Monday, April 22, 2013

Royalties from The Charge to support disaster relief in West, Texas


I'd like to do a little bit to help my neighbors to the north in West, Texas, so from 4/22-4/28 all my estimated royalties from sales of The Charge will go to the Salvation Army's disaster relief efforts in West.

As an extra bonus, for every new review of The Charge on Amazon.com during this time, I'll donate an extra $5. So, if you've read The Charge, now is the time to write a review!

Last week, an explosion at a fertilizer plant devastated the small town of West, Texas. 75 homes were destroyed, 160 people were injured, and 14 people were killed, most of whom were volunteer first responders. Volunteer EMTs and firefighters rushed toward the plume of smoke at the plant, only to be struck down in the massive explosion that was to come.

The Salvation Army has been on-site since the blast providing food, water, and spiritual support. As long-term recovery begins, they will continue to provide case management and counseling to help the residents of West re-build their lives.

The Salvation Army is also providing assistance at disaster sites across the U.S. and the world, including Boston and Sichuan, China.

You may also donate directly to the Salvation Army here.

Thank you for your support!


Eco-friendly Tips for Writers

Earth Day Poster Design

For Earth Day, I am "recycling" a post I wrote last year. :)

To keep the dystopian worlds in our books and not outside our window, we ought to think about our impact on the environment. The good news is that writing is already a fairly earth-friendly pursuit. The days of trash cans full of crumpled up drafts is long gone. We don't have to travel much, and do almost everything electronically. If a writer so chose, they could write, edit, query, and even publish a book without ever using a scrap of paper. So we can feel good about ourselves, but there is still plenty we can do. You may already do a lot of these things, but here are some tips just in case:

1) Arrange your work space near a window so you can use natural light during the day. Bonus points for using open windows or fans to avoid using the air conditioner. Use CFL or LED lights in your office for night time writing, and if possible, use only one well-placed lamp.

2) Shut down your computer at night or when you're done using it for the day. 

3) Change your settings so that your computer goes into sleep mode after 10 minutes of inactivity. On a PC, go to "Control Panel" and "Power Options". Use the "Power Saver" setting.

4) Don't use a screensaver. These are a waste of energy. Modern monitors do not need them.

5) Use a laptop instead of a desktop. In addition to enjoying writing under a tree or at a coffee shop, laptops use less energy.

6) Plug your computer and all it's accessories into a surge protector and put it in the off position when you're not using your computer. Electronic devices use energy even when turned off. Unplug or turn off the surge protector.

7) Recycle and re-use. In the writing world, there is not much you really need to throw away. Recycle electronics, printer cartridges, and of course, paper. Local electronics and office supply stores often have options to recycle electronics and printer cartridges. Give away or sell your books. If they're in bad condition, recycle them.

8) Don't print. Not ever. Okay, maybe you might need to print every once in a blue moon, but there are very few reasons why you need to do this as a writer. Get used to reading and editing work on the screen. Tracking changes and inserting comments are a great way to edit in Word. Remember, if you don't print much, keep your printer off and unplugged.

9) Do a home energy audit. Writers work from home, which is good for the environment because we don't commute. But it also means that we have our heating/cooling/lighting systems on all the time. Go to http://hes.lbl.gov/consumer/ to complete a do-it-yourself energy audit.

10) Invest in a Kindle or Nook. Listen, I'm not against paper books. I like the way they smell and feel as I flip through the pages. I love walking through real bookstores and looking at the pretty covers on all the real books. However, I still think you should try to limit your use of paper published books, especially if you're a voracious reader. Not only do e-readers save paper, electronic books do not require fossil fuels for delivery to your house or bookstore.

11) Put agents who don't accept email queries at the bottom of your list. I'm not saying you should shun paper-loving agents (we can't really afford to be too picky, right?), but maybe query them last. Trust me, you'll want to anyway. If you're not used to sending things in the mail, it feels like a real pain. "Stamps cost how much??"

