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Indie Book of the Day: Feb. 29

Today's Indie Book of the Day is: Open Minds by @SusanKayeQuinn

SynopsisWhen everyone reads minds, a secret is a dangerous thing to keep.

Sixteen-year-old Kira Moore is a zero, someone who can't read thoughts or be read by others. Zeros are outcasts who can't be trusted, leaving her no chance with Raf, a regular mindreader and the best friend she secretly loves. When she accidentally controls Raf's mind and nearly kills him, Kira tries to hide her frightening new ability from her family and an increasingly suspicious Raf. But lies tangle around her, and she's dragged deep into a hidden underworld of mindjackers, where having to mind control everyone she loves is just the beginning of the deadly choices before her.

If you have a Review for this book, please put the link in the comments so you can get entries in the Mega Giveaway!

Posted on Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Indie Interview: Harper Jayne

1. What book inspired you most before you became a writer yourself?
That's too difficult to answer with a single volume. I've read a lot, and much of what I have read has influenced me. I draw a great deal of inspiration from other writers, but mainly in the taste of their words as opposed to their ideas or styles.

Some of the books I can point to as having been major influences on me include Tad William's Memory, Sorrow and Thorn trilogy and Otherworld series; Weis and Hickman's first two Dragonlance trilogies; David Weber's Honor Harrington books; Neil Gaiman's Sandman comics and American Gods; and George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series.

Each of the novels above have inspired me in some respect. You'll notice they're pretty different. Epic (YA-ish) fantasy, near future (Ya-ish) sci-fi, game tie-in fantasy, serial space opera/military sci-fi, grungy-gothy YA-ish urban fantasyish graphic novel, urban fantasyish mythology, and epic swords and sorcery.

I have diverse tastes in books, and since writing my own YA project I have busied myself with reading some of the "hot new releases" to see what's what in the world of YA right now. I have to admit that I enjoy YA, but I am naturally more at home in adult genres. Writing YA is all about stretching muscles for me, and it's a good feeling.

2. First book you ever remember reading?
Seriously? I've been reading since I was something like 2! I cannot honestly remember. I do know I used to read in a book of faerie tales as a child. I suspect that my love of fantasy began with things like that, as well as with The Black Cauldron (and the rest of the Prydain books) by Lloyd Alexander and Madeline L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time and subsequent novels, as well as C.S. Lewis' classic Narnia series.

Big influences an a younger me were also Anne McCaffery and Piers Anthony. (In particularly the first Dragonriders and Crystal Singer books and the Adept and Incarnations novels respectively.)

3. How do you pick your character's names?
Completely at random. Actually, that's not entirely true. I think about some basic rules for names, and then I apply them to the characters. I have one whose name is originally quite a bit different than the name she currently uses. Think America's Ellis Island name changes for immigrants from places like Poland. (Only she has other reasons for calling herself by a new name . . .)

4. Name an excellent indie book that you think needs more recognition.
Pff. One? That's honestly impossible. There's plenty of indies doing "ok" right now (and a few that stick out as doing better than that), but a whole lot more are struggling. Also, I haven't read nearly enough indie work to be able to give you a good answer. I'm really just getting my feet wet still.

My suggestion? Buy at least one new indie book for every new traditionally published book you pick up. Read things that appeal to you, and pay attention to the reviews a title has gotten to see if it might be of interest to you. (In particular any non-customer reviews you can find!)

You are bound to find a gem in there, and when you do: tell everyone you know. Indies need word of mouth even more than tradpub authors do. (They still need it, so make sure to spread the love for those authors as well.)

5. Share some quotes you love! Either from your book or someone else's!
I don't want to quote myself. First because I think there's a taboo against doing it outside of marketing. Second because I'd have a hard time selecting something others might enjoy. Not because I have no confidence in my writing, but because books are highly personal. What appeals to me in my writing is not what appeals to everyone else.

I will give you a couple of quotes from other people though.

Grabbing some random books off my Fire . . . ah, here we go.

"Catalina Flores de la Peña's tongue got her in more trouble than any other part of her body, even though there were far more likely candidates." The opening line from A Storm Hits Valparaìso by David Gaughran is great. I'm actually jealous when I read it. Seriously. My opener doesn't gain strength until the second paragraph because of the stylistic choice to let things build. I'm not afraid I will lose readers, but David has done a bang-up job of delivering immediately.

Joe Abercrombie is hyper violent. I'm making sure to tone my writing down a bit because of the YA aspect, but he runs in the direction I naturally head: extreme, brutal, visceral combat. He's also hilarious. Unfortunately he's also crude, so I won't share his best laughs. Instead I'll give you a piece from his novel The Heroes, which sums up the kinds of characters he populates his novels with. "Apparently the engagement was over, and he was still alive. How strangely disappointing."

I think everyone who is an indie needs to read Be The Monkey which is an extended conversation between Barry Eisler and Joe Konrath. In addition to the very simple quote which forms the title of the work, they have some other good ones which are really relevant to the life of an author, and particularly an indie author. Barry wrote: "Yes. Apparently, bestselling indie authors aren't 'real' bestsellers. Some sales are more equal than others." And a favorite from Joe: "Dude, they're like two pumpkins in a sack. Your balls are massive. Other men fear your balls." (Which should give you a hint of just how raunchy Abercrombie is that I'm willing to quote Konrath on Eisler's balls. Maybe it's a Joe thing?)

Indie Book of the Day: Feb. 28

Today's Indie Book of the Day is: Parallel by @ClaudiaLefeve 

SynopsisDestiny has a way of catching up. 

Saddled with powers she doesn't understand, Etta Fleming's world is turned upside-down the day she meets Cooper Everett, the man who transports her to an alternate reality. A reality she was meant to be a part of. 

One minute, she's an orphan living at Dominion House for Girls, an institution for delinquent foster kids, then finds herself attending the exclusive Dominion Hall Academy. 

Plucked from the only world she's ever known, Etta now has to deal with an aunt she never knew, a boyfriend she doesn't know, and a best friend who can't know. 

PARALLEL is the first book in the Travelers Series. 

PARADOX, the second book in the Travelers Series, will be available MARCH 2012.

If you have a Review for this book, please put the link in the comments so you can get entries in the Mega Giveaway!

Indie Sneak Peek w/ T.L. Clarke

Excerpt from Blood Oath, Book 2 in the Gabby Girls Adventure Series - to be released March 6, 2012

Excerpt Chapter 2

His eyes softened slightly. His finger gently trailed along my cheek. “I see traces of her, but this is a path that I cannot stray from.” With malice-laced eyes, he reached expertly across his shoulders and pulled out two wicked-looking swords from the leather sheaths attached on his back by the slings. The swords, combusted into flames, making him look like an avenging angel, all glowing and shining, with soulless eyes.

A feeling of anxiousness knotted deep in the pit of my stomach. I had to stop him. I didn’t know how, but I knew that my next move was very important. “You mean that you will not stray from your path. There’s a big difference,” I responded softly but with strong intent in my eyes. “I am the tie that binds the Elements together. And now, I am bound to you, for eternity.”

I honestly didn’t know where these words were coming from. It was like I was reading some sort of ancient script: Say this, not that. Stop. Repeat.

His eyes turned blood red, his face twisting angrily. “Your wicked magic will not work on me, Eternal. The choice is simple. Break the curse.” His voice was smooth like honey, coaxing and very mesmerizing.

