Friday, May 31, 2013

Three or Thirteen: Still Amazing

Today, I'm interrupting our regularly scheduled
programming to wish my hubs a...
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!

Three years married, thirteen years together, and every year just gets better. I love you, lamb!


Big THANK YOU as well to all the blog readers. When I first started this web space, I didn't know if anyone would want to read my crazy words, but each month brings more and more readers. The numbers have actually shocked me. I'm humbled by and so appreciative of each one of you. I hope you enjoy the posts and will continue to visit. I promise, there's lots more to come!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

DARK CHILD by Adina West:
Road to Publication

It's a packed post for Writer Wednesday! Adina West shares her road to publication and the day she got "The Call". Plus, a blurb for her debut paranormal fantasy, DARK CHILD. First up, her story...

My Road to Publication: The day I got ‘The Call” (or email!)

"You never answer your mobile phone," my sister always complains. "It's really annoying." She's right though - I often have my phone muted so it doesn't disturb me when I'm putting my son to sleep...and then I forget to turn the sound back on. So my call was actually a missed call.

But I'll start a bit further back, with the story of how this book came about. I've been jotting down story ideas since I was a child, but it wasn't 'til I had my first child in 2007 that I started taking what I was doing seriously. I had less free time than I'd ever had before, but I knew I wanted to write.
I'd worked on dozens of ideas over the years, usually not getting more than a few chapters in (or less!) before abandoning them. One manuscript - for a historical romance - I'd spent about six years on, and it was almost complete at 75,000 words. But I was deeply unhappy with it, and not sure why. Looking back, it was because it was riddled with rookie errors - but at the time, I couldn't put my finger on the problem.

Anyway, I'd told myself that I wouldn't start another project until my historical was finished - but I was well and truly blocked. Meanwhile, I'd been reading some paranormal romance by various authors, and then Twilight fever hit...

Late in 2008, I found myself writing something - just a disjointed fragment - in a real-world setting but with paranormal elements. Over the coming months, I kept thinking about the story surrounding that one scene, and early in 2009 I started to write in earnest. By September, I had a complete first draft, and I revised and polished, and then got feedback from a group of wonderful beta readers. By the beginning of 2010, I'd incorporated their suggestions and revised some more, and then I started querying agents. Many months - and many rejections - later, I signed with my agent. She requested further revisions, and I completed them late in 2010.

Unfortunately the GFC hit then, and selling anything to publishers was harder than ever, so it wasn’t until early in 2012 that my agent sent the first part of Dark Child to Momentum, Pan Macmillan Australia's new digital-only division. Then a month or so later, in February 2012, she emailed to say that they'd requested the full. Still, after playing the waiting game for the previous year, I didn't let myself get my hopes up. On a Tuesday morning at the beginning of April, I was at playgroup with my kids, surrounded by screaming children, and somehow, I heard the beep of my phone as a text message came through. It was from my agent, asking me to call her! And then I checked my email (gotta love these smart phones) and there was one from her, again asking me to call her. Getting not one, but two messages was enough to have me in a mild state of shock, because my agent is more the email type. Until then, I don't think she'd ever rung me before. So I called her straight back - and she gave me the news that Joel Naoum, the publisher at Momentum, loved Dark Child! And he'd made an offer for world e-book rights.
Honestly, I think I was in shock when I first heard - and rather than scaring all the playgroup kids by jumping up and down and squealing, I limited myself to telling all the other mums and contacting my entire family (and my beta gals, my wonderful cheer squad) to let them know the good news! It’s taken plenty of work to get Dark Child edited and polished and ready for the world, but now it’s out there and I couldn’t be prouder. Hearing from readers who’ve enjoyed Kat’s story makes all the hard work worthwhile! And now, of course, I’m working on the sequel…

About Dark Child
Release Date: February - June 2013
Publisher: Pan Macmillan’s digital-only imprint, Momentum
Genre: Paranormal Fantasy

A serialized novel in five parts starting 1 Feb 2013. With one episode released each month, it has gained a growing following, and on 1st May, Dark Child: Episode 4 debuted at #1 on the Apple iBookstore charts in Australia and New Zealand, and #4 on the iBookstore charts in the UK.

