Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Interview with Jaleta Clegg

Available at Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Nexus-Point-Jaleta-Clegg/dp/193602103X

I would like to extend a warm welcome to author Jaleta Clegg. I met Jaleta over on the new forum Bestseller Bound.  Welcome Jaleta!

Briefly describe your journey in writing your first book.
Nexus Point isn't my first book, it's just the first to see the light of day. Counting rewrites of existing manuscripts, I'd written over 20 novel length manuscripts before I wrote Nexus Point, including the rest of the series. It's a rewrite of a previous manuscript that had too many problems to be publishable. I'm very happy with the result.

As to my writing journey, it started years ago as an act of desperation. I was a stay-at-home mom with four kids ages seven to two. Summer vacation loomed as an endless Barney marathon. I couldn't stand it. I was going insane. So I escaped into an imaginary world. I've been addicted to writing ever since.

Did you query agents and traditional publishers?  How long before you got your offer of representation/your first contract?
I looked at the odds at the big SF/F publishing houses. The odds of me even getting my manuscript in front of an editor were slim to nil. More and more, they require an agent. Agents are swamped. I didn't want to wait years to hear, no thanks, we're not interested. With Cyberwizard, they wanted a brief pitch in the query of the whole series. I emailed it off, and got a response the next day. Within a week, I had an offer for the whole series. Cyberwizard Productions was the first publisher I submitted to. I don't regret going for a small press. They've been fantastic to work wtih.

What factors influenced your decision to go with a particular agent or publisher?
Cyberwizard Productions stated they were interested in series, not just the first books, but the whole thing. Since I had an 11 book series already written, it seemed like a good fit. Big houses wouldn't even look at me, not for a series, maybe for the first book.

Are you currently under a traditional publishing contract for future books or do you have manuscripts that you will publish directly for Kindle?
I've got 10 more books under contract with Altered Dimensions/Cyberwizard Productions. We haven't discussed ebook rights in detail yet, but I'd rather put it out in as many formats as I can. I went through Smashwords with the first book and I'll probably do that with the others. Kindle format will be supported as soon as Smashwords gets the contract bugs worked out.

Did you design your cover art?  If not, would you care to share your graphic designer’s information?
My publisher did the cover. The artist was Anna Repp. http://annarepp.com/

How did you feel when you got your first sale? 
Ecstatic. Well, sort of. Considering it was my mother ordering copies for my family, I kind of expected it. The most gratifying sales are those to people I've never met who think the book is wonderful. They aren't obligated to like it or buy it.

What kinds of social media [twitter, facebook, webpage, blog, writing forums] are you involved with trying to garner attention for your book(s)?
I'm on Twitter as @Jaleta_Clegg, Facebook as Jaleta Clegg, webpage is http://www.jaletac.com, blog is The Far Edge of Normal http://jaletaclegg.blogspot.com/, and I'm active on several different forums. The best one I've found so far is BestsellerBound http://quietfurybooks.com/messageboard/index.php. Lots of fun people there, but they're always looking for more authors and readers to join in the discussion.

Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
My books are available on Barnes&Noble.com and direct from the publisher http://www.cyberwizardproductions.com/Altered_Dimensions_Press/Nexus_Point_science_fiction_book.html

If you like ebooks, Nexus Point is up on Smashwords in any format you want. https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/10672a

What’s next for you?
Book 2 is in the final editing stage. Look for Priestess of the Eggstone sometime in early 2011. Dace is in more trouble.

I've also got three stories in three different anthologies coming up soon. Omega Museum is in The Last Man Anthology from Sword&Saga press, set to release in October. The Effect of Degraded Food Supplies on Indigenous Populations, a vampire story, is coming out in Fangs from L&L Dreamspell press as an e-thology. I just made that up, but it fits too perfectly. And finally, Charity Never Faileth is in Monsters and Mormons, due out in 2011, as well.

I'm working on more stories and novels. Books 3-11 of my series are written and under contract. All they need is editing. And publication, but that's coming, about one a year until they are all out.

And life, of course. With a houseful of kids, I always have something cooking, both literally and figuratively.

Monday, August 30, 2010

3 New Interviews for Moi

I've been very fortunate to have 3 interviews post in the last couple of days.  The links are here:

The Far Edge of Normal
Interview, August 30, 2010

Interview, scroll down to 3rd spotlight, August 29, 2010

Interview, August 28, 2010

Thanks very much to Bitsy, Noah and Jaleta!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

I'm Blown Away - Awesome 5 Star Review for THE RIGHT PATH

Our novelette THE RIGHT PATH, one of the Dark Future stories, has recently gotten a make over - ahh...shiny new cover from the artistic talents of Ronnell D Porter.  I sent Ronnell the story so he could get a feel for our bleak post-apocalyptic world and his cover depiction is spot on. Here's the new cover:

It's awesome, right?  Dave and I are both thrilled with it.  End of story, thank you Ronnell - right?  No, not the end of the story.  You can imagine my surprise when this morning my google alerts picks up a new review posted for the story.  What can I say?  I'm totally blown away and I'm walking around on Cloud 9.  Even my husband was impressed and he's used to me prattling on about our writing.  I'll share a small excerpt here, but the full review can be read here:

Review Excerpt:  The last time I've seen an extraordinary example of the spectra of the human machine, from the darkest shade of cruelty to the lightest shade of kindness and charity, was when I saw the film 'Blindness' a few years ago. THE RIGHT PATH is a poetic start to an epic journey of reviving humanity. 
5 Stars across the board. If novelettes could be nominated for Oscars, this would be in the category.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Review - Justified Sins by Brian Drake

 4 of 5 Stars

Available at Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Justified-Sins-ebook/dp/B003ZK5GRO

With its clipped writing style, this novella sets you on a bullet train of nonstop action and doesn’t let you off until the last word is read.  The story centers around Freddie and Sheila Webster and Sheila’s foster brother, Pierce.  Freddie is an ex-con who has promised his pregnant wife that he is done with his old life of crime, but with a baby on the way money is tight.  When Freddie is confronted with a proposition to make some easy cash, he makes a decision that sets into motion a series of events that he could not have anticipated. 

The story twists and turns with a full cast of ex-cons, mobsters, cops, politicians and a vigilante who goes about his business with a wink and a nod from the police.  On the surface, Pierce is the usual vigilante type—likes to play with guns and explosives and hunts bad guys, but throughout the story the author throws in snippets from his back story.  This is what captivated me. 

The life Pierce has endured fractures his soul one little piece at a time from the murder of his family, his stints in foster homes to his combat duty in war until his soul shatters and he’s nothing but an empty void that nothing can fill.  What happened to that budding artist who took hauntingly beautiful pictures? What did he see in the war that forever froze his heart?

You don’t always get such depth of character in a short piece of writing, but I couldn’t stop thinking about Pierce.  I slept on this review to see if my focus would change and as you can see it hasn’t.  So what do you say Mr. Drake, will you give us a story for Pierce because that’s the story I want to read.

Well done, Mr. Drake, well done.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Review - Dance of Cloaks by David Dalglish

Available at Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Dance-Cloaks-David-Dalglish/dp/1453706011
DANCE OF CLOAKS is the first book I’ve read by David Dalglish, author of the Half-Orc series.  It is a stand-alone book that completely captivated me and there was no need to have read any of the other books to enjoy this one.  From the shocking twist in the prologue until the very last word, this book demands your attention.

Thren Felhorn is a ruthless and powerful assassin and guild master of the Spiders – a guild of thieves in the city of Veldaren.  He rules through fear, intimidation and murder.  He suffers no fools, no questions, and absolutely no disobedience to his orders.  Any who dare try are met with the cold steel of a dagger.  There are no exceptions to this rule, not even for his son and this is the crux of the story. 

His youngest son, Aaron, is being groomed to be Thren’s heir and from the age of eight Aaron has obeyed his father without question.  At thirteen he begins to see the world differently when he refuses to carry out his father’s order to kill a young girl.  He glimpses something foreign to him – goodness and unwavering faith and his quiet rebellion against his father begins.  The author is masterful in letting the reader into Aaron’s thoughts.  We feel his pain, his anguish, his struggles and his guilt over what he is becoming and his efforts to change. 

The story is filled with well fleshed-out characters from various members of the thieving guilds, to the nobles of the Trifect, but most commendable, this author shines the light on strong female characters.  From Kayla, the assassin, to Alyssa Gemcroft and the Faceless Ones, the women play a prominent part in the book.

This book is non-stop action filled with twists and turns that continually surprise you.  Anyone picking up this book better reserve ample free time because once you start it, you won’t want to stop reading until the final word is read.

 Chat with author David Dalglish

1. Aaron Felhorn aka Haern is a character you have introduced in your Half-Orc series. What inspired you to write Aaron's story?
After my father finished helping me with my second book, he was clearly enamored with one of my characters. “You know who has potential for a spin-off?” he asked me. “The Watcher. I think he’s your most fleshed out character of them all.”

This struck me as a little funny. I always worried he was my most shallow, and least amusing. And I originally told him no, I didn’t have any story in mind. But the idea stuck with me, and so I went back and reread the rather pitiful history I gave for him in the second book. I realized that even in that, there were the bones for a wonderful story.

Much to my wife’s chagrin (she’s really, really been wanting me to finish book five) I sat down and cranked out a prologue, going way back to when Haern the Watcher was only a small child of eight. By the end of the scene, I knew I had a story to tell.

2. Dance of Cloaks is filled with strong female characters that hold their own against the men.  Which one was the most difficult to write?  Which one is your favorite?
The hardest were the Faceless Women. One of my editors kept mocking me when he read through their dialog, saying I either sounded like Shakespeare or Yoda. Trying to give personality to faceless, featureless women who’ve been indoctrinated into a fanatical, oppressive religion is no easy feat. I think I did all right. By the end, I had grown rather attached to one, and ended up saving her from my original plotted path of her dying.