I laughed bitterly. “Using the enthrall spell will not ease the pain of my final decision.” Part of me was quaking in my shoes, but the other part was irrationally calm. The conflicting emotions were tearing me apart. I looked at him with more calm than I was actually feeling as I continued, “I cannot give you what you want. The curse remains until sacrifices are made.”

What in the world was I saying? I was practically sealing my death by telling him no. The Gabrielle side of my brain was screaming to just tell him what he wanted to hear to save my life, but the soul that was currently possessing me was saying quite the opposite.

Tears slipped down my cheeks. “What shall your sacrifice be?”

“You,” he responded in a voice laced with pure venom.

I watched unflinchingly as his swords roared with flames, slicing smoothly into my body. Fire encircled me; wicked flames licked my skin without mercy, burning me from the outside in. I gasped with pain, banging against the shell of my body with all my might, but I was unwillingly trapped inside of the fiery tomb of pain. I silently begged for escape as the heat smothered me, until the rational part of my brain screamed furiously that this was just a dream; just wake up, and it would be over. Or would it?

Indie Sneak Peek w/ RaShelle Workman

ALIGNED features two minor characters from EXILED (book 1 in the Immortal Essence series). It's about Ith and Aetha, the "God's" of the planet Kelari. The story is told in first person from Ith's (the dude) point of view.
Here's a SNEAK PEAK of the first few paragraphs in ALIGNED (.5 in the Immortal Essence series):

I am someone.
But, I have no idea who.
There is a planet called Earth, with one sun and one moon. That isn’t where I live. How am I sure? Two suns and two moons rotate across my sky. The name of this planet is Kelari.
My home is in a cave at the base of a mountain peak. From its entrance I can peer further down the mountain, over the tops of lush green trees, and dense foliage, all the way to the cerulean waters of the sea. It’s always warm here, and humid. Sometimes stiflingly so.
On Earth, I know there are forests, deserts, high mountains and deep bodies of water. There are animals, insects, and birds. The name of every species, every creature, is somehow known to me, as is all of Earths’ history. Every color, every shade, every hue—from robin’s egg blue to periwinkle—can be pulled from my mind. How I know these things, where I was born, and who my parents are, remain unknown.

Indie Interview: Quinn Loftis

1. What book inspired you most before you became a writer yourself?
A Wrinkle In Time was the book that made me really want to be a writer. I loved how original and creative it was and how while reading it I was able to get swept away from reality for a time.

2. First book you ever remember reading?
Ramona Quimby Books, by Beverly Cleary

3. How do you pick your character's names?
The Romanian names I picked according to their meanings. The others honestly there was non rhyme or reason. I just thought about names that sounded good together and tried them out til I found some that I felt fit.

4 Name an excellent indie book that you think needs more recognition.
Forgotten Self, Book One in The Standing Alone Series By: Rachel Carr
Blood of Anteros, Book One in the Vampire Agape Series By: Georgia Cates

5. Share some quotes you love! Either from your book or someone else's!
"Wait I'll do you one better than that, you're good sense has kissed your ass goodbye on its way out the door, waving and smiling with well wishes." -Jennifer Adams, Just One Drop Book 3 in the Grey Wolves Series.

Kindle  |  Nook

Indie Interview: Nikki Jefford

1. What book inspired you most before you became a writer yourself?
Anne of Green Gables

2. First book you ever remember reading?
Harriet the Spy

3. How do you pick your character's names?
Online baby name sites

4. Name an excellent indie book that you think needs more recognition.
Eden by Keary Taylor

5. Share some quotes you love! Either from your book or someone else's!
“Everyone has something they can’t live without. I’ll find out what it is for you, never you fear.” She meant to speak lightly, but at the look on his face, her voice trailed off into uncertainty. He was looking at her with an odd steadiness; his eyes were the same dark blue as the velvet binding of the book she held. His gaze passed over her face, where it lingered on her mouth. Tessa’s heart was pounding as if she had been running up stairs. Something in her chest ached, as if she were hungry or thirsty. There was something she wanted, but she didn’t know what –
Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare.

Posted on Monday, February 27, 2012

Indie Interview: Dawn Rae Miller

1. What book inspired you most before you became a writer yourself?
When I was in high school I went on a F. Scott Fitzgerald bender, followed by a JD Salinger mania. Both Bernice Bobs Her Hair by Fitzgerald and For Esme - with Love and Squalor made me want to write.

2. First book you ever remember reading?
Danny and the Dinosaur, but the only reason I remember reading it is because I got in trouble for refusing to show my dad I could do it.

3. How do you pick your character's names?
I like off-beat names that don't sound too "out there." Mostly, I use names leftover from when I named my kids.

4. Name an excellent indie book that you think needs more recognition.
Ah...well...I co-run The YA Curator which is a review site for self-pubbed and indie books. My favorite has been The Boyfriend Thief by Shana Norris.

5. Share some quotes you love! Either from your book or someone else's!
I have no idea! I'm not a quote person.

Indie Interview: Mel Cusick-Jones

1. What book inspired you most before you became a writer yourself?
I'd like to say something wonderfully classic and high-brow to try and sound intelligent, but the reality is that after four years of academic English Literature at university it was JK Rowling and Harry Potter in 2003 that got me interested in story telling again.

2. First book you ever remember reading?
Cosmo the Conjurer

3. How do you pick your character's names?
My most regular resource is baby names websites - I like the characters names to have some meaning that relates to their role in a story or their personality.

4. Name an excellent indie book that you think needs more recognition.
I've recently read Justice by Jade Varden, which I really enjoyed - it's only come out recently but I think it's one of the best YA indies I've read for style, story and characters.

5. Share some quotes you love! Either from your book or someone else's!
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
― Oscar Wilde

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

“If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-The-Pooh

Indie Interview: Alivia Anders

1. What book inspired you most before you became a writer yourself?
Most definitely Jonathan Stroud's 'The Amulet of Samarkand'. I reference Amanda Hocking a lot for admiring her determination, but it was Jonathan's writing that completely made me want to be even more of a writer than I already was!

2. First book you ever remember reading?
Probably an Amelia Bedelia book, or Clifford!
Unless you mean one of my first YA books? That would probably be Cate Tiernan's SWEEP series.

3. How do you pick your character's names?
I rarely 'pick' a name for a character. More often than not they come in my head, ready to roll, with a name and quirks all set up about them. It's a little nutty, really!

4. Name an excellent indie book that you think needs more recognition.
Willow Cross' 'Birthright' is one that definitely needs more recognition! Or Kymberlee Burks-Miller's 'Compulsion'. Both are fantastic!

5. Share some quotes you love! Either from your book or someone else's!
“I don't have to be dating them to feed on them, honey. Flesh is flesh." She examined her nails with minimal interest. "I'm trying to reform myself and not kill the humans I fall in love with. It makes for a much better relationship down the road.” - Ursula, from Illumine

“How'd you sleep?"
"Like an angel."
"Oh, the irony.” - Kayden & Essallie, from Illumine

Guest Post: Coming Soon w/ Charlotte Abel

Coming soon: Interview with Hunter Feenie from "Enchantment" and "Taken"

Howdy there, I'd love to do a guest post to entertain all y'all lovely ladies but I gotta get ready for a book launch. Seems Ms. Abel done waited too dang long to git all her stuff together.

She's still trying to decide on a cover for "Taken" for gosh sake and the dang book's supposed to be published this coming Friday! Can you believe that? Me neither!

If you ain't had a chance to read "Enchantment" yet, ya might wanna git on it. I play a much bigger part in "Taken" so you'll want to be sure you're all set to go.