The concluding part, Dark Child: Episode 5, will be released 1 June together with the Omnibus Edition which combines all five parts in one novel as I originally wrote it.

Dark Child: Episode 1, the novella length introduction to this series, is available for free on promotion. Download it here.

Blurb for Dark Child

Perfect for fans of The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, this intriguing urban fantasy follows the story of Kat Chanter, who discovers that the world she knows is controlled by ancient creatures who feed on blood. And she might just be one of them ...

Lately things have been getting weird for pathology technician Kat Chanter. She's been craving raw meat, and having dreams so realistic they're scary. When she accepts a job offer from the prestigious Hema Castus Research Institute, she hopes she'll have the chance to discover what's wrong with her, but instead, her move to New York thrusts her headlong into a treacherous hidden world, where the wrong move could be fatal . . .

Tarot, witchcraft and astrology all take on a frightening resonance in Dark Child's richly imagined alternative reality where vampiric beings live among us, hidden by magic. Dark romance tangles with paranormal fantasy and page-turning suspense in this enthralling tale of 'dark child' Kat Chanter, half-human and half-vampire, who has woken an ancient prophecy and must face a formidable destiny.

Available now from leading online retailers, Omnibus buy links are here

About the Author
 
Adina West grew up on a remote property on Australia’s east coast, in country New South Wales. She spent most of her childhood curled up with a book, and her first teenage job was shelving books at the local library, where she was cautioned more than once for reading them instead of putting them away.

Her first stories were laboriously typed up with two fingers on her parents’ old typewriter. Her dream of one day being a published writer progressed much faster after she learned to touch type and switched to a computer.

Adina lives in Sydney’s leafy north-west with her IT guru husband, two children, and a couple of unwelcome possums who really don’t know how to take a hint. You can visit her online at www.adinawest.com.

Find her here:


Thank you to Adina for sharing her journey! You have to check out Dark Child. The first novella is free here.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Freaky Friday: The Last Exorcism

Any movie that calls itself the "last" anything has me automatically raising my eyebrows. If it's the last exorcism, then we can expect to never see another exorcism movie again, no? Sure. Today, our Fearless Blogger is back giving us the rundown on the not-so-last, The Last Exorcism.
"I have this, I don’t know what you’d call it, maybe interest would be enough, in exorcism. Heck, I’ve now written two books about it, so I better be interested. At any rate, that of course leads me to check out every single exorcism and possession movie that comes down the pike. Some of them are really great, and some, well, suck lime green donkey balls.
The Last Exorcism begins by introducing us to Cotton Marcus (the fact that his name is close to Cotton Mather is not lost on me). He is a preacher/exorcist who admits that his exorcisms are a charade in front of the camera. His plan: to debunk the mystery around exorcism to save lives. This being a horror film, things do not go as planned.
Something interesting about the movie: The actress, Ashley Bell, who plays the possessed girl, actually has a medical condition called hypermobility. This means that she can contort her body in various ways that us regular jointed folks can’t. So, any weird contortion you see of her body in the movie, well, that’s all her. Kind of cool.
Sadly, that is where the coolness ends. The great majority of the action occurs off screen, the plot feels like it was put together with swatches of duct tape, and [Spoiler Alert: Highlight with mouse to see] having the girl give birth to an iguana/human hybrid to bring about the end of the world is seriously stupid. I’m sure iguana owners would love to know that they have so much power. Let’s all go out and buy an iguana! Oh, wait. Let’s not.

Please, someone, make another good exorcism movie. I’m begging you.

Rating: C-. Maybe."

What is your favorite all time exorcism movie? Mine is easily the one and only original, The Exorcist. Long live pea soup!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

EVER NEAR by Melissa MacVicar:
Cover Reveal

I am so excited to share with you Melissa MacVicar's beautiful cover for her debut novel, EVER NEAR. I met Melissa online through the writing forums and she's been a wonderful friend since day one. If you love YA romance with some paranormal and historical thrown into the mix, then you've got to pick up this novel!
Release Date: September 2013
Publisher: Red Adept Publishing
Genre: YA Romance

About Ever Near
Love is ever near. But trouble is never far.