My favorite was Alyssa Gemcroft. She’s such a different character for me. No special powers. No magic. No skill with blade or bow. She suffers terribly, but grows throughout the novel and by the end ascends to her (rightful) place of power. Loved it.

3. Your one-on-one fight scenes are incredible.  Do you have any martial arts training to help you choreograph the action or do you see it as a movie playing in your head?
It’s all just a movie in my head. Fight scenes are easily the hardest part of writing for me. I spent much of my high school life devouring the Drizzt books by R. A. Salvatore, so I’ve adopted many of his characteristics when it comes to combat. I want readers to know what’s going on, to feel like they’re in the moment, but at the same time give a feeling of epic grandeur to the whole shebang. It’s a tough balance, but I think more often than not I pull it off.

4. The struggle between the two religions of the time is compelling especially the fates of the Faceless Ones.  Is this modeled after the classic Catholic vs. Protestant dogmas we've seen throughout history?  
The two religions are fun for me. I wanted to create a dark, evil religion with Karak. At the same time, I wanted it to be believable. So many times you’ll see cults depicted with sacrifices and murderous leaders who’ve gone insane, and I always wonder who in their right mind would join something like that. With Karak, I have leaders who are calm, intelligent, and faithful. It’s only when you dig down, when you search for their final purpose or see how they treat those who err (such as the Faceless Women) that you see their true danger.

As for their opposite, Ashhur, I again wanted to do something I so rarely see. I wanted the ‘good’ religion to actually be…well, good. Nine times out of ten when you see a religious figure in a fantasy setting or movie, they’re going to be hypocritical, unhelpful, quick to anger, and working for the bad guy. Besides, with so much darkness and murder in my book, sometimes it is comforting to know I have a nice little beacon within that stands for something more.

5. The one question everyone will want to know is will there be a sequel to DOC?
Yes, tentatively titled A Dance of Daggers. I don’t know when I’ll write it. So far, it appears demand for the Half-Orcs is far greater, so I’ll try to appease my fans as they desire most. Perhaps after I finish book five I’ll come back and detail Haern’s triumph over the Trifect and the thieves’ guilds.

6. Do you have any plans to devote another book to any of your other characters in your Half-Orc series?
The paladins, particularly Lathaar, will be getting their own book soon. I wrote their story once while in high school, but needless to say, it needs a rewrite. I hope to crank out a short story or two to help fill in the back story for a few other characters, but for now, Shadows of Grace (book four) is top priority.

7. What are some of your favorite fan reactions to your books?
I’ve gotten so many e-mails it’s staggering, and not just from the U.S. Just tonight I received an e-mail insisting that for him, I was on par with Terry Goodkind and Raymond Feist. Another said he preferred me over David Eddings. These aren’t names I’m supposed to be beside. I’m a silly idiot self-publishing his stories of half-orcs and paladins and shadow-walking assassins. I shake my head and wonder what’s wrong with these people, they can’t say stuff like that and really mean it…can they?

8. What are you working on now?
As I’ve said before, hard at work on book 4, The Shadows of Grace. I’m getting a hold of Peter Ortiz to get me another awesome cover made, and I’m about halfway through round two. I need to finish up my tale of the Half-Orcs, then take a deep, deep breath and figure out what the heck I’m going to do then.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Publishers Weekly Announces New Service for Self-published Titles

The full article can be found here at the Publishers Weekly website:

Volume 257 Issue 33 08/23/2010 The New PW Select: A Quarterly Service for the Self-Published 

We are announcing PW Select, a quarterly supplement announcing self-published titles and reviewing those we believe are most deserving of a critical assessment. The first supplement will appear in our year-end issue in December. Each quarterly will include a complete announcement issue of all self-published books submitted during that period. The listings will include author, title, subtitle, price, pagination and format, ISBN, a brief description, and ordering information provided by the authors, who will be required to pay a processing fee for their listing. At least 25 of the submitted titles will be selected for a published review.

We briefly considered charging for reviews, but in the end preferred to maintain our right to review what we deemed worthy. The processing fee that guarantees a listing and the chance to be reviewed accomplishes what we want: to inform the trade of what is happening in self-publishing and to present a PW selection of what has the most merit.

Review - Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn, #1)Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sanderson's fantasy is set in a mist-haunted, ash-ridden world, and it pits Kelsier, "the Survivor of Hathsin," against the immortal Lord Ruler's 1,000-year domination of both the Great Houses and their serflike "skaa." Through Allomancy acquired in the Ruler's most hellish prison, Kelsier is able to "burn" 10 metals internally, fueling superhuman powers he uses to assemble rebels in a loose plan to destroy the nobility, the empire and the Lord Ruler himself. Kelsier uses Vin, a street urchin with the same Mistborn powers Kelsier possesses, to infiltrate the Great Houses' society, where she falls in love with philosopher prince Elend Venture.

I had high hopes for this book, but this book was much too easy to put down when I was busy [which I did often:] except for the last 150 pages. Then the pace picked up dramatically and I began to care what happened to the main characters. It's not a bad book, but not the best one I've read.  