Once we get this book launch "taken" care of (pun intended) I'll come back and tell y'all how I wound up as an exotic male dancer in Vegas. And no, I ain't a stripper! Jeeze! A fella cain't get no respect.

Indie Cover Reveal: Muse

The last thing Callie Alexander expected to receive for her sixteenth birthday was the power to freeze time, but that’s exactly what she gets, whether she wants it or not. With no time to adjust to her new talent, she discovers both her worst enemy and her best friend, along with several other girls are each descendants of the nine Greek Muses, now blessed with various magic abilities.

Between visions of the future and ghosts of the past they come to realize not everything is as it appears and something wicked is pursuing them. Can they learn to put aside their childhood jealousies and fears in order to take control of their new found powers and fight together or will the wretched creature get his way by pitting them against one another?

Check this book out! 3 more weeks until its published! :)

Check Out Janice Stoff's Blog

Posted on Sunday, February 26, 2012

Indie Sneak Peek w/ Alivia Anders

The second book to The Illumine Series By @AliviaAnders.

Book 1 in the Series
Synopsis: Essallie Hanley just wishes her life could go back to normal. But what's normal when you carry the burden of knowing you're a half-angel created for war, that the only person who can help you is a demon still waiting to kill you, and that your only chance for salvation lied in a boy who died in front of you?

If Essallie had turned her back on everything she'd learned, she could have made the most of her fractured life. That is, until Kayden told her that she's a ticking time-bomb; that at any given moment her blood could betray her, her veins burning her alive from the inside out until nothing but ash remains.

Desperate to find answers, and possibly find her only chance for survival, Essallie heads back for New York City, back to the place where it all began. With every answer comes a price, and with every price the risks and rewards become greater. But when Essallie soon finds herself the target of an unknown hunter determined to kill her, she's at wits' end. That is, until a fellow Nephilim named Ari steps in. But is Ari a piece of the puzzle to her salvation, or the promise of her demise?


Once upon a time, on a cold winters night
A young and fair maiden was given a fright
She had awoken to chaos beyond her control
A horrorful sight, a new world to behold
The ocean sealed under a mass of chains
While perched atop, one coffin remains
A circlet of fire wrapped about like a cage
As muffled screams sounded desperate with rage
Yet the only comfort the maiden received
Was watching the white roses burn as she grieved

"Miss Hanley."
I jolted against my plastic-backed chair, muscles clenched. The pencil in my hand froze mid-stroke as my mind went blank. I dared the chance to look up. Mr. Whitley, my Biology teacher, gave me a disapproving stare, lips pulled tightly across his aged face. Behind him, my classmates all stared at me, stone-cold silence filling the room.
Instantly I relaxed. A man like Whitley was about as threatening as a newborn hamster. I kept a cool face as I asked, "Was there something you needed?"

Behind him, I heard some of the kids snicker. He did his best to appear intimidating, but only succeeded in looking like a moth-eaten teddy bear. "I was going to commend you on your excellent note-taking for the final next week. Thankfully, I held my tongue." His hand rested lightly on the edge of my desk, tapping it twice to the paper on my desk. "It is good to know though, that you won't be failing your art final."
I glanced down at the paper in front of me. A large human eye encompassed the whole sheet from corner to corner, dark lashes framing a detailed interior sketch of chains settling over ocean waves, a sole hand reaching out from under the surface. Above the chains rested a coffin with several white roses on top, fire licking around the base. It was a scene straight from a macabre book.

"Uh, thanks? The idea sort of stemmed from a poem." I half-shrugged. Whitley didn't seem to notice.
"I'd put the drawings away and lay off the Edgar Allen Poe, Miss Hanley. You missed a lot while daydreaming away. Unless your wish is to have my class again next year, while all your peers are off at college," he straightened and moved his hand off my desk, returning up to the white board up front to continue mapping out the portions of our upcoming final.

Tugging the sleeves of my cream sweater over my hands, I tried to focus on the board in front of me. My eyes however, had another plan. They continued to drift down to the drawing laid out before me. It was one of dozens I had completed in the last two weeks, each one more detailed than the last. It always started with the same eye shape; same curve of the pencil under my hand, same smudging and detailing, everything perfectly identical, save for one thing. Some of the eyes told stories of black birds and blood, others told stories of sunlight and fire. The aching part was that each had been created while I revisited Leo's death in my mind.

Leo... he was gone. Everything had happened so fast, my head was still trying to collect itself from that night. I let out an involuntary shiver as scattered fragments from that night played over in my head. One minute it had been all about dressing up and having fun at a circus event for the ages. Then it had turned to blood, so much blood. Blood in my hands, the dark red staining the cracks of my palms and cuticles. Blood on my white dress, on Leo's button-up, sticky and slick as it clung to his pale skin, two lifeless eyes staring blankly at the ceiling-
I snapped my notebook shut, hiding the drawings from sight, shoulders bunched together. I made sure to pay extreme attention to the white board, writing down as much as I could before the bell rang ten minutes later. Whitley seemed pleased when I passed by him to leave, apparently taking my sudden interest in last-minute note-taking was on his accord. Maybe he thought I'd fail, like the notion of having to repeat a year in a public education system terrified me.

Hah. If only he knew.
I drew out time at my locker, pretending to debate on what books would be most important to take home with me for studying. Not like it mattered much to me. What Whitley and the other teachers didn't know was that in theory I could fail every one of my finals and still graduate with low C's. I had to give a hand to my grandparents, for if it hadn't been for them pushing me into one of NYC's select private schools I wouldn't have the luxury of slacking off like I had been. Again, it still didn't matter much. The idea of even seeing graduation rested on the assumption  that I'd live long enough to actually need my schooling. Seeing as they didn't teach the ins and outs of being half of a mythical creature, I was betting that would be a no.

Nothing had gone right since I set foot in Belfast. Only a couple of weeks had passed before I had learned a bitter truth, that every part of my life had been a sick, crafted lie. From the second I came into existence, I had been shuffled and shoved, picked on by a lunatic mother, abandoned by an unimaginable father. I had learned the hard way that running from your past only brings it front and center with a vengeance. Life felt like a tragic painting. A sparrow with clipped wings, still thinking it could fly.


I shrugged and brushed off her question. I was in no mood to deal with any kind of mind games she might try to enact on me. "Did you need something? Or do you just enjoy taking afternoon strolls in the mortal realm?"
The Queen appeared unfazed by my cold shoulder. "Kayden said you were brash. I can see he was right." She smiled. "Do you speak to him like this as well?"

"You answer my question, and I'll answer yours."
Her smile faltered by a fraction before she recovered with poised grace. "Very well, then. I came to see you. You had left in such haste after the... incident. I was worried for your well being."
Her lies lingered in the air like bitter puffs of sulfur, strong enough to taste, strong enough to gag on. "Two weeks is an awfully long time to wait. You could have just been honest and said you wanted to see if I was dead yet."
She opened her mouth slightly to speak, only to close it. Rich honey brown eyes narrowed at me. "You haven't answered my question, Nephilim."

"Essallie. It's Essallie," I corrected with a snap.
"Essallie it is, then. You haven't answered my question."
I turned my eyes back to the drawing on my lap. With a jerk of the paper, I ripped it from the sketchbook, crumbled it into a wad and chucked over my shoulder. "Only those who smell to high heavens of bullshit and ulterior motives." I rose to my feet and faced her, heat lancing through my veins like spears ready for the fight. "Spit it out. You didn't come here to check on me. So why are you here?"
Her eyes widened in surprise as I stood there, waiting. After today's nonsense with Abigail and Kayden, I had heard enough bullshit to span my lifetime six times over. Queen or no Queen, I didn't owe her anything. If anything, she owed me her life. It had been my hands covered in Chase's blood, not hers. For sacrificing my own lifespan to a torture of burning veins so her and all her little supernatural freaks could continue on in their meaningless existence.

