Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmastime Tour!

So I told everyone that I have a special surprise in store for the grand prize winner of my new tour and I wanted to give you a sneak peak!

Included in the box:
1. A signed copy of my latest book: Air Book Two in the Elemental Series with a matching bookmark
2. A sugar cookie scented candle
3. A tin of homemade sun solstice cookies
4. A tin of snowflake shaped peppermint bark
5. A gold and silver sparkly ornament (got to have some sparkle!)

So excited to give this to someone and spread some holiday cheer! The tour starts tomorrow people! Please follow along with me!

To follow the tour in order to win here is a list of the scheduled stops:

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Click here for the AIR Tour Schedule

Friday, November 25, 2011

12 Favorite Things of Christmas

I told you to expect some Christmas-solstice-holiday themed posts! So here’s the first one! Twelve of my favorite things about Christmas (though there are many more than 12):

1. Favorite Christmas Carol: Carol of the Bells – I especially love The Trans-Siberian Orchestra rendition
2. Favorite Christmas Movie: Miracle on 34th Street with Natalie Wood and Maureen O’Hara
3. Favorite Christmas Comedy Movie: Christmas With the Kranks (yeah I know)
4. Favorite Christmas Animated Movie: All of them.
5. Favorite Christmas Gift my Hubs has Given Me: Harry Potter Hardcover Boxed Set in the nifty steam trunk
6. Favorite Christmas Activity: Decorating the tree
7. Favorite Christmas Tradition: Stocking Stuffers
8. Favorite Christmas Family Tradition: Christmas Eve presents. When I was growing up it was so hard to watch the presents under the tree that my mom would let me open one small present on Christmas Eve. Now my husband and I do it for each other.
9. Favorite Christmas Story: A Christmas Carol
10. Favorite Christmas Album: “Everything You Want For Christmas” by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
11. Favorite Christmas Starbucks Drink: Peppermint Mocha (yes, I tried the “Skinny” version. It’s just not the same).
12. Favorite Christmas Decoration: My Nightmare Before Christmas advent calendar

Thursday, November 24, 2011

I Love Christmastime!

I absolutely love this time of year. People get so angry when the Christmas decorations come out earlier and earlier, edging closer to Halloween, but I love it. I love the anticipation, the buildup, the music, the movies and television specials, the gift giving and how much nicer we all are to each other. Of course, I’m excluding the Black Friday tramplings.

I’m a Christmas baby; I was actually two weeks late, forcing my mom to be rushed to the hospital Christmas Eve to deliver me in the small dark hours of Christmas morning. So really, I’m supposed to hate Christmas and be bitter about it, but I love this holiday. I will be honest with you, I hate the people who either forget my birthday or try to lump my birthday in with Christmas, but I do not hate the actual holiday. So take that as a lesson if you have any friends or family with Christmas birthdays or near-Christmas birthdays, stop forgetting them, oh, and combining birthday and Christmas presents? Bad form. If it’s okay for you to do that to us, then that birthday present I got you back in May? Yeah, that was for both, jackass.

But I digress.

Every year I find at least one person I can make a present for and this year I was able to make presents for six people! I can’t say what I made here (one of those people may be reading this), but I am so proud of them, they’re all beautiful and look store bought, if I do say so myself, and I do.

And I’m happy to announce that my husband has agreed to let me decorate for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving so come November 25th there will be a decorated tree in my house! And I’ve already got a lot of family gifts out of the way so there will be presents wrapped under it.

Also the amazing Julie over at A Tale of Many Reviews is hosting a second blog tour for me and it will be posting during the middle of December, just in time for me to put together a nifty present for my grand prize winner! Oh the wonderment!

So be prepared for some Christmas-solstice-holiday cheer! I’ll be posting some holiday themed posts, hopefully you won’t go all Grinch on me and will enjoy!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Yeah, I saw Breaking Dawn

Yes, I saw Breaking Dawn. I even saw it on opening day, but no, not at midnight. I’m very lucky that there is a theater nearby that offers 21 and older screens. Oh yes, that means no screaming teens anywhere near you. The chairs are huge and plush and if you want you can even enjoy an adult beverage. Oh and the best part? Reserved seating, so no lining up. This is the only way to see one of these movies.

I was really surprised at how many men were at that showing, I think there had to be something like 1 man for every 4 women. Impressive, really. Anyway, that’s not the point of my post.

So yes, I’ve read all four Twilight books and when I read them, I really enjoyed them. I was totally Team Edward and full out hated both Bella and Jacob. But then, after the glow of the fantasies wore off, I started to really think about the books. Yes, they’re kinda bad. I won’t get down on the writing because I had a good time reading them and I liken them to a fast food meal. We all know it’s bad for us, but every once in a while that’s what you want. What I had a problem with was the type of “heroine” Bella was.

Bella wasn’t endearingly clumsy, she was stupid clumsy. Bella wasn’t attracted to Jacob, but that didn’t stop her from leading him on or letting him manipulate her. Bella was fully in love with Edward, but that didn’t stop her from throwing Jacob in his face over and over again. I’m sorry, but if the guy in the story did the same thing to his girlfriend we would all hate him with the heat of a thousand suns. Don’t act like that isn’t true. And Breaking Dawn did a fabulous job of reminding me why I hate Bella so much.

I’m a married woman. My wedding day went by in a blur, especially the ceremony. I remember standing with my dad, holding onto his arm and saying, “Wait, are we going right now? Already?!” But when you look at the pictures of me walking down the aisle, do you know what I’m doing? I’m smiling. I’m looking at my husband-to-be and smiling. My mother whispered to me, “You look so beautiful” as I passed her and I smiled at her. I smiled at my dad and gave him a kiss when he gave me away. I smiled at my bridesmaids. I smiled at the minister. I smiled. What did Bella do? She looked like she was going to be sick, she looked like she couldn’t be more angry to be walking down the aisle, she looked like her father was dragging her down the aisle and forcing her into an arranged marriage. And when did Bella finally smile? Oh right, when the guy who has been trying to break up her relationship for the last couple of years finally shows up. Not only does she smile but she runs to him and jumps into his arms and clings to him.

Really? I know my husband would’ve been okay with that behavior.

I know, I know, it’s just a movie, it’s just a book, it’s just a fantasy. I know that. But fantasy or not, they are asking us to believe that this girl is madly in love with this guy and that if he ever died, left her or rejected her she would die. Point blank. But she can’t smile on her wedding day? Really?

It’s bad enough this saga has sent the message to girls that you should get married one week out of graduating high school, but then to tell them that it’s okay to act this way between two guys when you’re doing it? Yeah, no. I just hope the mothers out there are talking to their daughters about this. And I know we’re not supposed to hold up the morality mirror to this story, but when I hear about teenagers biting each other trying to emulate this stuff, you can’t help but flash that mirror.

Anyway. It wasn’t quite as bad as the first two movies, I have to admit. And occasionally the acting wasn’t quite as wooden and wax figure-ish. But I just know the second part (yeah still annoyed that they felt the need to split this book into two movies) is going to be so much worse and pointless. Nothing freaking happens in the second half of the book! It is completely anticlimactic, people! But whatever; we’ll all go see that one too.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Finally Finished the Fourth Book

Today I finished the first draft of the fourth installment in my Elemental Series: Fire. As a matter of fact I just finished it about fifteen minutes ago. When I finished I found my husband and held onto him as I cried. This was the hardest book for me to write. It took me the longest amount of time to write of all the other books and it was the most emotionally intense. I’m not sure my imaginary friends will ever speak to me again after what I’ve done to them. My husband hugged me back and asked me if I killed someone and I told him, yes, yes I did.

It seems strange to cry over the death of an imaginary person, but these characters have been a major part of my life for the last four years. I know every minute detail about them. I have been with them through everything, watching them grow, watching them make stupid mistakes. I’ve bled with them and cried with them. I’ve laughed with them and loved with them. To lose one of these characters is really like losing a friend.

I remember reading Laurell K Hamilton’s blog a couple of years ago as she talked about writing through the killing scene of one of her major characters and how she felt like she’d watched a friend die. She walked around in a blue funk for days as she mourned that character. I didn’t really understand it. I understand it now.

