Monday, May 22, 2017

Writing Studies and Hero Lost Blog Tour Continues!

As I've been healing up from two surgeries, I've started to study the craft of writing more intentionally,

Chapter after Chapter by Heather Sellers is being discussed at Goodreads (since last week) with the IWSG Goodreads group and I found it to be a great read. I didn't agree with Sellers on all points, but I found that when I disagreed and took notes, I honed my own thoughts on writing to a fine edge. I do love most of the book and agreed with many of her thoughts and tips. I marked with pen and pencil, dog-eared for special places (nearly every page in certain chapters), and I did 70% of the exercises, which is pretty good for me with a writing craft book. I can see applying different exercises at different times in my writing life. While I read this book, I laughed, I thought, I snorted, I shook my head, I almost wept over one part, and I wrote. In short, it was wonderful.

I don't know what the next IWSG Goodreads book will be, but since I already have a copy of Writer to Writer: From Think to Ink by Gail Carson Levine, I'm working on that one. I actually started it midway through Chapter after Chapter because I needed a different approach for some of my current WIP. Think to Ink has some fantasy-friendly writing exercises that fit with The Greenling Chronicles (book 1 of a series). Levine's book also has good general writing advice and exercises found in her sections. I'm currently in her section on Character Building (chapters 4-9).

The one part that I keep coming back to from Chapter after Chapter is Chapter 21: Braids. I loved so much of the entire book, but this chapter hit me right in the gut of my current WIP. I needed this chapter and I keep referring back to it as I'm writing. I would love to share the whole chapter, but I know that is wrong, so I'll just give you a few bits here:

"Braided books (or articles or stories) are made up of three or four strands of storyline .... You tell three stories, bit by bit. The juxtapositions lend life and suprise, tension and drama. ... Things stay fresh and lively and manageable."

Oddly, I think I knew this by instinct (from reading) when I wrote Champion in the Darkness, but somehow I forgot it by the time I started writing the last few novels I've attempted. Last year's novel disaster still smarts. I never shared much of it because getting that far in a project and then dumping it is just painful - like an early romance just gone wrong. I think that my best parts of my Captain Wrath WIP include braids, but then somewhere in there, I lost the sense of them and end up with a snarl (fitting for the Captain, but not good for the novel). Although I do want to go back and unsnarl, or at least re-braid Captain, I'm determined to finish The Greenling Chronicles book 1 with a decent braided outline for the rest of the series before I return to the Captain's side.

With Greenling, I have Dunnie, the villain, and the writings of his family and friends. Ray's comics are an important piece but I can't draw so I'm hoping I can find a publisher that will be excited about combining text with comic book pages - at least in a one comic book page every chapter kind of way. I've also been tossing around the idea of including a "science and quest journal" from Dunnie's mom in this first book - she leaves him with his Gran so she can go on a bit of a quest and then she goes missing and leaves her journal behind.

I really want to include different types of imagery and text for this novel. That's one of my big ideas behind it - not a theme, as much as a hope to draw in more visual, artistic readers. I've met a handful of young readers this last year who prefer graphic novels to text novels and I would love to tackle a crossover graphic and textual novel style book for a MG to early YA age group.

Have you ever read a book that contained comic book or graphic novel elements? Am I biting off more than I can chew with my wild crossover idea?

Have you read Chapter after Chapter or another writing craft book lately?

Go Here for the IWSG Goodreads discussion.

Hero Lost - the Blog Tour is happening at these sites this week!
May 22 - Christine Rains - Review 
May 22 - Nick Wilford - Guest Post 
May 24 - Toi Thomas - Interview

Friday, May 19, 2017

Twenty-four Days Book Tour with Jacqui Murray!

My question for Jacqui: 
Is the tech included in the book really possible?
Absolutely. It takes real laws of physics—science in general—and extrapolates intelligently on those to what could be if there was time and money. It follows the model of what is commonly referred to as Star Trek Science. But in the case of Twenty-four Days science, you don’t have to wait centuries. It’ll probably be around in a matter of decades.

You can say you read about it first in Twenty-four Days.