Finally, she spoke. "You're smart. Smart enough to know not to trust me." Brushing past me, I watched as the shadows moved with her, forming a small pool around the hem of her dress. "I am, however, surprised to see you trust a demon of all things. Especially someone like Kayden."

It was bait, I knew it. She was testing to see if I'd wait to see the shoe drop off the other foot. Fire  spread from my fingers and washed over my hands. I pointed an emblazoned finger at her. "Your simple mind tricks won't work on me. I'm not interested in playing your petty game."

She laughed, a horrid smile spreading so far across her face I thought it might split in half. She stepped closer, until all I could see was the kohl lining the rims of her narrowed eyes. "Oh, you'll play my game whether you like it or not."

God, she sounded like a freaking cartoon villain. I started to turn and leave, my hands still engulfed in the angelic flame. "Sure thing, Queenie."

Shadows erupted from the ground, bursting skyward in sharp, jagged spikes. They spiraled together until a thick black cocoon sealed around the graveyard. I pushed a burst of flame through my veins to light up the inside when I saw a glimmering black spear launch into my hand. I screamed and the shadows launched into a fury, dozens of them stabbing at my hands, my arms, anywhere the fire pulsed from my body.

As I screamed and thrashed, the Queen spoke. "You see, Essallie, there isn't an option to ignore my voice. When you control the dark and all its splendor, you'll find many are willing to listen if it means their lives will be spared, if but for a moment."

Pressure crushed my chest as I fought to breathe. Breathy whispers spoke to me, like wind whistling through barren tree tops. My fire was gone, swallowed by the stabbing shadows that sunk into every inch of me. Emptiness seeped into my pores and filled me with a hollow sensation. Everything was so dark, so empty, so lost.
The shadows retreated, and I collapsed onto the ground. I watched through watery eyes as they took their place just under the Queen, shifting and swirling. She reached down and ran her hand across the shadows in a loving gesture. Some of them had spun up and into the fabric of her gown, forming swirls of deep violet against the black. "Now, let's chat."

I unsteadily rose to my feet, every inch of my body shaking. I felt like a leaf in the wind- powerless, frail, empty. The burn inside of my veins was gone, cooled to an bitter icy sensation that spread throughout my body. I reached deep inside to trigger the fire only to find a cold hollow instead. My fire was gone.
"What," my voice cracked. "What did you do to me?"


"Don't talk to me about Abby." I sat down on the middle of my bed with my arms on my knees, hands splayed palms up toward the ceiling. My eyes lingered on Kayden's hands, and I instinctively wished he'd take my hands into his and tell me everything would be okay. That the rampant chaos running my reality was all a terrible, horrible nightmare.

His voice brought me back from my wishful thinking. I watched as he ran a hand through his hair repeatedly. "She was just trying to help. It's in her blood." He came over to sit next to me, careful that we didn't touch in case we set the bed on fire. "Would you preferred being undefended?"

"I wasn't undefended. You were there," I pointed out.
"Yes, I was. But I was no where near you, Essie. If Abigail hadn't been there, you'd be dead. Would you rather she let you die?"
Yes, yes I would. My death could have been the end of all of this. A war everyone believes is coming now, all because of me. The countless deaths that could and would occur. Kayden had said Leo was just the beginning. Who else would I lose that meant everything to me?

I changed subject. "The Queen came to see me today."
Shoulders bunched, his body tensed at the mention of her. When he looked at me, I noticed his eyes had returned to the color of coal. I could barely make the words through his tightened jaw. "What did she want?"
"To warn me of people who may hurt me," I said carefully. His body tensed tighter, wound like a metal coil prepared to spring at the slightest snap. Cords of black smoke rose from his skin, as if he were barbecuing alive on my bed. I did my best to keep my lips pressed tight as I watched him. The Queen's words repeated in my head with a growing force.

You don't seem to be easily manipulated. Then again, I didn't kiss you like he had.
"You don't like her." The words slipped from off my tongue faster than I could catch them.
Kayden's eyes locked onto mine. His shoulders slowly deflated, the tendrils of smoke dissipating into thin air. When he spoke, his voice sounded calm, but I could still hear the pressure it took him to keep his tone in check.
"Annabelle," he began with a barely contained sneer, "is like the Queen piece on a chess board. She has every move available in her arsenal, and any piece could be hers."

In that moment I wished I could see into his mind and understand the tumbling of emotions lying under his mask. Someone with such a level of dislike for a person had to have a reason for it.
"She mentioned you. I was told that you were distrustful. Dangerous, even."
"Sounds like the pot calling the kettle black to me."

I leaned in closer to him, looked at him curiously. Ever since the kiss he'd been aloof, distant. It was almost as if he'd reverted back to the Kayden I'd met in New York, not the Kayden who'd helped me understand what I was. Not the Kayden who'd encouraged me, pushed me to better myself, to prepare for the inevitable I still wasn't ready to accept.

I decided to act on impulse. "Kiss me, Kayden."

**WOW :D **

Posted on Friday, February 24, 2012

Indie Interview: Charlotte Abel

1. How do you pick your character's names?
I don't pick them, they tell me. They also tell me what sort of sports they play, where they live and who they want to fall in love with.

I wanted Josh to be a male cheerleader but he flat out refused ... said he was a BMX racer and didn't care one bit that I didn't know anything about the sport and had to do a ton of research before writing his story. Stubborn boy!

2. Name an excellent indie book that you think needs more recognition.
There's so many! "Beg for Mercy" by Shannon Dermott "The Destiny Series" by Nancy Straight "The Premonition Series" by Amy A Bartol

3. Share some quotes you love! Either from your book or someone else's!
"You can’t help but listen to your heart. The damn thing won’t shut up until you do." From "Enchantment" by Charlotte Abel

Posted on Thursday, February 23, 2012

Guest Post: How do authors approach their writing? w/ Amy Maurer Jones

Contributed by @AmyJonesSQ

What does the author of a story do first in her writing adventure? Does she draw up the plot or create her characters? Stephanie Meyer once said that her idea for Twilight blossomed from a dream. She dreamt about a beautiful, magical boy who fell in love with a lovely mortal teenage girl. She envisioned the two star crossed lovers in a quiet meadow. In the same interview she mentioned that the famous meadow scene from Twilight was the first scene written even though we all know it didn’t take place until close to the middle of the story. If this is true one could make the argument that Stephanie Meyer created her characters before she whipped up her plot. Personally, I find this very difficult to do. While I do feel strong characterization is the key to a strong story or dramatization I have to know the world and circumstances the characters exit in before I can really develop them. For this reason I begin my writing journey with a loose plot. For example, my loose plot for Soul Quest went something like this.

A God – like being discovers demon - like creatures on Earth. The demons are trying to kill human kind and take over the world. His resolution is to empower four teenagers with supernatural abilities in an effort to save the world from disaster.

This scenario actually evolved from a dream I had. So, it must be a common strategy for authors to literally dream up their stories. From this loose plot I immediately knew I had to create at least six powerful characters. I needed to create a God – like being, four teenagers who possessed supernatural abilities and a demon. Before I could begin to develop these characters I realized I needed to know/decide why the demons were attacking the Earth and why the God – like creature cared about what they were doing. Once I achieved this I was able to flesh out the characters I’ve come to know and love in The Soul Quest Trilogy.

