Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Find Me Over There and Over There Today

Head over to Ralene Burke's blog for an interview--a unique one. Angel interviews me. Yes, that Angel. Here's a little teaser:
Hi. My name is, um, Angel. Yeah, I know, odd name. I get that a lot. But it’s what my charm bracelet says, and since that’s the only thing I have from the past that I couldn’t remember when I was found by Mr. and Mrs. Mason when I was six…
Oh, sorry. That’s not why I’m here. I mean it is—my story is why I’m here. But I’m not here to tell you that story. The whole thing is written out in a book. Yep, Kat Heckenbach wrote a book all about me. And today I’m going to ask her some questions about it. I bet you’d have questions for someone if they wrote a whole book about your life, wouldn’t you? Yeah. So, here we go. 
If you leave a comment--there, not here!--you can enter to win a copy of Finding Angel.
And I also posted on New Authors' Fellowship tonight. You can check that out HERE.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Fighting Writing

We didn't go to church this morning. Our church conveniently (maybe a little too so) podcasts their services and we often watch from home. Sometimes I feel a little guilty about that, but today I was glad we didn't go.

Because I wrote.

I have not written something new in what feels like months. For a while I could blame it on all the editing I needed to do for Finding Angel. Then the cover art. Then marketing. And weaseled in-between is exhaustion from all of it put together. But the fact is, I haven't been feeling inspired.

Except during church. Only I fight the urge to write during church because, well, it's church. I'm supposed to be focusing. I'm supposed to be listening. I'm supposed to be standing during the songs when we physically go to church. And at home, I feel like I should be paying attention twice as hard to make up for not going.

So, I fight the ideas swirling around my head. I shove them away, telling them to come back later. Now is not the time. Don't you know this is rude? We're here for God, so go sit patiently until I'm ready for you.


The problem is, the ideas don't come back. They don't wait for another time. They storm off or dissipate and I can't seem to find them again when I have nothing to do except check Facebook.

Today I didn't tell them to go away. I let them in. I sat on my couch with my notebook and scribbled all the stuff that comes so easily to me while the worship team sings. And you know what? I still "heard" the music, and I still "heard" the sermon. But I filled up pages with ideas!

I don't know why I fight writing at those times. I don't know why I disregard the fact that I consider my writing ability a gift from God and then shoo away ideas simply because they show up in His house. Or my house during His time. If the gift is from Him, wouldn't the ideas be something He wants me to have?

I realized the problem is not what God thinks of me writing during church, but my concern for what other people will think. And that has led me to pondering what other people think about several things that are important to me. It's all simmering in the back of my head, and I expect it to soon boil into my next post on New Authors' Fellowship...

Monday, September 19, 2011

Darken Your Fairy Tales

Strange blog title, yes. And a strange post to go with it, I think. I've been reading a book called Wickflicker by an author named Teric Darken. It's classified as supernatural thriller, but I'm here to say I think that's not quite accurate. I'm thinking it should be considered a "dark fairy tale."

It's only recently that I've given thought to what a fairy tale really is. I used to think of them as children's stories. But since I started writing, I've had to look long and hard at the genre classifications and I have discovered that fairy tales are not just for kids--or maybe, not for kids at all. I read three books over the last couple of years that would be classified as fairy tales, and none of them are "children's" stories:

The Wolf of Tebron by C.S. Lakin is a fairy tale, through and through, as are the other two books in the series which are on my to-be-read-very-soon list. In Lakin's guest post on the New Authors' Fellowship blog, I wrote an introduction that included this definition of a fairy tale:


Fairy tales, also known as wonder tales or m√§rchen (from the German), are a sub-genre of folktales involving magical, fantastic or wonderful episodes, characters, events, or symbols. Like all folktales they are narratives that are not believed to be true (fictional stories), often in timeless settings (once upon a time) in generic, unspecified places (the woods), with one-dimensional characters (completely good or bad). They function to entertain, inspire, and enlighten us. In these episodic narratives the main characters are usually humans who often follow a typical pattern (as in a heroic quest) that is resolved partly by magic. The fact that these wonder tales still appeal to us attests to their richness and effectiveness as symbolic (artistic) communication.
As I noted in my intro, Lakin's books have all the characteristics, but I would not call her characters "one-dimensional." I think that many of the modern day fairy tales are like that--they meet all the criteria but are no longer, "Once upon a time..." and the characters are not just the generic "princess" or "pigs and wolf" that are only surface deep. Modern fairy tales have depth and setting and character that make them true novels, while still having that unique style that is fairy tale.

A perfect example of that is I Am Ocilla by Diane Graham. Nope, ya can't get this book yet. It will be coming out next year from my publisher, Splashdown Books. I've read Diane's manuscript, and it is fabulous. Classic fairy tale--with fairies and dragons and some really cool and original creatures. There is a quest, of course, and magic, and it definitely has that "enlightening" quality that the above definition brings up. And its depth and beautiful language make it more than fairy tale.