A former SEAL, a brilliant scientist, a love-besotted nerd, and a quirky AI have twenty-four days to stop a terrorist attack. The problems: They don't know what it is, where it is, or who's involved.
What sets this story apart from other thrillers is the edgy science used to build the drama, the creative thinking that unravels the deadly plot, and the sentient artificial intelligence who thinks he's human:
An unlikely team is America's only chance
World-renowned paleoanthropologist, Dr. Zeke Rowe is surprised when a friend from his SEAL past shows up in his Columbia lab and asks for help: Two submarines have been hijacked and Rowe might be the only man who can find them.
At first he refuses, fearing a return to his former life will end a sputtering romance with fellow scientist and love of his life, Kali Delamagente, but when one of his closest friends is killed by the hijackers, he changes his mind. He asks Delamagente for the use of her one-of-a-kind AI Otto who possesses the unique skill of being able to follow anything with a digital trail.
In a matter of hours, Otto finds one of the subs and it is neutralized.
But the second, Otto can’t locate.
Piece by piece, Rowe uncovers a bizarre nexus between Salah Al-Zahrawi--the world’s most dangerous terrorist and a man Rowe thought he had killed a year ago, a North Korean communications satellite America believes is a nuclear-tipped weapon, an ideologue that cares only about revenge, and the USS Bunker Hill (a Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser) tasked with supervising the satellite launch.
And a deadline that expires in twenty-four days.
As America teeters on the brink of destruction, Zeke finally realizes that Al-Zahrawi’s goal isn’t nuclear war, but payback against the country that cost him so much.
Kirkus Review:
A blistering pace is set from the beginning: dates open each new chapter/section, generating a countdown that intensifies the title’s time limit. Murray skillfully bounces from scene to scene, handling numerous characters, from hijackers to MI6 special agent Haster. ... A steady tempo and indelible menace form a stirring nautical tale

What customers are saying about this series:
One thing I enjoyed about this read is the technical reality Murray created for both the scientific and military aspects of the book. I completely believed the naval and investigatory hierarchy and protocols, as well as the operation inside the sub. I was fascinated by her explanation of Otto's capabilities, the security efforts Kali employs to protect her data, and how she used Otto's data to help Rowe.

The research and technical details she included in this book had me in complete awe. A cybervirus is crippling submarines--and as subs sunk to the bottom of the ocean, I found myself having a hard time breathing. It's up to Zeke and Kali to save the entire country using their brains. If you love thrillers, this is definitely one you can't miss!

Book information:
Title and author: Twenty-four Days by J. Murray
Genre: Thriller, military thriller
Available at: Kindle USKindle UKKindle Canada
Author bio:
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, and the thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and  Twenty-four DaysShe is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.
Quote from author:
What sets this series apart from other thrillers is the edgy science used to build the drama, the creative thinking that unravels the deadly plot, and the Naval battle that relies on not just fire power but problem solving to outwit the enemy.
Social Media contacts:

Have you met Jacqui? Have you read Twenty-Four Days? Do you like books that reveal cool technological possiblities?

And, did you know that the Hero Lost blog tour is in these spots this week:
May 15 - Alex J. Cavanaugh - Interview
May 15 - Juneta Key - Spotlight Post
May 17 - Nicki Elson - Interview
May 19 - Chrys Fey - Guest Post

Plus, the Goodreads IWSG discussion has started for Chapter after Chapter and the interview with Heather Sellers is here.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Marked Beauty Cover Reveal!


Publisher: Ellysian Press
Release Date: October 2017

Uncovering hidden secrets can sometimes kill you . . . or worse, steal your soul.
Anastasia Tate has a secret. She can feel the emotions of others through their life energy auras. Not a welcome gift for a teenager. Especially when a sinister presence begins stalking her.
Viktor Castle also has a secret. He’s tasked with protecting humanity yet cursed by an ancient evil to destroy it.
After Viktor saves Ana’s life, her abilities grow stronger. Drawn together, she senses Viktor has answers to lifelong questions. Only he shuns her at every turn, knowing he has saved her only to put her in more danger.
As Ana struggles with her attraction to Viktor, he tries everything to bury his unexpected feelings for her. But they must find a middle ground. For only together can they combat the dark forces threatening both their lives . . . and their souls.