What is my process for developing characters? There is a science to my madness. I start in the magazine isle at the grocery store. I swear to you I am not bluffing. All of the paranormal excitement begins on isle six at Food Lion. Seriously, magazines are a great tool for character development. I use this same technique with my theater arts students in the class room. A snap shot of a woman in a field of flowers could be a character in a play or a book. Who is she? What is she doing? Why is she there? When did she go there? How long has she been there? How does she feel? Why does she feel that way? You can grasp a million ideas from a single picture. You know what they say… a picture is worth a thousand words. Magazines are helpful when you are researching characters of any age but I find them particularly useful when writing about my younger characters. I am a young adult writer so I have to know what types of people my readers will relate to and truly believe to be teenagers in my story. This can only happen if they fit into the current popular culture. I flip through the popular teen magazines to see who young people find cool, handsome and interesting. I want to know why they feel that way about them. I’m especially interested in their appearance and attitude. What do they look like, what do they wear, what is their style and personality? From this I can create my character’s physical appearance, personality strengths and weaknesses, their objective or goal in the story, the obstacles that stand in their way and tactics they may use to resolve their problems (… and you thought I was crazy for doing character research in the grocery store).

Of course, magazines are just a starting place. Most of my character’s emotions and feelings stem from my own experiences and perceptions in life. My main character in Soul Quest is Liv Glyn. Liv is a smart, sweet and outgoing girl with a lot of common sense and good ideas. She is incredibly perceptive and humble and she believes overly impulsive, boastful people are naïve and careless. Many of Liv’s feelings and views on life are similar to my own. I named her after my daughter, Olivia and gave her similar physical attributes to define her beauty. The name Olivia is Latin in origin and means olive tree or branch of life. It is from this meaning that I came up with the idea for my teenage Oracles to possess affinities for Earth, fire, wind and water.

Whether an author begins with an idea for a plot or character first doesn’t really matter. There is no right or wrong way to do it. Each person is different creatively and so creativity is going to manifest itself in a unique way in all of us. When I choreograph a dance I rarely start at the beginning, I usually begin somewhere in the middle. I don’t know why exactly, I just know that when the piece starts I like to know the direction its taking and when it completes itself I need to understand where it evolved from. Similarly, when I am directing a play I will not necessarily begin with scene one. Instead, I will analyze the script and determine what scenes prove to be the most difficult. In most cases these scenes are at the heart of the story where the characterization and plot are most complex. If I can effectively direct these scenes the rest of the play should naturally lead up to them and wind down to a resolution. Writing isn’t any different. Begin with a plot or a character. Flesh out your storyline and invent your characters later. Write about your character’s feelings and interactions with one another first and then build a plot to support the scene. It is simply a matter of what process works best for you or your current work in progress.

- Amy Maurer Jones, author of The Soul Quest Trilogy

Indie Interview: Riana Lucas

1. What book inspired you most before you became a writer yourself?
The popularity of Twilight brought me back to reading as a hobby. After spending years and years avoiding reading at all costs, I picked up an US magazine on the 2008 Winter Olympics and a gymnast said this was the book she was reading right now. I had no idea at the time that I would be picking up a young adult book, much less a vampire romance. The way that Twilight caused me to be nervous, giddy at times and happy for a character inspired me to not only read more, but write more. If you can cause a reader to "feel" something, then I find the book to be truly special.

2. First book you ever remember reading?
When I was ten I read Wait till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn and it scared the bejeezus out of me....and I LOVED it.

3. How do you pick your character's names?
For the Deadly Flowers Series, I chose actual poisonous flowers for some characters and then chose others based on nature. They don't necessarily have to be "deadly flowers" because they are warriors and deadly in their own right.

4. Name an excellent indie book that you think needs more recognition.
Inescapable by Amy A. Bartol.

5. Share some quotes you love! Either from your book or someone else's!
"I've failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed" Michael Jordan

"Fire is catching! And if we burn, you burn with us!" Suzanne Collins, Mockingjay

Posted on Wednesday, February 22, 2012

First Look w/ Keary Taylor

What I Didn't Say by Keary Taylor to be released in April 2012.

Synopsis: Getting drunk Homecoming night your senior year is never a good idea, but Jake Hayes never expected it all to end with a car crash and a t-post embedded in his throat. 

His biggest regret about it all? What he never said to Samantha Shay. He's been in love with her for years and never had the guts to tell her. Now it's too late. Because after that night, Jake will never be able to talk again. 

When Jake returns to his small island home, population 5,000, he'll have to learn how to deal with being mute. He also finds that his family isn't limited to his six brothers and sisters, that sometimes an entire island is watching out for you. And when he gets the chance to spend more time with Samantha, she'll help him learn that not being able to talk isn’t the worst thing that could ever happen to you. Maybe, if she'll let him, Jake will finally tell her what he didn't say before, even if he can't actually say it.

Indie Interview: Martha Bourke

1. What book inspired you most before you became a writer yourself?
When I was in sixth grade, I was obsessed with Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach. We had to read it for class. At that point I had been writing a lot of poetry for a couple of years, but I began writing short stories shortly thereafter. I can't say that it was one book exclusively that got me into writing because I loved so many. But there is something in the message of the book - that we should pursue our passions to the fullest extent of our abilities - that has stuck with me. And I feel like that is exactly what I'm doing with my own writing today. Take no prisoners!

2. First book you ever remember reading?
The first book I ever remember reading was the Dr. Seuss book, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. I'm not sure why. I think my mom had ordered me the set. She was always ordering me books through the mail. They would send you a book a month, that sort of thing.

3. How do you pick your character's names?
Well, in Jaguar Sun, Maya's name comes directly from the fact that she is Mayan. Her mother left her and her father when Maya was only four years old. She very close to her maternal grandmother, which is where Maya's Native Mayan roots come from. It was her grandmother that named her for her heritage. There have also been many important magical and mythological women throughout history with that name. So, in her case, it was important for the story and it also came out of research. The twins, Alyssa (Lyssa) and Damian just needed to sound good together. Sometimes a character's name will have a double meaning. For example, in Jaguar Sun there is a character named Alma, which means "soul" in Spanish. So I come across them in lots of ways.

4. Name an excellent indie book that you think needs more recognition.
Claudia Lefeve's book is excellent. I love it when other author's can do things with stories that I could never do. That interests me a lot. And I definitely would have zero idea how to pull off an alternate universe. I have her book on my Kindle now.

5. Share some quotes you love! Either from your book or someone else's!
This is actually from my own book, Jaguar Sun, which came out in January. I never get asked this question about my own book, so I'm going to use that. It's actually a snippet!

I wasn't just some high school junior with a schoolgirl crush anymore. I wasn't nervous. I wasn't trying to figure out what he was thinking.I didn't wonder where we stood. Every muscle, every nerve ending, every fiber of my being was completely attuned to him. He was my mate. I was home. - Maya Delaney, Jaguar Sun

Stay tuned for Book 2 in the Jaguar Sun Series, Jaguar Moon, out this year!

Indie Author Month: Week 4

Week 4 - February 22 (Wed.) to 29 (Wed.):

Guest Posts: Susan Kaye Quinn 2/22, Amy Maurer Jones 2/24, Charlotte Abel 2/27.