View all my reviews

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Review - Best Served Cold, Joe Abercrombie

Best Served ColdBest Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I'm only going to give this book 2 stars because it was so gruesome. I don't usually mind gruesome if it advances the storyline, but in this book "gruesome" seemed to be the star. I absolutely loved Joe's "First Law" trilogy and that had gruesome parts as well, but the characters were the center stage. In this book, I think he could have curtailed a bit on the gory details and still got his point across. In the end I really didn't care who survived or who died.  I put this book down too many times and only because of my stubbornness to read most books I start that this book was finished.

View all my reviews

Digital Tablets - Should Schools Provide them to Students?

About a month ago, I finally took the plunge and got myself a Kindle.  This was after nearly a year of following Kindle reviews, forum posts about the pros and cons of Kindles and of course watching the price drop to less than $200.  I viewed this purchase as part business expense and part reward.  After all, how could I see what my books look like on the Kindle if I didn't have one?  And then, of course, there was the whole, "I've got a Kindle" excitement.

Now call me old-fashioned, but I'm not one to rush out and get the latest digital gadget every time one hits the market.  I carefully consider the pros and cons of the device and, of course, price. With the economy still in the toilet, price is a big consideration.

All of this is leading up to an article I read in the paper today.  In a Clearwater, FL, public high school, they plan on providing all 2100 of their students with a Kindle instead of using the traditional textbooks.  Am I missing something here?  Is this the best use of tax payers money?  I can tell you that I would not be happy if I lived in Clearwater and found out that my money was used this way.  I don't know what the school department's budget is like in Clearwater, but I can tell you up here in the Northeast, schools are struggling to provide standard school materials for their students.  What happens when the Kindle breaks?  If the student drops it?  If there is a spill of soda all over the screen?  How many Kindles will each student be issued?

I was even more shocked to read further into the article and find out that a parochial school in Wisconsin will issue their sixth- and seventh-graders Apple iPads.  Are you kidding me?  iPads costs $600!!! How long do you think it will be before those kids are doing everything with their iPads EXCEPT reading textbooks?

What do you think?  Am I way behind the times or are these schools the wave of the future?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Interview with Luna Lindsey

Available at Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Make-Willing-the-Prey-ebook/dp/B003Z0CV68

Next up in my author interviews in Luna Lindsey.  Welcome Luna!

Briefly describe your journey in writing your first book.
Make Willing the Prey began in the summer of 1997.  I’d been writing a lot of short stories and novel-starts while participating in an excellent critique group in the Tri-Cities, WA. 

I got my inspiration from a music video.  I was briefly unemployed, so I spent about 6 weeks writing it.  At the end, the writer’s group gave me some very good advice: Keep the first third, but the rest is a downward spiral.  Let something good happen to the characters now and then. Conflict means ups along with the downs.

So this summer I took their advice and spent about a month on the re-write, giving my protagonists a fighting chance to survive.  I am very pleased with the results.

Did you query agents or traditional publishers before publishing on Amazon?
I’ve marketed short stories traditionally, about 13 years ago.  But when I returned to writing, I learned much has changed.  Ebooks sounded promising so I decided to go all-in, primarily due to my frustrations with the lengthy lead times and all the pre- and post-publication marketing that goes into publishing traditionally.  I’d rather spend that time writing.

What factors influenced your decision to self-publish?
In addition to the above, I quickly realized other reasons to go indie. I especially love having creative control over my work and financial control over the proceeds of my work.

Will you try to garner a traditional publishing contract for any future books?
Possibly, but not likely.  If I’m selling enough to get the attention of a major publishing house, why give up my 70-85% royalties?  If given a large enough advance, I may consider “selling out”.  There’s something special about the imagined thrill of seeing my books on a shelf at B&N.

Did you design your cover art?  If not, would you care to share your graphic designer’s information?
I did my own layout, and wish I had the talent to do the art myself, but actually my daughter Betsy did it.  She spends a lot of time sketching for DeviantArt.  She did a great job capturing the concept I explained to her.  She also worked with me to tweak little details as the image emerged.

What kinds of social media [twitter, facebook, webpage, blog, writing forums] are you involved with trying to garner attention for your book(s)?
I’ve been active in social media since the early 90’s when the term was “BBS” and “2400 baud modem”.  So it’s perfectly natural that I have all of the above.

Specific to my writing, I participate in several forums, particularly http://www.kindleboards.com/
Website and Blog: http://www.lunalindsey.com
Facebook page:

Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
Almost!  I’m setting up on Smashwords this week.

What’s next for you?
I’m currently working on the follow-up to Make Willing the Prey, which will likely involve some of the same characters.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Designing Your Fan Page

I've avoided setting up a Fan page because I thought it was just too overwhelming to think about especially with all the other things going on at the moment.

Today was the day that I decided I would tackle it and I'm glad I did.  I've been using Jon F Merz's "Social Media for Writers" and I have to say it's a fantastic guide.  He gives step-by-step instructions for nearly everything you can think of and a few more ideas that you wouldn't know about unless someone told you about them.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who is setting up their fan page.  Thanks again Jon!

