall, lots of goodies by female authors. (I didn't plan it that way, I swear!) I hope you check them out and find some you enjoy.
Happy reading!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Is Suicide Selfish?

Today I want to address a topic that will make many people uncomfortable. Good. That's half the point. After the world lost Chester Bennington last year, I have often thought about how people view suicide. It's one of those subjects no one wants to bring up but everyone suddenly has an opinion on if you do. I'm here to give everyone a few pointers from the ugly side of it.
I am in no way condoning suicide, here. The point of this post is to show others what sort of thoughts might run through the mind of a suicidal person.

Is Suicide Selfish?
I often hear the opinion that people who commit suicide are selfish because they left their loved ones behind to suffer. I can see how people might feel that way. The person's suffering is over but their family and friends' suffering has just begun. I mean, we aren't stupid, we know people will mourn us. Here's the thing though: we think you are better off without us here. 
Seriously. People suffering from suicidal thoughts often feel like a burden to those around them. Not only do we hate ourselves and wish we weren't here, we wish you didn't have to put up with us. People like myself who suffer from anxiety and depression will often stop talking to friends and family because we a) Can't handle seeing people on the regular, b) Are embarrassed about how we act when we are with you, and/or c) Honestly think you don't need to waste your time on us. Sometimes we can't deal with everyday stuff like getting a shower. Answering the phone. Washing a load of clothes. Because of this, we feel like we are an embarrassment to some people. Hell, maybe we are to some. 
When thoughts turn to suicide, often we figure everyone will cry a bit but get over it because, hello, aren't we just a waste of space anyway? Isn't everyone around us better off if we aren't bringing them down? Does that make us selfish? Here's a question: are you being selfish for wanting us to stay? Why would you want us to keep suffering?
Again, I'm not condoning suicide. These are just thoughts I have had before. So please don't tell a suicidal person that they are being selfish. We already hate ourselves, that is in no way helping. You don't call an ambulance for the injured guy on the sidewalk while you're still kicking him in the ribs.

Find Things to Live For!
Oh, I can't tell you how many times I have heard this phrase. I need to stay around for my kids. (See above for my answer to that one.) I need to stay around for my writing. For my family. I need to find a new hobby that makes me happy. I need to search my soul or something and find a reason to stick around.
First of all, if it was that simple, I'm pretty sure it would be all rainbows and sunshine up in here. I honestly don't know how to just "be happy." I have moments of happiness here and there, but I'm not a genuinely happy person. So focusing on one thing to keep me happy is a ridiculous notion. Happiness by itself is not the issue. Finding love or loving someone else is not the issue. Outside things don't make you happy. You make you happy. Until I can love myself, it doesn't matter if I am loved or love someone else. A person, an object, a career, or a hobby are not going to change how I feel about myself. They may provide some insight and guide me on my journey, true, but throwing that in my face when I venture to speak to you about suicide does not provide some immediate "cure" to my problems. There is no cure. There is only learning how to deal with my inner demons and hopefully learning to like myself as I am.


Attention Seekers
This one isn't used as often these days, but I still hear it sometimes. They cut themselves for attention. She just hated that she wasn't getting the attention that her sibling was. Blah, blah, blah. If you think someone is hurting themselves for attention, then it would be pretty obvious. They would plan it so they would get caught before anything fatal happened. This does not mean that their cry for help is not unwarranted. This is no reason to be an asshole and talk down to them. For all you know, this was a warning shot. Next time could be the last.
If someone is trying to give you a heads up in any way, however subtle, about wanting to take their life, listen. For the love of nature, listen. Unfortunately, people tend to think suicidal people are over-dramatic so they don't take our words seriously. Actually, we are kind of over-dramatic. We tend to feel things deeper. Our emotions rule us. Small incidents can become huge ordeals in our minds. One tiny thing can have us sobbing or freaking out. Our mental illnesses can make us into "drama queens."
Take us seriously. 
If we reach out, please let us talk and don't try to downplay our problem. You should feel honored that we trust you enough to reach out in the first place. It's when we are shrugged off that someone finds us covered in blood in a bathroom tub. It's when we are talked down to that our body hurtles to the ground from the top of a building. It's when we have no one to turn to at all that we are found hanging from a fan. 