Interviews:  Martha Bourke 2/22, Riana Lucas 2/23, Charlotte Abel 2/24, Mel Cusick-Jones 2/25, Dawn Rae Miller 2/25, Nikki Jefford 2/26, Alivia Anders 2/27, Quinn Loftis 2/27, Haper Jayne 2/28.

Sneak Peak: Mel Cusick-Jones 2/22, Keary Taylor 2/22, RaShelle Workman 2/27, T.L. Clarke 2/27.

Guest Post: Seven Questions to Ask Before Self-Publishing w/ Susan Kaye Quinn

Contributed by Susan Kaye Quinn

Are you considering self-publishing? If so, that means you are the publisher, so you need to think like a publisher. If you're considering going indie, ask yourself these questions to see if this path is right for you and your book(s):

1) Is your craft ready?
Have you written more than one or two books? Do you have a writing group or a stable of critique partners who you can call on for feedback? Do you feel confident in your storytelling and your writing craft? You are more likely to find success as an indie writer if you have hit your stride as a writer, rather than just starting out. All the time you spend focusing on craft will pay dividends when you do eventually publish.
Don't rush it. Be patient.

2) Is this the right book?
Is your book the kind that could successfully sell in the indie market? Adult titles do best in indie, YA does well (especially those with cross-over appeal), and even literary novels, anthologies, shorts and other forms are starting to have success. Middle grade and picture books do less well. Series tend to bring more success for writers than stand-alone novels. Are you planning to write more books? Is your book the start of a series? Will it help you to build a fanbase for your future works, or do you not plan on writing more in that genre?
Plan ahead. Lead with your best work.

3) Are you willing to invest money and time in the book?
Publishers would invest time and money in editing/copyediting/coverart for your book - you should plan on doing the same. Are you willing to spend time and money on marketing (ARCs, blog tours, review requests)? You will need a substantial push to get enough sales/reviews to get word-of-mouth going. After that, the Amazon marketing machine might kick in to help. Or it might not (the ways of the Zon are mysterious). If you just throw something out on smashwords, or even Amazon, but do nothing to market/promote it, you are unlikely to sell more than a few hundred copies (maybe this is acceptable - see #6).
Going indie is like running a small business.

4) Are you willing to give up the dream of paper for this book?
As an indie publisher, most likely 90% of your sales will be ebooks. If a large fraction of your sales are paper, it is probably because most are bought by friends and family that want a paper copy. Selling thousands of print books is not going to happen as an indie, nor do you want it to. Getting into bookstores may sound great, but it brings the possibility of returns, which can easily eat up whatever profits you have made. You can still have paper, if you want (it's useful for signings, libraries, giveaways), but paper is unlikely to be the main part of your business.
Indie is not a route to seeing your book on the shelf at B&N.

5) Are you trying to score an agent or book contract by going indie?
Indie publishing is not the new query. This idea has been tossed around due to high-profile instances of authors like Amanda Hocking going for traditional publishing deals or agents plucking authors out of the bestseller lists. But I know many authors who are selling more than NYTimes bestsellers and not being flooded with offers from the Big 6. Still other successful indie authors have turned down traditional publishing offers after going indie and are scooping up international deals and optioning movie rights, all while not giving up their ebook rights. Why? Because they would lose money by taking a traditional deal. Indie publishing and traditional publishing are really two different beasts. Success as an indie brings many rewards (including financial ones). If you are yearning for a traditional publisher, you should pursue that route directly.
Indie is not the route to traditional publishing.

6) Do you have a support system/social network to help launch this book?
Are you comfortable with social networking? Do you have a blog/twitter/facebook page (one or more of these is fine) that you use to connect with people, whether writers, friends, or fans? You will have to extend your reach beyond your immediate social network to reach new readers, but you will be more comfortable doing that if you have an online presence and are facile in using online tools. And your immediate social network will help get your book out in the world to begin with. You don't have to have a huge following to launch an indie book, but you need to have some sense of how the online world works.
Friends matter. You can't ignore social networking.

7) Do you have concrete goals and a marketing plan to reach them?
You should decide your goals and make a marketing plan before making the decision to go indie. Will you be happy making back your investment in the book? Do you want to reach a certain number of sales? Do you want to get on the bestseller lists? You may dream of an overnight bestseller, but achieving that will take more than dreaming. You need a plan of how to get there. I worked up a full marketing plan for Open Minds before I made the decision to go indie, and it’s served me well. I set goals that I wanted to achieve (have the book break even, reach a certain target of sales), and developed a marketing plan to make it happen. The plan definitely evolved along the way (and continues to evolve), but making the plan ahead of time helped me decide if indie was the right choice for Open Minds. And having realistic goals helped to keep my expectations grounded while going through the process. Be smart when you make your plan, and you will give your book the best chance of success.
Set Goals. Make a plan. Keep your expectations realistic.

I believe that the “right” publishing path can easily be different for each book and definitely for each author. I personally could not be happier with my indie experience so far. I love being in charge of my writing career. But I have manuscripts on my hard-drive that I will not indie publish, unless/until the time is right. And probably after they have been rewritten. I want to make sure they have the best chance of success before I send them out into the world.

Are you thinking about going indie? What questions are you asking yourself?

UPDATE: Check out John Locke's article on his Indie Publishing Deal with Simon &Schuster (yes, you read that right).

Indie Interview: Addison Moore

Addison Moore author of the Celestra Series optioned for film by 20th Century Fox.

1. What book inspired you most before you became a writer yourself? 
For sure this is easy, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. Loved her writing style! I highly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t had a chance to pick it up yet.
2. First book you ever remember reading?
I used to read the Romona novel series by Beverly Cleary. I loved those!
3. How do you pick your character's names? 
Gah! I agonize over names. In fact, nothing stumps the process more than naming my characters. It’s like naming children you have to really consider the consequences and potential nicknames.
4. Name an excellent indie book that you think needs more recognition.
So many… but I think I’d go with Tangled Tides by Karen Amanda Hooper.
5. Share some quotes you love! Either from your book or someone else's! 
I have to go with my favorite quote of all time and it’s by Hellen Keller, “While they were saying among themselves it couldn’t be done, it was done.” I think more people should live by that maxim.

6. Do you have an Upcoming Book? EXPEL (Celestra Series Book 6) is due out in March and I’m hopeful that I’ll get to release EPHEMERAL (The Countenance Book 1) soon thereafter. It’s a loosely related series to Celestra and I’m really excited about sharing it!

More about Addison Moore: Bio: She is a graduate of the University of Southern California that enjoys writing young adult paranormal romance. She often overdoses on chocolate and watches way too much reality TV. 

Indie Sneak Peek w/ Sarah Billington

DESCRIPTION of The Kiss Off:

When sixteen year old Poppy Douglas writes a song about her ex-boyfriend Cam and ex-friend Nikki, she has no idea that her heartbreak is about to go global.
A local band picks up her song from Youtube and soon she’s along for the ride with her own fanbase as they blow up on the local club scene and hit the international charts. Though it turns out leaving Cam behind isn’t as easy as she had hoped.
Tangled in a web of unfinished homework, ill-considered sexting and a new lead-singer boyfriend, Poppy has a choice to make between the ex that inspired it all and the rock God whose poster lines the inside of half the lockers at school. But as she struggles to keep her emotional dirty laundry private, she learns that the truth can be hard to find when your life is in the headlines.