Google Alerts

One of the best ways to track every time your name, your books, your website/blog is talked about is to set up google alerts.  I have been pleasantly surprised over and over again to find out the places where others are mentioning me or my books.  With the help of google alerts, you can instantly find the websites  that are talking about you.

To set up an alert, go to your google account page.  On your profile page, you'll see an icon labelled alerts, click on manage and set up your own personal alerts.  One tip though, add "quotes " around your search parameters so the search will be specific to you, for example "Debra L Martin."  At first I didn't know about this little trick and I got alerts every time the name "Debra" was mentioned and trust me, there's a lot of Debras in the world.

So if you want to know who's talking about you, set up your alerts and you'll soon be finding out.  Along the way, you might even find new blogs to follow and great new friends!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I'M A WRITER by Maureen A Miller

Today, I’d like to welcome Maureen A. Miller who has graciously offered to do a guest post today.  Maureen is the author of Victory Cove, Widow’s Tale and Rogue Wave.  You can find her books on Amazon.
Maureen, the floor is yours:

When I saw an ad for a position as the Charlotte Romance Examiner, I thought, "I'm a writer.  I write romance.  This will be perfect for me."  It was not a job to make money, but rather an extra-curricular activity—one that was right up my alley.

The challenge to this perfect opportunity was that I was supposed to write editorials featuring the fine city of Charlotte and associate romance to it.  After about the third or fourth "Eat at Joes, it is romantic", you're going to start to lose your audience.  So, I reconsidered the parameters, which were to focus on romance, and inject some local flare.

I confess, I'm a romantic suspense author, and the fiction demon inside me started plotting immediately. Yes, I held true to the editorial guidelines and submitted articles you would anticipate reading in a venue such as this, but I introduced a new take to the traditional act of restaurant reporting.

This new line of articles will be featured under "Chance Encounters", where instead of a documentary about a restaurant, you will find a three or four paragraph snippet of fiction taking place in that eatery.  I thought why not make the reader feel what it's like to be here?  Make the reader think that it is possible that they can find romance if they eat in this restaurant.

In addition to this little tangent, I have introduced a character called Leila Jennings, in my "Leila on the Lake" feature.  Once a week readers will be able to read the adventures of Leila as she settles into her new life on the lake, just north of Charlotte.  Again, they can learn about the area while reading about some of Leila’s eccentric neighbors and coworkers.

See what you get when you mix a romance author with journalism!

Sample from Chance Encounters on the Charlotte Romance Examiner site.
Picture yourself sitting outside the Corkscrew Wine Bar in Birkdale Commons. You are holding a glass of Chardonnay and the soft scent of apple tickles your nose. It is early evening on a pleasant August night. The temperature is cool enough that this wrought iron table beneath a tree is too irresistible to resist. You sit quietly listening to the outdoor band performing a subtle mix of Blues and Jimmy Buffet on the Green.  Before you, a bustle of shoppers pass by, some recently released from the Regal Theater.  You can hear clips of their animated conversations as they recap the romantic comedy they just saw. 
A crowd has started to form at the base of the stage, yet you are far enough away, sheltered in your little force field of tranquility. When the waitress appears with a menu and a smile, you ask for some more time, content to sip your glass of wine and remain a bystander to the activity a little bit longer. As she walks back inside you feel a brief rush of the air-conditioning and you sit back in your chair with a happy sigh.
“Excuse me, are you using this chair?”
 Before even looking up you make a quick assessment of your surroundings and see that the outside dining area of the Corkscrew has filled up and there is only one table vacant, seemingly scavenged of its chairs by nearby parties.
 “No,” You finally glance up into eyes that are soft and brown. Intrigued your gaze expands, rising just over six feet to take in the image of the man before you.
“I have to finish this paperwork for work,” he explains in a deep voice, “and I thought it might be less stressful with a glass of wine and some background music.”
 You glance down at your closed laptop. The same laptop you have purposely neglected in favor of this glass of Chardonnay. Your eyes lift six feet again and you offer a hesitant smile and reply, “No, I’m not using the chair.”


Monday, August 16, 2010

One Year Anniversary

I've been blogging for a year this month!  Actually the correct anniversary date was August 2, but I've been busy with posts this month and didn't even realize it.  I have to say that the time just flew by.  I'm having a great time especially with my author interview series and my newest addition of doing book reviews.  I look forward to continuing to blog about writing, publishing, and ebooks along with a few funnies thrown in now and again.

Thanks to everyone who follows the blog and I look forward to welcoming many more new friends!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

And the winner is. . .

I'm very pleased to announce that the winner of the trade paperback copy of "The Cutting Edge" by Darcia Helle is:


Congratulations Atreau!  Please email Darcia at darcia@quietfury.com and give her your mailing address.

Thank you to everyone who entered the contest.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Last day for a chance to win "The Cutting Edge"

Today is the last day for a chance to win a paperback copy of "The Cutting Edge," from mystery/suspense author Darcia Helle.

