Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Moving to the Granny Flat

I certainly hope y'all have been checking out my posts on the New Authors' Fellowship. I've been a Featured Author there since early January 2011. But my time has run out. It's not a sad thing, though! I'm moving up to the "Granny Flat"--our affectionate term for Alumni status. It means I won't be posting weekly anymore, but I'm still there, and I will be posting once a month.

Today, I posted my last post as a Featured Author: Up, Up...but Not Away.

To make sure you don't miss future posts on there, I'll put links up here. But you are certainly free to go follow the NAF blog--there are plenty of other awesome authors on there posting every day. Bop around the site over there and visit my page to catch up on all my previous posts.

Oh, and I'll be throwing this out now and then: I've started another blog/site specific to Finding Angel (http://findingangel.com/) that I'll be trying to keep up now that I don't have the weekly obligation to NAF. It will be focused entirely on Finding Angel stuff. News, drawings, contests, companion short stories, etc. Anything that can be directly related to the series will make its way over there. Obviously, I'll be posting about Finding Angel and my progress on subsequent books here, too, but not quite as in-depth. So head on over and follow, follow!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Breaking the Surface

I feel almost as if I have been underwater for weeks now. Editing Finding Angel. Proofreading Finding Angel. Working on cover art. "Make this bigger? Smaller?" Working on interior art. Collecting endorsements. "Shall we place this here, or here?"  Finalizing....tweaking...more proofreading!

But, it is all over now. The file has been sent to the printer!

It is a strange feeling. My book will be available in a week. I will have it in my hands shortly after that. I will be...a published author.

Yes, I know, I'm published already. Forty-some-odd instances of short stories, both fiction and nonfiction, in various magazines and anthologies. They do mean so much--truly! Please don't get this wrong. Those things count. They really do. But this is different. This is the dream that started it all.

And now I have to figure out where to go from here. For so long everything has centered around writing Finding Angel. Writing short stories to build my platform (and falling in love with short story writing in the process). Writing queries, sending queries, printing rejection letters...and then revising and rewriting and pushing myself to get better, better, better.

While this feels like a huge milestone, I know it is only the beginning. Now comes marketing. And begging for reviews ;). And rolling my eyes at my husband every time he suggests trading in our travel trailer for an RV so I can travel the country doing book signings. (Which makes for very sore eyes muscles!)

But it won't stop there. I have a sequel to Finding Angel in the works and can now reorient my focus onto that. And there are always short stories to write!

So, while I'm up for air right now, I'll be diving back in and staying submerged for a nice long time.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Resurrection by Mike Duran

Mike Duran is known for hitting on the controversial topics related to Christian writing. His blog posts consistently make his readers think about their definition of Christian fiction. He also doesn't believe in playing softball when it comes to reviews. The standard among Christian fiction reviewers tends to be a sappy-happy pat on the back, a "great job, my fellow believer!" and shining five stars.

All authors want their readers to love their books. But Mike strikes me as the type who'd rather have a critical breakdown of his than a standard glowing review. So, I decided to do this review a little differently....

The Resurrection is a Peretti-style spiritual warfare novel. It takes place in a small town, with a preacher and certain members of his congregation smack in the center of the battleground.

First up--Ruby Case, church member. She's got rock-solid faith. Is she flawed? Well, she has a limp...but she's the kind of woman you would want babysitting your kids because she's loyal, trustworthy, and has a heart of gold. She really made me think about the whole "perfect Christian character" thing that is so prevalent in Christian fiction. It's actually not the "goodness" that makes those characters annoying. Ruby is "good." She doesn't have a seedy past or fatal flaw (unless you count a stubborn independent streak). Those are techniques used by some Christian authors to show that they have "flawed" Christian characters. But here's the truth--some Christians are just genuinely good people. The thing is, though, they are not pious. And the characters in Christian fiction who come across as annoyingly good are actually pious and self-righteous scripture-quoting cardboard cut-outs. Ruby is not. She 's got serious depth. So while I couldn't point my finger and say, "Look, see, he made her 'flawed' so this book is really edgy," I can say she was real.

Reverend Ian Clark...no rock solid faith here. More like rock slide. This guy is totally on the fence, full of doubts, feeling like a faker in front of his congregation. Talk about a flawed character. But it does come from somewhere. He's suffered some real loss that made him feel the way he does. My gripe? I would have liked to see more of that past. Some really emotional flashbacks that give me a clear picture of his love for and closeness to his sister whose death set him on the edge. It would have endeared him to me, and I would have connected to his pain. However, I couldn't help but wonder if Mike didn't include that stuff on purpose. Maybe he wanted us to see Clark as a big slug, so we spend the first half of the book thinking, "Man up, you big wuss."

Side characters: Jack is Ruby's loving and devoted husband, who has left the church because of its hypocrisy. Vin is Ruby's best friend. The tattooed ex-druggie has a strength Ruby wishes she could muster, and a faith that comes from true thankfulness for the grace God has shown her. Both characters added richness to the story. There are others, of course, but telling you much about them will just be giving spoilers....