After a couple of drinks, Mads and the boys and I were feeling loose and were dancing like mental patients. Moshing to Madonna, and doing the sprinkler to LMFAO. We sang/screamed along to songs we knew, it was fun. We had a couple of random people join in, a couple of guys started dancing with us as we did the lawn mower and the shopping cart and that one guy was pretty badass at the robot, we were all cracking each other up. I never actually got their names. Hang on, that could have been something they said. I couldn't hear them or anything else over the doof-doofing beat of the music.

I spotted something that stopped me dead in my tracks, but I really shouldn’t have been that surprised.
‘What are they doing here?’ I yelled into Mads’ ear, screwing up my eyes as they were assaulted by the sight of Nikki dancing, all up in Cam’s business, pressing herself so close to him that it looked like she was trying to merge them into one Cam-Nikki being. Canikki. His forehead was furrowed and he flinched when she threw her hair around and got him in the face, but he gave her a smile when she looked at him and kissed her back when she launched her mouth on his. Why did she have to do that?

‘Dev told them about it, he wanted to come,’ Mads yelled back at me. I looked at Dev. He was smiling at me as he watched me talk to his girlfriend so I forced a smile back. Stupid Dev.
I shook myself out, pretending it was a crazy dance move and got Canikki’s whole annoying presence out of my system, forgetting they even existed.

After a while I was sweating so much I was sure I had drained of my last ounce of water through my skin, that I left the dance floor in search of some aqua. Sculling from a bottle I bought at the bar, I collapsed into a couch along the edge of the dance floor. It was so hot in here, there were so many people. I pulled off my leather jacket and lay it across my lap, airing out my tee shirt. I caught sight of the doorway, as more and more people flooded into the club. I smiled nice and wide, my stomach fluttering and all my insides jiggling as I remembered that they were here for Academy of Lies, and my song, and Ty. Ah, Ty. He did like me, didn’t he? I rubbed at my forearm unconsciously, lost in thought as someone sat beside me and tapped me on my sticky shoulder. Ew. Gross for them. Turning in my seat, I discovered it was Cam. Alone.
‘You’ve been dancing up a storm.’

‘Did you just get here?’ I said.
‘A little while ago, we were hanging at one of Nikki’s friends’ place first. You having fun?’
‘Yeah, I am. What are you even doing here?’
‘Dev invited me,’ he said. ‘I didn’t even know you were going to be here.’

‘Actually that’s a lie, I did know,’ he said. ‘Well, I kind of knew. I heard you talking to that guy the other day. At the bus stop, the one who wrote on your arm.’
He noticed that, huh. ‘What, you were spying on me?’
He rolled his eyes and looked away. ‘Don’t…’

‘Don’t what, Cam?’ I asked. ‘What is it you don’t want me to do?’ I don’t want to go away for a week and find you’ve hooked up with my friend, I thought. Just as I opened my mouth to say it, he spoke again.
‘Do we have to always be like this?’ he said. ‘Can’t we have, I don’t know, a serious conversation? Can’t you be civil with me just this once?’

‘Why should I?’ I said.
‘You know I didn’t mean to hurt you, I didn’t know I would hurt you. I’ve apologized already, what do you want from me?’
He was such a jackass. I didn’t give him an answer, but he seemed determined to get one.
‘Well?’ he said. ‘What do you want?’
‘Nothing! Sorry!’ I swigged some water.
‘Okay. Well do you think we could act like grown ups for a change then?’
I didn’t know what to say to that so I just sat there pouting and called him names under my breath which neither of us could hear over the music.
‘About the song.’
‘The song.’

‘Yeah, you’re song. The Kiss Off. I’ve seen it, you know,’ he said.
‘I figured you might have.’
He nodded. ‘It’s good.’

I blinked and looked at him weirdly. He liked it? The song about what a cheating dirt bag he was?
‘Don’t get me wrong – it’s cold. But it’s catchy, good rhythm, the lyrics are hardcore and I like them, you know, when I’m not thinking they’re about me.’

The Kiss Off is available May 15.

Indie Interview: Megg Jensen

1. What book inspired you most before you became a writer yourself?
The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

2. First book you ever remember reading?
By myself? Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by O'Brien

3. How do you pick your character's names?
I actually hold a lot of contests for this. It's hard! :D

4. Name an excellent indie book that you think needs more recognition.
Beautiful Demons by Sarra Cannon

Indie Sneak Peek: Mel Cusick-Jones

Check out the Excerpt below for Outlanders by Melanie Cusick-Jones:

Guest Post: The War of Worldcraft: Creating New Worlds w/ Hope Collier

Contributed by Hope Collier

World building is one of the most important factors of a good story. It puts the reader in a place they've never been otherwise, so it's imperative they grasp the full concept laid down by the author. Unique details make this place its own universe filled with distinct (and oftentimes inhuman) characters, a government with unusual politics, and an unfamiliar social structure. The author has to take into consideration factors like the weather, varying laws, architecture, landscape, history, settings, biological factors such as animals and plants, mythology and so on. The more fantastical the world, the more building is required.

Some genres involve greater attention than others. My paranormal novel (The Willows: Haven) takes place on earth, but involves some non-human characters in enhanced places. The primary focus of my world building revolves around the social structure of this new society, the biological aspects of the beings themselves, some ancient history, a little architecture and mythology, and the law. This means I don't have to worry about creating animals like a chimera or filling the heavens with a purple moon. Look at your story to determine which aspects affect your world-building.

I want to take a moment and highlight a few aspects in my own writing, since I can explain them a little easier.

Social Structure/Law: This is an extremely important feature in Haven. The characters don't live under the same rules as humans. They have their own social constructs and hierarchies. Different laws govern most aspects of their lives, and it's very important that I make those laws clear to the reader. If the weight of their choices isn't felt, it defeats the purpose and loses power.

Characters: I don't want to get into "what" my characters are as I don't want to spoil it, but you already know they aren't human. While they have human traits, their biology is entirely different. The way they react to things in their environment, their preferences and requirements to thrive, are different from humans. It makes them what they are! This is one area where detail is imperative. If typical things such as food and sleep don't sustain them, something else does. Just like humans, there are requirements and limitations to flesh out here.

History: The history behind my characters' lives and situations is the basis behind the whole story. It's the thing that drives the plot. If there isn't reason for the characters to behave the way they do, then the story is going to fail. The events leading up to my protag's current state are the drive behind their social structure and law. Even if you don't have the history in your story, it's important to have it in your head. Cause must drive action, otherwise it's unrealistic.

Architecture: For most of Haven, the architecture is modern but hints at the life my protag experienced during her life. As the story unfolds, she's introduced to a society where the beings value nature and bend it to their purposes rather than destroy it. In a world where the characters are as much a part of nature as nature itself, I had to find a way to incorporate that.

There are countless other aspects to consider when world building. Just look at ours. We have beliefs and moral issues, matters of religion, science-based, and such. Every tiny facet of life outside the norm has to be addressed and characterized if you want a believable setting.

Happy writing!

Posted on Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Indie First Look w/ Brea Essex

I'm currently working on the first book of another series, which should be out later this year. The book is called "Ouroboros". It will be there first book of The Zayin Chronicles.

Here's the blurb:
Imagine waking up in the hospital to find someone in your room that only you could see.
When eighteen-year-old Rhiannon wakes from a coma after a rock-climbing accident, she finds a strange guy in her room. He seems to be invisible to everyone—and he needs her help.
Zac is a Zayin, one of an elite fighting team. The problem is: he’s dead. He needs Rhiannon’s help to find his body so he can stop the self-proclaimed Prince of Death—The Necrovorst. Can they stop The Necrovorst before he unleashes his demons and destroys the world?

