On the Other Side
The Red Pearl
The Light Side of the Moon
Holly M. Campbell
The Duchess Inheritance
Jordinia: Book II, C.K. Brooke
Their Rigid Rules
The Chemical Attraction Series: Prequel, Christina Thompson
Holly M. Campbell
New York Dolls
Catherine L. Hensley
The Duchess Quest
Jordinia: Book I, C.K. Brooke
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THE RED PEARL by C.K. Brooke
Treasure lost…passion found?
Antonia Korelli is on the run from her coven of priestesses. She never desired a life confined to the temple, relegated to chastity and service to the goddess, Azea. Instead, she longs for true love and adventure in the Kingdom of Elat. Robin Watkins is a fiery dreamer on a mission of his own, to uncover the legendary lost Red Pearl. Only, he must first regain his treasure map, which was stolen by his former best mate and conniving ex-girlfriend…READ MORE!
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Attending a convention in seven easy to follow tips
The most common question I get from authors and fans alike is: so what’s a convention like anyway? Your convention experience depends on what you do and enjoy. There’s always differences due to size, regional laws, convention’s focus, and like/dislikes of the organizers. Everyone does things a little differently, so I wrote these tips for anyone thinking about going to a convention. Many conventions will have: Art show, Artist Alley, or Artist Demo Exhibit Hall/Dealer’s Room Panels, Workshops, Readings, and other programming Hospitality suite (A place to relax often with snacks ) Cosplay and Costuming Gaming Music: Sometimes known as Filk Media Guests: Actors and Directors Visiting Pros of the convention’s focus My favorite: Movie Screenings. There’s usually at least an attempt to mix classic, obscure to the new. However, unless it’s a big convention, do not expect a big budget movies. Expect weird indie shorts and full length movies you have never seen before: I love them. At Night, there’s even more stuff This is the Thursday room party board at Sasquan Room parties Bid parties (Some conventions move to a different location each year and groups bid for the next spot.) Offsite Events “Adult” Programing and rated R readings A masquerade or costume contest. And my second favorite: Star Parties and Astronomy Events Tip 1) Research the con you’re considering attending as much as you can. Tip 2) Don’t wait to get your badge. Many big conventions sell out early. Also there is generally an early registration discount or specials Tip 3) Check out the online schedule and figure out what you like to do. Look at flyers for other events not on the schedule And then go do it! Tip 4) Read the Rules: All cons have regulations to help make the convention run smoothly and be as fun as possible for everyone posted on their website and in their program. Look them over to understand what is expected. In addition to general conduct policies, they will have guidelines for cosplay, press, exhibitors, and others. I am not trying to scare you: generally they all can be summed up with do not do anything: illegal or dangerous to yourself or anyone else. Excessive or underage alcohol use, drug use, harassment, etc will result in getting booted from the convention. Note: If you have a safety or security concern, bring it to the convention’s operations center immediately. I have never seen a convention that didn’t care about the attendee first and foremost. Tip 5) Wear your badge and have ID at all times throughout the convention. People will notice if you are not wearing a badge. The other reason is to get into events. If you want to go to room parties you need your ID. Security will check, even if you are in your eighties. These cupcakes were at a publisher’s room party for a book release. So if you want them, bring your badge and ID Tip 6) Don’t be afraid to talk to people. Even if you go alone, don’t feel like you have to stay alone. Many science fiction and fantasy fans have often felt out of place, and are thrilled if someone approaches them. Ask people about their costumes or talk to them about a panel you both just attended. If you’re interested in an author, talk to them or ask questions at a panel. Here is my secret: most convention goers don’t realize I am shy, and can be completely socially awkward. (Though I have written enough socially awkward characters that they might realize it by now.) Around age 28, I decided it was time to be the author and person I wanted to be. So I read A LOT of Miss Manners to figure out how to talk to people and make friends in uncomfortable situations. I still make mistakes, but overall, this served me well. Tip 7) Take care of yourself. Sometimes you get so busy, you don’t realize the time slipping away so make sure to get a few hours sleep, a shower, and a few healthy meals during the weekend. And one more for free: Have fun!
Let’s Talk About SEX
“Gods, Annie,” he gasped, as she dug her fingers through his hair, soaking his neck with repeated kisses. “You look so damn ravishing in these trousers.” “Perhaps,” she moaned, writhing against him, “you can determine whether I look better out of them.” His pulse lolloped. “Are you serious?” She tugged on his collar, bringing his nose to hers. “I seriously want you.” -The Red Pearl by C.K. Brooke, Chapter 31 Let’s talk about sex, baby… Seriously, though. Sex in books. It’s IT right now. Fifty Shades launched the billionaire BDSM fantasies of a million moms, and now erotic romance has moved from that sketchy section in the bookstore where I bought my first Cosmo Girl Kama Sutra and out onto the display tables. (…What, TMI?) If you browse the bestselling romances on Amazon, you will find everything from lewd doctor, lawyer and werewolf romps to dragon and dinosaur erotica. (Yes, I said dinosaur. Look up “Taken by the Triceratops” or “The Billionaire Dinosaur Forced Me Gay”. Both of which have outsold all of my novels combined. *Cough.*) Anyway, in the midst of this toasty new trend, what’s an adventure-romance writer, such as yours truly, to do? Do I amp up the heat and dedicate entire chapters to illicit sexytimes, or do I keep it sweet and gently shut the bedroom door in my readers’ faces? Either decision isn’t easy to make. I strive to write with integrity and class, but I also wish to capture my main couple’s passion and give readers what they want (what they really, really want). My ultimate decision brings me back to fall 2013. I was three quarters of the way through writing my debut novel, The Duchess Quest, and the heroine had just professed her love for the picaresque hero (or anti-hero). I hadn’t been planning on writing a novel with any sex – my parents were going to read it, after all. But the chemistry between the characters was so strong, and the tension so high after a book-long build-up, I discovered myself desperate for them to finally shag already. I got into bed that night, conflicted. Quietly, I leaned in and whispered to my husband, who had read my manuscript thus far: “Do you think sex would be out-of-place in my book?” He got that smile he always gets when I mention sex and answered, “Not at all. There’s been plenty of innuendo leading up to it… I think it would fit.” Having secured the only opinion that mattered to me at the time, the next evening, I set out to writing my very. First. Sex scene. (Okay, of my adult life. Obscene fan-fictions about the dudes from Lord of the Rings when I was fifteen don’t count.) It was a deeply personal and emotional experience, to unite these two people who were very real to me. I felt as though I was actually falling in love again – a little lightheaded and giddy, with no concept of needing food or sleep. I kept the prose mild and flowery, nothing graphic (no throbbing you-know-whats or glistening you-know-wheres). And of course, I had to insert a quote at the end that was a little ridiculous/funny, because I don’t like to take myself too seriously, and I love shattering tension with humor. The result was actually a bit of a longer scene than what’s published in The Duchess Quest today. Because in time, I learned that the less detail, the sexier. For me, at least. From there, the rest of the novel unfurled and was completed without any further bedroom chapters. While I was admittedly sheepish about showing it to my family, I was relieved when everyone waved a hand and insisted the sex wasn’t “bad” at all. (I did receive a gut-bustingly hilarious series of texts from my sister though, who confessed, “It was so intimate and I was so into it and then I was like…my sister wrote this.”) After that, I became much more comfortable writing sex scenes, and didn’t shy away in the sequel, The Duchess Inheritance. I went there more often with the main characters. But still, I didn’t use any anatomical terminology, showed no pink parts, and in the second half of the book they were married, so who cares? You can imagine my surprise when I started receiving comments from friends and family: “Gee, getting kinda racy, ain’t it?” “CAITY, good