If you already do a lot of these things, congratulations! But remember, there is always room to do more. Think about other ways to live green with books like Green Your Home All-in-one For Dummies and Shift Your Habit: Easy Ways to Save Money, Simplify Your Life, and Save the Planet.

Happy Earth Day!  

Friday, April 19, 2013

Introducing Colour Wielders by Dawna Raver



I'm happy to announce Colour Wielders, Book One of the Heirs of the Magykal Realm Series by Dawna Raver! You can find Colour Wielders now at major online booksellers. Buy it on Amazon now.

Behind the Faerying Mysts, hidden from Mortal eyes, is a land where Gods, creatures of myth and legend dwell. And in the Mortal Realm, their Princess lives.

Quinn Sinclair is clueless to who she is. She thinks she's an ordinary young woman—well, mostly ordinary—living an ordinary life with her less than loving mother in Conifer, Colorado. On the night of her birthday, Quinn finds herself betrayed by a man who sends her life spinning out-of-control.

As she struggles to pick up the pieces, a vision of a man with haunting tourmaline-blue eyes begs her for help, and she finds herself transported into a Magykal battle forever changing her life.

Arik Morgaine—Demigod bad boy and outcast of the Magykal Realm—tried to avoid contact with Princess Quinn Sinclair for eighteen years, not wanting to make good on an old threat. But the fates have other plans. Arik can no longer deny his growing desire for Quinn, or the need to protect her from those wanting to control her burgeoning powers. Can the two of them come together and save the Magykal Realm from being destroyed by the Darkest of Magyks, or will powers beyond their control destroy them and their world forever?


Dawna Raver is an author of paranormal romance and urban fantasy. Colour Wielders, book one of the Heirs of the Magykal Realm series, is her debut novel. When she's not spending time in her fantasy world, Dawna loves football, reading, and pretending she's a top chef in the kitchen. Oh, and fawning over her dogs and husband, sometimes in that order.



You can find Dawna here:

Support Dawna by reviewing this book at:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, April 18, 2013

COVER REVEAL - Kiya: Hope of the Pharaoh

I'm very excited to be one of the first to reveal the cover for Katie Hamstead's upcoming release Kiya: Hope of the Pharaoh.


To save her younger sisters from being taken to the cruel life of the palace, Naomi intervenes and gives herself to be a wife of the erratic Pharaoh Akhenaten.

In the palace, Naomi finds herself thrust into the intrigues of the royal family, and has her name changed to Kiya. She becomes beloved by the Pharaoh, who declares that she will bear him his heir. But the Great Queen Nefertiti, furious with jealousy, schemes to destroy Naomi and even brings her fidelity into question, which could cost Naomi her very life.

Naomi must play the deadly game carefully. She is in a silent battle of wills, and a struggle for who will one day inherit the crown. And if she does bear an heir, she will have to fight to protect him as well as herself from Nefertiti who is out for blood.

I'm excited about this one! It's coming out April 30th, join the release on Facebook here.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Interview with the author of Fraction of Stone, Kelley Lynn


I'm excited to be on Kelley Lynn's blog tour for her recent release Fraction of Stone. I've known Kelley since before we both had publishing contracts. Even though querying not fun, Kelley's upbeat attitude never seemed to falter. I know for a fact that she worked hard to get here, and I'm so proud to spread the word about her debut novel, Fraction of Stone from Sapphire Star Publishing.


Tell us about Fraction of Stone in 200 words or less.

Wind tunnels, torrential rains and earthquakes tear apart Casden. The cause of the world’s imbalance is unknown, but the mounting occurrences suggest there’s little time before life ceases to exist.

Rydan Gale and Akara Nazreth are the only humans with the ability to wield magic. The tattoo on their necks and the discovery of an ancient book, dictate they are the key to the world’s survival.

But the greatest obstacle for saving mankind isn’t the bizarre creatures, extreme betrayals and magic-fearing men hunting them.

