Friday, August 31, 2018

My Beloved Do You Know...

I haven't posted much on this blog the past couple of years simply because of busyness. The last two months I've posted almost nothing--and that's because my family suffered a serious tragedy on June 16th. My son, at the age of 18, took his own life. I will not go beyond that statement here--if you know me personally, you know what happened. (I am also not allowing comments on this post--if you know me personally, you have other ways of contacting me.) Otherwise, I'm sorry, it's still too raw for me to go further right now. But I've made promises on Facebook to post about a painting series I recently did, and it's much easier for me to put it all on here than to piece it together with all the photos and links there. This is the series:

At my son's memorial service, we played the video for the song ILLUSION by VNV Nation because it was a song that he connected with and it expressed his feelings about struggling to fit in. (You can watch the video with lyrics HERE.)

After the service, I began listening to more songs by VNV Nation, and one of the first ones I found was BELOVED. The words to this song...they were, and still are, so incredibly meaningful to me. So meaningful, they inspired a painting series. You can read the words (they are written below along with images of the paintings) and you will understand. I promise, though, you will not understand completely. Maybe that sounds arrogant, but no one can fully understand another person's deepest emotions, and while you'll hit the periphery, you will never quite get everything. I'm sure I can't fully understand the inspiration for the lyrics in the first place, not every nuance. This is my interpretation of the lyrics, my expression of how they affected me. 

Each painting is followed by the specific verse that inspired it. They are in order of how the verses appear in the song. After the seventh verse, some of them are repeated, but of course I didn't paint duplicates or different images for repeated verses. I've also included some of the explanation for specific elements, although I will not explain fully the meaning of everything.

Painting #1

It's colder than before
The seasons took all they had come for
Now winter dances here
It seems so fitting don't you think
To dress the ground in white and grey

(This one is pretty obvious.)

Painting #2

It's so quiet I can hear
My thoughts touching every second
That I spent waiting for you
Circumstances afford me
No second chance to tell you
How much I've missed you

(I chose a butterfly because to me they are the most "silent" of all creatures, and they go around touching every flower.)

Painting #3

My beloved do you know
When the warm wind comes again
Another year will start to pass
And please don't ask me why I'm here
Something deeper brought me
Than a need to remember

(This all happened at the beginning of summer when warm winds blow, and when that happens again, a year will have passed.)

Painting #4

We were once young and blessed with wings
No heights could keep us from their reach
No sacred place we did not soar
Still, greater things burned within us
I don't regret the choices that I've made
I know you feel the same

(Again, pretty obvious that mountains are great heights.)

Painting #5

My beloved do you know
How many times I stared at clouds
Thinking that I saw you there
These are feelings that do not pass so easily
I can't forget what we claimed as ours

(Also fairly obvious--the butterfly seeing a butterfly in the clouds. However, in real life I keep seeing dragons.)

Painting #6

Moments lost though time remains
I am so proud of what we were
No pain remains, no feeling
Eternity awaits

(The moments have passed, and butterflies live but a moment, but time continues--the sun will still go up and down. I considered having the wings falling off the butterfly in this one, but I think this captures it well without that imagery.)

Painting #7

Grant me wings that I might fly
My restless soul is longing
No pain remains, no feeling
Eternity awaits

(The butterfly transforms into something much more substantial. Butterflies represent change and rebirth, but as I said above, they are short-lived. Phoenixes represent rebirth that continues. They are much more powerful, can fly farther, go on forever.)

You can listen to the song ILLUSION that inspired the series HERE

Again, there is much more to this, and no, I'm not going to let you into the deepest parts because that is for me alone. But I wanted to share the lyrics that inspired this because music and writing are powerful things, and because while everyone is basically right by saying this painting series is about grieving and healing, it's specifically about THIS song. Thank you, VNV Nation, for touching both my son's life and mine in such a profound way. 

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Relent Re-Released

Popping in to let everyone know that Relent has officially been re-released in both ebook and print. You can find it on Amazon by clicking HERE.