God!” And my top favorite from my BFF: “I’m going to rename this book Jon & Dainy F–k Around the World. Seriously, can you write a third novel of the Duchess just icing her v–?” I didn’t realize the sex had seemed so prominent in Book 2. At one point, my editor had even suggested, “We need more here,” so if anything, I was worried there wasn’t enough. And then, I began to panic. I had just finalized the edits on my third novel with 48fourteen, The Red Pearl, which contained my steamiest chapter yet. I warned my mom and Grandma: “There’s a chapter you’ll have to skip.” And I alerted my Aunt Sandi, too: “There’s sex.” (To which she responded bluntly, “Well, what would be the point of reading it if there wasn’t?”) Now, I’m no prude, but I strive to uphold some semblance of a good Christian household here, and this sex-writing thing was starting to perplex me. Exploring my characters’ passions is part of the joy of writing romance! So, I prayed about it. And it might’ve only been my imagination, but I thought I heard the answer: “Look, I want the authentic Caity. Don’t just use your talent for some watered-down version of you. Look at all the sex in the Bible!” So, I came to terms with my choice at that point. Sex isn’t bad; it’s in the Bible! And God (if you believe in one) created it for our pleasure. I’m not “sinning” by writing it. If executed tastefully, and with genuine love and respect between the characters engaging in the act, it’s a beautiful expression of the human experience. And that’s why we write, isn’t it? To impart beauty and meaning to the human experience, in all of its aspects. My mind more open, I allowed myself then to read some genre romances that weren’t afraid to go farther than I’ve ever gone in the love-writing department. They weren’t erotica books, but definitely named and described body parts in some heavy, extensive scenes. It was hot as hell, and I thought, “I should read more of this! And it would be so easy to write!” But then, even aside from the Catholic guilt settling in, I honestly began to feel – of all things – a sense of sadness. Like, I felt taken advantage of, as if someone was exploiting me for my sexuality. And I realized: No, no, no. I want to make people feel warm and lovesick and a little eager when they read my books, but I don’t want them feeling exploited or abused. And so there’s a fine line I’ve begun to walk, of presenting sexuality – when I choose to do so – in a heartfelt way that honors and respects the dignity of the act. That doesn’t mean some of my characters aren’t literal whores (or man-sluts), but I don’t write actual sex chapters about them unless it’s transformative and emotionally significant. Chapter 32 of The Red Pearl is the last overtly sexual scene I have written to date. The Wrong Prince (coming to 48fourteen Publishing in 2016) catches characters just after the act, or refers to memories past, but doesn’t contain any direct intercourse. Neither do my other manuscripts that were written after Pearl. Because I’m finding that, while it’s fine (and fun) to explore my characters’ sexuality, it isn’t always necessary. A brush of his hand over her fingers, a fond gaze into each other’s eyes amidst the face of danger, a yearning kiss just before the pair must part, can be equally sensual and arousing. And sometimes what’s left unsaid, or implied, is even more titillating than what’s made plain. All right, I’ve written my fill. Now I open the discussion. How do you like the heat level in your reading (or writing)? G-rated sweet, sensual to moderate, or are you a glutton for a super spice-fest? How do you feel about authors handling sexuality in their work? Let’s talk.
Part 3: How to be an awesome Panelist that conventions invite year after year!
So here is the third part of my series for authors who want to do conventions. Part 1 was all about the mental prep. Part 2 is about Physical Prep/Packing for a Weekend Convention. This part is about being a Panelist/Guest of the Convention/Visiting Pro or whatever the conventions call you. Here I am between panels in my magnificent Jacket of +2 Charisma and Bruce the Dragon at RustyCon 2014 Here are my top ten rules for being a good panelist. I will admit these all boil down to: Be Respectful! Be on time to your panels. Read the panel description and prepare some basic on-topic comments. If you are the moderator, MODERATE. That means make sure everyone has a chance to speak. If someone is quiet, bring them back into the conversation. If someone tries to take over, gently shut them down. “Well I see your viewpoint on that, what do you think, [Person who hasn’t gotten a word in]? A panel is not a monologue. Give all other panelists a chance to speak. If another panelist says something asinine, learn to kindly say, “Well I see your viewpoint on that, mine is X” (Notice a pattern.) Unless there is a serious issue, just go with the flow. If there is a major problem, tell the Programming coordinator immediately so he, she or zie can help you solve it. OR if there is nothing to be done, you can leave them a comment so maybe something can be done for next year. Remember conventions are run by volunteers who graciously donate their time and resources. Don’t take yourself too seriously, if you make a mistake, laugh it off or apologize which ever is appropriate. Enjoy the convention, but don’t get stinking drunk at room parties. (This is nothing against alcohol, this is about being prepared and knowing your limit. If you feel pressured, nobody but the bartender need know there is not vodka in your cranberry juice.) Be nice to the Greenroom staff and thank them for the food and hospitality. And finally: be gracious to your fans. They are the reason you are here! Did I miss anything? What other advice do authors have for would-be panelists?
What’s a Red Pearl? And 9 Other Things to Know About C.K. Brooke’s Next Adventure
The Red Pearl is finally here! What’s the least you need to know? Let me fill you in… 1. In a nutshell, what’s the story-line? Girl meets man, girl saves man’s life, man is…FURIOUS with her? The Red Pearl is an old-fashioned, action-packed love story about Antonia, a priestess-in-training who flees her temple only to get tangled up with Robin, a fiery adventurer on a harebrained treasure hunt. 2. Where does it take place? Rob and Annie live in a fantasy land called Innía, on the continent of Otlantica. Readers of my Jordinia novels (The Duchess Quest & The Duchess Inheritance) might recognize a few references, pegging this story in the same universe as Jordinia. 3. What’s the era? It takes place in a more modern era than my previous works. There are guns, for example, and an automobile prototype. Think turn of the 20th century. 4. Define the genre. It’s a streamlined romance. But it’s also an adventure, in the vein of “Indiana Jones” and “Romancing the Stone.” Sub-genre-wise, it classifies as fantasy (although without supernatural/paranormal elements). 5. What’s the heat level of the romance? Mostly mild…except for one chapter. Age seventeen and up, folks! 6. So, what exactly is the Red Pearl? It’s not a ship…or a Chinese restaurant…as some of my friends were wondering, LOL! It’s literally a pearl that’s red. You’ll learn in the book why it’s so valuable…and if it even truly exists. 😉 7. The Jordinia books oscillate between several characters’ points-of-view. Is Pearl set up the same way? No. In line with producing a more mainstream romance, this novel only focuses on two alternating POVs: that of the heroine, and that of the hero. 8. What inspired you to write this book? I was inspired to try my hand at more punctuated, traditional adventure-romance after reading my first paperback category romance novel and being perfectly delighted by it. 9. Is it part of a series? No, it’s a stand-alone. 10. Where can I get it? It’s now available in paperback and Kindle eBook format from Amazon and 48fourteen. The paperback is also available at Barnes & Noble. The NOOK and iTunes eBook editions will be available February 2016. Want to sample the first 3 chapters FREE? Start reading here! THE RED PEARL by C.K. Brooke (November 12, 2015) Full Book Description: Treasure lost…passion found? Antonia Korelli is on the run from her coven of priestesses. She never desired a life confined to the temple, relegated to chastity and service to the goddess, Azea. Instead, she longs for true love and adventure in the Kingdom of Elat. Robin Watkins is a fiery dreamer on a mission of his own: to uncover the legendary lost Red Pearl. Only, he must first regain his treasure map, which was stolen by his former best mate and conniving ex-girlfriend. When Antonia becomes unwittingly entangled with Rob, she’s more than dismayed to find herself stuck on his harebrained hunt. But somewhere amidst their bickering and banter, their plight for survival through desert and tropics, and the joint pursuit of impossible dreams, Antonia begins to realize that perhaps she might have found the unforgettable adventure – and romance – she was seeking.