It’s that Akara doesn’t believe the world is worth saving.


I remember when we were entering The Charge and Fraction of Stone into contests and querying like crazy. How long were you in the "querying phase" before you found your publisher? Tell us a little bit about that magic moment when you finally signed your contract.

Ah, the memories ;)

Well... I started submitting FRACTION OF STONE to agents in December 2011. (I believe it was a contest.) I submitted and submitted and submitted. I got a lot of requests, actually. But all of them ended with, "This is really good, but I can't sell it in the current market." Boo.

I was about to give up when my critique partners convinced me to try a few small pubs. I submitted to Sapphire Star Publishing in the middle of July 2012 and signed a contract on July 31st. When I got the email they wanted to publish my work I just remember breathing a sigh of relief. Finally! Then after talking to the ladies at SSP, and getting to know my pub family, I seriously couldn't have found a better home for FRACTION OF STONE.


What do you like best about Rydan? Akara? What do you and your characters have in common?

What I like about Rydan and Akara are that they're essentially complete opposites. It was fascinating to take these two characters through this story and see how they react, watch them grow. Especially to watch them grow closer to each other.

The natural disasters tearing apart Casden sound frightening. Do you have any personal experience surviving a natural disaster?

Kind of, actually. But nothing as extreme as what my characters go through. My house growing up was struck by lightening three times and experienced a flood. It seemed like we were always trying to put pieces back together. No one was ever hurt, but it is just amazing what nature can do.


Finally, is Fraction of Stone the beginning of a series or a stand-alone? If it is a series, what can you tell us about what will come next?

It's definitely a series, and I believe, since the plan is four books, it's considered a saga? Maybe? haha. But yes, there will be four books. What I can tell you about the following books is that the scope gets bigger. The adventures will be even better and the relationship between Akara and Rydan will grow by leaps and bounds.

Thank you so much for being here Kelley! You can check out her other tour stops this week here AND enter to win prizes!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Review of Theocracide



Today I am happy to present a review of Theocracide, by James Wymore. Theocracide is a timely dystopian tale about a hyper-virtual world where people rarely leave their homes and live their lives virtually through computer glasses. As someone who works from home and keeps my computer in arms reach most of the day, this one definitely hits home! 

Full of clever world-building and detail, I found several passages that really struck me. Here is one of my favorites that I would like to share. Jason is speaking of his father's house in the woods.
"Of course, he only went there every other weekend, but those weekends were the only time in his life when he actually did anything real. The other days he spent on the computer doing schoolwork, playing games, or watching vids. Those other days all blurred together as a single insubstantial memory. Spending time on the computer had consumed most of his life, but here at Jay’s house he had lived. 
Even living here only four days a month Jay realized it had been all the important parts. Nothing else significant had ever happened to him. The momentary feelings of success when he finished a long video game paled by comparison to his time spent here camping and fishing. For a few precious days each month, he had been in the real world. The rest of the time, he had hibernated in a virtual world of stimulation, which amounted to nothing." 
I feel the same way sometimes. I spend so much time in front of screens, but it blurs together and that time hardly matters. My real life starts when I step away from the keyboard. 

Theocracide is beautifully written and the perfect dystopian premise for our age. My only criticism is that I wished the plot moved a little faster. He spends a lot of time world-building, and does it well, but it took a while to get to the inciting incident that started Jason on his journey.

On the whole, I highly recommend this book to all fans of sci-fi and dystopia. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Charge Release Party is this Saturday!


The Charge Release Party is this Saturday at 4pm in Austin, Texas! Join me for a blue margarita and good company.