The new cover is exactly the same as the old, minus the old publishing house banner across the top. I am so thankful to Desert Breeze Publishing for allowing me to keep my cover art. (For the non-writers out there, publishers generally aren't so generous about that.)

Quick reminder of what Relent is about:

After spending her life in foster care, Simone discovers she’s half angel when the demon Wraith comes into the diner where she waits tables. Wraith--the only one who is ever truthful enough with her to admit his words are mostly lies. Years later, angry that her mother abandoned her to return to heaven, Simone finds herself abandoning her lover, Reese, and their newborn child after Wraith tells her what she can’t deny is truth: “They will grow old and die while you remain young.” But could he have lied? The only way Simone can know is by finding them, and making a place for herself in their life. And when the balance between human and angel begins to shift in her, she must turn to Wraith again regardless of whether she can trust him or not.

Monday, June 4, 2018

The Electrical Menagerie: Steampunk Meets Sci-Fi in a Fabulous Adventure

I was recently given the opportunity to read an advanced copy of a book that absolutely made me fall in love.

The Electrical Menagerie is one of those books that captivated me from the very beginning. The voice was the first thing that got my attention. The characters quickly came alive for me. Carthage and Huxley are so different, and yet so compatible. Carthage the inventor and tinkerer and illusionist and performer who came from circumstances that could have entirely broken him. Huxley the organizer, the businessman, the logical one, with a surprising past. I could connect with both of them and loved seeing their interactions. The depth of their characters really impressed me. The rest of the cast was unique and interesting as well. 

And the story world....

The story world. Oh, my. Steampunk with a twist of sci-fi. Trains running on rails through space. Holopaper. Steampunk-style automatons that run on electricity. The genre mash-up was perfect. And all of it centering around a circus-like competition for entertainers. The book's description says it's for fans of The Greatest Showman, and honestly I hadn't even seen that description when I read my advanced copy, but that is exactly what came to mind for me. Not a knock-off, though. Not by any stretch. The Electrical Menagerie is completely unique, but it definitely has the atmosphere of The Greatest Showman (minus the musical numbers, of course). It's got that fun for all ages feel, too. The main characters are adults, but the book is appropriate for middle grade and up. 

I am so looking forward to more books in this series! And I know without a doubt I'll be reading this one again.

The official description: 

The Electrical Menagerie, one-of-a-kind robotic roadshow, is bankrupt.
Sylvester Carthage, illusionist and engineer, has the eccentric imagination the Menagerie needs to succeed creatively — but none of the people skills. Fast-talking Arbrook Huxley, meanwhile, has all the savvy the Menagerie needs to succeed commercially — but none of the scruples.
To save their show, Carthage & Huxley risk everything in a royal talent competition, vying for the chance to perform for the Future Celestial Queen. In this stardust-and-spark-powered empire of floating islands and flying trains, a shot at fame and fortune means weathering the glamorous and cutthroat world of critics, high society, and rival magicians —but with real conspiracy lurking beneath tabloid controversy, there’s more at stake in this contest than the prize.
Behind the glittery haze of flash paper and mirrors, every competitor has something to hide… and it’s the lies Carthage & Huxley tell each other that may cost them everything.

I'm not alone in loving this one:

"Dazzles from start to finish. In Carthage & Huxley, Sherlock & Watson fans will find another dynamic duo whose ready wit and sizzling banter (and inevitable personality clashes) never fail to delight. You'll be calling for an encore performance." Gillian Bronte Adams, author of The Songkeeper Chronicles

"The stuff that fandoms are built on." Kyle Robert Shultz, author of Beaumont & Beasley

Purchase Links


About the Author:

Mollie’s first job was with a major theme park, where she operated a roller coaster, fixed parade floats, and helped Scooby-Doo put on his head. Now, Mollie is a movie producer and the author of character-driven science fiction/fantasy novels for adults who never outgrew imagination. Her favorite things include Jesus, dinosaurs, and telling cinematic stories that blend glitter and grit.

