My Blogging Lapse, RT2014 People-Watching, and Stuff

Nancy Brant asked me to participate in a writing process blog hop and I saw it as an opportunity to post something. I haven’t blogged in a while. It sucks, but there’s a reason for it that’s relevant to my writing process. For me, writing takes one road, and reading/reviewing/blogging/promoting take another. I am working on strategy to manage both at the same time, but I’m not there yet.

There are a few, very exciting things happening with my writing career. A few years ago, I would have found one of them greatly disappointing. The benefit of time, and rapid progress in the industry, is that what might have been a setback only three years ago is now a blessing, and not even a disguised one. I apologize for being vague. I’d love to tell the story, because I think it’s an interesting one, but I neither can nor should. Truly, it doesn’t provide much value for other writers, not even for those in a similar situation.

RT2014

Marie Sexton, Me, and Alanna Coco

I attended RT 2014 in New Orleans this year. I met great people, spent a lot of time with my childhood friend, Marie Sexton, and sat in on some insightful panels. However, the most valuable thing I took away from the conference is something I observed while people watching among the indie authors. The ones that are successful–which I will define as having name recognition with strangers (think Lilliana Hart)—had two things in common that most of the authors in NOLA lacked. One, they referred to themselves as “indie publishers”, and two, they don’t sit still. Their books are the sellable component of their personal businesses, which is kept afloat with various entrepreneurial requirements. Whereas many self-published authors are fighting to connect with readers to sell a book, these few are reading trade publications, making connections, and building brands. Their books are marketing them, rather than the other way round.

Clearly, it’s not a model for success that can be implemented overnight by a working mom with a daily 50-mile round trip commute, but it’s nice to have an attainable goal.

Right now, the bulk of my focus is on Glitch, book one of a YA Sci-fi series. As of this morning, Glitch is a working title, because a book with that title was released in the same genre back in February. The idea for “The Winter Son” trilogy came about from a desire to dabble in the war between angels, but make angels the bad guys. It was originally called “The Choir Boys,” and it was intended to be a paranormal romance featuring an immortal paramilitary operative, but my main character argued that he wasn’t old enough to vote, so changes had to be made. I finish books, but they’re never the ones I start.

I’ve been asked how my work is different from others in its genre. I think that’s a question better left to readers. There’s a literary concept called “suspension of disbelief” and basically, readers cannot relate to something perfect. The more incredible something is–wealthy, beautiful, and/or powerful—the more flawed it has to be. Take any superhero you like and weigh his/her strengths against weaknesses. You’ll find they balance each other out.

It might be a cop out, but I try to make my characters on the average side, more representable of the young adult population. I avoid hot heroes and girls with red hair and green eyes. I have smart kids who make dumb, and sometimes selfish decisions. My world building is largely contemporary, but as the story progresses and the surface is scratched, evidence of richer, darker, even alien worlds can be found beneath.

I never set about writing this way. It evolved over time. I’m half-Japanese, and having been raised in Wyoming, I have come to self-identify as a white woman. For half of my life, I was a practicing Mormon, but in my 20s, I discovered an atheist within. I’m Pro-Gun, Pro-Choice, Pro-Fiscal Responsibility, Pro-Diversity, and a straight ally of the LGBT community. My writing, I believe, is a reflection of me, and written for my 16-year-old self…a girl whose life was shaped by reading books that were over her head.

My writing process is one that needs to change the more I think about it. I work out ideas in notebooks, write scenes in Scrivener, edit on hard copy, and I get done when I get done. It worked well when I was writing for myself, but my goals have changed. One day, I hope to quit my job and write full-time, and spending two years to complete one book isn’t going to get me there.

I was supposed to tag in three other writers to post next Monday, but like I said…I have two roads at the moment. Finding authors to participate turned out to be on the other one. Instead, please check out these great new releases.

Summoned, by Rainy Kaye

The Devil Made Me Do It  (Book 2, Speak of the Devil Series), by Shawna Romkey

Endured (Book 3, Shadowed Love Series), by Kinley Baker

One Dark Secret on Darkly Delicious YA

I didn’t publish my first book, but not for lack of trying. I boxed a trilogy, bound, with cute little labels on each of six parts, and mailed it to Bantam Spectra in 1999. I felt I owed it to my then-boyfriend to submit it after the two years I spent working on something that had ZERO chances of being picked up. It was, after all, Star Wars fan fiction.