Leave a comment with your email address in the previous "Book Giveaway" post [NOT this post] along with your email address.  The winner will be announced either Sunday or Monday so check back to see if you're the lucky one!

Good luck everyone!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

BOOK GIVEAWAY - The Cutting Edge by Darcia Helle

I am very pleased to announce my first Book Giveaway and extend my thanks to mystery/suspense author Darcia Helle for offering her book, “The Cutting Edge.”  She is offering a trade paperback copy as the prize.  If you are interested in throwing your name into the hat for a chance to win the book, please leave a comment by Saturday, August 14, 2010 at midnight.  [This contest is open to US and Canadian entries only.]  The winner will be announced on the blog next week so check back to see if that's you!

Darcia has graciously agreed to answer a few of my questions.  Welcome Darcia!

1. Where did the idea for The Cutting Edge come from?
I was a hairstylist in a small town salon for about 15 years. A lot of crazy things happened there. The women I worked with and I were often equal parts psychologist and stylist. The things clients would tell us still amaze me! Working so closely with people - and their egos - could be difficult. And the small town atmosphere gave our clients the impression that they were allowed to pick apart our personal lives. I used to say that the craziness of our salon would make a great background for a novel. One day, Skye's character popped into my head and that salon was the perfect place for her.

2. Are the characters in The Cutting Edge modeled after real people?
The answer to that is both yes and no. Skye, the main character, and her family are, for the most part, products of my imagination.  Skye's clients, however, are based on real clients of the salon I worked in. The conversations and incidents that take place there are almost all true. I don't think I could make that stuff up! I did change the names and minor details, both to protect the innocent and hide the guilty.

3. Is there any truth to the plot?
Absolutely not. As far as I know, none of the stylists I worked with fantasized about murder. And we had no serial killer running loose in our small town. However, a few of us might have contemplated smacking someone with our blow dryers now and then!

4. Which comes first for you - characters or plot?
Definitely characters. I’m very character-driven in my writing. I like to explore the why of human behavior. If the characters in a story feel wooden, the plot, to me, is meaningless.

5. Who or what inspired you to become a writer?
I honestly don't know. I've always loved to write. For me, writing isn't actually a choice. I have all these characters floating around my head that demand their story be written. If I didn't write, I'll probably be locked up in a padded cell!

6. How can readers learn more about you and your ongoing efforts?
I love to connect with readers and can be found in the following places:

My website: http://www.DarciaHelle.com or http://www.QuietFuryBooks.com (Both links go to the same site.)

Monday, August 9, 2010

REVIEW - Peace Warrior by Steven L Hawk

I purchased this book from Amazon after reading a post by the author on a forum.

Peace Warrior by Steven L Hawk
4 out of 5 stars 

From the moment I started reading this book, the author reeled me in.  You are immediately thrown inside the mind of Sgt. First Class Grant Justice while he is leading his men on a combat operation.  Unfortunately Sgt. Justice is savagely killed on the mission and his mangled body ends up in the frigid waters of a lake.  This scene sets up the premise for the rest of the story.  

Flash forward 600 years and the reader is propelled into a time when all the inhabitants on Earth are peaceful.  There are no wars, no fighting or even any bickering.  This utopian world is the perfect place for the savage and military race, the Minith, to invade and conquer.  The Minith rule with an iron fist and the humans are easily enslaved because aggression and violent tendencies have been bred out of them.

I found the chapters dealing with the Earth Peace Council dragged a bit.  Their names were complicated and dialogue was stilted, but as soon as Senior Scientist Tane Roland was introduced, I was eagerly turning the pages again.  I would have liked it if the author had let us see more into Tane's inner thoughts. He is an anomaly among the humans and it would have been great if his character had been fleshed out more.  I would have also liked more back story for the major prison characters.  A few fell flat for me.

Tane receives permission from the Council to awaken the newly improved bioengineered Grant Justice and from the moment Grant opens his eyes I was back under his spell.  Grant was given an impossible task, but relying on his 600 year old military experience might just save the planet. The author kept Grant true to his ideals and morals throughout the book and it clearly reflected the author's military experience.

Without giving the climax away, I can say that I couldn't stop reading.  Page after page flew by during the final chapters.  This is an impressive debut novel for this author and I look forward to reading more by him.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Featured Author at Excuse Me, Miss

I'm very pleased to be the featured author over at Excuse Me, Miss.  For this spotlight, I've chosen to highlight a scene from "The Crystal Facade, Book 2."  It's the first time Eclair Jortac sets foot inside an advanced telekinetics class as the teacher.  You get to enjoy Eclair's sense of humor in this scene.

You can check it out here.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Interview with Randolph Lalonde

Available at Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Chronicles-Omnibus-Spinward-Fringe-ebook/dp/B0037KMFEY

Next up I'll like to welcome Randolph Lalonde to the blog.  Randolph is the author of the successful Spinward Fringe series.