I am thrilled the book is done. Part of me laughed as I cried, feeling the joy bubbling inside of me that I finally, finally finished it. But that doesn’t take the shock of the pain away. I knew it was coming, I thought of it, I saw it in my mind, I walked through the details, making sure I knew exactly how and what was going to happen. But it didn’t take the sting away when I typed that last heart breaking word.

I started writing this book last year and I took a break about two-thirds of the way through to go back and work on and edit the earlier books in the series and only came back to writing this book last month. So while there was a long period of time where I didn’t write one word on this book, I still count that time in how long it took to finish. I wasn’t ready to write this ending until now. I almost wish I hadn’t been ready now. But this is writing. It isn’t pretty and it’s incredibly bloody.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Cutest Puppy Ever

Yeah. I got nothing tonight. I was gonna write you this whole love letter about how amazing the writing went today but I don't want to jinx anything for tomorrow. So with that I leave you with an adorable picture of my puppy. He's much bigger now but this is my favorite picture of him so I wanted to share it with you.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Why Writing Was So Damn Hard Today

Some days are just harder than others. Right now I am thisclose to finishing the first draft of Fire, the fourth book in my Elemental Series. All off my books range in the 100k word mark. Today I passed 91k words. The end is near! So freaking near! And yet… so far away. I only wrote about 1k words today – my bare minimum self-imposed daily requirement – and for some reason those 1k words took me around three hours to write today. Usually in three hours I can write around 3-4k words.

So what went wrong today, Shauna? You ask. Well, I’ll tell ya. I have no idea. Yep, that’s the big secret. Sometimes the words rush forth like a broken faucet and it’s all you can do to type fast enough to keep up. I love those days. They’re exhausting and cathartic and usually the end writes like that, but not today and not this ending.

I know what is going to happen in the end of this book and maybe I’m a little afraid of it. I think maybe I’m scared to put my imaginary friends in this particular predicament. Maybe I’m afraid that the story won’t turn out the way I expect it to and something terrible will happen to one or more of them. This has been a particularly violent and emotional book and the end will be no different, I knew that coming into this but I didn’t realize what an uphill battle it was going to be to get it out of my head and onto paper.

Today just concentrating on the page was a battle. I found myself adjusting the music settings on Pandora, checking and rechecking twitter, checking sales and stats, just goofing off to be honest with you. And then when I buckled down I decided I needed to reach the chapter I was in the middle of writing before I could continue writing even though I knew exactly where I was and what was going on. Yes, reading the last few pages before I jump back in is helpful and will put me back in the mood of the moment, but I didn’t need to read as much as I did.

This is what writing is though, its work, hard work. I will get this sucker done, maybe even this week I dare say. But I’m not going to swear to that last, lol. I know it will be done before the end of the month, that much I can promise you and myself.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Dream Cast: Who Would I have Play My Characters?

One of the blogs on my blog tour for Earth posted these pictures, but I'm sure not everyone saw that post and well, I thought you might like to know who I would have play my characters if it were ever made into a movie.

First: Shayna, my main character and narrator. I have always like Emily Browning ever since I first saw her as Violet in Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events and I loved her in Suckerpunch even though a lot of people had negative things to say about that last. Emily has the almost the exact facial structure that I see when I think of Shayna and let's face it, her hair here is perfect. Shayna means to do the right thing and tries to be confident but she worries a lot and Emily could totally pull off that juxtaposition.

Next up: Jodi, Shayna's oldest friend and first partner in magic. Jodi is hard-headed and has a little bit of a snide streak in her. She wants to be your best friend, she wants to be a good person but her self esteem issues get in her way. Jodi will always trip Jodi up. Until Jodi can accept her own flaws and the idea that someone can have more than one important person in their life, she'll always have trouble. AnnaSophia Robb just screams Jodi to me. Her face is perfect, her stature is perfect and I think she would do well with this roll.

Third is my favorite character: Steven. Steven is the best friend we always wanted in high school. Steven will tell you how it is without shame because there is no reason to lie. Steven has a kind heart and a young soul but he has so many issues he's dealing with. He's half Mexican and half Caucasian, homosexual and a teenager. The poor thing. But whatever his problems, he puts his friends first, sometimes too much, if you ask me. I just want to wrap him up in a Snuggie and drink hot chocolate with him. I'll admit, I don't know Tyler Posey that well. Yes, I saw him in Maid in Manhattan forever ago (stop judging me, yes I watched it!) but just look at him! He's adorable! And his heritage is spot on for Steven! Of course Tyler is Steven!

Finally we have Jensen and Ian, the twins. No, I never saw I Am Number Four because of my personal dislike for James Frey, and I still refuse to see it, but when I saw Alex Pettyfer's face, I saw Jensen. One of the first things Shayna notices about Jensen is his cheekbones and how can you not notice Alex's? Sharp and beautiful. Also, I really think his eyes hit the mark. The only thing wrong is the hair, but that is fixable. But this dude has the height, the eyes, the cheekbones and I think he could pull of both Jensen and Ian's crazy quite well.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

First blogaversary!

It’s my Blogaversary! I have no idea what to say other than… thanks for reading for the last year! Sadly, I am still working on that 4th book in my series just like I was this time last year. I have almost 20k words more than I did, so that’s something! I am resolved to have it done by the end of the year though due to the recent, near catastrophic loss of my data this week. I want the book done and backed up on a thumb drive! I’ve been working on so many other projects in the last 12 months so the fourth book took a back seat for a while.

In May I released my first book, Earth, on Halloween I released the sequel, Air. In between there I finished the third book, Water, and got it off to my editor. I’ve churned out a number of short stories under my penname. And I managed to discover a whole new cast of characters and their world, just waiting to be given a story and a life once I finish this fourth book in my Elemental Series. I would like to start working on that project in January but in order to do that I have to have Fire finished.

So I guess I have accomplished some things since that first post. I was published, even though it wasn’t traditionally published, my book is out there and people are reading it and enjoying it. I said I wanted to go to a book signing with people excited to see me, well I had many people vying to win autographed copies of my books and those that won were thrilled, so that was amazing for me! On Goodreads I have 26 ratings, 10 of which are 5 stars and 11 are 4 stars and just the other day I saw a post where a girl was asking for some book recommendations and she listed my book as one of her favorites, MY BOOK! So I think it’s safe to say that I accomplished my last goal of my book being important to other people.

I was kind of afraid to write this post since I knew I hadn’t finished my fourth book like I set out to do when I first started this blog… but now? Now that I’ve looked at my list of goals and how many I managed to accomplish in 12 months... I feel amazing! So! Happy blogaversary to me!

Remember, remember, the 5th of November
The Gunpowder Treason and plot;
I know of no reason why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Air Tour - Open to Bloggers!

Alright my lovelies! The amazing Julie over at A Tale of Many Reviews is hosting another tour for me! This time we will be promoting my new release: Air Book Two in the Elemental Series. I am so excited to see some repeat bloggers joining me, but the sign up is still open. If you have read Earth (or want to, or plan to) and enjoyed it and would like to read Air and join me on this tour with a review or guest post, please click here and join in!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

One of the Worst Days Ever

Here we are for another entry into my blog. I try to keep most of my entries light and save any anger or frustration for my “You Know Why Wednesday” posts. But Tuesday was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

As most people know, writers are very rarely working on just one project once they start to publish, especially if they are working on a series. Not to mention personal blogs, guest posts, notes for other projects, notes on your work in progress, writing exercises, poetry, grocery lists, Christmas shopping lists, you know, just everything we put to paper. Nowadays, most of our things on paper are actually on screen.

At this moment I am working on two major manuscripts after having JUST published the second book in my series on Monday. Then Tuesday came. My dad had called me in the middle of the afternoon and I was standing in my office chatting with him, my desktop computer – my main work computer – was running quietly and happily next to me. I had four internet windows open and no docs, so definitely not overloading it by any means. Then I hung up with my dad and went to check something on the computer and when I touched the mouse it froze. I stood there for a moment wondering, “What the hell?” And then the worst thing happened. The Blue Screen of Death.