If you’d like to read the rest, head on over to Darkly Delicious YA.

Book Blast! Muse Unexpected, by VC Birlidis

Muse Unexpected“We’re Muses. Not vampires, not fairies, not werewolves. We’re Muses.” Sophie was sure her mother had reached an epic level of crazy. ‘We’re Muses?’ She thought Muses were lame, not to mention she found the idea ridiculous. However, Sophie couldn’t explain away her physical transformation that made Anne Hathaway in The Princess Diaries look like a bad Walmart make-over, not to mention why her mood swings triggered an uncontrollable ability to shoot powerful bursts of energy out of her hands.

Sophie soon realizes modern day Muses have evolved into powerful guardians of humankind, tasked with keeping mortals on the right path and the original Olympians locked away from the world. But old hatreds don’t die easily, especially for immortal enemies that have an eternity to plot and gather their forces. Well aware of the Fates’ foretelling of another Olympian war, and a young Muse that would rise up as a warrior and defeat them, the Olympians have vowed to either possess Sophie or destroy her. Either way, they will make sure everyone associated with their imprisonment will reap an eternal damnation in the Underworld, leaving the Olympians to restore Mount Olympus and force humankind into a future of never-ending servitude and misery.

Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Goodreads

Praise for Muse Unexpected

“Ripe with conflict, skin-crawling creepy that is sprinkled with a wonderful sense of humor and a plot fraught with horrific danger in every step taken by Sophie, this book should be on the top of everyone’s must read list. Simply put, I loved it and can’t wait for book 2 to come out.” ~Olive (Amazon Review)

“I remember learning about mythology & Greek gods in elementary school….boring! Well, this fantastic book takes everything you thought about gods/mythology and turns it on it’s ear, sort of like “Wicked” did to the “Wizard of OZ”. At times funny at times gruesome and scary, this story definitely kept my interest. I loved the way the writer made the gods “human”. I also liked the subtle, blink and you’ll miss them hints sprinkled throughout the story. Don’t let the young adult genre scare you away. This is an engaging story that can be enjoyed by all. Can’t wait for the next one!!!!” ~Paula (Amazon Review)

Muse tour

Tour Schedule

Author V.C. Birlidis

V.C. Birlidis was born and raised in Miami, Florida and has always been involved in the arts. He attended the New World School of the Arts and was a member of The Miami Ballet.

Mr. Birlidis moved to Ohio to attend college where he earned his Bachelor’s degree in marketing and communications from Capital University. He currently is the Director of Marketing at one of the top midwest advertising agencies, SBC Advertising. He has freelanced as a writer for Outlook News and Tickled Pink Magazine, where he wrote a comical advice column named Ask V.

Five years in the making and inspired by the numerous Greek myths his father would utilize as demented bed time stories, Muse, Unexpected is Mr. Birlidis’ first novel. It is the first book in his Muse series.

Website * Twitter * Facebook

BookBlast Giveaway

$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 3/7/14

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Click here to Enter!

Happy Anniversary January Black!

After five months of writing, a year of editing, a year and a half of querying agents and publishers, and another 9 months of editing, my debut novel January Black was released on January 15, 2013. It’s been an exiting year of promotions, giveaways, and an AWARD!

But it hasn’t all been roses. Quarter 2, 2013, sales were rather disappointing, and while I anticipated that Quarter 3 would be better, I learned just yesterday that it wasn’t. I didn’t publish to make money. In fact, I went into 2013 with the thought I was was going to spend a lot of money and I was going to have fun. And I did both! But, the $8.57 Q3 royalty report convinced me that that a choice I made a while back was the right one for my career as an author.

I bought the Cassandra Clare books for a 100th Amazon Review Giveaway. Up to now, I’ve managed to acquire reviews from 51 awesome readers. But, when I decided that January 15 was the date I would halt most publicity for January Black, I decided to include the books in the anniversary giveaway. I still hope to get to 100 one of these days, but I don’t want these fabulous books sitting on my bookshelf collecting dust in the meantime. I bought them for a January Black fan. Readers who love my book (though seemingly few) are engaged right now. It seems a tragedy to keep the books to myself just because I’m 49 reviews short of my goal.

Today, I am turning my attention to future releases. Two are series that share an altered timeline (one YA Paranormal, one NA scifi). There is suspense novella that is currently with beta readers, and a two volume epic high fantasy that has been sitting on my shelf for 14 years. I hope to publish one or more of these pieces this year. I also hope that they will help draw to January Black the attention I believe with my whole heart that it truly deserves.

