Friday, May 19, 2017

A Different Kind of Magic by J.M. Hackman

Today, I'm letting author J.M. Hackman take over my blog and tell you about the creation of the magic system in her debut novel, SPARK (which I endorsed!!).

A Different Kind of Magic 

Most, if not all, fantasy novels include magic of some sort—whether it’s magical characters, something the characters can create, or something they’re given (like the magical cordial Lucy Pevensie uses in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.) All magic requires rules. And while writing Spark, I created and then followed those rules so the readers would suspend their disbelief, sink into the story, and travel to Linneah.

While creating the different races populating Linneah, I added centaurs, fauns (like Murray), and griffins (like Arvandus, Brenna’s griffin). I’ll admit Arvandus was inspired by Aslan (and if Spark is ever made into a movie, I want Liam Neeson to be Arvandus’ voice). Arvandus is a mutant in that his only eagle-like features are his wings. He’s wiser than Brenna and is a good foil for her impulsive decisions.

Along with the magical creatures, every individual in the Jasper Territory is born with a latent talent. The Most High King gives them a haulos jasper at their birth to indicate they’ve been blessed. As they enter puberty and go through their teens, the talent begins to surface. A small amount of power resides in each gem for initial learning and/or emergencies. And the talent is available regardless of who is served: Rune’s evil or Rexson’s Most High King.

The ability is different for each person, as well as the strength of the gift. Although a person can learn how to control their talent, even with much training, some may not be as strong as others. This talent can be the ability to deal with fire and heat (like Brenna) or the gift to read and handle emotions (like Brenna’s mother). I gave them different titles, like Firebrand, Sensitive, and Visionary, although there are many more gifts that never made it into Spark. I’m hoping to introduce a few new ones into the following books in the series.

While writing a story about individuals with amazing abilities was a lot of fun, there was a purpose behind it. I wanted to write a story about the incredible talents girls have. Although men and women were created equal, science has proven we’ve been gifted with different skills sets, just as God intended. It doesn’t mean we’re weak— it means we’re wired differently. And if you’re a female with ADHD, autism, dyslexia, or another learning disability, you may constantly feel like a square peg being forced into a round hole, despite your ability to see the world differently. Spark showcases an unlikely, unique teen doing remarkable things, just like teens in the world today. They’re not interchangeable, like swapping out a bad battery. They each have a purpose with a special role to fulfill. With girls being sexualized at younger and younger ages, what better magic is there than realizing you can change the world with your unique gift?

J.M. Hackman has held many positions: assistant librarian, office assistant, office manager, substitute teacher, writer, wife, and mother. She still holds the last three. And loves it. She received a degree in Elementary Education from Pennsylvania State University and now spends her days writing stories, consuming massive quantities of chocolate, and looking for portals to other worlds. You can find her at www.jmhackman.com.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jmhackman/ 
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jm_hackman 
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15648309.J_M_Hackman
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jillmhackman/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/100069873149516870326
Amazon Author: https://www.amazon.com/J.-M.-Hackman/e/B01K9PJMPE
Purchase Link on L2L2 Website: http://bit.ly/2mf4Iwg

Spark is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBook, Kobo, and any other online retailer, and Spark can be requested at any bookstore or library.

Learn more about J.M. Hackman, and some other great authors by checking out her past and future blog tour posts!


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Ebook Freebie and Finding Angel Giveaway

April is the month of generosity. Well, not officially, but for me it is. (And really, all months should be the month of generosity, right?)

How am I being generous? Two ways:

Protection's Prison is free on Instafreebie. No catch, no gimmicks. I'm just trying them out, so here's the link if you want to snag a free copy. No deadline, btw.

Protection's Prison

Genre: YA fantasy

Siophra's magic enables her to Protect living things from harm. But there is no way to Protect herself from the heartache she feels over her father's refusal to allow his precious Elven daughter to love a human. 

Her father's anger pushes her to make an extreme decision, until her love for him, despite his cruelty, puts her in a place where her magic becomes necessary to keep him safe--a place where her Protection becomes her prison.