Now, at this point, I did not panic; I’ve seen The Blue Screen of Death before, we all have, right? I did worry that maybe I had a virus but I would deal with it. So I shut down the computer and then went to start it back up again and once past the very first screen that tells me what kind of computer I have came up, it went black and I realized my computer was clicking. Yes, clicking. So like an idiot I shut it down and tried again and again. Then I went for my laptop and searched for a reason or a cure and found that most thought it was my power supply dying. Sucks, yes, but no hard drive damage, right? So I found a local tech who promised to come out the next afternoon to see what was wrong and if he could fix it, at the very least he would retrieve my data for me. So I stopped panicking.

Why would I be panicking, you ask? Well, my lovelies, my 90k+, unfinished manuscript of Fire is on that hard drive. And nowhere else. Yeah. You get it now. There was a copy in my email, but it was only about 80k words, so I would’ve lost over 10k words. Not as bad as losing the whole thing, but those 10k words have so much action and tension and build up in them… I could follow the path of those words, but my footsteps would never be identical again.

So the tech comes the next day. He tells me a power supply replacement is only $20-30 and would take him like 10 mins max. So I jumped for joy. But very shortly after the first attempt to fix that problem we realized it was not my power supply clicking, but rather my hard drive. At this point I realized how many times I had tried to start it up and how many times this tech had tried and all I could think of was how much damage we may have caused. So I cried. Oh yes, for the fifth or sixth time.

Then I started calling specialists with the tech sitting next to me to make sure no one steamrolled me. Finally I got a local, independent guy, Scott, who said I could bring him my computer within the hour. When I got to him he seemed confident that he could simply lift an image of my entire hard drive and put it on a new one and be done in a day or so and would only charge me for the cost of the hard drive. I was so relieved. The people I had been calling were quoting me prices that would cover the cost of my rent and that my computer would end up in Northern California and be gone for possibly 3 weeks with no guarantees.

So I went home feeling great. I would not only get my work in progress but probably everything else! YAY! Confetti! Cupcakes! Woohoo!

And then Scott called.

The hard drive was so corrupted that there was no way he could lift an image of it. In fact, he said, to get anything he would need to know exact file names and locations so he could retrieve individual files. What was worse, he told me to be prepared for the fact that he would try to get my important files, but he couldn’t promise it. I could’ve been sick. I begged him to find the final draft of Fire. I would give up everything else, just not that. I knew what I was saying, but I knew there was a copy of Water in my email that my editor has and really, I could, in time, probably replace everything else.

I did not sleep Wednesday night.

Scott called early in the morning and told me that after 7 hours he had lifted over 11 GBs of data. I know little about computers but that sounded promising! But then he told me that we were up into the few hundreds of dollars in time and work and if I wanted he could order the drivers needed to get into the rest of the data. Already, this was financially damaging so I told him no, no drivers. Then I asked, “Did you get Fire?” He said he would check and call me back.

I sat and waited for almost forty minutes on the verge of tears and vomiting.
Then he called back. He had a copy of Fire. He started to read it to me and I quickly cut him off and nearly screamed, “No, no, no! I need a word count, Scott! Word count!”

He had the full manuscript.

I cried again.

I raced to his office and sat at his computer and found that he had managed to save a large chunk of my files and a few pics and a few songs that were not also on my laptop. But there was every final copy of my manuscripts and notes and so many other things. Yes, some things were lost and corrupted. But the irreplaceable things were there.

When I worked at an office and stole writing time at lunch and coffee breaks, I emailed myself every single day the current manuscript I was working on. I probably have over 100 copies of Earth in my email in various stages of completion. But at about 80k words of Fire, I started working from home. Why email myself now? Well, this is why.

Back your shit up, people.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Day After Release - Sending Some Love

So my second novel, Air, dropped yesterday. It was kinda weird releasing on a holiday, and yes, I think of Halloween as a real holiday. The hobbits had second breakfast; well Halloween is my second Christmas, and it is Shayna’s birthday! So of course Air had to be released on Halloween!

I have no idea who was the first person to buy a copy of Air, but just like whomever that first person was to buy Earth, I love you. I’m sending you cosmic hugs and love for what you’ve done for me.

Speaking of sending out love to people, I cannot tell you how amazing this tour was for me. Julie, of A Tale of Many Reviews, is an amazing, helpful person. She has so much going on and yet she is still happy to help indies like me. I am so grateful for what she’s done for me and is continuing to do. She’s even offered to host a second tour for me for Air. The tour will run December 12-16 so keep an eye out for special prizes again! I will personally be putting together a special Solstice-Christmas gift package for the winner!

I have to say another thank you to some of the most amazing bloggers who joined my tour. You all had some of the nicest, most amazing things to say about my book. Every day of the tour I woke up terrified I’d see something that would shatter my world, but every day there was nothing but fabulous, validating things for me to read about my book! Yes, there were honest criticisms, but that means just as much to me. That tells me they read my book and really thought about it. Someone’s time is incredibly important, and I know that, so thank you for spending some of it with me and my imaginary friends. I really hope you all will join me on the second tour!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Spooky Swap!

A Tale of Many Reviews started this awesome Halloween Spooky Swap for book bloggers and authors so of course I had to sign up.

Yesterday I received my package from my swap partner, Christi Aldellizzi. Now, since this was the first year I’ve participated in this, I wasn’t really sure how much would be overkill and I’m the kind of gift-giver that will go overboard if not kept in check. So this time I didn’t want to be that person, but now that I received my package I am kicking myself that I didn’t put more things in her box.

So here’s what I sent:

My partner wrote that she was slightly Disney-obsessed and liked the color purple and to have little things to display on her desk at work. Well awesome! I had just been to Disneyland for their Halloweentime and knew what nifty things they had that you cannot get anywhere else, not even online. Better still, my friend was going to Disneyland that week and agreed to pick up the items I wanted. So I got Christi a Minnie Mouse dressed as a witch and her costume was purple! And they sell candy apples done to imitate Minnie the Witch – perfect!

As far as books go Christi really just said that she didn’t read Vamps and Weres (which I can understand is over done for some) and that while she liked Dystopian, she wasn’t on the Zombie bandwagon yet. Okay, no worries! I have read some awesome Dystopian that wasn’t Zombie-centric. So I found her Goodreads list and yes, she had read all the books I was thinking of for her. Fail, for me. But I saw that she wanted to read The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer and, though I hadn’t read it yet, the reviews I had read were good and many said the book was “creepier than they expected.” Halloween, spooky swap, creepy, perfect!

And, though you cant see it in the pic, I tossed in some cute bat stickers for good measure since she said she liked bat decorations. Now, I felt pretty good about the package I put together, that was, until I got mine.

This is what I opened:

She blew me out of the water!

I had mentioned that I was a huge Neil Gaiman fan but that I had mostly only bought his ebooks
and only owned a paperback of Stardust. So Christi sent me the graphic novel of Coraline and the DVD! The DVD! I didn’t even realize I didn’t own that yet!

And she sent me squishy Halloween socks! I love Halloween socks!

And she sent me an awesome little candle holder and a luminary with a pumpkin face!

And look at all this candy!

So Christi is awesome and I shouldn’t’ve second guessed myself and sent her all the things I reached for. Hopefully Christi likes Disney enough to make up for it!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Facing My Fears in My Nightmares

October is a month filled with ghosts, frights, creepy things and spooky fun. At least, that’s what it’s about now. For the last two weeks I’ve been having nightmares almost every single night. Each of my nightmares has been about one of my greatest fears, making me jolt out of sleep and gasp for breath as my heart pounds in my chest.

Halloween is the night where the veil between our mortal, waking world and the other, nether world is the thinnest. It’s a night where we can reach out to loved ones who’ve already passed on and have the greatest chance of them hearing us. But because of this people have always believed that it is also the night where the more sinister passed on entities can reach out for us, get us, and snatch us. So we carve scary faces into pumpkins and place them outside our doors to scare off these evil spirits and we wear creepy masks to hide from them as we walk around on that night. Halloween is a night of light and dark, it just depends on which way you see it.

But one thing is for sure, it is a night of revisiting old ghosts. So I wonder if my continuing nightmares are my subconscious trying to get me to face these fears. Or perhaps they are manifesting themselves because I am at a part in my manuscript where two characters are in mortal danger and two others are lost, trying to find them. I have no idea, but I wanted to share my nightmares with you so that maybe I can face them here, on paper, and get them out of my head. Write my way out of them, if you will.