Now, without further ado, the winners of the January Black Anniversary giveaway.

According to the drawing rules that I posted on the main page of my blog, the winner of The Infernal Devices needs to have completed one of two tasks: purchase January Black OR post a review on Amazon. Names drawn would be checked against the report from Rafflecopter for completion of one of those tasks, and the lesser prizes would be awarded until Rafflecopter offered up the name of a grand prize eligible entrant. As it happens, there are 4 prizes, and the fourth name drawn was on the reviewer list.

The January Black prize pack goes to:

Shamara Catama

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The $10 Amazon Gift Card goes to:

Donna Reynolds

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The signed paperback of Toni de Palma’s “The Devil’s Triangle” goes to:

Francis Hernandez

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And, finally, the signed, hardcover copies of The Infernal Devices go to:

Charitini Neofotistou

Charitini posted her reviews of January Black on Goodreads and Amazon on January 12, 2014. I promised that I would award the prize if the review were rave or scathe, but I’m happy to hear that she liked the book.

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Congratulations ladies. I will be emailing you today and you will have 24 hours to respond to me with mailing addresses, or new winners will be drawn. Happy New Year, everyone. I hope to get in some productive writing time soon, so continue following my social media posts for updates on my new work.

2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,500 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Character Guest Post: Vance, from Juli Caldwell’s “Psyched” #bbf

Hello lovely readers. Please welcome Vance, from Juli Caldwell’s “Psyched.” He’s come to tell us a ghost story!

I grew up close to the Webster rural cemetery. I heard weird sounds when I was growing up, especially on moonless nights. My dad always said there was no such thing as ghosts. We’re church-going people, so he taught me to believe in guardian angels and stuff like that, but he always thought that a spirit had a mission to protect us. Keep us safe. He didn’t think it could get stuck here.

When I was younger, I walked home from school with my brothers—I’m the youngest of four boys. For some reason I had to walk alone one day when I was about 13. As you go around a bend and up a little hill before you get to my neighborhood, there’s an old stone cottage set back from the road a bit. Overgrown weeping willows kind of hide it so it’s not easy to see unless you know it’s there. That house always kind of creeped me out, but I’d never had to walk past it alone before. The house has this historic marker that I never stopped to read with my brothers around. They just wanted to throw stones and see if we could break some of the windows because the place has been abandoned for years, unless you count the occasional homeless squatter or pot party.

The sign said the house was one of the first built in Webster, back in early 1700’s, and it gave the names of the original owners. For some reason I said their names out loud. As soon as I did…wow. We’re not too far from a river where I live, and this little stone cottage is close to it. So this mist rolled in as I said their names, and at first I didn’t think much of it. I mean, it’s upstate New York. Storms roll off the lake all the time, and there’s often fog in the river bottom. I just wanted to hurry home so I didn’t get drenched when the storm hit. As I started to walk away, something in the upper windows caught my eye and I stopped to look. At first it looked like gray curtains blowing out a window, but as I looked closer I saw a face. The sad, crying face of a woman. The mist rolled in, blocking my view of the window as a ghastly shriek rang out, and the wind suddenly picked up. It’s a good thing I didn’t wet myself right there. I ran up the hill and once I got out of that little valley where the house was, the mist was gone.

I can’t even explain how much it scared me. Later, I looked up the name of the woman on the sign and researched her history. Turns out she died under suspicious circumstances. She was a newlywed and her husband had just finished building that house for her. Another woman in town wanted to marry her husband, and after the woman came to visit her in her new house, she got really sick. Rumor is she died of poisoning but no one could ever prove it.

It drives my dad nuts that I believe, but this stuff is real. That face I saw, she was so lost, so scared. If I can help just one lost soul find a way out, set them free, what I do as a ghost hunter will be worth it.

Click here to view Juli Caldwell’s Book Blogger Fair – Summer 2013 page.

Guest Post by Aoife Marie Sheridan – Where Saskia Came From

edenForest-bigI have always written but mostly poetry, it’s always been my way to deal with my emotions, no matter how big or small. Two years ago I lost two people I was close too. I had never lost anyone before, so I didn’t deal very well with it. One night I had a dream of a man and women on a horse, passing through a wall of fire. The dream lingered with me, as did my grief. So instead of writing poetry I started my story. My starting point was my dream and I worked my way from there. Eden Forest helped me once again deal with death, and all that comes with it. So in a way I am very grateful for this story.