Conventions Part 2: Dealer/Exhibitor Necessities
As I said last week, I started a series on working a conventions. I hope these are helpful for my author pals and aspiring authors. Part 1 was all about the mental prep. Part 2 is about Physical Prep/Packing for a Weekend Convention Inventory: I pack specifically for the convention. If it is a science fiction convention, I might grab a few more Other Systems. If it’s a comic con I’ll grab more artwork. I also always consider attendance. Finally: I set aside one book to get beat up for the season. Otherwise too many books get beat up. On the comics, I actually mark it “Display” with the novels, its easy just to stick it in the easel. (Attendance less than 10,000) 15 Other Systems +display copy 6-10 The Light Side of the Moon +display copy 10 sets of Out For Souls and Cookies (Bagged and Boarded) + loose display copies 5 Additional Copies of Out for Souls and Cookies #1 7-10 Copes of Lure +display copy 3 Sets of Faminelands +display copy 2-5 Copies of 25 or so different prints (Bagged and Boarded) (Attendance 10,000 – 50,000) 20 Other Systems 10 The Light Side of the Moon 20 sets of Out For Souls and Cookies (Bagged and Boarded) 5 Additional Copies of Out for Souls and Cookies #1 10 Copes of Lure 5 Sets of Faminelands 5 Copies of 25 or so different prints (Bagged and Boarded) (Attendance 50,000+ ECCC/Comicon) 35 Other Systems 20 The Light Side of the Moon 25 sets of Out For Souls and Cookies (Bagged and Boarded) 5 Additional Copies of Out for Souls and Cookies #1 10 Copes of Lure 5 Sets of Faminelands 5 Copies of 25 or so different prints (Bagged and Boarded) Why don’t I bring more? Because the more I drag around, the more likely it is to get damaged. Besides, the most I have ever sold of a single item at a conventions was 35 copies of Faminelands: The Carp’s Eye. That was at its release at ECCC 2008. Once I had more products, each product sells less. Also books are heavy. Airplanes only let you take so much luggage. Shipping is expensive. Gas is expensive. Signage/Banners I have one standing banner, one front of table banner and several two-sided 4×6 price signs made. Here is an example of my two sided place cards which I put in two-sided 4×6 photo frame that I got for $1 at IKEA. Back has the basic pitch for Booth Helpers. Front has price, show special, audience and gives people an idea what’s the book about. Marketing Giveaways: Excerpts, Bookmarks, Buttons, Etc. Display Stands: I set out everything in display stands before I leave so I can see how it looks. Sales Sheet, Cash Box and Credit Card Reader: I personally like to have $100 to open. 10 Five’s 50 One’s. Tablecloths and cover cloth: I use Queen Size Flat Bed sheets. They come in a wide variety of colors and wash well. At the end of the day, bring another sheet to cover inventory. Personal Emergency Kit: Band-Aids and Neosporin, Wet wipes, tissues, hand sanitizer, Sanitary napkins, chapstick, nail glue, Zyrtec, Aspirin, and Tylenol, Dayquil, Elastic bands, Comb Office Supplies: Pens for signing books, Blue Painter’s tape, Scotch Tape, Large Binder Clips, 3 x 5 cards, 1″ price lables Foam Mat/Tiles: Convention Centers aren’t known for their thick padded carpets. Food: 1 liter of water per day A coffee beverage with 2 shots of espresso Bag of apple slices and or baby carrots/celery for snacks Bagel with cream cheese for breakfast Sandwich with meat for lunch I don’t leave my table for meals. I eat right there, grabbing bites when I can. Final note on Clothing: I wear my good jeans, a loose-fitting peasant blouse type top. Basically, my goal is to look casually business-like. I also bring a light sweater or hoodie, because the environment is constantly shifting from hot and cold as doors open, groups of people move around etc. On my feet: I wear hiking socks and comfortable MaryJane-style shoes. I personally like Clarks, but have also heard good things about Keens. If my knees start getting really sore, I switch to TEVAs for a little while. Yes, that does mean I am wearing sandals with socks, but no one can see my feet behind the table. Did I miss anything? Is there anything other authors like to have at conventions? Share in the comments!
Why My 4 Parents Are Incredible
I’ve been meaning to write this blog post for a while now, but for some reason it’s easier for me to write 200 pages of complete fiction than it is to write a page or two about something quite personal to me. But after a phone call I received from my dad this morning, I knew it was time to write it. This post is about my parents, and why they are awesome, and why I owe them everything. My parents – all four of them (yes, four) are a huge reason why C.K. Brooke is C.K. Brooke. Now, as fascinating and, at times, even tragic as each of their personal stories have been, I’m sure they wouldn’t appreciate me sharing their pasts or personal information over the internet. So, suffice it to say that neither my mom nor dad had easy lives, and they divorced when I was a baby. From there, each raised me and my two older siblings as a single parent, with joint custody. Growing up commuting back-and-forth between two towns and two homes wasn’t fun. At all. But it was better than never knowing one of my parents. Sometimes I couldn’t understand why things had to be so painful and difficult, always divided, always separate, no stasis, constant upheaval. But, I know that three things were always certain: 1) both of my parents loved us more than anything in the world; 2) the last thing on earth either of them wanted was to hurt their children; and 3) God, or the Universe, or whatever term you are most comfortable with, has a way of correcting even the worst mistakes, like a few added ingredients to a supposedly ruined stew, and now it tastes better than you could’ve imaged. And those redeeming ingredients in my life are my step-parents, who love me as though I’m their own blood, and my two adorable little brothers – who came along later. One of the things Mom and Dad shared in common when I was young: both cultivated the love of reading in me from an early age. They took us to the library all the time. They and my big sister taught me how to read before I was in kindergarten. But it was Mom who was the first to staple a packet of paper together and tell me to go write a book. (In retrospect, she was probably just trying to shut me up and give me something to do so that she could cook dinner.) I don’t know if she had any idea what she was starting – or, maybe she did! – but that day at the kitchen table in Westminster, Maryland, when I was six years old, began my lifelong love affair with writing books. One book turned into two and six and ten, until my mom finally had to show me how to use the stapler myself, so that I would stop bugging her all day to please make me another blank book. Here’s where my parents especially win. Every book I produced, they were immensely proud of, and told me so. And then told everyone they knew, any chance they got. Mom would interview me like I was a real author, and Dad would just get that quiet smile on his face and ask if he could please keep the book. My step-dad would laugh his warm, booming, southern laugh at any gaping plot-holes or character quirks or grammatical errors that warranted it, sending me into a fit of giggles myself. My parents would argue over which books are at “mom’s house” and which are at “dad’s”, and warned me not to let either parent misplace them, and to be sure to save all my books forever, because I’ll love to look at them someday, when I’m older. They were sensitive about my privacy and would never peek at anything I wasn’t finished with, or that they weren’t given express permission to read. That was so, so important to me. When I was nine years old, my dad bought me my very own computer and put it in my bedroom, so that I could write stories on it. Now, this was about 1998 or 1999, folks, so not only were we one of the first families in our neighborhood to own a computer, but I was certainly the only little girl I knew of that had her own. It was a big deal. My friends and siblings wanted to use AOL all the time. But my dad would remind me that it’s really for my stories – and I didn’t let him down. I taught myself to type on that Compaq and learned the ropes of Microsoft Works (now Word). At twenty-six years old today, I just have to step back and marvel at the fact that my parents believed in my writing so much, they agreed to give a nine-year-old her own computer at the dawn of the digital age, in order to cultivate that talent. How lucky was I? Fast-forward about five years: my mom had gone back to school and earned her bachelor’s in English, and my dad remarried to a former schoolteacher and fellow book-lover. In addition to prolific reading, I was still writing. But no one except for my best friend and maybe a favorite teacher were allowed to read my work those days. What did my parents do? Continued to encourage me. Gave me any book I wanted. Never censored my reading list. Supplied me with blank journals and new computers as needed. Told me I was excellent at my craft, that I had a gift and was right to use it. Gave me privacy when I was in the middle of a project. Didn’t force me to go to bed if I was having a breakthrough and needed to stay up late working. Eventually, I transferred to a high school where the environment and all of my friends and teachers there were especially enabling of my bibliophilia. I haunted the school library during all of my free periods, immersed in novels or penning my own attempts (in spite of the pile of homework in my backpack), and expending each of my community service hours shelving books and learning the Dewey Decimal System. During that time, my big brother, Sylvan, convinced me to publish something I’d written, a 75-page novella about reincarnation. So, I babysat around the neighborhood all year long to save up the $700 to self-publish it. The subsequent support I received was tremendous. Nearly all of my teachers and classmates ordered a copy. I’ll never forget the experience of walking out of my last exam before winter break and seeing the forum area peppered with students in uniform, lounging about and reading MY BOOK. It was horrifying and I got the hell out of there before anyone could see me. It was then that I experienced my first real fear of people not liking, or “getting” what I wrote. The novella, now a decade old, is no longer in circulation and is definitely not my best writing, but the experience of publishing and seeing something I wrote bound in print has been burned onto my heart ever since. My parents still own copies and they still think it was pretty great for the efforts of a sixteen-year-old (but then, they’re my parents). Imagine, though, if they’d have critiqued it. Or told me not to bother, because I’d just end up pulling it in the future, or that it was a waste of hard-earned money, better spent elsewhere. The point is that my parents – step-parents included – did none of the above. They were proud of me, supportive and excited. I was a new mom when my husband and our baby moved in with my mother and step-dad in 2013. It was at their home, in their basement, where I conceived and wrote – and finished – my first novel, The Duchess Quest. It was at their house for the next 7 months when I wallowed in cranky depression and ate every ounce of bread and chocolate from their cabinets while 164 rejection letters poured in. And it was at my grandma’s condo, sitting across from my dad and step-mom, when my very first offer letter from 48fourteen buzzed on my phone. My whole family surrounded me while I read it aloud, and we cheered and hugged and it was basically the best moment of my life, ever. When I called Mom on the ride home that night and told her the news, she and my step-dad were thrilled…but not entirely surprised. Because they always knew it would happen. To them, it was simply a question of who would see what they’d been seeing for years, and take a chance on their girl. Two years and seven finished manuscripts later brings me to this very morning. I got my pre-schooler on the bus, then sat in my office moping, blinking back tears and seriously considering putting away the laptop for good, and never writing another word again. Because as it turns out, getting published wasn’t the only hard part. And this business isn’t always easy, or cheap. I was losing hope when I received an unexpected phone call from Dad. He had just bought his first Kindle e-reader, downloaded all of my e-books, and read one of them last night. He needed to call me on his drive that morning to tell me how much he loved it. He was so immersed in discussing the story, he missed his turn. Before we hung up, Dad told me to keep writing books, because he’s a fan. And I thought, “Thank you, God, yet again, for parents who believe in me.” It reminded me that I have a mom who display my paperbacks on her mantel and saves my book covers as her Desktop image. I have a step-mom who negotiated my first novel onto a local store shelf and who is mother to two little boys that want to be authors someday, like their sister. And I can’t forget my parents-in-law also, who have been wonderful supporters of my publications and have gone above and beyond to help market them. It reminded me that I have a husband and friends and extended family members who enjoy the worlds I’ve been able to create, all because my parents gave me every tool I could ask for, from the very beginning, and told me to go for it. So, to Mom, Dad, Jerry and Kristin – you may already know how you’ve built me into the writer I am, or you may not. Either way, I wanted to say thank you. To all of my parents – biological, spiritual and otherwise – your encouragement has carried me a long way. And it will continue to carry me even longer, because this is really only…I hope…just the beginning. Thanks for reading.