The Conflict. Ruby's touch seemingly brings a dead boy back to life. The town is in an uproar. Half of them think she's a saint and people come to her with gifts and requests for miracles. The other half think she's a witch or worse. All she wants is to be left alone, and come to terms with the reason God used her. She ends up drawn into a search of the town's history, though, when echoes of her experience bring forth information about past events that are eerily familiar. Clark, of course, is turned to as the spiritual leader--but how can he fulfill this role when he holds so many doubts? Work in a section of town that seems steeped in new age religion and pagan idol worship, and a friend of Clark's who is tugging hard on his strings of doubt.

The Plot. Hm. In the end, I could say, "Well done." In the middle, I felt it was disjointed at times. Not that it was hard to follow. But there were times when I felt something was introduced, to then be dropped, and the focus shift was slightly jarring to me. But the ending brought all the threads together smoothly. Any bumps in the road were very much worth it because of the destination.

Lastly, the thing that warranted an author's "afterward" in the book. Mr. Cellophane. The spirit who haunts Rev. Clark. I will leave you with this statement, and I want you to think about the difference in its meaning depending on whether I stuck five stars or one star next to my review: "Thanks for the nightmares, Mike." ;)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Two Weeks and Counting

Finding Angel will release in exactly two weeks. That's fourteen days. In other words--really soon! I promised myself that this site would be centered around all things related to the book, and I'm trying desperately to keep that promise. Ironically, it is the book that has kept me from posting here.

Things involved in publishing a novel that you might not have thought about:

Reading the book over and over, looking for typos "one last time," until you become completely sick of it.

Chapter header images and scene break images. In my case, I'm the artist for my book as well as the author, so those images have been my responsibility. Well, technically, my publisher cut out the keyhole from the cover image to use as chapter headers--but I'm helping :P. And the scene break image is an original drawing.

Reading the book over and over, looking for typos "one last time," until you become completely sick of it.

Dedication page and acknowledgments page. Those are not as easy to write as you think! Making sure you mention all the people who helped you, knowing darn well you should probably be saying more about this person or that person...

Reading the book over and over, looking for typos "one last time," until you become completely sick of it.

Typesetting and formatting, spine and back cover design. Those are in the hands of my publisher right now, but I feel like a mama bear with someone else holding my baby. Luckily, I have a lot of faith in the one holding her ;).

Reading the book over and over, looking for typos "one last time," until you become completely sick of it.

Worry, worry, worry that there is something you are missing. A plot hole, a detail you got wrong. Is someone who is an expert on something you make one tiny statement about going to go "No way! That's not right!"?

Oh, and did I mention...Reading the book over and over, looking for typos "one last time," until you become completely sick of it...

Monday, August 15, 2011

Camping Craziness

I am home.

I make that statement--with a contented sigh--because for the four days prior to today I was not. I was camping. Our version of camping does not involve tents or sleeping bags. It does not involve deep woods or even state parks. Nope--I'm not too proud to admit--our version of camping involves a 30-foot air-conditioned travel trailer and Disney's Fort Wilderness campground. That, my friends, is as close to "camping" as this girl wants to get.

True, I grew up in the country. It was a brick house, but it was out in the middle of nowhere, on a street where all the lots were heavily treed. We had snakes, of the "rat" variety and the "coral" variety. We had bugs...and bugs...and bugs. Wolf spiders the size of my hand. I spent most of my time climbing trees and running barefoot. I love hearing crickets outside my window and desperately miss that sound here in my suburban neighborhood. I am not afraid of nature. That's NOT why I don't like "true" camping.

"Then why?" you ask.

I'll tell you. It's the lack of solitude. It's having a family on top of each other in a small space. It's hard enough to get away from each other in a 30-foot travel trailer, so forget it in a tent. I know--camping is about being together as a family. Sure. But not every minute. I need space. And to be perfectly honest, I need air conditioning. And I like having a place to plug in my netbook. And I'm not terribly keen on the idea of huddling under a canvas triangle in the rain.

So, that said, this trip was almost the deal-breaker. We had a flat tire on the trailer when we got to the campground. After days and days and days of pouring rain, it didn't so much as sprinkle the day we arrived and that made it HOT. The ac in the trailer could barely keep up, but sitting outside was misery. Oh, and then the battery died on the trailer. I don't understand the electrical system of our trailer, even after my electrical engineer husband explaining it to me--but we did have ac and TV even though the overhead lights and the fridge wouldn't come on. This led to dear husband heading out to Walmart twice in the middle of the night...once for fuses and once for a battery charger, and both times he came back with scary stories about the people of Walmart who shop at 1 am in Orlando....

Ah, but bad things always strike in threes. We seem to have a leak in the trailer somewhere, too. Probably something easily fixed, but the bugger will be trying to find it.