Nantucket Island is haunted, but only sixteen-year-old Jade Irving knows it. Ignoring the disturbing spirits isn’t an option because one dwells in the enormous historic home she shares with her newly blended family. Jade is finding it more and more difficult to explain away Lacey’s ghostly, anguished tantrums, especially with Charlie, her gorgeous almost step-brother living right across the hall.

When a power-hungry ghost hunter tracks down Jade and blackmails her, Jade’s secret teeters on the edge of exposure, and her entire future hangs in the balance. If anyone finds out Jade can talk to ghosts, her life will be forever changed.

Can she save herself, free Lacey, and hang on to her tenuous connection with Charlie? Or will everything she ever wanted slip through her fingers?

About the Author
Melissa MacVicar lives with her husband and two children on Nantucket Island. She loves classic rock, watching football, and reading anything romantic and suspenseful. She survived prep school, and was brave enough to attend her college reunion.

When she turned forty, Melissa decided to renew her adolescent passion for fiction writing. Having once thought publishing a novel to be an impossible dream, she’s proud to be achieving her lifelong goal. In addition to writing, she’s a full-time teacher, an avid runner, and a somewhat reluctant tri-athlete.

Find her here:

Friday, May 17, 2013

Freaky Friday: Hunger

HUNGER begins with a boy trapped in the passenger seat of a brutal car wreck. His mother is dead beside him and an 8-track plays classical music. The scene flashes, changing to a woman waking up in darkness. Dirt coats her nails and solid stone walls surround her. Another woman is screaming for help in the pitch black. Soon five strangers discover they're trapped together with no memory of how they ended up in this place.
As the fluorescent lights flicker to life, we learn a sadistic psychopath has left them with four barrels full of water and nothing else. They have to rely on each other for escape and...sanity. It doesn't look good as the kid with the broken nose has a short fuse and a serious chip on his shoulder. If you've got to be stuck with people...well...not my first choice.
Each day is marked for the audience with a black screen and the words, "DAY X". We're also treated to glimpses of the killer as he observes his victims and takes notes on them like a sick science experiment. It's a creepy voyeuristic viewpoint. Yet, the camera also focuses on the victims and we're given insight into their breakdowns, while still holding out for their rescue or escape.
When all hell breaks loose, and you just know it will, it is a steady decent into chaos and madness. The one question throughout the film...Will any shred of humanity last? A visceral look at what happens when faced with an impossible situation and fading hope. One of the better horror films I've seen in quite some time. But, fair warning, this is not for the faint of heart.

Rating: A-

What other horror films have you enjoyed that place people in a battle of morality vs. survival?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

25 Ideas to Freshen Up That Query
by Maya Prasad

We have a special guest on the blog for Writer Wednesday! It is rockin' YA Sci-fi writer, Maya Prasad. Today, she'll be discussing ways to enhance your query AND giving you a chance to enter her query critique giveaway!

25 Ideas to Freshen Up That Query
by Maya Prasad

So you've shopped around your query, and it's about as popular as Sunday night homework.  Maybe it's time to try a new angle—or twenty-five! 
Here are 25 ideas to help you kickstart your query with a fresh angle.  These aren't necessarily meant to be sent out, but are merely exercises to view your novel differently.  Share your different versions with your friends, and you might get a good idea of what really appeals to people.  I hope they'll help you understand what is truly unique and compelling about your book. 