Social Media Links
Website — Twitter — Instagram

Enter the Giveaway:

Explore the world of The Electrical Menagerie by entering to win this Celestial Isles prize pack, which includes: "High Victorian" playing cards by luxury playing card company Theory11, handmade galaxy mug by DeVita Designs, Science & Engineering Themed Pocket Notebook Set by CognitiveSurplus, and a tin of Electrical Menagerie themed tea (over a $50 value)! (US only.)

And continue following the blog tour:

Monday, June 4th    
Book Spotlight – Sarah Ashwood’s Newsletter
Author Interview – New Authors Fellowship
Review – Finding Kat Heckenbach

Tuesday, June 5th   
Review – Seasons of Humility
Book Spotlight – Fairies, Fantasy, and Faith

Wednesday, June 6th  
Guest Post – H.L. Burke’s Blog
Character Interview – Kyle Robert Shultz
Review – Bold Reads

Thursday, June 7th  
Review – Inspired Chaos
Guest Post – J.L. Mbewe
Review – Scriblerians
Review – The Bibliophile of Beaverton

Friday, June 8th  
Author Interview – Bethany A. Jennings
Guest Post & Review – The Elven Padawan
Author Interview – Shannon A. Hiner

Saturday, June 9th
Author Interview, Character Interview & Review – Katelyn Buxton Books
Review – K.M. Carroll, Author – fun, fantastical escapes
Character Interview – The Book Sprite

Monday, June 11th  
Blog Tour Wrap-Up – Unicorn Quester

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Best Friends and Worst Enemies

A friend started a discussion on Facebook by asking what the opposite of "frenemy" is. The answers were interesting, and most agreed that frenemies include people who are friendly on the surface but hate each other underneath. But they also include people who seem to hate each other, yet totally have each other's back. I agree with those definitions to a certain level, but I think a real frenemy relationship it much more complex. I know this because I've had a couple of frenemships (is that a word?) myself. I drew on these relationships when writing Relent.

Yes, I see Wraith a lot like Jason Momoa.
Only Wraith has much paler skin
and much darker hair.
Relent opens with Simone meeting a guy named Wraith, who reveals himself to be a demon. He also reveals the truth about Simone: that her mother, who abandoned her, is actually an angel. Simone's father, of course, was human, and her mother lost her status as an angel because of her affair with him. She abandoned Simone in order to regain her angelic status. Okay, it's more complicated than that, but to get the full story, you need to read the book.

The point is, Wraith gave Simone both the information she desperately wanted and the information that would hurt her the most. And his motivation was both to help her and hurt her. Throughout the novel, Wraith manages to be the only one Simone can trust, while also being the one who intentionally causes her the most pain. He is there to dig and torment at all the wrong times, but he is also there for Simone during her darkest moments. 

It goes far deeper than just pretending to be friends, but hating each other underneath. Or being openly hostile, while jumping in to save the other person from peril because it's the right thing to do. There is no moral compass guiding Wraith--he's a demon, remember? All of his motives are selfish. Everything he does is calculated, and yet driven by his own desires. He toys with Simone, but he connects with her, and she connects with him. There is a level at which they simply need each other because, despite their animosity, they are the only ones who can genuinely understand each other. They are quite literally best friends and worst enemies. 

After spending her life in foster care, Simone discovers she's half angel when the demon Wraith comes into the diner where she waits tables. Wraith--the only one who is ever truthful enough with her to admit his words are mostly lies.

Years later, angry that her mother abandoned her to return to heaven, Simone finds herself abandoning her lover, Reese, and their newborn child after Wraith tells her what she can't deny is truth: "They will grow old and die while you remain young."

But could he have lied? The only way Simone can know is by finding them, and making a place for herself in their life. And when the balance between human and angel begins to shift in her, she must turn to Wraith again regardless of whether she can trust him or not.

