Sunday, July 31, 2011

#SampleSunday - ZIA'S PATH (Dystopian fiction)

I'm thrilled to share a sample from our newest release: ZIA'S PATH. This story is our third in our Dark Future series and is the sequel to THE RIGHT PATH (currently FREE on amazon and B&N). 

Book blurb: 
In this second novelette about crippled teenager, Abraham "Ham" Jones, and his tomboy partner, Zia Slate, the stakes are even higher. They have agreed to accept the memory weapons from their new guardian, Henry Lloyd, but with the power of the weapons comes the responsibility to follow "the right path." It's supposed to be simple: help one person at a time, but nothing in this harsh world is ever simple. It's a dog-eat-dog world where food is scarce and gangs rule the streets.

When Ham decides to go into the worst gang-ridden area of the city to save a little girl, Zia doesn't think it's a good idea. It's too dangerous, but eventually she agrees and the two set off in search of the girl. When Zia goes off to scout ahead, Ham's worst nightmare comes true. Zia is snatched by slavers. Can Ham find out where she has been taken and mount a defense to save her in two days before she is sold as a sex slave?

Damn.  It happened so fast!  I didn’t think anyone could sneak up on me like that.  ‘Course I was lookin’ for that kid, the one Ham wanted to save, but I heard that goon one second too late.  He grabbed my arm, threw me to the ground and put a knee in my back while he tied my hands together with a rough rope. 

“Get the hell off me,” I said, grunting through the pain of being slammed onto the concrete.
“Shut your stinking mouth,” the big a-hole replied.  He threw a bag over my head and dragged me to my feet.
I tried to scream, but he smacked me upside my head.
“That’s your last warning, sweet cheeks.  Another sound outta you and I’ll slice yer throat.  Leave ya dead in the streets.  Maybe your boyfriend can find you then.”
Boyfriend?  Does he mean Ham?  This goon must have seen him.  Ham, are you close? I need you.
The guy threw me in the back of some kind of van.  I heard others inside, but I was too scared to say anything.  That threat was too fresh in my mind.  The thought of ending up dead in the gutter was something I didn’t want to think about.  I’ve seen the bodies, dead in the streets.  They get puffy and smell like rotten meat.  After a couple days, you can’t even recognize them anymore.  I didn’t want to end up like that, so I just shut my mouth.  Ham would find me; I just knew it.
That’s when the van started moving. 
I was so scared I thought I was gonna pee myself.  The only thing that stopped me was that when Ham rescued me, he would laugh.  I know exactly what he would say.
“You were so scared, you peed yourself.”  He would laugh and laugh and never let it go.  I held on to the sound of his laughter.  I wouldn’t let this get to me, but who’d grabbed me?  I had a couple ideas, but each one was worse than the one before.  Another gang?  Was someone after my knives?  I’m nobody.  Why bother with me?
I heard another girl crying beside me, so I scooted over until I bumped into her.  She jumped and squeaked like a mouse, but no one came back and hit us so I figured we must be alone. 
“Who got us?” I whispered.
The stupid girl started crying louder and harder, and I just knew someone would hear her soon.  “Hey, shut the hell up before they come and beat us.”
That did it; she quieted right down.  She must have already got her share of being smacked around, so I asked her again: “Who got us?”
“Slavers…” was the only word that escaped between sobs.
“Crap!”  I inhaled sharply.  Slavers took girls off the street to sell as sex slaves.  I was in deep shit.  Why me?  I looked like a thirteen-year-old boy, for God’s sake.  I had no soft curves or even boobs, yet.  I didn’t even have my hair down today.  Maybe they would realize when they looked me over that they’d made a mistake.  Maybe they would just let me go. 
Yeah, right.  That’s about the time I really started to worry.  Ham wouldn’t have any idea who snatched me or where I was taken.  Who was left to save me?
The ride didn’t take long and, before I knew it, I was being dragged out of the van.  Being blindfolded was the worst part.  I had to wait until they took the hood off before I could see where I was or who had grabbed me.
“Oh, look what we have here,” the first voice said.  I felt my knife being pulled out of my waistband.  “You won’t need this where you’re going.”
“Let me see that knife,” a second voice said. 
“Hey, I found it first.  It’s mine.”
Then I heard a smack and a muffled cry.
“It’s mine now, a-hole; get these girls inside.”
I wisely kept my mouth shut during that little scuffle.  I didn’t want them to see what kind of knife it really was or what it could do.  Old Henry said memory weapons were rare and real expensive.  Maybe if I could escape, I could get the knife back.  Crap!  Henry is going to be mad that I’ve lost it already.  Today is definitely not turning out as we planned.
I silently cursed, knowing I should have waited for Ham to catch up to me.  I shouldn’t have gone so far ahead looking for that little girl.  I still don’t understand why she is so important to him.  There are lots of lost kids out there that we could have helped today. 
Rough hands grabbed my arm and yanked me forward.  I heard a door creak open and I was pulled through.  That’s when I heard it--crying, and lots of it.  This new place smelled like old sweat and piss.  It was so disgusting that I had to breathe through my mouth so I wouldn’t smell it.  Last thing I wanted was to gag and puke inside this hood on my head.
The bag was finally pulled off.  I was smashed up against a steel cage while my jailer took the opportunity to feel me up.  I couldn’t help it; I flinched when he lifted up my shirt.  His calloused hands were rough against my skin, and when he pinched my nipples hard, I cried out.  I felt the tears come and I blinked furiously trying to clear my eyes.
“Well, well, well, looks like we got ourselves a virgie, boys,” he laughed, speaking to the other two men standing by the door.  “This one is gonna require special handling.  Go tell the boss what we got.”
Holy crap, I’m screwed.