More than once I’ve dreamt about falling from a great height. This terrifies me. I always tell people that I am not afraid of heights, just of falling from them. And this is true. I’ve been to the very top of the Eiffel Tower, the Stratosphere in Las Vegas and I’ve stood on the edges of cliffs, like at the Grand Canyon. I can get to these places just fine and if I have something to hang onto, I’m usually good. But I can feel that strange urging sense pressing at the small of my back as I wonder what it would be like to fall right then.

So in these recent dreams I’ve been on the precipice of some ridiculous height and I have no idea how or why I came to be there, but there is a way down if only I’ll reach out and trust it. Once, there was a dragon hovering next to me, waiting for me to jump on. I did finally jump onto his back, but after flying tantalizingly close to the ground he flew back up and dumped me back on the edge. Two other times there have been ropes within grabbing distance for me to swing or shimmy my way down. But to reach the ropes I’ve had to stretch for them and the thought of leaning out for them is enough to shock me awake.

Another fear I have is of the day where I will lose my dog and husband. Intelligently I know I will live 50 years longer than my dog, but we got so lucky with our dog, Brody, that is really is a part of our family. And the other night I dreamt of some apocalyptic world where something terrible happened to him and there was nothing we could do but to put him out of his misery and I watched as my husband put a knife into Brody. I woke up crying. I have no idea why I dreamt about that and can think of nothing to rationalize it. But at least I’ve only dreamt of it once and hopefully will not dream of it again.

The third type of dream I’ve been having is of haunted places. I believe in ghosts and hauntings. I believe in residual hauntings where the ghosts have no idea we are there with them and they just replay a moment in their lives over and over again and I believe in intelligent hauntings where people have yet to move on and can interact with us, even if we don’t want them to. In each of the haunting dreams I’ve had lately, the hauntings have been intelligent, intelligent and angry. Either I or the people around me were attacked by the entities haunting the places we were. Last night way a particularly bad dream where in the beginning I was trapped at a great height on top of some sort of unfinished wall and the floor below me sloped down, like a staircase gone flat. When I mustered up the courage to grab the rope and slid down I ended up in a very cluttered living room and knew I was in the house to cleanse it of the angry spirit haunting it. Before I could start the cleansing there was a knock at the door. When I answered it there was a woman, a neighbor, who wanted to warn me to get out of the house. When I told her why I was there she shook her head at me and told me I would only upset the thing in the house and just then a baseball bat was pulled free of a pile of things and came swinging at my head. I tried to catch the bat and command the thing controlling it, but I woke up before I was struck. A small blessing I suppose.

The only good thing I can say about these dreams is that I seem to be trying to face them. When I’m stuck at the insane heights, I reach out for the thing that will get me down before I fall to my death or injury. When in the haunted places I am trying to combat the evil spirits/entities. When we had to put my precious dog down, I watched and was able to be there for him as it happened. Even if just typing the idea of it brings me to tears and the interesting fact that he just wandered into my office and stopped to nudge me into a doggie hug.

So maybe I am just trying to face my fears, my ghosts if you will. Maybe this Halloween is particularly spooky for me. But I do hope sharing these fears, these nightmares, with you will put my subconscious to rest. Because, trust me, there are plenty more fears my subconscious hasn’t brought up yet.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Blog Tour Stops

As I’ve told you before, I will be releasing the sequel to Earth, Air, on Halloween. In preparation of that I will be doing an awesome blog tour from October 24th through October 28th hosted by the fabulous Julie at A Tale of Many Reviews.

What does this mean to you? Free books! Every blog on the tour will be giving away a free ebook copy of Earth and there are two grand prizes! One person will win an autographed paperback copy of Earth with an Earth bookmark and one other lucky person will win an autographed copy of Air and an Air bookmark! There are obviously rules and you can read them here: Earth (Elemental #1) ~ Book Tour.

Many of the tour stops will be reviews but there will also be excerpts, author interviews, character interviews and even one quote off between two main characters! I am very excited about this tour and I hope you will enjoy the posts.

Here is a list of all of the blogs participating in the tour:

1. The Fiction Fairy ~ Author Interview (Oct. 24th)
2. Between Dreams and Reality ~ Author Interview (Oct. 24th)
3. Songs and Stories ~ Character Interview (Oct. 24th)
4. Shiirleyys Bookshelf ~ Review (Oct. 25th)
5. Bookish Delights ~ Review (Oct. 25th)
6. All Things Books ~ Review (Oct. 25th)
7. Basias Bookshelf ~ Guest Post/Review (Oct. 26th)
8. Bookworm Lisa ~ Review (Oct. 26th)
9. Letters Inside Out ~ Excerpt (Oct. 26th)
10. Jenn Reads Fiction ~ Review (Oct. 26th)
11. Paper Cut Reviews ~ Review (Oct. 26th)
12. The Magic Attic ~ Review (Oct. 27th)
13. The Fairytale Nerd ~ Author Interview (Oct. 28th)
14. Book Briefs ~ Reviews (Oct. 28th)
15. Braintasia Books ~ Character Interview (Oct. 28th)
16. YA Bound ~ Guest Post (Oct. 28th)
17. A Casual Readers Blog ~ Review (Oct. 28th)
18. Patricias Particularity ~ Review (Oct. 28th)
19. SeeitORreadit ~ Excerpt (Oct. 28th)
20. Young Readers ~ Excerpt (Oct. 29th)
21. A Tale of Many Reviews ~ Excerpt (Oct. 29th)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Air Release Countdown

I am really looking forward to the release of my second book, Air. To that end, I've created a countdown clock! If you'd like to add it to your site or blog, please feel free!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Cover Reveal for Air - One week early!

So I waaaass gonna post one more puzzle piece but I just couldn't wait any longer!

I know, based on the pieces I’ve been putting up over the last few weeks, you may have figured out what the cover looks like, but I don’t care. I’ve been dying to show this off! If you love it, I can tell you working with Stephanie Mooney was great! She is very receptive, even dealing with a crazy writer and her pickiness. Stephanie managed to interpret my vague descriptions of what I was looking for in a cover and flawlessly came up with something that I think really complimented my first cover. But enough rambling, here is the cover!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Cover Reveal for Air Part V

We’re almost at the end!

Piece number five:

Friday, September 9, 2011

Cover Reveal for Air Part IV

How much are you loving this? Or do you hate it? I kind of love it, lol.

Piece number four:

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Release Date for: AIR book two in the ELEMENTAL SERIES

I am so excited to announce that I will be releasing Air, book two in the Elemental Series, the sequel to Earth, on October 31, 2011. Yes, Halloween! Which, incidentally, is Shayna’s birthday. It seemed appropriate, don’t you think?

I’m so excited to release this book. I have been working on the entire Elemental Series for so many years; it is just so gratifying to finally be getting it out there in the hands of readers. Earth has had such a warm welcome I really hope Air lives up to everyone’s expectations. Self-publishing is by no means a solitary endeavor, but even still, it is nerve racking to do this on your own. I know I like my stories, but I sit and chew my fingernails praying that you like them too.

I know you’re going to love the cover though. Thanks to the incredible Stephanie Mooney, I have an absolutely gorgeous cover that I cannot wait for you all to see! If you’ve been following along, I’ve been releasing puzzle pieces of the cover as a sneak peek, but on September 30th you’ll see the whole beautiful thing!

In the meantime, the fantabulous Julie over at A Tale of Many Reviews is hosting a blog tour for me! Yes, it’s promoting Earth, but it’s in honor of the release of Air. The blog tour dates are October 24-28th. If you have a blog and you love Young Adult Literature, please visit Julie’s page here and sign up! We still have space available on the 25th.

Well I hope you’re as excited about all of this as I am!

Happy reading!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Cover Reveal for Air Part III

I am loving this! Now I understand why Jeaniene Frost does this! The anticipation is awesome!

Piece number three:

Friday, August 26, 2011

Cover Reveal for Air Part II

Last week we saw the first peek at a bit of the cover for “Air” and continuing on with that, here is the second piece!