1.      Write it in 1st person
2.      Write it from a minor character's POV
3.      Write it from the POV of your MC's nosy neighbor
4.      Write it from the POV of your MC's pet
5.      Write from your MC's POV after her death
6.      Have your CP tell you her favorite chapter of the book, and focus on that
7.      Begin with your MC's taste in the opposite sex
8.      Begin with a joke that would make your MC snort her coffee
9.      Begin with the politics that will trap your MC
10.  Begin with the setting and why your MC is stuck there
11.  If sci-fi or fantasy, begin with the main technology or magic that is different from anything we've read
12.  If SFF, begin with a restriction of technology or magic that's a pain in your MC's behind
13.  Write the last line of the query first—full of conflict and suspense.  Then work your way backward.
14.  Begin with your MC's deepest, darkest fear or secret
15.  Begin with what your MC can't afford to lose, but she will anyway
16.  Reveal your biggest plot twist, and work your way backward
17.  Include 3 clues that foreshadow your climax
18.  Include 3 details about your society or cast of characters that are different from our normal perspective
19.  Use the same first and last line
20.  Begin with your MC's greatest skill, and why it won't help her
21.  Begin with your favorite line from your manuscript
22.  Begin with the first line from your manuscript
23.  Write your query in verse
24.  Write the version where your MC totally does not overcome the obstacle, and explain why she fails so miserably
25.  Write the query as if it were a different genre (e.g. write your romance query as a horror)

26.  BONUS: Enter my query critique giveaway.  Maybe I can help give you a new perspective!

About the Author:

Maya Prasad writes YA science-fiction, and is represented by Katelyn Detweiler at Jill Grinberg Literary.  Catch her on her blog mayaprasad.com or on twitter @mayaprasadwrite.  She loves discussing writing, publishing, and YA books.

The giveaway ends on May 20th, so be sure to get in those entries fast!

Please join me in saying a big THANK YOU to Maya for her excellent guest post! And if you have any questions about queries, please leave a comment.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Freaky Friday: Bandh Darwaza

Time for another Fearless Blogger review! This time with a campy horror flick straight from Bollywood, Bandh Darwaza.
"Sometimes, strange movies are my forte. Horror can be so versatile, and I have found that some of the most interesting examples are not American films. While most people are pretty familiar with Japanese horror and Italian horror, I stumbled across a gem a few years ago that is one of the first Indian horror films.
Yes, India does produce Bollywood horror films. And, I’ll freely admit, it is very odd to have a scene where someone gets killed suddenly cut to a song and dance number, but it is entertaining nonetheless.
Today, I’d like to talk about the Indian classic Bandh Darwaza (1990). We are introduced with the Indian version of Dracula, Neola. Neola is an evil vampire who preys on village girls. He seduces a particular girl, and she has his child. This woman later dies as the result of being poisoned and Neola goes to sleep for twenty years. When he wakes, his daughter is ready for the taking.
It may help to know that Bandh Darwaza loosely means “closed doorway”. In this case, it refers to the location where Neloa’s coffin is hidden. Now, when watching this film, keep in mind that you can’t look at it as critically as American horror. There is a big cultural difference going on here. But, those of us that enjoy cheesy horror films love movies with heart. [Spoiler Alert: Highlight with mouse to see] Plus, who can really not watch a movie where the vampire is defeated with the Christian Bible, the Holy Quran, and “Ohm” on a stick. I kid you not.
Sadly, Mr. Vampire does not sing. Though, you can almost expect him to “Blah, Blah, Blah” in time with the music.

Rating: B-"

How do you like Bollywood films? I love the music, costumes, and over-the-top story; so a Bollywood horror flick? Why not?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

TAIL OF THE DEVIL by Danielle DeVor: Behind the Scenes

Today, our Fearless Blogger is up with her awesome book, TAIL OF THE DEVIL, and has agreed to give us a sneak peek behind her writing journey.

Writing the Tail of the Devil
(or How I Lost My Mind for Six Years)
by Danielle DeVor

One would think with my love of vampires, writing a vampire book would be easy for me. Nope. Not at all. You see, the problem was too much information.

When you take into account that I probably own over four hundred movies, and at least a hundred and fifty of them are vampire movies, it is easy to see where a problem might be heading. I had to come up with a story that hadn’t been done, not exactly.
While, I did have lots of research at my disposal (I’d started studying vampires seriously when I was about six. Yes, I read folklore when I was a kid. Yes, I know I’m odd. :)), going through it all again was mind-blowing. Not to mention, people had been telling me for years that since I liked vampires so much, I needed to write a book about them. But what?