Thursday, July 28, 2011


Hi All,

I'm going to be taking a short break from blogging to recharge my batteries.  I will be back blogging again on or around, Wednesday, August 3, 2011.

In the meantime, there are plenty of guest posts, interviews, panel discussions and book reviews to read while I'm gone.

Here's a few funnies to pass the time:

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Lay vs. Lie - Do you get confused?

Do you get confused sometimes? Here's a post from the Grammar Girl. You can find other tips at her site:

Lay Versus Lie

First, we'll do the easy part, which is the present tense...

If you exclude the meaning "to tell an untruth" and just focus on the setting/reclining meaning of lay and lie, then the important distinction is that lay requires a direct object and lie does not. So you lie down on the sofa (no direct object), but you lay the book down on the table (the book is the direct object).

This is in the present tense, where you are talking about doing something now: you liedown on the sofa, and you lay down a book.

There are a bunch of ways to remember this part.

How to Remember the Difference

The way I remember is to think of the phrase lay it on me. You're laying something (it, the direct object) on me. It's a catchy, dorky, 1970s kind of phrase, so I can remember it and remember that it is correct.

What's that I hear, music in the background? I know I don't normally play music, but I love Eric Clapton, and his song Lay Down Sally can actually help you remember the difference between lay and lie... [record screeching sound] because he's wrong.

To say “lay down Sally” would imply that someone should grab Sally and lay her down. If he wanted Sally to rest in his arms on her own, the correct line would be “lie down Sally.”

It's pretty easy; you laysomething down, and people lie down by themselves.

We don't have to judge Clapton on his grammar; we can still love his music and at the same time know that it's grammatically incorrect! In fact, that helps us remember, and we can love him more.

If you're more of a Bob Dylan fan, you can remember that "Lay Lady Lay" is also wrong. The lyrics should be “Lie lady lie, lie across my big brass bed.”

OK, so that was the present tense. It's pretty easy; you lay something down, people lie down by themselves, and Eric Clapton can help us remember. 

Lay Versus Lie in the Past Tense

But then everything goes all haywire, because lay is the past tense of lie. It's a total nightmare! I tried and tried to come up with a mnemonic for this, but I couldn't do it. Instead, I've made a table that you can print out from the website and tape up over your desk or in your notebook, because you just have to memorize this or look it up every time.


How to Conjugate Lay and Lie

Here's how to conjugate these two verbs:

The past tense of lie is lay, so

Last week, Steve lay down on the floor.
The cat lay in the mud after it rained yesterday.