"A unique and twisted journey into the supernatural. Compulsively readable! I was totally captivated by Heckenbach's vision." - Rachel A. Marks, author of The Dark Cycle trilogy. 

"Relent is a fresh, unique take on angels and demons that will sweep you away on a wild ride you won't soon forget." ~Amy Brock McNew, author of the Reluctant Warrior Chronicles.

Find links to purchase Relent at your favorite online retailer HERE. Also available in print on Amazon and Barnes&Noble.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Why Relent is Really a Mother's Story

I realized recently why I've had a hard time pushing Relent when I'm at author events, as well as talking about it online other than the occasional reminders that it exists as a book and I want people to read it. You see, it's labeled as "paranormal romance." I cringe every time I tell people that, but it's not because I have an issue with that genre or with romance in general. I do read romance--it's just usually romance + some other genre. (Romance+fantasy, romance+sci-fi, romance+dystopian, etc.) I find myself telling readers that Relent is lighter on the romance, heavier on the paranormal. Which is true, but my motivation for that is so they don't expect a bunch of steamy scenes. There's love, there's romantic tension, and yes, Simone gets pregnant, but the details of that union stay behind closed doors.

But while listening to this podcast with authors Janeen Ippolito and H.L Burke, where they discuss books with unique family dynamics, I was struck by Janeen's comments about Relent. She pointed out that Simone isn't just some badass warrior chick with a sword, which is a common thing in paranormal/supernatural romance and urban fantasy. (BTW, not dissing that--there are some awesome books that use that trope in great ways, like The Reluctant Warrior Chronicles by Amy Brock McNew.) Instead, Simone is a half-angel, struggling to not let her angel half fall while she tries to get back into her young daughter's life. Sure, this involves the romance between Simone and her ex, but her focus, her driving force, is the relationship with her daughter.

That relationship was broken as a result of Simone's broken relationship with her own mother. Seraphina, who was full angel, was forced to give up Simone at birth and live away from her with her angelic status and powers stripped. Years later, after Simone has grown up and had a daughter herself, whom she abandons at birth -- for very different reasons-- Seraphina is allowed to return to Heaven as a full angel. Simone is angry to say the least. She believes her mother chose to abandon her out of selfishness, and vows to get her own daughter back. Thus begins her hunt for her ex and their child.

Throughout Simone's search she is guided (read: manipulated) by the only one who understands who she is, a demon named Wraith. He was the one who told her the truth about her past, about her mother, and advised her to leave her child. He is simultaneously her best friend and her worst enemy. Their relationship is of course complex, but even Simone doesn't realize just how complex until the end of the book.

See? Relent isn't a paranormal romance. Not in the traditional sense. It's a story of a daughter who was abandoned by her mother. The story of a mother who abandons her child. It is about the lengths a mother will go to to give her child a chance at life, even it means not telling her child what's really going on, letting that child hate her for the decisions she makes because there is no way the child can understand what drives them. And it's about sacrifice, giving all you have, all you are, for the one you love.

So, yes, I will probably continue cringing every time I say Relent is a paranormal romance. Not because PNR is such a bad thing, but because it's not the right category. Unfortunately, there is no category for romantic supernatural fiction about mother-daughter relationships. At least now I can explain why Relent is different, and why it's more than just a book I wrote that I think you should read.

You can find Relent on Amazon and other online retailers by clicking THIS LINK.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Relent is a Finalist in the Realm Awards!

Yeah, I know, this quick little announcement doesn't make up for my promises to post more often here, but it's what you're getting for now.

My novel Relent, which released July 2017, was announced as a finalist in the Realm Awards, supernatural category. Here's the screen shot of the email:

Eep! My name right there beneath Tosca Lee! 

You can see the full listing of all the finalists in all categories and more info about the contest on the Realm Makers site

I'm so excited and just honored to be selected a finalist! Of course, I'm hoping to go all the way because I so, so adore the award stickers:

Tell me that wouldn't be so pretty on the cover of Relent! 

OK, that's it. Thanks for indulging me!