Conventions Part 1: Mental Prep and Booth Etiquette
I’ve had a request for my links on these posts I wrote back in 2012, but when reading them, I decided to do an updated version series. I do A LOT of conventions–anywhere from 12 – 20 a year. I’ve done large cons such as WorldCon, Comic Con International, ECCC, On the smaller side, I’ve done Jet City Comic Show and Rusty Con. Over the course of the next few weeks, I’ll talk about running a booth, being on/moderating panels and other topics that I hope folks find useful. Part 1 will go over mental preparation of being a Dealer/Exhibitor. Next week, I will write out how to pack for as a Dealer/Exhibitor. Part 3 will focus on participating in and moderating panels. Part 4 will focus on being a good guest of the convention. While there is some overlap, I feel the different parts all have different rules. Here I am at 2015 Jet City Comic Show Part 1: First of all, until you have actually exhibited at a convention, you do not understand the stress factor. There is a major difference between attending a con and exhibiting at one. You are probably nervous, excited. You may have a variety of stomach upset. I do. It’s natural. But first things first…. Step 1: Fill out the form, pay the fee, and see if you get in. This happens six months to a year in advance. At major shows, you might get waitlisted, they might have a full list of exhibitors going in to it. So plan to do a variety of events in a year. Don’t plan your whole year around one event. Step 2: Prepare a basic PITCH for each title. Some people complain that having a pitch means I am selling. You are correct. I am selling my books. There is no purpose to spend anywhere from $100 up to $800 on a convention booth, if I’m not selling my books. However I consider the pitch a basic tool of informing the customer what the book is about. And it helps me because I know within fifteen seconds if they are interested in hearing more or not. Right now, the first thing out of my mouth is something like, “So I write comics and realistic sci-fi, what would you like to hear about?” OR “This is the adult side of the table, this is the All Ages Side, what would you like to hear about?” Notice, I’m letting the customer tell me what they want. If they say nothing and walk, then I didn’t waste anyone’s time. Then I start pitching. My pitch for Other Systems and The Light Side of the Moon goes like this: Set 1000 years in the future, we have discovered planetary colonization is extremely difficult. Our colony on planet Kipos needs more people. The Kiposians head back to Earth to get some. However they are shocked at the state of the homeworld and to protect their new paradise start passing horrible laws. Other Systems follows an Earthling to a promised utopia where she ends up being enslaved… (Normally the person knows the rest, and they’ll say something like: Utopians are never real.) If they continue to show interest: I say, “The Light Side of the Moon is the story of those who stayed behind. Inspired by Kipos, they restart Earth’s space program. The book follows a girl who follows rumors of good jobs to the moon. She ends up finding a prison colony.” Now I’ll let them lead me. Do they want to know more? Sometimes I talk about the main characters. Do they want to read the back cover copy? If so I let them. Know the price? Do they want to shout at me for writing a book with violence. Do they want to tell me that I suck? Or that I am great? Well, it all happens…And this leads me to step 3. Step 3: Prep for soul-crushing and uplifting comments. Prepare for positive and negative comments. I will never understand why anyone who has no interest in what I am doing approaches my booth, but they do. True Story: More than one snotty jerk has called my comic, Famine Lands completely redundant and derivative, because it is about elves. They haven’t read it. They don’t know. It sucks when I have to hear why my artwork is all wrong or I am no talent hack–but that’s part of the gig. When someone says something rude, have a few polite comments ready. My favorite reply: “Well, art is subjective, perhaps you might enjoy Wayfarer’s Moon. They do a fantasy comic which has highly detailed realistic artwork. Almost a European Style” Pick out another book/comic that the jerk might like. Usually I try to sell something one of my friends created. After all, this person is obviously not going to buy from me, but if I can help a friend get a sale, I will. Also and most important: it gets the jerk away from your table. On the bright side, prepare for people to love your work. Some of those folks can’t afford it, but will give you a nice complement anyway. Tell them to request it from the library. Some will probably purchase your work. When people give you a compliment learn to look them in the eyes and say, “Thank you, I really appreciate that.” Prepare for some fans to buy everything you write. I know I have superfans and yet I’m still surprised that they follow my work. Step 4: Find Help At most cons, you get 1-4 free badges for the con. Friends and family often assume that you get as many as you want. Be firm and clear with people. You can not just bring in random people. It gets expensive really fast. This is a retail job. You have to shove your shy author part of you deep down into your chest and lock them into a tiny jail and get ready to engage with people. And you want your minion to do that too. So choose your minion wisely. I tend to take my pals with retail experience or aspiring authors who want the experience. These are the people who understand if I send them out for coffee, they need to bring back a receipt, because I’m a f****** business. Step 5: Create some booth rules Your booth minions might think you are over the top by having booth rules. More than one of my friends backed out once they realized I looked at this as work. However I also have had plenty of people who were happy that I laid down a few ground rules. No Swearing. No Complaining. Always try to make eye contact and smile with the customers. Shake hands if appropriate. Learn the basic pitch for each book and my basic bio. When someone asks a question outside of basic info, they reply, “I don’t know, let me get Elizabeth.” Rules For the Author: Be nice to your minion. The ones that work hard are worth their weight in gold. I PAY for breakfast, lunch, coffee. I make cookies and bring lots of fruit to munch on. I also tell them to enjoy the convention and attend some panels that interest them. Step 6: Make a realistic sales goal. People have different equations to come up with a good sales goal. Here is a really basic one: The cost of the con (including travel expenses) X days the sales floor is open = sales goal. Hopefully your inventory is priced fairly enough to sell, but high enough for you to turn a profit, by using a basic formula for sales goal. Another formula is 5% of estimated attendance X the average cost of your product line. While I have a sales goal, generally I also try to look at it also as a marketing vehicle. In 2012, I handed out sample chapters of Other Systems. I need to hand out to prospective readers–not just every random passing stranger. While I hoped this would lead to sales, I found it actually led to people remembering the book at other conventions, which led to sales. Sometimes it’s about the long game. Step 7: Prep for on the spot interviews with bloggers More than once, I got an interview specifically I said yes and I am ready now. Have some stock answers about the kinds of writing/artwork you do. Inspirations. Basic bio. Practice with a mirror or with a webcam. Next week, I’ll discuss what to pack for a weekend convention…
Author Takeover Event – Week in Review