RSVP HERE

I know there are many of you would love to attend, but happen to live many, many miles away. I know how you feel! I hate missing your events too. I'd like to invite you to attend in spirit with a giveaway! Of course, if you are attending, you can also enter the giveaway. :)

If only I could mail a blue margarita. You'll have to settle for the other cool stuff you could get at the party, like this:




a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Upcoming author appearances

I am excited to announce that I have my first two author appearances scheduled! As someone who is much more comfortable with imaginary people than real ones, I admit I am a little nervous. But fortunately I'll be in good company. And if you live in central Texas, I hope that company will include YOU! :)

First, on 4/20, I'll be having my official release party for The Charge! I'll be signing books and doing a reading. We'll also be having some The Charge-themed drinks and snacks.

Oh, and you can pick up some other cool goodies, like this bumper sticker:



Autographed copies of The Charge are $10 and bumper stickers are $2.

As a special bonus, you can meet other Texan Curiosity Quills Press authors, Dawna Raver and Courtney Worth Young.

The party is hosted by Plug & Play, the co-working daycare that makes my life possible. People often ask me how I manage to write books on top of being a mom and having a day job. Well, Plug & Play is the answer to that question.

Join The Charge Release Party on Facebook.

Then, on 5/11 I'll be at the Young Adult Book Festival at Round Rock High School! It's my honor to be on the line-up with local authors P.J. Hoover, Mari Mancusi, and many more.

If you're able to show up at either one of these events, it would mean the world to me. Of course, I know the vast majority of my blog readers live pretty much everywhere but here. :) So, no worries if you live in Australia.

I hope to see you soon!


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Using MBTI in character development




Today I am excited to share a fascinating post from L. Blankenship about using Myers-Briggs personality types to help you develop characters. As a social worker and an author, I think this is awesome.

I happen to be an INTJ ("The Scientist"), which makes for a good writer according to Louise.

My main character in The Charge, Warren, is an ENFP ("The Inspirer"). I admit that reading his personality profile did help me understand him even better, and gave me ideas for how his personality should develop as the series continues.

What personality type are you? What about your MC?

Take it away, Louise!

---

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator was developed from Carl Jung's writings about personality types. A detailed introduction and explanation of the types is a bit beyond the scope of this post, but here's the bare minimum:

1. There are four basic functions: thinking, feeling, sensing and intuition. Abbreviated as: T, F, S, N. Everybody does all four of these things. The differences lie in which you are naturally good at, and whether they are introverted or extroverted.
2. Therefore, four functions become eight, using "i" for introversion and "e" for extroversion: Ti, Te, Fi, Fe, Si, Se, Ni, Ne.
3. If everyone has four functions in a particular order of preference from one to four, there are therefore 16personality types

The eight functions (Ti, Te, etc.) describe how a person gathers, processes, and acts on information. Note that we're using an extremely broad definition of "information" here -- it includes data, words, emotions, sensations, everything.

Take a test and find out your own type: http://www.worldpersonality.com/ (Interesting side note: the top five types reported among writers are: INFJ, INTJ, ISFJ, INFP, and ISTJ.)

If you read through overviews of thepersonality types, they are sure to sound familiar to you. MBTI is not a perfect sorting system, but it is one of the better ones, IMO.

How can we use this to develop characters?
Once you have a handful of ideas about a character -- he's outgoing, cheerful, and kinda wild; she's bookish, shy, and afraid of new things -- MBTI can help you flesh out further aspects of their behavior.

Not specifics, necessarily -- everyone is unique, and how you express your MBTI type will be shaped by your upbringing and your culture -- but general patterns. This can lead you into some interesting intersections of character and world-building: if one's personality is drawn to maintaining the status quo, what lines of work are best for that in this world? The priesthood? Becoming a magistrate? (and, conversely, if a character enjoys being a magistrate, is it because he's one of these personality types?)

It's especially useful to look at how various personality types respond to stress, and how what qualifies as "stressful" varies from type to type. For the status-quo-seeking type mentioned above, having to deal with chaos and instability is stressful. They can do it, and they can get better at it with practice, but it will leave them tired and frazzled. If they feel overwhelmed, they're likely to start losing track of things, see potential disaster everywhere, or become reckless.