Piece number two:

Friday, August 19, 2011

Cover Reveal for Air Part I

So I thought I would take a page out of Jeaniene Frost’s book and give you a tiny sneak peek at the cover of my upcoming novel, “Air”. I will reveal a piece of the cover over a few blog posts leading up to the full reveal.

Piece number one:

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Getting Air Ready for Publication

I have been overwhelmed with the reviews and reception my first novel, “Earth” has received. You have no idea, after so many rejections from the traditional publishing world, how wonderful this has been for me. I was terrified to self-publish and had to think about it for a very long time before I finally decided maybe it was a good idea. When people first started talking about the e-book self-publishing programs for Kindle and Nook I dismissed them out of hand and asked people to stop suggesting it to me and just kept right on writing in my series and polishing my query letter.

I definitely did not start writing, or go into self-publishing, for the money. Oh, I wont lie to you and say I wouldn’t mind being successful enough in sales that I don’t have to worry about a day job. Honestly, that’s the dream. Really that’s what everyone wants – to work at a job that they love and can make a living at it. But I started writing because I always liked it and I wanted to tell stories other people wanted to read. So when I finished the first draft of “Earth” I put it down and walked away from it and just started writing “Air” right away.

I am very excited to publish “Air” now that I know what to expect. So far my beta readers have all reported enjoying the second installment to my Elemental Series. I was lucky enough to find a new beta reader in my new friend and aspiring writer, Juanita. Thanks to Juanita I feel even more confidant about publishing “Air” as she found a few glaring plot holes that needed a coat of spackle. Let that be a lesson to all of you writers and aspiring writers – you need quite a few pairs of eyes to go over your work before its ready. I was a pretty arrogant essay writer in college and I learned a hard lesson from my English prof about going over my work before turning it in. If he knew you were turning in a first draft – even if that first draft was good enough to get an ‘A’ – he would give your paper a full letter grade lower than it might’ve deserved. He wanted to instill in us that writing is rewriting. I hated him a little bit for that when I found that out, but now I am grateful for that lesson. I even invited him to my wedding (to which he and his lovely wife came).

This week I finalized the cover for “Air” working with a new cover artist, Stephanie Mooney. While Claudia Mckinney will always have a place in my heart and I will always recommend her and her amazing art, I just couldn’t afford her this time around. But what started as a sad story quickly turned into a fairytale, happily ever after ending with Stephanie. I am so proud of the cover she developed for me; I am just on pins and needles waiting to show you guys. I do not yet have the official pub date for “Air” but I can tell you, it shouldn’t be too far in the future. I hope you all are as excited about it as I am.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Cure for Such a Crappity Week

So the people in DC tried to come to a compromise on the money stuff. Then we woke up to find out we've lost our credit rating and then the stocks plummeted and then people started freaking out that there was going to be another crash and then we had that horrific military loss and then they set London on fire. It has seriously been an Armageddon week. So in an effort to relieve some of this stress and madness I give you adorable Persian Kitten pictures:

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Catching Up With You

I have no idea what to blog about today so I thought I could just pop in, say hi, and catch you up on anything I can think of. I know, exciting, right?

In the world of books, I am working on the cover for the sequel to Earth, which, if you don’t know, will be titled Air. I am also going over the final draft of the manuscript. There’s a bit of fact checking I have to get done. It’s amazing how much easier it is to remember insane details about other people’s work than it is for your own. I could tell you scads of info on Harry Potter, Cat and Bones, Rachel and Ivy. But my own work? I gotta go back and check. The hubs just finished reading Air and gave me the thumbs up on the fight scenes so now I don’t have to worry about that.

As far as Earth goes, sales are still plugging along. Amazon had a huge sale this week where they priced over 900 books on sale for $.99-$2.99, and it doesn’t end until tomorrow and that has hurt me a little. I mean, I love sales, and books sales rock, but it created a lot of new competition for me. But! It’ll be over tomorrow so there’s that at least. Last night I stayed up late working on bookmarks for Earth, I finally decided on the design and will have them in my hot little hand very soon! I’ll be excited to give them out to whoever may want one. I wanted a cool/funny/deep/interesting quote on the back but I just couldn’t decide on which on so instead I’m just pimping Air on the back.

My editor/proofreader/crit partner and friend, Cassie Robertson has been working for Hazard Editing for a couple of months now. I hate to share her and her amazing grammar skills and keen eye, but I like to give back to the community when I can. If you’re working on a project and need a new editor or haven’t found one yet, I swear by Cassie. She’s very aware of writerly egos so if you’re a delicate flower she can be kind. If you’re like me, though, I want your work to be stronger and better, you can tell her to rip it to shreds and she won’t hold back. You can find the lovely Miss Cassie here: Hotels and Novels.

In random news, we of course saw the last installment of Harry Potter. I cried my eyes out. I have been in celebrity love with Alan Rickman for a very, very long time, and he did not disappoint. I could’ve nit picked at the changes in the story from the book, but as the movies went, it was definitely the best. I am so glad JK Rowling finally agreed to act as a producer on the final film; because it was obvious she was an asset. We also saw Captain America since that was my hubs favorite Avenger when he was a kid. I knew little about Captain America, but the movie was enjoyable and had its funny moments. I hope, if you went to see it, you stayed until after the credits. I will never understand why people will walk out of a Marvel movie before the end of the credits.

As for books, my mother and I went to the book store last week and we each bought a book. I bought Fairy Bad Day by Amanda Ashby and my mom bought The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross. Once we’re done we’re gonna trade. I picked Fairy Bad Day because the blurb on the back made the voice sound so funny. I have to say it’s not nearly as funny as I thought it was going to be based on that, but I am enjoying it. I have about a hundred pages to go, so we’ll see how it ends. Also, I loved the cover and I seriously want the shoes the chick is wearing. Like I would mug her for them. I’m very excited to get my hands on the other book though.

Well, I suppose it back to the trenches. Them books ain’t gonna write themselves.

Oh and speaking of them books, Earth is now available in paper back on Amazon!

Monday, July 18, 2011

I Have a Secret: I Have a Penname

I feel like I’m deceiving people by keeping a secret from my readers. I don’t like that feeling because it implies that I’m embarrassed about this secret, and I am not. Last month I started writing a short story erotica series. I am writing it under a penname.

My Elemental Series is a Young Adult series that will move into New Adult in the last couple of books, so obviously I don’t want to risk having young teens search out other works by me and have them pick up an erotica book if they’re not ready for that or if their parents don’t want them to read it. It seemed prudent that I keep the two projects totally separate. I plan to write more stories under my real name, keeping with Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance, though they will most likely not be Young Adult, but there is no reason why teens can’t read them. The main character just won’t be a teen herself.

I’m not embarrassed that I am writing these erotic stories, but they are paranormal/supernatural and the main character is an elf so, like I said, I didn’t want there to be any confusion about the content. But I feel weird hiding this from people. I like the first story I published and I am enjoying writing the follow up story and hope to have it up for purchase before the end of the month. However, as much as I like these stories I felt it inappropriate to promote them for fear of reaching out to the wrong demographic. I have no way of knowing the age range of those that have purchased Earth thus far; as far as I know everyone has been an adult, but what if they weren’t?

It’s a difficult balancing act. So I feel like I should tell my readers about my new work, but again I worry. I was mature enough as a teen to read this kind of content, and I imagine most of my readers would be too, but that is not for me to decide.

But in the end I don’t like feeling like I’m keeping a secret from you all. So, if you’re so inclined, my penname is Leila Bryce Sin.

Whew! That’s a weight off of my chest.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Second Milestone Achieved

So I have a milestone to celebrate: yesterday I succeeded in selling my 100th copy of Earth! It was an awesome feeling. I am still in awe of the idea that 100 people spent money to buy and read my book. I couldn’t be more grateful to each and every one of you. It’s also pretty cool to know that only a small handful of those 100 people are people I know in real life, haha! For those of you dreaming about becoming a published writer, or are working towards that goal right now, you will be amazed how hard it is to get friends and family members to read your work. But, maybe that’s a blessing for some of you? Who knows? I will say selling that 100th copy felt just as awesome as my very first copy sold (especially when I found out it wasn’t my mom). But every copy sold feels like a milestone and something to celebrate. I don’t think that will ever change for me. How will I celebrate, you ask? Well we already have our tickets to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 on Friday, so I may just look at that as an awesome coincidence and call it a celebration.