What an INCREDIBLE week! This was the first time 48fourteen handed over the reins to it’s authors and allowed them full access to the 48fourteen Facebook page, and I must say, it was AMAZING! Ten authors and six days of book trivia, games, prizes and so much fun! To all of you who joined us, THANK YOU! You made this week unforgettable. If you missed us, don’t worry! Here’s our week in review: C.K. BROOKE kicked off the 48fourteen Author Takeover Event and with a special announcement… Ready? THE RED PEARL is now available for PRE-ORDER on Amazon! The official release date is November 12, 2015. The novel will be available in print, and the eBook will be available exclusively on Amazon for 90 days, and then on iBooks, B&N, and Kobo thereafter. You can PRE-ORDER the eBook now on Amazon at it’s special price of $0.99! Price will return to it’s regular price on release day. ROXANNE KADE, author of Therian, The Bloody Crescent: Book I, revealed the novel’s brand spanking new cover, and it’s STUNNING! Therian is getting a make-over and will be re-released soon. Add it to your Goodreads TBR List! For the first time ever, Therian, The Bloody Crescent: Book I, will be released in print, and the eBook will be available on iTunes and Kobo, in addition to Amazon and B&N! NICOLE AUBE gave you the inside on her upcoming novel, ON THE OTHER SIDE, & made an exclusive announcement! What was it? ON THE OTHER SIDE eBook is now available for PRE-ORDER on Amazon! This novel will be officially released on December 10, 2015, in print, and the eBook will be available on Amazon, B&N, Kobo and iBooks! If you are a fan of the Divergent Series, this book is for you. Here is another exclusive: PRE-ORDER NOW for a chance to win a signed copy of the print book & a $10.00 gift card. Email a screenshot of your receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org or post it in the comments below. DENISE DeSIO, author of ROSE’S WILL, showed you a good time and exchanged crazy, funny, and very interesting, family stories. Everyone went all out! DENISE pulled the curtains and introduced you to her family members and friends with starring roles in her fiction novel. DENISE shared a bit of trivia and gave you the recipe for Mean Rose’s Meatballs! You’ll have to take a peek. See how your family compares, and jump into ROSE’S WILL. CHRISTINA THOMPSON, author of THE CHEMICAL ATTRACTION SERIES, shared her inspirations, passions, perspective on love, and gave you a peek at what the sexy heroes in the series look like. The setting of the series came to life as she showed you a picture of the boardwalk where certain romances take place. You’ll have to read the THE CHEMICAL ATTRACTION SERIES to find out what I’m talking about! LYNDSAY JOHNSON, author of FIRE OF THE SEA, shed light on the mythology and culture that inspired the novel. And it’s beautiful! From scenery to character names, she invited you into a world anyone would want to step into, and shared the music that set the mood and brought the story to life. LYNDSAY shared the book trailer to FIRE OF THE SEA, filmed in Iceland by her fabulously talented husband. Dive into FIRE OF THE SEA. CATHERINE L. HENSLEY gave you a behind-the-scenes peek of NEW YORK DOLLS. If you’ve never been to New York City, you will feel as if you have after reading this novel! CATHERINE introduced you to the very mysterious Hollywood hunk, Chris West, that her leading lady, Denton, encounters while reporting at New York City’s Fashion Week. Step into the lights and check out this fun whiteboard book trailer of NEW YORK DOLLS! Here’s another sneaky EXCLUSIVE just for you: For a limited time, NEW YORK DOLLS is on sale for only $0.99, right here, on 48fourteen, when you enter coupon code BOOK SALE at checkout. ANGELA HARTLEY introduced you to the two leading men in COPPER REIGN – Sinclair Devereux, rock star extraordinaire and so much more than meets the eye, and Nate Phillips, the boy next door, quirky, exasperating, but he’ll be there for you when the chips are down. She revealed the light and dark side of these characters and the choice that Nina Douglas must make, despite temptation luring her in. ANGELA breathed life into the novel, and shared with you the sweet treats that represents these men: chocolate covered cinnamon bears and lemon torte. Yum! You’ll have to read the book to find out why. And she wrapped up the night with music that brought these characters to life. R.L. KING brought the spook-tacular fun, sharing favorite scary movies and ghost experiences, perfect for Halloween. He is the author of DEAD HEART the lone horror novel in the 48fourteen collection – but it was THAT good. Although the ghosts in DEAD HEART aren’t scary, the story will have the hair on the back of your neck stand on end, all while tugging at your heart strings. HOLLY M. CAMPBELL introduced you to WITHOUT CURTAINS and divulged how her fears of the dark inspired FORESHADOWED. She gave Hope Murdoch a very good reason for being afraid of the dark – and she should be very afraid. But it’s not all blood, guts, and gore in FORESHADOWED (Book 1 of The Near Deaths Series). It’s mind-reading, death-visions, and a race against time to save a life. And a very sexy, complicated, intriguing Lance Hampton. HOLLY announced she will re-write the first chapter of FORESHADOWED in the POV of Lance Hampton! Amanda Lennep Hall won the opportunity to have a role in the chapter! Like HOLLY’S Facebook page to find out when it’s up. In the mean time, read FORESHADOWED because FOREWARNED, Book 2, is coming soon! And now, what you have all been waiting for. The winner of the ultimate prize pack is: LACIE MITCHELL ROBICHAUX! Lacie, please email email@example.com within the next 24 hours to claim your prizes. Congrats! Again, I can not thank you all enough for participating in our author takeover event. You all rock! Be sure to check your settings on Facebook and set them to receive notifications from 48fourteen. You don’t want to miss out on any of the fun we have. You can also sign up for our monthly newsletter – scroll down to the footer and enter your e-mail address to keep up to date on new releases, promotions, and giveaways. And here are a few favorite links for you to check out while you are here: BOOKS | BOOK GEAR | SHIRTS | AUTHOR BLOGS
A Photo from latest Sci-Fi Reading: Two Hour Transport
Here is me (Elizabeth Guizzetti) reading from my first novel Other Systems (because it is a finalist for the 2015 Canopus Award ) as I was the invited reader at the October’s Two Hour Transport at Cafe Racer. As you can see, it was really dark in there which is why I decided to print out my chapter with a huge font. It was so much fun!Other Systems
THERIAN’s new cover is HERE!! Behold the beauty…
Cover designed by Melody Pond All Amberlyn Darksky has ever wanted is to be normal. But what if normal is everything supernatural and legendary? Amber has never been ordinary. She has a gift, the ability to see memories through simple touch, and for her it’s a curse. Especially when she has to relive her mother’s death the night she was born, through her father’s eyes. Leading a sheltered life for years under his constant watch has her yearning for freedom and her acceptance into Cyprus Falls University gives her just that. She is immediately plunged into a world of true love, heartache, seduction, and horror. With a deepening affection for Tayelon Cree, whose sparkling hazel eyes leave her breathless, and the undeniable allure of Lucard Colbaine, who seems to be immune to her gift, can she accept what either of them represent in her life? And what about the steely-eyed vampire who invades her dreams? When the blackouts and nightmares begin, Amber fears the pain that rips into her soul and threatens to destroy her. Before long she is faced with the truth of her destiny as well as the devastating secrets that surround the people she holds dearest; dark secrets that will truly change the course of her very existence. Amber doesn’t know if she has the strength to accept the hand fate has dealt her. She will have to fight as hard as possible to remain human while the beasts inside her rage to take over. RE-RELEASE COMING SOON!! Add it on Goodreads Connect with me: 48fourteen Twitter Facebook Goodreads Blog
A second, and more official, greeting
Well, we’ve been working on this book for a while, and I’m pleased to say we’re very close to having a polished product fit for publication! My name’s Matt Thomas, and I’ve been moonlighting as a writer for the last ten years or so. I got my start covering Manhattan’s music and nightlife beat for a slew of small magazines and websites, including The Village Voice and CBS New York.com, which was a fun but EXHAUSTING gig. In that time, I published some essays as well, but I just kept on gravitating toward short stories and novels. As a kid, I devoured graphic novels and fantasy stories. Loved them! Once I hit high school and read Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, however, I sought out texts that had deep character development within an engrossing plot, but they were so hard to find. So, I decided I’d write my own stories that had such a mix at their core. THE COMPASS FROM THE RED LANDS, my new novel being released by 48Fourteen later this year, is one of those stories. Earlier drafts were either too long, too dark, or just too hard to follow. After countless rewrites and a slew of major overhauls, I sent a version to the good folks at 48Fourteen, and they gave it a home. Now, even if you’re unfamiliar with me and my writing, here are a few thoughts that will hopefully get you excited about this fantasy novel: 1. 48Fourteen edits . . . hard! Each time I thought the book was done, polished, ready-to-go-and-bring-joy-to-the-masses, 48Fourteen editors found more things to work on, fix, tweak, polish, or rethink. They’re never satisfied, and that’s such a good, and rare, thing to find in any publisher. They’ve made this book as good as it can be, and I’m a better writer as a result. 