There are other fairy tale novels out there that are different from The Wolf of Tebron and I Am Ocilla, though. They still have the depth of character, setting, etc, but the style is more like the classic fairy tale. It's the way of the telling of the story that gives it that feel, and The Realities Chronicles by R.L. Copple is like that. I read the first book of this series, Reality's Dawn, right before it came out, as it is another book from Splashdown. I had to adjust my thinking when I read it, though. I was expecting "novel" and the stories are told in more of a traditional fairy tale style. The dialog and events are more melodramatic, and at first it threw me. But when it finally dawned on me that "this is a fairy tale" I was able to settle in and truly enjoy the book! There is real purpose in the way Copple tells his stories that is unlike anything I had read, and it made me realize I needed to investigate this whole idea of fairy tale writing.

Which leads us back to Wickflicker. My blog title does refer to the author's name, but when I say "Darken" your fairy tale, that's not all I'm referencing. You see, fairy tales, the old traditional ones, are really rather dark. For the most part, we've gotten used to the toned down, Disney-fied fairy tales. But read the original Snow White and you will see that the old fairy tales can be down-right scary.

I'm not sure if Teric was going for "dark fairy tale" when he wrote Wickflicker, and I surely wasn't expecting it. I thought Christian horror, supernatural thriller, Ted Dekkerishness, but not "fairy tale." But the writing, the style...it's so different.

Let me give you an example...

First there is the poetic side:
"The harvest moon waxed bright and bold, though bore a most peculiar frosted hue--its sphere encompassed about by floating ice crystals drifting lazily as phantasmal gestures."

That sentence is in the opening paragraphs, all of which have such a literary, poetic feel. It's surreal and stream-of-consciousness and lovely.

And then this, the beginning of chapter four:
Placing his pipe upon a stand, the wispy figure removed his wire-framed spectacles and wiped them liberally with a kerchief.  His tobacco-laden voice croaked out, “Well now, what a lovely pair of gentlemen.  And who might you two be, hmm?”
    
And:
I wrestled with my own vexation.  Funny, though this withered trunk of a man is, indeed, a stranger, there is something hauntingly familiar about him; he reminds me, all the more, of someone I’d swear I know.  Perhaps a long forgotten friend… or an enemy of old. 
    Having never laid eyes on him before, the invisible magnetism whispered of a thousand trips we had ventured together: in earthly treks, in thoughts, in deeds, in dreams… I had, seemingly, done more with this man than I had with my own best friend.  Suddenly, I’d placed my finger on it.  Devil-be-damned, it’s the devil, himself!  All he needs is a…

How different from the opening, yet descriptive and intriguing. And then there are times Darken rumbles into passages that seem suited for some type of twisted poetry slam--"I would give anything to be able to see the naked truth, but truth be told, the more she bore, the truth became harder to bear." And as you can see from what's implied by that bit, Wickflicker is definitely not for children (language and content put this as something I'd reserve for adults and mature teens with the consent of their parents). But overall, the book has made me think "fairy tale"--dark, creepy fairy tale, of devils and demons instead of magical creatures, of horror instead of wonder, of frightening into enlightening, and a quest to save your soul.

(For a longer excerpt click here.)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

First, Second, Third, Fourth, Eleventh....

First, there is an interview with me and a contest right now at The Barn Door Book Loft. You can enter to win an ebook copy of Finding Angel by visiting and leaving a comment.


Second, Finding Angel is now available in ALL formats, including print and Kindle at Amazon,  print and Nook at Barnes & Noble, all ebook formats at Smashwords, and print at The Book Depository (which has free international shipping).

Third, the anthology recently published by Splashdown Books - Aquasynthesis - has been receiving some great reviews. Three of my stories are in that book, two of which are companion stories to Finding Angel

The latest review really touched me. Heather Titus dubbed my story "Dude" her favorite of the bunch! Check out her full review HERE.

Fourth, I got my contributor copy of Dark Heroes in the mail yesterday. Having my own book has not at all diminished the thrill of getting a copy of an anthology with one of my short stories inside.  

Dark Heroes is the eleventh anthology that contains a story of mine. (Ah, now the blog title makes sense, eh?) For some reason that number feels significant. You'd think that the tenth one would have meant more--double digits and all--but this one really jumped out at me. Eleven anthologies. Must admit it feels rather cool to say that.

Anyway, that's my book news. Still pondering in search of a mind-blowing blog post for next time....

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Newly Published-itis

I am brain-fried. Just telling ya up-front. This week has been crazy, crazy, crazy. I want to blog here about something awesome and meaningful. The pressure is really on to get this blog in shape now that I'm cutting down to once a month at the New Authors' Fellowship blog instead of every single week. But right now I'm suffering from "newly published-itis."