I also have to give credit to the reading machine, Savannah Valdez of Books With Bite (chick has already read nearly 200 books in 2011 alone!), for those last two sales that put me at the 100 mark. She gave me a wonderful review yesterday and was cool enough to post that review on her blog, Goodreads, Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

I am so enamored with the book bloggers out there, especially those who will read self/indie-published books. I know most of them are slammed now that so many of us are reaching out to them for help, but it’s been my experience that they are gracious and want to help us. Yeah, they get free books out of it, but it is so much work that can’t be the only incentive. So my thanks goes out to all of them.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

How I'm Getting Through the Rough Times

Times are tough for the Granger Household right now, just as they are for so many right now. We almost made it through the recession unscathed, but just as I decided to self-publish and the Hubs decided to go back into the Fitness Industry, we were hit hard by the economic strain that’s been plaguing the country. We’re trying to stay positive, with a few temper tantrums thrown in to release the stress, but we’re pushing forward. I believe there is a light at the end of the tunnel and I know that if it’s worth it – whatever your “it” may be – it’s going to take hard work to achieve.

So, what’s helping me get through these times? I’ll tell you. I’m allowing, and budgeting, for small pleasures. I think that’s key to get through any hard time. You can’t just live with the strain and accept that you’re not allowed to do anything fun because you can’t afford the money it may cost, even if it’s just the cost of gas getting somewhere.

I bought our tickets for Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2 last week. Oh, there was just no way I was going to miss this. Yes, I really wanted to see the Midnight showing, but the Hubs just isn’t down for that so we didn’t. But we are seeing it on July 15; I wasn’t going to wait one day more to see it. And I budgeted for us to see it in what I like to call, “The Good Theater”. We have a theater that’s about a half an hour drive away (yes, we have closer theaters) that allows you to reserve your seats when you buy your tickets. So, we no longer have to line up in the theater hours before the show actually begins. We can even show up after the previews start and our seats will still be there, waiting for us. What else is amazing about this theater? There are three screens reserved strictly for 21 and older and they serve a full bar at the concession stand and real food from the restaurant attached to the theater. So yes, that’s where we will be enjoying the final installment of one of the most influential books of all time. If we weren’t, this rough patch would be all the harder on me.

Another way we’re getting through this time is allowing ourselves to buy small treats at the grocery store when we go for staples. I’ve allowed myself a bottle of wine here and there (nothing over $7 right now) and the Hubs bought beer and we’ve bought ice cream. Little things like this make you feel more normal when you’re spending every night at home rather than going out.

Our little beach town had finally recognized that it is in fact summer and heated up sufficiently so we’ve started lying out again. Over the weekend we turned on the radio, grabbed our Nooks, poured some spiked ice-tea and soaked in the sun rays for the first time in almost a year.

It’s these small things that keep us feeling sane and normal while I work on writing and promoting and while the Hubs works on his certifications and building a client base. It’s slow going, no doubt about that, but I think it’s worth it. So if you’re at home, wondering how you’re going to make it through these rough times, remember you have a goal you’re reaching for and working towards, but that if you don’t allow yourselves some small pleasures you’ll crack under the pressure. We’re all human; you need to feel that way.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Music I Write To - Earth

I am the type of writer that needs music to write. Yes, if in a pinch, I can write without it, but I prefer not to. When I start a new project, I allow myself that first day to put a play list of songs together that I think will put me in the mood for that project. I see it as putting on nicer clothes to behave better. When you’re in tennis shoes and jeans you behave entirely different than in heels and stockings. Guys, you know what I’m talking about.

So I thought I would share with you what my playlist for Earth was. Mind you I would add songs as time went by; if I heard a song on the radio in the car and it got me thinking about the book I knew it needed to be added to my playlist. This works for the most part for me, but if I’m stuck and the songs just are doing it, I will turn on Pandora and set a station up to get the juices flowing again. But Earth was my first serious attempt at buckling down and getting the damn thing finished. Here’s what helped:

A Praise Chorus by Jimmy Eat World. I really love Jimmy Eat World. So many of their songs act like anthems that really get you moving. This song was the first in my playlist and is upbeat and the lyrics remind me of other songs like Crimson and Clover. There are a lot of emotions covered in the song, all of which got the rough draft of Shayna moving in my mind.

Crawl by Kings of Leon. Oh my God, Crawl. This song did not get enough play by radio stations. If you haven’t heard it, you have no idea what you’re missing. The best fucking lyric ever: “Your lips, unfold, shaken purple by the cold”. Ah-fucking-mazing. Go listen to it. Yes, it’s a political song, but goddamn it’s tasty.

Colossal by Wolfmother. Another underappreciated band. They are, and this song in particular is, very Early Days Led Zeppelin, which is of course my favorite band. And this is another anthem-like song. It speaks of magic and mother nature, obviously written for my book.

24 by Jem I actually found this song by watching an episode of So You Think You Can Dance. I know, I know. But this chick was auditioning with this song and it was just so amazing. The string orchestra mixed in with the dance beat. It was so perfect. And the lyrics, talking about only having twenty four hours to solve a problem of life or death? Yeah, this was the song that drove Shayna, running through the woods. All the questions leading up to the clarity of purpose, standing in your own way. Jem wrote this song for Shayna.

Blue Veins by The Raconteurs. Okay. Jack White rocks my socks and I am so sad The Raconteurs are no more. This song, right after 24 by Jem slowed everything way down. It brought me to the point of critical thinking. Looking around at a scene, seeing what Shayna saw, what Steven saw, what Jodi saw all in the same moment. Even the lyrics whispered the vague sweet nothings between Shayna and Jensen.

Judith by A Perfect Circle. Is there anyone more amazing than Maynard James Keenan? No. No there’s not. The fan girl inside of me will always love him and Tool, A Perfect Circle and Pucifer. I could just play all of his songs and they would all fit every single book I write. But Judith, Judith is special. You can even remove the lyrics and the melody would be enough. But Judith screamed Ian, Steven and Shayna for me. It’s a painfully beautiful song.

Serenity by Godsmack. Oh Sully. How do I love thee? And of course I had to have a song by Godsmack in here, Sully Erna being a devout Wiccan. How powerful is that? Just like Maynard, I can listen to every song Sully has ever sung over and over again, but Serenity is haunting and moving. Another song that slowed me down and made me listen to the emotions of my characters. This song gave voice to their confusion.

All Around Me by Flyleaf. Who doesn’t love a tiny chick with serious pipes on her? This is another love ballad for Shayna and Jensen and their strange, complicated relationship that hasn’t even happened yet.

I’ll Attack by 30 Seconds to Mars. Gotta love me some Jared Leto. My thirteen-year-old heart swoons thinking of Jordan Catalano. This song worked for me on the same level as 24 worked. Shayna’s confused, terrified emotions, worried she was making the wrong decision at every turn.

The Good Left Undone by Rise Against. This song spoke of magic and the earth. Its fast and frantic and puts words to so many of the character’s problems.

Swamped by Lacuna Coil. Another awesome chick with amazing pipes. I needed music from powerful women to give Shayna and Jodi a voice in my mind. Lacuna Coil is so different and original. The lead singer has such a powerful voice that she reaches inside of you and rattles your lungs. But what I liked about his song was that there were two voices, one female and one male. I loved the duality of the song. It reminded me of the duality in the Wiccan teachings. It just seemed to fit.

So those are the songs that got me through Earth. And that is the exact order they were played in, over and over and over again for about two months.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Dangers of Checking Your Sales

I’m a bad blogger. I need to write a few blogs when the inspiration hits so I can just go and pick one out and post when I go through a blogging slump.

Life gets in the way of creativity and sadly blogging counts in that group. Tines are tough for everyone right now and the hubs and I are feeling the pinch so I’ve been all consumed with how we can pull out of these rough times. I feel like all I do all day long is talk about my book, try to push my book and then the rest of the time I spend checking to see if I’ve sold anymore in the last five minutes.