We had other mishaps this weekend, too. Like broken-but-thankfully-not-lost bracelets (two of them) and forgetting to bring the comfy chairs. Taking the bus instead of the boat to get home quicker because it was almost check-out time and finding out the route was actually twice as long, then getting back and forgetting the combination on the hitch lock, so husband calls the maintenance people to have them cut the lock off...only to remember the combination and have to call them back and tell them how stupid we feel.

I have a friend who says this is all because Mercury is in retrograde. I honestly would love to scoff at her, but last time ole Merc was in retrograde we had a slew of craziness, too. This time, it was combined with a full moon.

What. Were. We. Thinking?

At the very least, we are not camping in August again.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What I've Been Working On...

The official cover of Finding Angel:

Yep, there it is. The official, final cover image. It's my concept cover, only much improved. Thanks to some ingenuity on both my part and that of my rockin' publisher, Grace Bridges, we have created exactly what we had in mind. The locket is an original drawing by me. The keyhole was the part that gave us fits, but with my drawing skills and Grace's digital skills it all came together. The wood...is wood :P. The font, thanks to Grace's status as text master, I couldn't be happier with!

Three. More. Weeks. I am bustin'.

Friday, August 5, 2011

"A" is for August....and Anthologies

I feel like a broken record. And I feel like one of those authors who runs around going, "Hey, look at all my books! Look at meeeeeee!" I hate that feeling.

But. (*evil grin*)

This has been a stellar month for me regarding anthologies. First, there was the release of Chicken Soup for the Soul: Just for Preteens, which technically hit on July 26th, but that's darn close to August. Then, there was Aquasynthesis, which I have been yammering about for days now because it has three stories of mine as well as some of the most brilliant short stories I've read by other Splashdown Books authors.

Now, the anthology I've been waiting a while for is finally out. While the Morning Stars Sing just released from Residential Aliens, and it features my story "The Guitar." 

This, I must admit, is my favorite of my short stories. It stars my favorite character in Finding Angel--a bit of back story about him, told from the pov of his best friend. He's Elven, a musician (with leather and tattoos and pointed ears lost in really great hair...) and has an amazing magic Talent. 

Here's the opening of the story:

“Dude, please, you gotta take me with you this time.”
Kalek perched on a low branch of a Platinum Oak, his Elven ears poking through a massive mound of ragged curls. I cringed at the way his onyx eyes gleamed. He’d convince me, I was sure, but I wouldn’t go down without a fight.
“No way,” I said, “I’m going camping. Alone. That means without you, so forget it.”
He jumped down from the tree, lithe as a panther, and stood in front of me. “C’mon. I’ve never been off the island. Just this once.”
“Your father will be furious.”
“I know, dude, all the more reason.”

You can order WtMSS by clicking HERE.

And lastly, coming later this month (no exact date yet) will be my story "Ordinary Folk" in the Dark Heroes anthology by Pill Hill Press. This is my longest published short story to date. Dark Heroes is an anthology of stories in which a character that would normally play the part of the villain is actually the hero. Think vampires and monsters, fur and fangs. 

My dark hero? Janey, whose husband and doctor are looking at ordinary things to explain her extraordinary symptoms...but Janey knows there has to be more to it and decides to visit her parents' hometown in search of answers. She finds answers, all right, as well as a chance for revenge.

So, there you have it. My month of anthologies. I will now turn off the record player :P.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


What is Aquasynthesis?

aqua (n) - water, used in compound names, or substances in water.
synthesis (n) - The combining of elements into a unified entity.
aquasynthesis (n) - a combining of worlds within a pool of water; an anthology of short stories from Splashdown authors.

Gizile follows her mysterious teacher, Tok, as they look into the ice of an ocean pool to contemplate a series of strange and mystical visions: astonishing tales of technology and transcendence, aliens and elves, space and time, dragons and demons, prophecies and scriptures, humor and horror, the gifted and the enslaved, virtual and supernatural reality, insanity and inspiration.

No, really, what is it?

Just what is says--an anthology from Splashdown Books, which features stories by Fred Warren, Caprice Hokstad, P.A. Baines, Adam Graham, R.L. Copple, Travis Perry, Mike Lynch, Keven Newsome, Kat Heckenbach, and Ryan Grabow. Edited by Grace Bridges and narration by Walt Staples.

My contribution includes three stories:

"Between the Pages" is a story that involves my character Angel and the magic of books, sort of a prelude to Finding Angel. Can't say it really happened, can't say it didn't. But it could have.

"The Artist" was previously published in two other magazines (Mindflights and Beyond Centauri) and is a companion story to Finding Angel, a bit of back story for one of the characters who struggles to find her magic Talent.

"Dude" was originally published in Residential Aliens, and is unrelated to Finding Angel. It's the story of a scientist and a stuck-in-the-eighties Elf working together on a very special project.

Available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords
(Note--Amazon is being squirrelly right now and only has the Kindle version up. B&N has the print version but is taking a while on the ebook. Smashwords has all ebook formats.)