Again, the purpose of this post is to make others aware of some of the hard truths about how suicidal people tend to think. If you are suicidal, please try to talk to someone. I know how hard it is, trust me. Reaching out is one of the hardest things you can do at a low point in your life. Do it anyway. Talking does help.
If you know someone who may be suicidal, please offer an ear to them. Keep yourself in their life. If they try to push you away, don't let them. Call them, even if they never call you. Visit them randomly. Remind them that they are important.
Good luck in this crazy life, everyone.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (USA): 1-800-273-8255

Monday, March 12, 2018

Hollow Hills, A New Publisher

Hello faithful readers and fellow book lovers!
I wanted to tell everyone about a new publishing company for independent authors. Hollow Hills, LLC. was co-founded by my friend Aurora Styles and myself as a place for authors whose works might be considered too "different" for traditional publishers. We don't believe in formula writing or writing by the numbers. We are looking for stories without all the usual tropes. We want original. We want unique. We want fantasy!

Though we do specialize in fantasy and all it's sub-genres, we will also consider horror, romance, mythology, and erotica. The most important thing to us is the story itself. Are the characters three-dimensional? Does the story reach down inside and pull out all those feels? Do the vivid setting details make you feel like you are really there? Does the story not fit neatly into one genre? Then we are interested!

For those indie authors who prefer self-publishing, we offer services that are vital to creating a sell-able product. As some of you may know, I have been a paid beta reader for a few years now and I am bringing my experience to Hollow Hills.
Aurora instructs Composition 101 and Freelance Writing. She also holds an MFA in Creative Writing. She has experience editing papers and manuscripts full-time. So if you need a beta reader or editor, we've got you covered.
Two other services we offer through our company are the sales of pre-made book covers, and extra promotional services for authors. We have a variety of choices for book covers and we guarantee that any sold will never be sold again. Hollow Hills understands that most authors work other jobs and may not have the time to promote their books. We offer affordable services that include daily posts on social media accounts and posts on blogs.

To start our company off with a bang, we have decided to publish an anthology later this year. This collection of short stories and/or poetry will give new authors a chance to shine. All royalties earned from the sales of the anthology will go towards a charity. We are still in talks about which charity, but it will be one that involves the theme of the stories.
This first anthology will be titled "Still Standing" and the stories will involve a protagonist who has undergone some kind of ill treatment from a person in power, whether they were abused, harassed, fired, dismissed, etc. The antagonist can be a boss, co-worker, evil overlord, whatever you would like. The story can be a revenge story, but the main theme is empowerment and the healing process. The victim came through and is standing on their own two (or more) feet. Again, though we specialize in fantasy, we would gladly consider horror or romance submissions.
For more information on the submission guidelines, please visit our blog on our website here: www.hollowhillsbooks.com

Be sure to stop by and see what our company can do for you, independent author!

Sunday, March 4, 2018

February Reads & Reviews

Hello, everyone!
I'm a bit behind on my Goodreads reading goal this year, but I plan to make up for it next month. I have been busy starting a publishing company with my friend. That's right, we are officially licensed and up and running. But enough about that (I'll do a post later about the company) let's get back to the indies I read in February.


One Snowy Night 
by Various Authors

Rating: 4 Stars

Review:
An entertaining book of short stories that certainly warmed the heart.
Unforeseen Circumstances -
Though the premise of this story sounded like a bad soap opera, a woman suffering from amnesia falls back in love with her ex, it was done in a way that made it endearing. The characters were relatable and the story sweet.

All the Things I Should Have Told You -
My second favorite story in this collection. A heart wrenching story about unrequited love and how true love means sacrifice and undying loyalty. My favorite bit was these lines at the beginning: "Hell is not full of screams or wails. It is full of rhythmic, mechanical breaths and the beep of machines. It smells of disinfectant, and the cruelest trick it plays is letting you know that everybody is doing everything they can, but it might all flitter away in a moment."

One Snowy Day -
This was my least favorite story. The story is sweet and certainly tugs at the heartstrings, but there is far more dialogue than narrative. The characters have too many info dump conversations and opportunities to really get to know the characters on a more personal level are glossed over.
Again, the story itself is not bad, but it could have been presented better.