Whether you self-publish, like me, or go the traditional route you’re gonna find yourself obsessing over checking your sales and stats. Just the other day there was about an hour where the Kindle Direct Publishing reports were down; no one could log in and see their reports. It was only an hour, and maybe if I hadn’t tried to log in just then and found out about it, I wouldn’t have cared. But I did try to log in and for that whole hour I was in a panic because I couldn’t check my sales. So heed my words people, be careful not to let that become an obsession for you. It’s hard, believe me, but just try to distract yourself. Let your sales be happy little surprises, don’t let the lull in sales be the slow poison in your veins.
So that’s my little jewel of insight for you today kiddies. Hopefully I can take my own advice.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Ten Things You Don’t Know About Me

I love it when I go to an author's blog or twitter feed and find out that we have things in common. I feel like I know that writer and I like them all the more for it. So in that spirit, here you go!

1. I swear a lot. Not as much or as creatively as Chuck Wendig, but still a lot. I find parents giving me sideways glances more often than I should. But I still feel weird swearing online, so when I do, I really mean it.

2. I actually have a zombie apocalypse survival plan. But what makes mine less crazy than yours is that mine will work in a regular apocalypse scenario as well. But I wont be surprised if it is a zombie apocalypse and I know it’ll be the government’s fault when it happens.

3. I am a Ren Faire geek. I mean for serious. We’re Rennies. I was lucky enough to convince my husband to go one year when he was just my boyfriend and when he found out he could carry weapons around, drink all day and smoke cigars, he was totally in. We have a number of privateer costumes and I have a wood fairy costume (complete with body paint and bitchin wings) and the hubs wears a woodsman costume when I wear that. I will spend all day getting pics taken with kids and passing out stickers and blowing bubbles when I’m a fairy. I love it.

4. Earth was not my fist attempt at a full length novel. I first tried to write a book about a female assassin in the American Mafia set in Los Angeles. I spent four years trying to force myself to finish it. I only ever got about 40k words done. I finally realized it was the kind of movie I would want to go see, but it wasn’t the kind of book I would ever read. Write the story you want to read.

5. I hate working out with a passion. I could punch a baby seal I hate it so much. But I work out three to four days a week. Recently I was able to squat 115 lbs for 6 reps.

6. We honeymooned in Paris. France, not Texas. We had to save up for over a year, but it was the best nine days of my life. We thought about going to Ireland, but they were still on the Pound, so really, money decided it. I do plan to make it to Ireland some day soon, hopefully to all of the British Isles.

7. I love MMA. My favorite fighter is Dan Hardy. I think it’s the hair. Or the accent. The tattoos help too.

8. Speaking of tattoos, I have ‘em. I have a full back piece of black angel wings. And I do mean "full back" not those thin little baby bullshit wings. My back is covered. They fade in and out of the middle of my back to symbolize them emerging from my back. The right tip is stained red because I have always held with the idea that angels are warriors, beautiful creatures with one wing tipped in blood. It took about 18 hours to get it done.

9. I love to cook. I make some rockin’ food. I suck at baking (for the most part, I did win my way into my husband’s heart by baking him the best pecan pie he’d ever had. The secret is light Caro syrup, not dark). I love to watch The Food Network, Top Chef, Man vs. Food, and all of that crap. I go to famous chef’s restaurants and hope and pray to meet them like normal people act around actors and musicians.

10. I have Dyslexia and Dyscalculia. I was undiagnosed for the majority of my school life, only finding out in my sophomore year in high school. I stood and argued with my math teacher that my answers weren’t wrong for nearly 20 minutes until we both realized what was going on. Get your kids tested, even if you don’t think anything is wrong.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

YA Saves - a response to the Wall Street Journal's article "Darkness Too Visible"

I’m not sure I can add much to the amazing comments that the bullshit article printed by the Wall Street Journal spurred last night. But I can tell you why, as an adult, I both read and write Young Adult books.

I went to junior high and high school at schools where the Caucasian population was literally less than three percent. Now, I will not take away anything from what the US considers minorities, but believe me, that was a terrifying six years of my life. My friends and I were picked on, bullied and threatened relentlessly because we were white in predominately nonwhite schools. And we were all nerds. So even my friends who were of color were not immune to the bullying because they made the fatal mistake of caring about their grades and joining extracurricular activities.

I graduated high school in 2000, Barnes and Noble and Borders did not have a Young Adult section. And obviously teens would not be caught dead in the Children’s section, so if books that would’ve helped us get through the threats on our lives – no I am not exaggerating – existed, we didn’t know about them. I had gay friends, both female and male, dealing with their sexuality. Dealing with their rejection. Dealing with thoughts of suicide.

I had one friend who had been raped more than once by boys she knew and was dealing with the concept that maybe she was a lesbian. She too nearly killed herself just to escape the nightmares.

I cannot even begin to tell you how many students at my high school had children. How many girls tried to get pregnant because they were afraid their boyfriends were planning to break up with them. How many got pregnant because their home life was such shit they wanted someone they could love and be loved by unconditionally. I am sad to tell you that some got pregnant because it was part of their culture and expected of them by the time they were sixteen. This shit is real.

I had friends with older and younger siblings doing better than they were, getting praise from their parents. My friends being belittled and criticized by their parents, hating their brothers and sisters with a rage unmeasured by books assigned to us by our teachers.

I had emotionally abusive boyfriends and was cheated on and pressured. And sadly I wasn’t the exception.

I was a cutter. My best friend was a cutter and anorexic. Many of my friends flirted with cutting. I personally saved the lives of three of my friends. Sadly, I even knew kids that hurt themselves because so many of their peers were doing it and they didn’t want to be left out. The pressures we faced, leveled on us by parents, friends, school, ourselves is all so overwhelming and we are in no way mature enough to understand that, given time, we may be able to get through it all and have a better life away from all this darkness. Hopefully. I am sad to say that not everyone made it out of my high school. Some murdered, some killed themselves. Tragic.

Even something as small and insignificant as being the first girl in my class to develop can crush a girl’s spirit. Even today, at the age of 28, I still have bitter angry women try to belittle and hurt me because of my bust size.

The books that are around today that address all of these issues and so many more are a lifeline to girls like I was and the kids that were my friends. I am sad that they weren’t around when I could’ve used them, the closest we had was Catcher in the Rye and believe me that was one of my favorite books in high school. To try and say books that deal with these issues are depraved is a slap in the face. The kids that need these books are not depraved. Even as an adult these books give us a chance to heal old wounds.

I did not write my books to be life changing or profound, after all they are “Fantasy” but I did not shy away from the issues kids face. I write books that are an escape from reality because sometimes that’s what you need. I want to remind everyone it is okay to still believe in magic and Santa and fairies and the monsters that live under our beds. But in my books there is a girl, abused by her boyfriend, there is a sweet-faced boy dealing with his homosexuality, there is a boy wanting to kill his brother, because these kids exist in real life and deserve a voice on the page.

You don’t get to decide what TV shows I watch or what movies I go to see and you sure as fuck don’t get to decide what books I read.

As for the mother quoted in that article, I am terrified for her 13-year-old daughter. Books give you the opportunity to open a dialogue for uncomfortable conversations, and can even address issues you are too scared to address yourself. You are only damaging your potential relationship with your daughter by shielding her from the real world. Making her feel even more ashamed or embarrassed by her own issues. I feel sorry for you and your children. I hope they choose to read as a form of rebellion rather than turn to blades, drugs or abusive relationships because they don’t know better and you didn’t give them a chance.

And even all of that doesn't begin to scratch the surface of my adolescence. So I will simply close with the comment I made on Twitter last night: Are you seriously saying that all the YA books out there are depraved because they help kids deal, WSJ? Well here’s depravity for you, fuck you.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Flash Fiction: The Unexpected Guest

Another flash fiction challenge offered by Chuck Wendig. What is awesome about this is that I am developing backstory on a character that I'm excited to start writing with once done with book 4 of my Elemental Series, Fire. This insallment is a prequel to this blog, and this one. Its based on the concept of "The Unexpected Guest." Enjoy!

I was almost out of vervain; I was almost out of a lot of my stores. I’d have to go visit Ronnie soon. I closed the cupboard, deciding against the potion I was going to make; if I didn’t do it right it would blow up in my face.