The past tense of lay is laid, so

Last week, I laid the TPS report on your desk.
Mary forcefully laid her ring on the table.

The past participle of lie is lain, so

Steve has lain on the floor for days.
The cat has lain in the mud for hours.

The past participle of lay is laid, so

I have laid the TPS report on your desk.
Mary has forcefully laid her ring on the table.

Don't feel bad if you can't remember these right away. Practice will help, and truthfully, I still have to look them up every time I use them. It's just important to know what you know, and what you don't know, and to go to the trouble to look it up and get it right because these are hard-and-fast rules.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Dale Chihuly Glass Exhibit

I had the privilege recently to go see the Dale Chihuly glass exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts. It was absolutely spectacular. He has had exhibits all over the world to great acclaim. I have seen quite a few of his pieces in different venues, but this is the first time I've seen so many all together. The pictures I took just don't do the pieces justice, but I wanted to share anyway. Enjoy!!

About the Artist:

Born in 1941 in Tacoma, Washington, Dale Chihuly was introduced to glass while studying interior design at the University of Washington. After graduating in 1965, Chihuly enrolled in the first glass program in the country, at the University of Wisconsin. He continued his studies at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), where he later established the glass program and taught for more than a decade.
In 1968, after receiving a Fulbright Fellowship, he went to work at the Venini glass factory in Venice. There he observed the team approach to blowing glass, which is critical to the way he works today. In 1971, Chihuly cofounded Pilchuck Glass School in Washington State. With this international glass center, Chihuly has led the avant-garde in the development of glass as a fine art.
His work is included in more than 200 hundred museum collections worldwide. He has been the recipient of many awards, including ten honorary doctorates and two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Chihuly has created more than a dozen well-known series of works, among them Cylinders and Baskets in the 1970s; Seaforms, Macchia, Venetians, and Persians in the 1980s; Niijima Floats and Chandeliers in the 1990s; and Fiori in the 2000s. He is also celebrated for large architectural installations. In 1986, he was honored with a solo exhibition, Dale Chihuly objets de verre, at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Palais du Louvre, in Paris. In 1995, he began Chihuly Over Venice, for which he created sculptures at glass factories in Finland, Ireland, and Mexico, then installed them over the canals and piazzas of Venice.
In 1999, Chihuly mounted a challenging exhibition, Chihuly in the Light of Jerusalem; more than 1 million visitors attended the Tower of David Museum to view his installations. In 2001, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London curated the exhibition Chihuly at the V&A. Chihuly’s lifelong affinity for glasshouses has grown into a series of exhibitions within botanical settings. His Garden Cycle began in 2001 at the Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago. Chihuly exhibited at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, near London, in 2005. Other major exhibition venues include the de Young Museum in San Francisco, in 2008, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in 2011.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Interview with J.A. Paul

Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book?
My latest book Gladius and the Bartlett Trial is a fantasy adventure novel for Middle Grade readers on up.

When fifteen year-old Gladius Oldmont is thrust from his peaceful home into the dangerous Longwood Forest he finds himself pitted against a tyrant who has been terrorizing the lands in search of answers to an ancient secret that could unlock absolute power.

From the shadows of Longwood Forest to the Hills of the Moon, Gladius must survive encounters with a near extinct scimitar cat, an ornery dragon, a horde of death bats and a tumultuous underground river which leads to a subterranean labyrinth of tunnels. Along the way, he makes new acquaintances and discovers the true meaning of friendship, including Elle – a girl who captivates his heart.

Can Gladius and friends solve the riddle of the ancient secret before the evil Mulhurt does? If they can, will they be able to do anything about it?

Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
No, I have never tried to go the traditional route. No reason, I just did not go that route.

Do you belong to a critique group? Have they helped improve your writing?
Not really. However I did have several beta readers, but most of my improvement came from working directly with an editor.

What factors influenced your decision to self-publish to Amazon? Do you like having total control?
Amazon makes it do-able for the do it yourself-type writers and that appealed to me. It’s not really a ‘being in total control thing’ for me as I will listen to anyone’s ideas. If they improve my writing, the story or the book, I will use the ideas if I can.

Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
Yes, I worked with an editor for three months with Gladius and it was the best money/time I spent on this process. Just above hiring a professional cover artist as I feel that is crucial as well.