That's very different from what stress does to me, personally. But I'm not an ISTJ or an ISFJ -- two types noted for being reliable, conservative, maintainers of the status quo.

Fine tuning
If you've already developed a character extensively, it can be fun to take the personality test on their behalf and see what they come up as. I've found it useful to refer to various profiles, and ask questions in personality forums, to maintain my perspective on a well-developed character's reactions to complicated situations. It's easy to slide into how YOU would react to a given problem, but your character is not exactly you.

There are lots of books and resources out there about Myers-Briggs personality types. Below are a few more places to find information.

Resources
DaveSuperPowers channel at YouTube. (http://www.youtube.com/user/DaveSuperPowers?feature=watch) Good series of videos, but sadly incomplete.

Personality Cafe (personalitycafe.com), a discussion board built on MBTI (and other personality-sorting systems) where you can read articles and chat with people based on personality type.

Was That Really Me?: How Everyday Stress Brings Out Our Hidden Personality, by Naomi L. Quenk (Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Was-That-Really-Me-Personality/dp/0891061703)

---

Thank you for the insightful post! Make sure to check out L. Blankenship's new release, Disciple, Part II.



The prince first kissed Kate Carpenter for fear of missing the chance if they didn’t survive the journey home through the monster-prowled mountains.

Now that kiss seems like a fever dream. It’s back to work for her, back to the fellow physicians jealous of her talents and the sneers of an infirmary director who wants her shipped off to some tiny village. Kate means to be on the front lines to save lives. She’s worked too hard to overcome her past to let them deny her the chance to serve her homeland when the enemy’s army reaches their kingdom.

The grand jousting tournament is a chance to prove she can manage combat wounded, and at the royal Solstice banquet Kate means to prove she isn’t an ignorant peasant girl anymore.

But the prince’s kiss still haunts her. Their paths keep crossing, and the easy familiarity they earned on the journey home is a welcome escape from their duties. It’s a small slip from chatting to kisses.

This is no time to be distracted by romance -- a vast and powerful empire is coming to slaughter anyone standing between them and the kingdom’s magical fount.

Kate ought to break both their hearts, for duty’s sake.

Disciple, Part II on sale now
along with Disciple, Part I


Disciple, Part III coming in late 2013
Disciple is complete in six parts and will make a lovely doorstop
when all 400k words have been published.

Goodreads links:


Claire Voyant's Post-Island Interview - A Zarconian Island Exclusive


Today I'm featuring Aja Hannah's Zarconian Island, an young adult adventure inspired by the lost city of Atlantis. I'll let Susie Levine tell you about it from her 5-star review:
"300 or so years ago, Atlantis sank and all the inhabitants, Zarconians, were thought to be dead. However, some Zarconians did survive, and now they hide their mystical heritage (and super human abilities) from the world. 
Attie Hotep is sent with the best and brightest from her high school in Maryland on a boat trip to Hawaii. But once on the boat, Attie notices that strange things are happening, and her Zarconian blood is telling her that she is in danger. When giant whales attack the ship, Attie, her best friend, two boys (her nemesis and his quiet but nice friend) and one other girl from her school manage to get to a deserted island. Stranded on the island, the kids learn how to survive while they await rescue, but this island isn't just deserted, it's prehistoric.

I loved this book! It was action-packed from the get go. It's a little bit LOST, a little bit Cast Away. Attie is a very smart, strong character." - Susie Levine

Now enjoy a transcript of a live interview with Claire Voyant, author of The Natural Supernatural: A History of Zarconia and The Myths, on WMUC Radio.


WMUC: Claire Voyant, thank you for doing this.

Claire: It’s great to be here.

WMUC: Let’s jump right in. Before Island Z was discovered, before those five students boarded the Arosa Star Junior last April, you brought up Zarconians on your website-turned-book.

Claire: That’s true.

WMUC: Surely, you received some negative reactions?