Symptoms:

  • A dining table covered in copies of my novel, divided into stacks depending on destination (i.e., those that have to be mailed, those that go to people in my homeschool group, those that go to family members, etc.).
  • Moments when I sit down and go, "Oh, crap. This is real," followed by a grin that just won't stop.
  • Moments when I sit down and go, "Oh, crap. This is real," followed by a complete and total panic attack where I find myself muttering the words, "What have I done? What have I done?"
  • Stacks of printed out emails detailing information about what I must send to have my guest post or interview featured on various blogs. Staring at those stacks also can lead to muttering, "What have I done? What have I done?"
  • A notebook filled with scribbled down ideas for marketing that all seemed quite brilliant and plausible at the moment they were scribbled down, but now seem nothing short of ludicrous.
  • A major head cold.
  • Obsessive checking to see if my book has shown up yet on Amazon (yes!) and Barnes & Noble (no...).
  • Obsessive checking for the posting of reviews on the aforementioned sites. 
  • The realization that I have approximately 4,872 profiles on various websites/forums/etc to update with my current publishing information. This is accompanied by shooting pain in various body parts.
  • Post-it notes friggin' everywhere.
  • A house that desperately needs cleaning. That is a symptom I managed to take care of yesterday, but it will be back. Oh, yes, it will be back...
  • A completely neglected Facebook page.
  • And last, but certainly not least--the joy that comes with emails from people telling me how much they loved reading Finding Angel

So, hopefully I can at least manage most of those symptoms, getting rid of the annoying ones (like the head cold--I hate not being able to breathe!) but keeping the good stuff.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Getting There...but About to Go Animal

So, Finding Angel is finally on Amazon!! Woohoo!

BUT. I am about to go "Animal" because.....

They have the pages all screwed up. If you do a product search it ONLY pulls up the Kindle version. Even though there IS a page for the print version! Which WAS searchable the other day, but had no image. Now there is an image, but it's not searchable....

Oh, and the print version page is supposed to allow you to read the first pages online, but doesn't show up that way either. My publisher had to go in and manually add an image. (You can read the first chapter here on my site by clicking the First Chapter tab in the menu above.)

AAAARGH.

(takes deep breath)

Anyway, you can at least order the bugger right now.

For PRINT click HERE.

For KINDLE click HERE.

Thank you for your patience in waiting for Finding Angel to come out properly. I am doing everything I can to get this straightened out. Once the two pages are linked on Amazon, allowing reviews to carry over from one version to the other, I will let you know so those of you who have read it can post reviews.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

In the Mean Time

So, if you aren't following me on Facebook, and haven't peeked over at my other site www.findingangel.com, you may not know that the Kindle version of Finding Angel came out a couple of days ago. The print version was scheduled to release today, but the dates are not guaranteed. Sigh....

I will, of course, post on here when the print version is appears--probably in really, BIG, happy letters!

In the mean time, I wanted to share some Middle Grade / Young Adult books I've read and loved, just to get ya in the mood.

The most recent, while not fantasy, is a book called Dani Noir, by Nova Ren Suma. The author's name was enough to intrigue me, the title is just cool, and the cover cinched it. But what totally sold me on this book is the author's voice. It's first person present, which some people claim is overdone. But the truth is, what is overdone is authors using first person present poorly. Nova Ren Suma knows how to do it right, though.

The plot is straightforward--13 yr old Dani's parents have just divorced because her dad left her mom for another woman. Dani escapes her reality by watching old movies--Rita Hayworth movies, femme fatale movies--in the one, tiny theater in her tiny town.

But she soon begins to suspect something is wrong--her dad doesn't seem to be the only one betraying loved ones. There is definitely some seriousness in this book, but the humorous voice of the character Dani keeps it in balance--a balance that I think works really well. I truly enjoyed this book.

Another I really loved is The Goblin Wood by Hilari Bell. I've reviewed this book before, I believe, but it is one of my favorites. Makenna is a hedgewitch who flees her village when her mother is murdered for practicing magic. She soon finds herself in an alliance with the goblins of the woods she hides in.


The Goblin Wood is simply a well-written and interesting story with believable characters that kept me captive the entire time and made me wish there was more when I got to the end. Oh, and guess what! There is. The series continues with The Goblin Gate.

And a third, also not fantasy, is The Secret of the Rose by Sarah L. Thomson. (No, that is not misspelled--there is no "p" in her last name.) This book is set in London in the 1590s, which makes it a very odd choice for me. I'm not into historical novels at all, but I picked this book up on a whim at the library one day. The main character, Rosalind, is forced to disguise herself as a boy and take a job as a scribe for a playwright to protect herself and her younger brother while they try to get their father out of jail. Their crime--being Catholic. I really felt the time period while reading this book, without being overwhelmed by too much detail.

That's enough, I suppose. Don't want to get you too busy reading before *my* book comes out!