**This is a companion story to the Toch Island Chronicles series and can be read either before starting the series or after. 







I'm also running a Goodreads giveaway for a signed copy of Finding Angel from now through April 28.





Goodreads Book Giveaway

Finding Angel by Kat Heckenbach

Finding Angel

by Kat Heckenbach

Giveaway ends April 28, 2017.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway
Click away!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Spring Events



And....I didn't announce or take any pictures of my participation in PolyCon 2017. I mean, I got to go to a con in this building (Polytechnic University) and totally slacked:



Fortunately this cool group called Orlando Collector Deviants (OCD -- and yeah, they did that on purpose) took pictures of all the vendors, including little ole me.


If you want to see more photos from PolyCon, check out OCD's photo album HERE.

The next event I'll have a table at is The Creative Artist Gallery's Spring Fling Market on April 22nd.


Check out their website HERE. And come by to see me! I'll have my art, of course, and also my books!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Meet Willoughby and Friends

I don't do a lot of book cover reveals on here, but when you have something this adorable....

And it's a DRAGON...

Well.


Tell me that's not fabulous! I wish this book had come out when my Beasties were still little. (Not that them being teens is going to stop me from getting a copy for myself!)

And, here's the back:


CLICK HERE to visit Willoughby and Friends on Facebook.

CLICK HERE to purchase this adorable book on Amazon.

Congrats to my author friend Pam Halter and illustrator Kim Sponaugle -- wishing you and Willoughby much success!


Friday, February 17, 2017

Books for Adults: Keep Your Inner Kid (Or, Don't Be An Empty Onion)




I recently started watching a series called The Magicians...and before reaching the end of the first season I have decided to abandon it. Sorry, call me a prude, but I simply couldn't stand sitting through the sex scenes and drug abuse to get to the story, to the magic.

I've read some descriptions of this series, and as I suspected, I found a lot of "Harry Potter for adults" and "Narnia for adults."

Can we please, please, please stop saying this?

Listen, there are things that are adults-only, because they are not appropriate for younger viewers. This is why we rate movies and TV shows. We don't want someone watching something they are not emotionally developed to handle.

But something being "adults-only" is not -- I repeat, not -- the same as something being "for adults."

Folks, Harry Potter and Narnia are just as much "for adults" as they are for kids and teens.

Fantasy and fairy tales are just as much for adults as they are for kids.

There is a short story called "Eleven" by Sandra Cisneros, in which the main character (an eleven year old girl) explains getting older:

"Because the way you grow old is kind of like an onion or like the rings inside a tree trunk or like my little wooden dolls that fit one inside the other, each year inside the next one."

Yes, we change and we grow as we age and mature, but that doesn't mean we abandon magic and adventure. It doesn't mean that suddenly the only things we concern ourselves with are adults-only. Shouldn't adults be more complex than that? Shouldn't we be adding and adding, not replacing? We want to be the full set of dolls, not just the outer one. We ought to be a solid tree trunk, not a hollow one, the center eaten away by the disease of aging. Imagine an onion with only the skin, no center--flimsy and flavorless.

The irony is that The Magicians really is making an attempt to combine those things--adult themes and child-like love of magic and fairy tale. The main character is a college-age guy who hits bottom emotionally when he is forced to give up his childish belief that a storybook world is real...until he finds out that it is real, and so is magic. What a concept! But more and more the onion is losing its center as the brittle skin of sex and drugs take its place.

A story can have romance and grit and deal with deep topics. It can have cussing and darkness and rage. I love stories that dig deep and get dark. I love stories that challenge me as an adult. The thing is, I end up finding more of that in middle grade and teen literature than I do in shows like The Magicians. I don't just want gratuitous adults-only content to make me feel like I'm getting something mature. I want real complexity. I want layers.

Madeleine L'Engle said, "You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children."