What have you learned during your self-publishing journey?
Writing the book is the easy part. Marketing, selling and getting it out to my target audience is the hardest part. My target audience is the preteen and teenage readers and most of them are not really into viewing author blogs or checking out author websites. My own 11yo son said, ‘great website, Dad, but I don’t know any friends of mine who check out author websites’. Still, you have to have one just in case that one reader decides to look you up!

Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
Yes, Barnes and Noble and Goodreads. I also have a signed print version for sale on my website as well as a PDF file using PayPal.
I have also seen Gladius available at stores like Abebooks and Booktopia.

What kinds of marketing [twitter, facebook, blog, forums] are you involved with for promoting your book(s)?
I am on Twitter and I do some Facebook stuff on my JA Paul author page. I do try to interact with readers through these social platforms and love it when I see a review on Twitter or Facebook.

Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
I write every morning so my writing comes first. I will then go online and interact with people throughout the day. For instance, the other night I received an email from a Boy Scout troop who told me they read my book while at camp by lantern light and loved it! I thought that was awesome!

What advice would you give a new author just entering into the self-publishing arena?
Read as much as you can. Write as much as you can, then write some more. Learn the craft and practice it by writing. Find a good editor. Get your 10,000 hours or your first million words in as fast as you can. 1,000 words a day for 3 years! It’s do-able if you really want to be a writer.

What’s next for you?
I am currently just over 60,000 words in book II of the Gladius series, which will come out in the fall of 2011. Then I hope to sneak in a couple short stories that have been screaming to get out before I move on to writing book III, the final chapter of the Gladius adventure series.


NEW - 4 star review for The Crystal Facade

Thanks very much to Grace at MotherLode for an excellent review of "The Crystal Facade."

"Overall, another engaging fantasy novel that provides a great bridge between the first novel, and the novel to come. Entertaining throughout, this is a good fantasy read that bridges the world of Otharia with that of Earth."

As Grace says, "The Crystal Facade" works as a stand-alone novel, but to get the full enjoyment of the story it's best to read, "Quest for Nobility" first.


Friday, July 22, 2011

And the winners are...

Thank you to everyone who entered for a chance to win a copy of some great books. We have a couple of lucky winners who have won 2 books. The authors will contact you directly for the specific digital file format you need for your ereader.

Let's get right to the winners:

Kristy - Silas & The Crystal Facade

Julie - Lessons (and other Morbid Drabbles) & Helix

Jenni B - Vegas, Baby

Ladyflash - Cameo & Cameo the Assassin

lilchicken - Venom of Vipers

You all WIN a copy of OUT OF TIME by Monique Martin because that book is currently listed as FREE at Amazon. So hop over and download the book while it is still free.

All winners were chosen randomly by

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Kindle vs. Nook - Which do you prefer?

I have a Kindle 2 and absolutely love it. My co-author and brother, Dave, has a Nook. Which is better? Following is a list of each ereader's attributes.

Kindle Wi-Fi

Display Size
6" diagonal
6" diagonal
Display Type
E Ink Pearl
E Ink Pearl
7.5" x 4.8" x 0.335"
7.5" x 4.8" x 0.335"
8.5 ounces
8.7 ounces
3,500 books
3,500 books
Battery Life (Wireless Off)
2 months
2 months
Battery Life (Wireless On)
3 weeks
10 days
Books in 60 Seconds

Free 3G Wireless

Global Wireless Coverage

100 countries and

Native PDF Support


Worry-Free Archive


Portrait & Landscape View

(includes Special Offers)

(includes Special Offers)


Current page

$249 Wi-Fi Nook Color

Nook and Case

In the Box

  • NOOK Color
  • USB Cable
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Power Adapter
  • Rechargeable Battery

Slim, Light & Portable

  • Height:
  • Width:
  • Depth:
  • Weight:
  • 8.1 inches
  • 5.0 inches
  • 0.48 inches
  • 15.8 ounces*

  • Color Touchscreen Display
  • Stunning 7 inch VividView™ Color Touchscreen shows more than 16 million colors on the best-in-class IPS** display.
  • Incredibly clear, sharp text and images from an unsurpassed high resolution display at 1024 x 600 delivering 169 pixels per inch (PPI).
  • Reduced glare and optimum brightness for reading indoors or outside.
  • Backlit for easy reading day or night.