2. It’s a fun and wild ride –As we’re putting the final touches on the manuscript, I’ve just been really enjoying reading this story. Yes, yes. I know! I’m the author. Of course I’m going to say that. But one thing that we kept on coming back to is whether or not this would be a novel that both adolescents and adults will find engaging. Does it have the right mix of plot and character? Are the fantasy elements grounded in a believable reality? Is it an adventure? Yes, yes, and yes! 3. It’s a modern-day retelling of one of my favorite King Arthur stories –This story is loosely based on the Arthurian tale of Gareth and Lynette. Gareth was the younger brother of the knight Gawain, and he wanted to be just like his brother. So, be begged his mother for permission to go to Camelot where he would train to become one of the knights of the round table. His mother wasn’t too keen on the idea, but she eventually agrees (sorta) and allows him to work in Camelot’s kitchen (seriously!). Gareth is none to thrilled about being a bus boy of sorts, but he’ll take it. Lynette enters the fold seeking a knight to rescue her sister from the Red Lands. Arthur assigns Gareth to the job. Lynette essentially laughs this off as a joke (Really? An adolescent bus boy is going to rescue my sister from a foreboding realm?), but she has no choice. During their journey, Lynette is pretty critical of Gareth, but he proves himself to be quite capable, especially when he defeats the Red Knight of the Red Lands and rescues Lynette’s sister. In some versions of the poem he marries Lynette. In other versions, he marries her sister. THE COMPASS FROM THE RED LANDS is very different from this plot, but it has its roots in the adventure and coming of age genres. The spirit of a young man not only trying to prove himself to those he cares for most, but to find his place in the world was the driving force behind this story, and I think that comes through. The cover art should be making its way to 48Fourteen’s Facebook page pretty soon along with an official synopsis. Keep an eye out for that those (#excited!). Also, I’ll be posting some giveaways and excerpts on my updated Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMattThomas). Thanks for support, and I hope you look forward to reading THE COMPASS FROM THE RED LANDS!
Author Takeover Event
48FOURTEEN AUTHOR TAKEOVER EVENT For the first time EVER, 48fourteen authors are taking over 48fourteen’s Facebook page for one unbelievable week of book-loving fun, games, reveals, exclusives, everything books, a TON of prizes, and so much more! if you live and breathe books, this is one online event you’ll want to attend! Click HERE to attend. AUTHORS TAKING OVER Lyndsay Johnson – Fire of the Sea Holly M. Campbell – Foreshadowed C.K. Brooke – The Duchess Quest, The Red Pearl Angela Hartley – Copper Reign Nicole Aube – On the Other Side Christina Thompson – The Chemical Attraction Series Denise DeSio – Rose’s Will R.L. King – Dead Heart Roxanne Kade – Therian, The Bloody Crescent, Book I Catherine L. Hensley – New York Dolls Be sure to check out our calendar to find the date and time your favorite author is taking over! THE ULTIMATE PRIZE PACK At the end of the 48fourteen Author Takeover Event, one attendee will win all of this and more! Share with your book-loving friends! Sign up for the event: https://www.facebook.com/events/518385418325562/
Copper Reign: Book Club
When I first started work on the Heartstone Collection, I wanted to create a story with layers of depth that any level of reader could walk away from wanting to discuss what they’d discovered about themselves. On the surface, the first book, Copper Reign is a love triangle, but if you delve deeper into the core this story is a battle of personal truth. Nina starts out as a weak teenage girl full of insecurity and doubt, and grows into a woman so strong and assured that even the devil himself can’t touch her. It is a right of passage that reflects pieces of many of our lives, and sparks the debate of create or fate. With all of this in mind, I hosted a dinner at my house with my first readers who just happened to be the neighborhood book club. I wanted to see what type of discussions sparked up from my manuscript, and see if I was on the right track. Unfortunately, little was said. They smiled sweetly, and said they loved my cute little story, and that was that. The real debate took place the next month when I wasn’t able to attend. I live in a very conservative community. Needless to say, there were strong feelings on both sides, but they were too polite to talk about their issues in front of me. I completely understood. I hadn’t explained that my father was Irish. There aren’t very many ways to offend me, but luckily rumors trickled back, and I couldn’t have been happier. I’d hit the sweet spot. Anything sparking that much emotion definitely had my readers thinking. That’s awesome! And what any writer, or book club hostess dares to hope for. I’ve put together a discussion guide and recipes to help your Copper Reign themed book club be a success, and although my appearance shut down the debate in my neighborhood, I’d still be happy to video chat into yours, or even stop by if you live with a reasonable distance! Find me on Facebook and we’ll talk. First, you’ll need to purchase your books: Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, and Barnes and Noble. The Recipes: Drink: Ocean Blues Punch (Sprite mixed with Blue Raspberry Kool-Aid). Dinner: Shrimp Scampi (saute’ 40 medium-sized shrimp in 1/2 cup of butter and 2 tablespoons of garlic salt, serve with 1 lb of linguine, 2 medium sized zucchini saute’d 1/4 cup of butter, white chardonnay, and garlic bread) serves 6. Dessert: Angel, and Devil’s Food Cake topped with appealing Strawberries on Cream (mix and bake cakes to boxed specifications, top both with strawberries and whipped cream). Candy: Chocolate-Covered Cinnamon Bears The music: Nina Bleeding Out—Imagine Dragons Dark Paradise—Lana Delrey The Lonely—Christina Perry Down—Jason Walker Never Let Me Go—Florence + The Machine Nate Come Home—One Republic Car Crash–Matt Nathanson Draw Your Swords—Angus & Julia Stone Wrong Side of Heaven—Five Finger Death Punch Closer—Kings of Leon Sinclair I will Not Bow—Breaking Benjamin Love Me Again—John Newman Just One Yesterday—Fallout Boy Discussion Guide—Copper Reign In Copper Reign, Nina and her mother face issues beyond our reality, but the way they cope with one another reflects countless parent/child relationships. For better or worse, why do parents feel the need to mold their children into something they’ve pictured? At the beginning of chapter two, Nina confides in Nate, and instead of judging her for being different he asks her out. How hard was it to take that leap of trust, and why did she hesitate to accept his offer? The best moment of Nina’s life is quickly snatched away and replaced with tragedy. It’s a common theme throughout the novel. How does Nina cope with adversity in the beginning of the story compared to the end? After her parents’ death, Nina honors her mother’s last wish, and uses the amulet to lock away her gift. She is held in a holding pattern until the amulet fails, at which time all of her emotion comes flooding back. What do the walls of protection represent, and who is Nina truly facing when her safety crumbles? Sinauf has discovered her name, and he’s coming for Nina. He’s the embodiment of everything she fears and desires. She’s drawn to him, even after she watches her best friend, Jenny kill herself under his power. This trope goes back to the beginning of women’s lit. Good girls can’t seem to resist the allure of reforming a bad boy. Why is that? And how do these types of relationships differ in actual life? Nate is everything a girl could want, handsome, attentive, and fun, yet Nina continues to fight loving him. What do you think were the reasons she avoided her feelings, and what methods do you consider Nate’s most effective in overcoming this obstacle? Sinauf (aka Sinclair Devereux) burns through Nina’s world like a wildfire, consuming her every thought. She’s tricked into betraying Nate, and turns him away. Why did she think this was the right course of action? Here’s a fate, or create moment to question. Would anything have changed if she’d chosen to stay? Nina’s in hell, quite literally. It’s been revealed that Sinauf and Sinclair are only a couple of a thousand personas the Archangel Lucifer has used throughout his time on Earth. She’s discovered his plan to destroy the world, and her role. Instead of allowing him to use her, Nina decides jump, and her sacrifice opens the Copper Way. Going forward, what will this mean for their world? Discuss the choices that drive the ending, epilogue, and what these decisions will mean for the books to come.