Somewhere Between Falling -
My favorite story of the bunch. Told from the two main charcter's point of views, we meet two people who have had their lives turned upside down and their hearts broken. Meeting again has old sparks flying and they begin to wonder if their past disastrous relationships were as deep as they had originally thought. Lovable characters and an intriguing plot made this one hard to put down.

All in all, a nice collection for a cold winter day



First Fruits
by Amanda Carney

Rating: 5 Stars

Review:
This book hooked me from page one. It held a lot of the usual paranormal romance ideas: quiet girl falls for a vampire, finds out she has unique powers, bad guys come after them. What made this story unique was its execution and characters.
The writing style was amusing and detailed. The characters were flawed but lovable. The steamy sex scenes had me fanning myself. The best part, however, was how we got in their heads so completely. I was sucked right into their world.
The cliffhanger at the end had me checking for more pages! No! Why! Looks like I will have to pick up the next book ASAP. 




And that's all I have for you this month! The rest of my reading was spent on indie children's books, which I review elsewhere. I hope everyone had an amazing Valentine's Day. Make sure you have a pint for me on St. Patrick's Day, too!
Happy reading!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The Punisher

Hello, all!
I recently finished watching the Netflix original television show, The Punisher. I want to talk about the show a bit without giving any spoilers. Well, not really.

I thoroughly enjoyed it for a few different reasons. For one, people died, even main characters for no reason. This show is about military conspiracies and cover-ups, so you can bet your ass there was plenty of gunfire and hand-to-hand combat. The thing is, so many movies and TV shows are afraid to kill off characters right from the start. Usually, you want to have an elaborate backstory or reasoning as to why they were killed. The thing is, it isn't always like that in real life. Some people are just in the wrong place at the wrong time and you are given little time to grieve in that moment.
The main reason I loved this show was because it drew parallels to my favorite graphic novel of all time: The Crow by James O'Barr. Now, I have not read Marvel's The Punisher comics, but I was familiar with the story itself before watching the show. Frank Castle is a soldier who was back home with his family when they were all gunned down right in front of him. His wife and two kids, gone in the blink of an eye. This begins a cycle of revenge that soon appears to be never ending.
The Crow is also about revenge for a lost loved one. Eric Draven witnesses his girlfriend's murder before dying himself. He later comes back from death as The Crow, an agent of revenge.
 Now I am a sucker for a good revenge story, but what makes these two stories so special is the way they show the main character's suffering. Frank Castle and Eric Draven both go to extremes for their revenge, leaving pools of blood and dead bodies in their wake. They don't care about consequences. They don't care about right and wrong or crossing the line. In most cases, this would make them more of a villain than a hero. The truth is, they are more of an anti-hero: someone who doesn't do the morally right thing, but someone you can relate to and root for nonetheless.
Why relate to savage killers? With The Punisher, we are shown the world through Frank's eyes. Every day, he wakes up after dreams of his family. Whether they are pleasant memories, nightmares, or a cruel mix of both, it doesn't matter. We see how his loved ones are never far from his thoughts. He relives his pain over and over, again and again, and all he wants is his own form of justice since the system failed him. 
The same is true with Eric Draven. Between scenes of violence, we are shown his memories of Shelly, the greatest love of his life. Even after his own death, he mourns her still and we are given every painful detail of his suffering.

This suffering is what makes these characters so relatable. Even as they break bones and fill men with bullets, we can't help but to root for them. The line between right and wrong is blurry, for sure, but these emotionally gutted individuals still elicit sympathy from the audience. 

And last but not least, The Punisher is a new favorite because Jon Bernthal is an amazing actor that played the part so beautifully, that I was often trying not to sob out loud. His performance was powerful and moving. Plus, you know, eye candy!

I recommend this show to anyone who loves their action fast, their violence hard-core, and their hearts being ripped to shreds with those deep feels.

Friday, February 2, 2018

January Reads & Reviews

Hello my faithful readers! Tis I, Marie, your reviewer of indie books, here to give you another list of interesting books I read in January. So without further ado, here are the indies I enjoyed last month.

Undressed
by Karina Kantas

Rating: 4 Stars

Review:
This book delivers on everything the blurb promises: introductions to a couple novels that leave you wanting more, flash fiction, and poetry. Well written and full of emotion, this was certainly an enjoyable read. 