First, I had to decide: Did I want to write about some strange vampiric creature from the Ashanti people of West Africa (They have hooks for feet)? Or, did I want to write something close to the vampires we all know and love?

Then, I realized that wasn’t so important as the story itself. It took me until 2006 to get the start of an idea. I remember, I was horribly sick with the flu and this kid, Mathias, just popped into my brain. The scenes with Mathias and his family that are still in the book are those first scenes I jotted down in my sick-induced haze.
I knew I had to get Mathias out of his situation, and suddenly, in popped the vampires. Then, I gave myself a daunting task, turn a few known vampiric figures on their heads and do something new with them. I don’t know why I give myself so much work, I really don’t, but I will say that it was fun.

I will admit, that I probably did as much research for this book as authors of Historical fiction do for theirs. Researching Medieval sword play along with Japanese sword fighting techniques and how to have two figures using these two different style fight one another was an adventure unto itself.

Enter multiple drafts later, the wonderful Buffi BeCraft and Eirelander Publishing, and Mathias finally had a home. I hope people enjoy reading about Mathias’ exploits as much as I enjoyed writing about them.
 
About Tail of the Devil
BUY NOW
Amazon  B&N

Like many homeless kids, fifteen-year-old Mathias Drvar died on the streets. Unlike the rest, he came back– as a vampire.

If Mathias thought being homeless sucked, being a vampire is worse. The vampires who transformed him believe he is the reincarnation of an ancient king. They expect him to quit swearing, use a napkin, and play by their weird, ancient rules. F— that.

But after the reigning queen assaults Mathias, he has visions of a past life in which he was that king. Turns out the current queen killed him then, and wants to kill him again. He’d better grow up fast, because if he doesn’t his second life may be shorter than his first.

About the Author
You know me here best as the Official Fearless Blogger. I love anything horror, I used to dance ballet, and I can play the harp. I also have an obsession with mocha frappuccinos.

Find Danielle here:


Big THANK YOU to Danielle for sharing the behind the scenes details. TAIL OF THE DEVIL is available now through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. 

What do you like best about those multifaceted vampires?

Friday, May 3, 2013

SLEEPERS by S. M. Johnston: Cover Reveal

Changing it up for Freaky Friday today to celebrate the cover reveal for SLEEPER, a New Adult Speculative Fiction novel from author, S. M. Johnston. Having met Sharon through the YAtopia blog and Pitch Wars, I'm happy to share her book with you today!

Release Date: December 2, 2013
Publisher: Entranced Publishing
Genre: NA Speculative Fiction

About Sleeper
After a life saving heart transplant, eighteen-year-old Mishca Richardson is plagued by nightmares and an urgent desire to find her birth parents, which she puts down to post- operation depression. But her new heart seems to bring more than a second chance at life in the form of speed, strength and love at first sight.

About the Author
Sharon is a writer from Mackay in Queensland, Australia who has short stories published in anthologies and was also runner-up in the Australian Literary Review's Young Adult short story contest with KARMA. By day she is a public relations executive and by night she writes weird fiction and soulful contemporaries while her husband, two sons and cat are fast asleep.

Find her here:

Have you read any New Adult books? What are your favorites? Don't forget to add SLEEPER to your list!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Catching Kindness and The Winner is...

Thank you so much for sharing your Catching Kindness stories on your blogs and in the comments. To recap, please check out everyone's amazing acts of kindness here. Remember no act of kindness is too big or small. In my eyes, you're ALL winners for generously lending a helping hand, supportive ear, or simple smile to others. Alas, only one can win the gift card. So, without further adieu, the winner of the $10 Amazon or B&N gift card is...

Congratulations, Shannon, and to all who participated in the Catching Kindness hop. Please keep the spirit alive and pass on this badge in the hopes that kindness is catching!
Will you pass on our Catching Kindness badge? How do you show kindness?