Writing Beautiful Something Else
The writing of Beautiful Something Else began as a “writerly” challenge between my writer friend Sandra Hurtes and me. We went to graduate school together in New York City and received our MFAs in Creative Nonfiction. We don’t get to see each other too often anymore now that I live in Connecticut. Well, one summer day in 2011, Sandy came to visit me and we went to my favorite restaurant on the water, Marnick’s. While we were eating, we discussed what projects we wanted to work on next, both of us having written memoirs. We thought it would be fun to write something just for fun and I thought—romance! I wasn’t sure if I could pull it off, but I decided to try. I didn’t know where to start, so I decided to start with where the idea was born. You’ll notice the opening scene of Beautiful Something Else takes place in a fictionalized version of the restaurant and the heroine’s friend was jumpstarted by my friend Sandy. I knew I wanted the story to be fun and quirky because that’s how I see myself, so I made Lizbeth a version of who I see myself as or a version of me who could have existed in another dimension. I also knew I wanted to include some of the subjects that are important to me when I write creative nonfiction, so I wove yoga, self-esteem and body image threads throughout the story. I have three young children, so finding the time to write a novel had to be made very important in my mind. I set a goal of 1,000 words a day and just focused on quantity instead of quality. That helped to free me from writer’s block because the goal was just to get the story down. I knew there would be time for revisions later. I feel proud of myself for accomplishing my goal. I hope that readers will enjoy following the many self-discoveries that Lizbeth and Chip make in finding their way to more beautiful versions of themselves in Beautiful Something Else.
On the Other Side: Cover Reveal!
The creation of a book cover is not something I’m new to. I make e-book covers myself, but I’ve never actually made my own book cover. Well, let me rephrase that. I made sample covers for On the Other Side long before it was ever picked up by 48fourteen (when I thought I was brave enough to self-publish it), and let’s just say… nothing I made compares to the beauty that is the finished product! I am guilty of buying books based on the cover alone, and I think the OTOS cover has the “Please, buy me now!” appeal readers love to see. It’s artsy as well grungy; it’s smooth yet just rough enough; it’s lovely to behold but thought-provoking, too. How the heck does a cover do all that in one shot? I’m not sure, and I’m being a little braggadocios when I say that this one does! Also, the mixing, swirling colors in the middle are such a visual metaphor for the novel’s conflict that I have trouble believing it’s spot on to what Hilaria, Anthony, and Job experience. Anyway, I made you wait long enough. Here is it, people–may I have a drum roll, please? *brrrrrrrrrrrrrrr* (<–That’s my lame attempt at snare drum onomatopoeia! lol) Thanks to Veronica Riga for the awesome design and Lyndsay Johnson for the text treatment! It’s breathtaking. I can’t wait to hold it in my hands. =D ~Nicole
Visions from the Other Side
So…. even though I’m a writer, I am not a visual person AT ALL. Words are my bread and butter, but when I read, I completely skip over character and setting description. (I consider this my most major reading flaw. What’s yours?) “Why do you participate in such a bad habit?” you may ask. Why, thank you for asking! I do this because A.) No matter what, I will insert who I want into the place of a character, i.e. some actor with black hair, blue eyes, and a killer smirk. (Like every time, people! Even if the character is supposedly “blonde.” And see how I didn’t even address female leads.) B.) I thrive on dialogue. I don’t like excessively descriptive dialogue either. The classic “says” or “said” does more for me than “‘Go away now, you hoodlum! I will not buy your cookies!’ Susan cried vehemently.'” That’s too much, wayyy too much. Let me feel it out, fill in the blanks. (‘Cause I’m a talker. If you can’t figure out how to say it, I WILL. I consider it a challenge!) Obviously, this poses a giant problem when writing. When I sat down to write On the Other Side, I couldn’t figure out how to describe a lot of what I “saw” in my head… because I didn’t really see anything AT ALL. I heard it in my characters’ voices, in the swish of water against a dock, in the chirping of crickets in trees overhead, and more sounds that I associate with New Orleans. Here’s how I solved the problem: I turned to photography. I moonlight as a photographer, and New Orleans is my second home and sweetest muse. When crafting particular scenes or elements of the city, I needed a source for the language I chose–my own photography. Of course, the Orleans in OTOS is dystopic. A Wall divides the city into the Ward and the Quarter–where Flood waters from the River reach near the second story on every building. This I created from scratch, but all of the little details Hilaria, my protag, sees and hears sometimes, too, are pulled from my second favorite form of expression. DETAILS: A huge part of NoLa is the dark underworld of voodoo. Personally, I think it’s all rather beautiful… how there are museums dedicated to this Haitian contribution to the city and how people sincerely embrace it not only as a religion but as an art. Likewise, set up around the St. Louis Cathedral are dozens of palm and tarot readers; one I met inspired the character of Hilaria’s mom, a tarot card reader named Cleo. The top right picture is Cleo’s own view from where she sets up her table on a little dry platform, right in the midst of the flood water. In Hilaria’s present, the French Quarter is in a state of decay. I think the decay, like the voodoo, has its own richness and beauty, and this is a trait of mine Hilaria embraces. For description of the cast iron and wrought iron she sees, broken-off piers, ivy, and the color of the water at night, I turned to these photos. New Orleans is filled with jewels of detail if you only look hard enough. MUSIC: Unfortunately, Hilaria doesn’t know jazz; she imagines what it sounds like because all she understands of the art is what she’s read in books. Music oozes out of the bricks in her NoLa (at least in her imagination), and much of what I heard in my head is from my friend, Ms. Doreen here. I snapped these during one of her many street performances I’ve had the pleasure of hearing. She’s great, by the way! CEMETERY, THE QUARTER, AND THE CATHEDRAL: Two pivotal scenes in the novel occur within the Lafayette Cemetery in New Orleans. I love the sublime quality of walking through the cemetery in the middle of a hot, humid day, and suffering the sensation of someone looking over your shoulder. That eerie quality is what Hilaria loves the most about her city, and what better way to show it than to have her life change among those who can’t grow older. That’s Marie Laveau’s tomb in bottom right picture. Hilaria also spends a great deal of time in old Jackson Square. Mr. Andrew Jackson looks down upon many of her adventures with her best friend, Anthony, and who wouldn’t feel up to a little mischief with a beautiful boy if that sky was above them? Tujague’s doesn’t make an appearance in the novel, but Cafe du Monde and Galatoire’s do. Finally, the opening scene of the OTOS and the final scene of the last novel in the series take place in this beautiful cathedral. Religion isn’t a necessity in Hilaria’s world, but her entire life revolves around her comings and goings from this landmark. Her love for the Cathedral and its place in history will be used against her in ways she can never imagine. I call this my “dreamy” edit of the photo, and so much of Hilaria’s life could be mistaken for a dream (You’ll have to read OTOS to find out why!), why not apply that thought to a photo? ………….Well, friends! I hope you enjoyed this tiny tour through my imagination. Something special is coming tomorrow in regard to my little novel, so stick around for that! Until then, let me know what you think of the photos. Do they match your version of NoLa? I’d love to know! It’s my home away from home. Until next time, Nicole
Temptation is Sweet Giveaway!