I felt as though I was walking in circles, and the beginning of something like panic began to lick at my mind. Had they forgotten I was coming? Had they not prepared a place for me? I began to run through the house. The walls seemed like they were closing in on me. The ceiling was becoming lower and lower. The halls were becoming narrower. Everything was shrinking, shrinking.

By now, the ceiling was too low for me to stand. I ceased running—there was no room. I crouched down and continued my search. What was I looking for? I had forgotten. I only knew that I needed to find something.
Now I was crawling on my hands and knees. The walls and ceiling were all so close together now that I couldn’t go any further. I was completely trapped. Maybe I could turn around and try to trace my way back.

I backed up until I could finally turn around. When I turned, there was a boy standing there. I stifled a scream. He had appeared so quietly! There was something familiar about him. His slightly wavy, messy brown hair reminded me of someone. Where had I seen him before? A movie? Was he someone I knew?

“I can help you find your way out,” he intoned quietly.
I stared at him for some time, unsure whether I should accept his help or not. Although I did very much want out of this seeming maze, there was something about him that didn’t sit quite right with me. I opened my mouth to agree to his help...

I watched in shock as a blade appeared, glinting in the middle of his chest. The boy’s eyes opened wide, and he slumped to the floor. I began to scream shrilly, my shrieks reverberating through my head as the bounced around the narrow enclosure behind me. Another boy stood behind him, his sandy brown hair gleaming even in the poor lighting. He twisted the blade in the fallen boy’s body, and then cruelly jerked it out. He calmly pulled a cloth from his pocket and cleaned the sharp edge that was now dull from a dark substance. Blood? No, it seemed darker than that.

Indie Sneak Peek w/ Laura Elliott & Giveaway

****GIVEAWAY: Anybody who comments on this post AND tweets: I just read an #excerpt of TRANSFER STUDENT by @Laurawriting and can’t wait for the Blog Tour 2/29-3/20 #teenreads #kindle #ya
And also FOLLOWS @Laurawriting will get a free signed Transfer Student bookmark and will be entered to win an ebook ARC! [Laura will follow you back so you can DM her your address]****

Two Worlds––Two Teens––One Wish

Geek Rhoe and Surfer Ashley would never be friends.
Even if they lived on the same planet.
But, they’ll become so much more.
They’ll transfer.

Earthling Ashley’s world revolves around winning daily popularity contests at Beverly Hills High School and surfing competitions with sweet scholarship prizes that will finally help her break free of her control-freak mother. Ashley never loses. Ashley never wishes on stars. But that changes when her senior class takes a field trip to the Griffith Observatory where Ashley’s conflicting feelings about her predatory best frenemy, Tiffany, throws Ashley’s carefully-crafted Queen of B.H.H.S. title under the bus. 
Meanwhile on planet Retha, Rhoe misses his dad, loves his mom’s home-cooked Glechy crag with a side of Ory sauce, is desperate to heal his sick brother and wants more than anything to win The Retha New Invention Competition. He and his best friend Yuke have worked for the past two years constructing the teleporting telescope Rhoe started building with his dad before an accident killed him. Rhoe’s never kissed a girl. Rhoe’s hero is the eccentric physicist, Ramay. But that changes when the telescope teleports Rhoe across the universe with an unintended side-effect. Ashley and Rhoe transfer––swap lives––when they make the same wish at the same time.
Popular-surfer-turned-boy-geek alien Ashley must handle life on Retha as Rhoe complete with webbed feet, low-gravity, and an overwhelming desire to kiss Rhoe’s best friend Yuke, all the while being hunted by Rethan spies and resenting her hairy, flat chest. Boy-geek-turned-popular-surfer Rhoe must fit in at Beverly Hills High School as Ashley, compete in The Laguna Beach Invitational without becoming shark food, dodge boys’ affections, cool his preoccupation with Tiffany’s lips and his new body, and find the healing rocks he believes will save his brother’s life.
If only it were that simple. Some wishes can’t come true. Some have to.
How far would you go for someone you love?


Yuke catches up to me. We walk side-by-side in silence through the Golden Meadow. The airboard launch, a sort of gigantic upside-down slide, peeks over a row of Truffula Trees.
“Listen, there are three things you have to remember about soaring. You’ll never soar if your mind is on the ground. Put it up on The Ridge,” Yuke says, pointing to a purple-blue mountain ahead of us. “Rhoe taught me that.”

The way he says Rhoe I know it’s happened. He knows. He really knows I’m not Rhoe, I’m…Ashley. It’s sunk in. Finally. I stop walking and can hardly breathe. It’s the first time he’s ever seen the real me, and his gaze warms me down to my frog-feet. Yuke spots the question in my eyes.

“The Ridge of No Return,” he says with a small smile, “It’s the prime place to catch air. But beware The Devil’s Grip. Soar too high and you’ll be caught in The Grip and lost to The Other Side. Forever.”
He misreads the question in my eyes. Again. I shiver thinking about The Grip and dying in the mythic ice and snow of The Other Side. I stare at my hideous frog-feet, my peds. I don’t care about The Ridge. There’s only one person I care about. One boy I’ll never have. Yuke.

“What else?” I ask, peering deeper into Yuke’s alien eyes.
“You’ve got to feel the beat of the wind in your peds. Surrender to the air. And know, deep in your hearts, no one is its master.”

I hear and don’t hear every word Yuke says. For the first time in my life I can’t speak. I can’t take my eyes off Yuke, now that he knows I’m not Rhoe. He wouldn’t be telling his best friend, an Astral, how to airboard unless he knows I’m Ashley, someone who doesn’t know much about soaring.

“Your catchers will always stop you if you fall,” Yuke says, filling the silence between us. He raises his arms above his head. Delicate wings expand out from under his arms. Thin pinkish-purple skin stretches over delicate, long bones. No feathers at all. Just smooth, glimmering skin. And it’s crazy. A week ago I wouldn’t even look twice at a guy with a big nose, but now, I’m hot for an alien. With wings. He’s that hot.

I have to touch him. It’s beyond wanting to. The way Yuke spreads his wings makes his pecs flare and his biceps seize. He’s beyond gorgeous. Beyond anyone I’ve ever known before. The way his sheer wings take to the breeze in the meadow makes Yuke more unreal than he already is to me. He’s everything I never wanted and everything I can’t live without. It feels like we’re the only souls in the universe. The look in his golden exotic eyes melts my ability to stay away from him.

“You can’t be real,” I say taking a few steps closer to him, holding my hand out to touch his wing. Waiting for him to let me. To know it’s OK. He flexes and lets his head fall back a little inviting my touch. I lay my alien fingers on his smooth taught skin, and run them over his wing’s thin hollow bones. My eyes fill with tears. His wings flutter in a breeze. He’s beautiful.

Yuke sticks his chest out and when he drops his arms his catchers vanish back into his arms. “I can’t let you soar. Not now,” he says, the crowd cheers just beyond the trees.
Only then do I remember where we are. What we’re here to do. A band begins to play a set of songs. The crowd beyond the row of trees cheers again and again.

“I have to. I’m doing this for Rhoe,” I say.
Yuke puts his hand on my shoulder. I shudder.
“And for me,” I say.
Yuke’s golden eyes focus only on mine, on the Earthling inside of this alien body.
“And for you,” I say, feeling the beat of my hearts in my throat. “We’re going to win this damn thing.”

Posted on Sunday, February 19, 2012

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