I always wondered why God created us and what was our purpose, but those questions are unanswered. So in my story I give you the answers for this world called Saskia. In the story God creates a world parallel to ours, for four fallen angels.

Death is something that I also question now, like why do we die, is 60 to 90yrs of life enough, imagine having immortality what would one do to gain it? And that’s where a lot of my plot lies. The greed for immortality, for power’s that only God should wield, drives Saskia into war.

God decides to give one person all the powers that anyone could possess to banish evil, before it destroys Saskia and Earth. This one person happens to be a young lady called Sarajane Anderson who lives in the mortal world (Earth) but is actually from Saskia.

Click here for Aoife Marie Sheridan’s Book Blogger Fair – Summer 2013 page.

Excerpt of The Forever Girl, by Rebecca Hamilton #bbf

SHERIFF LOCUMB AND I sat in a small room with a table and two chairs and a cheap light embedded into the suspended ceiling overhead. I wiped my palms on my pants, but the sweat kept coming.

He pulled up a picture on his cell phone. “Look familiar?”

Maybe he should’ve gotten an eight-by-twelve print. What was the picture of? Wood? A reddish-orange figure eight and a cross? I frowned and shook my head. “Should this look familiar?”

“Someone spray-painted this on the abandoned grain elevator,” he said coolly. “Why don’t you tell me what you know?”

“What I know about spray-paint?”

“Look.” He leveled his gaze at me. “Mrs. Franklin said one of the women in her congregation—well, her daughter got sick. They think you had something to do with it.”

“Mrs. Franklin thinks I have something to do with everything.”

“Well?” he asked.

“Well, what? I didn’t get anyone sick.”

He puffed his cheeks and blew out a breath. “I’m not saying you got anyone sick, Sophia. They think you hexed their child by spray-painting this satanic symbol.”

“You think I hexed someone? You’re kidding.”

Belle Meadow might be a small town, but surely it wasn’t so dull that they needed to call me down to the station for this.

“You’re here because Mrs. Franklin suggested you might be the one who vandalized the abandoned grain elevator, not because you ‘cursed’ someone.”

“And?” I asked.

“Well, did you?”

“I’m Wiccan.”

He stared blankly. “What’s that have to do with the case?”

“Wiccans don’t believe in Satan.”

“Listen, lady. I don’t care what you believe in. Why don’t you just tell me where you were when the offense took place?”

“Which was when?”

“May tenth.”

“At Colorado State, taking my senior year finals.” Something a few minutes of research would have told him without dragging me down here. Besides, how did Mrs. Franklin know the date? Did she take daily drives around town with her calendar and journal, looking for signs of demonic worship?

Sheriff Locumb leaned back in his chair, slapping his hands against his knees before standing. “I’m sure you wouldn’t mind waiting here while I check with the school?”

I gestured toward the door. “Go ahead.”

I would like to say I enjoyed the silence while he was gone, but the constant hushing in my brain made that impossible.

Sheriff Locumb returned with a cup of coffee and an apology. I didn’t drink the coffee, but I did ask him about the sick kid, and he told me it’d just been a case of chicken pox. Not a demonic plague or anything like that.

After squaring everything away, I returned outside to my Jeep and gripped the steering wheel. I couldn’t deal with Mrs. Franklin’s crazy accusations and the damn hissing. Something had to give.

Taking three deep breaths, I pushed the hissing as far into the back of my skull as possible. I wasn’t about to go back to work. Someone was bound to interrupt my relaxation efforts with a request for a drink refill or a complaint that their jalapeno loaf was too spicy or their ginger-lime chicken wasn’t chickeny enough.

As I drove home, I concentrated on the road—on one mailbox after another, on the way tree branches laced overhead, even on the glare of traffic lights, counting the seconds until they turned green. Anything to distract me from the noise.

My Jeep shushed along the pavement, but the roll of the road didn’t do me any good. The quieter the world around me, the louder the buzzing in my brain. Coping was no longer a viable option.

At the last major cross street before my neighborhood, the noise in my head roared. I slammed my palm against the steering wheel, gritting my teeth.

Enough was enough. I flicked my turn signal in the other direction and veered onto the highway before my courage fled. It was time to turn away from caution and toward Sparrow’s Grotto. Toward something that might silence the hissing forever.

For more information, view Rebecca Hamilton’s Book Blogger Fair – Summer 2013 page.