About the Author
S.A. LARSEN is the author of the award-winning novel Motley Education, the first book in a fantasy-adventure series for middle grade readers. Her work has appeared in numerous local publications and young adult anthologies Gears of Brass and Under A Brass Moon by Curiosity Quills Press. Marked Beauty is her debut young adult novel. Find her in the land of snowy winters and the occasional Eh’ya with her husband of over twenty-five years, four children, a playful pooch, and three kittens. Visit her cyber home anytime at
Connect with her on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Blog | Goodreads

This is a #hashtag giveaway, where two lucky winners will receive a FREE eBook of Marked Beauty upon its release.
To participate:
  • Share one of the premade images via Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Or write up a blog post using one of the images.
  • Include #MarkedBeauty in your description.
  • Optional for extra entry: include Add to Goodreads (with link) in your description.
***Posts MUST contain the hashtag #MarkedBeauty for entry into the giveaway or we won’t be able to find you.
Pre-made tweets (you add the image)
"A lust 4 life energy. An ancient curse. One soul's journey thru death 2 find the cure." #MarkedBeauty #CoverReveal
"Uncovering some secrets can kill you, or worse ... steal your soul." #MarkedBeauty #CoverReveal #YAlit
An ancient race. A timid girl. And a journey to the in-between. #MarkedBeauty #CoverReveal #YAlit
The giveaway begins May 17th and will be open until May 23rd. Winners will be announced May 24th via social media.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Character Interview: Widow Larkin #IWSGanthology #OfWordsandSwords #HeroLost

Please welcome Widow Larkin for a character interview. Widow Larkin is from "Of Words and Swords" in the Hero Lost: Myteries of Death and Life anthology.

Tyrean: Widow Larkin, why don’t you tell us about how Maud came to live in your attic?

Widow Larkin: I take in lost strays and he seemed lost.

Tyrean: I thought he had –

Widow Larkin: He thought a dark attic would help him in his endeavors. I had such an attic.

Tyrean: Do you think it helped?

Widow Larkin shrugs: I can’t say, really. I’m not into that sort of thing.

Tyrean: Really? I thought in your profession words would be of use.

Widow Larkin: There are words and there are words. Some are useful for one profession and not another.

Tyrean: I see. So, you’re saying that specialized language helps in what you do?

Widow Larkin: Some. I’m more musical in my craft.

Tyrean: I thought that Maud was –

Widow Larkin: He had hopes, but we should not speak of that now.

Tyrean: So, what can we talk about?

Widow Larkin: There really isn’t much, unless you want me to give something away.

Tyrean: Something about you and not Maud?

Widow Larkin: All will be revealed in time.

Widow Larkin starts humming a sweet melody and walks out of the room to the sea.

found on Pinterest. Couldn't find original source.

Okay then. I guess I should let readers know that you can find out more about the secretive Widow Larkin in “Of Words and Swords” from Dancing Lemur press in the Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life anthology.

Last Friday, Ellen Jacobson hosted Renee and I for an interview about cookies and adventures. :) The Hero Lost Anthology authors are going strong!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Twist of Fate Five Part Tweet Series + #HeroLost Blog Tour Links

On a completely different note from my last post (well, unless you consider the beginning of the Cinderella story):

Do you like Cinderalla stories? 
If so, do you like more than one of the renditions of Cinderella or only one? 
Do you have a favorite?

From my understanding, there are hundreds of Cinderella stories from all over the world. Just in my lifetime, I can name several that I've read or viewed. I only included blurbs for the ones that I thought were less known that the most popular versions, but if explanation is needed, just let me know in the comments and I'll fix it.

Disney's animated Cinderella 

Ever After: A Cinderella Story (with Drew Barrymore)

Bound by Jo Napoli
Official Blurb included because I'm not sure how many readers have heard of this YA novel.
Bound to her father's second wife and daughter after Xing Xing's father has passed away. Bound to a life of servitude as a young girl in ancient China, where the life of a woman is valued less than that of livestock. Bound to be alone and unmarried, with no parents to arrange for a suitable husband. Dubbed "Lazy One" by her stepmother, Xing Xing spends her days taking care of her half sister, Wei Ping, who cannot walk because of her foot bindings, the painful but compulsory tradition for girls who are fit to be married. Even so, Xing Xing is content, for now, to practice her gift for poetry and calligraphy, to tend to the mysterious but beautiful carp in her garden, and to dream of a life unbound by the laws of family and society. 