***GIVEAWAY CLOSED*** “The taste of his lips had to be spicy, yet sweet, like cinnamon…only wilder. Would they be soft or demanding? That was too hard to decide, but they would certainly know exactly how to kiss…” Temptation is sweet! Especially when it comes in the form of tall, dark, and irresistible. Join the campaign and spice up this autumn season by indulging in a copy of Copper Reign, the latest YA Urban Fantasy taking the world by storm. We are celebrating the release of Copper Reign, by Angela Hartley, in a VERY BIG, BIG way! For a chance to win a $10.00 Amazon gift card, simply join the Temptation is Sweet Thunderclap Campaign. A second of your time, could make this gift card yours… Oh, and yours, and yours, and yours, and…yours! Yes! That is five “yours” which means there will be up to FIVE winners! Up to $50 up for grabs! After you join the campaign, head on over to our Facebook page, and on our pinned post for this giveaway, shout out to the world that you supported the campaign and provide your entry number. 1 in 15 will win, so be sure to SHARE with and TAG your book-loving friends and family! Once the campaign reaches 100, winners will be announced within 24 hours. Thanks for your support and for being so incredibly awesome! 😉 Good luck! Happy Reading!
Throwing a The Light Side of the Moon Themed Party
Now you might ask yourself: why would anyone throw a party with the themes brought up by a dystopian science fiction novel-especially one where people go hungry? To that I say, Why not? After all people go hungry in the universe of a Christmas Carol and people throw parties with Dickens in mind. So why not The Light Side of the Moon? The desserts The truth is any novel can be used as a themed event. Watch what the characters eat and the food that is mentioned. Look at methods of communication for your invitations. What traditions are shown during holidays? In The Light Side of the Moon, the reader sees two holiday celebrations one is Easter and the other is the French version of April Fools. In this blog, I’m going to focus on the “April Fools” celebration shown in the book. “Celebrating April Fool’s a month early had been a good idea. It kept the children busy and brought happiness to a day that might have been filled with tears. For that Theodore was grateful. He would need those memories to tide him over. ” Excerpt From: “The Light Side of the Moon.” iBooks. Invitations: If this event needs invitations, an e-vite would be the most appropriate because we don’t have society-wide holographic projectors yet and paper is used only for important documents, but if paper Invitations are your thing, consider making them fish shaped out of colored paper. (Especially if you want to throw said party on March 1st!) Menu Drinks In the novel many drinks are mentioned. Raspberry Armagnac liquor (juice for the two youngest Kessler Boys) Red Wine Lemoncello and Tea with Milk Starters / Hors’ D’oeuvre Interesting to note: the word Hors’ D’oeuvre is a French word with originally meant outside the main course. Olives stuffed with cheese almonds Entree Courses: There are so many options when it comes to the entree courses in The Light Side of the Moon. Mixed Vegetable Salad and Biscuits (American) Rice and Beans (American) Daniel Sethson’s Stewed Rabbit and Carrots Anne Blacksmith’s Beef and Veg Pie (English) Baked Ham with the all the trimmings (French) Pork Chops with English Gravy and veg Steaks with English Gravy and veg Desserts When I set up my dessert table, I set out nuts because I had them and I often will set out extra snacks to fill up the party. Chocolate Cookies because In the novel, almost every holiday there was mention of sweets especially chocolate and Ellie often got sweets as rewards. Sean’s Walnut Shortbread Cookies which is something Ellie makes in the book.
The Light Side of the Moon Recipe: Sean’s Candied Walnut Shortbread
So here is a recipe for bookclubs or TLSotM enthusiasts or anyone who want to share in some cookie joy. I based this off a shortbread recipe that I’ve used many times. I don’t know exactly where it came from. It creates a not-too buttery shortbread as we don’t like greasy cookies or pie crusts in my house. (And yes, I use the shortbread for both cookies and pie crust.) It uses brown sugar but will be good with granulated sugar if that’s what you have on hand. EXCERPT: Cadi eyed her and murmured, “Hmmm…” To Sean she said, “She looks ashore with her breath in her fist.” Ellie was getting used to Sean and Cadi’s strange idioms, even if she didn’t know what they all meant. “Are you?” “Just to see our mums and Michael,” Sean replied. “Keep your nose out of everyone’s business. A person without prudence is a ship without an anchor.” Cadi gave her a kiss on the cheek. “Be good and stay away from the longshorehands.” Knowing the answer would be yes, Ellie asked, “Can I make cookies—biscuits—while you’re gone?” “Clean up after yourself,” Sean said. “There’s a recipe card for Walnut Shortbread on the wall. Use those candied walnuts.” Ellie slipped back below, took off her jacket, got started preheating the stove, and opened the pantry for ingredients. “What are you up to?” Glenn asked as she poured herself a cuppa from the kettle. “Sean said I could make biscuits.” Ellie set the flour and sugar on the counter, glancing at the kettle to make sure the water was above the blue line. “Good. It’ll keep you away from the longshorehands. I’ll be leaving for a quick meeting, but be back in a few hours. Holds are open, but our space is to be kept locked. Remember the emergency code?” Sean’s Candied Walnut Shortbread Candied Walnuts (Just in case you didn’t have any on hand you need to use up) 150 grams/1 cup of chopped walnuts (or nuts of choice) 50 grams/¼ cup of granulated sugar 30 grams/2 tablespoons of butter Melt butter in skillet over over medium heat. Swirl butter around to coat pan. Add walnuts and sugar. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently so mixture doesn’t burn. Transfer immediately onto a sheet of parchment paper and separate the nuts. Allow to cool while you make cookies Cookies Butter for greasing pans/ or parchment 240 grams/1 cup butter 100 grams/1 cup brown sugar 220 grams/2 cups All Purpose flour Pinch of salt if you use non-salted butter Preheat the oven to 148°C/300°F. Lightly grease cookie sheets or line with parchment In a medium-sized bowl, beat together the butter, sugar until fluffy, then beat in the flour. Hint: This is a stiff dough so the mixture will feel a little dry; keep beating till it comes together, I use my hands to mix cookie dough. (Safety Tip: If you do use hands to mix doughs, wash them!) Once flour is incorporated, mix in the candied nuts. Drop the dough by a rounded teaspoon onto a prepared baking sheet. Flatten each ball of dough to about 1 centimeter (3/8 inches) thick; use the bottom of a drinking glass to flatten. Bake for about 22-25 minutes in a preheated oven. Turn sheet if necessary at 10 minutes. You want them to be set, but not brown. Remove c from the oven, and cool on the pans, or on a rack. Yield: about 4 dozen small cookies
So I have returned from five days of crazy caffine-fueled fun, but hard work at Sasquan aka 2015 Worldcon, an annual gathering of horror, science fiction, and fantasy fans. Hundreds of fans, authors, publishers, artists, scientists, and other creators and intellectual leaders attend. The convention featured a dealer’s room and artist alley. educational panels, author readings, autograph sessions, kaffeeklatsches, literary beers, and discussion groups, as well as workshops about writing, art, cosplaying, filk and other music, games fanzines, children’s programming, and my personal favorite: THE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL. They show blocks of independent/crowdfunded films. (While some are better than others, I love watching them to see what everyone does.) Worldcons is also the site of the Hugo Awards, the premier fan-voted awards in SFF, recognizing the greatest books and stories, related works, film, television, podcasts, and fan works. This year there was a large controversy surrounding the awards, but fortunately the fans voted for diverse and inclusive SFF! But all that aside, The Three Body Problem is also the first translated novel to ever win, so it’s doubly exciting. If you are curious about other winners, please go to sasquan.org And of course, no mention of Spokane could not be complete without mentioning the fact the area had become a national disaster due to the forest fires burning in the Pacific Northwest. While we were safe from fire in town, let’s just say it looked a little too end of the world outside for my liking. No those are not clouds, just smoke completely blocking out the sun. On to my experiences: Tuesday Night, I had a reading at Auntie’s Bookstore, an exciting local bookstore in Spokane. But most of the time, I could be found in the dealer’s room which means I was behind a table for 7 hours every day. Even so I saw some interesting costumes, here are a few of my favorites. And I went out to the events each night such as room parties, book release parties, and balls. The view from above The Time Traveler’s Ball. Here I am making new friends while hanging out in the old ballroom at the Historical Davenport And I tried some excellent food (and coffee) in the restaurants near Spokane’s downtown corridor including a particularly satisfying donut taste test with my convention roommate, Manga translator Su Mon Han. Su Mon and I eating a Sante for breakfast. I know it’s practically blasphemy, but while Donut Parade is the traditional Spokane favorite, the long lines and limited selection made Casual Fridays win. (The donuts are great at both locations!)
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