Claire: [Laughs] Not a lot of people believed me at first! No publisher wanted to print something that was “clearly a ridiculous work of fiction” when I wanted to sell it as non-fiction. That’s when I decided to start out on my own and create the website.

WMUC: Tell me, how did you get so much information? I see on your website you’ve uncovered documents—some allegedly hundreds of years old.

Claire: I did a lot of digging. I dropped out of college after my sophomore year and moved to NYC. I worked doubles as a waitress near Madison Avenue, and I spent all my free time digging in museum archives or doing catalog searches in the public library.

WMUC: You spent years pursing this?

Claire: Yes.

WMUC: And you left the University of Virginia, the same university that Thomas Jefferson himself founded?

Claire: I had to.

WMUC: There has got to be more to this story. What drove you to spend your life researching something that—to the rest of the world—was a myth?

Claire: [Pause] It’s a long story.

WMUC: Can you shorten it for us?

Claire: I can try. My grandfather used to tell me a story that his grandfather told him about a monster that stole his sister. To make it quick, a traveler passing through town saw my great-great grandfather’s sister one day. He sent her flowers and gifts and even a photo of himself.

Well, one night after weeks of no success, the traveler followed her home and snuck into her bedroom window. My great-great grandfather heard his sister screaming, and he ran into the bedroom with his hunting knife. He attacked the traveler, but the traveler turned his crazy eyes on my great-great grandfather. That’s when he knew, for sure, the traveler wasn’t human. My great-great grandfather fought him anyway and was nearly killed. Knowing his cover was blown, the Zarconian stole the sister right from her bed, and no one saw them after that.

WMUC: Wow. That is some story. But how does a story about people you've never met lead you to quit college and pursue Zarconians full-time?

Claire: It wasn't just the story. [Rustling of paper] We still have the photograph he sent. It might be the only real photo of a Zarconian for a hundred years.

WMUC: Well, let's see it!

[Photo of a handsome young man is posted on Twitter. The man wears a vest and no undershirt. Dark lines show just above his belt at the hip, and travel down the skin behind his linen pants.]

WMUC: For all of our listeners just tuning in, Claire Voyant has just shown me the first documented photo of a Zarconian. All I can say is: Wow. To see it yourself, follow us on Twitter @wmucradio. Claire, how could you tell he was Zarconian?

Claire: It's not too hard once you know what you're looking for. I've spent a lot of time examining this picture. [Points] That mark on his hip is the beginning of the Zarconian mark. If you look at it closely, you can see it's glowing through the cloth of his pants. When my grandfather gave me this photo--when I saw that my sophomore year of college--I knew I had to follow that clue.

WMUC: I believe that.

Sounds like a book that's not to be missed! Thank you for sharing this exciting interview, Aja!

Possessing powers that are feared and shunned, eighteen-year-old Alexandra “Attie” Hotep is no virgin to attacks. Her ancestors, the Zarconians– mixed-blood inhabitants of Atlantis–were rumored to be the English fairies who kidnapped children, the Caribbean sirens that sunk ships, and the dream-like apparitions who broke into psyches. By the 1850s, they were hunted to near-extinction, leaving the existence of Atlantis and Zarconians little more than myth.

When a class trip turns deadly, Attie and her friends become stranded on an uncharted tropical island in the middle of the Pacific, and Attie finds herself targeted once more. With a jungle full of extinct and prowling animals, she struggles to find a compromise between keeping her friends safe and keeping her family’s secret.

Enter Doug Hutchinson—the school’s soccer star, and a handsome boy with his own secrets. But Attie and Doug soon realize the animals aren’t the only threat. There is a traitor amidst the group, one that plans to turn all Zarconians into permanent myths. And Attie is next on the list.


Where to find Zarconian Island...

E-Book:
Amazon US | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES

Social Media: Facebook | Goodreads

Where to find Aja Hannah...


@AjaHannah