Pretty Guilty
by K.L. Cottrell

Rating: 5 Stars

Review:
A perfectly beautiful story.
K.L. Cottrell has such an amazing way with words. Her characters instantly jump off the page and the story immediately draws you in. She makes it so easy to fall in love with her characters, to feel their joy and sadness as your own. This story is laden with life lessons and really tugs at the heartstrings. 10 stars!




The Guardians
by Gina Moray

Rating: 4 Stars

Review:
Equal parts thriller and murder mystery, this book will take you to dark places. I was reminded of Needful Things by Stephen King, with the way a demon drove into town and made deals, for a price. In the end, the price was too steep. Corpses and fields overflowing with blood were all that was left.
Gina Moray certainly puts you in the middle of all the action and horror. A creepy read that is not for weak stomachs!


Lunatic Justice
by Garrison Kelly

Rating: 5 Stars

Review:
This collection of poetry and songs will keep you on your toes and leave you shaking your head at the world at large. Garrison Kelly not only exposes the sad truths of mankind but puts them on display. The results are sometimes hard to swallow, or hard to read, but will elicit an emotional reaction from you. Whether that emotion is fear, anger, sadness, or disgust depends on the reader.
My favorites of the collection were "I Apologize," "My Body," "Thank You," "Rise and Shine," "Shadow Hawk," "Coasting," "I Still Remember," "Screaming Into the Abyss," and "STEM Sell."



All four and five star reviews last month! Woohoo, that's some entertaining reads! I hope you find a title from this list that sparks your interest. Always remember to tip your waitresses and review the indie products you enjoy. 
Happy reading!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Writing and Info Dumps

Hello everyone!
Today I wanted to take the time to talk about the famous information dumping that can happen when writing a book. We all do it. I've done it and still do sometimes, even in a second or third draft. We need to learn to recognize when we have dumped too much backstory in one area of our manuscript.

Here is an excellent example of how not to info dump. I recently watched the Netflix movie Bright. After the first two minutes of the movie, I knew exactly what kind of world the story took place in and even a bit of history without one word spoken. How? Here's a small spoiler for those who haven't seen it.
Graffiti. The opening credits show graffiti and street signs from all over L.A. They show us that this is a world that contains orcs, elves, humans and other magical creatures living alongside each other. It even mentions a dark lord and civil unrest between the races. With a few flashes of images and no dialogue, we have already learned our setting, what our characters' races may be, and that there could be an underlying tension between races that could affect the plot. 
Now, isn't that just magic in and of itself? 

I know what you're thinking, "Okay, that was a movie. We have to explain everything with words, without using these famous info dumps." Right you are, my invisible antagonistic friend. You have to find your own graffiti. You have to discover a way to introduce your characters and setting in an interesting way that will keep the reader's attention. You have to show (and not tell, of course!) the reader a setting without going on for ten pages about the way a city looks and why. You have to explain a history without a prologue that tells you every little detail about it. You have to establish a character's backstory without them sitting down with their best friend and rehashing their entire existence. (Because really, who does that in real life? Nothing irks me more than characters who sit around and talk about topics they both already know as fact for no other purpose than to give the reader this info.) 
It is always easier said than done. 

The trick is being able to recognize when you have left info dumps in your writing. If a beta reader or editor points them out to you, even better. Then you have to use what I like to call the sprinkler effect. Take that information and sprinkle it all throughout your story. Not only will this help with info dumps, but it could make for more interesting writing. 
Instead of knowing Amy's entire past at the beginning, perhaps we are shown small pieces of her past here and there through flashbacks, off-handed dialogue, or her own inner thoughts. Her character could become more mysterious and interesting if we find out more about her gradually. 
Maybe we discover the setting by following our main character as they go for a jog in post-apocalyptic New York, skirting abandoned cars and leaping overturned hot dog stands. Later, she may show us her thoughts about missing the time before the great war/plague/invasion that left the world this way. Or maybe she hears an old song and it brings back a memory of her pre-apocalypse life.
You have to find your own system that works for you. 

Good luck, writers. The best way to research how to help with your own information dumping is to read. Read other amazing books that bring you into the story in ways that don't give you pages and pages of why Jimmy hates his mother. Discover a way to use more imagery and everyday circumstances to show the rain forest the story takes place in.
Have fun and happy writing!