And "for children" means it goes deep, to the core of the onion, to the center tree ring, to the innermost doll. Stories like that work their way through the layers -- they don't stop at the outer skin. They keep us, as adults, filled from the inside out.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

New Year, New Book, New Prices

2017 slipped in with little notice for me. Basically from October to mid-January, my life is a whirlwind. Necronomicon, family birthday, Thanksgiving, another birthday, Christmas and all the busyness that goes with it...and then New Year's Day, which is also my wedding anniversary. 

Advice to anyone thinking of getting married: Do NOT pick New Year's Day. It makes trying to celebrate nearly impossible. For one, your anniversary is shared with a holiday. There's not a lot to do, and traveling is crazy expensive that time of year. 

Now, it's finally time to settle in and get things back to normal. This year is starting off with a couple of things for me...

A New Book

I had to show ya'll the cool wrap-around cover. 

Mythic Orbits just released. It's, as the Amazon description reads, "fourteen of the best speculative fiction stories by Christian authors, spinning science fiction, fantasy, horror, and paranormal genres into worlds of intrigue and delight." It features a short story by Kerry Nietz, author of Amish Vampires in Space and A Star Curiously Singing.

It also earned a couple of pretty snazzy endorsements:
"A collection of brief, delightful departures--and a few welcome chills.A truly enjoyable and impressive anthology."
--Tosca Lee, New York Times Bestselling author

 "This collection presents a satisfying spectrum of storytellers, some familiar and others new on the scene. Some of the tales are unsettling and some are comforting; many are thought- provoking. Enjoy the ride."
--Kathy Tyers, author of the"Firebird"series, CrystalWitness, Shivering World, One Mind's Eye, and Star Wars: TheTruce at Bakura
Order it in print or Kindle version HERE

New Prices

To kick off 2017, I've put my entire Toch Island Chronicles trilogy on sale in Kindle format. For the month of January, and possibly beyond since I'm just now getting to posting here, you can snag each book for only $1.39. Which means, you get the trilogy for less than $5.



HERE IS THE NIFTY LINK that takes you to the series page on Amazon.

BTW--always feel free to share the links for anything you see on my blog. We indie authors survive more by word-of-mouth than anything, and every time you tell someone about our work you are doing an invaluable service that is more appreciated than you can possibly know.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Catching Up Before Thanksgiving (and a Special Offer)

I can hardly believe tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I'm seriously behind on posting here, as usual. Quick catch-up:

Necronomicon was AWESOME. Probably the best one yet. I was on ten panels, and got to judge the costume contest. And I dressed up in costume myself (although, of course, did not enter the contest). And for the first time I entered some of my artwork into the art show--and I sold several piecees!


Me on a panel..I forget which one. I must have been looking at my phone?

My art, both the panel and the table (left of the pink mushroom thing).


Costumes from the contest.


Me and costume contest contestant (and dear friend and fellow author) David Berger. 

There were also some very STRANGE THINGS at Necro this year. Like...the wall from Stranger Things and the one and only Dr. Paul Bearer Jr. from Creature Feature. He is, of course, not the original with whom I grew up, but I was completely star-struck nonetheless. 

RIGHT HERE. RUN. 
SQUEEEEEE!

For more pictures, visit my Facebook album HERE.

After that came Halloween. Then a trip to Universal Studios to celebrate family birthdays. If you haven't seen my bazillion previous posts with pictures from this oft-visited theme park, here's a few:

Beastie 2 and one of her heroes. 

This is in Sapphire Falls (a Universal Studios hotel we walked around).
I WANT THIS ROOM.

Obligatory dragon photo from Diagon Alley.

Having fun with monsters in the Prop Shop.

Whilst most of this was happening, I have been painting and whatnot. I have several pieces on display at Center Place, next to the Brandon Library (in, of course, Brandon, FL). If you're local, go check it out.

If you haven't seen my artwork, visit my Fine Art America page HERE. (You can also buy prints there.)

And speaking of art...I am running a special at my Etsy store. Free shipping on everything from now until Christmas day. This includes mixed media (most 6"x6"), pendants, and wands. There is also one original acrylic painting (4"x4" plus a frame). To keep things simple, the code is FREESHIPPING. Just click HERE.