Briefly describe your journey in writing your first book.
I was working at a customer support centre, answering calls for a New York Cable Company when I made the pledge to write every day for a year in 2008. I always wanted to try writing a first person story, and I had ideas bouncing around for a science fiction book that had been accumulating for about twenty years, so when I sat down on January 1, 2008, I decided I’d incorporate both in an adventure novella called Freeground. I had written a few epic, sweeping fantasy novels before, the first when I was in my mid-teens, and I decided that it wasn’t something I’d do in science fiction. Freeground would have a tighter point of view and tell a more direct story.

The adventure novella, Freeground accomplished a lot of my goals, and the first draft took a few days. That led to the second book in that trilogy, Limbo, and the third, Starfree Port, where I finally felt I was getting somewhere with that style of story telling, but I couldn’t tell the story I wanted to while writing in first person, so the First Light Chronicles had to end.

Spinward Fringe was born, taking the series to a new level, allowing me to expand the scope of the story and bring the reader further into the new universe I was creating by diversifying the setting and characters. In July, 2010, I celebrated the release of Spinward Fringe Broadcast 6: Fragments, bringing the total size of the series up to nine books and one million words.

What is the Spinward Fringe series about?
Spinward Fringe is a series of Space Opera novels that explore a futuristic universe at odds with itself through the perspective of several different core characters. They’re adventure books, where we embark on bold rescues, nick of time escapes, while dealing with character drama and romantic entanglements. Throw in a major splash of cyberpunk, half-mad power hungry villains and artificial intelligences that endeavor to complicate things, and you have a typical Spinward Fringe Broadcast. The heart of the series is the characters, and how they handle living in a galaxy that’s been destabilized by conflict.

It all starts in the first trilogy contained in The First Light Chronicles Omnibus (Also known as Spinward Fringe Broadcast 0: Origins – they’re the same book). The main character in that trilogy is caught using life like virtual military combat simulations with his friends and, instead of punishing them, they decide to send them out into the galaxy to collect new technologies, connect with other colonies and gather intelligence. The main character and many of his co-conspirators either have military training and retired after serving in a short lived war, or are still in the military, so they have the skills, they’re just putting them to use in very new territory. Their adventures quickly become misadventures, and the main character, Jonas Valent, is forced to learn the ropes fast.

Did you query agents and traditional publishers?
The First Light Chronicles were supposed to be my “get back on the horse” project, since I hadn’t written much at all in the previous two years. Even though the first book was more raw enthusiasm than talent, I liked it enough to have a pair of copies printed through lulu.com so I could put them on my shelf, and a co-worker stole a copy I had brought to work to read between calls. He’d finished it by the end of the day and agreed that it needed polish (it’s been edited three times since then), but he enjoyed it a great deal. Before I knew it, several co-workers were pre-ordering copies of my little sci-fi adventure novellas before I had finished writing them.

I took a look at the broader market and realized that Space Opera was a niche of Futuristic SciFi, which is a niche of Science Fiction / Fantasy, and most publishers weren’t interested in picking up a new series. It was already gathering a small following, so I thought I’d try my luck with Mobipocket. After some editing, I uploaded the First Light Trilogy and the newly finished Spinward Fringe Broadcast 1: Resurrection. I was surprised when science fiction fans started downloading copies, and when I finished Broadcast 2: Awakening, I did a bit more editing on the First Light Chronicles so I could re-release it as The First Light Chronicles Omnibus. That book has been at the top of the Science Fiction charts ever since on Mobipocket. They distributed to Kindle and most of the other major eBook sellers at the time, so within a few weeks my work was available pretty much everywhere. After a few months I was paying my bills with the proceeds. In short, I never had to plead with agents or petition publishers to entertain people with this series.

The Spinward Fringe series will never be sold to a major publisher unless I can retain complete control and sacrifice nothing in the deal. That’ll never happen, so it’s all mine, and I couldn’t be happier. I have other treatments, novel outlines and first chapters if an agent or publisher comes sniffing around. None of the backburner manuscripts / summaries are science fiction either. I hope to eventually write then release most of those ideas myself eventually, since I have absolutely no use for an agent or publisher at this point and have no desire to work with them.

They seem to share the misconception that the author is the low man or woman on the totem pole, and that we should do everything in our power to become their clients. Not only do I object to that perception, I’ve never met an agent worth hiring, nor do I have any desire to waste my time and money looking for one. If they want something, they can come and get it. I’ll probably turn them down as I have in the past, however.

Are you currently under a traditional publishing contract for future books or do you have manuscripts that you will publish directly for Kindle?
My contract is with the readers. They expect me to write more Broadcasts (books), in the series and to deliver an ending to many of the current plot cycles in Broadcast 7. The only other contracts I have to worry about are for distribution (Amazon, Smashwords, Mobipocket, etc…).

I’ve been offered three deals from small publishers for rights to the Spinward Fringe series, but none of them came close to offering the conditions that would prompt a signature. They don’t seem to realize that I’m making a living as an independent and out selling their top titles already.