“Gonna have to find work soon, Artie,” I reached to scratch him behind the ears as he purred on the kitchen table. “We’ll both be eating canned tuna if I’m not careful.” Artemis rolled on his back, four black paws stretching in opposite directions before he became boneless.

I reached for the fridge door, poking through left over take out containers. Just as I grabbed a cold eggroll someone banged at my front door. A glance at the clock told me it was well after midnight. It wasn’t odd for someone to come by so late, but I wasn’t expecting anyone. I bit off a bite of eggroll and nudged the fridge closed with my hip. I grabbed my baseball bat on my way to the door. Sure, I could hex whoever it was or use my knock out powder, but if it was a friend they wouldn’t thank me for it in the morning.

I rose up on my toes to check the peephole just as my impatient caller banged again. I couldn’t see his face, but I saw the curly tuft of light red hair. I drew in a deep breath and caught a whiff of alcohol and sour garbage. Through the door I heard the distinct sound of a nose being blown, I prayed he had a handkerchief, but I doubted it.

“What do you want, troll?” I demanded through the closed door. I hefted my bat in one hand, munching the last bite of eggroll.

“Whot? Through the door now?” he whined.

“Why should I let you in?” I asked around a mouthful.

“I’ll pay!”

“For what?” I opened the door as far as the security chain would allow.

“For work,” he pressed. I did not work for trolls; even he was only half troll. Artemis mrrowed loudly, reminding me of the thought of sharing food with him.

“For the love of frogs,” I cursed, “Fine!” I snapped, slamming the door to release the chain. I stormed back into my living room. I kept the bat in hand.

“Thanks, Mattie,” he breathed, shutting the door behind him.

“Matilda,” I corrected, “only my friends call me Mattie.” I sat on the couch, leaving him the uncomfortable straight-backed chair. “What do you want?”

“I need to catch a fairy,” he said. He sat on the edge of the chair, knee bouncing and clutching a worn porkpie hat in his knobby fingers. The tuft of hair on top of his head didn’t hide his batwing-like ears; he might’ve passed for any other fae – maybe even human – if it weren’t for those ears.

“You’re serious?” I blinked at him.

“Yeah, whot of it?”

“Well, it’s dangerous for one thing. And I do mean fatal,” I paused to lick the oil from my fingers, watching his reaction. He seemed excited at my warning, maybe because I hadn’t dismissed him. “And it’s expensive.”

“I have money,” he rushed, jamming a hand in his pocket, pulling out a pouch. He pulled the thing open, spilling a small mound of jewels on my coffee table. They gleamed ruby red, emerald green and sapphire blue.

“That’s a start,” I kept my face schooled.

“Fine!” he threw a wad of human currency on the table. I didn’t want to need his money, but rent was up next week.

“What are you gonna do with the fairy once you’ve got it?”

“Never you mind!” he growled, finding some confidence.

“Well if that’s how you want it, then no,” I said firmly, waving at the door.

“Whot?” his jaw dropped.

“Look, I don’t aid and abet criminals, if I don’t know what you’re going to do with it, I won’t help you.” I crossed my arms over my chest and waited.

“Money,” he said.


“I want money!”

“You have money!” I waved at the pile on my table.

“Phsst,” he shook his head, “that’s nothing compared to whot a fairy can give me.” He was practically drooling. He was an idiot if he thought he could get a fortune out of a fairy, but if that’s all he wanted then I could sleep at night.

“Alright fine,” I sighed, “but you don’t catch a fairy, you know.”

“How’s that?”

“You steal their token,” I said, walking into the kitchen and pulling out a wooden disk, some oil and herbs. I was careful to make sure he couldn’t see what I was adding to the mortar. I ground the mixture and applied it to the wooden disk. The grain stained a darker color. I whispered a spell over the talisman so he couldn’t catch the words. It was all done in less than five minutes.

“That’s it?” he asked skeptically, taking the talisman from me.

“You just have to find the field where their token is, it’ll lead you to it. Once you have it, they have to answer your call and grant you one wish.” I said.

“Whot’s the token?”

“A four leaf clover.”

“Whot’s so hard about finding that?” I couldn’t help but laugh.

“They’ll have hidden it in a field of clover. For every ten thousand three leaf clovers there’ll be one four leaf clover. That’ll find it,” I nodded at the disk in his hand. “Once you get your wish, you’ll have to give it back though, otherwise you’ll risk the wrath of the Sidhe.” I saw the flicker of fear cross his face before he clutched the disk to his chest, turned and was out the door with a slam.

I shook my head at him as I gathered up the money that would see me through the next six months easily.

“Careful what you wish for, troll,” I sang, counting the bills.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Second Review by YA Bound

It has been a crazy week. Yesterday the awesome Trish Wolfe reviewed my book. She loved it. Her one complaint was that there wasnt enough romance. As criticisms go, I'll take it! I couldn't believe the awesome things Trish had to say about my book. When you've been rejected by publishing professionals it is so validating to have people tell you they loved your work. I told my husband that, while I knew I needed to reach out to bloggers and ask them to read and review my book, I was terrified to see what they had to say.

So that makes two reviews that gave me 5 out 5 stars. The first by a near 17-year-old and the other a mother of a teen. That's an awesome spectrum to please. I ran into our bedroom and woke my allergy stricken husband just to tell him. I swear, I almost cried and I do not cry.

So far I've sold 40 books and for my first month as self-published that's amazing. Everything I've read says not to expect to sell more than 10 books in your first month. I really hope this is a sign of things to come.

Now rest assured, Jensen (Shayna's love interest), does not disappear in book two. However it must be remembered that mine are not Paranormal Romance books, they are Urban Fantasy. My stories do not depend on the romance to move the story along. But Shay has been lonely as an empath, but she wars with the concept of being tied down to one person. We'll see how it plays out.

Speaking of, I really need to get back to Book 2, Air.

Monday, May 23, 2011

My First Review

So over the weekend the awesome Lady Cade Crowley read and reviewed my first book, Earth. I have to start by saying how excited I was that she had started to read it so quickly after I asked her too. Bloggers are super busy, in demand individuals so I sent my requests assuming it would be at least a month or more before I’d see my first review. But Cade got to it by Friday and finished it last night. She was cool enough to tweet me her progress because she was enjoying it. I’m sure the entire block heard me squeal in delight when I saw that first tweet. I scared my dog. But no matter.

I’ve told you that friends and family are going to tell you your work is awesome and “good” and that they “liked it, a lot!” Which is nice, really, but you wouldn’t expect any less. But Cade doesn’t know me, has no obligation or ties to me. Cade is a total stranger whose blog I happen to find and loved her “zombie rating” system and asked her if she’d like to read my book and review it. I knew there was a very good chance she wasn’t going to like the book, or would maybe find it mediocre at best but no, she liked it, she really liked it! And she wants to read the sequel! I screamed again when she finished the book.

That was my biggest fear; that people wouldn’t like the end. I find the end to be the hardest part of writing a book. You have to reach the climax with a believable outcome and I am terrified it will come across as “easy” for my characters. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s sitting through a 2 hour movie and the first 1 hour and forty minutes is awesome then the big finish comes and you’re left sitting there, staring at the screen dumbstruck and slack jawed because the ending sucked.

Now she did give some light critical comments, which I appreciate because I know that she was objective and honest. But this being my first complete novel and doing this on my own, I couldn’t have asked for a better review. Sadly I didn’t realize I hadn’t given a detailed description of what Shay and Jodi look like. I guess I was so caught up in not doing a cliché staring at herself in the mirror scene that I must’ve missed it. And seriously, I thought I described Jodi. But I guess you just learn that Shay has long auburn hair and Jodi is blond with a bob cut. Damnit. I’ll have to give book 2, Air, a skim and make sure there’s a decent description in there somewhere. Maybe, because they characters are so clear in my mind, I thought I had done it for the audience. But I will say, since my books are told first person from Shay’s POV it is difficult to have her describe herself. And that isn’t something that Shayna would care about. This is a new challenge I’ll have to tackle before I release Air.

Okay now I have to get to work on the line edits my crit partner sent me for Air and finish my last read through of Water before it’s ready for said crit partner.