The Egyptian Cinderella
This Egyptian spin on the classic Cinderella tale was initially recorded in the first century by a Roman historian and is retold here by folklorist Shirley Climo. 
Poor Rhodopis! She has nothing—no mother or father, and no friends. She is a slave, from the far-off country of Greece. Only the beautiful rose-red slippers her master gives her can make Rhodopis smile.

This is one of the oldest versions of Cinderella.

Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story from China

Over 1,000 years before the first European Cinderella story appeared, the tale of Yeh-Shen was part of China's storytelling tradition.

Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella: 2003 Movie Version

Disney's Cinderella 2015

Cinder Ellis and The Glass Hill by Gail Carson Levine

In this unusual spin on an old favorite, Cinderlla is a boy! He's Cinderellis, and he has two unfriendly brothers and no fairy godmother to help him out. Luckily, he does have magical powders, and he intends to use them to win the hand of his Princess Charming-- that is, Marigold. The only problem is-- Marigold thinks Cinderellis is a monster!

Ella Enchanted - Gail Carson Levin novel and a movie

How can a fairy's blessing be such a curse?

At her birth, Ella of Frell was the unfortunate recipient of a foolish fairy's gift -- the "gift' of obedience. Ella must obey any order given to her, whether it's hopping on one foot for a day and a half, or chopping off her own head! But strong-willed Ella does not tamely accept her fate. Against a bold backdrop of princes, ogres, giants, wicked stepsisters, and fairy godmothers, Ella goes on a quest to break the curse -- once and for all.

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth's fate hinges on one girl. . . .
Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She's a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister's illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai's, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world's future.
(This is my my daughters' favorite version of Cinderella.)

I happen to like all of these. I don't have a problem with seeing the familiar story done in a variety of manners. I like the familiar with a slightly unfamiliar twist and I don't feel like I need to do a "best of" comparison of them. I think they each have something interesting, entertaining, and thought-provoking to offer us.

I even tried to write my own fractured fairy tale version of Cinderella in five tweets. These were published by Seven By Twenty last week on twitter. (I actually had seven parts originally, but pared it down to five.)
If you are interested, just go to these links in order:

"Cinderalla:Twist of Fate" Five Part Series at Seven By Twenty. May 1-5, 2017.
Part 1: Fairy Magic
Part 2: The Prince
Part 3: Midnight
Part 4: Wishes
Part 5: The Tree

If you really like fractured/twisted fairy tales, I highly recommend these books/authors:
Once Upon a Happy Ending - a great anthology of short stories that will introduce you to several excellent authors all at once.
Anything by Melanie Cellier - but starting with The Princess Companion: A Retelling of The Princess and the Pea.
Anything by Gail Carson Levine, but most notably Ella Enchanted - the book has nuances and unexpected twists not included in the movie version (which I still enjoyed). 
The Lunar Chronicles - a series by Marissa Meyer that starts with Cinder. 

If Cinderella doesn't interest you, or you would like to know more about the Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life 2017 IWSG Anthology, please check out the blog tour! I've included all the stops because each one is good. :)
May 2 - Stephanie Faris - Guest Post (from Olga)
May 3 - Michelle Wallace - Interview
May 5 - Cathrina Constantine - Spotlight Post
May 7 - Ronel the Mythmaker Interview
May 8 - Bish Denham - Guest Post
May 8 - Patricia Lynne - Guest Post 
May 9 - ChemistKen - Guest Post
May 10 - M.J. Fifield - Guest Post
May 15 - Alex J. Cavanaugh - Interview
May 15 - Juneta Key - Spotlight Post
May 17 - Nicki Elson - Interview
May 19 - Chrys Fey - Guest Post
May 22 - Christine Rains - Interview 
May 22 - Nick Wilford - Guest Post May 22 - Nick Wilford - Guest Post 
May 24 - Toi Thomas - Interview

Plus, there are some great posts by some of the authors of the anthology this week at these spots:
Why you should write short stories
Girls Who Kick Butt
An Exercise in Wandering with Intent
Traditional African Weapons
Indiantown Reunion In Marsh Harbour, Or Stalking People On The VHF

Hero Lost:Mysteries of Death and Life can be found in these places:

So, do you like familiar stories told in unfamiliar ways? 
Do you like any or all versions of Cinderalla? Did I miss your favorite version?
Ever tried writing a Cinderella story of your own?