Did you design your cover art?  If not, would you care to share your graphic designer’s information?
I designed several of my own covers, and am always looking for ways to be creative visually without having to enter a College Arts Program. I’m too busy writing to go back to school! Recently I’ve been buying non-exclusive rights to artwork or looking to NASA and JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory), for cover images that fit the story I’m telling in each book. It’s not a terribly difficult process, and it’s surprisingly inexpensive. There are a lot of artists looking for somewhere to feature their work and even more stock photography to choose from at very reasonable prices.

What drives you to write?
I write to entertain myself and others. If I don’t think something is entertaining before it’s written, it never makes it to the page. If something falls flat after I’ve typed it out I’ll either fix it or remove it entirely because if I find it boring or pointless, there’s no way it’s good enough for my readers. While writing does pay the bills, I know that if I had to hold down another job I’d still be doing it because there are still stories rattling around in my head that need to be told.

How did you feel when you got your first sale?
I had self-published a fantasy novel, Fate Cycle: Sins of the Past four years before the first Spinward Fringe book was sold, so it wasn’t as much of a surprise as it could have been. Seeing the first reviews for the First Light Chronicles Omnibus pop up on Mobipocket was a huge rush though, and I still get a bit of that back every time I realize I’ve entertained someone so well that they have to say / write something about it. Some of the emails I get are very touching, and it brings what I do into sharp focus.

What kinds of social media [twitter, facebook, webpage, blog, writing forums] are you involved with trying to garner attention for your book(s)?
I play with Twitter, Facebook and use the Blog to keep people in the loop. I like connecting with readers. They’re fantastic people and come from such diverse backgrounds - it’s just amazing. I try not to spend too much time on social media, however, since I’ve come to see those networks as huge time and creativity sink holes. I’d rather be writing.

Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
The nerve centre for my creative pursuits is www.randolphlalonde.com.

The whole Spinward Fringe Series is available at Smashwords, including Spinward Fringe Broadcast 0: Origins, a free Space Opera trilogy: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/randolphlalonde

My work is also available in Apple’s iBookstore, Barnes and Noble, Mobipocket, Kobo Books, and every other quality eBook seller.

What’s next for you?
I’m writing Broadcast 7, aiming for a Christmas release. After that’s finished I’ll be working on Broadcast 8 while I do final plotting for a horror novel called Dark Arts, which will be based on a short novella that’s begun to gather a following. My goal in 2011 is to release Spinward Fringe Broadcast 8, a new fantasy novel called the Sons of Brightwill, and the Dark Arts novel. Thanks to my readers, I can do this full time, so I’ll be providing them with ample page turning material in return!

Thank you Randolph for stopping by and best of luck with your books!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Interview with Amanda Hocking

Next up in my series of author interviews is Amanda Hocking, author of the "My Blood Approves" series.  She has a new book out, Switched, available on Amazon

Welcome Amanda!

Briefly describe your journey in writing your first book.
The first book I wrote, I had this image of a man sitting alone in a white room, and I shaped a story around that. It was a mystery thriller thing, where a guy is looking for a killer, and it wasn’t until I was almost done with the book that I realized I didn’t know who the killer was. Suffice it to say, it was not a very good book. 

Did you query agents or traditional publishers before publishing on Amazon?
I did. I’ve been rejected approximately a thousand times.

What factors influenced your decision to self-publish?
The fact that I wasn’t getting published. Agents asked for pages of my book, most of them said something along the lines of “Good, but I’m not passionate enough.” But I was passionate enough to champion my work, so I thought, “Hey, why don’t I do this?”

Will you try to garner a traditional publishing contract for any future books?
I’m definitely not going to turn down publishing contracts (at least not without serious consideration), but I wouldn’t say that I’m actively seeking it now. I really have no idea what I plan to do in the future. It all depends on what happens.

Did you design your cover art?  If not, would you care to share your graphic designer’s information?
I did, but I’ve recently been in contact with Claudia McKinney. She’s going to be doing the covers for my future books, and she’s fabulous. You can check out here work here: http://phatpuppyart.com

If you used a graphic designer, how involved were you during the creative process for your cover?
Not tons. I basically just gave her a character description, and let her do what she wanted.

How did you feel when you got your first sale?  Are you pleased with sales so far?
Ecstatic. Sales have far surpassed what I ever expected to happen. It’s been amazing.

What kinds of social media [twitter, facebook, webpage, blog, writing forums] are you involved with trying to garner attention for your book(s)?
Twitter, Facebook, my blog, Goodreads, Kindleboards. I ask review blogs to review my books all the time. I have a standing offer that if you have a legitimate review site, I’ll give you an ARC of my books in exchange for an honest review.

Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
My Blood Approves is for sale on Smashwords, but I’ve only gotten four or five sales there. My Blood Approves, Fate, and Flutter are available in paperback through Lulu.com, but my next books are going through Createspace.

What’s next for you?
The fourth book in the My Blood Approves series is coming out August 22nd, and I just released Switched, the first book in a new trilogy. I have several other urban fantasies waiting to be edited and released, and about a million other ideas and works in progress. I plan on doing a lot more than I’ve already done.