Customized Experience

  • Adjust the font to fit your reading style. Choose from 6 text sizes.
  • Select font styles, background colors, line and margin spacing.
See a demo of our 6 text sizes

Expandable Storage

  • Want to add your own pictures, music or other personal files? Slip in a micro SD card and customize your NOOK Color.
  • 8GB***(up to 5000 ebooks) built in memory.
  • Expand your memory up to 32GB with microSD™ memory card.

Enhanced Web and Media Player

  • Enhanced web browsing with Adobe® Flash® Player for mobile video and interactive experiences.
  • Watch videos in AAC, MP3, MP4 or Adobe® Flash®Player format.
  • Use NOOK Color to play audio.
  • Built-in mono speaker.
  • Universal 3.5 mm stereo headphone jack.
  • *Adobe and Flash are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated in the United States and/or other countries.

Supported File Types****

Load these popular formats for eBooks, graphics, audio, and other file types from your computer or microSD card.
  • EPUB (including Non or Adobe DRM)
  • PDF
  • Graphics: JPG, GIF, PNG, BMP
  • Audio: MP3, MP4, AAC
  • Video: MP4
Not Supported: LIT, AMZ (Amazon), LRZ/LRX (Sony)

Powerful Battery

  • Read for up to 8 hours***** without recharging with wireless off.
  • Installed Rechargeable Battery.
  • Charge from a wall outlet using the in-box Power Adapter and USB Cable.
  • Charging time: approximately 3 hours from wall outlet.

Built-in Wi-Fi® Wireless

  • Get books, magazines & newspapers in seconds.
    Surf the Web and check email.
  • Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n).
  • Free Wi-Fi in all Barnes & Noble stores.

Personalized Wallpaper

  • Customize your NOOK Color quickly and easily.
  • Load your own photos to create personal wallpaper.
  • Keep a gallery of cherished pictures on your NOOK Color.

Pre-Loaded NOOK Apps™

  • Email - organize all your web mail in one inbox
  • Pandora® internet radio, Chess, Crossword, Sudoku, Media Gallery
  • NOOK Friends™


  • Universal 3.5 mm stereo headphone jack.
  • Charging port
  • NOOK microUSB Cable
  • AC Adapter
  • Rechargeable Battery
  • $139

Ultra-Light and Super Thin

NOOK is lighter than a paperback.
  • Weight:
  • Height:
  • Width:
  • Depth:
  • Resolution:
  • 7.48 ounces*
  • 6.5 inches
  • 5.0 inches
  • 0.47 inches
  • 800x600
  • 35% lighter, 6% thinner and over an inch shorter than NOOK 1st Edition™--overall 21% more compact

Longest Battery Life

Extra-long battery life
  • Battery can last up to 2 months with Wi-Fi® off**
  • Installed rechargeable battery
  • Charge via USB to a computer or power adapter
  • Charging time: 3 hours from wall outlet

Just-Like-Paper Reading

Crisp, clear text and images
Most advanced E Ink® Pearl Display
16-level gray scale for greater detail
  • High contrast screen-50% greater contrast than NOOK 1st Edition™
  • Read in bright sun with no glare
  • 80% less flashing and Fast Page™ for immersive reading (see demo)

Quick wireless downloads

Download books in seconds
  • Wireless connectivity via Wi-Fi® (802.11b/g/n)
  • Free Wi-Fi® in all Barnes & Noble stores
  • Free Wi-Fi® at over 20,000 AT&T® hotspots nationwide


  • 2GB***—Holds up to 1,000 books
  • Slip in a micro SD card to add your personal files
  • Expandable microSD† card up to 32GB


MicroUSB connector charges your
battery and connects to your
  • Micro USB connector

Supported file types

NOOK supports these popular formats:
  • ePub
  • PDF
  • Graphic: JPG, GIF, PNG, BMP

Compare The All-New NOOK to Kindle

See why the All-New NOOK is exceptional